Editorial: Don’t turn Third Street into a traffic jam

Cars play the role of master villain in the city of Bend’s plan for Third Street.

The plan is aggressively anti-car. Streets lose lanes. Streets are narrowed. Speeds are lowered. Some access to the Bend Parkway may be closed.

Those are all proposals in the new vision for Bend’s Central District.

It’s basically Third Street and surroundings from Revere to the railroad overpass to the south. The plan’s goal is to allow more dense development. That’s to satisfy the state of Oregon’s demand that Bend fill in more before it will be permitted to expand its Urban Growth Boundary.

If expanding the UGB takes allowing taller buildings along Fourth, Third and Second streets, so be it.

But why is the plan so anti-car?

The answer again, at least in part, is the state. The state requires that sort of thing, too.

Before any UGB expansion, the state wants to see Bend have about a 5 percent reduction in vehicle miles traveled over 20 years. The city is supposed to come up with a package of plans and measures to get there.

But Bend shouldn’t pick one of the city’s only north/south connectors as the place to slow and snarl car traffic. Major connectors should allow people to connect with where they are going.

Turn Third Street into a hub of driving frustration, and maybe some will walk more or bike more. But those who drive may drive around to get where they are going. The plan to reduce driving may not reduce driving. It could just as easily increase it.