Conditions on the I-205 path are unacceptable

Posted by on March 18th, 2019 at 3:44 pm

With so few safe and direct alternatives, the I-205 multi-use path in east Portland is a crucial backbone in our transportation network. Unfortunately it’s been rendered nearly unusable due to an abundance of trash, personal belongings, and makeshift homes that have been built upon it.

People deserve places to live and people deserve safe access to these transportation corridors. We shouldn’t have to settle for either/or.

Everyone in Portland is aware that many people sleep and live outside. The spaces next to highways and paths like the I-205 and Springwater Corridor are especially popular camping spots because they often have grass and trees and there are no adjacent residents or business owners. To many people, these spaces are out-of-sight. But not to bicycle riders.

For years now, bicycle riders have had to deal with this situation. It’s one thing when people live near the path. However, it’s another thing entirely when people live on the path. That’s the situation on the I-205 path where it goes under NE Sandy Blvd. After sharing a comment from a women who said she’s stopped riding because she’s afraid of that section — and then seeing several other commenters say the same thing — I decided to take a look myself.

(Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

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Today I rolled over to the I-205/Sandy area. It was terrible. Several large deposits of trash and belongings littered the path. On the section that goes under Sandy, several well-established living areas are nearly blocking the entire path. At one point there’s only 2-3 feet for someone to get by. It’s very unsettling on many levels. It’s also very dangerous.

Here are just a few of the comments we’ve heard from readers today:

Tara Goddard:

I rode it once, and was thankful to be on my ebike, and never rode it again.

Beth Rice:

It’s just horrible. I avoid the 205 as much as I can

Bjorn Warloe:

This is even worse than the last time I braved it but between broken glass and threatening campers I switched to mixing it up with cars on Sandy from killings worth to Prescott years ago.

Andrew:

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.

Maria:

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.

Al:

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 Oregon Department of Transportation owns and manages the I-205 path. However, as of this year, they transferred management of this specific issue to the City of Portland. Today I noticed an “Illegal Campsite” notice from the City of Portland that looked to have been posted this morning (pure coincidence we did a story today). The notice says, “This campsite will be cleared no less than 48 hours after and within ten days of 3-18-19.”

This is such a sad state of affairs. People deserve places to live and people deserve safe access to these transportation corridors. We shouldn’t have to settle for either/or.

Below is a longer version of the lead video that shows a few sections prior to the undercrossing:

UPDATE, 3/19: Here’s KGW news coverage from last night:

— 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

103 Comments
  • Avatar
    Eric H March 18, 2019 at 3:54 pm

    Now that the weather is getting nice again, I’m sure there are families that would love to ride the 205 path out to Gateway Green to take advantage of that facility. It would be nice if everyone was able to feel safe using the 205 path.

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    Paul B March 18, 2019 at 4:34 pm

    Exceptional work, Jonathan!

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    Jim Chasse March 18, 2019 at 4:36 pm

    Thanks Jonathon for taking time to visit the area. East Portland never gets much attention unless it’s bad news, but in fact it’s been a great place for me to live and work for decades. I’m certain many people would echo this sentiment.
    As an active transportation advocate I’ve seen the decay of the Springwater and I-205 Multi-Use Paths up close and in person. As many people have commented on the present condition of the path, I’d like to submit a few ideas for solutions. This facility is to important to the community to be lost.
    Let’s assume a permanent fix is a long way off and the problems that exist are complex and won’t be solved by a single government entity, so let’s stop the “Blame Game”. We need this path to function as intended. A lot is at stake.

    1) Let’s deal with the garbage. Put collection containers at the worst areas and insist the campers use them (self policing), otherwise the area will be swept as promised by the mayor and the city. If the city bans camping on the path, it will move it elsewhere.

    2)Porta potties located in strategic areas for collection of human waste. This is a health issue!

    3)Needle drops (sharps containers) should also be available. A safety and health issue.

    4)No tents, or other paraphernalia should be within 5 feet of the path, or directly on the path. And no camping under overpasses, or any other permanent structure. Safety issue.

    5)Lobby Police chief Danielle Outlaw to initiate a bike patrol on the path. Not only should there be policing, but outreach as well.

    These are a few solutions I could think of to deal with the immediate issues. Anyone else have anything they’d like to add? Remember……Solutions!

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      maxD March 18, 2019 at 5:10 pm

      I would love to the City one or more of the City-owned parking garages to an emergency housing shelter. The City could cheaply construct plywood lockers for storing belongings, and portapotties could be clustered in one or 2 easy to service areas. The temporary residents would be sheltered from rain, snow and sun and located close to transit and services. The area would be easier to patrol than far-flung camps so they should be safer for many and reduce the instances of camps being used by bike thieves. Finally, this would be a direct cost to the City and the downtown businesses (as opposed to indirect costs to many local communities) and would be far more likely to be treated with the urgency it deserves.

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        Middle of The Road Guy March 19, 2019 at 8:37 am

        Would there be separate stalls for drugs use and taking apart stolen bicycles?

