County now using magnetic sweeper to pick up tacks off Hawthorne Bridge path

Posted by on January 29th, 2015 at 10:11 am

magnetthingys

They’re coming for you tacks!
(Photo: Multnomah County)

Three weeks after we heard our first reports of thumbtacks scattered somewhere around the ramps of the Hawthorne Bridge, fresh reports keep coming in.

tacks on tire

Image sent by a reader of a
tack picked up at 6:30 a.m. Tuesday.

“(Tuesday) they found about 12 tacks, Monday they found about 20 and Friday they found in the 20 to 40 range,” Multnomah County spokesman Mike Pullen told KOIN-TV yesterday. Also yesterday we heard from KOIN reporter Elishah Oesch that her cameraman picked up 14 tacks from the east end of the path near the TriMet bus stop.

The county, which maintains the Hawthorne, Morrison, Burnside and Sellwood bridges, said Wednesday that it’s made a new plan to protect the safety and property of bridge users: it’s going to sweep the bridge daily with a large magnet.

County spokesman Mike Pullen told us yesterday that, “We are now having staff walk down the sidewalks and bike lanes with a large magnet to find the tacks. Very strange situation.”

Pullen added that the County can help the Portland Police Bureau document the incidents. For their part, the PPB has yet to make any public statement about the incidents. According to KOIN-TV’s report Sgt. Pete Simpson, a PPB spokesman, said Wednesday that no formal reports have been made. (Note that this doesn’t mean no one has called the police, just that no reports have been officially filed.)

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There’s no justification for this sort of vandalism, of course, and no telling what might be in the mind of the person or people doing it. It’s possible that someone is upset about people who pass too fast or too close while biking across the bridge; it’s just as possible that this is a completely random series of attacks.

tacks-koin-lead

Screenshot from KOIN.com.

But whatever is going on here, the number of separate incidents suggests it’s more than a coincidence or an idle prank. Back in 2011, similar tack attacks on North Williams and Vancouver Avenues continued for several weeks but eventually abated.

When the first incident happened early this month, we brushed it aside as an isolated incident; but now that it has continued and shows no sign of letting up, we think a more serious response from PPB is warranted. An enforcement solution is probably not feasible at this time, but we’d like to see the PPB and/or Multnomah County issue some sort of joint statement about the problem.

A strongly worded statement could have three key benefits: It would show the community that the PPB takes this crime seriously; the statement, and resulting media coverage, might scare the perpetrator(s) into stopping; and it would raise the awareness of the incidents and possibly lead to new tips or information that could lead to an arrest.

On several past occasions, when vandals slashed automobile tires in southeast Portland, the PPB issued a press release (using their “Crime Stoppers” program) and encouraged the public to call in tips. These tack incidents are just as serious as the slashing of auto tires and should met with a similar response.

The Hawthorne is Portland’s most-biked bridge and one of the highest bike traffic spots in North America. This time of year, it carries about 4,000 to 6,000 bike trips on a typical weekday.

If you happen to witness anyone who seems to be responsible for similar vandalism, you can call 911 to report them. If you become the victim of one of these incidents, call the police non-emergency line at (503) 823-3333 or use the police bureau’s online reporting tool. That may at least add pressure on police to dedicate some resources to the issue.

Jonathan Maus contributed to this story.

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q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

I guess no one makes brass tacks anymore.

Granpa
Guest
Granpa

Aiding and abetting the enemy?

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

Flashback to a movie line. Keyboard diarrhea.

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

Oops – thought crime!

Doesn’t matter: brass is too expensive and weak versus steel. No one is selling them. If someone wanted 100% brass tacks they’d have to make them from scratch. If you are going to that much effort for crime there are better things you could make than tacks.

Art Fuldodger
Guest
Art Fuldodger

I’m entirely down with brass tacks.

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

Where’s Big Brother and the ubiquitous surveillance cameras when you need him?

colton
Guest
colton

From the KOIN article:

Pullen said the county has “cameras on the bridges and so far they haven’t been able to identify anything going on.”

was carless
Guest
was carless

The cameras are probably not HD, and they probably aren’t zoomed in to wherever this is happening. Also, you could probably drop ~20 tacks without anyone noticing.

Paul Souders
Guest

“These tack incidents are just as serious as the slashing of auto tires and should met with a similar response.”

