County more ‘vigilant’ on Hawthorne Bridge inspections as tacks claim more victims

tacks-final

More tacks, more flats.
(Photos sent in by readers)


Whoever is throwing tacks onto the Hawthorne Bridge path has likely returned to the scene of the initial crime. It’s been almost a week since we shared the first report of a flat tire being caused by what seem to be many tacks purposefully strewn about the path.

“We will be monitoring the sidewalks more often until the incidents stop. People who see anything suspicious should call 911.”
ā€” Mike Pullen, Multnomah County spokesman

We asssumed it was an isolated incident; but the flats keep coming.

On Saturday, Pedal Bike Tours employee Sarah Gilbert was riding downtown to lead a tour when she picked up two flats. We also heard from a victim who flatted from tacks on Monday. Then just yesterday, an employee from West End Bikes called to tell us they had three people roll into the shop with flats ā€” all of them from the same, golden tacks we’ve now seen on many tires in the past week. The main location of the flats appears to be near the bus stop where the westbound bike lane merges up onto the sidewalk/path (above SE Water Ave).

Multnomah County owns and manages the Hawthorne Bridge. Spokesman Mike Pullen told us that county bridge crews cleared all tacks from the bike lane and path after hearing about it last week. Now, with new cases being reported, he says, “We are being more vigilant.”

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The new cases caught the eyes of KGW-TV and KOIN-TV, who ran this segment last night:

The County has increased inspections of all their bridges and says so far they’ve only found tacks on the Hawthorne. Pullen says the tacks they found yesterday had been spray-painted black, “possibly to make them harder to see.”

“We will be monitoring the sidewalks more often until the incidents stop,” he added, “People who see anything suspicious should call 911.”

If you’ve gotten a flat and/or find one on the path, please report it to Multnomah County via phone at (503) 988-3757 (ext 0) or via email at dcs.bridges@multco.us.

Multnomah County Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee member Matt Picio said he plans to put the tacks on the agenda of their monthly meeting tomorrow (1/14).

We’ll continue to track these tack attacks and will be back with more information as it comes in.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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Kiel Johnson / Go By Bike
kiel johnson
8 years ago

who is the “bike authority” mentioned in the video? Is it like the sports authority but with bikes?

soren
soren
8 years ago
Reply to  kiel johnson
Kiel Johnson / Go By Bike
kiel johnson
8 years ago

nice of jonathan mouse to give an interview šŸ™‚

PNP
PNP
8 years ago

Aren’t there cameras on the bridge?

Scott H
Scott H
8 years ago
Reply to  PNP

There are cameras on the bridge itself but it sounds like this is happening a few hundred hards away near the notorious west-bound bus stop.

Brian
Brian
8 years ago

Great. The news last night just gave a bunch of bored knuckleheads an idea.

Tony H
Tony H
8 years ago

So tacky.

SilkySlim
SilkySlim
8 years ago

Wow, that really might be the most dangerous location possible…. To catch a flat while heading downhill and angling towards the traffic lanes is terrible. Arhghghghhghg.

lyle w.
lyle w.
8 years ago
Reply to  SilkySlim

I tried to make that point to people on another board, and was shot down as being paranoid and histrionic. Love how people who don’t have a clue about bike mechanics have no problem going there.

Brian
Brian
8 years ago

This is why I ride a wheelie across the Hawthorne Bridge. 50% less chance of flatting.

Peter
Peter
8 years ago

I ride this route 5x weekly and haven’t (thankfully) picked up one of these buggers. If I had to don my Rust Cohle hat I’d guess that the perp is someone who regularly gets off of Trimet and is frustrated that s/he has to risk death from a collision by those cyclists who fail to slow down (let alone yield) at that particular bus stop. I’ve seen it happen dozens of times. Bikes: when you see a bus slow down and pull in, anticipate pedestrians. I mean, you *know* someone’s gonna get on or off…so slow your roll for one hot minute, Lance Armstrong. (Still: I hope they catch this MF.)

Opus the Poet
Opus the Poet
8 years ago
Reply to  Peter

Except the risk of death is almost nil with cyclists hitting pedestrians, even in NYC with the highest rate of cyclists killing pedestrians in North America (9 since 2001) the ratio of pedestrians killed is 250:1 motor vehicles:bicycles. People are conflating the risk of getting hit by a motor vehicle with getting hit by a bicycle, or in some cases thinking they are in more danger from a bicycle than a motor vehicle.

