The Springwater Corridor path is vital infrastructure — especially for people who live in southeast Portland neighborhoods where there are precious few safe places to ride and most of the through streets are wide and dangerous arterials. That’s why any project that makes it easier for people to connect to the Springwater should be a high priority.
The Portland Bureau of Transportation knows this and is investing $2.1 million to make safer connections between the Springwater and the Brentwood-Darlington neighborhood. I rolled out to Flavel Park yesterday to take a closer look at the Springwater Connector Neighborhood Greenway project, which just broke ground last month.
The project has two main elements: Low-stress north-south bike routes between SE Flavel St and the Springwater on SE 75th/77th and at 87th. Here’s how PBOT lays it out:
At Flavel, PBOT plans to pave a new bike path on the eastern edge of Flavel Park that will end at SE Lambert. Construction on the path hasn’t started yet, but markings have been placed in the park where it will go (above left). From the south end of the park, PBOT plans to pave SE 75th (which is currently gravel) and add a new sidewalk for about a block or so to Crystal Springs Blvd. The route will then jog onto SE Harney and then 77th where it will connect to the Springwater via an existing paved path. The route between Flavel Park and the Springwater will have the standard greenway treatment of sharrows (to indicate a shared roadway where bicycle riders have priority), speed bumps, and bike route signs.
This section of greenway will eventually connect to the 70s Neighborhood Greenway which PBOT plans to build in 2021-2022. That route will reach all the way to the Cully Neighborhood in northeast Portland.
At 87th, PBOT has already completed a new crossing of Flavel with crosswalks, crossbikes, and a median island (above left). Currently the block south of Flavel is gravel and there’s a narrow dirt path (in above right photo) that connects to the Springwater. PBOT plans to pave a 12 to 14-foot multi-use path in this section that will come with new trees and lighting. The new path will connect directly to the Springwater.
PBOT broke ground on this project in July and expects everything to be completed by this coming January. The $2.1 million in funding is a mix of local gas tax revenue (Fixing Our Streets program), Transportation System Development Charges and Lents Town Center Urban Renewal funds.
This is just one of several new projects PBOT has been working on in east Portland lately. Stay tuned for coverage of SE 136th and the new 130s and HOP neighborhood greenways.
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and email@example.com
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Sad but I just don’t care about improvements to the SC, it is trashed and dangerous. I go out of my way to avoid it. At this point, any investment in Portland MUPs seem foolish.
Yes, cyclists do have a right to safe travel on public roads and paths, but something I read here is that some believe they have the right to the perception of safety.That is a different thing. What you may find even more chilling is when people also openly express the belief in a right to the anticipation of the perception of safety (even for other people.)
It’s no longer high-minded intellectual debate on a blog when you can’t use a mup when crackheads and unmediated schizophrenics threaten to kill you for simply passing by (this really happened). When trails are littered with human waste, trash and biohazards.
Sadly that is my concern over the Sullivan Gulch Trail concept plan. That MUP should absolutely be a crown jewel of cycling routes for PDX. But, at this point, I fear it’d just be a waste of money. Sad.
What about multi-use paths on the westside of Portland? They would allow people to avoid car pollution on Highway 30 and Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway and Highway 26 and Barbur Boulevard.
The section on 87th is 8 years overdue – it’s in Lents and not Brentwood-Darlington (82nd is the dividing line between the two neighborhoods). We bugged PBOT about this when the 80s bikeway was built, but got nowhere. The 70s bikeway is also massively overdue, the Montevilla NA has been pushing it for years.
B-W’s relationship with East Portland is an odd one – it’s technically part of Southeast Uplift rather than EPCO (which Lents belongs to), but it was annexed into the city the same time as most of East Portland and has all of the same development issues, whereas Lents really has more in common with the inner Southeast neighborhoods.
Yes, the title of this article needs to be changed. This is happening in the Lents neighborhood.
FWIW the PBOT website lists the n’hood as Brentwood-Darlington
PBOT’s geography gets pretty fuzzy east of 60th on a whole slew of projects. I still remember hearing staff refer to East Portland as anything east of the Willamette River.
Well PBOT is clearly wrong.
82nd is the dividing line between Lents and B-D
I would at least change it to “Brentwood-Darlington and Lents”
The project clearly includes two parts, one in Brentwood Darlington and the other in Lents. The longer and more significant portion of the project is in Brentwood Darlington.
I just wish I could move past the houseless problem that is plaguing the entire trail. To call it a safe route is a reach. Best of luck to the B-D and Lents neighborhoods.