As serious as slashing auto tires WHILE THE CAR IS MOVING.

Adam H.
Guest
Adam H.

Better yet, PBOT should just hand out free Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires to everyone.

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

You want this to stop? Offer an enhanced reward/bounty for homeless people.

Now I suppose that the fact that this bout of “tacking” is isolated to the Hawthorne is indicative of some sort of territorial snit from some mentally unstable homeless person. This just means that the reward needs to be higher.

Realistically the homeless are the best surveillance system: people go out of their way NOT to notice the homeless but look for cameras.
Just because a person is homeless doesn’t make them care less about others or make them worth less as a person.

Someone down there knows; perhaps the real question is what is going on so bad that no one has ratted out the tacker?

PDXPixel
Guest
PDXPixel

That’s what Sherlock would do!!

invisiblebikes
Guest
invisiblebikes

I like your thinking, if we could crowd fund a reward I’m sure we could come up with a couple hundred bucks.
Put up a couple signs/posters stating a reward of 100 to $$? to anyone that provides information leading to the apprehension of the perpetrator(s)

I’m sure there are few homeless people that would rat out the perps!

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

Unless of course there is some violent thug down there who consistently gets released from police custody and takes it out on the marginalized people with nowhere else to go.
Until you’ve been stuck in a violent & toxic situation you don’t understand why people stay. Pretty consistently the only way to disarm a situation like that is a drastic shakeup of the paradigm.

Hopefully this is not the case.

Natalie
Guest
Natalie

Because offering lots of money in exchange for pointing fingers has such a clean track record.

Sarcasm aside, it’s a totally understandable idea but in practice can just incentivize all sorts of undesired consequences. Guantanamo’s majority population of innocent civilians handed over in exchange for understandably tempting $5-10k bounties for “terrorists” offered by the American government comes to mind.

TonyT
Guest
Tony T

I would also keep an eye on the Steel bridge. If the attention on the Hawthorne scares them off, I bet they just move somewhere else.

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

Something about the exclusiveness and persistence of this tack crime spree screams of a specific territorial issue. Someone thinks this bridge “belongs to them”.
They need to be educated of the error of their ways.

Natalie
Guest
Natalie

Or it’s just how they get to work every day.

Loaf
Guest
Loaf

I got “tack”-ed Monday evening east-bound across the bridge. I sent an email to the county address listed in the previous article, but received no response. Should I also submit a police report?

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
Admin

yes. Call the police. 503-823-3333. ask to file a report. please let me know how they respond.

soren
Guest
soren

I got tacked on Tues but managed to make it to work before I realized that my tire was slowly deflating around a bent tack (guess that aramid lining works).

Granpa
Guest
Granpa

I have seen the magnet man twice this week and made a point to thank him.
FWIW I have the Schwalbe Marathon and had two flats in the last two weeks. a chunk of glass was deeply imbedded in the tread, but only poked the tube when it was under pressure and under weight. (I ultimately dug that sucker out and it was a great relief)

Adam H.
Guest
Adam H.

Sorry to hear that. Was it a Schwalbe Marathon or a Schwalbe Marathon Plus? I used to run Marathon Pluses on my old bike, and never got a flat. I’m planning on replacing the stock Conti Touring tires on my new bike with Marathon Pluses once those wear out.

Patrick
Guest
Patrick

The Marathon +s work until they don’t then it time to replace them. It’s also good hygene to filp your bike over and dig out all the glass once-in-a-while (you’ll be surprised how much you find).

John Lascurettes
Guest

Look into the Marathon Supremes. They’re harder to find than the Plus for all sizes, but they’re lighter and I rode on a pair until I had exposed the puncture resistant fabric embedded deep in the tire without a single flat (I estimated around 5.5K mi.).

invisiblebikes
Guest
invisiblebikes

Granpa,

Expensive flat resistant tires (like the Schwalbe marathon or marathon plus) do a decent job of deterring blowout style punctures but strong tacks or embedded materials (like glass shards or sharp metal shards) will eventually work through the narrow reinforced area, which is just a thicker layer of denser rubber and only runs along the center of the tread area.

For a commuter set up the best flat protection is to use a mid level flat resistant tire (that offers softer rubber for better performance and feel) along with a sealant like NoTubes or Slime in your tubes (or pre sealed tubes).
Sealants work wonders for the majority of most punctures, they seal around the foreign object (tack or glass) so once it works its way through the tire and punctures the tube it seals immediately and doesn’t release any air… so you keep riding without catastrophic failure.
most of the time you’ll ride for months without noticing you’ve got a puncture!