Dave
Dave
8 years ago

And another 200 people just switched to Schwalbe Marathons.

El Biciclero
El Biciclero
8 years ago
Reply to  Dave

Isn’t the tire in the large (background) image above a Marathon? The tread pattern looks like the ones I used to have.

Alex
Alex
8 years ago
Reply to  Dave

Honestly, those tires are great, but I have still gotten flats on them. You could probably use a bit of Stan’s in the tubes and prevent the flats, regardless of the tires.

Peter
Peter
8 years ago

Also offered in favor of my theory: the rumble strip that used to exist just east of this spot was recently removed…

rachel b
rachel b
8 years ago

grrrrrrrrrrrr… and arghhh!

K'Tesh
K'Tesh
8 years ago

Be nice if they could run a “mine sweeper” out there regularly with some rare earth magnets to pick them up. That, and make sure that they are filming the bridge to catch the perps in the process.

was carless
was carless
8 years ago
Reply to  K'Tesh

Hmm, its tough to know without seeing the sidewall. Anyway, the tires themselves should be thick enough to not allow penetration:

http://www.schwalbetires.com/node/943

Aaron
Aaron
8 years ago
Reply to  K'Tesh
john
john
8 years ago

I picked up two tacks yesterday at 7 AM heading east bound on Hawthorne Bridge. I have reported the incident to email address provided in article. No flats (Schwalbe Marathons!) Thanks, john

daisy
daisy
8 years ago

Would it be good to also call police?

Cory Poole
8 years ago

Just another good reason to skate. šŸ™‚

Dmitriy Zasyatkin
8 years ago

This is why I like to inject 2 ounces of tubeless goo into any tube I use that has a removable valve core. You can also just buy the Slime tubes, but if you’re a mountain biker you should already be using tubeless by now.

Kirk
8 years ago

Could this ‘bike tacks’ be the result of someone upset that people that bike aren’t directly contributing to the ‘gas tax’? … Sorry, I couldn’t help myself with that one. šŸ˜‰

PdxMark
PdxMark
8 years ago
Reply to  Kirk

Along those lines, I had the thought that putting tacks on the agenda of the Multnomah County Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee was no better than putting tacks on the sidewalk of the Hawthorne bridge. When will these tacks attacks stop!? šŸ™‚

Karl Dickman
Karl Dickman
8 years ago

This caught my eye:
“The main location of the flats appears to be near the bus stop where the westbound bike lane merges up onto the sidewalk/path (above SE Water Ave).”

Chris I
Chris I
8 years ago
Reply to  Karl Dickman

Me too. Given the known conflicts here with bus riders, I think we can narrow down our list of locations to be more vigilant.

Ben McLeod
8 years ago

I find it odd that KOIN’s headline reads “Bikers upset…” Do they run similar headlines for stories involving cars? Like when people go around slashing tires. Let’s see…. nope. http://koin.com/2014/04/27/tires-8-vehicles-found-slashed-parking-lot/

“Bikers upset….” makes the issue sound more about whiney, self-entitled bikers and not about horrible people purposely causing serious safety issues.

John Lascurettes
8 years ago
Reply to  Ben McLeod

Props to KGW for not using similar language.

gutterbunnybikes
gutterbunnybikes
8 years ago
Reply to  Ben McLeod

Man I wouldn’t want the Hells Angels mad at me….

Though I prefer the term bikers to cyclists…though I just ride bicycles.

lyle w.
lyle w.
8 years ago
Reply to  Ben McLeod

Unfortunately, they know where their bread is buttered, and views/clicks based off sensational/biased headlines are what feeds the news machine at this point. Go on any of the user comments sections on Katu/Koin/Oregonlive, etc.. and they’re just littered with rampant racism, poor-hatred (which is sort of a extension of bike hatred), xenophobia, etc etc.

You don’t bite the hand that feeds you.

Now, figuring out how much the news stokes the whole Car Vs. Bike debate, and how much if it is just a symptom and is unavoidable programmed garbage is another thing.

Mike
Mike
8 years ago
Reply to  Ben McLeod

Really?

