Bike Route Report: Peninsula Crossing Trail (video)

The Peninsula Crossing Trail — a one-mile carfree path between the Willamette River and the Columbia Slough in St. Johns — has gotten a very bad rap over the years. But I’m happy to say the trail is currently in very good shape and if you’re one of the many people who’ve written it off, it’s time to give it another chance.

As Portland’s homelessness problem spiked in recent years, a bike path surrounded by open space and large trees with a railroad cut on one side became a very popular place to camp. But as personal belongings and refuse piled up, and cars became a common sight, many people stopped riding on it. It’s a phenomenon that has played out across Portland. And it’s so unfortunate, because we desperately need safe, carfree spaces in the city where people can ride bikes, walk, run, and get from A-to-B.

Back in 2020, the Peninsula Crossing Trail landed squarely on local political radars when a group of neighbors came together and sent the mayor and commissioners a join statement about the need for the path to be safe and clear. The City of Portland responded several months later with a coordinated effort to address campsites, clean up trash, and help people move to other places. But it didn’t last.

It was only when the City announced a Safe Rest Village would be built along the trail that they got serious about concerns. The Portland Parks Bureau installed anti-car gates at all trail entrances last summer, and early this spring we got word that they would clear the entire trail of trash and campers.

Now that the village is open for business, I wanted to see what the rest of the path looked like. After riding over there Thursday, I’m happy to say it’s almost unrecognizable. I didn’t see one tent in the grass. There was very little trash, and there were no cars to be seen.

Compare the images above to a few stills from my ride through the same trail two years ago:

The Safe Rest Village looks great. It has 60 sleeping units and I saw several residents come-and-go by bike. It really is a bike-oriented development that underscores the value of the path being so close. If you live at the village, you can enjoy a carfree bikeway (if you use a sidewalk for a few blocks) all the way to many markets and other destinations.

And right next door is a huge enclosure for the Belmont Goats, which just adds to the calm and pastoral vibes.

Check out my video and photos, then go and give this route another chance.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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maxD
maxD
7 months ago

Thanks for the update! I rode through 2 weeks ago and it was in great shape, so I don’t think this just a coincidence. The City seems to be doing a great job of keeping this clean

John
John
7 months ago

Love it, looks great. I just rode through there about a week ago for the first time since I moved and it was great then too. I used to live on Princeton at the south end, pretty close, and that path by the goats was my route to quick trips to the store. I never stopped using it (as late as like, 2021), but it did get pretty crowded as you showed. Looks pleasant now, and I agree, the village is nice. They seem so simple, I wish more than 60 units could be built and much more quickly!

Arturo P
Arturo P
7 months ago

Glad to see it looking better!!!! I’m still going to hold off going …let us know in 6 months if it’s still okay….then I’ll venture back. I’ve been been burned more than once by the city of Portland letting things unravel after a period of sanity.

John
John
7 months ago
Reply to  Arturo P

Maybe wait until you have a police escort, maybe post some snipers and wear body armor. And drive an SUV. Can’t be too careful!

BB
BB
7 months ago
Reply to  John

Is John some kind of valued paid member that he can constantly make fun, denigrate every response?
What kind of conversation is this?
I am new here, but won’t be for long.

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Editor
Reply to  BB

No, but he is responding with biting humor/ridicule to Arturo, who never misses an opportunity to introduce either the police, homelessness or general decay into a comment thread. It’s a response to cumulative messages.

BP, because we have a large audience and try to be a forum where people can express different opinions, is vulnerable to coordinated storms of comments, typically on message, and often from the same handful of IP addresses using different names.

A variety of opinions is good, weaponizing a viewpoint by trying to overwhelm other viewpoints isn’t.

I’ll try to do better.

Arturo P
Arturo P
7 months ago

So you’re supportive of personal “ridicule”? Your’re quickly becoming as biased as Joanathan. LOL. :). Censorship is alive and well at “liberal” bike Portland.

Fred
Fred
7 months ago

feel free to not participate

JM takes Portland passive aggressiveness to new heights. 🙂

Matt S
Matt S
7 months ago
Reply to  Fred

I wish he wasn’t such a “Portland is awesome” propaganda machine. It’s not going to get us out of this mess we’re in.

Watts
Watts
7 months ago
Reply to  Arturo P

You don’t need to agree with every moderation decision that Lisa makes to recognize she (and Jonathan!) does a great job keeping this forum from turning into the cesspool that has overtaken most of the internet.

Champs
Champs
7 months ago

The city does seem very good at ignoring leaks in the bucket until it’s shamed into patching it with duct tape. Maybe someone gets fired or loses an election, but that screws up the continuity and sets things back even further. This is the cycle for any number of issues.

