Guest Column

Years ago, in 1985, I returned to Oregon from the Bay Area, which, by the way, was an incredible place to live in the ’70s. So safe and great weather and it was even affordable back then. I actually was able to live alone in a studio apartment in the Parkside District on an entry level tellers salary! But it started getting crazy in the ’80s with the technology boom so I started looking for a new town to move to.

My brother recommended Bend. He had visited a few times so I included it in my list of prospects. I couldn’t believe it when I arrived; it was perfect! Clean air, clean water, it had two health-food stores back then, a community college, Pilot Butte for exercise in the middle of town, it was affordable, and was built alongside a gorgeous river. I was living here within three months of that visit.

I went to work at Bank of the Cascades when Roger Shields was the president and Patty Moss was the vice president. It was so much fun working there and I got to meet so many people.

One of my co-workers brought my attention to my driving habits, too, and I’m eternally grateful to her. She was riding in my car with me and appeared very nervous. After a short while she told me that I don’t have to drive fast or drive so close behind the car in front of me (often referred to as tailgating). I was shocked. In the Bay Area you had to tailgate because, if you didn’t, someone would cut in front of you. That’s one of the reasons there were so many pile-ups on their freeways.

The other is that they drove so fast. It took me awhile to learn their driving habits since I moved there from a small town on the Oregon coast but I did and then I brought those habits with me to Bend. Again, I am so thankful that my co-worker made me aware of this and I’m attempting to do that for all the new arrivals in Bend, over the past few years especially, who have brought their driving habits here, too.

Another really big potential problem that comes with driving fast and too close to the car in front of you comes with our winter snow. So many (me included) haven’t driven in snowy conditions before arriving in Bend and, when the roads are the least bit icy, you can easily slide into the car in front of you.

Not only do you then have the insurance issue to deal with, you also need to be outside in the freezing conditions exchanging information with the person you ran into while tying up traffic.

Black ice is even worse. I learned about that the hard way and luckily it happened my first year here when my car, with a mind of its own, went off the road into a shrub. I was so lucky to have learned that lesson in a way that didn’t hurt anyone or damage my car.

Take it from me (please), it is so much more peaceful driving the speed limit, leaving room between you and the car ahead of you and even letting people in who are waiting to merge onto the street you’re on.

When you’re in our amazing roundabouts, too, please keep in mind that the speed limit inside the circle is 15 mph to allow cars coming into the circle to easily merge and keep the traffic flowing.

Simply try my suggestions for one day and I believe you’ll make it a habit. Slow down, enjoy the scenery, be polite because you’re in beautiful Bend, Oregon.

Thank you.

Kathy Whitney lives in Bend.

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