Some people who use Waterfront Park have taken it upon themselves to enforce their version of the rules by instigating collisions with people who ride bicycles through the park.
“As I slowly got up, I turned back and saw him walking away across the park, shouting “fast bikes on Naito!”
— Ranjeewa Weerasinghe
In the past week we’ve heard of two separate instances from several different sources. In one incident a man was injured when another man allegedly pushed a skateboard into his path on purpose. The man then yelled, “Fast bikes on Naito!” which is a reference to signs installed by the Portland Parks & Recreation bureau last year that encourage faster riders to ride in the street instead of the park path.
According to our sources, this man with the skateboard has done this same thing more than once. In another case, a man allegedly stepped in front path users with the intent to make them crash.
On September 1st just before 5:30, Ranjeewa Weerasinghe was riding home from work, headed northbound on the Waterfront Park path along the Willamette River. As he approached the Burnside Bridge he was behind a line of other people riding bikes and they were going past a large group of people. Weerasinghe recalls there were about 15 people, half of them sitting and standing around a bench to his left and the others were leaning up against the guardrail on his right. Here’s what he says happened next:
“One of them leaning on the guardrail had a skateboard under his foot, pointing across the path towards the bench. As we rode past, he shouted something at the first cyclist, then kicked his skateboard across the path. It hit my front wheel, sending me over my handlebars onto the ground. As I slowly got up, I turned back and saw him walking away across the park, shouting “fast bikes on Naito!”
Weerasinghe suffered “quite a few scrapes and bruises” on his forehead, shoulder, arms, and hands. He slammed on the ground so hard his right hip was sore the next day and a piece of his helmet broke off.
He didn’t report the incident to the police until he learned he wasn’t the only one this has happened to. When Weerasinghe told his co-workers about the incident the next morning, one of them said they saw a very similar incident last month involving a skateboard and a man yelling, “Fast bikes on Naito!” Realizing it wasn’t an isolated incident, Weerasinghe filed a report with the Portland Police Bureau.
One day after I heard about Weerasinghe’s incident I heard from north Portland resident Noah Brimhall about a separate altercation.
Brimhall was riding in in the same direction as Weerasinghe at around the same time and around the same place. Brimhall also approached an area with a large group of people around a bench on one side and around the railing on the other, creating a path between them where other path users could go. Here’s how Brimhall described what happened as he rode through that path:
“I was slowing down to pass between the guys carefully when another man riding a bike passed me going a bit faster on my left and came up to the guys on the grass side of the path. At the last second one of the guys in that group, who was facing me and the other guy riding a bike, stepped into the bike riders path. In my opinion this was done very purposely to cause an accident.”
“When the behavior crosses the line and is criminal or threatening to people, that’s when we need to be involved.”
— Sgt. Pete Simpson, Portland Police Bureau
According to Brimhall the other rider (who he says wasn’t riding at an unsafe speed) had to slam on his brakes and swerve to avoid the man who’d stepped into his path. When Brimhall stopped, he was reprimanded by the man who stepped into the path. “He started yelling about how ‘you are going to fast’ and ‘this is a walking path.’ Brimhall argued back that the path is for everyone and that he shouldn’t step into the path on purpose. Brimhall said at this point the man and his “friends” were getting aggressive and one of the kicked his bike’s rear tire “very hard.”
At that point, Brimhall rode away to avoid any more confrontation. His rear wheel was now wobbly from the kick and he had to disconnect his rear brake to make it home. The wheel will need to be fixed by a professional before he can ride again.
These incidents have left both Weerasinghe and Brimhall with some serious questions. How should someone handle a situation like this? Should people simply avoid riding the Waterfront Park path? Can anything be done to fix this situation?
Portland Police Bureau spokesman Pete Simpson said the best thing to do if you get threatened or assaulted is to call 911 immediately. He said it’s crucial to give officers a good description of the alleged suspect.
Simpson also said the PPB is “keenly aware of the aggressive behavior” in Waterfront Park. “We acknowledge and are fully aware of the challenges between the community using the parks and the interactions between people walking and biking in the parks.” Simpson said the bureau walks a “fine line” around the issue and emphasized that they “we are not policing homelessness, we are policing behavior.”
“When the behavior crosses the line and is criminal or threatening to people, that’s when we need to be involved.”
Weerasinghe hasn’t ridden since his incident because he still needs to buy a new helmet and he wants his wounds to heal up. He initially figured he’s start using the bike lane on Naito, but now feels like he’ll return to the path through the park while keeping his eyes peeled for the group with the skateboard. “I know I won’t go on family rides with my daughter through there though.”
— The crowded Waterfront Path is not a new issue. Back in August we shared the story of a man who was riding a bike and hit someone and didn’t even stop. I’m afraid we’ll continue to hear stories like this until we build more adequate bicycle access and people start using the path with more respect for each other.
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Don’t paint this as just a one sided incident. You reported yourself in August on the cyclist who basically did a hit and run.
People just aren’t playing nice together on the MUPs be they pedestrians or cyclists.
Actually canuck, this was a one-sided incident.
But you a make a good point. I could consider mentioning that August incident as well. Thanks for the reminder.
Are you sure this was targeted at a random cyclist? If those guys with the skateboard are on the waterfront everyday and have seen this specific cyclist before maybe they just have a problem with him and the way he rides? If there’s a history there maybe it isn’t all one sided.
So because they may or may not have seen this cyclist before, it’s OK to single him out? Personally, based on the sound of things (multiple incidents with different cyclists) and my own observations along the Waterfront path, I doubt these people singled someone out due to previous transgressions of their rules. These groups of kids appear a little thuggish to me.
I never said it was okay to single him out. There are more than a handful of comments on this site (not just on this post) that make it abundantly clear that there is a contingent of the cycling community (or at least the bikeportland community) that rides aggressively on the waterfront around pedestrians generally, and the homeless specifically. A cyclist that brags about ‘corralling’ pedestrians (‘rush hour alleycat’ if I’m not mistaken) is responding to a park violation, and inconvenience to the cyclist – a person blocking the path, with aggression. That is not acceptable behavior. If the person on foot escalates things further – tossing a skateboard at the cyclist next time they ride by – it’s hardly a one sided incident. That doesn’t in anyway mean the assault was justified. Framing this as a one sided incident is just fanning the flames, as you can see by the comments advocating bringing weapons to the waterfront.
Were the persons riding that had to dodge skateboards kicked out in front of their bikes, of the aggressive riding type you describe? No reports that they were. More likely, the persons targeted were chosen because they may have seemed to be relatively easy pickings. People minding their own business, but people the troublemakers thought wouldn’t or couldn’t fight back.
The city had better get on this, quick. It’s a bit isolated in the park north of the Burnside Bridge. Ranjeewa Weerasinghe may have got lucky just falling off with a few scrapes and bumps and a busted helmet. It’ll be big problems if the city waits to do something until someone is really seriously attacked and hurt. Elsewhere in this discussion George H. mentioned gutter punks possibly being involved:
Kind of doubt gutter punks would do this, but there are more aggressive types of punk culture that might.
I’ve been friends with Ranjeewa for 15 years. He’s not an aggressive rider, and is one of the kindest, most considerate men I’ve ever worked with. He was obviously in the wrong place at the wrong time, and I’m sad and angry that this happened to him.
It’s especially galling that this assault took place on the first day of the bike commute challenge.
I concur. I’ve known Ranjeewa for a number of years and aggressive would be the absolute last word I would use to describe him. An unfortunate display of malice against an undeserving human being.
One person assaulting another unprovoked is about as one-sided as you can get.
One incident has no bearing on the other.
Both incidents though, arose from conflicts over use of a common travel route by two significantly different modes of travel: by foot, and by bike.
Reading the story, one question soon occurring to me, was what general mph speed people biking were traveling. People biking may not have a speedometer, but it’s likely most of them do have a fairly good sense of how fast they’re traveling relative to people standing, walking, running, or to the speed of other people biking.
Rather than an exact mph speed, for the purpose of minimizing conflict among people traveling a common path in different ways, relative speed is what’s important.
This isn’t a cyclist running over pedestrian granny. This is a bunch of aggro homeless kids keeping normal people off their turf by making it uncomfortable and dangerous. They do it by waiting around and then violently ambushing a person riding home. This ain’t traffic, it’s gang violence, of a sort.
