Off The Press

July 16, 2013

By Joe Grove

The money’s been spent so enjoy the ride

Shortly after I moved here, the bike trail along East Lake Sammamish Parkway was blocked off and construction began. As I watched men, women and equipment at work, I concluded I was watching an overly constructed, public works project in progress.

Joe Grove Press reporter

Joe Grove
Press reporter

The paving of 2.2 miles of bicycle trail for $2.7 million seems a little steep. I suppose all this was hashed out long before I got here.

So, after the trail reopened, I took the front tire off my bicycle so I could cram said bike into my Kia Soul and I headed for the start of the new section. It was time to see what this trail was all about. No sense in complaining about something that has already been done, I thought. Let’s go see what all this money bought.

The first impression was how nice to be totally separated from the busy East Lake Sammamish Parkway. The pavement is wide and there are nice gravel shoulders along each side, which I noticed some joggers preferred.

I have ridden paved bike trails that were narrow and dangerous. I remember an incident many years ago in Anchorage, Alaska, when two speeding bicyclists going in opposite directions on a narrow trail locked their drop handle bars like two rams in a fight, and one of them died as a result.

Then, there was the number of people using this trail. It became obvious it is more than a bike trail. There was a mother jogging while pushing twins in a stroller, families on bicycles, joggers and walkers.

Since the trail follows an old railroad bed, it doesn’t have the steep grades so prevalent in many of the roads around Issaquah. It is a great place for family rides with young kids and others who are not into extremes.

When I got to the end of the pavement and rode for a ways on the old railroad bed, I became aware of what an upgrade the new section really is. Much of what I thought was excessive, was necessary, even though it was being built on an old railroad bed. It had to be widened, and much of it was passing through wetland.

I am puzzled, however, over all the fencing that was installed. It made me think of Robert Frost’s poem, “Mending Walls,” when he says, “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall.” That is a warning that a fence has to be maintained. (In this poem, he uses walls and fences synonymously.) He also says, “Before I built a wall I’d ask to know/ What I was walling in or walling out…” What is all that fencing about?

As I said, the money has already been spent, so just enjoy the ride, or walk or jog.

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