As presented in a September 25 KTVZ story, Bend Bikes opposes the City of Bend’s decision to temporarily remove bike lanes on NE Purcell Blvd at NE Butler Market Road. Installing a sign that says “Bikes on Road” and asking those who bicycle commute to share space with cars is not a substitute for safe infrastructure during a construction project.
This intersection is only one of many weak links in Bend’s incomplete patchwork of bike routes. Preserving the bike lane there would not create a citywide network of safe bike routes, which Bend desperately needs if we hope to lower vehicle miles traveled as mandated by the State of Oregon. It does however strongly signal that the City of Bend’s Engineering and Infrastructure Planning Department places a high priority on saving a few moments of time over the safety of vulnerable road users.
This also unfortunately reflects the attitude of several Bend City Councilors. As a city we seem to be caught in a self-fulfilling prophecy: citing low ridership levels, policy makers fail to invest in active transportation, which leads to lower ridership. Better and well-maintained infrastructure begets more bicycling commuters.
Continuing to prioritize the movement of cars in Bend not only ensures more people will have no choice but to commute by car, it also means traffic and parking will continue to get worse. Bend Bikes will continue to advocate for safe bicycle routes throughout Bend so that we all can enjoy a safer, more prosperous, and livable Bend.