“…This is a bunch of aggro homeless kids keeping normal people off their turf by making it uncomfortable and dangerous. …” Charley
You may be correct about who it is that’s conducting these impromptu actions in response to the speed at which people are biking on the MUP, though since apparently very few people having seen or experienced bad events of that type there, have got the police around to investigate…it’s hard to know exactly who is doing what and for what reason.
Reading through the comments, it seems at least three people may have seen the same guy doing the ‘Fast Bikes on Naito’ routine with his skateboard. If he’s somebody that’s hanging out regularly, the first thing then may be to identify the person. Let the police find out what his deal is.
The kind of person that would aggressively confront and attack passersby on a city MUP, is something much different and more serious than people that are simply homeless. People doing this are likely criminal minded, maybe not convicted, yet, but criminals nonetheless. It’s a stretch to imagine they consider their confrontational action to be a form of citizen activism, but it sounds as though at least that’s how they’re attempting to disguise their actions. Or maybe…really long stretch…they really do somehow believe their actions are a justifiable response to people riding too fast on the MUP.
Homelessness isn’t a crime (to quote and old phrase.). Lots of homeless people out there that try keep a low profile, keep dry, warm, and have some food in their stomach. I hope people keep that in mind as they try figure out who is doing this stuff.
There are multiple stories of these guys harassing and threatening people on foot, too. They have no ground to stand on in any of their legal or moral sense, in terms of doing this because of wanting to have people be safe. It’s all about scaring people and keeping people away from their camps.
Don’t forget the other mode of transportation – skateboard…oh wait, in this case, it sounds more like a weapon.
Someone riding too fast on a MUP and knocking someone over and people reacting to what is perceived as bikes riding too fast on the MUP are very much related to each other.
Bad behaviour on a shared pathway from both.
That’s like saying that if a cyclist gets run off the road by a driver, there is some justification for a totally different cyclist to throw his lock through the windshield of a totally different driver.
We’re dealing with individuals, not “teams”.
You act like people don’t think that way.
Sounds like this guy was throwing bricks only at cars when the driver had run a light. Doesn’t sound like “team rivalry”.
Betting the guy with the skateboard is targeting people on bikes who look like they don’t pose a threat to him. That’s pretty much exactly not the same thing.
You really don’t understand the relationship between the two incidents, which is a lack of civility on the MUP.
The cyclist rode too fast and knocked over a pedestrian.
The pedestrians are reacting to a cyclist and throwing items.
They aren’t tied together by the people involved they are tied together by the improper actions taken.
Even if you are right, which you may be, it does not make this incident in any way “two sided”. If you can present a perspective which somehow justifies a random assault, I may change my mind.
If I run you down with my bike, how could that possibly justify lop throwing a skateboard at wsbob, even if lop is angry at me for hitting you?
Hit and run is a random assault. There you go tied together in a neat little package.
One random assault justifies another? Down that road lies anarchy.
Now you’re trying to say I am justifying bad behaviour.
I’m pointing out that the bad behaviour is the common thread.
Ok, maybe I misunderstood. I was only arguing that there are not “two sides” to this assault. I thought you were suggesting there was.
PPB needs to have a few officers patrolling Waterfront Park at all times. By bike or walking. The presence of an officer can influence behavior and discourage these assaults. They can also be there to make arrests more quickly if an incident does happen.
So many people are on drugs, or have mental issues making them a danger to everyone. As a major tourist and recreational area, it makes sense to patrol it heavily.
I’ve seen people smoking pot and burning incense in the park. The sit in the walking path. I’m sorry for everyone who needs to get to under the steelbridge and deal with the twits trying to control the area. Most of the campers keep to themselves, but the aggro guys and ruining this area for everyone.
I work in the Pearl/ brewery blocks, bike, walk and take the bus or Max at times. I was assaulted three weeks ago walking home. There is very little if any police presence late night on the Max. I even had a brief discussion months ago with a transit cop sitting in his roller, motor running in broad daylight. To him I posed the question of why this is? He turned the car off and told me that the PPB is grossly understaffed, people are retiring, and for him to go back on nights was not going to happen because he just got a day shift after numerous years on nights. The Waterfront has had problems for a long time. I have chosen to avoid it for almost three years now. I am not generally afraid to defend myself in any way. Being jumped by four people is a thing I will not suffer in the same manner again. I love riding my bike in Portland. I have been here 12 years. Sadly for me this town is not anything I enjoy anymore. Am I wrong? Anyone else feel this? I won’t bring up rent rates. Oops, I did, sorry.
Very sorry you experienced that, longgone. And re: “Sadly for me this town is not anything I enjoy anymore”–I feel that, too (as a life-long resident), and you’re not wrong.
Me, too. It used to be a rare event when some kind of aggressive thing happened on the roadway. Now, it happens every single day, usually approaching/crossing/leaving the Hawthorne Bridge or at any 4-way stop where bikers/driver seem to have forgotten how to count. Last weekend, I had to be on Highway 26 on Friday and on I-5 on a game weekend. I saw no fewer than 8 traffic accidents. WTF?
another reason why you shouldn’t put meaningless unforcable signs up “fast bikes use naito” especially when there is not a better option.
Let’s not blame the signs for people’s actions.
Yes, but these people take their cues from the signs. Just like the guy who told me I should be ‘sharing the road’ by moving into the parking lane and letting him pass me in his car when I was legally taking the lane on E 28th.
If a guy is yelling out exactly what the sign says, it’s not unfair to connect the signs to the accompanying actions of the guy. He’s appointed himself enforcer of his interpretation of a vague sign.
The signs are not the reason, they are an excuse for behavior by people that are all ready suffering by their own bad decisions. It is a karma thing.
What is a “fast bike”?
Dunno. How close is “too close” when a car passes?
Thank you for asking this question, Middle of the Road Guy. Safe passing of a person riding a cycle is established within the ORS. Basically, if a person riding a cycle were to suddenly fall over for whatever reason then a person driving a car within that hypothetical space of the fall space is too close. This is generally understood to the be the height of the person on the cycle and is estimated at about five feet. If moving over five feet or more to the side of the person riding the cycle is not possible (e.g. oncoming traffic, narrow pathway, etc.) then the person driving the car must slow down to 25mph or less and/or fall behind the person riding the cycle until it is safe to pass.
The “tip-over distance” rule specified in ORS 811.065 is only in effect if there is no bike lane AND the car is being driven at greater than 35 mph. If there is a bike lane present—the law doesn’t specify whether a bicyclist being passed is in the bike lane or not—it doesn’t matter how fast a driver is going, there is no “safe distance” defined. If there is no bike lane present, and the driver is going less than 35 mph, there is similarly no safe distance defined.
El B is right, and this is a rule that I’d love to see amended. It basically gives tall adults like me (in theory) twice as much passing distance as most children. Sure, a static distance is something that’s easily debated by those of us who are regularly passed ‘too closely’, but it’s far more enforceable, and more importantly, more readily communicated to the non-cycling public.
On Naito a fast bike will be going at least 40mph
It seems at times that any bike in motion is a fast bike.
someone riding at 10-15 mph is almost always “fast” from the perspective of a pedestrian so those signs are hardly “meaningless”.
By correctly portraying “fast” as subjective, your comment supports the notion the sign is vague, and thus does little, if anything, to counteract the idea that the sign is “meaningless”.
that’s a mischaracterization of what i wrote. i think the word “fast” has zero information content and that for pedestrians that sign means: “bikes use naito bike lanes” full stop. moreover, given fritz’s track record i would not be surprised if that was the intended meaning.
i think it is fair to say a cyclist moving at ten to fifteen mph among pedestrians is going too fast
When I ride the old highway out in the gorge, I’m sometimes passed by people doing in excess of 50 MPH in 30 MPH zones. The signs there don’t say “Fast Cars use I-84”, though, they say “Bikes on Roadway.”
And people I know who drive this think cyclists have a ‘death wish’ if they ride it.