You’re not alone. I’d rather just ride a bike lane than go through what I went through the last time I rode the Springwater. Why even have a path like that only to let it fall into ruin? I know people have problems but damn.
I disagree with your characterization of the path. I ride it a lot and see tons of people out using it. Yes people live alongside the path (had a nice chat with a few of them yesterday while I was out there), but they are mostly just minding their own business. This isn’t to discount people’s legit fears, I’m just saying that I often read/hear this narrative that it’s a crazy warzone full of dangerous people — which is just not the reality based on what I’ve seen many times recently.
Maybe it’s time I rode it again for a fresh perspective, admittedly, it’s been a few months.
I’m with you halfway here. I’ll go out on a limb and say I’m on the trail more often than you. I don’t think it’s super scary, but it can definitely be a little sketchy. There are parts that I avoid if I’m running/coming home after dark. There’s out in the open drug use (not scary but a bummer), guys with bats and machetes (ok, this is very sketchy to scary, but I don’t see this daily either), people that clearly need immediate help/medication/a better life situation (depressing to scary), and broken glass and trash and shit (back to just being a bummer). Depending on the time of day you’re on the trail, and who you are, hell yeah any of that can be scary as hell. But yes, some of these folks out here, they’re just trying to get by and will say hi and wave if you say hi. I live less than a mile from the Springwater and I’m on it multiple times a week, all year long. It’s not great particularly once you pass 82nd. And don’t get me started on all the trash in what should be Johnson Creek floodplains/seasonal wetlands.
Thanks PTB, you have a more informed perspective than I do. Appreciate the insights. I do agree what we need to do much more to help these folks take care of themselves and the spaces they are living in. IMO it’s yet another huge issue where we it feels like we have zero urgency or tangible results from leadership at City Hall.
IMO, another issue we have is that we expect an MUP to be a rural expressway/parkway for bicyclists and other folks getting exercise, a bit like the Wildwood hiking trails but paved, or a walkway in a popular city park. Every city in the country has something like the Springwater or 205 and every city has a homeless problem. In rapidly growing cities like Portland, Seattle, Charlotte or DC, such trails are increasingly unusable by the non-homeless; in those cities not growing so much (or even declining, as Portland was until the 90s), there isn’t as much of a conflict.
But an MUP or rail-trail by its very design violates numerous principals of personal safety through infrastructure design: there’s no “eyes on the street”, it’s essentially a rural trail through one of the last open space campgrounds in a rapidly-growing urban center. Homeless people need to camp somewhere, be it in parks, along trails, in the backwoods, or on your doorstep. Since Portland insists on a “progressive” policy of infill development, which maximizes urban densities, the only outlets for the homeless are in the least policed sections of town, including the MUPs, Forest Park, and the buttes (Kelly’s Butte for example if full of booby-traps).
So if your intent is to ride on a protected pathway in an urban city of 650,000+, a “rural” MUP is probably the least sustainable and least safe alternative, it’s not really worth advocating for, nor investing in. A better alternative, IMO, is re-purposing existing streets that are already successful “main streets” as bike and pedestrian ways, with lots of eyes on the street, something like NW 23rd or SE Division mixed with Rose Transit Lanes and very limited/restricted car usage from 8 am to 6 pm, protected intersections, diverters, etc. You have all the tools – some of the you even invented, especially on Vancouver/Williams. Now implement them. Make a plan for cross-town routes, prioritize what gets built first, second, third, get all the groups to agree on it, even your traditional foes (Street Trust, Oregon Walks, BikeLoud, PDX Transformation, EPAP, BLM, PBA, Columbia Corridor, etc.) Then push.
No, it’s not easy. But you’ve lost the battle of the MUPs to “market forces” and the evils of capitalism, and it’s high time to admit it, move on, and make the system you really want.
PTB – when I ride to work this part of the Springwater is part of my primary route. I’d argue (right now) that the 205 path is far worse than the Springwater. The Springwater is sketchy for sure east of 82nd but the 205 path has become a total mess. I don’t even bother to ride it much – I typically ride the Springwater to 92nd then take 92nd all the way north until it terminates – that leaves me only having to deal with the 205 path through Gateway — which can get really really wacky. Of all the cycling arterial around town I’ve found the 205 path to be in by far the worst shape.
I ride the Springwater and the 205 paths a lot. I live in East Portland and what I have noticed is a pretty big decrease in the campers along the Springwater, but a huge increase in campers along the whole 205 path. Many of whom appear to be running bike and car chop shops (see the connect over 92nd and Market) and open drug use and drug paraphernalia. I would like to see the city/ODOT do something about camping along this vital north/south route. The city puts in the bikeways, but for long-distance commuting, nothing is like a restricted access trail like the 205/Springwater.
