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Comment of the Week: A woman’s fear of riding on the I-205 path

Posted by on March 18th, 2019 at 10:46 am

Southbound on 205 path where it goes under Sandy Blvd.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

A comment written by Roberta on March 9th touched on an issue that we’ve addressed several times in recent years: People who live on and adjacent to multi-use paths.

In response to our story about paths along the Columbia Slough, Roberta said conditions on I-205 have become so bad she’s afraid to ride on it. And several other readers echoed her concerns.

Here’s her comment:

“Right now 205 path is scary and I won’t do it again. On Sunday March 3 I joined the 205 bike path at Prescott, heading north to go shopping at Target by the airport. Near the Sandy underpass there was a large encampment with guys stripping bike frames. The scary part was the encampment under Sandy. Homesteaders had their belongings spread over nearly all the entire bikeway, leaving a path just barely wide enough for my bike tire and pedals. Bike frames hung overhead and I had to duck to avoid being hit by the “inventory”. People were inside the tents. Propane tanks and then pure garbage abounds. I chose not to bike home that way – too creepy. So I chose to bike home via Alderwood > Cornfoot > 47th by Whitaker Ponds. Crossing Columbia at 47th/42nd was fine but that hill heading south on 42nd is too steep and too narrow. I walked my bike on the sidewalk on the opposite side (facing traffic) and that sidewalk ends as well. Way too narrow for uphill biking and fast cars.

I’m a woman in my mid-50’s, and I’ve been bike commuting in Portland since the 90s. Not the timid 80 y/o used as an example, but also not strong enough to keep up with traffic when the hill is steep and the road narrow.

I sure would like to see that encampment under Sandy cleaned up. It’s been there a long time, but never taken up so much traffic space as this week. I would have taken a picture, but no way with those people working on all those bike parts. I might have gotten beaten up or my own bike taken from me.”

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Roberta’s comment reminded me of a story from another woman who’d contacted me with similar concerns about this exact location two years ago. The woman had used the City of Portland’s PDX Reporter app to report the camps and trash. She said much of the path under the Sandy Blvd “tunnel” was blocked by trash, tents, and other items.

In response to Roberta’s comment, a reader named “curly” wrote, “It is a tragedy that the city, and east Portland residents in particular, have effectively lost this premier active transportation facility because it is considered unsafe to ride. I would also add that it is the only lighted Multi Use Path so it’s usable 24/7 were it not for the described unsafe conditions.”

I chose Roberta’s comment for several reasons: It highlights an important, complicated, and sensitive topic many people are afraid to talk about out of fear of being called uncompassionate or “anti-houseless”; She’s a woman in her 50s and I’m eager to amplify non-male voices here; And she shares a personal vulnerability and experience I think many others can relate to.

Thank you Roberta.

If you see a great comment, please flag it for me by writing a reply that includes the words “comment of the week” (so I can find it via search).

For more on issues related to people camping on paths, see our homelessness archives.

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

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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

91 Comments
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    GrannyGear March 18, 2019 at 10:51 am

    It’s worse than this post suggests.

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      Middle of The Road Guy March 18, 2019 at 11:56 am

      Much worse – dang near impassible.

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    Chainstays March 18, 2019 at 10:52 am

    Sadly, the path along I-5 north, under Marine Drive near Delta Park is currently facing a similar situation. While I have never felt unsafe from the folks living there, the amount of waste, both human and otherwise, will be a barrier to some.

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    JP March 18, 2019 at 10:59 am

    I am also a woman who lives in east Portland and used to ride the 205 path regularly. I’m not afraid of homeless folks, but I’ve also stopped using the path in recent months because I feel it’s unsafe. The underpass at Sandy is a perfect example. It’s been totally blocked for months, and the city hasn’t responded to dozens of reports about it. We have precious little bike infrastructure out here, and it’s a real shame that the 205 path is no longer a safe route for vulnerable road users.

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      EJ March 18, 2019 at 11:34 am

      I rode 30 miles through town yesterday. An urban exploration and adventure of sorts. We cruised through Gateway Green and then North along the 205 path. Maywood Park is an oasis in terms of what’s to come. That tunnel out to Sandy is disappointing to say the least. I wouldn’t have proceeded if I wasn’t with my boyfriend. There is a permanent residence under there with just enough room to ride through. The people we came across were sure to step aside almost as if they knew to do so if they didn’t want people to make complaints. But the trash and the bon fires and what appears to be bicycle chop shops was definitely not a welcoming assurance that this path is something to frequent. I definitely don’t know what the solution is. I wonder if more people constantly rode and frequented the paths, maybe there would be less ownership by the campers. The trash left behind is so out of control all over the city.

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        Middle of The Road Guy March 18, 2019 at 11:58 am

        But Ted Wheeler said he was gonna clean Portland up!

        https://www.oregonlive.com/portland/2018/09/portland_must_clean_up_trash_a.html

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          Johnny Bye Carter March 19, 2019 at 4:12 pm

          That’s the central city. The east side doesn’t get any love.