I worked for Parks downtown for over 15 years until recently as a horticulturist. Waterfront was one of my Parks as was, for a time, the Eastbank Esplanade. There have always been conflicts on these paths, it is inherent in a ‘multi-modal’ path like these that mix bikes and pedestrians. Ideally they would be separate, but they aren’t. Several years back Parks staff were told that there was a 10 mph speed limit on these paths. There were several times where staff, doing our jobs were nearly hit and others that we know of where pedestrians were hit. As staff we asked for public education/signs/enforcement because we could see an increasing problem. The police told us that the esplanades would have to be posted for them to enforce…and they didn’t want to do it. I’m not sure what if anything has changed since then, but I don’t see the problem going away. I do not condone the ‘skateboarder’s’ actions in anyway, but given the situation and the growing population of disaffected and angry ‘young’ people out there, it does not surprise me that this is happening.
Speed limit for bikes? How can that even be enforced? It’s not as if bikes come with a speedometer.
Clearly the solution here is to separate the modes. Better Naito needs to happen ASAP – especially after Tilikum Crossing opens, since the Moody path will lead directly into Waterfront Park.
I have one on my bike. Always be courteous on the MUP.
Oh, I totally agree that we shouldn’t ride fast on Waterfront Park. Just, how am I supposed to know if I am riding under 10 MPH?
A lot of cyclists ride like (pick your expletive) on the waterfront. But a speed limit isn’t the answer. Not because people don’t have a decent idea of how fast they should ride in response to the sign. But because sometimes 20 mph is fine, and sometimes 5 mph is too much. And because there are a fair number of cyclists that respond to some regulations not being designed with the needs and wants of cyclists in mind and respond by riding however they want. Without a better carrot on Naito you won’t get that set to behave.
Agreed. I hate riding on Naito more than I dislike riding though the crowds in Waterfront Park. The second Better Naito is made permanent, I’ll switch to Naito. This is likely a common sentiment.
“…Just, how am I supposed to know if I am riding under 10 MPH?” herstein
Unless they’re race-walking (looks funny, you’ll know it when you see it.), most people don’t normally walk 10 mph. They walk around three and a half miles per hour. Keeping pace with them, you’re riding less than 10 mph.
Traveling twice as fast as they are, you’re riding 7 mph. Three times as fast as they are, you’re riding close to 10 mph. Plenty of times riding on a MUP, I’ve been passed by people jogging or running. Don’t know exactly, but figure they’re traveling somewhere between 9-12 mph.
You can buy a speedometer for $10. Or you can use a watch to determine your cadence. Use that in combination with your gearing and calculate your speed. A few trial runs and you should to be able to judge your speed within about 2 mph for speeds up to about 15 mph. It’s not that hard. **portion of comment deleted for meanness and insensitive word choice**
if you become familiar with your gearing and your cadence it is actually pretty straight math
That’s a lot to expect from newer bicycle riders, especially those returning to bike riding after a decades-long hiatus. Don’t count on every bicycle rider to become super-geeky about their bikes (and yeah, doing the math as you suggest IS super-geeky).
What is really needed is separated bikeways, something there seems to be little political will (and less money) for. So until real improvements are made and enforced for those of us who ride for transportation, I will be forced to make choices that are not always in line with the paltry, underwhelming intentions of planners and government. Like avoiding Naito, for instance.
i hear you, beth. but i was responding specifically to adam h., who does not appear to be a “newer” rider, and who did appear to be rejecting any responsibility for monitoring his speed.
and frankly, i do not think it is expecting too much even from the novice to take some responsibility for riding safely on MUPs. if you don’t want to spend x dollars on a low-end cycle computer — i don’t –, and if you don’t want to do a few minutes’ math — for which there are calculators online –, then you might do as wsbob suggests, and pay attention to how fast you seem to be moving relative to pedestrians who are probably walking three or four mph.
this all comes down to simple civility in an increasingly crowded world.
If you’re going much faster than the people around you (whether they be on a bike, a bench, a skateboard, a racing snail or on foot), then you’re going too fast. Doesn’t matter whether that’s 5 mph or 50 mph. The same is true for cars buzzing by people on bikes.
Bikes generally don’t come with lights, either, but that doesn’t mean you can legally ride at night without them.
So far, however, a speedometer is not legally required equipment, so anyone can legally ride day or night without one.
Nor, apparently is a sense of humor or an appreciation of irony . . .
My bike only came with one set of brake pads. But they’ve worn out, so now I just travel at ludicrous speed and blast through stop signs because nobody will provide me with another set. /s
The mixture of peds and cyclists along the waterfront has always been difficult and confrontational. My own design calls for a 5′ widening of the walkway and designating the eastern widening a bikeway separate from walkway nearer the seawall. The waterfront promenade warrants this widening, especially at perpendicular walks to Naito Pkwy crossings. Benches now used for “hanging out” would/should be reinstalled according to this rearrangement. However, I’ve recently had another look at waterfront park designs from a few years ago, and agree that complete separation of bike and pedestrian paths seems logical, according to the completed plaza near Saturday Market. Therefore it seems this proposal is more near ready to implement than ever. Have another look at the waterfront park designs.
Edit: 2-direction bikeway on the “west side” of the waterfront walkway, adjacent to the lawn with repositioned benches, etc.
The lampposts are right by the western edge of the path too. Some of the trees that should absolutely not be ripped out are within 5 feet of the pavement edge. 5 feet isn’t enough room for a bike path. And if you narrow the pedestrian space too much and move the lampposts and benches into that narrowed space whenever there’s crowding (with how little room for through movement you’re leaving that will be daily for at least six months a year) you’ll have people spill into the adjacent bike path. Don’t forget that when it’s sunny a lot of people will walk under the trees to avoid burning, and that’s where you’re putting the bike path. It’s a built in conflict. There’s no room between the trees and the water for a pedestrian path that meets current volumes (even excluding the homeless camps) and for a dedicated bike path to meet current volumes. Never mind the growth in usage of both that should be expected.
If the city is going to move festivals somewhere else then there’s room on the other side of the trees for a bike path. Seems unlikely, so that leaves you going over to Naito. The eastern car lane+bike lane should be wide enough for a good two way path. Make sure to add a paved sidewalk where people walk in the dirt or you’ll have people walk in the bike lane whenever it’s muddy.
Speed limits, makes me think about how motor vehicle limits came to be – because so many do not understand moving about based on the current conditions – congestion, weather, slipperyness.
Sounds like it is not about speed as much as failure to adapt to the given circumstances.
Jesus, 10mph limit on the waterfront MUPs? That would add serious time to my commute. That is not going to happen. However, I do ride respectfully and responsibly when the trails get crowded.
I had a similar incident a few months ago where a man threw a shoe at me hitting my rear tire, the person was at the rear part of the platform.
I circled back around to confront him and he ran off toward the Skidmore Fountain.
I’ve had some sketchy encounters going through this area.
I was riding there last week and some other rider came charging through a congested area at ++20 mph. I thought wtf. I should have yelled, but did not.
+1. Also, watching people zoom past small children in particular makes me cringe. Small kids are unpredictable, and a hair above walking pace with as much space as possible is the appropriate way to proceed.
heading north on sw 2nd avenue turning west onto Oak street Wednesday on a green light a man in his 50s rushed me yelling “i have the right of way”.
I saw him standing on the corner as i turned left- he was waiting for me, looking at me, and rushed me purposefully. i signalled. and at the point of turning he started to run toward me.
i stopped. he got in my face. for all purposes i looked maybe like a messenger with a front rack, a large bag.
probably unrelated, and it did not really affect my day. just another day in portland. he looked like he was trying to have a good time.
Was he crossing 2nd or Oak?
One problem I’ve had with bikes and (far more often with) cars is that if the light is red, they can make their turn, I can’t walk across. I have to wait until the light is green. I’ll look at them to make sure they yield. But once the light turns green and I’m finally legally allowed to cross they seem annoyed if I do. I don’t have a reliable way to know that they are letting me cross when the light is red and they have the right of way.
No they cannot turn until they make a complete stop as well as yielding to pedestrians. The issue is with them not doing so and not yielding as required by law.
After they stop they can turn, even if the light is still red. I have to stay on the sidewalk until the light is green/I get a walk signal.
Right turn on red is one of the most auto-centric traffic laws in existence.
Combined with drivers not always signaling you’ll get plenty of conflict with any future law that lets cyclists treat red lights as stop/yield signs.