Jonathan, I’m confused. Steve and D’Andre share their experiences with using the spring water and you imply they’re wrong to feel that way (or at least attempt to discount them), then below, PTP relates some (also scary) experiences and you suggest they are somehow more informed than Steve and D’Andre.
First off, which should we believe, that the Springwater can be dangerous to travel on or…; and secondly, what makes PTP’s experiences anymore valid than Steve’s and D’Andre’s?
Jonathan, I have been riding the Springwater for the past few months (eastbound instead of my normal westbound commute) during COVID. I have seen countless needles, needle caps, human feces and lots of debris on the trail. I have been bum-rushed by a homeless man, saw a homeless man holding a tire iron above his head in the middle of the path (waiting to strike), and passed a man on a bike who had about a 9 inch kitchen knife duct taped to his handlebar pointing forward. I also witnessed a fire that engulfed a tent in a homeless camp. If I hadn’t intervened that morning, the fire could have engulfed multiple tents and/or the fire could have spread toward a residential community. Yes, a lot of people use the Springwater for recreational use and that is great. But please recognize that it is also potentially dangerous…
I live in Montavilla and used to work in Gresham, then in Vancouver in 2019. I bike commuted every day and yes, the 205 is worse than Springwater since the big publicity and sweep a couple years ago. Jonathan, forgive me if I’m wrong but I think your “it’s not so bad” comments just reflect what we’ve resigned ourselves to. We’re surrounded by literally thousands of houseless citizens, many (maybe most) are suffering from substance addiction and/or in some state of mental crisis. And a lot of them live along these trails. Yes I’ve seen open carry of machetes, knives, axes, and home made spears. The first time I saw someone shooting up was on the 205 path. I’ve seen a few more since then. Needles are common. There are hundreds of people living there and, effectively, no bathroom facilities or sanitation so I’ll leave it to folks imagination what lurks just off the trail. I’m a long time resident and cyclist and I remember when each of these paths first opened. Folks might forget, or just be resigned, but they used to be parks, suitable for family outings. My daughter is going to start school at Madison (Marshall campus) this year and if they actually hold classes I’d be hesitant to let her ride to school, though the 205 path is a direct route for us.
For me personally I feel pretty safe riding this and agree mostly these folks are minding their own business, but there are a couple underpass spots on 205 north of Maywood park that are downright scary that I generally avoid and would never go through in the dark.
I’m not saying move the houseless somewhere else. This crises needs better solutions than that. But it’s hard to celebrate new connectors designed to make these spots more accessible.
My young nieces were in town not long ago (10 and 12 yrs old) so I thought a little bike tour on the Springwater would be nice. Wrong. We encountered some screaming dude with a hatchet going through some kind of episode yelling at the wind. Then another camp down the path with some hostile ass dogs. The kids had a terrible time and I felt bad. Then I got my ass chewed by my sister “for putting her kids in danger”. Damn, just bike ride I thought. Hope shit gets sorted. Peace.
Sorry that happened to you D’Andre! That makes me both sad and very frustrated that conditions have reached this point.
You are not helping at all… part of the problem is not recognizing the problems for what it is….Same with the protests, you are clueless politically and do not even address problems in the cycling community.
Look at the comments, you are completely out of touch.
thanks for the feedback dwk. I don’t agree with you, but always nice to have other perspectives.
You don’t agree but you offer no solutions to the very one thing that is killing cycling in the area and you run a bike blog….
Not being able to ride on MUP paths is a huge deterrent for women/families. You either don’t care or think that allowing human beings to live in squalor and danger is OK…
What other conclusion can be drawn?
Here are some conclusions that can be drawn…
This is a news site run by one person (hi!). I am not in a position to “offer solutions” to big complicated problems like this. I’m trying to document and share what’s going on around cycling in this region. And you continue to comment as if I’m unaware of the seriousness of this issue. When I have a grand idea that I feel can move the conversation forward I will consider posting it as an op-ed. I might also consider doing some behind-the-scenes advocacy if it feels right.
Thanks for your comment. See what happens when you actually engage in the conversation without ridiculing or being mean to me and others? Keep it up so I can continue to publish your comments.
Obviously one person cannot change a huge problem but a bike blog should at least advocate that public parks and public bike paths be kept completely free of people living on them.
They are Public spaces for the public use.
There are a number of ways to address the homeless issue.
It is in the public interest to find housing for people who cannot afford it.
That does not excuse allowing our PUBLIC spaces to be taken over by any group, I don’t care who it is.