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          PS March 19, 2019 at 11:10 am

          Yes, what we would do is take a parking garage, city owned of course, and create plywood stalls, think of it as a hive, where each cell is like that of a honeycomb and their belongings are nectar, kept safe in their cell. This would be categorically different from the same exact thing that was proposed with the already constructed Wapato jail of course, because nothing says inhumane like keeping innocent people in a building that isn’t a jail, but was built as one, but isn’t a jail, amirite? Why would we do this you ask, and why would people currently “living” in far flung locations on a bike path flock to “The Hive”??? Well because we would provide a location close to the mystically described, but never detailed S..E..R..V..I..C..E..S. These services are things that can’t be moved to another location outside the city, because everyone needs to be in the city to be productive, duh. Oh sir, are you so insensitive at this juncture of this crisis, this EMERGENCY, ongoing on for 5 years, to think of money and costs of something like this? Let me reiterate, you will not be on the hook for this, the costs will be borne by the city and “downtown businesses”. The thousands of dollars a year your privilege allows you to pay in income taxes from your, too bad for you, downtown job, will either need to go up, or you will need to expect less, so certainly both. Best of all, now when you go to work, you will have hundreds of new buddies buzzing about productively, be nice though, wouldn’t want you to get stung…

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            maxD March 19, 2019 at 11:48 am

            this is quite a snarky and personal attack, but I will take the bait and respond. When I say the City will pay for it, I mean it. That is all of us. And we are all paying now. To clariy what I am suggesting; we need a temporary place to house people that are willing to be housed. There are quite a few shelter beds currently under construction. There are also people who do not want to be housed. Some of those people are “homesteading” our paths, parks, beaches and natural areas. By providing a place for people to go, we can start enforcing no camping rules in our public places. The people that are willing to accept help can take shelter in a central location (not far flung and isolated like Wapato) while the shelters are finished being constructed. I agree that housing people in a parking garage is not ideal, and in fact it only a bit more humane than tacitly banishing people to underpasses. However, a parking garage would provide shelter and electricity, it would be easy to service (garbage and portable toilets), and it would be easy to patrol which its important for the people sleeping there and the general public. Finally, using a central, City-owned resource would remove a revenue stream and parking opportunities for downtown businesses. This would create some advocates and some urgency within the City and within the business community to fastrack more shelters. Scoff if you want, it is easy to criticize, but I am trying to think about first steps instead of just attacking strangers on the internet.

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              PS March 19, 2019 at 12:44 pm

              1. It isn’t snarky, it is sarcasm. 2. It wasn’t a personal attack. I never even mentioned you, or said that you were stupid for having these ideas, I merely mocked the ideas presented, not the presenter. Correlating criticism for an idea with a personal attack or attacking strangers on the internet is hilarious. It is hilarious because you don’t see that what you have presented has any faults that should be pointed out. The idea of taking a revenue generator for the city and turning it into a cost center with the intention being that it will turn the screws on the business community to become, what was it, “advocates”? That is not how you create consensus, or genuine solidarity for a cause.

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            PS March 19, 2019 at 12:46 pm

            Me? Hope the sarcasm didn’t get lost in translation. My first draft was that not only will there be the stalls you suggested, but a Narcan sponsored recovery area as well. (low brow, I know).

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              Middle of the Road Guy March 19, 2019 at 4:04 pm

              It did a little and as someone who loves to work with sarcasm I should have picked up on it a little more. Apologies.

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        ck March 19, 2019 at 10:11 am

        You say “temporary residents” but where do they go after the temporary time is up, and how long is temporary? I doubt they are just looking for apartments, and will be moving on in a couple weeks.

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      Jay Breen March 19, 2019 at 3:02 am

      That kind of simplistic idealism is part of the reason why we are in this mess to begin with. You are assuming that these ***deleted by moderator*** give a damn where they leave their used needles and human waste, THEY DO NOT CARE!!! They are far too preoccupied with selfishly poisoning themselves to escape reality to care about those of us who are productive members of society and working two jobs to stay off the streets ourselves. You want a solution that will work? Try ***deleted by moderator***. There are already systems in place to help these people, but they don’t want help, they want a secluded place to use their drugs. It is very sad.

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        Ken S March 19, 2019 at 11:08 am

        Not only are you heartless, your views don’t match reality.

        You don’t need for people to care to get them to do the right thing – just make “the right thing to do” the default choice, make it convenient, give people so many good options that choosing the bad options takes effort and premeditation.

        The opiod crisis, and many other substance abuse issues, revolve around access and environment. If people have access to drugs, are surrounded by addicts, and have nothing to fill their time, they are likely to use drugs.
        If there’s nowhere to dispose of trash, refuse, dirty needles, people will just drop them anywhere.

        If, on the other hand, if you have regularly serviced trashcans, bathrooms, needle exchanges, humanitarian aid resources, people will use them.
        The general message should be “hey, we’d like you to have a home and not shoot up heroin, but in the meantime, here are some basic services so you don’t get/spread hiv or poo behind a bush.

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        Ken S March 19, 2019 at 12:17 pm

        https://www.serenityatsummit.com/news/overview-rat-park-addiction-study/#

        If you trap people, like rats in a cage, and give them access to drugs, they’ll do them.
        The “cage” could be an actual cage. Or homelessness, or depression, isolation, chronic pain, boredom/lack of stimulation, etc.

        If you give people an open, free environment that’s stimulating and safe, then the drugs aren’t as appealing.

        Yes, there will be people who will still do drugs, live on the street, and generally not want to participate in society. We can figure out solutions to that after we help the people who want to be helped, and give them somewhere to exist other that an isolated bike path next to a loud freeway.

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        Johnny Bye Carter March 19, 2019 at 5:03 pm

        I don’t expect people to care about society when that society doesn’t care about them.

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      Bjorn March 19, 2019 at 8:51 am

      For what it is worth there is a trash can available at the closest edge of the transit center a couple hundred feet from this camp that is emptied regularly. The problem isn’t a lack of access to proper places to put garbage.

