For bike shop owner Dan McGarigle,  crossing Bend by bicycle is, for the most part, good exercise and fun. There are some leisurely stretches and great views, but when it comes to crossing an intersection, that all changes.

An element of danger creeps in. 

“You’ve just got a ton of traffic. Anyplace that doesn’t have a stoplight is unnerving,” said McGarigle, owner of Pine Mountain Sports. “That is a place where you have to get it right or you could get hit by a car.”

The dangers of the crosstown routes for bike riders like McGarigle are not lost on city leaders who are looking into ways to create a safer cycling experience in Bend. Ariel Mendez,  a Bend Park& Recreation District board member, and Anthony Broadman,  a Bend city councilman, have launched a proposal to build 17 miles of cross-city divided bike lanes that will separate bike riders from cars.

Mendez and Broadman introduced their ideas earlier this month to the Transportation Bond Oversight Committee, which oversees how Bend will spend a $190 million transportation bond that voters approved in November. The bond measure includes plans to spend $19 million on bike and pedestrian-focused projects.

Bike paths proposed

The plans in the bond include a "low-stress network" of bike lanes, including lanes painted green to designate that they are for biking. But Mendez and Broadman said the low-stress lanes need to be beefed up to include dividers and barriers to keep cars out.    

“This proposal for a separated route goes farther by requiring that people biking not share physical space with through traffic,” said Mendez, an advocate for commuter cycling.

Broadman said he hopes the city will build a safe bike lane network so “a kid can ride from Big Sky Park to Shevlin Park without parents being worried about losing their child to car violence.”

“The network we have isn't safe enough for people,” said Broadman. “If people don't feel safe walking or on a bike, they simply won't do it.”

The current greenways or buffered bike lanes that exist in some parts of town would not be sufficient to meet the higher standard in the Mendez/Broadman proposal. The new proposal would include posts or barriers to prevent cars from entering bike paths.

The new proposal would increase safety, said McGarigle, and would also help to increase bike ridership and reduce the number of cars on the road.

“The way Bend is growing right now we are going to need that. Something along those lines will benefit the community as a whole and I am pumped to see it happen,” said McGarigle.

The dedicated bike lanes also make for a better experience for the rider, he said. Bike riders using dedicated lanes can socialize as they ride, rather than keep all their attention on traffic around them.

“It seems like it builds camaraderie and cordialness out on those paths,” said McGarigle. “In bike lanes, you just don’t have the ability to communicate with or interact with other cyclists, because you are so focused on everything that is going on in the road beside you.”

The route of the bike path is similar to the one proposed by the city, meandering from Shevlin Park in the west and past St. Charles Bend to the east. There is also a north-south component that follows 15th Street and continues past Pilot Butte.  It would create 17 miles of dedicated bike paths in Bend. Mendez and Broadman are simply looking to upgrade the current plan to add features that will improve safety.

Sinclair Burr, principal engineer with the city of Bend, said the bike lane alignment identified by Mendez and Broadman was not included in the city’s recently completed transportation system plan. And since it wasn't included, the plan isn’t identified for funding by the general obligation bond. But that doesn't mean he is shutting down the proposal. 

"There is a path forward for the inclusion of this proposal," said Burr. "The oversight committee can consider the merits of this proposal and divert funds from other key routes to this alignment. This would also likely require an amendment to our TSP, which would require some time to accomplish."

Burr said the next bond oversight committee meeting is scheduled for late June, at which point the group will elect a committee chair who can assist in the development of the meeting agendas.  The chair can choose to have the committee consider proposals such as the one brought by Mendez and Broadman, Burr said.

Bend's population growth could be another factor to persuade the committee to make changes. Broadman said the population of Bend could move past 153,000 people within the next 20 years, up from a current level of 100,000, and the population increase will require more transportation options, including safe biking areas.

“We are growing so quickly, and our exceptional city needs an exceptional transportation network,” said Broadman. “There is no reason we can't be the most bikeable, drive-able, walkable, bus-able City in Oregon.”

