Donna’s Path.

Donna’s Path. That’s what I’m calling a new path in Lewiston that might have prevented Donna from crashing on the railroad tracks across from Riverview Marina. Linda knows about railroad tracks having visited four ERs in one day after failing to square up. Seems she was distracted by a young Candian in kit.

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It may have been my fault Donna was on Snake River Avenue a couple of Sundays ago even though I was no where around.

On the first warm Sunday the paths on both sides of the Clearwater were over run with walkers, their dogs, and their strollers. Whole clans meandered about as though in paradise finding everything fascinating, stunning in fact. The levy was unrideable. When we came down Lindsay Creek I suggested we avoid the levy. My thought was to have Bill lead us up to Southway and back to the boat launch that way. Someone objected to riding another hill and instead we decided to ride the the street.

Everything went well. We rode to the right letting traffic go around us. But none of us had thought about what we’d do when we got to the Blue Bridge. Linda headed home and I followed her. The others rode out to the Bypass, took a left and formed a paceline down Snake River Avenue. It went well, though I never recommend that street for cycling.

But another week when I wasn’t with the Sunday 1pm start, they tried it again. Snake River Avenue is pretty narrow and used to be extremely rough. But that’s been improved. The worst part is the lack of a shoulder on either side. On the river side, a foot and a half of pavement runs along to the right of the fog line. It’s minimal but rideable and probably is what got Donna into trouble.

A set of railroad tracks crosses the road at only a little less than a right angle and then curves to parallel the travel lane just as the tracks cross through our 1.5 foot shoulder. For a space of a couple of feet those rails along with their wheel-catching gaps run in the shoulder.

Mike was in the lead followed by Gary and then Donna. Traffic prevented the cyclists from swerving into the lane. Probably none of the riders knew just where the tracks were in order to have had time to signal and merge into the traffic lane as they shoujld have done. Mike saw the tracks and bu;nny-hopped over them. Gary followed suit. Donna doesn’t bunny hop and was some what further back. Her front wheel made it across. She likely swerved a bit to the left,  but the rear wheel which does not track as the front which left it just in-line with a rail gap. Donna went down to her left into the traffic lane. Fortunately other than some bruising and shredded cycling gloves, she was uninjured. She rode Lilac Century the following Sunday.

These cyclists may have noticed the equipment and road markers between the first pond and the bypass road. Work has been progressing on a new trail that our friends might have used to get back to the bike path on the levy rather than ride Snake River Avenue.

There are two ponds between Kiwanis Park and the where the bypass swings around and under the blue bridge. A bike path has always crossed between them. On Snake River Avenue there is a small parking lot which has been inaccessible during construction. It is still blocked off waiting for striping.

The new paved  path connects to the trail at this parking lot and runs to the Bypass. The trail works better if you are using it to get from the Bypass back to the trail system as Donna might have done. Lynn Moss, Lewiston Parks and Rec, explained that crews still need to paint and sign the crosswalk that will allow pedestrians/cyclists to cross Snake River avenue and proceed on to main street.  It’s pretty awkward and involves first walking to the island in the middle fo the Bypass where it joins SRA. Then walking across SNA before either taking the lane or the curb cut to the sidewalk.

I took this route both directions the other day. No real advantage for the through cyclist but if you have a destination downtown it might work. I usually take the new 5th street bridge near the railroad bridge to get down town. Will I use this new path? Hard to say. If traffic is heavy, I might not. You have to stop before turning left on the merge lane and then you have to manage mergin with bridge traffic. It is doable, but I don’t think motorists will ever learn to expect a cyclist at the merge point.

But to get back to the levy system from downtown is better. Of course, it is better, compared to no way at all. Would these cyclists avoiding a busy trail system have taken the path which avoided the travel lane and the tracks only to find themselves back on the busiest section of the levy?  Probably not. Would they have stayed on the trails through Kiwanis Park where they could have exied at the parking lot. Probably not.

Still I applaud the effort by the city (Lynn Moss) to provide what better access to the levy system than the Coprps did when they built it. As the community decides what will happen to the land vacated by the packing plan, I think we will be seeing a greater effort to bring the city out to the waterfront.


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