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      Johnny Bye Carter March 19, 2019 at 4:57 pm

      “2)Porta potties located in strategic areas for collection of human waste. This is a health issue!”

      This is an issue in every city. Nowhere can you go and easily find publicly available restrooms throughout a city. People need to relieve themselves. Don’t limit it to capitalism “customer only” places. People will go when they need to. If you don’t provide easy to find facilities in your city then you’re asking for people to relieve themselves wherever they can.

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    Dave March 18, 2019 at 7:44 pm

    Needed: Actions in three very different directions, to wit: Police sweeps through the camps to find anyone with an outstanding warrant for a violent crime. Get true, dangerous criminals in the system.
    Fund mental health care and addiction treatment that are available without cost, delay, or stigma.
    Treat the housing cost emergency like a real emergency and that would mean finding space that the city could declare available for low cost housing, freezing rents immediately for an indefinite time, withdrawing police services for tenant evictions, punitive taxation of short term speculative property investments (“flipping.”)
    The camps exist for a variety of reasons. Trying to get rid of them with just one tactic won’t work. I’m a “confident and competent” adult male cyclist with 50 years of riding in him with little fear of riding in traffic but plenty of apprehension about riding through chop shops/outdoor meth labs.

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      billyjo March 19, 2019 at 7:28 am

      All fine and well, but these are often the people who even when the city opens up emergency shelters because it’s cold, insist on being out there. If it were just “down on their luck” people we wouldn’t have near the problems. If those camps were just people that needed a place to rest they wouldn’t concern me, but they are crazy. They’re the ones that if you say hi they come at you with a knife.

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    Jon March 18, 2019 at 7:55 pm

    This is terrible but not really out of the recent norm for Portland. Our city is basically a giant garbage dump. It is starting to look like some 3rd world city.

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      Lester Burnham March 19, 2019 at 7:36 am

      Wheeler has failed miserably (once again) on his vow to clean Portland. Maybe he thought hot air alone was going to blow the trash out of the city?

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      Jo P March 20, 2019 at 8:44 am

      I don’t know how often you visit other cities but every single one is having this issue. From mid-size cities like Colorado Springs (I just visited there so know from seeing the tents) to big ones like LA (was just there too). This isn’t just a Portland thing. This is the new normal for the US because we lack a lot of the institutions that other first world countries provide to their citizens.

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    Roberta March 18, 2019 at 8:23 pm

    When I posted about that spot from my March 3 experience, the fence on the left was covered in junk with bike parts hanging from the top bits, and loose garbage gathered at the base where you see the strip of concrete.

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    m March 18, 2019 at 8:25 pm

    I used to be a big supporter of the proposed Sullivan’s Gulch Trail….

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      Johnny Bye Carter March 19, 2019 at 5:07 pm

      There’s already a lot of people camping in the gulch. The trail would just give them better access to their sites.

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      Toby Keith March 19, 2019 at 7:38 pm

      I feel the same way unfortunately. We’ve just about lost what we’ve got. It was fun while it lasted.

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    Glenn the 2nd March 18, 2019 at 11:32 pm

    Just saw the KGW piece on this. Caption at the bottom of the screen said CYCLISTS SAY I-205 PATH “UNSAFE”

    Wasn’t aware that was a colloquial expression requiring quote marks. Why don’t they just make the twirling-finger “crazy” gesture and roll their eyes dramatically if they’re trying to be assholes about it?

    The other thing is, where were they every other time we said something was unsafe? Not a peep. But oh, the second there’s a “pile on the homeless” angle, they’re all over it!

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      hotrodder March 19, 2019 at 7:48 am

      I thought it was a pretty good video; Roberta and Jonathan were well spoken and made good points, the reporter said she and her crew didn’t feel safe to be there, and the images of the open drug use (and the guy taking a leak into the trash can) were certainly compelling…

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      dan March 20, 2019 at 10:38 am

      I would interpret that use of quotation marks as indicating a direct quote from cyclists, not snarky air quotes.

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        KristenT March 20, 2019 at 1:04 pm

        You see these quotation marks a lot on the BBC news site, which always makes me stop and think. The KGW headline is exactly the style you’d see on BBC.

        Doesn’t mean I understand it, to my admittedly American eyes it looks snarky even when the BBC does it.

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    Al March 18, 2019 at 11:54 pm

    I was going this way again today but had a long day at work and just didn’t want to add the downer of having to cross this section again. Going south, I connected to the I-205 path further south at Stark. This video looks cleaner than when I saw it on Friday.

    I’ve witnessed a camp clearing before. It’s very difficult to watch and it’s hard on the people doing the work of clearing these camps as well. The city, county, state and country need to step up, show some leadership and cooperation in tackling this problem in a way that makes progress every time a clearing is done. Otherwise, the way things are going, clearing just becomes a harassment for the homeless people and merely days later another community, bike path or loop or dead ends street, will bear the brunt of their relocation and formation of a new camp because where are these people to go?

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    Fred March 19, 2019 at 6:45 am

    I would like to see a daily police presence on the I-205 path, to prevent camping sites from being put up. Can BP do a GoFundMe drive to fund overtime for two bicycle cops?

    Jonathan, you nailed it when you said the bike paths are popular b/c most people don’t see them. We need police to get out of their cars and see them.

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      Lester Burnham March 19, 2019 at 7:34 am

      Wouldn’t it be amazing if you actually got your money’s worth out of the taxes we ALREADY PAY for the police?