I was once threatened for very politely saying, “go ahead” to a guy waiting to cross the street while I was stopped. He completely flipped out and started screaming and threatening to kick my ass. Probably a mental health issue.
When will the BTA file for an injunction to get the PPB sign removed?
Oh. Right. NEVER. It’s the BTA. Wouldn’t want to endanger the SRTS funding by annoying anyone in the power structure.
I’m not sure an injunction is needed, maybe a call or email would do. Have you sent something in to Parks?
And why would they do that?
10 mph and pedestrian right of way is exactly how MUPs should be. MUPS are not bike paths – they’re MUPs. There is a bike path less than 50 yards away.
During the winter mups are an urban bike freeway. Very lightly used, no reason to go 10mph. During the summer, 10mph is often too fast. What makes 10mph a magic speed? Nothing, and besides, look how well it works for people in cars.
8mph is the speed limit on MUPs in San Diego.
I’ve found that Naito is almost always faster, even if you stop at all the lights. I feel that the path should really only be used for recreation and to access the bridges.
I commute on the waterfront daily and have found the opposite to be true. I think if Naito was faster there would be many more cyclists on it, avoiding the pedestrian congestion on the waterfront path. Right now the bike lanes on Naito don’t get much use.
I don’t know. Comfort is more important than speed for a lot of people. Tangling with pedestrians on the waterfront path feels safer than riding on the road for timid cyclists. It can feel faster too since you don’t stop, especially if you have a few little bursts to pass people.
LOL, do it the way I do, me, me, me!
“…Comfort is more important than speed for a lot of people. Tangling with pedestrians on the waterfront path feels safer than riding on the road for timid cyclists. …” lop
For many people that ride, and many that aren’t but may if not for a desire to not be obliged to ride close to motor vehicles in use, I think your thought is very true. And it’s right to the heart of conditions many people believe are necessary to provide if biking in this country is to become a much greater choice for practical travel than it is now.
The waterfront path’s width dimension is large enough to serve this function for a modest number of people biking, but for large numbers of people commuting by bike, it doesn’t seem at all sufficient. Large numbers of people biking the morning and afternoon commute, even if they were consistently traveling modest mph speeds compatible with people walking, would seem to fly counter to the fundamental recreational purpose this park exists for.
Naito northbound is always faster. Stop signs for bikes are only to allow peds to cross. There is no interference on the bike path to motorists turning onto Naito unless they are turning onto the grass in the park and going over the curb. South bound is a different matter. I take first, third, or fifth.
Except, of course, the stop lights stop northbound cyclists frequently when there are no pedestrians in sight.
Yes Kitty. The northbound lights, since they are on timed cycle and have no bearing on pedestrians, and since the turning traffic lanes and the bike lanes are in non interference with no motorists supposedly going across the bike lane, How many cyclists actually stop for the lights. It is like stopping for cross traffic on a continuous MUP. It does not happen.
I usually stop, and most others I see do too. I agree there is no point most of the time, and that’s why I find them so annoying. There should be a cycle light that always stays green unless a pedestrian has pushed the button. It would be an easy fix.
Southbound when coming from the eastside and Continuing to/past the Sourh Waterfront?
A truly horrible way to use a skateboard. Hope this nonsense ends.
Per the MUTCD, the sign that Parks installed is not a regulatory sign for traffic (black on white) but more of a polite request.
And what are “fast bikes” anyway…this is not a term defined in statute (ORS etc.) that I can find? Is it 6 mph, 10 mph, 20 mph or 25 mph? The 1970s olympic icon would visually denote >20 mph given the stance of the rider. (The PPB’s other sign’s language about riding in congested pedestrian areas is more effective message.)
Bicyclists are required to operate at a “walking speed” on sidewalks and not MUPs/ SUPs as in this case. It would all depend on the situation (pedestrian congestion etc.) and taking due care and safety.
What we have here is a facility that has become too successful (too congested and too important of a direct east west link) in the 13+ years since it opened. In additional to being direct it is also more level than the road route.
Perhaps the “fast bikes” signs should be replaced by a new sign message: “Congestion Free Bike Route to Eastside this way via Naito” etc.
PS. I am kinda surprised that this sign was vetted by PBoT. Musta been done during the summer holidays or Pedal Palooza…
Is this even PBOT? Wouldn’t it be under Parks and Fritz’s jurisdiction?
Yep. It’s a Parks thing.
I was just making comment based on past “press” coverage of the topic:
“Concerns about unsafe passing and crowded conditions have spurred the Portland Parks Bureau to partner with the Bureau of Transportation to install signs encouraging faster bike riders to use Naito Parkway…”, source BikePortland, 17 September 2014
The sign should be removed until Naito is fixed.
i gave this a thumbs up, but i do also think some kind of message should be delivered to cyclists saying if you are using the MUP go slowly. so instead of saying “fast bikes over there,” maybe a sign stating a specific speed limit.
I think the “walking speed” law has been changed since many people (including some police) learned it. If you have a current reference, please share it. ORS 814.410(1)(c) says “careless manner”. (1)(d) only applies to *entering* a place where a driver would have to yield to you. (And is pretty insidious when taken in context of SW Multnomah.) (1)(e) is also a bit puzzling with regard to our ill-defined “multi-use paths” and electric bikes.
If there’s an event like Bite of Oregon, Waterfront Park is just too crowded. When there are no events, it’s a bum resort, complete with open air drug use and public sex (saw that last week, blech). It just feels like an unsafe place.
I gave up on anything north of The Bowl ever being a safe or comfortable place to ride.
I think that’s a bit extreme. Certainly that stuff goes go on at some times of day when there isn’t an event, but a lot of the time it’s a mix of all ages walking, jogging, biking, admiring the view. Unfortunately that doesn’t make it suitable for biking in a trying-to-get-somewhere kind of way at all times of day.
That’s the long way of saying “it’s always something”.
Throw the skateboard into the river if you witness this.
That will end well.
Interesting…I thought of that as well. Could work I suppose, if the reasoning was that doing so was necessary to distancing the weapon…here the skateboard…from the person using it against someone. Seems the guy riding, Weerasinghe, was banged up kind of bad, maybe in some shock.
And apparently no friendly witnesses. Otherwise, another option if it remained near the bike, might have been to quick scoop the board up, hop on the bike and pedal straight on over to the police station on third, I guess it is. Let the board owner collect it there.
I have been through there. There were 2 skate boards when I went through. The first one just missed my rear wheel and I went over the top of the second one. Kept upright and left at speed. I did not pass the runner in front though.
and ride away quickly.
Isn’t he saying, “here, take this?” I could use another skateboard…
welcome to Portland’s homeless problem.
Seriously! I can’t believe I had to wade through 75 comments on proper MUP signage to get to this. The crowd the gathers at that location is the exact cause of the problem.
Yeah, I don’t understand everyone talking about the problem with “pedestrians” – I bike and walk along the waterfront frequently and never have any problem with pedestrians. It’s the a-holes who sit down there all day just harassing people as they ride or bike by. I work with the person who as assaulted and he’s one of the nicest people I know. This was just plain assault.
They are just trying to live!
Not when they are harassing people. I’ve experienced it when riding with my wife and children. They are NOT “trying to live” they are succeeding in intimidating people. I’m pretty liberal and give generously to some causes that seek to help those who need it and desire it. The harassers don’t need it and don’t desire it!
I think it’s a bit of this, and a bit of people just riding too fast sometimes; it’s a bit more complex and .
It seems to me that some homeless folks do go out of their way to aggressively call out people who they see as doing something a bit out of line, even if the rest of us would probably not necessarily see the deed as a very big deal . My little – unsubstantiated and inexpert – theory is that they spend a lot of time being studiously ignored by just about everyone, which leaves them in need of acknowledgement and validation, or just any kind of interaction with none-homeless people (it certainly would me). A minor-ish misdeed like riding too fast (or even just being on a bike where many other people ride too fast, as might be the case here) allows an interaction to be initiated with the bonus that it’s “in the public good”, rather than just out-of-the-blue and “bad”. So I can sort of see where it comes from I think, without in any way condoning it, though with these larger groups on the waterfront it is way more threatening. I don’t think it’s only people on bikes who are on the receiving end of this kind of thing.
I do think some people ride way too fast past other people down there.