I’ve designed commuter tires and puncture resistant tires for bicycles for years working with well known US brands using the largest most advanced tire manufacturing facilities in Taiwan (they manufacture about 75% of all bike tires on the market)
The research and development process we used (and is widely available to consumers) always resulted in levels of protection (to deter flats) ending with full protection coming from good old “fix a flat” type sealants.

The Tack issue on Hawthorn sucks but it would easily be circumnavigated by using a sealant under any tire. Most of them guarantee 100% sealed punctures around the size of a tack.

Granpa
Guest
Granpa

Lots of good info there. Regarding my flats no big whoop. Replace the tube with one I keep with me, then patch the punctured tube when I get home. Not my first and won’t be my last.

was carless
Guest
was carless

Yikes. For me that would be a 5 mile walk home! I had to do 3 miles once, took me about an hour and a half with fully-loaded panniers and a rear flat (I had to walk and carry the rear half of the bike to prevent rim damage). Not fun!

davemess
Guest
davemess

Does anyone use tire liners anymore? They are pretty tough to fit in narrower road tires (23-28), but work pretty well in larger ones. I had really good luck with them protecting against thorns on my cross bike in Colorado.

Joe
Guest
Joe

bike haters why they hate?

silkyslim
Guest
silkyslim

They hate us cause they ain’t us. – The Interview

Cota
Guest
Cota

They hate that big F’in smile on my face.

lyle w.
Guest
lyle w.

They hate us cuz we’re so sexy, and we so in shape, and we so fabulous!

Natalie
Guest
Natalie

Nah man, they hate us because of the 5% who are total assholes to pedestrians, cars, and even other bikes. Let’s not fool ourselves. Anyone reading the unpredictable swerving, the red-light run, and other acts of douchiness should know that all the innocent commuters just trying to get to work get to deal with crap like this in retaliation.

Obviously, I don’t condone pointless damage like this. It’s childish, dangerous, and just the lamest thing I’ve ever heard of. Someone clearly needs a therapist and a hobby.

But let’s not kid ourselves that this anger is due to us smiling while we ride, for chrissakes.

Wyatt Baldwin
Guest

A similar percentage of people driving cars are selfish/inconsiderate too (people are people after all), but it’s rare to see this kind of targeted attack against car drivers. So I don’t think that really explains it. Part of it, I think, is simply that it’s easy to do. That and the fact that poor driving behavior is normalized to the point of almost being invisible, whereas poor biking behavior seems to be magnified to an absurd degree, even amongst people who are bike-friendly.

soren
Guest
soren

If bike scofflaws/jaybikers are the cause of this “hate” then why is there not similar “hate” directed at jaywalkers/pedestrian scofflaws?

9watts
Guest
9watts

“These tack incidents are just as serious as the slashing of auto tires and should met with a similar response.”

Thanks for that comparison. I think these are really instructive.

It would make an interesting list to tally up all the parallel instances like this, showing the degree to which things that happen to people who drive/their conveyances are taken seriously as a matter of course.

Stretchy
Guest
Stretchy

It would be hard for cameras to pick up the perpetrator. The motion of scattering a handful of tacks wouldn’t be that obvious and it’s unlikely a regular security camera would have the resolution to be able to actually see the tacks coming out of someone’s hand.

Stretchy
Guest
Stretchy

One other thing, it would be helpful to have a large amount of specific data to determine when the tacks appear. Rather than just generic, “I got hit Tuesday morning” you could post, “Eastbound Hawthorne, 8:45am, Jan 27, tacks found”

If several people crossed eastbound earlier that morning and, had no problems you could infer that the perpetrator scattered the tacks in the morning.

This in and of itself is not helpful but, if a pattern emerges, you could keep an eye out during the likeliest times and perhaps stand a better chance of catching someone in the act.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
Admin

Just updated post with picture of the magnetic sweeper brooms the County is using…

Patrick
Guest
Patrick

I used to use these as a carpenter picking up nails on the jobsite in the grass–they work great! They have a handle to release the magnet and all the metal drops off for inspection & disposial.

Patrick
Guest
Patrick

Lets mount them on a bike!