I don’t know about any of Arturo’s other comments, but that one seemed extremely reasonable.

cc_rider
cc_rider
7 months ago
Reply to  John

Wow, incredibly condescending. The PCT was like Mad Max and it was entirely reasonable to avoid it because it was dangerous, especially vulnerable people. It’s also reasonable to not want to go there again, which most people don’t. The trail has been mostly deserted everytime I’ve taken it since they cleaned up the biohazard mess.

We’ve all seen the CoP let areas backslide after cleaning them out. I’m pleasantly surprised so far, but it’s safe to assume that the CoP isn’t competent enough to keep this up long term.

John
John
7 months ago
Reply to  cc_rider

Sorry if it was taken really seriously. But Arturo’s response to a perfectly clean trail with multiple commenters mentioning it has been that way for weeks at least and at different times that he’ll “hold off” just sounds so over the top it deserved a little hyperbole. It was never mad max. It was sketchy, but now it looks like a pristine park.

It’s also reasonable to not want to go there again, which most people don’t.

I mean. Citation needed. Not only did Jonathan’s video and photo show other riders, but even his video from when it was full of tents and garbage showed other casual riders.

Fred
Fred
7 months ago
Reply to  John

I think it’s perfectly reasonable to say that a MUP surrounded by tents and garbage is completely unacceptable, whether or not you feel safe riding it, which I do b/c I am a LWM (large white male).

John
John
7 months ago
Reply to  Fred

Cool, so do I. Completely agree, and I made no hint of a disagreement with that here. I’m talking about a little article showing the nearly perfectly clean and camp free peninsula trail. That’s great that it got cleaned up!

Rebecca S
Rebecca S
7 months ago
Reply to  John

Well you made a condescending comment about someone who had what seemed to me to be reasonable hesitation to ride a trail that hs been anything but clean and safe in the recent past, especially for vulnerable riders like small women.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
7 months ago
Reply to  Rebecca S

Based on Arturo’s constant spamming of the comments section with reactionary and bigoted “People for Portland” messaging, I found John’s use of sarcasm to be more than appropriate.

cc_rider
cc_rider
7 months ago
Reply to  John

I mean. Citation needed. Not only did Jonathan’s video and photo show other riders, but even his video from when it was full of tents and garbage showed other casual riders.

I’ve lived in the neighborhood for seven years and I’ve ridden through the cut year round for all but the worst of the meth/fent shanty town stage. I’ve traveled through that path hundreds, if not thousands of times. I’m sorry, I guess you don’t know the neighborhood, which is fine, but you use to see families walking on the trail, you used to see kids on bikes, you used to see a lot of people generally.

Now I rarely see anyone and if I do, its generally someone on a road ride. I don’t know why folks like you insist on shutting your eyes to reality. The City let this area turn into a drug-fueled violent shanty town and its going to take a while for people to come back. I still instinctively avoid and have to remind myself to take it when I remember.

Charley
Charley
7 months ago

That’s so great! I’m glad that people living at the Safe Rest Village have access to this facility, and that the surrounding area is clean and welcoming. If voters can see well-managed, tidy Villages, there will be less opposition to them.

BB
BB
7 months ago

I ride it often and would give my review except ‘John” would call me a goofball and unintelligent and other names so I won’t until you get your moderation under control.

PATRICK
PATRICK
7 months ago

Funny about how the Very Good News that the trail has been cleaned up has sparked such complaining and sniping between commenters. I had ridden the path when it was a sea of sewage-smelling mud with frighteningly scary shamblers, I am Very Happy to hear that it is back for everyone to use safely. If it is on your route–get out there and use it! The more people on it the more likely it will remain safe.

mc
mc
7 months ago

I’m not a fan of Urban Alchemy, based on local reporting of their operation. And even as formerly homeless person, but not living on the street or camping in public spaces, while working at VOZ Day Labor Center and then in the carpenter’s union, I’m just tired of people camping in public spaces, living in broken down vehicles along the street and the huge piles of trash that so often seem to accompany these group camps.

I really hope people get the help they need so they can live decently and maybe even be welcomed into a community if they want that.

It’s hard, I’m college educated, had a professional career in the Info Tech industry and ended up homeless without any alcohol or drug use.

I’ve done a lot of homeless & community support & advocacy over the years w. Food Not Bombs, Sisters of the Road to name a few.

I’ve been housed for about 3 yrs. now, working through physical health and other problems. It has been a difficult time, but I’ve gotten a lot of support and I’m going back to college for a 3rd time this fall.

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Editor
Reply to  mc

Thank you for writing this, mc. I have a good friend who manages to squeak by month to month (sometimes it seems like week to week). Like you, steered clear of addictions, college degree, but like many others, if the car breaks down, or the body breaks down, it can be precarious.

Dean
Dean
7 months ago

My wife and I rode the 205 path again today, Marine Dr South to Gladstone. Most of it was good. Despite the recent improvements, the Gateway / Mall 205 area was a miserable mess again. So much garbage and glass on the path, and tents / posessions active drug use encroaching on the path again in that area. Parkrose area was good and Clack Co border South was clean and smooth going.