Is it possible that the groups that gather there are naturally intimidating, and therefore prompt people to want to ride faster to get away from them?
What you describe has very clearly been nothing to do with the incidents I’ve seen – people who should certainly know better slaloming at high speed through non-tattooed, harmless-looking pedestrians with little room to spare.
seriously .. is everyone to PC to say what is real problem?
Bingo. This area is even more uncomfortable to walk through. I recently did this with my wife after visiting Saturday Market. You are on edge the entire time.
One thing I take while riding is mace. Maybe more cyclists should do this.
In general, I agree there are times when mace/pepper spray could be a good thing to have. I don’t think that facing down a group on both sides of the trail is one of them though.
This represents yet another reason I ride with a GoPro pointing forward and a Fly6 pointing back. EIther they see the cameras and this kind of incident doesn’t happen near me, or they don’t and there’s something to hand over to the police.
I ride a mix of E and W esplanade and Naito, depending on the day. This makes me want to ride the esplanade more.
and enforcement on PDX’s street **insensitive words deleted by moderator** is done, how exactly? they’ll disappear the moment the rain comes back. they always do.
Also, don’t count on 911 for a fast response. Three weeks ago, I was running on the Esplanade and encountered a man hitting his girlfriend and threatening to kill her. I dailed 911 and was “on hold” for 3-4 minutes. I waited another ten minutes…no police response. By this time the perpetrator had left the area.
PPD need to have a few of their own ride through the area in cycling garb, carefully with moderation, and see what happens. They’d be on site for an immediate arrest.
The PPB bike squad is pretty much dead, or at least on critical care life support, and everyone can see the Park Rangers coming from a mile away. They probably wouldn’t be able to enforce an exclusion on these people anyway.
A big part of the problem is that to cyclists the area is a MUP. To alot of the folks who hang out there it is their living room, bedroom and bathroom. I wouldn’t want people speeding through my living space either.
Personally, I rid the path in the morning when most are still asleep and tend to avoid it and go over the steel bridge in the afternoon. That is another issue with cars that get mad that a cyclist is taking a full (and only) lane on the top deck.
In short, there are a lot of issues in the that particular area that need a creative planning (and maybe law enforcement) approach to resolve.
When we are sharing pedestrian space, we are under an absolute moral obligation to ride at pedestrian speed. Yeah, the skateboard throwers and collision engineers are dickheads–but if you want to ride faster than a pedestrian, ride on the road in a vehicular manner. We’re not Copenhagen yet no matter what some folks might hallucinate about.
It’s not “pedestrian space” though. It’s a multi-use path.
You’re saying that anyone riding a bike in a MUP has a moral obligation to ride 3 miles per hour or less? That’s ludicrous. Must runners also “run” at pedestrian walking speeds?
As do many others, I travel the south sidewalk of the Steel Bridge every day on my commute to work, and briefly ride on the sidewalk and/or MUP before diverting to Naito. While doing so, I have been accosted many times in one way or another by people who appear to be living near or under the Burnside Bridge. It is not because of excessive speed or any lack of consideration on my part. It is because we have large numbers of homeless people, many of whom are desperate and/or mentally ill, living in the space immediately surrounding the MUP.
The same exact situation exists along the Springwater and elsewhere in the city. While that situation continues, there are going to be dangerous incidents between the “residents” of our public spaces and those seeking to use them for recreation. Having lived and ridden my bike extensively in New York City and San Francisco, in my opinion this aspect of cycling is far worse here in Portland.
Our moral obligation as cyclists on the MUP is to obey the law, which includes an obligation to yield to pedestrians.
That’s not a speed limit but it does imply a need to ride under control such that a pedestrian, even one making a sudden movement, is not endangered because one of us rides too fast or too close. So the “either 3mph or as fast as I can” dichotomy is false. If you’re using the MUP (functionally a sidewalk), you have to remember that the folks on foot have the right of way.
Unsafe operation of bicycle on sidewalk
(1) A person commits the offense of unsafe operation of a bicycle on a sidewalk if the person does any of the following:
(b) Operates a bicycle upon a sidewalk and does not give an audible warning before overtaking and passing a pedestrian and does not yield the right of way to all pedestrians on the sidewalk.
Its not a sidewalk, legally, or otherwise.
Sidewalk != MUP
It’s not a sidewalk. It’s not a bike highway. It’s a park path. It has its own rules. Use audible warnings when passing, safe speed at all times, slower traffic has the right of way. Cyclists don’t always respect this.
Pedestrians (and cyclists) have duties to keep right except to pass, and not to block the trail. That’s not always respected either.
this isn’t about sharing space, this is about homeless people attacking others.
What the heck are you talking about? Have you even been on the Springwater trail? That is a “pedestrian space” as much as the waterfront path is.
You can get a rudimentary bike computer for the price of a few cups of coffee. You can learn to read the numbers on it.
you can learn your gearing and cadence and do some math
Jonathan, you’ve seemingly avoided coming out and saying who the problem-causers are. Everyone knows it’s the homeless drug addicts who refuse services that are making Waterfront Park into an unattractive, unsafe place for legitimate park users.
This problem could easily be solved with a solution that is fair but does not burden the criminal justice system: put a persistent police presence at Waterfront Park. When people use drugs in the open or are suspected of having drugs, have the police confiscate their drugs and all their paraphernalia. A junkie’s prized possession is his/her drugs, and with the threat of confiscation, they will choose to loiter somewhere else.
Parks are not for drug use, nor are they for anti-social behavior.
I am trying to be very sensitive about a topic that I believes demands our utmost care and caution. Until I feel otherwise, I will continue to choose my words and tone carefully around the topic of the growing number of people who live outside on our streets.
It is a huge concern of mine and I’ve been talking about it with a lot of people lately — From Nancy Hales to PPB officers, Mayor Staff, – whoever will listen.
In the case of this story, I want us to focus on people who did certain things — not necessarily because of their living conditions or housing status. Can you see there is already some nasty comments on this thread (which I’ve moderated and deleted most of)? That’s what I’m trying to avoid as much as possible.
they deserve care and caution? the same people who are assaulting strangers on the sidewalk unprovoked? they serve our care and caution? I will respectfully disagree.
“I am trying to be very sensitive about a topic that I believes demands our utmost care and caution”
The problem does not warrant “care and caution” – the problem requires a swift police response. The aggressive behavior is caused by gutterpunks and road warriors, who travel the coast with the season. They do not want services – they are lifestyle homeless who prefer to do drugs and sleep under bridges.
Have the police take away their drugs and issue park exclusions – they will quickly go elsewhere.
Thanks George. I hear you. Maybe I should change my approach a bit. I’m thinking about it.
no, jon, i think your first response was correct. there are these guys doing this specific thing. they may be homeless and they may be drug users, but other homeless drug users are not throwing skateboards at people. it is the behavior that needs to be addressed, not the status.
actually, of course, the status needs to be addressed as well, but for other reasons, i.e., to help the individuals who find themselves in that status.
For that matter, in addition to illegal drugs, the police could confiscate unlicensed / unvaccinated animals as well.
Well, Portland is a Sanctuary City that protects illegal immigrants. Deliberately ignoring the road warrior and gutterpunk problem along the riverfront aligns quite well for our City leaders who defiantly violate federal immigration laws…what’s wrong with refusing to enforce local ordinances when they’re already violating federal laws??
To be honest the Waterfront is a giant stink-hole. The amount of crime, street people, drugs, and human waste is disgusting. To quote a group of people from out of town I over heard on my commute one day: “this place is disgusting. lets never come back here.” Had to nod my head and agree. The Waterfront area could be so nice.
agreed. there is no constitutional right to use public parks as toilet and trash can.
is there a constitutional right to have access to toilets and trash cans elsewhere?
This happened to me last week too. Some homeless kid step in front of my path and yelled “fast bikes on Natio.” I could easily get around him since I wasn’t riding fast. I think this issue is more about groups of homeless that gather on the path in the evenings being aggressive to park users rather than overall biking etiquette on the path.
Lately I’ve just been riding down the grass to avoid the lights on Natio and troubles on the waterfront path.
They could also be attempting to reduce the proportion of “good” traffic in the area and especially bicyclists who may be a bigger threat to their control of this space (i.e. younger, stronger, and most importantly quicker in escape mode).