Cota
Guest
Cota

A backwards trike.

The Odd Duck
Guest
The Odd Duck

With the right type a forward mount would work. BTW I ride a adult trike.

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

The same mounting spars/rods that are used for mounting fenders could be used to position a magnet 3″-6″ in front of the tire contact patch and 1″ above the ground – closer if you have a light N52 magnet and very rigid mounting.

If someone did this they’d only need a magnet wide enough to clear their tire width. These rectangular mounting magnets seems ready made for the task. Magnet pre-mounted in a bracket that directs the field down it already has mounting holes that will work with 4-40 screws (and maybe 6-32 if it is a little light)

Swipe some carbon fiber/graphite spars from your collection of old stunt kite hardware (doesn’t everybody have this pile of odd scrap?) and make a mount for your own personalized tack sweeper today!

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

With all the tacks they’ll be collecting with this technique they should be able to create a mosaic of interlocking segments of a complete fingerprint of the perpetrator.
No single tack will have a full print but with this many tacks a full print must exist once the puzzle pieces are put together.

Paul
Guest
Paul

If the tack sweep occurs same time everyday (let’s say early morning), and the perp is someone nearby with a lot of free time, then it’s not going to very hard for them to come in and re-tack after the sweep. I hope this is not the case, but hopefully they’ll get seen, and we can narrow down the time when this atrocious vandalism occurs.

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

Pair the sweep with observers posted some distance away with binoculars.
As you say watch intensely for the 1st hour after a sweep.

JJJJ
Guest
JJJJ

I love the fact that at some point in time, someone decided that buying a magnetic sweeper would be a good idea. “See Jerry? I TOLD YOU WE’D NEED THEM” I hope they were charged to Homeland Security

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

These are generally a device used in mechanic’s shops to clean up loose metal hardware and shavings from metal working/sawing,drilling.

This magnetic device is DECADES old and pretty durn cheap.

Harald
Guest

Makes me wonder if it’s maybe Big Magnet that’s behind the tackattacks.
1. Distribute tacks
2. Panic among Portland cyclists
3. Sell dozens of magnetic sweepers
4. Profit!!!

K'Tesh
Guest
K'Tesh

would that be a tackattacktactic?

Spiffy
Guest
Spiffy

I’m sure they would think it a fantackstic idea…

Allison
Guest
Allison

I’d like to contribute to a “Buy the person who is going out to the bridge to run the magnetic sweeper a coffee” fund. Anyone else in?

lyle w.
Guest
lyle w.

Yeah, it’s called Taxes.

Opus the Poet
Guest

Tackses 😉

Leaf_blower
Guest
Leaf_blower

It’d be easier to use a leaf blower and blow all the tax away in case the tacker wisens up and goes with brass tax. Car and bus tires are impervious to thumb tax.

April
Guest
April

Someone one dumped a whole box of them into the bike lane of se 52nd, just south of Foster. I borrowed a broom from a local resident and swept them all into the curb. And then walked to a bike shop because I had two flats via nine tacks.

April
Guest
April

(This was several months ago)

lyle w.
Guest
lyle w.

Hmm, the 14 stops right there and also where the tacks on the Hawthorne bridge are turning up.

[suspicion intensifies]

John Landolfe
Guest

Thank you, county!

tom
Guest
tom

what an a##hole. people walk there dogs across that bridge too.

Oregon Mamacita
Guest
Oregon Mamacita

Has anyone mapped the tack attacks?

It looks like someone is meting out group justice to remedy a situation.
Or, they could hate one person. It could be politically motivated (wacko politics) or it could be someone with a mental illness.

Also- while the guilty party or parties (copycats) are 100% behaving in an oppressive, nasty and aggressive manner, the BP readers risking making the situation worse by “they hate us cuz they ain’t us” remarks.

If you are searching for the truth, what if the truth turns out to be a person with a legitimate point who then uses that point as a springboard into a cowardly attack on the general public. You won’t be to process the truth if it involves something unflattering about men in spandex, or buzzing pedestrians.

Because- I can tell you with 100% certainty- the guilty party(ies) are cowards. Whoever the guilty party is they aren’t an outlaw motorcycle gang or MMA fighters.

Now, get yr heads out of the sand about how the spandex/showers pass crowd is viewed by the general public. You may be perceived as aggressors and not attractive victims of resentment.