City crews remove large number of bicycles from street encampment on SE Alder

Posted by on May 11th, 2022 at 1:01 pm

Truck with people loading bicycles and bike parts into it from a pile on the sidewalk.

Crews from Rapid Response move bikes from the sidewalk on SE Alder near 30th.
(Photos: Taylor Griggs/BikePortland)

Piles of bikes and bike parts on a sidewalk next to a chainlink fence.

Taylor Griggs contributed to this story.

This morning Portland Bureau of Transportation staff and a crew from Rapid Response Bio Clean removed property from a street encampment on Southeast Alder near 30th. The location was flagged by neighbors over concerns about the large number of bicycles parts lined up on the sidewalk.

We were first made aware of this location today when it came up in a thread posted on the Shift email list by people who referred to it as a “bike chop shop” and said it has been reported to authorities several times in the past. “The inventory of bikes changes every few days,” a person wrote.

A local bike shop owner who is well-aware of this location chimed in to say crews were currently at the site and, “That chop shop has more inventory than I do. There is a sign that says ‘bike shop’. I need a permit for commercial signage. I also need a business license.”

BikePortland reporter Taylor Griggs arrived at the scene as Rapid Response crew members loaded bikes and parts into the rear of a large flatbed truck. There were no police at the scene, but there were PBOT Parking Enforcement workers watching the process unfold. They told Griggs campers willingly gave up their space and property and that they’ll be offered space in a shelter.

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People standing on the street next to a white City of Portland vehicle.

PBOT staff outside their vehicle.

One man referred to himself as the manager of the camp. He told Griggs he wants to run a bike repair shop for friends and other campers and the bikes were not stolen. A lot of people simply give away “really nice bikes” he said. He didn’t deny some people do steal bikes. He also said he’s happy to talk to anyone whos think their stolen bike is at the camp. If they can prove it belongs to them, he’d give it back. “Nobody wants to talk to me. They come by with leers and jeers,” he said.

Gianna Bortoli, who lives a block away from the camp, said she’s seen the number of bikes skyrocket in the past few months and that complete bikes will often be brought to the site and get quickly dismantled. “I can’t say if the people there are stealing them or if people are dropping them off, but I have seen extremely expensive bikes there including multiple brand new looking bikes.”

Allegations of large scale chop shops at street camps have been around for years. They have always been very tricky for the city to handle given there’s often no way to prove if they’re harboring stolen bikes. In May 2020, the (now defunct) Portland Police Bureau Bike Theft Task Force made two arrests and recovered 15 stolen bikes from an encampment.

Bikes are a very common and valuable mode of transportation for people who live on the street. They provide folks a cheap way to get around the city to reach jobs and medical appointments, and to connect with friends — all the same stuff you use your bike for! If you see bikes in encampments, please do not assume the worst. Everyone is innocent until proven guilty and these folks deserve the same respect you’d show anyone else.

The City of Portland was sued last year by homeless residents over the handling of seized property. Yesterday the city enacted new policies to comply with the demands in the lawsuit. See this new city website to learn more.

UPDATE, 5/12: On the night of May 11, some bikes still hadn’t been cleared by the official crews. Some campers moved the bikes off site, but as of the morning of this morning, some bikes still remain.

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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sethaKurtKarstanChampsNoPoResident Recent comment authors
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NoPoResident
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NoPoResident

Long time lurker, first time commenter here. Every time there’s a post on bike theft and/or homelessness, there’s a huge wave of comments dehumanizing folks living on the streets, saying tough love is the answer, advocating for sweeps even though there aren’t enough shelter beds, and even if there were ignoring the fact that shelters are nowhere near a solution to the problem of housing. There’s an understandable commenter below who says their empathy has run out due to their own personal experience of mental illness and drug use in their family.

I beg of you to sit with the idea, the reality, of what it’s like to be homeless. Have you ever struggled with mental illness or drug addiction? In my immediate and extended family, plus a wide swath of friends have dealt with both and the results have hit the spectrum from death to recovery. And these are people with a lot of resources and support. Now imagine you don’t have either and you live in a city and country that has close to no safety net. In a place where people with money and jobs can’t afford housing in a lot of the city. Have you ever made some choices that resulted in you losing a job, losing money, made a mistake, had an illness that cost a lot to treat? I beg of you to work on that empathy muscle. We are all (most of us) so much closer to homelessness than we are to wealth.

Bike theft sucks (i don’t bike anymore but when i did my bike was stolen – probably a decade ago). But it is nowhere near the biggest problem in your life. If it is, then you are lucky. Bike theft is a symptom of a bigger problem, and that problem will not be solved by jailing homeless people, sweeping them from one street to another, or forcing them into shelter beds that provide at best a bed for 7 hours but without their things, their families, their pets, and won’t let them in if they’re an addict. Again think of the people you know who have struggled with addiction or with mental health. It is hard. My heart goes out to all who struggle, addiction is one of the hardest things to overcome and so many people don’t. I am also running out of empathy, but it’s for folks who complain about the sight of homelessness while they head to their warm house or their job.

dwk
Guest
dwk

Is the problem getting better or worse?
Who exactly is dehumanizing people?
I think you and the people who are in charge of the city and its funds are dehumanizing people for doing absolutely Nothing about the problem except complaining about people who complain about the problem….
Have you contacted city officials about fixing the problem?
We passed a 250 million dollar bond to try to help and nothing is being done.
I call that dehumanizing.

NoPoResident
Guest
NoPoResident

It is getting worse. And it is also a problem ~40 years in the making. It didn’t start with COVID, it didn’t start with the Great Recession, it started when the federal govt systematically and dramatically stopped funding housing and health care coupled with decades of zoning and land use that vastly limited growth in cities where people want to live and there are jobs.
I support candidates, politicians, and groups that put housing first when it comes to tackling the homeless crisis. JOIN, Portland Homeless Family Solutions, Human Solutions, Neighborhood House, Community of Hope, as well as mutual aid networks. There are LOTS in Portland. The Metro bond is building over a 1000 units of housing with another 2K in design, but building does not happen overnight. I support programs that provide direct financial assistance to people and families, whether through vouchers, credits, or cash, to help keep them in housing or get them into housing. This is a big and complex problem but if you think complaining about the people who are suffering is the solution, well i don’t know what to tell you other than stay mad i guess? Cause that’s all that’s gonna come out of it.

Norman
Guest
Norman

6 years ago Los Angeles approved a 1.2 billion housing bond measure. It’s falling far short of the promised results. The most expensive units cost $837,000 each. It must be a lucrative business for contractors.

