Portland Century - August 18th

Multiple people assaulted by ‘unstable’ man on Eastbank Esplanade

Posted by on February 24th, 2015 at 11:07 am

high water on willamette-4-3

The incidents happened just north of this location.
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

A reader has shared a disturbing incident that took place while he was riding his bicycle on the Eastbank Esplanade before sunrise this morning.

According to Jeff B., at around 6:15 am he was thrown off his bike while riding southbound on the floating portion of the Esplanade just north of the Burnside Bridge. In an email to BikePortland, Jeff described what happened:

“A man hit me with what appeared to be a car antenna and checked me into the railing. At first I thought he was just messing with me and taking a step towards me to scare me, but that wasn’t the case. I was going about 20 mph and went down hard, even shattering my helmet.”

Thankfully, Jeff says he’s “OK” and only suffered a few abrasions and some soreness in his shoulders.

Unfortunately, he wasn’t the only one assaulted by this man.

As Jeff continued south to escape the suspect, he noticed a woman riding toward him. He attempted to warn her to stop, but wasn’t able to. “I was already a ways away and it’s dark on that portion of the path,” Jeff shared with us this morning, “so he did the same to her and she went down.” Luckily, she too was not seriously injured.

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Jeff then called 911 and a Portland Police Officer responded a short time later. The officer told Jeff that yet another rider had recently called in a similar incident. A police report has been filed and we’ve requested comment from a PPB spokesperson to hear if any updates are available on the case.

“I know this was a random incident but it still has me really scared of my commute route now… I just want folks to be careful.”
— Jeff B.

The man who assaulted the riders walked away after the incidents and was not apprehended. Jeff added that the man appeared to be “mentally unstable and looked to be part of the transient crowd.”

Just north of the ramp, where Jeff says the man walked toward after the assaults, there’s a cut in the fence that leads to ODOT-owned property under I-5. We noted this hole in the fence in an unrelated story back in November.

Jeff has mixed feelings about what happened. He wants the man to get the help he needs, but it’s not the first time he’s had “uncomfortable moments” on the path during his morning commute.

“I know this was a random incident but it still has me really scared of my commute route now… I just want folks to be careful.”

Like other off-highway paths in the Portland Area, these important and busy transportation corridors are not regularly patrolled by uniformed PPB officers and path users are often by themselves — especially in early morning/late night hours. There are a few Portland Parks & Recreation rangers, but they deal with low-level livability issues and rely on the PPB to handle more serious crimes.

This is not the first time we’ve covered safety concerns on paths in the Portland area. Back in September of 2012 we shared the reports of several people who had been harassed while bicycling on the Springwater Corridor path.

UPDATE, 12:18pm: Here’s the response from PPB Sgt. Peter Simpson:

“Central Precinct officers are aware of the incident but no suspect has been identified. Based on the report, it appears that the suspect is likely a homeless person.

There have been no similar reports but obviously we want people to keep their eyes out and to call 9-1-1 if necessary.”

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158 Comments
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    Nathan Hinkle (The Bike Light Database) February 24, 2015 at 11:15 am

    I would really like to see a more regular police presence on high-use MUPs in the Portland area. Having a couple of bike officers to patrol the springwater corridor and eastbank esplanade would be nice. Just knowing that law enforcement will bike by every hour or two would be a good deterrent to some of the undesirable behavior seen in these areas. I’m sure multiple police cars drive down any given stretch of I-5 in any given hour, and yet there’s no regular patrols on bike paths.

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      George H. February 24, 2015 at 11:24 am

      Also, allowing permanent camps on the Esplanade not only exacerbates this problem, it enables a dangerous environment. PPB needs to have more routine sweeps. Parks are not for camping.

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        Esther February 24, 2015 at 12:08 pm

        People aren’t “camping.” They’re living.

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          J_R February 24, 2015 at 12:20 pm

          If their “living” in illegally in public parks is causing legitimate, legal users of those facilities to avoid using them, it’s simply unacceptable.

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            Esther February 24, 2015 at 12:26 pm

            I agree that homelessness is totally unacceptable. Thank goodness for the great advocates out there working in coalitions to mitigate it. https://oregoniz.wordpress.com/

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              Mike February 24, 2015 at 1:24 pm

              So, because they have a lousy lot in life it is acceptable for this behavior to take place? An A-hole is an A-hole regardless of what’s in their bank account.

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                Alan 1.0 February 24, 2015 at 1:50 pm

                I don’t see the logical inference of someone considering homelessness as not a crime to them considering assault to be acceptable. Could you explain?

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                nuovorecord February 24, 2015 at 3:07 pm

                Homelessness and mental illness go hand-in-hand. As the article states, this man is described as “unstable.” Yes, it’s a criminal action, but he’s apparently suffering.

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                Alan 1.0 February 24, 2015 at 3:15 pm

                “Homelessness and mental illness go hand-in-hand.”

                There’s certainly intersection of those sets, and no doubt causation in some cases (maybe even both directions), but they are discrete and separable problems, many (most?) people in one category don’t fit in the other, and it just ain’t all that hard to tell them apart. Meanwhile, what did Esther say to justify Mike suggesting she doesn’t think the assailant is a problem?

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          Fallaballa February 24, 2015 at 12:20 pm

          people who camp recreationally are “living” as well. I am “living”, hence i can write this comment.

          the race to shame posters for their perception of Springwater transients is off-putting.

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          George H. February 24, 2015 at 12:23 pm

          You’re not helping….you’re enabling, and not in the empowering way. http://m.huffpost.com/ca/entry/5589340

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          naess February 25, 2015 at 2:28 pm

          people aren’t “living” there, they’re “assaulting people” there.

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          JH April 29, 2016 at 2:01 pm

          Parks are also not for living, at least according to the law. Not that the law should be followed though, it is after all just the law.

          I definitely agree with you though Esther, it makes complete sense for the other ~607,000 Portland residents to have our most easily accessible public spaces (that we pay for) continue to be compromised either directly or indirectly as a result of the illegal behaviors of those ~2000 “living”.

          After all, this “living” (illegal camping) is clearly the best solution to Homelessness, and must be allowed to continue.