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        Toby Keith March 19, 2019 at 5:32 pm

        It would be even more amazing if Ted Wheeler made the police uphold the law. He needs to resign.

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      Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) March 19, 2019 at 8:57 am

      Fred,

      I think police could cause more harm. I don’t have confidence in how they interact with people in these conditions. However, if we had a special unit with special mental health/drug/homelessness training, that would be a different story. Unarmed too. It’s a difficult problem because there are criminals out there doing bad stuff, but many are just trying to live. We have to get at the root causes, invest heavily in compassionate responses, and so on.

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        Fred March 19, 2019 at 10:05 am

        If you were homeless and regularly saw cops in uniform riding their bikes on the paths, you probably wouldn’t think it’s a good idea to set up your camp on the path. That’s all I’m saying. Or they could be mental-health experts – whatever would stop someone from setting up camp on the actual path. I’m not going to pretend to be an expert but you have hit the nail on the head: Gov’t needs to *see* the problem.

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        jeff March 19, 2019 at 11:00 am

        compassion is what causes this. Everyone wants to be tolerant and approach the homeless with this ‘hands off’ hugging approach. It doesn’t work. It does nothing but provide them enough space to take advantage of the situation and cause what you see here. I’m over it personally. I’ve reported homeless camps more times than I can remember. I’ve reported illegal dumping and trash piles left behind by campers more times than I can remember. I’ve reported illegal RV camping and stolen vehicles in my SE neighborhood more times than I can remember. I’m over it. What you’re proposing doesn’t work.

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          Middle of the Road Guy March 19, 2019 at 4:05 pm

          I have compassion for the people being impacted by the homeless, in addition to the homeless.

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          Jo P March 20, 2019 at 8:47 am

          I’m not sure what you are advocating for. It sounds like “lock ’em up”? Talk about an expensive approach to homelessness.

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            Middle of The Road Guy March 20, 2019 at 9:43 am

            We’ve seen the outcomes of allowing it to proliferate. Also expensive.

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        Johnny Bye Carter March 19, 2019 at 5:11 pm

        Luckily the city/state is smart enough to send armed people in there when they clean them up and evict them. Campers aren’t moving because you’re asking nicely, they’re moving because you’re threatening them more than they’re threatening you.

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      Fred March 19, 2019 at 10:02 am

      Oops. I meant the camps on the bike paths.

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    Timee March 19, 2019 at 7:10 am

    People have to live somewhere. This article pretends to advocate for a solution to the homeless crisis (“we shouodn’t have to settle for either/or”) but doesn’t provide any ideas besides displacing the people on the 205 to somewhere else. I ride the 205 everyday. I don’t feel unsafe. If you don’t want to be reminded of the horrible conditions we allow people to live in and our absurd income disparity, go ride somewhere else.

    I thought bike Portland was moving past fear-mongering about street people but I guess not.

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      Middle of The Road Guy March 19, 2019 at 8:41 am

      Totally cool of you to be dismissive of other people’s experiences. I’ll keep this in mind the next time some woman comments that a guy was menacing her.

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      Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) March 19, 2019 at 8:54 am

      Timee,

      This article does not pretend anything. I am absolutely not trying to, “advocate for a solution to the homeless crisis”. There are other people in this town much better equipped and experienced than I am to tackle that. And yes, I am promoting displacement. People should not be camping on paths like this. I never said I don’t want to be reminded of how some people. You put that idea/those words into my mouth, which is unfair and unproductive. I have worked very hard to not promote fear-mongering on this issue. Your accusations are unfounded and I think they reflect incorrect assumptions. Thanks for the comment.

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      JP March 19, 2019 at 1:16 pm

      Why on earth is it Bike Portland’s responsibility to propose solutions to the homeless crisis Portland is dealing with?

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        Middle of the Road Guy March 19, 2019 at 4:06 pm

        Intersectionality – it’s all related!

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      Johnny Bye Carter March 19, 2019 at 5:13 pm

      “go ride somewhere else”

      That place doesn’t exist.

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    hotrodder March 19, 2019 at 7:20 am

    Just imagine if Sandy turned into a huge Pedalpalooza-esque ride every single day and night, around 8 in the morning and 5 at night; I think city leaders would be able to find a solution to getting the MUP’s cleared.

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    billyjo March 19, 2019 at 7:20 am

    It’s not just that stretch. I go from Glisan to the gateway transit center every day. I can go through at night and it’s fine. By morning they need to bring in trucks to clear out the mess. Some time over the weekend another car thought the path was the freeway on ramp and drove down and took out the fence. There are still car parts there…..

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    Columbo March 19, 2019 at 7:49 am

    Here’s an inconvenient truth about illegal camping on our MUPs: it’s driven by access to MAX. Ride south of Clackamas TC and the problem all but vanishes because there are no trains to ferry the homeless around. Before the Green Line was completed, the 205 path was clean and peaceful, a community resource. Now it’s a liability.

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      Random March 19, 2019 at 9:05 am

      There aren’t homeless camps south of Clackamas TC (or just north of Clackamas TC), because the Clackamas County Sheriff doesn’t tolerate illegal camping on the MUP. Different police jurisdiction.

      Same thing was true when the Springwater Trail was at its worst – there was no camping on the section of the trail that ran through Clackamas County.

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      SERider March 19, 2019 at 9:56 am

      This is not true. The 205 path was peaceful and mostly clean up until 2014-15, well after the green line went in.