It will be the same here. The Metro bond is already failing. There are alternative ways of spending public money that are much more effective. It’s really not that complicated. It just means losing the housing first ideology.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

You seem to be pushing back on people who are calling for action (and are going to kick out local leaders who don’t take a tough position on homelessness) and then continue by suggesting that we “stay mad”.

You, your activist friends, and the local leaders who have enabled Portland’s decline are going to be shocked after the next election cycle. You are going to complain about Portland shifting to the right, and wonder what happened.

We are going to change city policies, and we are going to remove anyone who doesn’t take a tougher stance. There will be sweeps, and tougher law enforcement action. It’s going to take years to make a dent in the problem, but we will get there.

NoPoResident
Guest
NoPoResident

I’m not suggesting you should stay mad. I’m saying that’s all that will happen if we don’t pursue housing as the solution to homelessness. You cannot get treatment for any illness, mental or otherwise, get a job, take a shower, live a normal life of dignity, without some kind of housing. I haven’t heard a single solution that isn’t jail here in any of these comments. What is a better use of public funds than housing? I guess you can argue that our unbelievably bloated carceral system, one of the biggest in the world, is a solution. I would say it is categorically an immoral one. I mean, we could incarcerate ourselves out of homelessness, but is that the country we want to live in? Does that not cause more problems than it solves?

I guess my point in even commenting was that this is not the 1st post about bike theft and chop shops. It won’t be the last. and every time there’s comment after comment about “these terrible criminals and drug addicts who defile our city and won’t someone just throw them all in jail”!! and while it was a futile attempt, I was trying to get folks to think of this as the bigger issue that it is. i won’t be surprised at any election results because we’ve only recently started to undertake the tough work of dealing with homelessness but we have politicians like Ted Wheeler and Dan Ryan who are so entrenched with money and law enforcement that all we’ll get out of this is more police and more jails. And Portland’s largely white “progressives” will always fall back on law enforcement to protect property over a community that puts people first.

soren
Guest
soren

I guess my point in even commenting was that this is not the 1st post about bike theft and chop shops. It won’t be the last. and every time there’s comment after comment about “these terrible criminals and drug addicts who defile our city and won’t someone just throw them all in jail”!!

I thank you for your comments, NoPoResident. I find these hate-filled threads to be far to depressing to comment these days.

Watts
Guest
Watts

Protecting members of the community from those who would victimize them IS putting people first.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

We need housing solutions for people who want housing. The people running open-air chop shops need to go to jail. Providing this guy with an apartment is not going to stop him from fencing stolen goods.

Rain Waters
Guest
Rain Waters

and all other 9 digits up !

Steve
Guest
Steve

Are you, by any chance, a member of the group that provides needles, can returns, and meals to the houseless camped on the Peninsula Crossing trail?

Brandon
Guest
Brandon

Yeah yeah, we all get it. I don’t think people on here are calling out people for being homeless. They’re calling out a stolen bike chop shop for what it is. Working people are having their transportation stolen and we’re supposed to act like “ohh it’s ok they probably need it more, I can’t judge them.” It’s ridiculous and it’s the reason there are so many open bike chop shops around Portland. It’s misdirected empathy.

If you see a truck rolling down the street with a bunch of catalytic converters in the back and two dudes up front with angle grinders do you just assume they were all donated to them by people who didn’t need them anymore?

Watts
Guest
Watts

Bike theft is a symptom of a bigger problem, and that problem will not be solved by jailing homeless people

Fully agreed. It might, however be solved by jailing bike thieves and aggressively closing the illegal chop shops they use to fence their stolen goods.

Which type of structure the thief or chop shop owner lives in seems irrelevant.

Brendan P
Guest
Brendan P

Let’s say I bought a used bike to get to work… Its stolen… Then I see it being stripped on the corner for resale.

What is justice?

I’d think restoration of my property and some sort of consequence for the perpetrator so they may not inflict such suffering on another.

I think this is where many in the public are at and are getting irked because there seems to be no consequence for the perpetrator and continued suffering from those who are not wealthy and have zero ill intent against those less fortunate than themselves.

Norman
Guest
Norman

Having zero consequences is also not good for the perpetrator. Lack of consequences steers them down a path towards greater and greater self destruction.

DeeGin
Guest
DeeGin

“Bike theft sucks (i don’t bike anymore but when i did my bike was stolen – probably a decade ago). But it is nowhere near the biggest problem in your life. If it is, then you are lucky.”

That’s a lofty and insensitive comment. I remember when I was in college and a drug dealer stole my bike it was absolutely devastating. I could not afford daily bus fare for school and work. I eventually got it back because the drug dealer hung around my neighborhood and I was brave enough to confront him. I wish I didn’t have to as a 19 year old female. I had no choice. If if I hadn’t confronted him, it it would have taken months to save up for a new bike, requiring me to sacrifice healthy meals and work extra shifts.

The barely-not-homeless around here are victims of the rampant theft and something SHOULD be done about it. Let’s stop arguing about who’s rights are more virtuous than others. The blasé attitude of “oh well, I can just get another bike” is not applicable to a large percentage of bike riders.

NoPoResident
Guest
NoPoResident

Well again, would the solution to that problem be jail? Do you think our decades long war on drugs has been even marginally successful in anything other than expanding our carceral system to basically the largest in the world? That comes at a huge cost. Your problem was likely (and still is for barely-not-homeless people) poverty wages that are perfectly legal because of American capitalism and in your case the dwindling support for college education for students who don’t come from money. The solution to that is higher minimum wage laws, unions, and our tax dollars going to literally anything that supports communities so that people don’t have to resort to drug dealing and theft to survive. So housing, education, healthcare, supporting jobs that people can live off of, not just barely survive. This isn’t about virtue, people who steal things for money aren’t virtuous, they’re just trying to get by and it sucks and we should do something about it. My position is that jailing all those folks won’t fix the problem.

J_R
Guest
J_R

Jonathan, I appreciate what you do by having this site and allowing comments. I agree with much of what you write, though I certainly do not agree with all of what you say in your editorial capacity. I agree that nuance is important and it’s hard to get that across with many issues.

As I’ve stated on this site before, bicycling culture and bicycle infrastructure, rank among the top five reasons I like and continue to live in Portland. But, as I’ve commented before, the streets feel less safe than they used to (higher speeds, road rage, and an absence of enforcement) and multi-use paths have been made unusable as they’ve been taken over to accommodate the homeless. I won’t ride them anymore unless I’m with a group. So, one of my top reasons for being in Portland has gone from a positive attribute to a negative.