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        Lester Burnham February 24, 2015 at 2:23 pm

        They are stealing our bikes, and now assaulting us. Great.

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      Adam February 24, 2015 at 11:27 am

      They do patrols, but when I’ve asked them to address himless issues on the Esplanade/Waterfront bike paths, the response I always get is “Our hands are tied…”

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      feerless_freek February 25, 2015 at 8:53 am

      There’s no money in ticketing homeless people, but ticketing drivers on I5 yields a lot of revenue and the cops can spend most of their time in the warm comfort and relative safety of their cars…

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        Randall S. February 25, 2015 at 11:52 am

        I found a really cool trick I use to get out of traffic tickets, that works 100% of the time: Once you get onto the I-5 ramp, drive down the freeway without breaking traffic laws.

        You should try it. It’s amazingly effective.

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          feerless_freek February 26, 2015 at 10:45 am

          I found a really cool trick I use to dispatch smug, condescending know-it-alls who misinterpret my comments and reply with snarky non sequiturs: I invite them to re-read my comment- more slowly, if that helps- and see if they can discern my meaning on their second try.

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      KL February 26, 2015 at 10:38 am

      And according to KATU news, a spokesperson for Portland Parks and Recreation, Mark Ross, told KATU there are no additional patrols in response to the attack because they believe this is an isolated incident.

      Does not sound like an isolated incident to me when you have multiple people who were attacked and the KATU article mentions a woman who was chased to her car by the same person. (http://www.katu.com/news/local/Cyclist-attacked-on-East-Bank-Esplanade-294123731.html)

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        esther2 February 26, 2015 at 12:15 pm

        3 attacks is not isolated. exactly

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    Anne Hawley February 24, 2015 at 11:24 am

    The no-exit quality of the Eastbank has always made me feel slightly unsafe there, except in broad and busy daylight. I can only imagine how much more unsafe it might feel for someone on foot. I agree that bike-patrol presence would help, but until Portland can do something at a more fundamental level to eliminate homelessness, I don’t see any band-aid measures really making a huge difference.

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      Alan 1.0 February 24, 2015 at 11:31 am

      Sorry to be a broken record, and I think I fundamentally agree with you that housing is an acute social problem, but the problem in this particular case is not what structure was over the assailant’s head last time he slept but what is going on in his head while he walks around town.

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        Anne Hawley February 24, 2015 at 11:39 am

        Absolutely. No argument here. Salt Lake City’s successful program for housing the homeless includes support for mental illness. Any good program must do the same. I guess I assumed that went without saying, but of course it needs to be said and said and said.

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          soren February 24, 2015 at 12:24 pm

          SLC emphasizes housing and counseling while PDX emphasizes criminalization, enforcement, and incarceration. Guess which approach costs tax payers less?

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            q`Tzal February 24, 2015 at 1:41 pm

            Ironic to find such a progressive policy in such an otherwise socially regressive state.

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              meh February 24, 2015 at 2:44 pm

              Because most religion professes compassion for those less able to care for themselves.

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                Mossby Pomegrante February 24, 2015 at 5:11 pm

                While progressiveness dictates attacking religion.

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                q`Tzal February 24, 2015 at 6:59 pm

                And yet the Utah situation isn’t caused by religion but by extremist political dogma posing as religion.

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                feerless_freek February 26, 2015 at 10:48 am

                Now that’s just absurd.

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              Barney February 24, 2015 at 8:36 pm

              Your perception of the state seems to be a bit skewed. Certainly Utah is a conservative state but empathy and concern for the less fortunate does take a more constructive form in SLC than in seems to in PDX. Although problems still do exist there are no camps of “dreamers” forced to squat in the mud downtown. Partnerships between local government, private charities and the LDS Church have moved the ball further than may ever be possible in a secular PDX. The irony is that those who only know liberal solutions are always surprised to find that REAL compassion exists elsewhere!

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                Lester Burnham February 25, 2015 at 6:42 am

                Barney it hurts, but you are right. Kinda like when we learned we were not the #1 cycling city in the world.

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                George H. February 25, 2015 at 9:04 am

                The social justice warriors that wave around the “SLC gives apartments to the homeless” omit a lot of the nuances of this program that would make it impossible in Multnomah County. The LDS church made a sizable financial contribution, and contribute furniture, food, and manpower from their (very well-funded) church welfare agency. Essentially tthe LDS church does the heavy lifting to get all stakeholders on board and quell things like NIMBY issues.

                If LDS ever offered the same resources here, people would scoff, denigrate religion, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there were protests against parochial involvement. There would be endless bickering about where people would/should be housed, use of politically correct language, about whether results should be measured (“it could hurt someone’s feelings”) and how everything should be done according to egalitarian principles.

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              feerless_freek February 25, 2015 at 9:02 am

              SLC is remarkably progressive and has been for years, beginning with the Rocky Anderson administration. They’ve been way ahead of their time on things like extending benefits to gay and unmarried partners of city employees- and that was nine years ago, in 2005 (!). The state government can be pretty kooky, but SLC is really a great city with a lot of good things happening.

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              Bryan Smith February 25, 2015 at 11:24 pm

              Salt Lake City is the most progressive part of UTAH In fact, my friend who lives there talks about “Mormon Flight” out of Salt Lake to Provo.

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            Chris I February 24, 2015 at 2:37 pm

            You can’t say that yet, because the SLC policy is so new. There are also geographic and demographic differences. Let’s check back in a few years.

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            was carless February 24, 2015 at 3:30 pm

            …except that is emphatically not true.

            Portland does have a housing-first program, has a continued strategy towards providing additional low-cost housing, and has focused on the most vulnerable of the homeless population (Bud Clark Commons).

            Portland does not put homeless people in jail; the revolving door of the Multnomah County Justice Department is well-known to most residents when repeat offenders of minor property crimes end up back on the street.

            It took over 10 years of effort to finally ban sidewalk camping. There is a lot of pressure to maintain a quality of life for Portlanders, and simply labeling the homeless population as “houseless” and then attacking anyone who critiques or points out issues with homeless is counter-productive.

