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Draft of bicycle and walking plan would add 80 miles of trails to Longview

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Lake bike route

A sign marks a bike route through Lake Sacajawea near Ocean Beach Highway in Longview.

Next year will see a push to dramatically expand Longview’s bicycle lanes and biker-friendly streets.

The city’s Complete Streets Advisory Committee released the first draft of a Longview Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan earlier this month. The plan lays out an organized expansion for a citywide bicycle network over the next decade, including an expansion of marked bike roads and trails from 16 miles to nearly 96 miles.

Creating a more organized approach for non-motorized travel has been a focus of the committee since it was established by the Longview City Council in 2019, when the council passed an ordinance to enact a complete streets program. The plan says Longview’s compact layout and sidewalk system makes it easy to expand the existing biking options throughout town.

“Connecting destinations with an ‘all ages and abilities’ network is what will transform Longview into a leader in active transportation,” the draft report read.

The current draft still needs to be further revised by the Complete Streets committee. The plan would then go through a public hearing and review process that would take revisions and updates before a final decision is made by the City Council.

The bicycle route expansion would be the largest and most immediate effect of the master plan taking effect. The proposal includes an addition of 36 miles of bike lanes along roads, 14 miles of shared streets and 13 miles of off-street bicycle trails in the next decade.

Dave Fine, an advisory committee member and longtime advocate for Longview bicyclists, said a lot of the road changes would be done with repainting. Shared streets primarily use signs warning drivers bicyclists will regularly be traveling through, which is the approach currently in place along Louisiana Street and 32nd Avenue.

The draft plan would recommend making the expansions to the biking network before rolling out a push to get more Longview residents to bike. Fine said the risks associated with bicycling on normal streets dissuaded a lot of people who might otherwise choose to get around the city without using a car.

“Most people are going to wait until there’s a special, dedicated biking place they can call their own,” Fine said. “Until you really get the road network together, it’s a challenge.”

The push to get more people using the bicycle paths may include a public awareness campaign for drivers about the influx of more bikers and events like the annual Santa Ride. One program the committee is looking to adapt is Safe Routes to Schools, which encourages students to walk or bike to school on roads they can safely travel.

The current version of the master plan recommends specific street projects that would be undertaken during the first three years of the expansion. Two projects along 46th Avenue and California Way already have been awarded grants for roadwork done in 2022, including bicycle options. Six other locations, including mile-long stretches of Oak Street, Pennsylvania Street and 42nd Avenue, also would be recommended for the first year.

“The recommended infrastructure projects have been prioritized to identify projects which provide the highest benefits for the least cost,” the draft report read.

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