City’s concrete barriers restrict access to Columbia Slough path

Posted by on January 14th, 2022 at 2:35 pm

(Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

UPDATE, 1/14 at 4:14 pm: The Parks bureau says they barriers have been moved and the path is clear.

Two large concrete barriers placed on the Columbia Slough path near Portland International Raceway restrict access to a popular bike route and have raised safety concerns.

“These barriers should be called widowmakers.”
— a reader on Instagram

I first saw these Thursday afternoon and went back today for a second look. One is placed right near the top of the small hill near east of the railroad overpass and Columbia Wastewater Treatment Plant. The other one is located at the threshold of the chain-link fence just west of the North Denver Avenue entrance near Portland International Raceway (PIR).

While I’ve just confirmed with Portland Parks and Recreation they’ve been placed to prevent people from driving cars on the path (an issue that has become more common lately), they also restrict access by other types of mobility devices like wheelchairs and adaptive bicycles. A wide bicycle with a trailer also couldn’t around it, so the trail is effectively closed to many users. Another issue is that neither of the barriers have reflective material on them and would be very hard to see at night — especially since this path is not well-lit. There are also no signs to warn path users to slow down and expect a barrier.

The barriers are way too heavy to move without specialized equipment.

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“These barriers should be called widowmakers,” shared one reader after I shared an image on Instagram. “I know that’s an obvious answer they don’t want vehicles driving down these paths. But with not having any reflective devices or any kind of illumination on these barriers I would imagine riding this path at night could be treacherous and fatal.” Another reader said, “I was so surprised coming around the corner and had to slam on my brakes.”

Some people are happy to have something that keeps drivers away. “If it keeps us from having to deal with people driving cars down there, I’m happy to not get run over while using the path,” read another comment.

The slough path is managed by Portland Parks and Rec. The bureau recently adjusted a barrier that had closed the Thurman gate entrance to Forest Park “>when an adaptive bicycle user complained that his trike could not fit through.

PP & R Public Information Officer Mark Ross confirmed a few minutes ago that City of Portland staff placed the barriers on the Slough path to, “Deter illegal vehicle access on the path.”

He added that, “Parks & Recreation staff are moving them aside for now as the blocks may not be visible by cyclists or other trail users in dim light. We are considering other options/modifications. We also want to ensure that people using mobility devices can access the path. Our priorities are safety and path accessibility for appropriate use.”

Ross has assured me that, “They have either already been moved or are being moved right now.”

We’ll keep track of this and make sure Parks gets this right. Please share your experiences and any updates you see in the coming days.

NOTE: Thanks for sharing and reading our comments. To ensure this is a welcoming and productive space, all comments are manually approved by staff. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for meanness, discrimination or harassment. Comments with expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia will be deleted and authors will be banned.

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andrew
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andrew

Remember that time pbot installed speed bumps on the hawthorne?

Steve C
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Steve C

Looks like a job for a couple of bollards

https://twitter.com/WorldBollard

CC Montgomery
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CC Montgomery

Most of the bollards along the 205 and Springwater paths have been removed or disabled by people who drive vehicles on the path to access illegal campsites. The bollards are required to be removable to allow emergency vehicle access and that means all it takes to disable one is a bolt cutter.

FDUP
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FDUP

Curbs and other unexpected hardscape in the ROW are just as dangerous to cyclists as these barricades are, and it’s all installed because MV drivers no longer have any responsibility for their own behavior or actions. IMO, our city and society in general have reached a very sad state when it comes to this.

H. Ovekov
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H. Ovekov

Agree and especially in Portland as we have virtually zero traffic enforcement.

H. Ovekov
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H. Ovekov

I’m actually almost pleasantly surprised the city did something to prevent driving on bike paths. They usually just enable this type of illegal behavior. But that is a pretty low budget and lousy way to do it. Again not surprised as PBOT/Joanne Hardesty don’t seem that supportive of cyclists. In my opinion, PBOT support for cycling infrastructure (keeping it safe and clean) has really declined over the last 3-5 years. I’m going to vote differently and hope for charter reform as PBOT/Hardesty have been completely unresponsive to my (and others) requests for improved bike path maintenance.

Mike Quigley
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Mike Quigley

How about turning ’em lengthwise? And at least powerwash ’em? But, really. Does ANYTHING work in America anymore, unless you’re wealthy?

CC Montgomery
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CC Montgomery

Pretty sure that wealthy people use the Columbia Slough path as well as the poor. Needlessly invoking class conflict isn’t helpful, the path is here for all to responsibly enjoy.

PS
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PS

It says a lot that this relatively remote and largely unmaintained section of path (the strava segment is literally called “The Hell of North Portland” due to its rough similarity to cobbled sections in Europe) is highlighted for issues of access and safety, but there is never an article on the Division underpass or Powell overpass on the 205 path.

Hotrodder
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Hotrodder

I couldn’t have said it better myself. I cycle this route at least once a month (probably once a week in the spring/summer/fall) and I was pleasantly surprised to see that someone had done something preventative to keep people from driving on this dyke.
Anything is better than nothing.

BEL
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BEL

Anyone seen the burned out car in the middle basically blocking the path on the 205 path just north of Sandy as it goes under the railroad. They finally after 2 yrs recently cleaned up the chop shop mess. Was clear for about 1 day. Now they are back & driving cars down there from NE Sandy. So Disturbing that cant use the path from safely at all.

Herculean Biker
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Herculean Biker

Yep, Portland has abandoned it bike paths to cars. So much for the platinum bike city and its stated carbon reduction goals.

CC Montgomery
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CC Montgomery

We’ve abandoned practically every public greenspace to a small population of abusive persons. The politicians have embraced activists’ demands to make everyone suffer. The activists’ tack is accelerationism; they wrongly believe that this is a shortcut to revolution, that we’ll suddenly wake up one morning and reject capitalism. The houseless who are destroying our greenspace are simply pawns to them. They are where they are because it’s politically useful for the narrative.