Activists (temporarily) take the swing out of TriMet’s swing gates

TriMet’s swing gates at SE 11th are working as intended again as of this morning.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

The latest chapter in swing gate-gate wasn’t open for long.

Elle Steele tries to open
the gate for her and
her bike.

Ever since TriMet announced plans to install manual gates on the path that crosses their new Orange Line MAX in inner southeast Portland, people have not been pleased. The gates require users to pull them open and — in addition to the permanent barrier they cause in the path (they are closed whether a train is coming or not) — concerns have been raised that the gates would be difficult for people with disabilities and cumbersome bicycles to easily use.

Turns out those concerns were warranted. Videos we published last week show a man in a motorized wheelchair having significant difficulty opening one of the gates. In two other videos, women with large cargo bikes full of children are seen struggling to pull open the gates and get through.

On Sunday afternoon transportation activists decided to take matters into their own hands.


People working on behalf of PDX Transformation, the same secretive group that put out traffic cones to protect a bike lane back in December, propped open the gates on Sunday and then announced their action on Twitter. An anonymous representative from the group told us they used steel cable and ferrules to do the job. They made sure to not damage any TriMet property and the gates were re-opened shortly after by the transit agency.

Reached this morning, a TriMet official said: “We were aware of this… Having the gates propped open does not help with our data gathering. We ask that people not tamper with these safety devices.”

That data gathering is part of an ongoing analysis of the new gates being performed by TriMet to determine their effectiveness. Despite being told numerous times by official advisory groups that the gates would be problematic for the community, TriMet installed them anyways out of concern for path users’ safety. It remains to be seen if they’ll change course.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 –

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