Three years after Lake Oswego pulled out of a plan to upgrade its little-used riverside trolley line into a high-speed streetcar, the idea of turning the tracks into a biking-walking path is back in discussion.
This time, the idea is being driven by recently reelected Lake Oswego City Council member Jeff Gudman, who embraced the idea after hearing about it repeatedly from Lake Oswego residents during his campaigns.
“As I was doing my door to door, any number of people would say to me that they really like the idea,” Gudman said in an interview Thursday. “Some wanted streetcar, bike and ped. Others wanted just bike and ped.”
As the Oregonian’s editorial board reported Thursday, this week Gudman won his colleagues’ approval for a study of the legal issues surrounding a riverside trail.
“I brought it up again this year and there was the support to get a memorandum from our city attorney going over all the challenges and the opportunities that are associated with it and we would go from there,” Gudman said.
The longstanding obstacle to a biking-walking path is that when a consortium of local governments bought the old trolley line in hopes of one day reviving it as a streetcar, they received only the right to use it as rail. On some of the properties, if the land is used for any other purpose, it’d revert to the adjacent landowner.
But Gudman said that in some of those cases, the path could simply divert onto a nearby neighborhood street, then rejoin the riverside.
“If you already have a street there and it’s merely a matter of putting down bike lane markings … that seems to me to be a pretty good solution,” Gudman said. “Think about the opportunity to have a bike-ped connection with downtown Portland all the way along the Willamette River, all the way to Oregon City. … What a magnificent addition to our cities.”
It’s also worth noting that today’s Oregonian coverage came from the editorial page, which rarely seems to spare a good word about bicycling. It was illustrated with photos of the old tracks credited to Erik Lukens, the newspaper’s conservative editorial writer, who mentioned in the comments that he’s a Lake Oswego resident.
“It may not happen in my lifetime,” Gudman said. “But I’d like to see us going down that path.”
NOTE: This story was initially published with a different lead graphic.