Trespassing in Riverview Cemetery could lead to loss of access

Vandalized gate where someone has illegally trespassed onto River View Cemetery grounds.
(Photo: River View Cemetery)

Once again, bike access through River View Cemetery could be in jeopardy. The cemetery’s Executive Director David Noble says he suspects that someone has cut through a gate and is riding on the private property after the 11:00 pm closing time.

The cemetery is on private land which is governed by a Board of Trustees. Its owners are aware of its importance as a bike route, and they tolerate public bicycle access despite years of safety concerns (which we first brought to light in 2006). The route itself provides a very popular connection from Highway 43 near the Sellwood Bridge to many destinations in southwest Portland (map).

In November 2009, after the issue flared up again and there was a public outcry over speed bumps installed to slow riders down, the board ruled to maintain bicycle access. They then worked with the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) and the community to raise $5,000 and install a fully-signed bicycle route through the cemetery with the aim of keeping bike traffic on specific roads. That, and a series of other measures, showed that River View had gone out of their way to accommodate people riding through on bicycles.

In the last two years everything has been going well. Until now.

Today, River View Cemetery Executive Director David Noble emailed to say that, “Apparently there are bicyclists who do not like the 11:00 pm closing time and have taken matters into their own hands.” He attached a photo of a chain-link fence up near SW Palatine Hill Road that has been cut and vandalized. Noble says he suspects it was done by, “someone cutting a large enough hole for a person and a bicycle.” He suspects the vandal is on a bicycle because he feels the fence would be easy to climb over (without a bike). Noble also added that in recent weeks his security staff have reported seeing people riding through the cemetery after 11:00 pm. When they were chased by security, they fled. That’s, “Behavior that someone wouldn’t likely engage in unless they knew they had done something wrong,” says Noble.

The smoothness and solitude of the cemetery make it a popular place to ride.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

“If we are unable to catch the guilty person(s) and if the problem persists, I would not be at all surprised to see our Board of Trustees enact an all-out ban on bicycling in the cemetery 24/7.”
—David Noble, Executive Director River View Cemetery

Noble says this recent development is “very upsetting” and that “we are talking about criminal behavior.” He said they will step up security patrols and they have notified the police and nearby residents in hopes of finding the people who are trespassing at night.

And the bottom line for all of us who enjoy riding through the cemetery is this: Noble says, “If we are unable to catch the guilty person(s) and if the problem persists, I would not be at all surprised to see our Board of Trustees enact an all-out ban on bicycling in the cemetery 24/7.”

That would be a huge loss for the community.

Hopefully they find this culprit and the trespassing ends. Spread the word if by some rare chance you know of, or have heard of, whoever is doing this.