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Woman says she was assaulted while bicycling on Gresham-Fairview Trail

Posted by on March 25th, 2013 at 12:49 pm

Entrance to Gresham-Fair Trail off of SE Stark.

Portland resident Shyla Osborn, 45, says she was assaulted on March 12th while biking on the Gresham-Fairview Trail. According to Osborn, the incident occurred on the path between SE Stark and Glisan near 201st Ave.

Here’s how it went down according to Osborn:

“… I was assaulted by two teenage girls on the Gresham-Fairview trail in the Rockwood neighborhood, on the segment between Stark and Glisan. As I rode northward, they were strolling casually towards me, one on the left and one on the right edge of the trail (unremarkable on such a lovely sunny day); as I came closer and was about to pedal between them, I noticed that one of them was carrying a large tree branch. At this point, it was too late to turn back and get away: the girl on my left lunged in to corral me while her companion on my right swung the branch at my head like she was going for the bleachers. The blow cracked my boyfriend’s $70 helmet; another blow came down on my right shoulder. As soon as they hit their target, they ran off giggling and escaped over the chain-link fence of the one of the houses whose backyard faces the trail. They left me with a pretty nasty bump on my head and a bruised shoulder.”

Osborn credits her helmet from saving her from more serious injuries. Overall, she was more shaken mentally and emotionally. Osborn says she’s ridden this trail hundreds of times over the past three years without major incident and that this portion of the trail is “relatively safe.”

Injury sustained in alleged assault.
(Photo: Shyla Osborn)

After the incident, Osborn reported it to the Gresham Police Department. The police apprehended the two suspects the next day a few hours later, but they denied doing it and Osborn says there were some “holes” in her description, so the police were unable to take any action. The police are continuing an investigation (checking the suspects’ alibis) but the case has not progressed thus far. (We’re awaiting a response from the Gresham PD for an update.)

Osborn says regardless of the what happened, she hasn’t stopped riding. “I will certainly be more careful and vigilant next time around,” but she adds, “I have no intention of relinquishing my wheels and have since gotten right back on the path.”

The Gresham-Fairview Trail is a popular commuting route to for Portlanders who work in eastern Multnomah County. Osborn wants more people to know what happened to her so they can stay alert, in the outside chance that, “they try and repeat the prank on another cyclist.”

We’ve reported on security issues on the Springwater Corridor Trail in the past but this is the first incident I’ve heard of on the Gresham-Fairview Trail.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

  • davemess March 25, 2013 at 12:58 pm

    That’s messed up! Hope she heals up soon and glad it hasn’t diminished her desire to ride.

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    • Shyla O. March 25, 2013 at 3:05 pm

      Thanks. I have; it hasn’t. 🙂

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  • CaptainKarma March 25, 2013 at 1:06 pm

    Sounds like one of those made-for-youtube assaults. Helmet cams will cut this crap.

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    • Spiffy March 25, 2013 at 3:04 pm

      most don’t realize how many of us have video cameras on our bikes/helmets these days and soon there will be a high-profile case in the news letting everybody know and that’s when we’ll start seeing a decline…

      if people weren’t already afraid of being held accountable for their own actions we’d probably have a network of city cameras we could use for these things…

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      • Shyla O. March 26, 2013 at 1:20 pm

        Yeah. Let’s be just like London, with their CCTV. :\

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    • Shyla O. March 25, 2013 at 3:26 pm

      Exactly my first thought after the attack. Although they might have smashed it…

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  • Andrew K March 25, 2013 at 1:31 pm

    ouch… I’m sorry that happened to her and her boyfriend. I’m glad to hear the police did at least talk to the suspects though.

    This reminds me (in a round about way) of what I saw this weekend which has me still feeling incredibly angry. I was in Idaho and I saw a woman in a Toyota pickup driving down the highway with a bicycle “kill score” stamped to the side of the drivers side door. It was kind of like what you would see on the side of a WWII bomber signifying how many enemy fighters the pilot had taken down.

    There was a symbol of a bicycle with hashes next to it indicating 15 or so “kills” on the road.

    It made me so angry it took all of my willpower not to get into a road rage incident.

    Anyway, sorry, I needed to vent. Seriously though, I’m glad to hear Shyla is still riding!

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    • 9watts March 25, 2013 at 1:35 pm

      “There was a symbol of a bicycle with hashes next to it indicating 15 or so “kills” on the road.”

