More than 70 people crammed into a room Wednesday night at the Richland Community Center to give their opinions on the future of bicycle travel in the Mid-Columbia.
They reviewed maps of each of the Tri-Cities, as well as Benton and Franklin counties, and picked out the areas where they would like to see better bike access, or existing access improved.
The largest response came for an area in north Richland where riders have difficulty crossing the railroad tracks on Stevens Drive. Many want to see an overpass or underpass in the area.
Evan Halladay, associate process engineer with Lamb Weston, wants to make it easier for employees at his facility on Saint Street to bike to work in warmer months and said crossing Highway 240 is difficult.
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“There’s no real safe way to get from Richland proper out to where we are,” he said.
Others in Richland want to see a missing link of trail completed between Keene Road and Columbia Park Trail. Adding bike lanes along Van Giesen Street between the bypass highway and West Richland was also popular.
The two most popular items in Kennewick both involve extending the Sacagawea Heritage Trail. Some want to see it brought to Two Rivers Park in Finley, while others want a connection to Columbia Center Mall and the former Vista Field area.
“It would just be nice to have more routes,” said Dave Beach of Kennewick. “I’d like to see the cities become more bicycle friendly.”
People who ride in Pasco are interested in seeing bike lanes put in on a recently repaired section of Sandifur Parkway, as well as on Road 68. A connection between Columbia Basin College and the Columbia River is also desired.
Riders in rural Benton County want bicycle paths along Dallas and Badger Canyon roads, while the only project mentioned in rural Franklin County was the paving of the first 15 miles of the Columbia Plateau Trail.
The recommendations will be a chapter of the Benton-Franklin Council of Governments’ 2015 bicycle transportation plan update, said Len Pavelka, a planner with the agency. The plan will go to local governments, who will seek grants or find other ways to fund them, if they choose.
“I would say there is a heightened awareness of the importance of bicycle facilities in the prioritization process,” he said.
Workshops on the 2005 and 2010 bicycle transportation plans attracted around 30 people, Pavelka said.
Some attendees just want to see more of an effort to make the roads friendlier for bicyclists.
“I’ve seen belts, spark plugs, strips of wire coming up to bite me on the leg,” said Andy Jensen of Pasco. “I think it’s kind of a mixed bag here for driving. I typically get buzzed (by a car) at least once a ride.”