This is the opposite of the CPTED design and public space management techniques of diluting bad behaviour through flooding the area with good behaviour (and active witnesses). Another broken window for Portland…
I usually ride Naito but when I ride on the water side of the park, I ride at 3-8 MPH or 6Kph to 12Kph. Depending on the peds walking 4-5 abreast with earphones.
Rob, I don’t tolerate any encouragement or suggestion of any type of weapon that will be used against another person. I hope you understand. — Jonathan**
Good idea. Picking up some before I ride in downtown area.
Hey it’s your site. Maybe sensor the other suggestions of OC spray up ^ so people don’t think I was advocating chainsaw use or something eh?
Jonathan, this is not advocating violence. Mace is used as self defence and it is perfect reasonable to use it against someone who is attacking you.
I realize the difference Adam. I felt Rob’s comment was too harsh, so I deleted it. While some of the others in this thread feel more like self-defense, so I’ve left them up.
It’s strange that you deleted the whole comment and not just the phrase I suspect you didn’t like. I’m not following your thought process here.
Mace is used as self defence and it is perfect reasonable to use it against someone who is attacking you.
OK but how do you envision its use in Weerasinghe’s case? He probably had his hands on the bars for control at low speed, the attack itself lasted maybe 1/2 second from when the hoodlum’s foot launched the board to when it wedged his wheel, and by the time he looked up from the ground the perp was retreating and likely out of range. How would he have used pepper spray in that situation?
It could have worked great for Brimhall when he was boxed in by a violent group. More tools = better when you are being attacked.
The solution is to fix the connections between Naito and the Steel bridge pathways.
Give cyclists an easy path from the Steel bridge onto Naito (and vice-versa), and make Naito safe enough for cyclists to want to be there, and all the “fast” bikes will go where they can go fast.
That slippery-when-wet granite rock garden isn’t cutting it, and neither is the ramp through the fountain and the homeless camp beneath the bridge.
It won’t fix the entitled, indignant, drugged-out street kid problem, but that’s not PBOT’s problem to solve.
I think the solution is to convert the waterfront park path into a path with striped and clearly delineated areas for people cycling and people walking.
Here is a recent example:
Aside from providing better housing options and services for the homeless and mentally ill, who do live among us, I feel the time has come to define strict lanes in high-traffic, multi-use situations, like Waterfront Park, Eastbank Esplanade, and the Hawthorne Bridge. Bikes here, walkers there, no passing. There are too many people on these paths now to depend on everyone being sensible and kind, which mostly worked in the Portland I used to know.
Your ‘no passing’ suggestion is interesting. I would love it if Portland bicycle riders could evolve some safe passing behaviors so that such signs would never be needed (enforcement would be difficult but that’s another issue)
There are also loose bricks and two small holes. If anyone happens to ride for the first time on a wet day, it won’t end well.
The political correctness sort won’t ever acknowledge it, but the growing number of homeless people in our public parks and MUPs is causing many and varied problems. This is just one.
I’m kind of baffled by people who are assaulted and don’t know what to do about it, like there’s no recourse or action to take after they’ve gotten to safety. I’m sure they have cell phones. I find if amazing that people don’t think to call 911 as soon as possible. I call 911 and the nonemergency dispatch number so much I’m afraid they think oh god her again. But usually its because I’m concerned about people I see on the street. Naked guy turning circles in front of warehouse, drunk passed out in doorway in subzero weather, lady putting shoes in the middle of the street and talking to herself.
I hope that doesn’t sound like victim blaming but really, if you are the victim of a crime call 911. How do you expect the perpetrators to be caught and prevented from doing it again unless you take legal action against them? Do you want them to continue to stay in the park and assault you and others.
I was assaulted on the street by a homeless youth downtown around 4th and Oak. Not one of the gutter punks, a legitimate local kid who had a fight with his parents, got kicked out and was definitely confused and scared (he jumped on me from behind as I waited at a light — I was on foot — before I ever saw him). A bystander called 911 while this was happening and after I prevailed in our wrestling match, we waited 5-10 minutes for the cops — nothing. So I told the kid not to do anything like that again and let him go.
That being the case, I’m kind of baffled by the idea that you think police will respond instantly to this kind of call. Particularly if it’s “someone shoved a skateboard in front of my bike and ran away.” I would be happy to bet a large sum against a prompt/effective police response to that call.
Did I say they would respond instantly?
But just like you are more likely to win the lottery if you buy a ticket than if you dont’, you are more likely to get a police response if you actually call them than if you don’t.
I think your missing the big picture here, these are Not “pedestrians” upset with cyclists. These actions are a specific type or group of people that have no respect for anyone other than the drug addled squatter that they feed off of.
I’ve seen these exact people many times as I ride through there and theur “territory” has grown drastically over the last year.
They are getting aggressive because that’s what happen when you allow this type of element to be left unchecked in a public park. Eventually it will escalate to a broader range of violence towards anyone “not in their group” that encroaches on their “territory” It won’t be just cyclists that are getting harassed.
Then once they see that it is working and more people avoid their area’s it will become a violent line to cross.
PPD needs to enforce the law by adding hourly patrols and end the overnight campers and all of the “squatting” that is going on. The drug use, the drunken disgusting people that “hang around” there now is way out of control and what is happen will only get worse.
I have noticed that the groups under the Steel and Burnside Bridges seem to be growing larger by the day. This issue needs to be addressed – we can’t allow groups of people to take over our public spaces, storing their stolen bikes and harassing park users. Whether or not you think “homelessness is a complicated issue”, the street harassment and open-air chop shops need to be dealt with. Getting these people off the streets and into mental heath care centers is a good first start.
I’m going to pull a figure out of my hat here but I’d be willing to bet that 85% of the young miscreants down there don’t have a mental illness, and their drug use isn’t the reason for their homelessness, but rather a function of it.
Didn’t mean to imply that they were all mentally unstable, but I do believe that heavy drug addiction should be treated as a mental health disease.
yes it should. But enabling it is not the way to treat it.
I would 2nd that and add a 97% statistical value.
totally agree. I caught myself saying to my visiting parents that “I don’t want to take my kids anywhere near that area or Saturday market because of the bad element near the Burnside bridge” then I realized I’m just giving in to their intimidation.
It would seem that Commissioner Fritz sees it differently. Perhaps a contingent from here meet with Parks Staff/Cops to start things off?
There have been a few meetings happening between the Mayor, PPD, Parks, and local residents business owners. The PPD and Parks have their hands tied, likely by Fritz, whose presence at one of these meetings only lasted for as much time as it took her to say, “The parks are for everyone.” She’s not interested in engaging on the issue.
These problems aren’t going to go away until Fritz does. Mayor Hales recently had to yank Development Services away from her, as it had become a mess in the two years that she oversaw it. Hopefully the same thing happens with Parks. I imagine that Hales has figured out why Adams put her in a corner with nothing to do.
You have to wonder how Fritz would react if there was a park with a large homeless community in her neighborhood. I feel like if the Esplanade was in her backyard, she’d probably react differently.
Only her friends would be allowed to use it.
This summer I switched to using the Esplanade because riding through the gauntlet of street kids made me wary. Waterfront Park is gross.
I have occasionally witnessed “pedestrians” get pretty upset with cyclists on this path, with reason.
However there’s a danger I’m coming off as blaming the victim in the context of the article, which isn’t my intention.
In New York City, along the Hudson River Parkway, there are segregated multi use paths. Basically, the paths are about as wide as the ones along the Esplanade and Waterfront Park, but with a line down the middle. Pedestrians on one side of the line, bicyclists on the other–with another path using the same split going the other direction. Say what you want about New Yorkers, but they pretty much follow the rules on these paths. Maybe Portlanders would, too.
At least that would reduce the normal tensions between bikers and peds. These recnet incidents at Waterfront Park are caused by angry and probably intoxicated homeless men, and to solve that, we have to solve all the problems contributing to homelessness.
Similar incident happened to me last month, except the guy, easy to identify with his tattoos across his eyebrows, stepped into me and attempted to clothesline me. I was not riding fast, and had eye contact with him as he made his move. Fortunately I was aware that something was strange and prepped for it, allowing me to continue riding thru him and his attempt. He was standing in the middle of the path, just waiting for people to give his “fast bikes on Natio speech”. Freaked me out pretty bad, and now I ride solely on the sketchy Natio bike lane.