Reporter: 541-617-7818, mkohn@bendbulletin.com

(24) comments

Marcomm

Get on bikes people! Bikes are good for the planet and good for your health and just a ton of fun. I'll get behind anything that makes Bend more bike friendly and bike safe!

ReimagineBend

Nearly all of this route takes advantage of existing corridors in the TSP - neighborhood greenways, 12-key routes, or general corridor improvements (of which this is one!). I disagree with the engineers opinion that it would require a modification of the TSP.

Moderate

The community needs to have a say in the proposed bike routes. Let's find out where people in underserved parts of Bend actually want to go on their bikes. Perhaps people in SE Bend want a safe route to get to Walmart and Fred Meyer, but have little interest in biking to Shelvin Park.

Maybe parents in SW Bend east of the Deschutes are scrambling to figure out how they will get their kids to Bend High School when the new school assignments go into effect. Maybe families eagerly anticipating the completion of a pedestrian bridge in SW Bend over the Deschutes River want a safe bikeway to the bridge's starting point.

56414

Great points. The proposed route connects to the new Caldera High School via Alpenglow Park. Walmart and Fred Meyer are also accessible via the existing Central Oregon Canal trail, including the recently installed safer crossing across third. Bend High is accessible within a few blocks. Mountain View High School is not currently adequately served.

Gsky

Agree. SE Bend, where much new residential development is occurring, is under served by this proposal. This seems like a plan hatched to provide protected bike lanes for residents in the more favored west side neighborhoods to easily access bike routes east of town.

ReimagineBend

Hi Moderate. Your absolutely right, but this is just a small subset of the proposed and funded bike and pedestrian routes. The city of Bend has been working on Neighborhood Greenways and 12 Key Routes to connect neighborhoods across the city - all this was done with significant neighborhood input. Don't let the 'Shevlin to Big Sky' marketing pitch of this proposal fool you, what it really accomplishes and connecting these other constructed and proposed routes to make them more functional. The building and improvement of these routes will be incremental and take decades but I see the value in investing now into a few key corridors designed to a high standard and completed. Lets not make the mistake of making disconnected bike/pedestrian routes to nowhere. While I'm sure it can be improved this looked like a stellar proposal that greatly enhances the bike/walkability of the Eastside.

68882

Too many people on bikes have lost or ruined their lives because they tangled with a car or truck while trying to get around this town. Anything to make bicyling safer should be looked at seriously.

ABK

Our traffic is a mess, and will continue to get worse until such time that the city figures out how to move cars around town efficiently. Embracing pet projects that benefit a small percentage of our residents for 6 months a year is yet another bad idea....just like the busses no one rides. If this is such a good idea, disclose the cost, put a funding measure on the ballet and let residents vote on it.

MH765

One way to move cars around town efficiently... take cars off the road by letting some people bike instead? Not everyone wants to bike, and that's OK. But I assure you that Bend is easily bikeable for more than six months a year.

ABK

Lived here 20+ years, I don't need any help with the weather. Again, bus transportation has not removed cars from the streets, no one uses it. Similarly, embracing a pet project that benefits a small percentage of residents for a limited amount of time is a bad idea and waste of taxpayer money. Build better, wider roads with bike lanes. Fix the car traffic first-put this idea on the ballet for residents to vote on. Then we will see.

Andrea Rematore

I would argue that this is not a "pet project", rather, it would be a prudent investment of benefit to residents and visitors alike. Making biking safer will encourage more use of bikes and less use of cars I welcome the presentation of this well thought-out plan and I fervently hope it can be fully realized.

MH765

@Smedley Did you actually read the article? The proposed paths go north/south and east/west. As an East sider, I am very excited by the prospect of being able to bike to other parts of town without having to constantly worry about being hit by a car. Call me crazy.

