After reading the article in the May 6 Express regarding “Road work begins near Galena Lodge,” I became hopeful about the Idaho Transportation Department’s comment that the bridge will have “3-foot shoulders to better accommodate recreationalists.” I am very hopeful that ITD will finally also increase the “paved” shoulder of the road all the way from the SNRA turnoff up to Galena and back.
Currently the paved shoulders from the Hulen Meadows road at the end of the Wood River bike path up to the SNRA turnoff are about 6 feet-plus wide. But from there on until after Billy’s Bridge, the paved shoulders vary from about 3 feet wide to about 1 and a half to 2 feet wide around Phantom Hill and to just beyond Billy’s Bridge. From there on to Galena Lodge and then on to Galena Summit, the shoulders are mostly between 10 and 14 inches wide and can be even narrower. This lack of reasonable paved shoulders after the SNRA turnoff is very dangerous for cyclists, to say the least.
The Wood River Valley has a large number of road bikers and we can’t be limited to just the bike path between Bellevue and Hulen Meadows road. Biking along a highway may not be the first choice for road biking, but the ride from Ketchum to Galena Lodge (and to the summit for many cyclists) is one of the most scenic rides I have ever done. For many of us it is the best ride in the Sun Valley area. It can be a fantastic, beautiful ride, suitable for our great Wood River Valley recreational community, but the very narrow paved shoulders can make it a very dangerous ride. This is particularly true during the summer and fall months when there are many large trucks, cars pulling trailers and a few drivers who seem to feel that getting too close to the center lane when passing a bike on the shoulder isn’t within their capability. And vehicles would obviously feel better when passing a bike at 60 mph if they know the biker has a good shoulder to ride on.
Again, I note that there are many of us in this area who love to road bike and we could have one of the best bike rides in the country, and the Wood River Valley deserves it. ITD, please take into consideration that road bikers are road travelers also, and do what I hope the Express article was indicating you will be doing and give us at least a 3- to 6-foot paved shoulder, where possible, all the way to Galena. It’s not just a matter of a great bike ride, it’s a matter of safety.
Robert Diercks is a resident of Sun Valley.