I recognize that you feel you are being attacked by some commenters. For my part, I’m disappointed that you seem to have reduced your advocacy in support of bicyclists in preference for houselessness/racial/equity issues. I think you are among the handful of the most powerful voices who can protect bicyclists’ priorities and effect positive change to restore what we had in this community a few years ago. I rank you up there with the PBOT commissioner (whoever it happens to be) and the mayor when it comes to the ability to make good stuff happen.

Because of BikePortland, you have a megaphone to use in support of bicyclists. My emails to the mayor and commissioners seldom even generate a response. What you say and write carries much more weight than any of your readers.

I feel let down when you don’t advocate as strongly as I would prefer to keep our streets and MUPs useable, but instead emphasize compassion for the houseless. If your comments were interpreted to say that the paths are OK or the homeless are really not a threat, I think it would undercut comments by any of us mere cyclists who think otherwise.

So, if you take my comments as being an attack, I’m sorry. I’m frustrated and wish you did more in support of cyclists who have lost access to MUPs and who suffer from bicycle theft. Granted, houselessness is an important issue. Maybe I’m being selfish by wanting ride my bike safely and not be burdened by confronting the homeless/crime/trash if I want to ride where I used to. It’s a false choice to say we must have one or the other.

Like others, I’m suffering compassion fatigue. I make very generous contributions to select causes, including some directly related to health care and food insecurity in this community. I wish there were more positive things happening. If I had solutions, I’d offer them up. I’m definitely not happy with what’s happening. I hope that you find ways to make it so, I just feel you are sometimes undercutting cyclists with your statements and positions.

Charley
Guest
Charley

This seems like the most moderate, milquetoast request: “Everyone is innocent until proven guilty and these folks deserve the same respect you’d show anyone else.”

It’s fascinating that such a request has set off a firestorm of very emotionally charged comments. Commenters seem very, very angry.

I know, I know; all feelings are valid. Yada, yada, yada.

But I just want to ask: what good does it do anyone to show people disrespect?

What good would it do us to vacate the principal of innocent until proven guilty?

Is some BikePortland reader’s assumption going to somehow make the City cleaner?

Will not showing people respect somehow return stolen bikes to their owners?

See, the problem I have is that all of this anger isn’t doing anyone any good.

Sure, I get the frustration at the state of the City. I’m probably about as pissed as anyone else. Thing is, this is a democracy. For the most part, we can pin the problems we face on ourselves (the voters) and our elected leaders (we voted for them, for crying out loud).

You want to be pissed? Sure! Direct that energy at the people that created the problem. Not at a guy running a website, who asked for civility, and who recommends following one of the most important legal principals this great country has.

Charles
Guest
Charles

I agree that the request “innocent until proven guilty” is reasonable, and it is something we should uphold. It’s a better system that anything that involves brandishing pitchforks.

However, I think some of the frustration here seems to be that these encampments get to have it both ways: They can occupy public spaces (illegal), run dismantling operations (illegal), litter (illegal), etc. Yet enjoy the benefits afforded by our justice system. There’s advocacy that allows these encampments to use public property, yet are then afforded the privacy that comes with private property.

So this is where advocates need to a pick a lane: either our laws and justice system matter, or they don’t. But if you want to understand the resentment right now, there’s your answer

Jeff
Guest
Jeff

“If you see bikes in encampments, please do not assume the worst.”

At this point in time, are we seriously arguing this?

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Joke of the week nomination. No one can take a comment like that seriously at this point.

Peter
Guest
Peter

Thanks for discussing this in such a thoughtful way.

Frank Perillo
Guest
Frank Perillo

Jonathan thanks for sticking up for the “houseless” folks out there but let’s be honest what a collection of bikes and parts at a site like this really represents. Yeah there are some sad stories but churching it up the way you do is the reason our city is in the sad state that its in. Some times it takes some tough love and we need a lot of it here.

Bryan Morris
Guest
Bryan Morris

Reality check. Most of the people you see in the the camps lining the streets, MUPS, and everyplace else are drug addicts. Most of the ones classified as mentally ill got that way from their drug use. Most gun violence is related to drugs. Most of the bicycles you see around these camps were stolen and used as currency for and delivery of drugs.

Giving people the benefit of the doubt is all fine and noble, but come on man. There’s how you wish the world was and then there’s how the world actually is.

[***Moderator: I couldn’t “stick” this comment because it is not top level, so I have tacked it on to Bryan’s top level comment]

Experts will tell you that the mental state of meth addicts is pretty much indistinguishable from schizophrenia and that’s why so many of them are assumed to be schizophrenic. Cause (meth addiction), meet effect (mental illness symptoms). I’ve spent most of my life dealing with and cleaning up the messes made by the addicts and alcoholics in my own family. My lifetime supply of compassion for addicts and alcoholics is all used up.

Jrdpdx
Guest
Jrdpdx

Your chicken and egg hypothesis that “most mentally ill people got that way from their drug use” does not come from any informed literature or studies. That is a thought that imposes your morality on “drug addicts” to those who we often view as more “innocent” victims of mental health disorders. Stigmatizing “drug addicts” is an easy out and makes folks feel justified in their judgments of others.

Bryan Morris
Guest
Bryan Morris

Experts will tell you that the mental state of meth addicts is pretty much indistinguishable from schizophrenia and that’s why so many of them are assumed to be schizophrenic. Cause (meth addiction), meet effect (mental illness symptoms). I’ve spent most of my life dealing with and cleaning up the messes made by the addicts and alcoholics in my own family. My lifetime supply of compassion for addicts and alcoholics is all used up.

Jrdpdx
Guest
Jrdpdx

I get the compassion fatigue. Not trying to jump all over you. I ride past one camp daily and half the time I’m a gray about the garbage, human waste etc that I have to navigate.

Watts
Guest
Watts

Drug addiction is not a moral issue. Stealing to support a habit is.

Jrdpdx
Guest
Jrdpdx

I agree this is stealing and commented the same, see below. I disagree w conflating most mental illness is the direct result of drug addiction

Mark in NoPo
Guest
Mark in NoPo

I agree, though I can’t help but sense that the sharp rise in addled and aggressive behavior we’ve seen in recent years is a result of unchecked meth usage, both by local folks falling off the edge and non-local folks migrating here upon hearing that anything goes in Portland.

Fred
Guest
Fred

You nailed it, Mark in NoPo. Travel to cities in so-called “red states” and you won’t see the problems we see here in Portland. The word is out that anything goes in Portland.

Bryan Morris
Guest
Bryan Morris

Stealing to support a drug habit is not a moral issue. It’s a crime and the people doing it are criminals.

Steven Smith
Guest
Steven Smith
Serenity
Guest
Serenity

Careful, Brian your prejudices are showing. What makes you think that most of the people you see out there are drug addicts? Have you talked to most of them?