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        Huey Lewis March 18, 2019 at 12:48 pm

        Your last statement, about all the trash, that’s what drives me wild. I run more than I bike these days and I’m often on the Springwater heading to or leaving Powell Butte. There are a couple abandoned camps that look like maybe a house was picked up and shaken so everything inside fell out. Like a bully will grab a weakling by the ankles and shake them for pocket change. Cartoon style. It’s insane and I don’t understand it.

        And just to echo everyone pretty much everyone else here. I’m a guy in his 40s, by no means a tough guy to be sure, but I don’t love riding or running through these camps. I run often after dark but I stay off the Springwater. It’s not worth the risk. Lotsa kooks out there.

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          Jeff G March 18, 2019 at 2:57 pm

          I ride in along the Orange Line from 17th to downtown, and there are several camps along the way. I agree with you – it’s not the people themselves – it’s the mind-boggling amounts of trash that they collect around their tents. Bike chop chops are bad enough, but it’s just inane collections of garbage they’ve taken from elsewhere that blocks sidewalks.

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            Matt S. March 18, 2019 at 7:16 pm

            This is what homelessness looks like on drugs.

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      kate March 18, 2019 at 12:58 pm

      same. the last time i rode that stretch under sandy (about 1.5 months ago), i had folks stare me down…felt intimidated and like i was not welcome. i could barely pass by and rode within inches of a garbage can fire…i haven’t been back since. i’m also a (woman) confident rider, and with all the years of issues on springwater and other people’s complaints, i’ve never felt as unsafe as i did that day.

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    dan March 18, 2019 at 11:09 am

    I’m a strong and confident male rider in his 40s, and I am not comfortable with riding the 205 path. I’d rather take my chances in traffic. Like JP, I think it’s a very disappointing state of affairs – beyond that, it becomes a reason to not invest in building more separated infrastructure.

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      El Biciclero March 18, 2019 at 12:08 pm

      “…it becomes a reason to not invest in building more separated infrastructure.”

      This is a big concern. As someone who would love to see more (or any) “bike superhighways” on par with freeways to connect far-flung locations and burbs, situations like this pose two huge problems:

      1) Nobody wants this in their back yard, so understandable NIMBY-ism creates a hurdle to even building any more paths like this,
      2) IF (that’s the biggest “if” I could type) any similar paths ever did get built, there is the real danger that the NIMBYs were right, and it will become to scary for anyone to use.

      Both of those problems, and the current situation, can lead agencies like Parks and DOTs to claim that “even when we spend gajillions of dollars to build what you people keep begging for and whining about, nobody uses it! Why bother?!”

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        maxD March 18, 2019 at 1:08 pm

        TOTALLY AGREE! I think that not dealing with quickly has potentially very sinister ramifications. Decades of smart planning decisions (UGB, parks, transit, trails) are paying off in Portland with urban development, densification, and new businesses opening in the City Center. This is much more preferable from an ecological perspective that all hat development happening in the suburbs. The densification trade-off has always been a livability give-back: clean, safe parks, walkablility, transit/bike infrastructure, etc. The City should be actively expanding parks and trails to keep up with the growing population, but decades of ignoring the homelessness issues have brought us to the point of functionally LOSING parks , openspace and trails. People will start by abandoning the trails, then the parks, then the City itself, because a 1/2 acre in the suburbs that you can control and feel safe within starts to make sense if your neighborhood parks and trails are no longer safe or clean. When a City is planned, the government makes a civic pact with the citizens, asking them to live closely together, and get along, and pay taxes, and in return, they will have shared amenities like parks, trails, streets, and schools. From my perspective, the City of Portland is failing to hold up its end of the bargain.

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          Charley March 18, 2019 at 10:26 pm

          This city is broken. 🙁

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        Tim March 18, 2019 at 8:47 pm

        Right now if the city proposed a bike path along my backyard I’d do everything I could to kill the project and that makes me really sad to think about. I want a bike path, but I don’t want one the way they city has let them turn.

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      Ben March 18, 2019 at 12:48 pm

      Fear of campers already killed one multiuse path in Gresham. This situation really isn’t tenable.

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        nuovorecord March 19, 2019 at 8:56 am

        Troutdale residents also killed a MUP. And I find it hard to say I blame them considering what we’ve allowed them to become.

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        Kevin Dahlgren March 19, 2019 at 6:52 pm

        Ben,

        I am the Health Services Advisor for the City of Gresham and one of my responsibilities is keeping our trails clean and accessible to all. We did that and the entire Springwater Cooridor has been cleared and cleaned within Gresham City limits. We do rounds several times a week to make sure it stays that way. Please call me anytime if that is not the case and it will be fixed immediately. 971 978 8112.