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            DIMcyclist June 23, 2017 at 12:45 am

            I’ve been in SLC for the past several months (it’s a job-thing), and I have to point out that theirs is not a perfect solution. It’s better- and it allows interesting things like statistical monitoring of on-site health resource distribution (which is turning up some fascinating results for possible further cost-savings while still increasing care)- but it’s not perfect. They’re having the same kinds of squabbles about shelter location that we have, and in one particular downtown location their situation is arguably worse than ours. You also have to consider that Utah declined additional Medicare expansion under the ACA, and there are lower-income people here already dying of preventable illnesses while their congressional delegation continues to push for complete repeal of Obamacare. If they get their way, they’ll lose funding for the entire experiment.

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      George H. February 24, 2015 at 12:04 pm

      This is why places like the Esplanade and Springwater are becoming no-go zones: “oh we can’t do anything because we can’t solve homelessness.” It’s part denial and part liberal guilt. We have a homeless problem, and a huge part of that is that we’re a magnet for homeless from other parts of the country. Even the city’s own surveys show that >50% of homeless have arrived from other places in the last five years. And people are in deep, deep denial about that – we will never be able to end homelessness in Portland when they keep pouring in. It is financially not feasible. Transients come here because they know they can set up a permanent camp in a park, and their only consequence is they’ll be asked to move (several months later)….and they simply set up a new camp down the trail….wash rinse repeat. You could never get away with this in Boise, SLC, Omaha etc. and that’s why Portland is a destination for transients.

      We are more generous than most cities when it comes to feeding, shelters, warming centers, and transition….yet the city does little to nothing when it comes to the anti-social behavior and those who have no interest in services. We need to use a carrot AND a stick. Currently the approach is using a carrot and a carrot, and yet people don’t understand why the problem keeps getting worse.

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        soren February 24, 2015 at 12:22 pm

        “no-go zones”
        “We need to use a … stick.”
        “when they keep pouring in”
        “denial and part liberal guilt”
        “You could never get away with this in Boise, SLC, Omaha etc.”

        Excellent stuff. Have you ever considered a career in corporate journalism?

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          George H. February 24, 2015 at 12:53 pm

          Have you ever considered a career in cherry-picking?

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            naess February 25, 2015 at 2:33 pm

            looks like he already has.

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            feerless_freek February 26, 2015 at 10:53 am

            How else would you have someone point out your penchant for regurgitating buzzwords and sound bytes and catch phrases? Should have quoted your entire posts and highlighted the hacky bits? Any time anybody quotes anything, you could say they’re cherry picking

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        Alan 1.0 February 24, 2015 at 12:30 pm

        “Even the city’s own surveys show that >50% of homeless have arrived from other places in the last five years.”

        Citation, please?

        Surveys done by government agencies and nonprofits that serve homeless men and women routinely show that a quarter of Portland-area homeless people are new arrivals. Most were born and raised here, or lived in Oregon for years before ending up outdoors.

        The whole series is an interesting read, especially for Oregonlive.

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          rachel b February 24, 2015 at 2:22 pm

          “Surveys done…” That assertion by the author puzzled me–didn’t jibe with other numbers I’d seen–maybe involved a misinterpreted stat? As I recall, someone lucid (as opposed to the standard O Live commenters) took the author to task on her fuzziness and (last I saw) she failed to provide the requested citations and even treated him/her as combative. I’d like to see a Dan Hortsch (sadly, no longer at the O) or his like tackle a series like that. I would have appreciated more reportage from sources other than agencies that serve the homeless and the homeless themselves.

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          davemess February 24, 2015 at 3:11 pm

          I don’t know that citing an Olive article that also doesn’t have citations for it’s claims is really that helpful.

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            rachel b February 24, 2015 at 3:16 pm

            That was my point, but you’re admirably more succinct, davemess. 🙂 Gird self for it to get referred to a lot, though–it’s the biggest, splashiest, most promoted series I’ve seen them do on anything, and badly lacking substantiation.

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              davemess February 25, 2015 at 9:09 am

              I thought I remember something about that article, where they were using surveys taken during the winter, which would likely have less new arrivals (kind of like only doing a parking analysis in a restaurant district only on a Sat. night).
              Maybe I’m misremembering.

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        feerless_freek February 26, 2015 at 1:37 pm

        Without commenting on your message, id like to point out that the “arrow and stick” metaphor doesn’t really work like that. The carrot is on the *end* of a stick, and you sit on the donkey and hold the carrot out in front of him, and he moves forward to try get the carrot. It’s not like you give him the choice between eating the carrot or being hit with a stick.

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        DIMcyclist June 23, 2017 at 12:51 am

        Speaking from experience, Boise, SLC, and Omaha all have far shittier winter weather than we do. Also, the word is generally out that PDX has cheap, plentiful drugs.

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      Spiffy February 24, 2015 at 2:59 pm

      in the dark I’d much rather walk the Springwater than ride it… I can’t really brace for a side impact well on a bike and then I’m instantly prone afterwards… if I’m walking I can brace and not be so vulnerable after impact…

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    reader February 24, 2015 at 11:24 am

    Can we go back to thumb tacks, please?

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    Adam February 24, 2015 at 11:26 am

    Perhaps if they repaired the HUGE hole the transients keep cutting into the adjacent chain link fence between the top of the floating Esplanade and the Union Pacific homeless camp under I-5, there wouldn’t be so many deranged scary people lurking on the bikepath. I’ve had two very scary encounters on that section. Both times had fellow bikers/runners warn me. Both times had to call the cops.

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      Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) February 24, 2015 at 11:37 am

      Thanks for reminding me about that hole in the fence Adam. It’s the same hole I walked through to retrieve my stolen bike back in November. I’ve added a paragraph about that to this story.

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        Todd Hudson February 24, 2015 at 12:10 pm

        There is also a huge hole at the end of that cul-de-sac that takes people to the Burnside Bridge stairway. They use the hole to cross the highway and then descend to that area where Bike Index has noted a persistent camp with numerous bikes in various stages of being stripped.

        I’m dumbfounded as to why the city won’t do simple things like patch those holes…that area under I-5 from Burnside to Steel Bridge is Bartertown for junkies.