I won’t even describe the situation my students had to witness on a field trip along the waterfront last year. Unreal. This town needs a good ol’ fashioned bicycle gang, like the Bell’s Angels.
Would handlebar tassels be O.K. in your gang Brian? Asking for a friend.
Absolutely, but they would beed to be hung in an intimidating fashion and match the color of the backpatch on our jean jackets.
Maybe some really-early-morning park cleaning with a hose, possibly followed by marching band practice.
Looks like assault and battery to my slightly educated eyes.
Just curious, does anyone honestly have an issue with riding Naito NORTHBOUND? I know there’s an ongoing discussion about how to improve that major artery for cycling etc, and I hate being on there going south, but northbound it’s a breeze – hardly any stopping, no pedestrian congestion, and the bonus of much less odor of human piss.
But seriously, do people avoid Naito going north in the same way they do for going south?
Northbound is okay enough, I think it would amazing and perfect if the redlights became yield signs for bicyclist.
Southbound? Never-ever-ever again. Too much merging going on to feel safe.
While we’re on this topic, I’d love to see a physically separated path for northbound bikes that uses the existing bike lane and maybe 2 or 3 feet of the west edge of the park. Could remove the need to yield or stop at lights — a true world-class facility.
Would you object if it narrowed a bit at crosswalks (maybe just with paint?) and had a flashing red light for cyclists whenever a pedestrian requests to cross, flashing yellow when cars have a red but no pedestrian requests to cross, and a green when cars on naito do? It can be tough for cyclists to see around cars that stop at the red light, what’s the right setup to make it easy for pedestrians to cross/other bikes to enter the lane from the cross streets?
Ryan: It depends on where you’re going. If I’m planning to cross the Hawthorne Bridge (my usual route home) I prefer to access the bridge from the waterfront rather than from Naito.
Yes, I could use the pedestrian crossing at Main Street, but that requires that I trust motorists to actually yield. Also, there’s not a very good way of getting into a good position on the sidewalk for the eastbound crossing of Naito unless I ride on the sidewalk, which we know is a no-no.
If I’m continuing south intending to go to PSU, for example, I will stay on Naito.
I have taken to riding Naito southbound to cross the Hawthorne bridge. You can make a right at Jefferson or (even better) jump the curb just before Jefferson and then ride up the stub ramp that was never opened to cars. This gets you onto the bridge and is all kinds of more convenient than going through Waterfront Park and going up the ramp accessed from the park.
With two curb cuts (one on Naito and one on the bridge to let you merge into the bike lane), this route would be pretty much perfect.
Not condoning the behavior of the skateboard tosser by any means, it was wrong and dangerous and the culprit deserves some form of legal punishment even to the extent of assault. And I got no qualm with people riding fast on the MUPs when no one else is around, but I do have issues with many of the comments on here.
Honestly people- some of you that are complaining about having to ride slower on a MUP is completely ridiculous. The path on the Waterfront is what a mile long – the Esplanade is what 1 1/2 miles, which means it’s a 6/9 minute ride at 10 MPH and 3/4.5 minute ride at 20 mph. The difference in travel time is less than getting stuck at more than one red light on your trip. You’re complaining over 2 or 3 minutes of time spent on some of the most beautiful urban riding paths in city, country even. I’d assume that if you commute the route everyday for work you already compensate for this time for the chance of a bridge delay.
Are you so self centered that you can’t spare 2 or 3 minutes in your trip to help assure the safety of yourself and those around you? How hypocritical. You expect this same behavior of automobiles when you are riding in the streets, but fail to offer this same respect you demand of the other path users in your way.
There is a hierarchy out there on the streets. Many believe there is a moral component (which is what is THE MISSING component to the US transportation conversation) where the bigger and faster the vehicles bear more responsibility than those that are smaller and slower. So the road and path users that deserve the most grace would be the pedestrians, followed by bikes/boarders, then cars. It’s “with great power comes great responsibility”. It’s basic respect, It’s that simple.
You wanna know why people think of cyclists as entitled and whiny… Just look in the mirror if you think riding at a reasonable speed on MUP is too much to ask.
Agreed 100%. I always ride slowly when the paths are crowded and use my bell if I am passing a wide group.
Agreed. Enjoy the ride people.
I encourage you all to write Commissioner Fritz.
I commute this daily and it is truly terrible. I appreciate the many calls for tolerance and understanding. However…
Like almost all the commenters here – I’m a fit adult male in my prime. Riding through a gauntlet of urine, clouds of smoke and angry shouts doesn’t bother me. But how can I promote bicycling to other folks in my office? People who aren’t confident cyclists? I need to be able to show them a safe, pleasant bike commute to get them out of their cars.
I want to get more people out of their cars and on to bicycles for their daily work commute. The transients camped along the path are a very real obstacle to that goal. I have no idea what the policy solution is here. Respectful bicycling is a must. But the solution needs to be more than that.
Groan, this is my commute. This is an unpleasant part (not as bad as Barbur though).
I find it uncomfortable how many folks posting here are determining that since this group of people may possibly be experiencing homelessness that they no longer count as pedestrians. People walking (or rolling) are pedestrians, regardless of where they live.
I also find it problematic how for all the people addressing the fact that these people may be experiencing homelessness, no one seems to be making the connection between transportation and housing as critical elements of a livable community. Livable for everyone.
I encourage everyone to read this article from Street Roots:
“How Portland can be praised for being one of the best planned urban environments in America with no affordable-housing requirements is one of biggest myths of our time. Meanwhile, displacement and homelessness continue to occur at alarming rates within our community.”
I find it uncomfortable that people are being assaulted while simply riding on the waterfront. Maybe you should focus on the illegal activity (assault, harassment) and stop trying to make us feel bad for the way that we classify the perpetrators.
The larger discussion taking place on this thread of the multi-use path being a place for people riding bikes/real pedestrians/’legitimate users’ and people who are experiencing homelessness being excluded from any of those categories is what I think is problematic. I wasn’t actually commenting on the issue of the assaults, more on the tone of the response. Assault is never ok, but I don’t think demeaning an entire group from legitimacy is part of the solution. I certainly don’t have a solution, but if housing isn’t a part of the conversation I think we are missing something.
How many comments does it take for a discussion about specific assaults to devolve into victim-blaming an entire population? I counted five. Seems odd that a group of people who consider themselves vulnerable users (as cyclists on inhospitable roads) can’t extend vulnerability to those with lower socioeconomic class status (people living in inhospitable cities). I guess we as bikers must not want/deserve safety if we’re not willing to suck it up and protect ourselves inside 2-ton 4-wheeled vehicles.
Hmmm that sounds exactly like how oppression works.
“Oppression”? Sorry, but what we have being reported here is hardly an isolated incident. I used the commute along the riverfront daily, am and pm. I don’t now unless with other cyclists. I’ve also had skateboards kicked out in front of me; had these laybaouts approach me while insulting me and even acting as though they would attack me in order to intimidate me; and I have witnessed multiple other incidents just this summer alone.
I ride in from Beaverton and I choose now to ride along Naito rather than risk riding along the riverfront.
Oh, and lets not forget about the loose pets, either.
Look, these people are not only wrecking a gem in this City, they are now posing a regular danger. Whether their staggering along the pathway under the influence, intimidating and now even attempting to hurt to hurt people, or leaving their belongings strewn about the pathways…these people are a menace now.
Can you please explain how your comment is appropriate or relevant as a response to mine? Or did you want to just put oppression in quotes for kicks?
this is very mild by bike portland standards. on bike theft comment threads, threats of violence and vigilante justice directed at houseless people are de rigeur.
Are you actually defending hating on people living in poverty… because the insults have been worse before?
I won’t defend hating on people of poverty, but I do defend hating on people who steal bikes, assault people, leave trash in our parks, and create an environment of fear and intimidation, regardless of their financial situation.
Right, but the shallow and unconvincing analysis here is that they are all one and the same. Except, of course, for the population of people without housing who don’t make you all feel uncomfortable because they’re not as visible… They’re doing poverty “the right way.”
I agree that the analysis here is a bit off base, but I am also pretty sure this situation is not about visible poverty making people uncomfortable. There’s a lot of people along the waterfront that are behaving badly.