        Kevin

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          Matt March 20, 2019 at 3:43 pm

          Kevin, when you say “We did that and the entire Springwater Cooridor has been cleared and cleaned within Gresham City limits. We do rounds several times a week to make sure it stays that way.” do you mean clear the path of people living there? What do you do with them? Where do they end up? (hopefully not just shuffled down to the Portland part of the 205 path)

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            Matt March 20, 2019 at 3:44 pm

            I meant to say the Portland part of the “Springwater”

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    P March 18, 2019 at 11:09 am

    I’m in a similar demographic as Roberta, having similar issues with the pedestrian underpass tunnel-thingy that I use to get to the bus stop. It’s dark, about half the width of the 205 path, and completely enclosed except for the entrance and exit. Super creepy even when it’s empty.

    Over the winter it filled up with campers and their belongings and trash. A large pile of syringes appeared at one end. Nobody every bothered me directly, but I had to stop walking that way because it was so crowded in there that I was afraid of stepping on a sleeping person (I was literally stepping over people who were lying across the full width of the walkway), or into a pile of broken glass or worse. The alternatives are to either run across 4 lanes of traffic on Naito, or walk nearly a mile to the next closest stop.

    I’ve made numerous reports to PDX Reporter over the past couple months explaining this entire situation (including how unsafe I feel), but so far it has not been cleaned up, or even appeared on their list of sites that they say they will clean eventually (https://www.portlandoregon.gov/toolkit/71771).

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    Matt March 18, 2019 at 11:16 am

    Wow. How is this possibly acceptable? A camp in a street under an overpass would be cleared immediately.

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      Matt S. March 18, 2019 at 7:18 pm

      Because bicycles don’t usually kill people.

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      Tim March 18, 2019 at 8:48 pm

      They really don’t clear out the paths under the bridges very often either. There are plenty near me spilling into the streets. It’s just a mess throughout the city.

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    Bjorn March 18, 2019 at 11:17 am

    that path has been unusable for years due to the conditions that are directly caused by the people who have taken it over to live there. I have always felt safer mixing with cars on sandy than riding under the overpass there, and Sandy is NOT bike friendly from Killingsworth to Prescott.

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    B. Carfree March 18, 2019 at 11:17 am

    My wife is a woman in her late fifties. We live adjacent to the river bike path system in Eugene. PDX has homeless issues, but our neighborhood has 4500 housed residents and another 700-1100 unhoused “residents” and many of them have taken to camping along the bike paths. It’s an entirely different level of experience than most people can even imagine.

    Let me tell you why my wife, who is a lifelong cyclist and has about half a million miles in the saddle, limits how much she rides on these paths without an escort even though they connect us to most of the city:

    About 18 months ago, a homeless man who subsequently was convicted of two armed robberies went after my wife on a pre-sunrise ride. What he didn’t know, because of the darkness and her bright headlight, was that she was riding captain on a tandem with a large man riding stoker. While the thug called off his attack once he realized it wasn’t just a lone woman, it was an unsettling experience. Six months later, the same thing happened in the same place. Six months after that, she had yet another such experience, but this time she was on her single bike. Fortunately, I wasn’t far behind her and her assailant realized his attack wasn’t going to end well for him if he continued.

    Then there’s all the times we have seen people from these camps laying in wait, sometimes up on adjacent fences or right behind shrubberies. Every few months a lone female is attacked on these paths and usually fends off her assailant, but those women tend to be much younger than my wife and don’t have disabilities like my wife does.

    It shouldn’t be relevant, but I do spend a lot of time and energy helping our local homeless community. I’m part of a team that got two actual indoor plumbing bathrooms opened up 24/7/365 plus three porta-potties (with garbage cans and sharps drop boxes), all in our neighborhood. Our team is working to get better facilities opened up so that people don’t camp on the river and streets, but that’s a big fight where it feels like for every half-step forward we are forced to take 0.49 steps back. The need is enormous, the resources aren’t.

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    jonno March 18, 2019 at 11:17 am

    Male voice here echoing anger at the loss of our precious off-street routes. I rode the 205 path a couple weeks back with my wife and brother and it was a terrible experience. Camps under Sandy, the path completely blocked just north of Burnside, garbage and needles and menace everywhere. I felt vulnerable riding in a group; my wife refuses to ride on it again under any circumstances, especially by herself.

    This past weekend with the wind out of the east would have been a perfect chance to ride a loop including the 205 path. I opted to enjoy the sunshine elsewhere.

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    Scott Kocher March 18, 2019 at 11:18 am

    This was supposed to be temporary due to housing emergency but probably predictably has become ongoing.

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    maxD March 18, 2019 at 11:32 am

    similar problems in North Portland, particularly on the Going Path between Interstate and Swan Island, and the path along the river south of Daimler. These were once popular jogging routes, dog walking routes and places I would bike with my daughter and other kids from the neighborhood. We would often bike down to the river, spend some time picking up trash that washed up, then play on the beach. Now the path is lined with tents, there is human feces on the path!. The beach is FULL of garbage that goes directly into the river. The sand has syringes, broken glass and human waste in it. The residents are often territorial and menacing. None of the women I know will run there anymore, People have stopped taking their kids there. The City is completely failing everyone in these situations.