Kurt
Guest
Kurt

Those bikes are stolen. Period. If I see a beat up bike or two next to a tent I’ll be sure not to jump to any conclusions but you just jumped the shark on this one. If he’s running a bike shop let’s see the receipts. Sure people just swing by and donate perfectly good bikes to him. Do they leer and jeer before or after they “give” him their bikes. I was born at night, not last night.

cc_rider
Guest
cc_rider

They told Griggs campers willingly gave up their space and property and that they’ll be offered space in a shelter.

The space doesnt belong to them and the bikes almost don’t either. Come on

tom Martin
Guest

“He also said he’s happy to talk to anyone whos think their stolen bike is at the camp. If they can prove it belongs to them, he’d give it back. “Nobody wants to talk to me. They come by with leers and jeers,” he said.”

Is this before or after he chases people down the block screaming and brandishing a weapon?

PDX Biker from Maine
Guest
PDX Biker from Maine

Surprised Jonathan published this one. He’s an intolerant censor and a part of the decline of PDX.

X
Guest
X

Jonathan is a small business owner. It’s like being mad at somebody for painting over graffiti.

tom Martin
Guest

I didn’t know Jonathan is the United States Government and is actively infringing on your constitutional rights. His private non profit livingroom; his rules for decorum.

tom Martin
Guest

Also- becasue they aren’t complete bicycles (with PPB preseence) all that ‘inventory’ is going straight to the landfill. Rapid Response does not have the time or resources to inventory, check serial numbers and search databases.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Exactly. “Bike Shops” like this are destroying thousands of complete bikes every year in Portland. Most commenters here see this for what it really is. Operations like this are one of the things destroying cycling in Portland.

Mark in NoPo
Guest
Mark in NoPo

And destroying local businesses and the broader community, too, because if one can’t ride to a nearby neighborhood, lock my bike, and go on a stroll, what’s the point of living in the city, anyhow? My stuff never got stolen in the suburbs, my taxes were low, and the schools were good. City life requires tradeoffs — and if I don’t feel safe leaving my bike outside a coffee shop for an hour, I might as well hop in my car and drive way.

X
Guest
X

If that is true then cycling in Portland was in sad shape. Elemental forces like gravity, corrosion, wind and rain, heat and smoke have been sawing away at “cycling in Portland” for a while now. How big a deal is this chop shop thing anyway? Is it worse than the left-side bike lane on N Williams?

TA
Guest
TA

That’s rich. He wants proof of ownership? Nah man. Also are we forgetting anyone in possession of stolen goods is actually breaking the law? Onus is on “bike repair guy”

Kent
Guest
Kent

That’s rich. He wants proof of ownership? Nah man. Also are we forgetting anyone in possession of stolen goods is actually breaking the law? Onus is on “bike repair guy”

Exactly. Where is HIS proof of ownership that he legitimately owns those 100 or so bikes that are sitting there on PUBLIC property? Does he have receipts from local shops?

ivan
Guest
ivan

Amazing how all these folks who never comment on BP stories suddenly show up to comment on this one.

You have a solid approach to this work Jonathan (and even if you didn’t, it’s your damn site). Don’t let the squeaky ***portion of comment deleted by moderator*** commenters dissuade you.

FDUP
Guest
FDUP

Now we’re all right-wing trolls b/c we don’t love street camp chop shop dudes enuf?!?!?! Well, same to you buddy.

dwk
Guest
dwk

I am far from a right winger… I think homeless people need to be in housing… I also think that JM and others including the mayor and city commissioners and some housing “advocate” groups think that people sleeping in tents in the mud is somehow better than fixing the problem.
Tent camping in public spaces should be illegal. Period.
Inadequate substandard housing should not allowed or excused.
Criminals are taking advantage of the situation it is obvious if any of you have helped clean up the camps and see what they leave……

Watts
Guest
Watts

Tent camping in public spaces should be illegal. Period.

It is, under city ordinance, and has been since the early 1980s. By court order, we can’t enforce the law until there is adequate shelter space to provide everyone with a bed. This is why groups like People for Portland want the city/county to spend more money building shelter space, so we can have sufficient beds to allow the city to enforce its laws against camping.

Some people running for office support this approach, others do not. If you haven’t voted, please do.

X
Guest
X

You may be wrong about the mayor, assuming that single person really has the reins of government firmly in hand. Even a cursory look around the places I frequent shows that tents on the street have been not just decimated but sharply reduced. I estimate that over 80 percent of the camping population inside I-405 have been moved on.

Granted, that’s a small area and it’s also where city government and the PBA eat their lunch. Maybe the folks in the tents just got pushed out the numbers or someplace. We pretty much don’t care about things that annoy us as long as they go out of sight.

There’s no question that _some_ people who camp in Portland do drugs. I’ve seen the needles but I also know that giving needles to admitted drug users is a hell of a lot cheaper than treating them for hepatitis or HIV.

There’s no question that _some_ people who camp in Portland steal bikes. It’s also true that some people who sleep rough have had crimes done to them and/or would cut off their hand before they would steal. You can’t lump them all together.

It’s still bedrock Constitutional law that a person who hasn’t been convicted in a court is innocent under law and Jonathan is correct in holding that line. It’s people who would breach that barrier who are really wrecking this country. We have no problem believing that people who are rich got that way rightfully in spite of the many counterexamples.

Bernie Madoff was walking free for years after evident crimes were reported to the SEC and his peers quit dealing with him. An ‘innocent’ man who kept wrecking fortunes for years. Parting them out, you might say.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

So far gone that you think reasonable centrist opinions like “people shouldn’t be operating bicycle chop shops on public property” and “fencing stolen goods in broad daylight is bad” are right-wing positions.

GXEAGLE
Guest
GXEAGLE

One of the most heartbreaking things is seeing the progressives in Portland behave in all the same despicable ways they accuse the right of doing.

If the rest of America should adopt more progressive stances, we should no longer look to Portland for this. This city has so many advantages, and a lot of great human resources. But the politics in this town is so rooted in the theoretical and feelings-based politics and toxicity, that nothing of value will come out of it unless there’s some change.

Matt
Guest
Matt

Interesting we normally see “deleted by moderator” or something to that effect when someone lobs an insult here. This time it was just struck through. What does that say Jonathan?

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy
Lisa Caballero (Southwest Correspondent)
Editor

Matt, a commenter who knows HTML can strike through their own comment. Anything done by a moderator is marked “moderator” in bold.

Bryan Morris
Guest
Bryan Morris

You couldn’t possibly be more off base by calling me right wing. BTW, there’s a new patch of broken glass on the Springwater Trail near the Paesano social club. A number of people often hang out where there’s an awning there.

