Esplanade closure begins February 1st

Want $1,000? Help us solve the mystery of nails in the Interstate Ave bike lane

Posted by on January 11th, 2019 at 10:20 am

This has gotten out of hand. Let’s catch the perpetrator(s).

Enough is enough. Someone is deliberately throwing nails in a popular Portland bike lane and we’re tired of waiting for it to stop.

So here’s the deal: BikePortland is offering a $500 $1,000 cash reward for information that leads to an arrest in this case.

As we’ve reported, PBOT has reached out to Commissioner Chloe Eudaly’s office and the Portland Police Bureau for help. So far don’t have any leads — and given everything on their plate, we need to encourage them to make this a high priority.

We need to treat this seriously. Intent to damage private property and hurt innocent people is a criminal act that we should not dismiss as a juvenile prank. If something like this targeted users of a freeway, you can bet the response from official authorities (and the media for that matter) would be much different. There’d be a manhunt underway and we’d have major engagement from all levels of law enforcement.

We need to send a clear message that this is a serious crime and that it won’t be tolerated.


*Thanks to KOIN-TV for interviewing me for this story.

Someone in Oregon City is doing the same thing and police officers are offering a $1,000 reward for an arrest and prosecution in the case.

In Portland we have thousands of people using bike lanes every day and we have a long and proud legacy of respect for cycling. We should do at least as much about this as Oregon City. It’s time for our law enforcement agencies to step up. Crimestoppers of Oregon offers rewards for all types of crimes. We hope they’ll join us and work with the PPB to help raise the profile of these incidents until someone is caught. We’d also like to see Commissioner Eudaly and/or Mayor Wheeler make a more formal public statement to put our community on notice that bicycle riders deserve respect and that behavior like this will not be ignored.

Thanks to all of you who’ve pledged to make a financial contribution to BikePortland to help make this reward offer possible. We don’t have the funds to do this. My hope is that once someone’s caught, we can raise the necessary funds from the community. We’ll increase the reward amount if we raise more than $500.

When you find nails in bike lanes, please report it to PBOT maintenance dispatch (503-823-1700 or email and tag @BikePortland, @PBOTinfo and @ChloeEudalyPDX on Twitter. If you see someone spreading them, or have any evidence about the possible suspect, please come forward and call it in to either 911 (if it’s in progress) or the PPB’s non-emergency line at (503) 823-3333.

What else can we do to stop this from happening?

UPDATE, 4:43pm: An anonymous donor has come forward to match our reward, bringing it up to $1,000.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and

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NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

  • MantraPDX January 11, 2019 at 10:41 am

    I’ll be happy to kick in $25 if we catch them.

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  • Alex Mahan January 11, 2019 at 10:45 am

    Are there any bike-friendly businesses with clear sightlines to where the nails are being scattered? Perhaps a security camera could be installed temporarily to try and catch them in the act?

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) January 11, 2019 at 10:51 am

      Widmer Brewery is very close. We could contact them for sure. And there’s Beam & Anchor, a gifty retail store at Interstate and Knott. That’s one of the problems in general with this location… Not a ton of eyeballs around. No homes and very few businesses.

      ODOT has huge overpasses for I-5 and Fremont Bridge nearby. Not sure if they have security cams or could be of any help.

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      • Alex January 11, 2019 at 10:54 am

        I have also seen them at the top of the hill near the parking garage at Kaiser. I often see people smoking out there. It would be great to post some signage around there for people to keep an eye out.

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        • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) January 11, 2019 at 10:58 am

          Yes we need signs. Great idea. I’m not able to make one today. If someone else can do it that’d be great. Otherwise it’ll have to wait until next week.

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          • Josh January 11, 2019 at 4:28 pm

            Do you think signs will blow your cover that people are looking for them? I guess that’s a trade off.

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            • Alex January 14, 2019 at 9:07 am

              If it stops, that would be great!

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        • mh January 11, 2019 at 3:46 pm

          And Kaiser, in theory and to some degree in practice, is supportive of active transportation. I like to think they could temporarily train a camera there – if there’s already one close enough.

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      • Bunk Moreland January 11, 2019 at 12:03 pm

        I know ODOT has traffic cameras for example, but those would tend to be pointed at the freeways far above.

        There’s some kind of maintenance lot, not sure ODOT or City of Portland, at Interstate & Graham, that might have a security camera. If they do, and it’s pointed the right way, and the police have time to get and look at the footage, and the resolution is good enough to be worth something (4 big ifs) that might prove fruitful.