      Wow, that’s pretty sobering. Glad the kids on the trail were on foot. Some folks really need to find something better to do to amuse themselves.

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    • 9watts March 25, 2013 at 1:41 pm

      Looks like there is a little cottage industry out there producing hateful anti-bike bumper stickers

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      • K'Tesh March 25, 2013 at 8:44 pm

        I’d strongly recommend that anyone who sees something like that on a motor vehicle should make sure to take photos of it and the license plate. If someone were to get hurt from one of these asshats it could be helpful for the police to come up with a short list of suspects.

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    • oliver March 25, 2013 at 1:45 pm

      A couple weeks ago on a Sunday afternoon a teen who had been hiding behind a tree stepped out and feigned pitching a basketball at my head, dropping the ball behind his back at the last second before lunging and making the throwing motion. I had seen them before while waiting at the stoplight so I was only kind of startled.

      This was on Williams between Killingsworth and Jessup.

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      • John Lascurettes March 25, 2013 at 4:40 pm

        My wife was assaulted in the same way by two boys in the same area recently. One pitched a basketball across her field of vision and the other boy on the other side of her had a switch-like stick that he faked swinging at her. They were trying to get her to freak out and crash. She described them as 13 and 10-ish.

        What they didn’t count on was her swinging around on her bike and chasing them down. She was able to get a hold of their grandmother or guardian when they went into a house and the grandmother made them come out an apologize to her.

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    • Shyla O. March 25, 2013 at 2:49 pm

      My boyfriend wasn’t there…I was just borrowing his helmet. Had I been wearing my $30 Giro, the injuries could have been a lot worse!

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      • John Lascurettes March 25, 2013 at 4:44 pm

        His $70 and your $30 helmet likely provide the same level of protection. What we pay extra for in helmets is ventilation, fit and comfort. But as far as protection goes, there’s not much difference.

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        • Shyla O. March 25, 2013 at 5:24 pm

          True…but his helmet is thicker, and comes down further on the temple, precisely in the spot where they whacked me!

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  • nicholas March 25, 2013 at 1:31 pm

    that is so unfortunate! i’ve never had a problem on that trail, let alone an opportunity to even see any other users when i’m on it. i’m glad to see her spirit is not damaged.

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  • Randall Sewell March 25, 2013 at 2:34 pm

    I wouldn’t really call it a “prank” so much as I would “felony assault.” If this was a wealthy person attacked by two black male teenagers with a weapon, I’m pretty sure it’d be front-page news in the Orgeonian, and they’d both be in jail.

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  • Joe March 25, 2013 at 2:35 pm

    Oh what the #### crazy! well seems I had my run in last night riding on HALL Rd at dusk with 4 girls running wild in the bike lane coming right at me, Mind you I’m going kinda good on a fixed with lights and a brake, but they jumped out and starting giggling. really don’t want to hit anyone head on a bike and bullhorn bars.

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  • jeremy March 25, 2013 at 3:32 pm

    That is AWFUL! I can’t believe that the police apprehended the two people and then because of “holes” in the story the were let go. Of course there were holes, she got clocked on the head. I have always ridden on these trials (especially at night) as fast as I can, thinking if some jackass tries to hijack me, at least they are going to suffer, but I never thought about a tree branch. Yikes. I am so sorry this happened and I hope they pay, if no other way, then karmically.

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    • Shyla O. March 25, 2013 at 5:20 pm

      I’m disappointed too, but understand the cops wanting to do it by the book…and for all I know, maybe it wasn’t those girls after all.

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  • A.K. March 25, 2013 at 3:42 pm

    Bratty teens suck, pretty much. I was riding home the other week, passing through the smoking/bike path section of the Gateway TC, and I came upon four teen boys trying to kick over the wooden mile marker next to the path.

    As I rode by I said “hey, not cool!” which was met with a lot of cussing and puffery. I called Tri-Met but of course the offices were closed (since it was after 5) and all I could do was leave a message for them. They didn’t manage to knock it over, but still… eventually our tax dollars will be going to fix it.

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    • Joseph E March 25, 2013 at 7:12 pm

      Next time, call 911 to report vandalism against Trimet property:

      “It is a felony under Oregon law to assault a TriMet operator or vandalize TriMet property. TriMet offers a reward of up to $1,000 for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of any person who assaults a TriMet employee or vandalizes TriMet property. To report a crime, call 9−1−1”

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    • was carless March 26, 2013 at 11:57 am

      Yeah, thats a 911 call. Also, menacing is a crime too.