Fred
Guest
Fred

I’ve been getting so many flats lately that I had to spring for a new set of Schwalbe Marathon Plus “flatless” tires. I hadn’t really thought about the fact that all of the broken glass on the street correlates with the rise of homelessness. JM, this is a reason your position is getting so little sympathy here: the problem is directly impacting cyclists’ ability to do what we love and to advance the cause you promote via BP!

Trike Guy
Guest
Trike Guy

I find putting stan’s sealant in my tubes helps with the very small punctures that glass shards cause.

for 700C tires, Gatorskins + sealant is (in my experience at least) faster and better flat protection than Marathon+’s (which are on the front wheels of my trike ATM) for riding the junked up bike lanes.

Bryan Morris
Guest
Bryan Morris

I ride vintage racing bikes, so my modern tire options are pretty limited. My main bike has clinchers, but it’s 25 years old and 700x25c tires are as wide as it will accommodate. I had Continental Gatorskins on it for a while but they were so slow I tossed them and went to Vittoria Rubino Pros. All my other bikes use tubulars as Merckx intended. The point is none of us should have to worry about broken glass on a MUP. Blackberry thorns are gonna happen though.

Trike Guy
Guest
Trike Guy

Want to see my receipts for donations to a group that does real work getting people off the streets? How much time have you actually spent in your life helping people – I lost track.

As for “suddenly show up” I’ve read this site for years. I’ve been car free for the vast majority of my life (only drove/possessed a car for 3 of my 55 years).

Calling someone a right wing troll because they’re a realist is just stupid. Says a lot about the commenter, less about the folks he’s commenting on.

soren
Guest
soren

Amazing how all these folks who never comment on BP stories suddenly show up to comment on this one.

I am fiercely opposed to most of the comments on this post but I gotta say that the idea that these “folks” (commentators) only suddenly appeared is some high-grade cognitive dissonance. This is your “subculture”, Ivan. Own it.

Mark in NoPo
Guest
Mark in NoPo

Even progressive enclaves like Portland are done ignoring the consequences of excusing dangerous, antisocial behavior on a mass scale. People with options have started leaving Portland, and those that stay are trending away from leftist political candidates.

Seattle just elected a Republican to city council. San Francisco is about to recall its DA in a landslide. Portland is next.

Steve Cheseborough (Contributor)
Guest
Chezz

There’s really not much progressive about Portland anymore, and big business and the cops are supporting more right-wing commissioners and laws to make it even less progressive. If you choose to go along with reactionary law-and-order politics, don’t fool yourself into thinking you’re trendy. That perspective has been around for centuries; it’s always waiting to try to quash any outbreak of populist progress.

Mark in NoPo
Guest
Mark in NoPo

If you choose to go along with reactionary law-and-order politics, don’t fool yourself into thinking you’re trendy. That perspective has been around for centuries…

I’ve never been one for a hymnbook, so I wasn’t a leftist when it was trendy, and I’m not one now.

I’m a liberal — the sort who considers allowing weed a smart plan, and allowing meth an awful one. The sort glad to pay high taxes for good infrastructure, and aghast to see it commandeered. The sort unwilling to pretend away the failures of fantastical ideas, no matter the crude intimations to follow.

FDUP
Guest
FDUP

Vera Katz was the original Law ‘n’ Order progressive and she set Portland back decades with her hiring of Mark Kroeker as Police Chief and other similar antics.

Todd/Boulanger
Guest

And the flip side is ‘Bikes [and bike parts] are a very common and valuable [street currency] for people.’

Thus the pile a bike frames and fewer parts in the photos…since most bike frames are marked with a serial number they have a higher risk to reward(value.

Its an old – but important story – of a compounded failure of ‘our community’ that just helps to reinforce this problem:
1) the major component manufacturers must start adding a serial number to any part with a retail price over $x (otherwise they will continue to profit from this missing link);
2) local jurisdictions should return to the transportation policy of requiring bikes to be registered (for recovery etc);
3) any city agency that recovers an asset should try to look up the bike frame number to see if it is registered (national) or listed as stolen in the PPB database for return to the owner of record; and
4) a network of secure bike parking hubs needs to be established if Biketown is really going to be anything but a lip service slogan.

J_R
Guest
J_R

Do you also believe that managers of Target, Home Depot, and Safeway dropped off shopping carts for them, too?

Jrdpdx
Guest
Jrdpdx

If my home owning neighbor had 30 new bikes in their yard and garage being disassembled and had a rotating stock I would be equally swift in my assumption that they were somehow stealing from others and profiting from this. I would talk to them and alert the police. I am not trying to demonize or spread hate it is simply enough evidence to draw a reasonable conclusion.

Jonathan K
Guest
Jonathan K

^This.

I think JM is probably right that we shouldn’t presume that the “managers” of these encampments are bike thieves themselves. That’s fair, as far as it goes. But it’s completely absurd to suggest that the pile of miscellaneous bike parts on the site could somehow be free of stolen bike parts. There’s a pretty simple test that could be run: Ask the managers whether they are religiously checking serial numbers. If they are, there’s a chance that everything’s clean. If they aren’t, certainty approaches 100% that there are stolen parts on the site, and it is not unreasonable or unfair to report that there are *probably* stolen parts on the site. Again, very different from accusing individual people of being bike thieves.

Tom Martin
Guest

They could be running a commercial business in a residential area.
That runs afoul of local zoning. Is the business register with the Secretary of State? If not, why not?

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

I’m absolutely shocked, SHOCKED at the number of unemployed bike mechanics in this town.

Andy Mesa
Guest
Andy Mesa

Sad to hear the BTTF is defunct now. They were the only ones that cared at all when I twice reported my bike stolen (it had a tracker on it so I caught the first thief).

Mark in NoPo
Guest
Mark in NoPo

Thank you to the PBOT and Rapid Response Bio Clean employees who put in the hard and risky work to dismantle whatever we’re supposed to call this.

dwk
Guest
dwk

Most of the stolen bikes in the camps are pretty low end as are most of the piles of everything..
Mostly taken from people who can afford it least. That is why a lot don’t care and excuse it since it doesn’t effect them unless their nice road bike is stolen.
This site should care about all the others whose bikes get taken.. where else do you think the are from?

Bryan Morris
Guest
Bryan Morris

Every bike, from a $15K Colnago to a department store special, has the potential to change someone’s life for the better and bring joy to them. Every bike matters or no bike matters.

MC
Guest
MC

Will you follow up w. PBOT / RR to find out what happens to all these bikes, frames, misc parts?