BIKELEPTIC
8 years ago

I saw these solid tubes at Interbike last fall. Unlike old solid tubes, these were actually pretty near weightless. Not endorsing them at all, because I still wouldn’t use them. . . but just saying. . . they can’t stop the wheels from rolling. http://stopaflatusa.com/

Spiffy
8 years ago

time to start taking the lane…

oliver
oliver
8 years ago
Reply to  Spiffy

Time for someone to stake out the bus stop with a tire iron.

John Lascurettes
8 years ago
Reply to  Spiffy

Out of all the bridges, the Hawthorne’s road deck is the least pleasant surface to ride on a bike.

spencer
spencer
8 years ago

perhaps its the bike thief chop shop scumbags living just south of the Ross Island bridge throwing tacks all over the place in the misguided hope we’ll abandon our steeds?

lyle w.
lyle w.
8 years ago
Reply to  spencer

Someone else said that they saw a guy throwing tacks and/or bragging he had tacks around the time this first happened, and he appeared to be transient.

I would say that’s a pretty good guess… who knows how many run-ins these guys have with cyclists who see their chop-shops and make threats, hurl abuse at them, etc. I know i internally want to do that every time i ride by one of those camps, but hold it in.

It’s just an incredibly frustrating scenario, and the fact that they’re allowed to operate in the open like they have been for so long is beyond exasperating.

gutterbunnybikes
gutterbunnybikes
8 years ago
Reply to  spencer

My votes for comments of the week – based on sheer ridiculousness.

Come on guys, this ain’t got nothing to do with “chop shops”. Take your Zyprexa and get a good nights sleep, it’ll be better tomorrow.

soren
soren
8 years ago

don’t be so sure, gutterbunnybikes. i personally saw a “homeless (looking)” person walking on the hawthorne bridge a few weeks ago.

lyle w.
lyle w.
8 years ago
Reply to  soren

Hey Soren, I don’t know if you’re sort of implying my response or the other guy’s response was offensive to you.

Let me just be clear about something– there was someone on reddit when this originally happened a few days ago commuting home on his bike who said he saw a transient dude walking around at the exact spot they were laid down, in the EXACT time-frame it happened, holding tacks in his hand and swinging them around, asking/yelling at people to see if they wanted to ‘buy some tacks’ and then laughing, etc.

I don’t know if you could hear that and still call this sterotyping and hating on poor/homeless people…

In my opinion, any reasonable person would hear that and conclude that the guy who was responsible for at least the first instance of this happening is transient, and then probably has some connection to the string of homeless camps/bike chops shops that are all over that area.

soren
soren
8 years ago
Reply to  lyle w.

Assuming that someone is homeless only based on their personal appearance is stereotyping.

Aaron
Aaron
8 years ago
David McCabe
David McCabe
8 years ago
Reply to  Aaron

I wonder if it’d be feasible to mount a powerful magnet right it front of the leading edge of a bicycle tire, to pick up the small metal shards that sometimes cause flats.

K'Tesh
K'Tesh
8 years ago
Reply to  Aaron

I’m thinking about a series of rare earth magnets attached to a booms that are 24″-36″ wide, so you could sweep an area 48″-72″ wide in a single pass.

K'Tesh
K'Tesh
8 years ago
Reply to  K'Tesh

that was supposed to be a PAIR of booms… :/

Cory Poole
8 years ago
Reply to  Aaron

If they are using brass tacks then magnets wont help. The ones pictured so far appear to be steel.

Tyler
8 years ago

The city was out this morning, sweeping the bike lanes near the westbound bus stop with magnets to collect any tacks.

John Landolfe
8 years ago

I appreciate the County’s vigilance but I would like to see law enforcement take the lead on this. The perpetrator should be held accountable for the cumulative property damages, cumulative loss of income due to late arrival to work, and impacts to businesses such as the touring companies.

lyle w.
lyle w.
8 years ago
Reply to  John Landolfe

“Hey, i’d like to report spikes laid down on the Hawthorne bridge”

“We’ll be right out, sir”

*Heavy and immediate police response*

“Where are the spike strips, sir?”

“Oh, they’re right over there in the bike lane…”

“Sir, those are NOT spike strips”

“Well, did i say spike strips? I said spikes… and you don’t think tacks resemble spikes?”

Christoph
Christoph
8 years ago

I got a flat from a tack heading eastbound on the morning of January 28th, at around 7:45AM. Iā€™m riding on All condition Armadillos, but they do (or did, rather) have 3000+ miles on them. My front tire survived, but my back tire is done.