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        TJ March 19, 2019 at 12:17 pm

        My perception was that 205 got bad when Springwater was cleared. People moved.

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          SERider March 20, 2019 at 10:59 am

          It was more many of the inner camps being cleared The Springwater was pretty good for a long time as well. Then they moved to the outer Springwater past 82nd for about a year, then 205 after that.

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    Don Courtney March 19, 2019 at 8:07 am

    I grew up using this path in the Gladstone area and live blocks from it in Lents now. I agree with all of these comments—a testament to this blog and it’s readers.

    I was just thinking how I wouldn’t want it put in if I could go back in time.

    Accepting the campers means accepting the menacing and also real violence that bleeds into the surrounding blocks as well. Also car theft which has impacted me twice in one.

    And sadly, I’m my 42 years in the area as a loner type person I have seen the street people change into more entitled (I’ve had a hard life I deserve to break your window) and more menacing, this is likely drugs and what it means is forcing treatment on them isn’t going to work—you can ask any therapist or counselor in private practice this but somehow it gets lost on the well meaning Portland public.

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    Barry March 19, 2019 at 8:22 am

    “People have to live somewhere.” Then why not just set up in the middle of a major street. and leave it there until those affected on a daily basis” provide any ideas besides displacing the people to somewhere else”. Why is it always ok if its just cyclist & out of sight. Why is it acceptable to be threatened for one’s physical safety. It’s more than just blocking the path. Many of the people are aggressive about “their space.” Bikejackings are a concern. One is vunerable especially women. Have you ever had someone grab you while you are carefully slowly trying to get throught. NOT pleasant.

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      Johnny Bye Carter March 19, 2019 at 5:19 pm

      It’s OK to completely block the public right of way for pedestrians and bicyclists. But if you were to try to camp in just one lane of Sandy then the camp would be cleared within minutes because of car culture. The public doesn’t put up with this kind of activity on THEIR streets, but it’s OK to leave it for months if it’s only pedestrians and cyclists that will be impacted.

      This is how the government thinks of those without powerful interests that stuff their pockets. We can’t bribe any officials into caring about us.

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    Jason E Start March 19, 2019 at 8:58 am

    Thank you for bringing attention to this issue. Most of my co-workers (and myself) avoid almost all portions of the 205 path on our North/South commutes. Basically the only portion we’ll ride is Gateway transit center past Gateway Green and that’s it. I take 92nd from Woodstalk all the way to Glisan because most of the 205 path is past terrible. Frankly, it frightens me & I’m a big dude. I’d challenge anybody to ride north of the Stark Taco Bell through what we call “The Gauntlet.” I dare you. I tried it an had to dodge about 50 people – two of which were shooting up right in front of me. Forget it. Very scary and sad.

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    Jimmy March 19, 2019 at 9:30 am

    The city of Portland is responsible for policing and cleaning up after the homeless. Many successions of city leaders have promoted homeless camping and all the elements it has brought. They have achieved exactly what they looked to create- a city with little if any restrictions or responsibilities to the norms of a community. I suggest they raise taxes on individuals and business to provide the necessary funds to continue to provide an open camping environment. The more the merrier.

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    Mark March 19, 2019 at 9:45 am

    The street camping and the associated criminal activity has steamrolled into a problem that Portland, Seattle, and San Francisco are not able to manage. There will always be criminals who choose to live outside of society norms and we’ve allowed them to hide in the homeless population; this was just stupid thinking on our part and it won’t go away until we have empty shelter beds available for those who want them. We’re not helping the homeless by perpetuating this mess. Shelter, treatment and then enforcement of the law. It’s really pretty simple. Until then, we will continue to attract those who just want to get high, no matter what it takes.

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    Dan March 19, 2019 at 10:04 am

    I used to ride on the northern section of the I-205 MUP as part of a NE Portland loop, but a couple of years ago gave up on it entirely. The broken glass, camps under the bridges, and dangerous debris everywhere (not to mention the hostile transients) were bad then, and judging from Jonathan’s video and the descriptions in these comments, it is much worse now.

    Once I was forced off the path by a disheveled and deranged-looking man on a mountain bike pedaling directly at me at high speed. If I were a lone woman I would certainly avoid biking on this path, no matter the time of day. I would never travel this path with children.

    I have also felt unsafe at areas along the Columbia Slough Trail, and at the newish path that goes under I-84 at the Sandy River. Debris, menacing individuals with apparent mental health issues, etc. Advocating for any new MUP in the Portland area seems foolish at this point.

    I have no solution to offer. This is a problem too intractable to lay at the feet of the mayor or any city council person. It’s one of the reasons I recently moved out the city of Portland.

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      jeff March 19, 2019 at 11:06 am

      My wife and I are beginning the process of moving out of SE as well. We’ll be gone by next year.

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      TJ March 19, 2019 at 1:32 pm

      Sadly I agree with this part of your comment: “Advocating for any new MUP in the Portland area seems foolish at this point.” We can’t take care of what we have – so why build more?

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      Cody Herriges March 19, 2019 at 2:52 pm

      I’d say there are reasonable alternatives to a MUP that are less prone to the camping problem but it requires taking roads from cars, always a contentious suggestion. The neighborhood greenways in abundance west of 82nd don’t have this problem and neither do protected bike lanes. We on the outer east side of Portland are woefully overlooked and under served when it comes to these improvements and as a community very dependent on the car.

      The reality of my commute out of NE everyday is to survive the portion from Shaver Elementary to Burnside and 82nd then its smooth and safe sailing all they wan into SW downtown.

