Hearing participants mostly supportive

Washington County’s proposed Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway sparked a few safety concerns at a public hearing Jan. 15.

Among the generally supportive crowd of nearly 40 people — including at least a dozen elected or government officials — was Loren Behrman, a Banks farmer who owns a seed-processing facility on Johnson School Road in Hillsboro.

Behrman said he doesn’t oppose the overall bikeway route, but “putting them on Johnson School Road is a terrible idea,” he said, citing fatal car accidents on that stretch.

During the morning and afternoon rush hour, Behrman said, Johnson School Road becomes a freeway for impatient drivers who want to avoid the Tongue Lane S-curves just north of the thoroughfare. Traffic picks up during the summer harvest as well, he said, with 20 to 40 trucks a day visiting Behrman’s plant and many more passing by.

Alex Phillips, a member of Oregon’s Scenic Bikeway Committee, said she and other members didn’t notice such problems during several rides along the route. “We looked carefully at that road,” said Phillips, who facilitated the hearing.

Still, Phillips plans to contact Washington County for Johnson School Road traffic data.

Behrman has a personal stake in the issue as well. Currently, there’s no shoulder for cyclists to pull over on if a truck gets stuck behind them, he said. “We can’t pass them,” he added, noting that bikes don’t usually go faster than 25 to 30 miles per hour.

If that kind of inconvenience increases, Behrman said, the growers who use his processing plant may choose to go elsewhere.

Forest Grove City Councilor Victoria Lowe wondered if project supporters could get the Oregon Department of Transportation to add a traffic light at the intersection of Highway 47 and Maple Street, which she has long considered dangerous.

City Planning Commissioner Tom Beck supports the route except for a section he worries could endanger cyclists if they bunch up on busy Verboort Road before turning left onto Visitation Road.

Other than traffic concerns, people mentioned the need for more bike racks, a customer-feedback system (comment boxes will be installed at each end of the trail), the convenience of linking the route to a GPS system and the inconvenience of having no public transportation to Rood Bridge Park, where the route begins.

Changes will be considered and are possible, said Phillips, who was heartened that no one at the hearing came out specifically against the route.

She said a map of the route should be available at

Written comments on the proposed bikeway are still being accepted by the Oregon State Parks and Recreation Commission at 725 Summer St. N.E., Suite C, Salem, Ore. 97301-1266, attn: Alex Phillips; or by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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