Washougal, Port leaders call for bike-friendly infrastructure

Councilman: ‘We could provide a safe way for people to get around locally and not have to get in a car’

timestamp icon
category icon Government, Washougal
Washougal City Council member David Fritz (left) talks to Washougal Coffee Company employee Kevin Credelle in an undated photo. Fritz would like to see more bicycle friendly infrastructure built in Washougal to help bicyclists have safe options for riding to local businesses, parks, the Port of Camas-Washougal and the nearby city of Camas. (Contributed photo courtesy David Fritz)

When Recluse Brew Works opened at the Port of Camas-Washougal’s industrial park in November 2023, the brewery’s owner, August Everson, and manager, Richard LaRue, hoped to attract recreational enthusiasts who would be eager to take advantage of the brewery-pub’s location near Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge and other natural areas.

Everson and LaRue quickly realized, however, that their establishment was missing something that would make it more convenient for a key subset of the outdoor enthusiasts they hoped to attract.

“Throughout our soft opening and grand opening, we did see a good number of cyclists coming in,” LaRue said. “Some folks locked their bikes to trees in the area, and some — mostly (the owners of) larger e-bikes — turned them upside down on the sidewalk and locked them to each other. None of that is ideal, so we reached out to Derek (Jaeger) and Cassi (Marshall) at the Port to discuss the potential for a bike rack.”

Marshall is calling for the Port to install bike racks in front of several facilities at the industrial park, including Recluse Brew Works and 54-40 Brewing Company, as well as at the Port’s waterfront area. It’s a project Marshall hopes could be complete by the end of this year.

The project could be a great first step toward realizing Washougal City Councilmember David Fritz’s proposal, which calls for creating a series of bike-friendly lanes that would connect downtown Washougal, downtown Camas, the Port’s industrial park and other parts of east Clark County.

“My passion (is making) Washougal a desirable place to live,” Fritz said. “It’s a great place for a family, but I’d love to see, as part of that livability, a connection between key points for bikes and pedestrians. If we tie downtown Washougal to the Port, to downtown Camas, that’s good for everybody. We could provide a safe way for people to get around locally and not have to get in a car. Those are amenities that I think a lot of people like or want.”

Marshall expressed approval for Fritz’s efforts during a Port Board of Commissioners’ Feb. 7 meeting.

Marshall said she thinks the connected bike lanes are a good idea, especially considering the summertime parking issues at several popular Camas-Washougal locations and parks.

“He’s really passionate about having some alternate routes here,” Marshall said of Fritz. “But if we’re going to get cyclists to come to the Port — and we are having quite a few cyclists stop by our industrial park buildings, especially with the brew pubs off the levee trail — (we should offer them bike racks). … The demand has really gone up at the industrial park. People have expensive bikes, and they don’t want to leave them unattended.”

Fritz said he hopes the bike racks will be “artistic in nature,” as well as functional.

“Ideally, input would be sought from groups such as the Washougal Arts and Culture Alliance, and perhaps involvement from local high school shop classes,” Fritz said.

The Washougal City Council member added that other local amenities are driving increased bicycling in east Clark County.

“Besides the breweries, recent trail enhancements at Steigerwald opened additional bicycling opportunities as well as the multi-use trail connecting to the Ninebark apartments, Washougal Waterfront Park and the future Hyas Point waterfront development,” he said. “The newer buildings in the industrial park are more office-like, and bicycling to work or during the workday is an attractive amenity.”

On nice days, Fritz said, he sees a lot of bikes at 54-40 Brewing in the Port’s industrial park.

“People like to ride and then go get a beer,” Fritz said. “Now, there is a second brewer — Recluse Brew Works — with retail sales in the Port. When I attended the grand opening of Building 20 (in April 2023), I rode my bike to it and upon arriving immediately noticed there was no place to lock up my bike while I was inside. More recently, at an event hosted by Recluse, one of the owners, who is also a cyclist, spoke about the need for a bike rack for cyclists who wish to stop there.”

Washougal officials and city leaders are considering Fritz’s proposal to construct bike lanes to connect downtown Washougal to the Port and downtown Camas, he said.

“The Washougal public works team has identified an upcoming project where a crew that will already be deployed for another matter will be able to take some street measurements in Washougal to help determine a test-fit for the possible addition of bicycle lanes,” Fritz said. “After that, estimates for painting lanes can be obtained. Locating bike racks along bike lanes makes sense, particularly (those that are) convenient to local businesses, where riders might wish to stop to eat, drink or shop.”

That is a scenario Everson and LaRue at Recluse Brew Works have already started to envision.

“Looking forward to the spring and summer period, we think the ability to ride bikes here, and to the nearby parks and other businesses, will be a major plus for everyone in the Camas and Washougal area,” LaRue said. “That is going to require safe bicycle parking in the interim, and better bike lanes in the long-term. There are also talks of extending and connecting the trails, so bicycle and pedestrian traffic will continue to be on the rise.”