Election Season, Midtown Crossings Updates, Road Diets, and Social Connectivity by Bike…

This month we are highlighting a whole bunch of stuff about what City Council and mayoral candidates vision for our bikey future, Midtown Pedestrian and Bicycle Crossings updates, road diets, and more!

[Photos: Bend Bikes] This month, we officially bid fare-thee-well to Aron Yarmo, our board treasurer. Aron dedicated six years to Bend Bikes and he will be missed! Enjoy this photo montage of Aron at our historic Holiday Lights Ride, our sign-for-your-lane petition campaign, board retreats, and helping set up our Stay Healthy Streets.

Election Season: 2022 Bend City Council and Mayoral Election Questionnaire (Updated!)

It’s election season and it’s time – yet again – to dust off the ol’ ballot box (mail box) and flex your right to vote. While there is a lot to consider on our collective plate as a community, we at Bend Bikes want to take a minute to focus on what is nearest and dearest to us: the safety of people who walk, bike, and roll in Bend. It doesn’t get more local than moving on a bike through your city and our leadership heavily influences what those bike rides look like.

In order for our community to understand the views of each candidate running for City Council and Mayor – and how they will keep our city moving towards a place where people of all ages and abilities feel comfortable and safe riding their bikes – we compiled a list of questions and sent them out to every candidate. Check out their responses HERE to help fill out your ballot (now updated with Barb Campbell’s responses, which we did receive on time, but messed up and omitted them by accident) and we hope to see you rolling to your nearest ballot drop box!

Project Updates: Midtown Crossings, Core Area, and Reed Market

After months of open houses, conversations with City Councilors, public comment, and dialogue, the verdict is in – on October 19th, City staff recommended to Council the following sequencing for the midtown crossings

  1. Near-term quick-build pilot project on Greenwood to provide road diet trial period in 2023 – 2024, Franklin detour route, and contiguous safe route between Downtown and Core area with additional funding potentially needed for phase II design/construction.
  2. Complete Franklin Corridor improvements and priority elements of Franklin Concept 1 crossing improvements, initiate design starting in 2023, with construction in 2024 – 2025.
  3. Reserve remaining funds for Hawthorne and continue to pursue additional funding resources. Federal grant funding includes additional requirements and staff will come back to Council in February 2023 with a federal grant update.

[Images: City of Bend] For the policy wonks out there…

What do we think? We are cautiously optimistic with this recommendation… we will be keeping a very close eye on what exactly staff are testing with the quick-build on Greenwood. Is it to ensure how successfully it protects people who walk, bike, and roll? Is it about doing the cheapest and easiest thing? Or is it about traffic congestion? 

In other good news, the Core Area Advisory Board recently decided to fund the 2nd Street streetscape project from Franklin to Greenwood. This will tie into the corridors that are already being focused on for the Midtown Crossings project with Franklin and Greenwood.

Bend Bikes Vision: Road Diets

Now that we’ve learned that City staff will be piloting a quick-build road diet on Greenwood, one of the biggest concerns we hear from naysayers is – “What about the traffic congestion?!” Initial conceptual designs for a road diet on Greenwood would mean the 4-lane section between Hill Street and 3rd Street (two lanes in each direction) would change into three lanes (one lane in each direction and a center turn lane). Some people are nervous that this would cause more congestion, but is that true? According to the Federal Highway Administration road diets can actually relieve congestion in the right circumstances.

[Sources: NACTO and Car Free America] Road diets can increase overall capacity of a street by allocating space to more efficient, sustainable modes. 

One of the factors that plays a role in this is the volume of traffic on the road where the road diet is proposed. Greenwood has roughly 18,000 cars a day, which makes it a good road diet candidate with possible minor effects on capacity. In this case, a possible small reduction in capacity will lead to a large improvement in safety for all people. The extra space created will allow for protected bike lanes to provide a safer and more comfortable corridor design on Greenwood for people that walk, bike, and roll and for all users. This road diet is the right answer and we are excited to see it in action!

Connecting Bend on Bikes: The Environmental Center School Garden Tour

We teamed up with The Environmental Center and their Garden for Every School program to co-host a School Garden Tour by bike this month. Our group of ten traveled between three garden sites in northwest Bend, from the future site of the Deschutes Juvenile Justice Center’s raised bed garden to the Bend International School’s plot at the edge of their grassy schoolyard, finally landing at the Desert Sky Montessori School’s garden open house.

This ride explored the physical infrastructure that does (or does not) exist in Bend for people who walk, bike, and roll, including separated paths, protected bike lanes, controlled intersections, and traffic calming measures. It was not just an opportunity to talk about the importance of connectivity for safe and comfortable routes for people of all ages and abilities, but created social connectivity between neighbors – new and old. We hope to build a network of neighbors who are passionate about making Bend a healthier, more physically, and socially connected city through these small group rides. 

[Photo: Bend Bikes] Bike joy on the School Garden Tour! 

Save the Date! Sustainable Bicycle Transportation – Models for Change with Robin Lewis on December 7th from 5:30 pm – 6:30 pm at The Environmental Center*

Bend’s very own transportation engineer, Robin Lewis, joined a cohort of transportation professionals and students from Oregon to study transportation infrastructure and safety in Denmark and The Netherlands this summer. Their goal was to “discover how we can create great communities and what role transportation systems, including bicycling transportation, play to improve livability, connect people to other people and places to sustain a healthy environment.” We will gather together to hear what Robin learned and how to apply strategies to make walking and rolling in Bend safer and more enjoyable. Light refreshments will be provided. RSVP to the Facebook event.

*This event does not necessarily reflect the mission/opinion of The Environmental Center.

Winter is Coming: Hot Tips for Cold Weather Riding

Bend Bikes board member Jim Elliott has lived in Bend for over a decade and bikes around town year round. While we know that road maintenance plays a large role in people being able to walk, bike, and roll in winter, he shares his tips on clothes and gear for winter riding below.

[Photos: Bend Bikes] 

Clothing: You don’t have to get fancy – wear the same coats, pants, and boots that you would wear snowshoeing or cross country skiing. Layering is key and you can use a pair of ski gloves or level up to bar mitts

Helmet: Consider a snowboarding helmet that has a liner. When combined with a balaclava, your head will stay toasty warm.

Lights: With short dark days, two headlights and two blinking tail lights can help others see you. While we hope one day our infrastructure for people who walk, bike, and roll will reduce the need for visibility gear, until then, some folks choose to layer on a reflective vest.

Bike and Bike Gear: Our board members choose to ride a gravel bike, gravel e-bike, fat bike, or mountain bike depending on the road conditions. Regardless what kind of bike you ride, we swear by studded bike tires for winter riding (we love the Schwalbe Ice Spiker Pros) and good fenders for those slushy days. 

Bike Care: For those lucky enough to have a heated garage for storage, washing your bike after getting it covered in snow or cinders is great. For those who suffer with outdoor bike storage, a good tarp or covered bike parking area can help keep the elements off. Want to learn more? Check out Frostbike: The Joy, Pain, and Numbness of Winter Cycling by Tom Babin Shifter and his YouTube channel has great content on how cities can improve winter biking.