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    Cody Herriges March 19, 2019 at 10:41 am

    Thank you for this post. This is my daily commute from Argay and the conditions are abysmal, to the point that I dodge camp fires and intoxicated individuals regularly and my wife won’t ride it alone. It’s also the primary artery for escaping the outer east side with our kids on the weekend. To make biking to even Montavilla for lunch safe I have to make careful detours onto the city streets because it’s getting to be safer to just ride with the cars.

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    I wear many hats March 19, 2019 at 11:00 am

    Repeated methamphetamine abuse destroys swaths of the cerebral cortex, thereby making a healthy mind mentally ill. When you combine Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs to include crank it’s a recipe for our current plague of drug addicted homelessness. Crank is valued beyond all else, even defecating in your front yard. The good and bad news is that needles often get recycled. I can’t count the number of sharps boxes I see scattered around the metro area. No one cares about making a mess when they’re in a ‘fix’. The only solution is for the Metro to provide wet/high housing, with safe spaces for drug use. Only then can we effectively remove illegal camping/ squatters from our open spaces. I sadly fear that this will repeat itself and get worse as our society continues to extract wealth from the poor at an alarming rate. It will likely take a majority of people living in shanty towns before the wealth pony up for adequate services. Lets start providing toilets, and safe spaces for these people to do what they do, otherwise this will continue to be the result.

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      Middle of The Road Guy March 20, 2019 at 9:48 am

      Addicts behave as hungry animals do – completely selfishly.

      We try to apply the expectations of how reasonable people would behave but addicts are not reasonable people. Thus (and unfortunately), we must treat them more like animals until they no longer act as such.

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    Betsy Reese March 19, 2019 at 11:02 am

    I thought I would share my most recent 205 bike path experience as I have not read one quite like it here. I am a 62-year-old woman. I found myself riding home from Mall 205 at about sunset and made an error in judgment in selecting my route. I don’t remember the exact cross street. As I entered the bike path there was a young healthy-looking man with chubby cheeks and big curls standing there wearing a midcalf-length dark double-breasted trenchcoat and had a small backpack on. It was a warm evening and the coat seemed unusual.He almost seemed to be guarding the entrance. He did not stop me although he did stare me down. This is a section of the bike path where there is a tall concrete wall on the freeway side and tall chain-link fence on the west side, so it is only the width of the pavement. Once I had committed, I kept going. The path was lined on both sides with so many people, dozens, down on the pavement, arms and legs flailed and flailing everywhere. Some people were helping other people. I realized that this group must have just received their IV drug delivery. Everyone was shooting up. There was a little passage clear for me to pass through, but I had to ride more slowly than a walking pace to be careful not to hit anyone. I just tried to keep my blinders on and get through, but towards the end I could not help but see an elderly-looking man with one pants leg pulled up and a quavering palsied hand holding a hypodermic and repeatedly stabbing at his shin trying to find a good vein. It was heartbreaking. I did feel scared and realized how vulnerable I was, but no one paid any attention to me or made any kind of threatening gesture. Had I ridden through there an hour earlier before the delivery, it possibly may have been different. This scene in Portland Oregon 2018 is only rivaled by, in my memories, which include living in or traveling through many poor countries, the streets of Bombay in 1983 with the wall-to-wall low cardboard and corrugated metal lean-tos and shacks lining the streets, filled with skinny little families begging for charity so they could eat one more day.

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      igor March 19, 2019 at 11:35 am

      That sounds like the stretch between Burnside and Stark that Jason (a previous commenter) referred to as “The Gauntlet”. It’s well obscured from roads, so it’s a popular gathering place.

      As a frequent rider of the 205 path between Lent and Gateway, I’ve seen police cars on sections of it, so I know they’ll patrol that way, but I don’t know if the entire path is accessible in a car. I suspect the Burnside to Stark section isn’t.

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        Jason E Start March 20, 2019 at 1:39 pm

        That’s correct. That’s what we call “The Gauntlet” I’ve had co-workers tell me they’ve cycled through there with groups of 5 dudes and it still scared the chamois shorts off of them. The guys that our being encountered at the entrance are (likely) literally the drug dealers that are a link in the chain — supplying slow death to those sad people along that stretch. Honestly, to me, the saddest part of watching Jonathan’s video of the section farther North was that I said to myself “Wow, that’s not even close to as bad as I’ve seen that section of the 205 trail — about 2/3 of the camp and garbage is gone.”

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      P March 19, 2019 at 11:57 am

      Jesus, that is so depressing. I remember moving to Portland years ago and being amazed that you could ride across town on these incredible bike paths. What happened to all the advocates of our beloved 40-Mile Loop?

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    Andrew March 19, 2019 at 12:36 pm

    Maybe Jonathan should take a sunny ride out and film that section of the I-205 as well? I wonder how many others, like Betsy (previous comment) make an “error in judgement” and follow the guidance of Google or other maps that recommend this route when you are trying to find a safe way to go from point A to B via bike? It’s a bit of a shock when the unaware/tourist find themselves in this situation.

    In my experience the people in these sections are not “aggressive or threatening,” but I definitely feel uncomfortable. This is a segment of our society I don’t normally see nor understand. Feeling uncomfortable puts me on guard and more conscious of my surroundings.

    Maybe warning signs should be posted? Better yet, be aware that the more relaxed way to go is 92nd Ave with the traffic.

