It’s a tale as old as time for people who bike in Portland: you’re hurriedly biking across the central eastside or the rail-dominated Brooklyn neighborhood when an obstructing freight train dooms any hope you had of getting to your destination on time.
Though you might think the only course of action is to wait by the tracks and angrily attempt to will the train to move with sheer brainpower (or dangerously try to jump in between the boxcars, which we do not recommend) there’s another way! Bike and accessibility advocate Josh Hetrick has developed a helpful guide to bypassing the train tracks so you’ll never dread the sound of a train horn again.
On Hetrick’s ‘Train in Vain’ website, you can find a variety of solutions to crossing train tracks at the intersections at SE 11th, 12th and Milwaukie and SE 8th Ave, as well as the intersections in the central eastside. This guide is particularly informative for people who need to cross the tracks south of Division Street in the inner eastside, which you have to do in order to get to the Tilikum Crossing from the north.
The Bob Stacey Crossing was built for this purpose and is the most direct path across these tracks, but its elevators have been unreliable, making it inaccessible for people in wheelchairs and difficult to use for people with heavy bikes that don’t fit in the bike gutter. If you get to the Bob Stacey crossing and the elevators are down, Hetrick has other suggestions that you may not have thought of, which he outlines and provides detailed directions for on his website.
Hetrick led a Pedalpalooza ride last week aptly titled ‘Wrong Side of the Tracks’ guiding people around these detours, and you can watch Amit Zinman’s video recap of the tour below to get a visual representation of how to cross the tracks. Study up, and you may even find yourself looking forward to your next freight train barricade so you can experiment with your newfound knowledge.
Taylor has been BikePortland’s staff writer since November 2021. She has also written for Street Roots and Eugene Weekly. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org