Stephen Hamway
The Bulletin

Slackliners, drone-hobbyists and other groups may soon have more clarity about what they can and cannot do within Bend parks, if a new set of rules is approved by the Bend Park & Recreation District.

On Tuesday evening, the park board held a public hearing on proposed new rules and regulations within the district’s facilities. The rules would replace an existing set of rules and regulations, which were approved in 2010.

The changes run the gamut, from prohibiting loaded and unloaded weapons in public park district buildings except where allowed by Oregon law, to expanding the definition of what constitutes overnight camping, which is prohibited in Bend parks.

However, Jeff Hagler, park stewardship manager for the district, said many of the changes are aimed at providing clarity about activities — including slacklining, riding electric bicycles and operating remote-controlled devices on park district property — that have grown or evolved significantly over the past eight years.

“Over the last few years, we’ve had several new (activities) come up,” Hagler said.

The district has been working on rule changes for a couple of years now.

Hagler said much of the work has focused on reorganizing existing sections and eliminating redundant rules, but added that the district has reached out to slackline and electric bike companies while developing new rules.

The proposed rules specifically allow slacklining — walking along a narrow piece of webbing suspended a couple feet in the air — as long as it’s consistent with park district guidelines.

Those guidelines specify that only ponderosa pines and juniper trees at least 18 inches in diameter may be used to anchor the slackline, and prohibit slacklines raised 30 inches off the ground or for more than two hours at a time, among other restrictions.

Hagler said the rules formalize a set of guidelines that park district staffers have taken to handing out to slackliners in parks.

Along the same lines, the new rules permit drones and other remote-controlled devices, except when they harm park district property or when they “endanger the comfort, health, peace, or safety of others.” Hagler added that the district adopted a set of guidelines, adapted from Federal Aviation Administration rules, mandating that operators must maintain line-of-sight with the drone at all times, and not fly drones higher than 800 feet or faster than 40 miles per hour, among other requirements.

“A lot of these rules should be common sense,” Hagler said.

For electric bicycles — bikes that have electric motors that augment pedaling — the proposed rules would allow only class-1 electric bikes, where users have to pedal to activate the motor. Hagler said the rules were introduced in response to seeing more and more riders using electric bikes to commute rather than to exercise.

Sterling McCord, of the bike shop Bend Electric Bikes, said the class of bikes has a motor that doesn’t allow it to go over 20 miles per hour, which he said will eliminate confusion for cyclists trying to use Bend parks.

McCord said explicitly allowing electric bikes in parks encourages people to use the parks for commuting, rather than creating uncertainty that could lead to more people driving instead.

“It doesn’t work well for any of us when you put drivers back on the road,” McCord said.

The public will be allowed to comment on the changes until Sept. 4, when the board will conduct a second reading of the new rules.

— Reporter: 541-617-7818, shamway@bendbulletin.com

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