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    Bradley Ling March 18, 2019 at 11:51 am

    I live in NE Portland, and avoid this segment of the 205 Bike path in particular, because this encampment makes me nervous. They often take up so much space that if there was a cyclist coming in the other direction, a crash would be likely. It is very frustrating to be pushed out of this potentially great cycling infrastructure.

    PS – I received mail from the City of Portland sometime this winter saying they were planning on clearing many homeless camps from the I205 Bike Path Corridor this winter, apparently that has not happened…

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    CaptainKarma March 18, 2019 at 12:16 pm

    It’s going to take making someone in high places sweat and squirm and be uncomfortably unconcomfortable. I don’t want to immediately jump on the mayor, but! He needs to ride these routes. Of course he will have bodyguards, tho.

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      Lester Burnham March 18, 2019 at 2:19 pm

      Wheeler?! Ha never gonna happen. He needs to resign.

      Not sure why my other comment was deleted. I just echoed the same things other riders were saying.

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        Middle of The Road Guy March 19, 2019 at 8:29 am

        Wheeler is a milquetoast. He governs as if he is afraid to offend the idealists and most progressive parts of the populace.

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          PS March 19, 2019 at 11:26 am

          I agree with you that he is a joke, particularly his “prodigal son” returned to Portland to make it the shining star of the west coast garbage, but our form of government absolutely hand ties anyone to be a true leader on any issue. It benefits mediocrity because you need to have the whole council on board to make meaningful change, and when you look at the current council, good luck…

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    Jamie March 18, 2019 at 12:17 pm

    Likewise – back in January I rode through this section of 205, as I was passing through, something was thrown at me, bounced off my front wheel and slammed the fence. It was a grill grate from something like a Weber 22 inch grill. I was lucky not to crash, or worse. I’m also a late 30’s male, with confident riding abilities, but didn’t stick around to see what/why it was launched at me. Such a sketchy place, won’t go through there anymore. The 205 as a whole I’ve pretty much written off at this point, I’m so disappointed with the trash strewn about this area and the city as a whole, but threatening behaviors is next level.

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    dwk March 18, 2019 at 12:29 pm

    It is unacceptable and just getting worse.
    Wheeler is so disappointing… He should just resign since he appears to have lost all interest..
    This city has so much going for it (except the now terrible traffic) but this problem which is really not being addressed at any serious level is ruining the livability of the city.
    One issue that should have all hands on deck to address is just not being addressed at all in a lot of areas in the city.

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      maxD March 18, 2019 at 1:56 pm

      not just Wheeler, what about Eudaly and Hardesty?

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      Matt S. March 18, 2019 at 7:25 pm

      He’s really just 1/5 of the city council.

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    John March 18, 2019 at 12:44 pm

    On a practical note, Maywood Park / NE 99th is a nice bypass to the 205 path in this area (which along with the between Stark / Burnside is one of the more problematic spots). Jump off after the 84 exchange, then back on after Sandy.

    I recognize that this isn’t a solution… just want to point out a nice bypass which is simultaneously more pleasant and also faster (though there are a few stop signs on NE 99th).

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      JP March 18, 2019 at 2:17 pm

      Maywood Park is certainly lovely, but it’s not an alternative route for this stretch of path. If you want to bypass the 205 path between Prescott and Killingsworth, you have to either take Sandy, or cut through Sumner to Killingsworth and then brave the Killingsworth bike lane to get back to Sandy and hop back on the path.

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        Bjorn March 18, 2019 at 4:14 pm

        Yep I brave Sandy as it seems preferable to trying to use Killingsworth, but I wouldn’t be able to get my wife to join me riding on either as she does not feel safe mixing with cars and neither of us feel safe riding through that tunnel at this point.

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    Hazel March 18, 2019 at 12:53 pm

    The area near E Burnside on the path is bad too. Lots of trash and often wide encampments where you can barely squeeze by. I’ve seen the camps being cleaned up but new camps just spring up a few days later.

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    bikeninja March 18, 2019 at 1:06 pm

    Look at the upside, if things keep going this way , people will stop moving to Portland and home values and rents will go back down to reasonable levels. Then perhaps some of the campers can afford to live in real dwellings. The world is full of feedback loops that push things back and forth toward equilibrium.

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      Matt S. March 18, 2019 at 7:29 pm

      What we’re seeing on I205 is not because people can’t afford housing. It’s a drug problem. Mentally stable people down on their luck don’t hoard trash, chop bikes or incite violence. This is an opioid crisis, not a housing crisis.

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        Toby Keith March 18, 2019 at 8:59 pm

        Yes! Thank you.

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      Middle of The Road Guy March 19, 2019 at 8:30 am

      And I am sure all the trash will get picked up as well.

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    Andrew March 18, 2019 at 1:13 pm

    I am a 57 year old large man, and I will never again ride the I-205 path between Holgate and Burnside until something changes. This is not just a “woman’s fear.” I don’t mind the homeless, but I do mind the path being an obstacle course. I would rather take my chances on 92nd Ave. There are not enough safe North/South Routes in this area so it’s kind of sad to see this great resource unavailable. If this was happening on a street, the city would act (or is this ODOT’s responsibility?) Not sure why its okay on the I-205 MUP.