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          Brad February 24, 2015 at 8:21 pm

          Because they’d probably have to patch it a couple times a week.

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            J_R February 25, 2015 at 8:13 am

            So, does that mean they shouldn’t do it? Maybe regular police patrols would help the fence vandalism, too.

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        Esther February 24, 2015 at 12:10 pm

        I actually think this is directly at odds with what Anne Hawley says (which I agree with), which is that separated areas that have no escape routes or exits are inherently scary. What the esplanade needs is MORE connections to other populated areas, not less. If someone was assaulting me, I *would* run into a homeless camp because there WOULD be other people there who would try to help me.

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          Lester Burnham February 25, 2015 at 8:20 am

          And you’d bet your life on that?

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          esther2 February 26, 2015 at 12:19 pm

          this is why all the homeless kids claim they need their pit bulls for protection on the streets i suppose.

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        jeffb February 24, 2015 at 12:18 pm

        FWIW, the perpetrator continued north and did not go through the fence (I was watching for that).

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      Chris I February 24, 2015 at 2:39 pm

      Has anyone informed Uncle Pete that he has people living on his property? I know he doesn’t take very kindly to trespassers…

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    Champs February 24, 2015 at 11:32 am

    I’ve come to realize why the Sullivan’s Gulch Trail can never be a thing. If my lights are on: city streets only.

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      colton February 24, 2015 at 11:46 am

      Sadly I’m coming very close to agreeing with you (about city streets only after dark). Seems like every year I end up with at least one altercation that makes me fear for my own safety. The bummer for me is that the on-street options are a non-starter so my only real option is to drive. Certainly if I had an experience like Jeff B, it would be weeks or months before I’d get the courage up to ride again.

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        cas February 26, 2015 at 8:33 am

        No kidding! I have had tweakers try to slash with knife, among other bad situations!
        Ride fast , use airzound airhorn, dont let 2 get on both sides of you or lose your bike or life.
        This is no joke. More like road warrior. These homeless have nothing to lose. Quote from police. Use gocam!
        DONT RIDE AT DARK.
        Why do you think peds carry baseball bats?
        I have A windshield to protect from most dangers on paths.
        And watch out for other cyclists. Carry bear spray at night.

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      oliver_whalen February 24, 2015 at 11:48 am

      Sullivans Gulch homeless camp.

      http://farm8.static.flickr.com/7408/16256942698_ea964b0328.jpg

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        Spiffy February 24, 2015 at 3:41 pm

        little mini Hooverville…

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      Cory Poole February 24, 2015 at 2:52 pm

      Thats really a shame. What is lost in this discussion are the countless people who use the springwater and eastbank at night with no trouble at all from the homeless population. I only problems with the existing homeless camps and that is the damage to the natural areas and the amazing quantity of garbage that accumulates in these camps. Perhaps urban campgrounds could be the answer? Low cost and with camp struck each day.

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      was carless February 24, 2015 at 3:32 pm

      I’ve biked down the Springwater to Sellwood for years and years. I’ve never had any issues at night or during the day, except for a stray dog one time, but he ignored me.

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        Mossby Pomegrante February 24, 2015 at 6:41 pm

        It only takes one brick in your face…

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          was carless February 25, 2015 at 4:57 pm

          True, but I refuse to give into fear. And so should you!

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    Jen February 24, 2015 at 11:36 am

    pattols would help a lot. It’s sad that we have so many places it feels unsafe to travel alone.

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    Granpa February 24, 2015 at 11:38 am

    ***This comment has been deleted by moderators.***

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      colton February 24, 2015 at 11:48 am

      I really wish this site had a thumbs down button.

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        Granpa February 24, 2015 at 4:34 pm

        I wrote a follow up to my glib George Zimmerman comment wherein I apologized for the poor tone. It, along with my original thoughtless post, for which I apologize, have been deleted by moderator. In the follow-up I made other comments that crashing a bike can be crippling, especially for an older person, that a person is responsible for his (her) own safety (just like in traffic). That along the Springwater there is no influential presence of those who are sworn to protect and serve. BP readers would respond to road rage assault on a cyclist much differently than an assault by a homeless person. Swarms of cyclists have massed in aggressive protests against violence against them on roads by drivers, but the general tone of responses in this thread to a physical assault, is that it is the fault of an unfair society and that Portland cyclists should redouble efforts in social justice, rather than concern themselves with the violent crime that results from any number of causes. I disagree. That being said, I do everything I can to avoid confrontation, which includes as a first course of action, fleeing, but if knocked off my bike, and my assailant persists, I will resist those advances to the fullest of my capability.

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          soren February 24, 2015 at 8:00 pm

          “The Secret Life of Granpa Mitty”

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            Lester Burnham February 25, 2015 at 8:25 am

            Yeah soren, we should just take being assaulted with a grain of salt. Not like being knocked off your bike could cause death or serious injury or anything. And what’s a little lost income in case you miss work? No big deal I guess.

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            Granpa February 25, 2015 at 8:42 am

            I rather daydream of bravery than being a victum

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          oliver February 25, 2015 at 9:41 am

          I wrote a longwinded diatribe covering a few of the points you made, in the end I abandoned it because it was too unfocused. But It did end with “something needs to be done before someone is killed.”

          I support a full and intrusive sweep of all the camps anytime there is a verified incident. Libertarian as they may be, (I’ve read that) homeless camps have their own internal code. A few massive disruptions and displacements down there would have them enforcing some discipline on the worst of them.

          I know it’s cliche but it’s a good example of why we can’t have nice things.

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      Lester Burnham February 24, 2015 at 3:25 pm

      Where is Maus’ acute censorship when we need it?

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    Jon February 24, 2015 at 11:55 am

    I’m afraid that lawlessness breeds lawlessness. If the transient community can operate bike chop shops in the open and camp in no camping areas why would we expect them to obey any laws? Why would they expect to would be held accountable when breaking any law? I would not loan money to a relative with a drug problem because it would just enable them to abuse more drugs. It seems like Portland has tried the free love method to control crime, maybe it is time for tough love.

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      soren February 24, 2015 at 12:07 pm

      “free love method to control crime”

      This is one of the few cities that has criminalized sitting.