You could at least advocate for that.
We have lost them and you do not help and you have a voice most do not have.
If the KKK camped on the Eastback esplanade It would be fine with you with your current ethics and public stance.
I do not how you could complain without being a complete hypocrite.
Since you have no idea who is camping, just maybe you should oppose all?
sorry dwk you’ve totally lost me here.
It seems like a fairly straightforward analogy… Lets put it this way, I assume when the Bundy Klan moved in and camped on the Federal wildlife refuge a couple years ago, if you were in charge, they would still be there and you would chat with them as you walked around them… Simple enough?
They were just harmless campers, right?
Public spaces are for all of us to use and none of us to live on, that seems fairly easy to grasp.
I have a lot of thoughts and feelings about the Springwater. It’s a complicated issue. Obviously I recognize it’s potentially very dangerous! Please consider googling “springwater bikeportland” or use the search function here on the site and you’ll find many articles documenting assaults and other issues about the conditions and safety of the Springwater and 205. To say I “don’t recognize” the issues here is just wrong.
Jonathan, you’re pretty quick to dismiss people’s apprehension riding these MUPs. Have you personally ridden the entire length of the Springwater? The I-205? There are some pretty hairy spots on what should be paths to be enjoyed by all. But sadly we’ve let some bad apples in our society take over and your dismissive attitude isn’t helping. Some folks are genuinely scared. If you feel comfortable yucking it up with your friends living on the path, great! Many of us have had some downright terrifying expereicnes and have opted to avoid these MUPs altogether.
Yes I’ve ridden the entire length of both paths many times. I’m not dismissing anyone’s feelings, I’m just sharing mine. And I’d encourage you to actually go back and read all the stories I’ve posted here about the path conditions over the years before speculating (incorrectly) about my beliefs.
Agreed with your basic characterization — the vast majority of people are minding their own business.
However, there is a small but significant percentage that does not fall into this category and that’s what the real problem is. I’ve had people mess with me in scary ways multiple times and am just sick of it.
I think these paths are safe enough during busy times. But not when you’re on your own, particularly late at night and I refuse to ride them. Riding roads that with inattentive and drunk motorists is often a safer and more pleasant option.
Problem is it’s a crapshoot. I don’t touch I-205 anymore and I avoid a lot of Peninsula Crossing because I don’t like the odds. I find it hard to support more investment in infrastructure until we can take care of what we have.
I’m thrilled to see this collaboration between Parks & Recreation and PBOT in filling gaps within the active transportation network.
Normally I’d be super stoked about this, especially since it’s happening right in my neighborhood! But part of me is a bit sad because these little secret byways may now be crowded, and crowds are a bit out of vogue just now. I have witnessed many maskless men asserting their dominance in Covid-times by steamrolling other users off the bikepath. Weird, but true, and scary for those of us being cautious to protect loved ones.
Traveling 4 blocks south requires at least 2 blocks out-of-direction travel. Just saying!
What’s your point? The route literally takes the shortest possible path through the neighborhood.
You’re going to be really angry if you ever drive I-84 west between Troutdale and Portland and try to access something along the way.
Imagine a protect bike lane from St. Johns to Boring Oregon? Just a few broken segments remain. We are one year away from having a car free bike path from St Johns to Boring Oregon.
Blocking this dream is policy, and people. Money is not a block here.
Here are the segments where there are no plans to change on car/bike conflicts!
1) St Johns to Rosa Parks wa… Donors would step up to buy Jersey Barriers for N Willamette ….so both directions of bikes could have the protected side of the road next to the bluff.
2) Interstate at Moda… I sent detailed plans to Roger Geller years ago about how to paint and reconfigure Interstate from Tillamook The steel bridge. Signal changes could be completed by Peter Koonce.
3) Interstate underneath the 5/405 exchange. This is the only place that would need to have full road construction paid for by PBOT. It would be easy to build a protected lane on Interstate between Hazelnut Grove and Tillamook – Bikes would be given a raised sidewalk path up off the road. This would protect cyclists and peds from drivers who are always on their phones.
I’m sending this by email to these people and you can too:
Roger and Jonathan Maus and Chloe Eudaly and Matt McNally and Carmen Rubio and Dan Ryan and Sarah Iannarone for Portland Mayor even Mingus Mapps Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) @chris.warner.773 who I just realized is married to Barbara Smith Warner pushing a 15 billion mega freeway budget in the Salem house of representatives… explains a lot..
If the people I’ve tagged do not reply, please call them and follow them on social media. No free passes inside the bike culture of Portland..
The pedestrian island crossing at 87th and Flavel was completed in 2012.