    — The section between Holgate and Washington/Stark is a crazy mess with garbage and camping right onto the path. You are stuck between a chainlink fence and the Freeway sound barrier with not much room. The tents and other stuff can force you to walk your bike to make it through.

    — The section from Glisan St through Gateway Green and Maywood Park are fantastic

    — You decide between taking the Merge onto Sandy Blvd (My Choice) or going under Sandy Blvd to Killingsworth. Neither are great options. The Merge onto Sandy puts you in the travel lane because of re-stripping creating three travel lanes with NO shoulder, or you go under Sandy Blvd

    — If you jump on at Killingsworth to ride over I-205 into Vancouver its pretty good accept where the path goes under I-205 and comes up between the freeway. I ride that daily and notice ODOT does a decent job keeping the trash and shopping carts cleaned out underneath and up over the bridge.

    Not sure why ODOT seems to ignore other sections

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    Maria March 18, 2019 at 1:23 pm

    I just rode there Sunday (mid-day) and it was downright scary. I’m a bold rider but it was pretty dicey. The firepit in the middle of was pretty hot.
    It’s great that we can all vest our frustrations and fears here, but is there something being done to notify those in an official capacity who may be able to do something?

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    rick March 18, 2019 at 1:50 pm

    Does it help with rent-control and government overreach? Government this and that.

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    Al March 18, 2019 at 2:18 pm

    I just rode through there on Friday evening. The path pictured was so blocked that I had to walk my bike through as I didn’t know if the sleeping bags crossing the path had people in them. The folks there were super polite and cleared the rest of the way for me but this is definitely a safety and security concern to the point where it can’t be allowed to continue.

    The problem is that the city has cleared areas where homeless people were previously camping without additional remedy for them. This only leads to people seeking other accommodations which, in many cases, are worse than where they were previously camping. Any actions the city takes to removing homeless people from areas such as this need to be followed up with a larger program to provide space, amenities and resources for them. Because this brings up the issue of budgeting, you can’t discuss this problem without getting political. I know people like to “just bike” and all but then you get into this topic and unfortunately, you need to broaden the scope of the discussion and the hard part here is that no single authority will be able to deal with this. The city can’t solve it. Communities affected can’t solve it. The county can’t solve it and the state can’t solve it. This needs to be addressed at EVERY LEVEL coordinating with the others! Unfortunately, the country’s executive branch is preoccupied by fake emergencies to put off action on real issues because everyone’s misery is someone else’s business model. This “government is the problem” mind set has proven to be a failure over and over again for the past 40 years! People with this ideology need to be kept as far from government as possible.

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      SERider March 19, 2019 at 9:46 am

      The path issues really started in 2015 or so. Prior to that the 205 and Springwater in East Portland were fine, with minimal disruptions and encampments. I used to live a mile from the intersection of those two paths and so rode and ran (often with a stroller) on them almost every day. Used to be one of the best things about where I lived, a major resource in an area of Portland that was often overlooked for improvements (We may not have sidewalks or paved roads but we have the Springwater and the 205 path!). Then it all changed. I moved out of the state in 2017, and honestly I’m just so glad I don’t have to deal with it anymore. It wasn’t getting better then, and it sounds like it definitely hasn’t gotten better since.
      Just such a shame.
      I don’t understand how park/transportation facilities in some of the lowest income areas of town are allowed to just rot like this. How is this not an equity issue?!?!?!

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        Matt S. March 19, 2019 at 11:03 am

        It is an equity situation and our city isn’t as progressive as it makes itself out to be.

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    bikeninja March 18, 2019 at 2:29 pm

    The homeless camping problem is one that no big or medium sized West Coast city has been able to solve. I think this is too big for any one mayor or city councilor to solve. It is a widespread, complicated and entrenched side effect of the direction of our economic and social system over the last 40 years. There are no quick cleanups, policy tweaks, get tough policies or half backed funding fixes for this one folks. We need a big picture solution that is shared with all the other affected metros on the West Coast. If you think it is bad now, wait till the oncoming recession arrives.

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      Bjorn March 18, 2019 at 4:18 pm

      Portland seems to be able to keep the streets that motor vehicles drive on passable, and they wouldn’t let someone set up a tent inside a bus so that people couldn’t get on or off, no reason they can’t manage to keep these paths clear too. You don’t have to solve homelessness to prevent it from making transportation facilities unusable.

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      Toby Keith March 18, 2019 at 8:58 pm

      Of course not enabling hardcore substance abusers would go a long way, but we want to keep perpetuating the “housing crisis” narrative. It’s not working.

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    Paolo March 18, 2019 at 4:47 pm

    I went on a ride on the 205 path south of Division last summer with my daughter. She is 16.
    Beside the camps, trash and guys just hanging out, at one point they were doing hard drugs just in plain sight, it was horrible, she was so scared even if I was there with her.
    She asked me to go another route on the way back so we had to ride on the street and avoid the path.
    Last time we rode that way and it is too bad since the paths were such a nice thing to have in SE.

