Welcome to Bikeville. Every city in Oregon may soon be Bikeville. A place where bikes get priority for transportation dollars over cars. A place where a substantial portion of short-distance travel is to be by bike.
A place where new development will be required to have covered, secured bike parking and less parking for cars.
We aren’t exaggerating. Those are rules the state is developing. They will apply to Bend and other cities. The state has done an extraordinarily poor job of making Oregonians aware of these rule changes and how profoundly they will alter cities, and how state transportation dollars get spent. The rules are scheduled to be finalized in a matter of months.
A state committee at the direction of Gov. Kate Brown is coming up with this new “Climate Friendly and Equitable Communities” rules. This week, the state’s Land Conservation and Development Commission will get an update on them.
Major changes are coming. The end goal is something most will not argue with. It is to build more climate-friendly cities. It is to “transform Oregon’s communities to be safe, equitable, sociable, and pleasant places where driving is not required, and the amount of driving is reduced.”
The assumption in the planning documents is that Oregon’s network of roads is essentially built out. The network for bikes, pedestrians and transit must catch up.
If you think the intensity and infill of development in Bend is too much now, prepare for more. “Cities and counties must assume that the future development of Climate-Friendly Areas and more land-efficient and transportation-efficient patterns of development across the urban area will be different and more intensive than existing patterns of development,” the documents say.
Is all this new to you?
It’s been new to some Oregon utilities. They say they have just become aware of this process. They are concerned in particular about the push to reduce setback requirements for buildings. That means less room for utility boxes and other equipment unless it is moved underground. Underground utility vaults are more expensive and more difficult to access.
Cities, including Bend, signed on to a letter saying the rules are moving too fast and are too aggressive. They also find the rules too complex and too prescriptive. Cities say they don’t have the staff to implement them. That isn’t to say the cities that signed the letter don’t share the same overarching climate goals of the rules. They do want the rule-making process delayed at least two months.
These rules aren’t being made in secret. They are being discussed in public meetings. But where is the state’s effort to let Oregonians know about rule changes that are so transformational?
Many Oregonians will be excited about Bikeville. But most have no idea the state is moving them there.