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        George H. February 24, 2015 at 12:14 pm

        San Francisco has a sit-lie ordinance and it was even approved by the voters in a ballot initiative. Hopefully this year the legislature ends the pre-emption that disallows cities from managing sidewalks via local ordinances. I’m tired of all the road warriors downtown treating the sidewalk like their personal prison yard.

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        davemess February 24, 2015 at 12:25 pm

        but criminalizing something doesn’t really mean that much unless it’s enforced. (on that note it would also be great to get more police out ticketing speeders on roads that have new, lower speed limits).

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    Adam H. February 24, 2015 at 12:00 pm

    It’s interesting to note that this happened very close to where I recovered my stolen bike back in November.

    Not really sure what you’re implying here other than an assumed connection between mentally unstable transients and bike thieves.

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      Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) February 24, 2015 at 12:33 pm

      That’s not what I’m trying to do at all Adam.

      I’m drawing attention to illegal vandalism that allows people to access an illegal area where many people are known to live that happened to be in the direct path of the suspect. That’s all.

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        Adam H. February 24, 2015 at 12:53 pm

        Okay, fair enough.

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      meh February 24, 2015 at 2:49 pm

      There is a correlation between homelessness and mental health issues. Are you implying that people with mental health issues don’t participate in illegal activities outside of assault?

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      jeff February 24, 2015 at 4:42 pm

      and the problem with that is?

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    J_R February 24, 2015 at 12:11 pm

    It strikes me that the PPB response is less than it would have been if motorists were being targeted. If someone were throwing bricks at cars off an overpass would they just ignore the first incident? Would a “report” be adequate in that case?

    Time for some serious action against the perpetrators of the assaults and some of the other lawlessness being exhibited in these areas!

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    rachel b February 24, 2015 at 12:15 pm

    I’m not sad. I’m fed up and I’m pissed off. DO SOMETHING, City of Portland. Pretty please.

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      Kyle February 24, 2015 at 1:44 pm

      But that might upset someone somewhere. And we can’t have that. We can’t upset a single person for any reason whatsoever. /s

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    Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) February 24, 2015 at 12:20 pm

    UPDATE, 12:18pm: Here’s the response from PPB Sgt. Peter Simpson:

    “Central Precinct officers are aware of the incident but no suspect has been identified. Based on the report, it appears that the suspect is likely a homeless person.

    There have been no similar reports but obviously we want people to keep their eyes out and to call 9-1-1 if necessary.”

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    Alan 1.0 February 24, 2015 at 12:47 pm

    PPB Sgt. Peter Simpson

    “…the suspect is likely a homeless person.

    Because of course if the perp was a housed person the cops would have identified them from the license plate everyone displays on their person and would be knocking on their door this very moment.

    And because of course homeless people never do things like return stolen bikes, like that homeless guy did a couple weeks ago, reported on BikeIndex. They’re all the same, right?

    And because of course it would be too hard to say the guy is “mentally ill” or actually be able to make an observation about someone who’s actions include irrationally attacking people in public. It’s just so difficult to identify people talking to walls, punching at invisible demons, and generally psyching out in public.

    /sarcasm

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      jeffb February 24, 2015 at 1:30 pm

      To their credit, the statement said “based on the report”, which would put the burden of that assessment on me. I was asked very detailed questions about their appearance, and given the description that was a logical assumption. The other rider who crashed thought similarly, as their first reaction was to call Central City Concern. My interaction with the Portland police on this matter was nothing but professional. Also, it was not my first reaction to call 911 – I did that only after he knocked down the other rider and I was genuinely concerned for their situation, and the safety of others on the path.

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        Alan 1.0 February 24, 2015 at 1:37 pm

        Fair enough, I understand how you’d use that description, but I’d still like the cops to discriminate better and say what they mean, not a buzzword that is inaccurate. And I’m very glad you called the cops, that’s way higher priority than lots of calls dispatch gets. Glad you’re OK!

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          jeffb February 24, 2015 at 1:52 pm

          Agreed. And thanks.

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    Eric February 24, 2015 at 1:18 pm

    I ride that path in the pre-dawn hours. Never had an incident. Maybe my time is coming….
    I think we need to keep an eye out for each other out there.

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    wkw February 24, 2015 at 1:20 pm

    Back in January, two young men on bicycles rode down the Springwater Trail along the Willamette, one of them spat on me, and it got in my eyes, in between shouting expletives. A pedestrian was shoved over, by the same two, and another bicyclist was spat upon. It was after sunset, and they had no lights on, and I could not catch them.

    Now I don’t know if these two young were just teenagers, or if they were transients (I do have an opinion though). I did call 911, and requested that a report be filed. Some time after a bunch of the transient camps were removed.

    I tell this to illustrate, that if you don’t file a police report, likely NOTHING will happen. Be proactive, and don’t feel you are burdening the police. These crimes are ‘broken window’ crimes, imo; and reporting them may prevent more serious crimes in the future.

    You must explicitly request a report be filed, and get the officer’s business card for follow up, and get a case number.

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    redhippie February 24, 2015 at 1:46 pm

    George H.
    This is why places like the Esplanade and Springwater are becoming no-go zones: “oh we can’t do anything because we can’t solve homelessness.” It’s part denial and part liberal guilt. We have a homeless problem, and a huge part of that is that we’re a magnet for homeless from other parts of the country. Even the city’s own surveys show that >50% of homeless have arrived from other places in the last five years. And people are in deep, deep denial about that – we will never be able to end homelessness in Portland when they keep pouring in. It is financially not feasible. Transients come here because they know they can set up a permanent camp in a park, and their only consequence is they’ll be asked to move (several months later)….and they simply set up a new camp down the trail….wash rinse repeat. You could never get away with this in Boise, SLC, Omaha etc. and that’s why Portland is a destination for transients.
    We are more generous than most cities when it comes to feeding, shelters, warming centers, and transition….yet the city does little to nothing when it comes to the anti-social behavior and those who have no interest in services. We need to use a carrot AND a stick. Currently the approach is using a carrot and a carrot, and yet people don’t understand why the problem keeps getting worse.
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    Don’t forget PDX’s lenient drug laws relative to other cities.