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    X March 18, 2019 at 7:25 pm

    The I-205 path is a place where you are not going to randomly see a police officer. It’s basically a no-go zone for police unless they are reacting to a report of a serious crime and then the response time is going to be well into the double digits. I think the reason people are camping here, besides it being a bit of sheltered real estate, is that it’s essentially an authority-free zone.

    I’m not a huge fan of police but I also see that they have a hard job to do. It’s easy to envision a situation where the arrival of some cops would be a great relief. I’m no hero.

    Portland police, and police generally, are not trained, equipped, and directed to do things like patrol separated bike lanes, encounter the problems of people who frequent remote places, and facilitate relationships between groups of people with little in common. The conditions under the Sandy overpass are a case study of what’s wrong with the idea of policing.

    Solutions? Offer people places with shelter where they have at least water and sanitation, with some degree of autonomy. Let them create community. ¡What subsidize hobos! you say? We subsidize airports, freeways, mortgage interest payments, oil production, sports arenas. . .like bike lanes, hobos are cheap.

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    Keith March 18, 2019 at 7:47 pm

    If the camping was occurring in a vehicle lane or parking space, it would be removed in a minute. What’s wrong with this picture of the Platinum bicycle city?

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      Matt S. March 18, 2019 at 8:32 pm

      Cars kill people, bikes do not.

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        Columbo March 19, 2019 at 8:07 am

        Bikes have killed people.

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      John Lascurettes March 19, 2019 at 12:06 am

      Pretty much. Sidewalks get blocked. Parking spots do not.

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    Hazel March 18, 2019 at 9:25 pm

    The plan for a new bike route to avoid the Halsey overpass is an underpass. I can’t imagine that it won’t have the same kind of issues.

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    Columbo March 19, 2019 at 8:16 am

    Last year on the path I saw a man climbing the fence behind Home Depot; when he noticed that I’d spotted him he flashed a Bowie knife.

    ***Paragraph deleted by moderator. We will not tolerate any reference to violence in this context.***

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      Matt S. March 19, 2019 at 8:52 am

      A self defense weapon needs to be accessible quickly. What does, “carry it in my kit” mean? If you’re riding your bike along I205 and someone knocks you off, do you think you’ll have time to access the weapon in your panniers or elsewhere, let alone have the wherewithal to use it properly under stress. To be proficient with a sidearm, you’ll need dozens (hundreds, really) of range time hours practicing drawing and firing and even then, this won’t simulate the likely encounter of a hostile person while riding your bike.

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        PS March 19, 2019 at 11:43 am

        Not sure what was moderated, but in the interest of self defense, I carry a folding Benchmade in my jersey pocket on every ride and I keep it surgically sharp. I consider it just like any insurance policy, hope I don’t need it, won’t cover everything I come up against, but happy to have it just in case. If there looks to be people blocking the whole path, I will pull it out and hold it in my hand, whistle loud once, and if they don’t move, I will unfold the blade (with some drama as a deterrent) just in case, as my concern has always been the same as you note, trying to pull it out after something has happened is not going to be easy, especially disoriented and then defending myself with bike shoes on. Easily 1500-2000 miles on the springwater and 205 last year and only had to pull it out twice.

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        Middle of the Road Guy March 19, 2019 at 4:11 pm

        Same could be said for pepper spray. Perhaps people should not fight back at all and just be victims.

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      Columbo March 19, 2019 at 3:15 pm

      Self defense is apparently not allowed on BikePortland. Given the number of shootings on the paths this year, it’s become apparent that most homeless have firearms. I mentioned being threatened with a knife; I’m supposed to just let myself get stabbed next time? No thanks, I’ll defend my life by whatever means necessary.

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        Matt S. March 19, 2019 at 5:20 pm

        No, just unrealistic expectations regarding self defense. Pepper spray needs to be velcrowed to your top tube and if you’re going to carry a gun or knife, it needs to be on your hip while riding.

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          Matt S. March 19, 2019 at 5:22 pm

          And a bright light mounted to your helmet wouldn’t be a bad idea, can be very blinding.

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    Ken S March 19, 2019 at 12:54 pm

    I’m in the “bold and brave” category. And male. And a big guy.
    I won’t ride the 205 path.

    The only issues with the path used to be dangerous intersections with surface streets and narrow path width around blind corners. Those can mostly be mitigated with awareness and caution.
    But now it’s also dodging debris, loose dirty needles, wondering if you’ll be clothes-lined or ambushed, plus stories of women being sexually assaulted and raped.
    No way in hell will I take my wife on a ride on the 205 path, which is tragic, since the path connects so many destinations and she’s getting confident in doing 40-60 mile rides.

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    TJ March 19, 2019 at 2:42 pm

    If we don’t like the current situation (I don’t) and we blame current and past city leaders (I do, at least in part), we should show up at city council meetings and express ourselves (but I don’t). Until then, we’re just complaining to each other on a bike blog, myself included.

