Rally around compromise

By Baker City Herald Editorial Board March 09, 2012 08:44 am

Organizers of the Hells Canyon Motorcycle Rally, the early June event that brings thousands of people to Baker City, want to close a four-block section of Main Street during part of this year’s rally, set for June 8-11.

We think that’s a good idea.

But with one caveat.

The street shouldn’t be closed between Broadway and Auburn for two days, from Friday morning through Sunday morning, as has been proposed.

A reasonable compromise is to close the street from late afternoon Saturday through Sunday morning.

The shorter closure reduces the effect on local residents and on businesses that might not benefit from the influx of motorcyclists.

But closing the street Saturday evening and night would allow for thousands of chromed machines to be on display, and for spectators to take a leisurely stroll down the street without having to worry about traffic.

The argument that closing Main Street is the safer option makes sense.

During the past two rallies, when the street remained opened throughout, hundreds of motorcycles were parked along the curb on both sides of the street.

That’s an inherently dangerous situation on Main Street, which has two travel lanes in each direction.

We understand too the benefit to many downtown businesses of making Main Street the focal point for the Saturday night festivities.

But since the majority of rally participants come to Baker City to sample the nearby network of twisty roads, there’s no reason to close Main Street during mornings when riders will be heading to Sumpter and Hells Canyon.

Better to welcome them downtown later, when they’ll be getting around on two feet rather than two wheels.