Trolls under a bridge?

I’m shaking my head hearing these bizarre stories about harassment and outright assault of cyclists on the Fern Ridge path, at the Acorn Park underpass.

There were some stories in the local news the past few days — one in the Register-Guard and one on KEZI, along with a post on the Eugene Weekly bicycle blog that all said basically the same thing, which was more or less what the police put out in a rather vague and somewhat off-the-point press release.

They explain that a man was pushed off his bike and needed medical attention for injuries to his face. They mention that they are looking for any witnesses, and then they go on to discuss the unusually wet weather and note that the parks department was working “to mitigate tall grass and obstacles.” Tall grass? And I guess by “obstacles” they really mean “assholes”? Can we mitigate the assholes, please?

I’m not sure, frankly, that it’s worth bothering with all those links above, as the best account is at WeBikeEugene.org. The comments to that post, many of them first-hand, fill in a lot of detail that the other news stories didn’t, including reports that the assailants had harassed and assaulted other cyclists and the fact that these guys were actually cited by the cops after cyclists followed them to a DariMart (and presumably called the cops). Hats off to whoever did that.

By the way, I think it’s worth noting that nobody who left a comment at WeBikeEugene ever said anything about the “tall grass.”

I noticed a letter to the editor by one Cassadie Ross in Tuesday’s Register-Guard. She, too, actually seemed to hack through the dense vegetation of the police press release to give us a little more gritty account, in relatively plain English. The salient part:

“… Those of us who live in the Acorn Park area know that the bike path between City View Street and Acorn Park is a crime zone where groups of drunken people often cluster, intimidating and harassing passersby. It is unfortunate that many families in the area, including my own, choose not to use the path because of this …”

So what we appear to have here are trolls under a bridge. Maybe that’s harsh, but based on the first-hand accounts at WeBikeEugene, this sounds like a real charming crew.

This morning, there was another short item in the R-G, noting that the cops still want to talk to two possible witnesses to the incident in which the rider was pushed off his bike.

The good news is that, given that item, it would seem the cops are actively working this case — but need more evidence to bring more severe charges against these guys. The bad news, of course, would be that even if they are booked for assault or something, how long, given the state of the Lane County justice system, would they actually be held in jail?

I don’t get out the Fern Ridge path very much, so I have no firsthand knowledge of this, but I will issue a blanket warning to just be careful as you head through bike path underpasses.

I often go through the underpasses on the Coburg Road path, including the one that goes under MLK Boulevard. It’s a blind corner coming in (you need to make a left turn here to go through the underpass and continue up Coburg Road):

By the way, speaking of vegetation, what landscape architect thought this was a good place for shrubbery? Anyway, for the past couple of weeks, as I have come around this corner, I’ve encountered a bunch of homeless-looking guys.

As people hanging out under underpasses go, they seem nice enough. I have not been harassed in any way. In fact, a couple of times when a few of them were congregating in the middle of the path, they kindly cleared to the sides when they saw me coming.

I am careful, though, that I don’t take that blind corner too fast — just in case somebody is passed out in the middle of the path or something. I’m not sure I could bunny-hop a transient.

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