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    Huey Lewis March 19, 2019 at 12:37 pm

    Great! I’d like to see JM/BP do a piece on those that are making and leaving all the luxury condos and apartments around town. Who is even using these things?? No one I know. They’re gross. I don’t get it! They’re an eyesore and they are ruining the livability of huge chunks of the city! Affordability of once great neighborhoods, *communities*, has been shot to hell. It’s gotten so bad that me and Ms. Lewis had to move out east of 205. For now, it’s safe out here. I fear that won’t always be the case.

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      donttreadonme March 19, 2019 at 3:48 pm

      Right, because this is OBVIOUSLY about classism and not the health and safety hazards of an unchecked population of mentally ill drug addicts with a history of antisocial behavior..

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        Huey Lewis March 20, 2019 at 11:24 am

        Oh, you’re right. The lack of affordable housing and our unwillingness to build (or demand to build) affordable housing, and instead luxury homes/condos/apartments, probably is entirely unrelated to homelessness. I mean, things are so bad for some folks that they decide to camp under a fucking overpass mere feet from the interstate, and the only thing that gets built in this city is entirely unaffordable to most. There is construction happening *everywhere*, and how much of it is affordable if you make, I dunno, 35k? 30k? I get this isn’t as simple as housing affordability but there’s no way there’s no relationship here.

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      Middle of The Road Guy March 20, 2019 at 9:49 am

      I like how they look but I agree that they are not helping with affordability. In many cases, an actual home that can be owned is being torn down to built rentals, resulting in lower housing stock for ownership.

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    Ken S March 19, 2019 at 12:38 pm

    The camps at the Sandy overpass and Burnside-Stark Gauntlet are symptomatic of the larger problems with the 205 path in general;

    *It’s not a continuous path, but multiple broken up sections that individually don’t connect many places, allowing the perception that it’s more of a series of alleys than a proper road.
    *These sections are all obscured from view of most roads and neighborhoods. Out of sight, out of mind.
    *It fits the definition of a road (a place for travel, not a place to stop and reside, but isn’t enforced as one. I can’t just park my RV on the side of I205 to sleep for the night, so how is it any different with people camping on the side of MUPs?!

    I’ll assume for moment that it’s a given that homeless people deserve to have basic human needs met and be treated with dignity.
    It’s not compassionate to let them keep camping on paths. They’re dry camping and setting up the circumstances for illness, crime, and other conflicts.

    The camps clearly need to go. Homeless camps along MUPs are unacceptable. It deprives the public of active transportation corridors, it pushes homelessness out of public view and out of the public forum, it allows for people in need of resources to remain away from resources.

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    TJ March 19, 2019 at 1:28 pm

    I rode 205 northbound mid-Feb while crews were in the midst of clearing out campers. The path was pretty clear until the Sandy overpass, at which point I was hit on the helmet by a cord stretched across the MUP. The was garbage on the ground, tents half on the path, and I was looking down at the road and didn’t see the cord. It was startling. I rode a little further and called it into police. I haven’t been back since and seeing how bad it’s become only a month later, I’m not going back.

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    Concerned Citizen March 19, 2019 at 1:41 pm

    I’m surprised nobody commented or the article doesn’t highlight the amount of chopped bicycles in these pictures alone.

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    Kittens March 19, 2019 at 4:34 pm

    I used to be one of the “compassionate” ones who said live and let-live. But I’ve had enough of this naive brand of elite Portland liberalism which, honestly, is just negligence by another name. How is it compassionate to say this is acceptable?

    Throwing up our hands and proclaiming how sad it is and taking no action is worse than nothing. Here is a wild idea, PPD could be doing their job and patroling these and all our multi-use paths daily and purging those who are a danger to themselves and others. How about inclusive zoning, forcing millionaire developers to construct affordable hosing as % of units. Portland is one of the hottest cities on the west coast. Pretty sure they will still be building.

    I hope our leaders take note, a dramatic and systemic paradigm shift is underway in how citizens see (or don’t see) our government’s response to this epidemic of homelessness, affordability and the unspoken contract between taxpayers and representative democracy. 2016 Trump, Bernie are not blips, they are a desperate and eager electorate casting about for solutions.

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      Middle of The Road Guy March 20, 2019 at 9:51 am

      I like how you think!

      “naive brand of elite Portland liberalism”. That warms my heart to hear.

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    Adam March 20, 2019 at 1:30 am

    How in God’s name do homeless people create so much trash???

    It’s not like they are buying a lot of stuff.

    Where do they get all this trash from that they generate?

    There are just piles and piles and piles of it around *every* tent I see in downtown Portland. It is actually a fire hazard. I’ve seen one tent completely burned to the ground on the sidewalk at Bud Clark Commons last year, because the piles and piles of trash had acted as an accelerant.

    I think there should be a rule e that homeless people should only be allowed to keep everything INSIDE their tents. They don’t need three broken wheelchairs with one wheel, seventeen stolen bbqs from people’s porches, a baby stroller, and forty bags worth of literal trash strewn around each tent.

    It’s ludicrous.

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      Middle of The Road Guy March 20, 2019 at 9:53 am

      I’ve gotten into discussions with well-intentioned social justice types who try to maintain the argument that none of that stuff (like the fleet of bikes) are stolen.

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    Mark smith March 20, 2019 at 7:14 am

    Why is everyone so interested in enabling the behavior instead of changing it? 5000 fine, 5 years In prison should do the trick.

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      Jo P March 20, 2019 at 8:56 am

      These individuals have no $$ and won’t be able to pay the fine and 5 years in prison at approximately $31k a year will be over $150,000 for taxpayers. Ya….sounds like a total solution.