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      oliver February 25, 2015 at 9:32 am

      50% of everyone in this city has arrived from somewhere else in the last 5 years.

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    caesar February 24, 2015 at 2:08 pm

    ” I was going about 20 mph and went down hard, even shattering my helmet.”

    Good thing you were wearing that helmet, Jeff. Could have turned out much, much worse for you.

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      Alan 1.0 February 24, 2015 at 2:11 pm

      Yeah, it could have compounded into rotational injuries.

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        Chris I February 24, 2015 at 2:44 pm

        Try a concussion, skull fracture, and/or head lacerations. Where do you think the energy that fractured his helmet would have gone, had he not been wearing one?

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          Alan 1.0 February 24, 2015 at 3:06 pm

          See, that’s the problem. It’s impossible to say in any particular case because each case is different, and simply the presence or absence of a helmet changes the variables and dynamics of any case, just as Caesar’s “could have turned out much worse” could have referred to Jeff’s tortionally broken neck. As we’ve all hashed out for years and years before Chief Medical Officer Caesar showed up as the latest helmeted crusader, the big studies haven’t been terribly conclusive or consistent. Yes, some of them show some edge to helmets, while others don’t. If there were a huge, overriding advantage, I think it would show up clearly and consistently, but it doesn’t. I still wear a helmet most of the time and I think it’s generally a good idea, but the constant drone of the helmet nutz does tend to turn me away from supporting them.

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            davemess February 24, 2015 at 3:15 pm

            I love when people argue against helmet use.

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              Dan February 24, 2015 at 10:13 pm

              What about when they argue for freedom?

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                davemess February 25, 2015 at 9:13 am

                I’m okay with people arguing for the choice to use a helmet. I’m not okay with people saying that helmet use is bad or doesn’t do anything. It’s silly to say that on average not having a helmet in a crash is better than having one.

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                Randall S. February 25, 2015 at 11:55 am

                Agreed, which is why people need to wear helmets in cars, on ladders, and in the shower, where the vast majority of head injuries occur. Speaking of which, what kind of shower helmet do you use?

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                davemess February 26, 2015 at 5:26 pm

                Interestingly enough the only activity I have received a concussion from is riding a bike (3 times) and that’s not even including the other two crashes I’ve had where I shattered a helmet.

                For me at least, riding a bike is much riskier than the other things you listed. So I’ll just keep wearing my helmet, thanks.

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                esther2 February 26, 2015 at 12:23 pm

                did anything in his post imply you had to wear one?

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            Chris I February 24, 2015 at 8:43 pm

            You didn’t answer my question.

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              Alan 1.0 February 24, 2015 at 9:10 pm

              I did.

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            caesar February 24, 2015 at 11:49 pm

            In this (Jeff’s) particular case there is no need to invoke the so-called “inconsistent” or “big studies;” the man’s helmet cracked instead of his scalp and skull. Unless you have special insights into biomechanics that the rest of us lack, there is no way to convincingly argue that his helmet did not, in this case, prevent a serious, if not fatal, injury.

            I still wear a helmet most of the time and I think it’s generally a good idea, but the constant drone of the helmet nutz does tend to turn me away from supporting them.

            Do you experience much cognitive dissonance? You should have the courage of your convictions, then, and just stop wearing helmets. Unless, of course, you feel that they are fashion statements or help keep you warm. If the “constant drone” of “helmet nutz” such as me dissuades you from adopting or acknowledging what you seem to feel might be a life-preserving measure then, Sir, I shudder to think what you might do when confronted by a group of “nutz” who “constantly drone” on about wearing seat belts, not drinking and driving, avoiding asbestos exposure, etc, etc.

            Yours,

            Caesar
            CMO,
            Helmet Crusades Division

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            Lyle w February 25, 2015 at 11:33 am

            This again.

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    Jeff February 24, 2015 at 2:09 pm

    The man needs help and deserves a certain amount of sympathy. At the same time, his is dangerous and must be stopped from assaulting others. Mental illness does not completely excuse it.

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      Alan 1.0 February 24, 2015 at 2:37 pm

      I don’t know what others may mean by about mental illness as the problem in this case, but I’m not excusing anything. The assailant sounds to me like a good candidate for involuntary commitment.

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    lahar February 24, 2015 at 2:55 pm

    Makes me want to make my bike into a narwhal or perhaps just carry a lance with me on my commute.

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  • John Liu
    John Liu February 24, 2015 at 3:21 pm

    Makes me want to pack heat . . .

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    rain waters February 24, 2015 at 3:43 pm

    KEEP PORTLAND WIERD!

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      oliver February 25, 2015 at 9:28 am

      Was Ronald Reagan weird? Is Paul Ryan?

      There is absolutely nothing weird about the mentally ill roaming the streets assaulting people because we as a society have decided that we do not wish to pay to house and treat them.

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    pixelgate February 24, 2015 at 4:02 pm

    I doubt anyone will see this comment as its buried so low but the notion that this isn’t common on the esplanade is flat out dishonesty. I’ve seen multiple (at least 10) physical altercations on the floating portion, most of them are transients on meth or some other drug. They are random attacks on multiple people and one reason I never ever ride this path anymore.

    If you don’t believe me here’s a photo album from one of the incidents. An older (yet frighteningly strong) man on drugs began assaulting one man, then ran up to a woman reading on a bench, choked her out from behind and began trying to throw her over the railing into the river. It took 6 of us to restrain him. He was savage, biting people’s fingers, u-locks being used, etc. It took the cops ages to arrive and there was blood all over us when all was said and done.

    You don’t get to call yourself the #1 bike city in the country when you can’t even ride on a populated path on a bright sunny weekend afternoon without the constant risk of this stuff happening.

    imgur. com/a/qX17a

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    pixelgate February 24, 2015 at 4:02 pm

    As usual, my comment awaits moderation

    imgur. com/a/qX17a

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      funkyfungus February 24, 2015 at 4:13 pm

      Tatoo justice!