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  • q`Tzal March 25, 2013 at 8:32 pm

    What’s the phrase I have to tell the police, something along the lines of “I felt they intended to kill me as they ganged up on me and were using a weapon. I had to be certain that they wouldn’t be able to attempt to injure or kill me.”

    On the one hand I hope never to be in this sort of situation,
    On the other hand I hope for the perpetrator’s family’s sake that they have dental records.

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    • Shyla O. March 25, 2013 at 9:07 pm

      Probably more than anything, they just wanted to humiliate me. :/

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  • annefi March 25, 2013 at 11:27 pm

    Why does the story say she “says” and “according to”? It seems those words could have been omitted in a straightforward report on the assault.

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  • jim March 26, 2013 at 12:56 am

    It would suck to have a helmet cam get jammed into your skull in a crash where you would have been fine if it wasn’t there

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  • Ryan March 26, 2013 at 7:39 am

    Anyone else carrying a firearm while cycling?

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    • Shyla O. March 26, 2013 at 9:30 am

      I prefer evasive action…wouldn’t want to escalate an incident and have an even worse outcome.

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    • longgone March 26, 2013 at 11:04 am

      SShhhhhhhhhhh Ryan! We dont want the general public to think we would do that! Otherwise cyclist’s will be broader target’s for unthinking bufoon’s seeking to test their envelope of unfettered, misguided malevolence! The Taurus 941 is light and compact though, in case you are curious. My recomended in this case…(silly teenagers with sticks), could be met with an equal amount of stick, one would hope.

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    • pdxpaul March 26, 2013 at 11:18 am

      Firearms make it more likely that the person carrying the gun will be shot. True fact. A little nugget to noodle on.

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      • Shyla O. March 26, 2013 at 1:05 pm

        Exactly my view on the matter. I will always opt for peaceful de-escalation over an aggressive response, unless my life is in immediate danger.

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        • longgone March 26, 2013 at 2:07 pm

          Shyla,..I am certainly glad you are on the mend, and I wholeheartly agree that de-escalation is in fact the first/best and most civil way to act.
          As for” pdxpaul’s” comment…Im not one to use this forum for a gun debate normally, and will refrain form that other than to point out that my comment was (albiet sincere) mostly tounge in cheek. I do like firearms, have used them in self defense, and as of this date, yet to get myself shot..Here’s to everyone in the whole-wide world living without malice! peace,ya’ll.

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    • Randall S. March 26, 2013 at 12:12 pm

      You mean so that I can execute teenagers with sticks? No, as a matter of fact I don’t.

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    • Pete March 26, 2013 at 2:21 pm

      You mean other than Sen. Jason Atkinson’s cycling buddy?

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  • Adam March 26, 2013 at 8:03 am

    That’s terrible. I tend to ride with my u-lock accessible in areas where I feel unsafe (there is one HIDEOUS section of the I-205 path between Burnside & Stark Sts that I have dubbed “rape alley”, so sketchy is it with narrow confines – narrow path section immediately bounded by a tall wall concrete wall on one side, a tall chainlink fence on the other side, very poor lighting, and a collection of homeless characters languishing in it that make me very nervous at night. If I were attacked on it, there would be nowhere I could go. It is serious sketchville.

    The other thing I hope to have soon, is a Go-Pro. The more I ride, the more useful I see they would be…

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    • Shyla O. March 26, 2013 at 9:44 am

      I know that stretch of which you speak, and other areas where homeless/drug-addicted/mentally ill individual congregate on various bike trails. For me it highlights the larger issues of social/economic disparity in our region and everywhere…I can understand why folks in such dire circumstances are attracted to the privacy and tranquility of public MUPs and parks. Not that this makes me feel completely safe on some parts of certain trails…

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  • Dave Cary March 26, 2013 at 8:21 am

    Shyla with a cracked helmet and bruises and a very plausible story of how it happened and two prime suspects who said, “No we didn’t do that” and so they walk free. What would you expect them to say, “Yeah we clocked her.” With every passing day it becomes less likely that anything will be done and two smartass punks will be emboldened to do it again. This deserves some real investigation leading to prosecution. Yes, it’s hard work but the alternative is that these same jerks plus many more copycats will intimidate more riders off their bikes. That has got to be the worst alternative.

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  • Drew March 26, 2013 at 8:38 am

    I usually take pepper spray with me on the springwater trail, and have reached for it a few times. Having it in hand may have saved me from an incident once.

