Even if when someone is appointed to take over Mayor Sally Russell’s vacated Council seat, we thought it only sporting to hear his position on active transportation. We were glad to hear Chris Piper agreed. Setting aside the controversy that swirled around his appointment, Bend Bikes posed the same four questions we asked of Council and Mayoral candidates in the Fall of 2018. Here are his unedited answers.
Bend Bikes Question: How would you characterize the challenges and opportunities of riding a bicycle in Bend?
Chris Piper’s Answer: Some challenges that come to mind are our seasons – I and others have found riding in our city during the winter and fall is a major challenge due to road conditions (ice, snow not plowed from bike lanes efficiently, gravel that creates risks of skidding unintentionally). As a city we need to focus on filling in gaps that can create ease of process with connecting areas of the city better. Another challenge is lack of education/awareness of rules a driver must follow when cyclists are on roadways. The opportunities are that Bend is a terrific place to cycle during the good weather months – drivers are more alert because more cyclists are on the road, paths that are safer to ride, and cycling helps create stronger sense of community.
Bend Bikes: What ideas do you have to help more people use bikes for everyday trips in Bend?
Piper: Creating Bicycle Benefit Forums partnering with our neighborhood associations that Bend residents can attend will aid with the riding/purchasing a bike. The forum dialogue may discuss the following: It is easier to finance a bike than car, reduce pollution, minimize wear and tear on our roads, improve a person’s overall health, during commute hours they can get you to your destination much faster, and I read a study that employees who ride bikes don’t take as much time off from work for illnesses and bike riders are more productive. Plus, there is something about riding – a sense of being free and allowing you to explore areas of the city and neighborhood you normally wouldn’t see or experience if confined to an automobile. I personally feel I am more connected with our city and neighborhoods when riding a bike…you get to know the nooks and cranny’s of our great city.
Bend Bikes: Do you support prioritizing investment in safer bicycle infrastructure, such as a connected network of bike routes that is physically separate from automobile traffic throughout Bend? If yes, why? If no, why not?
Piper: Yes – I do support investment in safer bicycle infrastructure but would want to have a community outreach campaign and forums so that residents can share their support (or non-support) helping the city determine if an investment is the best use of our limited city funds. If support is strong then I think we can look at off setting some of the costs collaborating with other city agencies, associations, the private sector or applying for grants. Based on studies that I’ve read, bike and walk friendly towns have a greater chance of being economically viable because a bike/walk environment encourages business success and stronger communities, and aids in minimizing expense with maintenance costs of roads for cars.
Bend Bikes: Do you have any other comments that you would like to share?
Piper: I recommend researching other cities comparable in size to Bend so we can learn best practices so not to reinvent the wheel saving our city dollars. There have been many benefits with cities using bike share programs similar to Citi Bike and other bike commute models based in other countries we can review and apply here in Bend.