The “Oregon Drive Less Challenge” is coming up Oct. 21-Nov. 1, which brings me – again –to Albany’s Periwinkle Bike Path and a problem that keeps it from being as useful as it could be.
Built nearly 40 years ago, the path extends from Oak Street in central Albany to Grand Prairie Park in the southeast. It connects to the Albany Boys and Girls Club, and with other new developments along Oak — a park, a new apartment complex and the planned Lowe’s store — it’s likely to become more important as a route for alternative transportation. (No one’s likely to lug a refrigerator from Lowe’s to South Albany on a bike, but for kids and others on the way to and from parks or Periwinkle School, the path is ideal.)
Near its halfway point, though, there lies the intersection of Queen Avenue and Geary Street, and getting across is a challenge. From the north, the path hits Queen far short of the intersection. Cyclists have only bad choices: Cross the four lanes of Queen, which has rarely a gap in traffic; dismount and walk to the intersection; ride there on the narrow sidewalk and frighten the odd pedestrian; or ride on the street against traffic (the worst possible choice because it’s illegal). From the south, it’s almost as bad. You pretty much have to dismount and cross on foot.
Fixing this is possible but complicated. Still, Albany is trying to upgrade its rating as a bike-friendly community. Dealing with that intersection would be a start. (hh) (As for the Drive Less Challenge, look it up at www.DriveLessConnect.com/Challenge.)