I feel like there should be an opportunity for the public to recover any stolen property.

gpodpdx
Guest
gpodpdx

Four or five bikes went into the trash because they were unsalvageable. Other unsalvageable parts were thrown out. PBOT tagged twelve of the bikes and are holding them in storage for Johnny. He got a truck, took the rest of his stock with him and moved. PBOT, nor the police, “confiscated” any bikes or parts.
PPD has stopped by the site several times in the last several months looking for stolen bikes and checking some serial numbers. They have not found any stolen bikes at the former encampment.
I helped him move the last of his things last night (Thur 12th.) The site is now clear.

Matt
Guest
Matt

Jonathan is being very hypocritical on this one. He purposely edited that particular post in a certain way when it was accusing (probably falsely) “right wing trolls”. And all he talks about is not being mean and name calling? Give me a break.

PDX Biker from Maine
Guest
PDX Biker from Maine

Jonathan you sound so dated. Very 2019. Street camping needs to be banned. It’s inhumane for EVERYONE in the community.

Fred
Guest
Fred

Very lazy journalism, JM. Your basic tack here: “I can’t tell if all those bikes were stolen, and you can’t tell if they were stolen, so give these people are break and don’t judge them.” I think you have a responsibility to do a little more research here and try to find out where the bikes are coming from. Didn’t you start BP as a way of getting back stolen bikes? Have you forgotten where you came from? You’ve done so much to combat bike theft – it would be a shame for you to become a stolen-bike enabler.

Mark smith
Guest
Mark smith

Shocking. Shocking!

Jane Stretch
Guest
Jane Stretch

Attitudes like the author’s are actively contributing to the decline of livability in Portland. What fantasy world is this? Of course those bikes are stolen. Of course the author’s had a bike stolen himself and blogged about fetching it, vigilante-style, from a “homeless” camp.

This post seems intentionally crafted to give himself another opportunity to play language police / censor. Just look at all the edits!

The intent is to enforce the newspeak preferred by the nonprofit Homeless Industrial Complex. They desperately need us to keep pretending that they’re solving issues instead of exacerbating them. Our bottomless pit of “compassion” and feel-good policy has run out and the last 3-5 years have laid this bare. The nonprofit grifters are threatened. They know the jig is up and change is coming.

I beg you all to remember this when you cast your ballots in 2022. Enough disingenuous manipulation from outlets like BikePortland. This city needs a voice that actually cares about cyclists and the conditions we face every day in Portland. This ain’t it.

Ryan J.
Guest
Ryan J.

Just wanted to say that this thread and the censorship within was the nail in the coffin for BikePortland.

I’ll no longer be visiting this site after this. Jonathon, you’re out of your element. I cannot support a site that ignores reality with such enthusiasm and then goes on to censor comments that speak against the chosen narrative. You’re actively working against the interests of cyclists and citizens in Portland and I’m done supporting this site and it’s sycophants like bikeloud.

This will be the second time I’ve given up on BP. This time it’s gonna stick.

-Ryan

Charley
Guest
Charley

Have you read all the comments on this article? You think the main problem here is censorship? That Maus doesn’t let people speak out differing viewpoints? Really? There are about 150 comments, and the vast majority are very emotional and very negative toward Maus and the article. If you think this is a good example of censorship. . . man, I don’t even know what to say.

roger noehren
Guest
roger noehren

“We were first made aware of this location today when it came up in a thread posted on the Shift email list by people who referred to it as a “bike chop shop” and said it has been reported to authorities several times in the past.”
Really? I’ve been reading about this notorious operation on “Nextdoor” for months. It’s not just bikes; lots of catalytic converters there too.
Thanks to Mike C for posting it on Shift, thus bringing it to your and PPB’s attention. It’s about time that it was shut down.
When I worked at Citybikes, we had to register every bike that we bought and sent daily reports to the police. We were required to keep them for two weeks prior to selling them and didn’t pay the sellers for two weeks. None of the bikes that we purchased turned up stolen, presumably because the system was a deterrent. We were also wary of buying used parts and accessories, but kept a record of those that we did and who we purchased them from. We also declined any we suspected might be hot. I believe that Citybikes no longer purchases any bikes or parts.

MC
Guest
MC

Thanks for the credit Roger. I too tried to be careful in my wording. I hope next time we get the word out faster and get folks attention, get some attention on the activities so that folks know we’re paying attention and we care about what’s going on in our community.

SD
Guest
SD

I appreciate that BikePortland doesn’t simply amplify the pointless “next-door style” rage against people with housing instability. If BP took this approach, it would just become part of the angry arm-chair certainty that is the noise-trash cluttering online media ten times more than the litter on bike paths.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

I can’t safely ride on any of the multi-use paths near my home with my kids these days, but I’m glad that you are concerned about online clutter.

SD
Guest
SD

Maybe you missed my point accidentally, but BP publishing yet another nihilistic article trashing people who want long lasting solutions to this problem or publishing fear-mongering click-bait to capitalize off of peoples frustrations won’t make your mups safe.

Serenity
Guest
Serenity

Yeah, none of that here…

SD
Guest
SD

A ton in the comments, even some new people who came here just to comment, but at least the main story isn’t a pointless rehashing of grievances.

Amit Zinman
Guest

Houseless people do need bikes to get around. While some of them live in and/or use cars/vans/trucks, those will inevitably fail, not to mention the constant cost of buying gas for them.
The point is that there is no use in fighting reality. You can move people away from their camp and demolish their chop shops, but they will come back eventually as the underlying need would not just disappear.
Can we imagine a $1 million dollar project (a lot more has been spent on planning expansions of freeways that will never happen) aimed at providing usable bikes and trailers to people in need? Pour that budget into organizations that are already refurbishing bikes like Bikes for Humanity.
I don’t think that there’s any other way to break this cycle.

Charley
Guest
Charley

A lot of very emotionally driven commenters here seem focused on punitive measures, to the detriment of their practical thinking regarding the problem. I kinda get it though. It’s hard to imagine helping a group of people, when individuals in that group are clearly responsible for a lot of disorder and crime. But yeah, harm reduction is the way.

Watts
Guest
Watts

I actually agree with this statement. The problem is that there are a lot of folks trying to help, giving money and volunteering, and we’ve collectively voted in huge taxes on ourselves to provide housing, drug treatment, and other services, and still the problem gets worse. Many folks are asking why these efforts at harm reduction don’t seem to be making a dent in the problem.

I see a lot of mismanagement, poor leadership, incompetence, and the idea that maybe the government can’t do everything is starting to take hold within me. The notion that maybe the conservatives are right about this is something I’ve resisted most of my life, but watching the very long list of collective failures in Portland, Oregon, and nationally over the past couple of years has started to erode what was once a bedrock belief in the power of collective action and harm reduction.