Who has posted such an analysis? My comments have been confined to the layabouts surrounding the waterfront. It seems to me that most of the comments I have read in this section are also limited to the homeless who have chosen to make waterfront park their permanent or temporary home and, in the process, are polluting it and making it a dangerous place.
Houseless people are certainly a huge focus of hate — deserved or not-deserved. IMO, they are to liberal portlanders what illegals are to Trump supporters.
When I camp, I “leave no trace”.
pointing out hate is hardly a defense.
Notice the difference between threats posted on a blog and the real actions taken by the layabouts along the waterfront….
Ridiculous parsing. If people are laying about the area they’re layabouts, just like people bicycling are cyclists.
With all due respect, these are not Portland residents who lost their homes, wound up on the street, and just need a helping hand, they’re travelers who come to Portland for the summer to hang out and make trouble. Once it starts raining, this problem will be resolved for this year, but they’ll be back next summer, I’m sure.
Some of them might actually live with their parents in the west hills.
LOL, too true!
Yep, but Portland does not just tolerate them, we encourage them by failing to enforce our own local ordinances. It’s the very same thing as this sanctuary city business wherein we not only turn a blind eye to illegal immigration, but actively support and protect illegals…at the expense of local residents, i.e., local workers.
For everyone of you out there that applauded when that Kentucky City Clerk was jailed this week for refusing to issue a marriage license to a gay couple, you ought to demanding that our City officials be jailed as well for openly flouting federal immigration law.
Jon…the illegal immigration situation is far more complex and difficult to resolve than the situation with whoever it is that likes to stand around on the waterfront path, doing things that make it very difficult and dangerous to use as a path.
Though it’s a bit of a mystery why the city has let the situation go as far as it has. Possibly because not enough of the people having had bad experiences with the path blocking group, haven’t reported to the city and police. Lacking good video of photographs, someone has to call the police when the group is there, so the police are able to see the group in action.
I bike past this crowd every day. They all appear to be homeless, all appear to have no respect for themselves, or anyone around them (trash EVERYWHERE, they block the ENTIRE path sometimes with their cr*p, etc etc).
I don’t have a problem with homelessness, but I do have a problem with obnoxiousness and lack of basic respect.
The thing that REALLY irritates me, is why are they there AT ALL.
Seriously. There is a ton, and I mean a ton, of free space under the Burnside Bridge. And yet, they all choose to camp out, blocking the entire multiuse path.
If they decided to dump all their possessions all over two lanes of Naito, then park their asses down there, they would be removed by the police within ten minutes.
But because it is “only” a bikeway and pedestrian way, they can stay all they want.
Something is going to have to change, before I really, really snap at them one day. Sorry for the rant, but this particular situation drives me insane.
Oh, and as for the “bikes going too fast” accusation. Maybe so. How about this for a suggestion- don’t camp out IN THE MIDDLE OF A BIKEPATH. Then it won’t be a problem!
I go west bound on Steel and then south on waterfront every day. Problem seems to get worse every week. I’ve experimented with longer routes just to avoid the bums.
Oh, should i mention seeing one of their pit bulls take massive dump and bum not bothering to pick up..
This incident has nothing to with the speed of the cyclist. I was verbally assaulted with the same line, at walking speed, since they (the street kids drinking and smoking) had the entire path blocked off. After a few very uncomfortable minutes trying to squeeze thru without antagonizing them (unsuccessful since they seemed to be spoiling for a fight), i made it past and reported it to one of the non PPB bike patrolers, the ones in yellow and black uniforms. The guy seemed very hesitant about doing anything, he probably didn’t even confront them. I now take Naito since it seems safer to me, and the really fast cyclists will just have to go around me.
I’ve spent my entire life as a PDX native watching the waterfront change. When I was little we used to love going down there as a family and enjoying the park. We never had a problem. It also didn’t smell like urine everywhere.
On the rare occasion that I go through there now it’s awful. The entire place smells like piss, there’s trash everywhere and the homeless population has become menacing. Mind you, the homeless were always there, they just never used to be an issue. You left them alone, they left you alone save for maybe the occasional spanging. Harmless.
I would love nothing more than to see the city address the issue as at this point I find the park far more of an embarrassment to the city than the jewel it used to be.
As to the conflicts between users I really think a lot of this could be solved with a little paint. Mark part of the path for bikes and part for pedestrians. Also may I suggest to the parks some signs that were quite effective along the Schuylkill river MUP in Philly? They were small ones that said “Slower users stay right”. Simple, easy to understand and while not perfect I found they had a surprising rate of compliance.
I think if you made these few small, easy improvements and got the cops to actually show up and arrest the miscreants attacking cyclists with skateboards it would go a long way. Some of the immediate tensions in the park would ease and it would give everyone a moment to breathe and figure out a more complete solution to the larger problems.
What sort of cross section do you have in mind?
I wouldn’t want to appear to justify this behavior but it is a 2-way problem. As a biker and a walker I have many times almost been mowed down by bikers on the waterfront and on the Hawthorne bridge while walking . So it’s not too surprising that people of the type who act out in general are acting out.
On the larger issue it’s no surprise that police avoid dealing with these street people. Whenever they do anything (i.e clear a camp) the marches start, the complaining starts and Hale hides under his desk. If people want this town cleaned up you better start telling the people who run this city to get on the job or they will lose their job.
I may be picking nits, but it’s not a 2-way problem; it’s 2 different problems. Some cyclist do appear to be riding recklessly, and, independently, some people are assaulting passersby.
Sounds like attempted murder to me, Kyle Comeau was killed in Vancouver by skateboard.
As a small female, it doesn’t matter that I’m fit, riding through the waterfront is uncomfortable and does not feel safe. In fact, I’ve stopped riding the west side of the waterfront north of the fountain unless I absolutely must in favor of the Naito bike lanes. I thought I might be a little overcautious, but maybe not? Can’t say I am surprised that the attacks happened given the people I have encountered there more recently.
at taylor and the esplanade under the highway there is pretty much a gutter punk hobo burning man carnival jamboree taking place nightly. complete with all expected behaviors.
the last time i crossed the steel bridge west to east via the MUP there were probably 20 transient kids/adults of various ages sitting/lounging/laying on that hill on the waterfront just before the steel bridge. slightly rambunctious and certainly looking very at ease. nothing wrong with that but it is a change from summer’s past. i expect some of the transient population will head south for winter as usually happens. i don’t expect the city or the police to solve this problem but it would be nice if they stepped into trouble areas to put a lid on things before something serious happens. i’m sure they get briefed on this kind of stuff.
i prefer going up and over the bridge anyways since it’s faster and the lower crossing is always crowded. the potential of angry people looking for altercations is just another reason to avoid that part of the path.
Oops, you’re right, you need to provide for pedestrian crossing. What you suggested sounds great.
Commissioner Fritz’s management of the waterfront has been abysmal. The issue has been brought to her attention, and… nothing.
We shouldn’t have to ask people to act in the most basic civilized manner:
Don’t verbally assault.
Don’t physically assault.
It doesn’t matter what their background is.
Nobody’s making that argument.. Just asking for the name-calling and abusive generalization of people without housing to not be a part of this conversation about specific individuals. And maybe a little bit of acknowledgement that our comfort and class status is not completely isolated from theirs and… Gee, maybe we even have something to do/responsibility to take for the livability of our city? For people of all backgrounds?
It’s also a well documented fact that people behave differently in groups than they would alone, so the situation is a bit more complex than just a few bad individuals.
But commenters on this thread are making the issue about entire populations, not groups of people immediately related to violent individuals.
My sense is that people here are more concerned with groups of people along the Waterfront than about homeless people in general. There is a pretty clear relationship between people in the park and the assaults describe above, and another possibly overlapping group involved with bike theft, but there is hardly any connection between homeless people in general and bike issues.
Thanks for all the comments on this important topic. I have just read through the thread and deleted a few, but for the most part this has been a good discussion. I’ve learned a lot. I think we need Commissioner Fritz to get involved. I’ll work on that. In the meantime, please keep this dialogue going and keep it productive and welcoming of all views. Thanks.
Thank you for your attention Jon. This behavior (with the skateboard) needs to be corrected.