Editorial: Bend’s plan for congestion

We have just learned that what we thought about traffic congestion is all wrong.

Traffic congestion is a good thing. That’s what the city is telling Bend residents.

City staff is especially keen to bring more traffic congestion to the area around Third Street between Revere and Burnside streets. In governmentspeak, it’s called a “Multi-Modal Mixed Use Area” or MMA.

You think roads should be designed to move people quickly and efficiently to their destination? What on earth were you thinking?

There’s lots of enthusiasm in the city plans for all the wholesome goodness that congestion brings. Embedded in the MMA plan is an alternative to narrow the lanes on Third Street. Driving slower helps drivers see businesses and access them, the city explains. “Similarly, ‘pedestrian congestion’ improves local business opportunities and sales,” the documents say.

Wendy Robinson, a senior planner at the city, told us the Bend City Council will make the final determination about any plan and decide then if more congestion is acceptable.

Oh. But do Bend residents really dream of more congestion? When we hear people talk about traffic, we never hear them long for congestion.

The changes planners are plotting include “MMA Intent and Requirements” to deny some existing business — drive-throughs or light industrial businesses — from being able to expand. They don’t have the right feel for the new vision. We guess Bend is shooting for being “business-picky,” not “business-friendly.”

Of course, there are many good reasons to think about how to improve the area around Third Street. Who isn’t in favor of making it more attractive, more bike-friendly or more inviting for pedestrians? If Second Street could be transformed into something more vibrant, all the better for Bend.

We’d always thought that an important trade-off was traffic congestion. Now that we know congestion is a good thing, that sure makes things simpler.