Bikeway conditions are pretty bad right now. Most of the gloriously colorful leaves we loved a few weeks ago are now sitting in slick piles on the pavement. But there’s one stretch of pathway that looks nearly perfect: the I-205 path in Vancouver.
This past Saturday I explored the Washington side of the Columbia River. As I rolled eastward to the I-205 bridge to return to Portland, I came upon a Vancouver Bicycle Club (VBC) clean-up event. There was a traffic cone telling me to slow down and I saw folks with safety vests and tools. One man was using his leaf-blower. Others were stuffing bags full of leaves and chopping vines that wanted to stretch across the path. As my view panned back I saw a perfectly clear path slicing through a heavily-wooded area. It was clear someone worked hard on this little slice of cycling heaven.(Photos from the event by Jeff Wills, Vancouver Bicycle Club)
I didn’t stop to talk (I try to limit my “work” on the weekends or I’d never survive the week), but I knew just who to email when I got home: friend of BikePortland and Vancouver resident Jan Verrinder. Jan is a VBC member who’s been biking the Columbia River corridor for many years. We first came into contact through a terrible crash on Marine Drive involving her husband Bob in 2007 (he’s doing fine now). She asked a few of the clean-up event organizers to share a bit more information about their work on the path.
Longtime VBC member Jeff Wills has been organizing the clean-up in that area since 2005 and says they’ve been happening long before that. “I remember a couple sessions before 2000 when we chopped the blackberry vines almost to nothing. I’d like to get back to that point but it’s rough, tough work,” Wills shared in an email. He organizes them twice a year — in summer when the rain has stopped and in fall after the leaves have fallen off the trees.
VBC adopted the I-205 path through Washington Department of Transportation through the agency’s Adopt-a-Highway program. Wills says WashDOT is pretty hands-off and easy to work with. “We get the clean-up done, report who and how many hours worked, and [WashDOT] cleans up any debris and detritus we pile up at the end.”
Thanks Jeff, Jan, and all the VBC volunteers who helped out!
Given the woeful condition of many of our regional bike paths, bike lanes, and shoulders, I’d love to see more cycling groups adopt them and get them cleaned up. The Oregon Department of Transportation has an adopt-a-highway program but I’m not aware of any bike groups that are taking part. According to laws that govern ODOT’s program, bike paths are eligible to adopt. Multnomah County also has an adoption program for the many popular rural cycling roads they own and manage such as Skyline, Newberry, and so on.
It’s great to have an official partnership to do volunteer clean-ups — especially in high-profile places that have safety risks where an official agency blessing might come in handy. But you don’t always need to get permission. Back in January we cleaned up the Bryant Street Bridge with a help from a few neighbors. Many years ago members of our forums coordinated a clean-up event. And who can forget the wonderful trash picker-upper Danny Dunn?
If you see a bikeway in need, text a few friends, post a notice in the Forums, grab a broom and a few bins, and get out there and clean it up.
For more coverage and great photos of the VBC crew in action check out this story in The Columbian.
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SWTrails does this in southwest Portland in conjunction with Portland Parks and also on non-Parks trails.
Now if only we didn’t need a full face respirator and ear plug to cross the 205 bridge..
Glenn, my method is to only ride the I-205 bridge going southbound. It’s still noisy but it’s over quicker. When I cross back over it’s on the I-5 bridge (which has its own issues). It helps that I live in Vancouver and the two bridges make a nice loop.
I’m sure most people in Portland would love to only have to remove leaves from the bicycle paths along 205. The difference in enforcement of camping and littering laws in Vancouver vs Portland is amazing based on these images. I cut away branches and other vegetation along some of the bike lanes I use near where I live in SW in the summer but I would not touch the 205 path due to all the lawlessness.
There has to be other paths, or portions of paths, in Portland where mild litter and leaf clean up are possible.
I used to rake, pick up litter, and trim blackberries along Going between Interstate and Greeley. A couple of weeks ago I was riding home uphill and encountered a camper in an SUV barreling down the sidewalk/MUP toward me at about 30 mph! Lat weekend I went by and counted 8 vehicles a the massive camp there.
There’s been vehicles here and there on the 205 path, too. And for a while there were a few mopeds in a couple camps I ride/run by. On the 205 and Springwater. Not like those lawnmower engine bike things either…though those are still around too often, as well. It’s annoying as hell to be running on an otherwise quiet evening on a nice stretch of the Springwater and get buzzed by some guy on a moped. If no one is gonna stop you, and you want to ride your moped or drive a truck to a camp, I guess you’re gonna do it.
These are our vulnerable citizens.
Anti-social behavior is anti-social behavior; one can discourage the behavior without attacking the person’s personhood. Why is categorizing the person doing it as vulnerable so important to you Matt?
Sorry, my sarcasm indicator was not functioning at the time.
Since they are our vulnerable citizens they get a pass for crappy behavior?
See above. I’m a big critic of giving a group a pass because of their housing status.
Who have come close to making victims of others.
For all the jokes about “Vantucky”, I must say that I am impressed with the bike and running trails that I have used on their side of the river. Clean, well designed, and safe. Portland really needs to get its act together. I find it far nicer to ride in the ‘burbs these days and I am feeling less and less guilty about driving a car to access better bike and running venues.
The suburbs are great if you don’t mind driving for recreation. It’s a personal choice, of course. I like being able to ride and run from my front door, mainly because I don’t want to contribute to regional traffic and pollution.
I grew up over there and it’s not what it once was. Downtown is nice these days. Actual people walking to coffee shops and brew pubs (well, maybe not this year). The farmers market is totally decent. Esther Short park is spiffy. Lucky Lager is long gone but I guess that’s ok. A lot of big stands of trees are gone from the parts of town east of 205 I grew up in. That’s really too bad. There’s loads of gross development that is soulless. But when I ride over to my dads house or ride over to meet him for lunch somewhere (again, not this stupid year) it’s always really easy riding. The streets are usually so much quieter.
PTB, I agree. I live in a slightly older (built in the’70’s) area. My house is surrounded by fir trees. I watched some of the newer developments get put up: clear-cut everything, put in pavement, put up the houses, surround everything with a wall… yeah, it’s efficient but soulless.
Bravo and thank you!
Yesterday, I forgot there’s an underpass and accidentally took the I205 MUP south toward Sandy. A chop shop runs the entire length and blocks the path. Already wading through, so to speak, along comes a pile of syringes. All of this is playing out while one of the campers is swinging a golf club around…
I’d settle for safe.
That’s very cool. Glad they did that. We should do that in Portland. Oh but wait….the volunteers would need armed security (to protect from the violent trail denizens), a hazmat team (for drug needles, bodily waste) and heavy equipment (to remove built structures). Guess I should go ride in the ‘Couve.
They’d also have to apologize to the trail denizens for the emotional distress.