        That’s the thing though, most security cameras aren’t going to pick up something as small as nails from any distance. So you’d be looking for someone making a fairly subtle throwing or dropping motion with their hand.

        The ideal of course would be a 24-hour stakeout from multiple covert vantage points along the route, with multiple people with binoculars, cameras etc., taking shifts for as long as it takes, and in contact with each other by radio, and with somebody going up and down with a bakfiets delivering snacks & coffee to them.

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  • maxD January 11, 2019 at 11:08 am

    FWIW, there were nails in northbound lane last might around 7:30, and the sweeper was running in the Rose Quarter this morning.

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    • Rebecca January 11, 2019 at 12:19 pm

      Last night on my way home I came across a number of shiny new nails in the northbound bike lane on Lloyd Blvd under the freeway overpass, in that area right before it turns into Interstate at the Rose Quarter. It’s not the first time I’ve called in nails in the bike lane along this section, either. Connecting the dots, it looks like the perp’s nail drop route takes them from Lloyd Blvd northbound up Interstate.

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      • Buzz January 11, 2019 at 12:50 pm

        There were fresh nails in the northbound Interstate bike lane under the Broadway overpass yesterday morning, too.

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  • Middle of The Road Guy January 11, 2019 at 11:42 am

    Let’s nail the jerk!

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    • was carless January 17, 2019 at 9:32 am

      Hopefully they get screwed!

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  • oliver January 11, 2019 at 12:08 pm

    Maybe we could get the Oregonian to run a piece about how moving bicycles off of Greeley and widening the lanes is actually not for bicycles but rather to increase freight throughput.


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  • bikeninja January 11, 2019 at 1:26 pm

    Back in the Bush Era, Lawmakers made it an act of terrorism to use nails (placed in trees) to discourage logging of old growth forests. I very much hope that when these dangerous vandals are caught this same law can be used against them so they will spend a decade or more in a Supermax prison like the environmental activists rounded up in the FBI’s Green Scare program in the early 2000’s . It would at least be karmic justice for this legislation to be used against enemies of the planet instead of its defenders.

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  • dan January 11, 2019 at 1:30 pm

    Is this something that we could fundraise for on Gofundme? I would chip in there too.

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    • mh January 11, 2019 at 3:48 pm

      Do you really want a chunk of the donations to go elsewhere?

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  • Ho Morris January 11, 2019 at 2:54 pm

    I didn’t know bicyclists ever used bike lanes. When I see them, they are usually two-abreast in the vehicle lane.

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    • Dan A January 11, 2019 at 6:41 pm

      Are you new to America? Welcome!

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      • Johnny Bye Carter January 13, 2019 at 1:39 pm

        Some do use the lanes. Until they find out that they’re often full of tire-popping materials. This story is a good example of why cyclists don’t like to ride in the gutter where all the sharp debris accumulates.

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  • Todd Biki Boulanger January 11, 2019 at 3:53 pm

    Jonathan – sign me up for $25. (Interstate has been my mail bikeway route for the last 20 years.)

    [PS. Interstate needs more infill bike lanes after 16 years of muddling thru the post Yellow Line era…like at the old Interstate Bowling lanes, the Interstate 76th Station, etc.!]

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) January 11, 2019 at 4:44 pm

    UPDATE, 4:43pm: An anonymous donor has come forward to match our reward, bringing it up to $1,000.

    In related news. I personally just came across my first batch of these. Picked up a healthy handful on Interstate a few minutes ago just south of the Larrabee overpass. grrrr

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  • Matthew January 11, 2019 at 5:32 pm

    Can we dub this person “the interstate nailer”?

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  • Ward January 11, 2019 at 5:39 pm

    Maybe its the same person that is dumping nails on the roads of Oregon City.

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  • Joey Keenan January 11, 2019 at 5:56 pm

    I just noticed 3 on the way home, top of Mount Interstate by the Kaiser garage, one just south of Alibi and one right in the intersection of Alberta. My focus usually changes once I get to the top of the hill as Interstate turns into a goldilocks zone for right hooks and the nails become a secondary issue.

    Going up Mount Interstate is a big enough pain in the butt without someone going all Spyhunter on us!

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  • ralph January 13, 2019 at 8:18 am

    FYI: I have been picking up the same roofing nails in Oregon City for 2 years, although it has been quiet recently. They are not always in bike lanes. Local police are aware, but need to catch perp in the act.

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  • kww January 22, 2019 at 3:24 pm