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Survey says: Walkers, bikers want more options

Kelsay Knutson recently took a stroll on the Loop Trail outside of downtown White Salmon along State Highway 141 with her dogs, Annie and J.J. A survey circulated by the White Salmon Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee found that while a majority of those surveyed said there are safe places to walk or bike in city limits most did not feel safe while walking along 141.

Photo by Amber Marra
Kelsay Knutson recently took a stroll on the Loop Trail outside of downtown White Salmon along State Highway 141 with her dogs, Annie and J.J. A survey circulated by the White Salmon Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee found that while a majority of those surveyed said there are safe places to walk or bike in city limits most did not feel safe while walking along 141.



The results of a survey concerning walking and biking routes in White Salmon point to a need for further options outside of the current loop on State Highway 141.

The White Salmon Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) is aiming to enhance opportunities for walking, jogging, and biking in the community and released a survey about a month ago to gauge what residents would want out of mapped trails throughout the area.

A total of 208 people responded to the survey with 63% either agreeing or strongly agreeing that while there are safe places to walk, jog, or bike in White Salmon, the same amount of people indicated that they did not feel it is safe to walk or bike on Highway 141 between downtown White Salmon and Loop Road.

“They said there are safe places to go out and recreate in White Salmon, but 63 percent also said it’s not safe to go on 141, so that would tell us ‘hey, don’t be making maps for 141 because 63 percent of people surveyed said they’re not going to go there,’” said White Salmon City Councilman and BPAC member Bill Werst.

Another finding of note on the survey was that 78% of respondents said they were not comfortable walking or biking on a road with no shoulder in moderate traffic. Sixty-three percent said they would be more comfortable with a two-to-five-foot shoulder, however.

As a result, BPAC is working with the City of White Salmon and the Washington State Department of Transportation to explore options that would address safety issues for pedestrians on Highway 141.

“We know people are using it, so even though there are people who don’t think it’s safe people are still using it and it is an important connector to Pucker Huddle and other areas from downtown,” said BPAC member and Klickitat County Pub-lic Health Educator Debi Budnick.

The survey also showed that 78% of those who responded walk or jog in neighborhoods throughout White Salmon at least once per week and 93 percent said they did so for exercise.

A total of 53% said they did so to get to certain parts of the community, like to downtown businesses, the library, or the grocery store.

Of the 208 people surveyed, 87% said they supported the idea of creating a walking and biking connection map for the area.

“Everybody knows where to go, but I’m looking at it as a tool to promote public health so people who aren’t necessarily out walking and biking can start,” Budnick said.

Werst echoed that by pointing out that he would like to see a variety of loops and levels of difficulty presented so all members of the community can be involved.

“The routes we’ll be looking at won’t just be for cliff-climbers. Here’s a half- or quarter-mile loop you can go out and do so even people who are my age can get out and walk,” he said.

Given the survey information collected, BPAC, which is volunteer-based and gets no funding from the City of White Salmon, will now begin looking at ways to format potential walking maps and are looking at ways to eventually fund the creation and design of both printed and digital maps.

Anyone interested in becoming involved with BPAC or sponsoring the committee can contact Budnick at debib@klickitatcounty.org.

“Our city vision is that a proud community starts off with a community working together and the best way I know to build pride is to volunteer, get involved, and be part of the process rather than sitting back and waiting for something to happen,” Werst said.



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