Smedley Doright

I did read the article. I note that the two proposers have made sure it goes right by their expensive homes, homes paid for by their Physician spouses. I'm concerned about the routing. I'm concerned that this thing is being greenwashed so it will pass muster. No one with money in NW Crossing will question it. Plus that's where two city councilors live. They can afford a car for inclement weather days and a fancy bike for when they feel like riding on a nice spring day, or for dinner downtown. The poor shlub cleaning rooms at St Charles, driving from LaPine will have no such benefit, but we don't care about those people, they are invisible. Instead we throw money at a plaything for the better people.

Well, thank the poor folks in Lapine for taking out your medical trash after the knee injury you sustained skiing was repaired so you can climb back on the newest bike addition to your bike quiver. They are stuck driving from LaPine because we spent tax dollars on a bike path for rich people instead of focusing on income inequality.

Andrea Rematore

Smedley, I find your ad hominem attacks insulting. Please address the actual issues, and discontinue your cheap shots and innuendoes about the people proposing the project.

Stig

I hate it when I shut my finger in the door. #stopcarviolence

Stig

"Car violence?" Seriously?

highdesertda

Yep, seriously. You should spend some time riding around on the streets and see for yourself.

Smedley Doright

Broadman and Mendez are both married to practicing physicians. They can both afford to take unpaid political assignments. They have teamed up to push this project (good or bad, no matter) that runs right through the westside neighborhoods - right where they both live.

Doesn't that warrant any comment by the Bulletin? Or are you afraid to call these people and this self-enriching plan out lest you sully your cozy relationship with them?

A real journalist would investigate conflicts...how much will this cost and how much might it be used? Is it a feel good waste of taxpayer dollars? Or just a way for rich westsiders to further insulate themselves from those of us relegated to the poor and less desirable areas of town?

Ask - is there any SCIENCE that shows how useful this path will be in a snowstorm? Or is it just for the families of doctors living with their new ebikes?

Will you ask?

highdesertda

Smedley - Not sure you spent much time reading the article, or perhaps you don't live here. Last I checked Big Sky park, Pilot Butte and St. Charles were not on the west side. Also, any analysis of snowstorms, scientific or statistical, in Bend would reveal that most of the time the paths would be dry and rideable especially in the summer, when traffic is at its worst. Trashing an idea for a few weeks of snow makes no sense, never mind the possibility of a snow plow. Lastly, paths would be a help to folks who can't afford a vehicle or wanted to drive and spend less. - bikes are far cheaper to operate.

Smedley Doright

I've lived in Bend since the 1970's. This is a giveaway to the wealthiest folks in Bend, those who can afford a car and a nice bike, who don't work graveyard shift at St. Charles. it's a plaything, not a tool. But good for you, I'm glad you can afford a fancy bike for yourself and your kids. Being a DA must pay well.

91184

The path crosses through the entire city. Most of your questions are at least addressed in the article. In any case, this is an amendment to the current plan to add more dedicated bike lanes and safe travel corridors. The Bulletin has covered this for a while.

MH765

Re: the question of "science" -- the health and economic benefits of urban biking infrastructure is actually very well documented. Just one example: https://www.codot.gov/programs/bikeped/building-a-bike-ped-friendly-community/bike-walk-study/assets/report-economic-and-health-benefits-of-bicycling-and-walking-in-colorado-2016-report

Smedley Doright

Does no one report on conflicts? Mendez and Broadman both live within spitting distance of the proposed path on the westside. Now they can ride their expensive ebikes to town on taxpayer funded paths while the poor folks are stuck with the bill. If I could afford an ebike AND a car and had a government parking spot downtown for bad weather times, I'd vote for this too.

Andrea Rematore

If biking in Bend did not involve risking life and limb, I'd gladly use my bike instead of my car. And as a major tourist destination, our city could benefit greatly by providing the means to bike safely all over town. I personally would joyously welcome the ability to bike safely on a path free of cars...and I would love to have that option for my grandkids.

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