To the Editor:
They painted the road lines in Enterprise last week, and, while they were painting I noticed the bike signs going past the Hurricane Creek Highway turnoff and to the edge of town on 82, past the baseball field and bridge, right to where the wide shoulder narrows and any biker, if he or she follows the signs and stays off the highway, will be on six inches of asphalt — maybe — and then some gravel.
I thought, since the newly paved Hurricane Creek had a nice wide marked shoulder that is a dream to ride a bicycle on, there had been some big mistake. I turned around and caught a painter, who said that he didn’t know about Hurricane Creek, but he was painting where the plans said he should. I couldn’t find an ODOT truck, so marched into the County Commissioners’ office, where Susan Roberts told me that although Hurricane Creek had extra wide shoulders, suitable for walking, biking, and horseback travel, it was not a “designated bike path,” so could not get the symbols.
This is all, in my mind, just the latest chapter in bike lane silliness. I went to one meeting a few years ago, and made the case for bike lanes from the last mile into Joseph on 82, from Walker Lane, and the first two miles out of Joseph on the Imnaha Highway, to Dobbin Road. Throw in, I said, a bike path from Joseph to the foot of the Lake, and it would all make for safety for bikers and walkers going from town to the Lake, and would safely open up miles and miles of biking from Joseph and, given Hurricane Creek, from Enterprise, and make it safer for the increasing number of cross country bike travelers and Cycle Oregon riders to negotiate the last few turns towards Imnaha and the loop road.
But the great interest was for a bike lane from Joseph to the head of Wallowa Lake. I asked Mike Hayward about it a couple of weeks ago, and he said that the talk had been about that Joseph – Lake run for years, so he was all OK with doing a study on the project.
Well, the study was done, and showed that it would be a $20 million trail, and, that might, you’d think, end the matter and turn us back to more sensible projects. But there are apparently still dreams of it — as there is continuing opposition from lake-side property owners. Maybe the engineers like the challenge of it!
Meanwhile, the good bike road from Enterprise to Joseph — Hurricane Creek — is a secret to outsiders. May they find a local who tells them the secret, or stay clear of roaring cars and trucks, tractors and hay-haulers out of town on 82. And when they get to Joseph pedal carefully toward the loop road that first couple of miles — more cars, trucks, hay wagons, etc. — until they reach the place where visibility is longer and traffic spread out. Wallowa Lake visitors who pack their bikes on the back of their RVs can pedal the hills at the head of the Lake, or make a hard ride or haul their bikes into town and stumble onto Dobbin, Swamp Creek, Tenderfoot Valley, and miles more. Some do.
But for now, the cheapest and safest thing to do would be to erase all the bike markers going out of Enterprise after the Hurricane Creek turnoff. At least then riders might stop and ask and, designated bike lane or no, enjoy a safe, pleasant, mostly quiet ride to Joseph.