New website and video help you avoid freight train delays in inner southeast

Josh Hetrick (in black) discussing railroad crossings at a Bike Loud ride back in April. (Photo: Taylor Griggs/BikePortland)

You may even find yourself looking forward to your next freight train barricade so you can experiment with your newfound knowledge.

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.

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Vince
Vince
15 days ago

How about a map to go with the video? I think I followed the routes, but am not quite sure.
Oh, and in the video, if someone is carrying a baby across the street, just wait and let them cross. A pedestrian/ bike encounter is never going to end well and it will be worse if there is an infant involved.

Peter
Peter
15 days ago

Wow that is really helpful. I live and work right around there and didn’t know about that 8th ave maneuver, that the ride director said was the least used. I don’t actually get stopped by the trains more than once every few months, but my partner always get stuck in their car. One more reason to bike!

Chris
Chris
14 days ago

This is great. The one complaint was all the bikers did not yield to the pedestrians in the walkway. Not cool.

Fred
Fred
14 days ago

Nice video. I thought it would show the large homeless encampment in the Powell undercrossing, but it did not. I’ve had to squeeze my bike thru a ten-inch opening there but haven’t ventured there in some time.

Brandon
Brandon
14 days ago

Remember the days when the northside of the Powell underpass wasn’t taken over by tents and garbage and you could just easily cruise through and then back over to Clinton? Now we have to go Gideon to 17th to Pershing to 16th to Powell frontage road to cross back over Powell at 21st.