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        pixelgate February 24, 2015 at 4:19 pm

        Because it’ll take Jonathan an ungodly amount of time to make my initial comment visible (even though it contained absolutely no cursing or inflammatory comments whatsoever but he refuses to acknowledge his site simply has an awful commenting system that excludes people from the conversation for no reason), I’ll re-explain that the guy in black who is bloodied at the end was high on meth and fighting random people before choking a woman out and trying to throw her over the guard rail and into the river. It was a very bloody mess, and I’ve seen a few other situations on the floating portion that were even worse.

        Mind you, this didnt happen in the dead of night. It was a sunny August weekend afternoon where tourists and children were everywhere.

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      Spiffy February 24, 2015 at 4:19 pm

      is that getting cuffed the guy from the story?

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        pixelgate February 24, 2015 at 4:35 pm

        No this is a different incident – one of many I’ve witnessed with my own eyes on the floating portion of the esplanade (I’ve also seen a lot by the firehouse near the Hawthorne).

        The guy in the black shirt was high on something (meth? pcp? i dunno, there were 6 of us going full force on the guy and it took us forever just to get him to the ground.. he was amped up like crazy, I was terrified). Holding him down for 10-15 min while waiting for the cops/paramedics was intense, he was biting fingers, spitting, growling, and he had the strength of a superhero. He even projectile vomited on us (it was a hot august day, maybe 95F.. i think his body was in overdrive from the drugs and it led to vomiting).

        I honestly wish Multnomah county wasn’t so liberal and tolerant of meth heads.

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    Ed February 24, 2015 at 4:07 pm

    I’ve biked home on the Springwater from SE 92nd to Sellwood after 7:30 PM at least 3 nights a week for many years. I also ride and run often on the trail along the river between Sellwood and downtown. So far, no incidents at all I see those homeless people living there. Maybe someone has shouted something at me once or twice, at most. I’m not saying that to discredit anyone else’s accounts of trouble. I’m sure I’d be less confident, very sadly,if I were a woman. But, unless what Jonathan reported–and sincere thanks for that as always–is much more common, I don’t think we should try to do anything too drastic. Might be comparable to isolated incidents of road rage or kids tossing rocks at cars.

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      J_R February 24, 2015 at 4:25 pm

      It wasn’t long ago some “mischievous” teens threw rocks at cyclists in north Portland. The younger one got probation and, a few months later, was involved in a shooting near a north Portland school. Leniency didn’t pay off that time. I don’t share your willingness to wait for more frequent occurrences of assault before expecting action.

      I’ve been made uncomfortable often enough that we do not allow our children to commute to school by bike on the Springwater Corridor because of the people frequenting the area. Rather a pity since the corridor is otherwise a desirable route. Instead, they ride the bus. If I’m uncomfortable for my safety and my children’s safety, what’s the chance of the “interested but concerned” bicyclists using the multi-use paths? Not much, I dare say.

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    Aaron February 24, 2015 at 6:29 pm

    I wonder: some neighborhoods have community foot patrols to deter crime — would something similar work for the waterfront and the springwater? A group of volunteer cyclists who keep an eye out. I commute through there and, like most people, I think, my objective is to get from work to home or vice-versa as quickly as possible. I’m not looking out much for what’s going on unless it’s directly in front of me. A group of people with flashlights, cameras, and bikes who rode slowly and kept an eye out might help a lot. Just a thought.

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      Chris I February 24, 2015 at 8:46 pm

      Jimbo: Hey, you’re that drunken posse. Wow! Can I join ya?
      Homer: I don’t know, can you swing a sack of doorknobs?
      Jimbo: Can I!
      Homer: You’re in. Here’s the sack.
      Moe: But you gotta supply your own doorknobs.

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    tnash February 24, 2015 at 7:04 pm

    just blue-skying here, we can re-purpose trimet’s bike lockers as cruelty-free traps for druggies and mentally-ill homeless. Release them in San Francisco. Just put in bait bikes and leaves the doors adjar

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    Kristiana February 24, 2015 at 9:29 pm

    Jeff B thank you for all of your help this morning. I am so sorry you were assaulted and injured this morning. I hope you heal quickly. I too am a bit banged up and suffered a concussion as suspected. Wish I had understood your warning and had the chance to turn around. Luckily I ran into the police as I went to catch the Max to Legacy and was able to file a report. Thanks for contacting the police. Hopefully next time we meet it is not following tandem assaults. All the best to you!

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      jeffb February 25, 2015 at 8:19 am

      Really glad you are not seriously hurt and I’m very sorry this happened to you. Be safe.

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    Chris Hough February 25, 2015 at 9:00 am

    As tax paying citizens we should be appalled we let these illegal camps packed with violent people exist in our great city. Cities like Chicago and New York have already addressed this problem, and we can fix this here. It is only a matter of time before someone dies, gets rapped, etc. on our awesome bike routes. What will it take for us to wake up to make this change?

    I am happy to hear everyone survived these incidents today, but these issues appear to be getting worse.

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      soren February 25, 2015 at 9:39 am

      “but these issues appear to be getting worse.”

      I note that you make no attempt to support this claim.

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    soren February 25, 2015 at 9:03 am

    In a metro area of 2.3 million people some level of violence is unavoidable. For example, portland maps indicates there have been assaults in my neighborhood. Does this mean that central SE portland is a cesspit of violent crime?

    There is no evidence in this piece that cyclists are more at risk than others in this city. Media sensationalization of violence without context promotes a culture of fear. And I see a lot of reactive fear in the comments here.

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      Lester Burnham February 25, 2015 at 9:36 am

      There is no lack of context here. Two innocent people were violently attacked with no provocation. Pretty black and white.

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        soren February 25, 2015 at 2:17 pm

        “Two innocent people were violently attacked with no provocation.”

        Thanks for stating the obvious and suggesting that I am denying that an a violent assault took place.

        Are these violent assaults happening more often? Are homeless individuals responsibly for most assaults? That’s context.

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          J_R February 25, 2015 at 6:27 pm

          Soren: When it comes to assault on my person or on members of my family, I support VISION ZERO. What’s your standard for assault?

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    Andy K February 25, 2015 at 11:47 am

    The east bank esplanade creates a MAJOR cattle chute effect, where users do not feel they have an escape route.

    Maybe they could add something similar to the blue light emergency phones on the PSU campus?