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      Middle of the Road Guy March 19, 2019 at 4:12 pm

      Have you considered a “die in”? I hear they are very effective.

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      Kevin Dahlgren March 19, 2019 at 7:08 pm

      I agree. It is an effective way for change to happen.

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    Mike M March 19, 2019 at 3:41 pm

    I’m a bike commuter who rides this stretch from Montavilla to NE Vancouver daily. I rode the 205 South and Springwater east to Gresham for years before changing jobs and while that stretch got bad at times, it was never anywhere near as bad as what exist in the past few months north of Maywood Park on the 205 path. The camp in the tunnel is dangerous and menacing – I don’t say this lightly. The folks there build fires in the path, strip piles of bikes, and block the path with tents, tarps, pallets and their bodies. I finally stopped riding that section after getting flats caused by what seemed to be intentionally placed debris, including small pieces of sharp bent tin that I can only assume were intended to cause flats, and bricks placed in the path in the darkest part of the tunnel. I now detour up and down 99th from Maywood Park to Columbia blvd to avoid the worst of it. This detour isn’t perfect but for those looking for an alternative until the problem is cleaned up I recommend it.

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    John March 19, 2019 at 4:49 pm

    JP
    Maywood Park is certainly lovely, but it’s not an alternative route for this stretch of path. If you want to bypass the 205 path between Prescott and Killingsworth, you have to either take Sandy, or cut through Sumner to Killingsworth and then brave the Killingsworth bike lane to get back to Sandy and hop back on the path.

    Take Prescott to 99th, turn left on 99th. In a couple of minutes, you come to a cul de sac and cross Sandy / re-join the path (avoiding the other Sandy crossing which is the underpass).

    It’s the same Maywood Park bypass I’m talking about but with an entry from Prescott instead of the 84/205 exchange.

    If you follow the path, you cross Sandy twice… once at the underpass and once on the surface where Sandy and Killingsworth meet.

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    Johnny Bye Carter March 19, 2019 at 4:51 pm

    This reflects what the city thinks of people who walk and bike. These camps completely block the path, or at best narrow it to one lane. If people pitched their tent in the curb lane of Powell Blvd there would still be plenty of room to get around, but the camps would be removed within minutes. Obstruct a sidewalk or bike path? It gets left there until they get around to cleaning it up months later.

    Maybe a protest camp-in on Powell would send a message that drivers of motor vehicles aren’t the ones that should be getting prioritized mobility.

    Actually, move the campers off the path and onto the streets. Tell drivers that they’ll be camping there until the problem is taken care of. Then you’ll see that there is suddenly a lot of money to fix the camping problem.

    We can’t even use the facilities that were built for us, but the thought of slightly slowing down motorists is taboo.

    Where are the bike path protests?

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      Matt S. March 19, 2019 at 6:13 pm

      I say we protest the campers. Dozen of bikers band together, go down to the I205, bull horns, loud speakers: No fear bikes are here, go go go! Do this for 8 hours Saturday and Sunday and maybe campers will get a hint. Might turn into Gangs of New York though…

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        Dan March 20, 2019 at 8:19 am

        You’ve got something to lose. The “campers” don’t. The advantage is all on their side.

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    Johnny Bye Carter March 19, 2019 at 4:54 pm

    As a “strong and fearless” rider I feel much more comfortable taking the lane on Powell or Sandy than taking the I-205 MUP.

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    KTaylor March 22, 2019 at 12:11 pm

    It’s a nice idea to offer shelter to everyone who wants it, but we have a great local example of why this does not work–the crash and burn of Deborah Kafoury’s ‘right to shelter’ program (about a third of participating families admitted moving to Oregon to take advantage of the program, and many were simply not asked, so likely the proportion of people who heard of the program and came was higher–and btw, I’m not blaming them– they were desperate). The program was $1.5 million over its $2 million budget when it was finally shut down in December 2017.

    Portland, Gresham, Multnomah and Clackamas Counties and the State of Oregon throw tens of millions of dollars at the homeless problem every year and the problem just keeps getting worse. What we need (urgently) is not just one but several different federal programs to address the different reasons people become homeless. Until then, cities, states and counties have a responsibility to their citizens to use a stick as well as a carrot, and that means putting more money into policing campers and uprooting camps quickly, before they can get established. If Portland becomes a less welcoming place to live on the streets, people who have the choice will go elsewhere. If services are available only to people whose last address was in Portland, services will stop being such a draw. We absolutely should take care of our own, but there’s no reason we, Seattle and LA should take care of everyone else’s too.

    Here’s an interesting article about the viability of ‘right to shelter’ programs from the Seattle Times. It has more details about Portland’s experiment:

    https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/homeless/portland-wanted-to-shelter-every-homeless-family-why-the-plan-backfired-and-the-lessons-it-offers-for-seattle/

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      KTaylor March 22, 2019 at 12:12 pm

      Oops…this was in response to X’s comment above, but somehow wound up down here…

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      eddie March 23, 2019 at 1:56 pm

      People who live on the streets don’t “move” to Portland because it’s a great place to live rent free.

