By Ted Shorack

The Bulletin

The paved shoulders and bike lanes along Deschutes County-managed roads are getting a little more spacious and smoother in an effort to improve safety for motorists and cyclists.

The county road department narrowed vehicle travel lanes by a foot on Cline Falls Road, South Century Drive, Powell Butte Highway and others.

That extra space is being added to bike lanes, if they exist, or designated shoulders, which are marked by a white strip known as the fog line.

“It’s a little thing that makes sense,” said Chris Doty, the Deschutes County Road Department director.

The width of the driving lanes has gone from 12 feet to 11 feet when the department does chip-seal treatments, a preventive maintenance of liquid asphalt and crushed rock.

Narrowing travel lanes is a design tactic that can make motorists drive slower than they might in a wider lane.

“It conveys a narrower width for the driver, and they’re more apt to be more responsible and to reduce speeds,” Doty said.

“We see the dual benefit of the narrower lane and the wider surface for cyclists,” he added.

The road department is also using a different sized rock for chip-seal treatments on the bike lane and shoulders than for traveling lanes.

Doty said the department experimented with different seal coats that would offer a nicer surface for bikes.

“We’ve decided to try a smaller chip rock to still provide a good surface seal that will last longer but also be a little smoother,” he said.

The approach, in part, is in response to cyclists’ desire to have more room. The county has also noticed a lot more riders on county roads, Doty said.

“We are attempting to provide a better level of surface to the cyclist while also addressing the preventive-maintenance needs of the pavement,” he said.

— Reporter: 541-617-7820,