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        Middle of The Road Guy March 20, 2019 at 9:54 am

        I think we need to measure the cost of the impact a non-housed person has to the community around them. Suddenly, that might be a better economic argument.

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      I wear many hats March 20, 2019 at 11:03 am

      It costs 75k a year to house someone in jail. It would cost 5k / year/person to provide ‘safer’ camping with toilets and garbage services. Sadly, no one wants to pony up 5k / year/person but they willingly subscribe to “jail everyone” making for profit jailers richer, and taxpayers poorer.

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    Carrie March 20, 2019 at 9:26 am

    I don’t have much to add, but I do have something. The conditions on this MUP is why I was SO upset at the TriMet detour route when the SE Lafayette St bridge was closed at night for 2 months. The detour route was a sidewalk/path under the SE 17th St flyover along SE Powell Blvd. That route frequently has people dismantling bikes and living in the space and I do not feel safe riding there during the day, let alone at 9pm by myself. The justification for closing the bridge was because there was no electricity so no lights so the bridge wouldn’t be safe. But I would bet real money that those who mapped out the detour had ever taken the detour route after dark to evaluate where the real danger spot was.

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    KL March 20, 2019 at 9:28 am

    Everyone, please remember this, and all of the other issues related to the cesspool this city is becoming, when you vote for mayor next year. Stop voting in leadership that is content to do nothing.

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      I wear many hats March 20, 2019 at 11:04 am

      That starts by eliminating at large city councilors. We need a change in city charter to actually get any changes.

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        Shimran George March 20, 2019 at 11:30 am

        This. I cannot emphasize the fact that the city councilors are equally, if not more important than the mayor in governing our city and the subsequent mess. Many city bureaus are under the direct control of individual city councilors, and not the mayor. Eudaly for example is in charge of PBOT; Fritz is in charge of Parks.

        Personally, I think the Wheeler administration is a trainwreck, but he often gets blamed for things that are the responsibilities of city councilors. I think our council members enjoy their relative anonymity while happily letting Wheeler draw the heat for their actions.

        Once again, this is not a pass for our mayor. However, the city of Portland happens to have an illiberal democracy, and one of the ways we can have a better city is to spread the knowledge of how our city works and hold are city councilors, along with the mayor, for the current state of our city.

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          Shimran George March 20, 2019 at 11:31 am

          Sorry can’t seem to edit previous post. Small correction: Fish is in charge of Parks, not Fritz, although she was in charge of Parks for a while and I was underwhelmed with her management of the Parks bureau.

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    Lazy Spinner March 20, 2019 at 10:12 am

    Regardless of proposed solutions caring or callous, the problem needs to be addressed right away or people that would ride bikes are going to start considering other alternatives. What’s a relatively safe alternative to riding where the byway is clear of camps, law enforcement regulates the flow of movement, and you feel a stronger sense of personal protection?

    Ah, yes! Driving a CAR!!!

    Is this really what we want? After years of scrapping and fighting to get clout and infrastructure? By all means, we should endeavor to help these people and put pressure on City Hall to find a firm but, compassionate solution. We are on the precipice of losing our fight for bicycling if we stop demanding safe bike infrastructure and waste our energies hand wringing over social justice. You wouldn’t allow a chop shop, drug activity, or crime to happen in your personal backyard. These paths are the collective backyard of Portland’s cyclists. If we lose them, I doubt that any additional will get built since they will be perceived as a magnet for filth and crime by the greater populace.

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      Lester Burnham March 20, 2019 at 10:40 am

      You should know by know that in this city, a drug addict’s right to openly use drugs and dismantle stolen property trump your right to a safe, comfortable bike ride.

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        Middle of the Road Guy March 20, 2019 at 1:04 pm

        Why Lester, you should be ashamed for your lack of compassion 🙂

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      Ken S March 20, 2019 at 10:45 am

      I definitely agree with this sentiment.
      At a certain point, whether one is caring or callous, we’re getting pushed out of the corridors built specifically for bikes and pedestrians, and you have to ask, “do laws matter or don’t they?”

      The camps and activities taking place in them are not lawful and not what the paths were designed for.

      Yes we ought to have social services for the campers; I wouldn’t wish on anyone homelessness, addiction, or untreated mental illness;
      that’s a different and not mutually inclusive issue to keeping thoroughfares safe and clear for people to use them as, you know, thoroughfares.

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    Middle of the Road Guy March 20, 2019 at 1:05 pm

    This isn’t ‘Nam. There are rules.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yUfec8S10MI

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    Half billion for housing March 20, 2019 at 1:47 pm

    If only ODOT were pushing for a half billion housing project and not for a few extra freeway lanes.

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      Ken S March 21, 2019 at 8:30 am

      ^^ THIS, 100%

      $500M would go a long way towards so many things that aren’t more lanes on a freeway that few want.

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    Lance R Hoover March 20, 2019 at 3:38 pm

    Two places I won’t ride: I205 between Burnside and Stark. I go over a block and take 94th, which has speed bumps but it’s better than riding pass people with needles hanging out of their arms. And, under Sandy Blvd. There alternative is not that bad. Just go up to Sandy Blvd instead. You can either cross at the light at 96th or just go down Sandy and rejoin at Killingsworth. Not that we should have to do either of course. Just pointing out options (have not read any other comments yet).

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    Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) March 21, 2019 at 10:42 am

    Thank you everyone. I’m closing the comments to this post.

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