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    rachel b February 25, 2015 at 12:37 pm

    So, SE is not a cesspit of violent crime. Let’s all celebrate? I don’t think people here are fear mongering—they are (well, I am) understandably frustrated with a city that’s evolved dizzyingly swiftly from a place that was pretty mellow and pleasant and easy to get around in (and in which to live) to a place where you’ve now frequently got to be on your guard and ready—at the very least—for harassment. City leaders seem so intent on accommodating everybody (and I mean everybody) moving here, AND their issues, they’re giving the strong impression they’re not paying attention to existing resident’s concerns about Portland’s significant growing pains. I feel like they’re not listening—they don’t even seem interested in looking like they’re listening anymore. I find it off-putting and weird and depressing. It shuts you down. I was born and raised here and have lived here during the Great Influx and while I’ve not got statistics, I can recall it wasn’t that long ago that I could bike the Springwater all the way out to Boring, and bike Oaks Bottom, and the Esplanade, and not be confronted by dozens of visible camps and really shady dudes. It wasn’t that long ago. If you’ve lived here in the past 10 years and maintain that you haven’t noticed a negative change, then I don’t know what to say. I don’t think everybody needs to agree on everything, but you do need to agree there is an actual elephant in the room. I.e., you are more likely now to be menaced than in the (even recent) past. You are more likely to get your bike stolen than in the past. It is more nervewracking in general to ride, or walk, or run, around pretty much anywhere in the city than it was in the past. It’s not my imagination. Anecdotal evidence? Sure. But highly corroborated and not, I think, worthy of disregarding or tsk-tsking people over.

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    kittens February 25, 2015 at 2:08 pm

    Yes, homelessness and mental illness in public are a symptom of a systemic problem of economic inequality and political do-nothingness.

    Yes, we can do something about it even if we can not solve these larger problems. Sometimes I feel like we get trapped in the middle of wanting to take action and wanting to be idealistic. These people and their behaviors are an affront to organized society. Something needs to be done about it even if that does not solve all the underlying problems.

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    CaptainKarma February 25, 2015 at 2:19 pm

    Well. Now I know how to get people to stop moving here. Show them this thread. Read that how you will.

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    soren February 25, 2015 at 2:22 pm

    “but you do need to agree there is an actual elephant in the room. I.e., you are more likely now to be menaced than in the (even recent) past. ”

    I don’t disagree or agree. I want to know whether you have any evidence that attacks are more common today than they were 5, 10, 15 years ago.

    “and not be confronted by dozens of visible camps and really shady dudes”

    There have been large camps off the Springwater trail since I moved to Portland 16 years ago.

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      rachel b February 25, 2015 at 3:38 pm

      Here’s what I’ve seen until fairly recently (the past five years or so, when camps have proliferated exponentially). There was one well-established, permanent smallish camp at the Foster Road crossing, back in the woods. There was one seasonal transient group of men (flying a US flag) who were orderly and who camped up on the grass adjacent to the Oaks Bottom Trail. And there were seasonal transient travelers who’d sleep under the bridges along the Esplanade, and up around the Steel Bridge–just a handful, until recently. Nothing to what I see now. Sorry–I’ve got no evidence for you (and never offered any) beyond the anecdotal. And speaking of anecdotal–if you have any evidence the current number of camps is the same as it was 16 years ago, feel free to share it.

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        joel February 26, 2015 at 10:38 am

        longer than sixteen years ago- the homeless in the north park blocks were a problem. many described as native-in 1960. people always camped there i have been told. in 1995 i was told that it is much better now in downtown. the red light district is pretty much gone from 3rd and salmon.

        My personal opinion is that Meth has made things worse.

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    Caesar February 25, 2015 at 4:22 pm

    All of us bemoaning the increased homeless situation and its various repercussions on urban life (and biking) should reacquaint ourselves with Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.

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    rachel b February 25, 2015 at 4:26 pm

    One more thing: I guess I wasn’t clear. The point I was trying to make at the beginning of my earlier post was that—violence stats be damned–I don’t think “Well, I may be harassed, spat on, yelled at and lunged at, but at least I likely won’t get attacked or killed today!” is the standard of living most people aspire to, or move to Portland for, and it’s certainly not what long-time residents stayed here for. I’d argue most folks moving here are in fact hoping to escape that.

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    Ryan February 26, 2015 at 8:16 am

    This is why me and my wife both have our concealed carry permit. We are the couple who wrote to Johanthon a little over two years ago about the attack on the spring water. police can’t stop crime. Their job is to write reports…only YOU can stop crime committed against you. My wife uses the spring water at night for commuting, and she feels and is a lot safer with her 9mm.

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    cas February 26, 2015 at 9:32 am

    cas
    No kidding! I have had tweakers try to slash with knife, among other bad situations!
    Ride fast , use airzound airhorn, dont let 2 get on both sides of you or lose your bike or life.
    This is no joke. More like road warrior. These homeless have nothing to lose. Quote from police. Use gocam!
    DONT RIDE AT DARK.
    Why do you think peds carry baseball bats?
    I have A windshield to protect from most dangers on paths.
    And watch out for other cyclists. Carry bear spray at night.
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    joel February 26, 2015 at 10:44 am

    too bad we cant get the downtown patrol to permanently man booths under each bridge- and maybe security cameras on the dangerous parts of the bridge. it would be way more feasable to monitor for crime instead of leaving it up to trail users, and also have help nearby.

    hmm..

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      Lester Burnham February 26, 2015 at 11:39 am

      We could, but that might hurt someone’s feelings.

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    Mark A. February 26, 2015 at 8:39 pm

    This was not a random incident. In this same area, I was attacked by a young man on a bicycle last Sunday night. He tried to snatch my camera after I took photos of the crescent moon over the Portland skyline.

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      jeffb February 27, 2015 at 6:54 am

      Did you report this?

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    KevinK February 28, 2015 at 6:39 am

    I appreciate your calling attention to this issue – had no idea until I had my bike stolen from the vicinity and found this site – bad enough to lose the bike but now kinda freaked about the personal safety issues since I ride that portion of trail a lot PS – thanks for the stolen bike registry too – great service to offer!

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