      The reality is, these people are in constant danger of being raped, robbed, beaten and despised, in the cold and in the rain, under freeways and overpasses or along bike trails.

      They are forced into their situation by the economy and are by no means enjoying the fact that they live in destitution.

      Yes, there are sick and dangerous people among them. Yes, the situation is not safe for most of us. And yes, it would be great if there were some way to solve this enormous systemic problem.

      But this isn’t a great place to live on the streets. Nowhere is. Perhaps it is somewhere it is possible to survive on the streets, and that’s why there are people doing it. But it is not by choice, and it’s terrible that people see it that way.

      And I really don’t think there’s a long term solution, in fact i only see it getting worse for all concerned.

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        KTaylor March 24, 2019 at 5:08 pm

        Hi Eddie–your comments seem a bit off the mark. I agree with you–homelessness as a larger issue can’t be eradicated at the local level. Without federal programs (and we know how likely those are to materialize), offering more and more robust services and effusive demonstrations of compassion, free food and free tents only draws people from other areas of the country to our city.

        I have plenty of compassion for homeless people. I know it’s a rough lot and no one draws it on purpose. I know they’re in constant danger. But I’m tired of hearing about compassion when it’s raised as a roadblock to talking about what we can do to manage this problem so all our public amenities don’t become de facto homeless facilities. There are plenty of perfectly reasonable, humane things we could be doing to discourage people from camping here, and we should be doing them. Not every effort to manage the homeless camping problem needs to be something that will help the homeless at the expense of the rest of us.

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          Matt S. March 24, 2019 at 5:49 pm

          We have to cut off the drug funding mechanis, I would start by repealing the bottle bill. I witnessed the other day two people dumping out several cases of soda and placing them in the green bottle return bag. My only conclusion: Converting EBT funds to drug money. At this point I don’t know what’s worse, the risk of people throwing away recycling or allowing people to litter multi use paths with feces, trash, and needles. Yes, I believe a large portion of our drug addicts turn to can collecting to pay for their habit. They’re not doing it to pay rent, buy gas money, or pay for their children’s tutoring. It’s for drugs.

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            dwk March 24, 2019 at 9:22 pm

            Great idea..
            Cut off the only legal way to survive.
            Crime will go through the roof if you did that.
            Seriously, this is a big problem to solve but solutions like yours would be a disaster.

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              Matt S. March 25, 2019 at 2:03 pm

              I don’t think the great Tom McCall envisioned people using the bottle deposit as a way to purchase heroin. The scenario I described is illegal, purchasing drugs is illegal. Nothing about what these people are doing is legal. Are they surviving? I suppose.

              “The Bottle Bill law has been an iconic symbol of Oregon’s love of natural beauty and conservation, and fight against litter and the throwaway mentality” (https://www.oregon.gov/deq/recycling/Pages/Bottle-Bill.aspx).

              “The Bottle Bill law has been an iconic symbol of Oregon’s industrial drug users; providing an almost endless supply of funds.”

              I don’t know about you, but I’d rather step on a Diet Pepsi can than a syringe.

              I know I sound cynical and my idea is crazy, but so is the entire situation.

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                dwk March 25, 2019 at 4:27 pm

                Your idea sounds reasonable until you really think about it.
                I recognize these are drug addicts and will do most anything to buy drugs.
                If they cannot turn in cans, what do you think they will do?
                Go Clean? Get a job?
                They need help, not sure what that is exactly as I ride by the camps every day.
                But I am fairly sure if they cannot get money from cans, they will get it somehow.
                I doubt it will be legal….

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                Matt S. March 27, 2019 at 12:18 pm

                Maybe an increase in theft is all that’s needed to apply real political pressure. As of now, thefts are low (?), recycling is high, and addicts can fund their habits. It’s just coming at the expense of safety and efficient multi use paths.

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    eddie March 23, 2019 at 1:48 pm

    I’ve been cycling around this city since 1992 – been watching this issue grow more and more over the years. I don’t think it will go away, and I only see it getting worse as the economy continues to decline.

    Perhaps if more than 5% of the population regularly used bicycles as a primary means of transport, there would be cleaner and plentiful bike paths…

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    Robert March 25, 2019 at 2:15 pm

    Hi all,
    I ride the I-205 MUP regularly and stopped going through the Prescott/Sandy Blvd under passes long ago due to all the campers and trash. Instead when going north I get off the path at Prescott take a right and ride down Prescott to 97th or 98th, head north to Sandy and reconnect with the path at the Sandy Blvd/I-205 intersection. Ditto when going south. This route is actually faster and shorter than following the path and riding through the camps. The only down side is you have to wait at the light to cross Sandy Blvd to get to the transit center.

    It is a shame that we have so many homeless people in our country, but it is a reality and it is a reflection of the overall economic and social situation in the nation. As an over 60 non-white male, I have never had any confrontation with any of the campers/homeless on the Springwater or the I-205 mups, but I’m also well aware of numerous incidents that have occurred to other cyclists.

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