BikePortland

Conditions on the I-205 path are unacceptable


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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