So, back to you… what more do we need to do? How much will it take? Where are the limits of what can be done?

Bryan Morris
Guest
Bryan Morris

No progress will be made until well intentioned but naive people accept the fact the drug addiction epidemic is the root cause of most homelessness and crime and that most addicts have no interest in voluntarily accepting treatment to get off drugs. Only then can we come up with solutions that might actually make a dent in the problems we’re seeing.

Clem Fandango
Guest
Clem Fandango

What baffles me is the assumption throughout this thread, is that free housing is going to fix these people. It won’t.

X
Guest
X

No, free housing will not fix all the people living outdoors. I’ve seem counterexamples at my nearby neighborhood squat.

Here are some things that would help people fix themselves, if they want to (some of these things exist, just not enough of them).

Free drug clinics with two options: voluntary treatment, or harm reduction and yes that includes free needles. Mike Pence prayed about it and the Lord said “Do it”.

Public toilets. Merchants who don’t have to swab up piss will thank you.

Places where any person can shower for a nominal fee and sleep for two hours.

Roving canteens where people can swap cans for things they need: snacks, hygiene items, over the counter drugs, lighters and cigarettes.

Kiosks where people who have phones can charge them and get a wifi link that’s good for an hour or so.

You might think that people who have, arguably, screwed up their lives don’t deserve this stuff. I say not many of us get what we deserve but if you give people evidence that somebody actually does give a damn, some of them will reward you by fixing themselves, getting off the dole, and basically being citizens.

Pulling up the ladder is immoral and it’s bad business.

Serenity
Guest
Serenity

What baffles me is the assumption throughout this thread, is that free housing is going to fix these people. It won’t.

I’m not getting that assumption in most of these comments.

Bryan Morris
Guest
Bryan Morris

Jonathan, I realize that you and disagree on a number of points around this issue. But I appreciate the work you do facilitating these discussions by publishing this site. The back and forth in the comments on this particular article must at times seem like a particularly discouraging and thankless task. It sure would to me if I was in your shoes. So, thanks.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

As Sam Clemens (1835-1910) said, “There are Lies, there are Damn Lies, and then there are Statistics.”

According to the internet, that fountain of truth and wisdom, there were approximately 100 million bicycles in the USA in 1995. Since then, on average, we’ve imported or produced around 20 million bicycles annually, over 500 million in total. Of course we’ve also thrown out a fair many, either into our landfills or as recycled scrap. So the 650,000 residents of Portland Oregon right now, as of Friday May 13 2022, have somewhere between 200,000 and 1 million bicycles within its city limits, and no more than 5% of those (between 10,000 and 50,000) are used for daily commuting, and that a certain large number are legitimately disposed of every year.

So statistically speaking, there is a certain probability, possibly quite a large one, that all those bikes at your friendly local corner chop shop are in fact simply bikes that have been thrown out by their past owners and not actually stolen. Keep that in mind as you are blowing off steam today.

soren
Guest
soren

There are also cost, knowledge, and convenience barriers to donating bikes so I’ve noticed that my neighbors often discard their bikes by leaving them on the sidewalk or at a corner (free pile).

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

Yes, we have the same issues here in Greensboro NC. We have lots of community efforts to recycle and repair pre-loved bicycles for the poor and refugees in our community – Our organization Bikesboro alone collects over 600 bikes per year, none of which are stolen – but a far more vast number of high-quality bikes end up in the dump every year. There is some bike theft here, but nothing compared to Raleigh or Charlotte, let alone Portland or Seattle, and our chop shops are still hidden in the woods or in rented back yards, much like Portland pre-2010.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

IMO, I think part of the problem is that Portland has a vast oversupply of bike-shop quality bikes and a solid body of customers who are clearly willing to look the other way when purchasing used bikes that might or might not be stolen. I’d say Portland’s current slide began when marijuana was legalized for medical use, but not for the usual reasons you might think – Portland has always had drug addiction and homelessness issues as have all other major cities.

Most bike shops nationwide are in essence perfectly legal money-laundering operations. In Red states where marijuana sales are still illegal, the typical scenario is the wife earns a six-figure salary as a doctor, lawyer, or other highly-paid professional who needs a regular tax loss AND a way to get her slacker husband out of the house doing something somewhat productive.

In Blue states where marijuana sales (recreational and/or medical) are legal, banks still can’t allow the cash generated to be deposited since marijuana sales are still illegal at the federal level. So they the marijuana sellers need to convert their perfectly legit cash into a commodity that can be bought and sold on the open market – debt – and bike shops with lots of overhead and the nastiest customer service are a quick way of generating such debt (as are small clothing boutiques). The result is often a high bike sales turnover rate with frequent inside sales and inside bike theft, and the local market is literally flooded with high-quality bicycles with ownership histories that most people would rather not have revealed.

Bryan Morris
Guest
Bryan Morris

That’s certainly an interesting take. Do you have any links you can share that back up your claims about seemingly legit bike shops (not chop shops) being money laundering enterprises? I’d really like to learn more about that.

Adam
Guest
Adam

Really? How much bike industry experience do you have David? Doesn’t match my experience, 20 plus years of it.

Dwk
Guest
Dwk

What the hell are you talking about?
Do you have any proof of this lunacy?
BP prints this drivel and deletes and edits other comments?

Kurt
Guest
Kurt

Way to malign hard working, honest business people.
“It is better to remain silent at the risk of being thought a fool, than to talk and remove all doubt of it.” – Maurice Switzer

Granpa
Guest
Granpa

The conditions in Portland are exactly what feeds suburban sprawl, automobile dependency and its resultant freeway widening. People leaving urban Portland to avoid the squalor and real and perceived unsafe conditions may delight our resident communist if home values plummet, but the decay of urban living is a net negative of huge proportion

SD
Guest
SD

A bit chicken and egg. Suburban sprawl also feeds this condition and is responsible for many of the problems like this that cities face. Suburbanites demand excessive car infrastructure for their convenience. This creates wider roads, more parking and more road-associated dead spaces, which decreases density, increases the need for urban cars and increases housing prices. This leads to the current housing crisis, homelessness and a lack of resources and compassion for impoverished people.

SD
Guest
SD

Real question: exactly which sentence or paragraph of this article got people so worked up?
Was it the quote from the “camp manager?”
Was it the closing statement to not assume that every bike at every camp or tent is stolen?
Was it the lack of anti-camping statements, or editorialized screaming-at-the-clouds frustration?
How many commenters actually read the entire 605 word article?