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    • Shyla O. March 26, 2013 at 9:32 am

      With my luck the wind would just blow it back in my face. :/

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  • Oregon Mamacita March 26, 2013 at 9:42 am

    I have felt unsafe on that section of the trail. Hopefully a face full of mace will stop the next attack. When we consider alternative transit we often downplay the legitimate crime concerns.

    My condolences- it’s hard physically and emotionally to be victimized.

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  • Joe March 26, 2013 at 11:28 am

    water in a bottle is a quick cuse me while I whip this out 🙂

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  • was carless March 26, 2013 at 11:54 am

    This is awful. Reminds me of an incident many years ago in Eugene, where someone hid behind a tree in Alton Baker park with a BASEBALL BAT and whacked a cyclist in the head. They regained consciousness the next day, and had been robbed.

    Always be very wary of any obstacle that someone can hide behind next to a cycle path – someone can ambush you.

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  • TOM March 26, 2013 at 4:31 pm

    there is usually a small group of ” ? ‘s” milling around Springwater at Harney , its just their hangout spot. usually no problems, but occasionally one of them thinks it’s funny to jump out into the path of oncoming bikes (to make them swerve ?) … not sure what I can do, besides swerve ?

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  • Ryan March 26, 2013 at 8:03 pm

    I carry a small Kimber .45 with me at all times while cycling. Ex-marine here so I know how to shoot…and would do so only if my life is in immediate danger. I also carry pepper spray (first thing I’ll grab in situations like these) and a combat knife.

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  • stig March 26, 2013 at 10:19 pm

    I ride that path and recall riding between 2 girls carrying branches in the last week or 2. I couldn’t tell you the date or give descriptions. I see many weirdos and drunks on the paths.

    They stood out because I saw them as a threat when they were walking deliberately on each side of the trail, forcing me between and obviously sticks / branches can be shoved through wheels.

    I’m no small dude and sat up a bit, making it obvious that I was alert to them and rode through without an issue.

    I believe you, Shyla. I’m sorry these cowardly animals picked on you and also appear to be getting away with it.

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    • Shyla O. March 27, 2013 at 9:39 am

      Egads. Do you remember any details about their appearance (age, height, hair color, race, etc.)?

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      • stig March 27, 2013 at 11:25 am

        Hey Shyla.
        I hope you’re recovering well. I can only describe them as young teens. I get really suspicious any time there’s people on both sides of the trail as I ride alone and I was focused on what they were carrying as I got closer. I remember thinking, those are large branches- looked like clubs.

        I didn’t ride last week so it would have been the week of the 11th, probably on the 12th. Time between 3 and 4pm. They were walking north-bound and I was riding south. Same area of trail. It was a nice day and there were many other potentially threatening people out that day, mostly on the Springwater.

        I hope the police nail them and if they can’t, I hope the effects of their inquiries scares them straight and serves as some punishment. No doubt they didn’t expect to get found by the police.

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        • Shyla O. March 27, 2013 at 12:04 pm

          I think these might very well be the same girls–same day, time and MO as my attack. We might want to coordinate our efforts. Jonathan can give you my contact info.

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        • Shyla O. March 27, 2013 at 12:04 pm

          I think these might very well be the same girls–same day, time and MO as my attack. We might want to coordinate our efforts to help nab them.

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        • Shyla O. March 27, 2013 at 12:16 pm

          Stig, I had Jonathan try to email you my info, but it bounced. Could you email him? Or is there another way to get in touch? If you don’t mind…thanks.

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          • stig March 27, 2013 at 1:23 pm

            I’ve emailed Jonathan my contact info.

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  • q`Tzal March 27, 2013 at 9:00 am

    Pepper spray or pepper & mace spray combo that has UV phosphorescent dye.
    Provides some level of defense when attacked.
    Provides definitive evidence that “Yes, it WAS you”.

    Comes in all sorts of sizes and strengths.
    Self defense industry sells a wide array of bicycle holsters and mounts to keep your pepper spray at the ready.
    Capsaicin sprays are the only consistently effective defense for cyclists against dogs of all sizes and ferocities; mace doesn’t work on dogs (allegedly).

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  • Shyla O. March 27, 2013 at 9:51 am

    Pepper spray, firearms, mace, color-marking spray, etc. are one way to deal with it. Funding the PAL center, SUN programs, and other after-school activities where kids can hang out until their parents get home from working two or three jobs…that’s another.

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