Kurt
Guest
Kurt

The idea that these huge piles of unassembled bikes are anything but criminal activity.

SD
Guest
SD

What actual words in the article are you talking about?

Dwk
Guest
Dwk
Dwk
Guest
Dwk

Earl Is now a right wing kook with no understanding of the homeless problem.

MC
Guest
MC

I’m done with “Cities” in general. I think there’s a point where they become unmanageable & instead of real community, there’s just special interest groups butting heads in the struggle for political power.

$700K of outside money in the battle for a city commissioner seat is the writing on the wall. Tick-tock…

Roberta Robles
Guest
Roberta Robles

Woohoo BikePortland JM, holding down the free speech ‘fort’ without devolving into chaos. Great job, I’m doing a happy dance for Jon, thanking him into bike heaven for eternity.

I for one am thankful for this space to continue pondering solutions. I have personally taken two sets of parents thru rehab. Mental illness and drug abuse could both be directly addressed thru universal healthcare.

Instead we are debating chop shops and houseless camps on sidewalks. I have put in hundred of hours of advocacy testimony etc etc on at first transportation advocacy and then housing advocacy. Driven to Salem multiple times to testify in person. At some point enough is enough.

We have spent so much energy on advocating for ADA ramps, sidewalks and bike lanes and such. I feel it’s really unfair situation to be in. We have transport corridors to help people get to jobs so they can stay housed. Comparing advocacy compassion levels is like the crabs in the bucket scenario. Not good comparing trauma. Not good comparing housing and transport advocacy.

Both are needed and there is no hierarchy where one is more important then the other. We need both and we cannot sacrifice city accessibility for a few unhoused people. Women in particular are emotionally and economically impacted by transport safety issues more so then men. I will not be ‘shamed’ by housing advocates. I’ve put my time and money into solutions.

But I’m done sacrificing walking and biking accessibility to serve drug addicts serving chop shops and a few mentally ill people. IDk if you’ve tried getting mental health prescriptions but it’s darn near impossible for houses people, I can’t imagine getting mental health prescriptions as an unhoused person on the streets. We need prescription reform. I blame the drug companies for outrageous costs.

setha
Subscriber
setha

TIL today: the crabs in the bucket scenario. Thank you for that lesson.

The crabs in the bucket scenario is a good metaphor for describing this situation.

MC
Guest
MC

I’m a veteran, I’m a college graduate & was fairly successful in the IT/industry. I’ve been life long recreational cyclist & car-free in PDX since 2008. I’ve had many bikes stolen ~ $4k worth. I’ve been homeless & have been involved w. homeless advocacy/support for many years before, while & after being homeless.

Everything you see in & around homeless camps, drug/alcohol addiction, mental & physical health issues, crime, hoarding, trash, criminal behavior all exists among the housed. It’s not just on full public display 24 x 7.

Where I think “journalistic integrity” wasn’t delivered is that it’s my understanding that the “activities” in and around this camp have been going on since last Summer and quite a few people in the area were keeping a watchful eye and talking about it.

If anyone had a fairly well informed opinion about whether or not it was in fact a “chop shop” it would be them. Why weren’t any neighbors interviewed?

Not all homeless camps w. bikes are chop shops. But if you Google Chop Shop Portland, OR, at least a 1/2 dozen stories are listed. And those are just the ones where arrests were made.

Pic
Guest
Pic

I’m ignorant of many things. But what would it take to get the city to photograph every bike they collect and record every serial number? Then post them all online and check against registered missing bikes. Seems like just a few minutes of work per bike. Maybe volunteers could help. This could help people, including houseless people, recover their bikes.

MC
Guest
MC

When sweeps are done, all personal property is supposed to be documented but I don’t know if that’s the responsibility of PPB, PBOT and/or Rapid Response.

I was also recently told by a bike shop owner that the police only check serial #s on complete bikes & not frames.

And that might only have been done by PPB Bicycle Task Force, which is now defunct.

AndyK
Subscriber

Time for a podcast on this subject 🙂

setha
Subscriber
setha

TL;DR: When we look at the entire system, tolerating homelessness leads to climate change. Therefore, addressing homelessness is addressing climate change. We need to address homelessness with the same urgency as we address other climate change issues.

I’m reading Jonathan’s comments, particularly one from 5 days ago, https://bikeportland.org/2022/05/11/city-crews-remove-large-number-of-used-bicycles-from-street-encampment-on-se-alder-353600#comment-7468376, which includes the phrase “…benefits from the systemic forces….”

Jonathan’s point, if I’m reading it correctly, is that he’s thinking systemically when he is willing to tolerate the problems created by the homeless, including blocked MUPs and increased bicycle theft.

OK, then. Let’s think systemically.

In the above 215 comments, people raised the point that

  • homeless camps blocking MUPs,
  • glass and garbage on MUPs and other bicycle infrastructure from those camps (admittedly, other people cause glass and garbage on bike infra too,)
  • homeless people having mental health episodes or displaying other threatening behavior on MUPs or near other bicycle infrastructure,
  • actual or possible bicycle theft, which is often associated with homeless camps,

discourages people from bicycling. A systemic point that I didn’t see raised is that discouraging bicycling, in turn, encourages other transportation modes. The other modes are walking, or I think more probably, some form of motorized transport, such as train, bus or single occupancy motor vehicle. Those motorized transport modes are much more likely to generate green house gases. GHG leads to climate change.

I also strongly suspect that there’s an inertia effect. Once someone decides to switch modes away from biking, they are going to stay away. They will have formed a habit around using another mode. So let’s say all the camps blocking the MUPs, with the associated glass and garbage, were to disappear today. The threatening behavior displayed by some homeless people in those camps were to disappear today. Let’s say that all the stolen bikes were returned or replaced, today. Those bicyclists discouraged by blocked MUPs, etc., and/or (possibly) having their bike stolen would not start biking again tomorrow.

When we look at the entire system, tolerating homelessness leads to climate change.

Therefore, addressing homelessness is addressing climate change. We need to address homelessness with the same urgency as we address other climate change issues. We need to get the homeless, and their garbage and glass, threatening behavior, etc., off of the MUPs and away from other bicycle infrastructure. Because of the Boise v Martin decision, and because we want to be humane, we can’t just arrest the homeless. We have to offer them some sort of shelter. That shelter has to be plentiful enough and built quickly enough so that there is always an available bed. But because of climate change, that shelter offer has to come with a get tough attitude. Society needs to say something like, “Take the shelter offer or get swept. Sorry. The oceans are rising and the weather is going crazy. You are hindering people who are doing something about that. We can’t allow that. You have to stop.”