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Bend city councilors OK design contract for Crosstown Bikeways project to make walking, rolling and biking safer

(Update: Adding video, comments from city councilor, father of teen crash victim)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) --  Bend city councilors this week approved a contract to proceed with design work on two routes, north-south and east-west, called the Crosstown Bikeways. The goal is safer travel for people walking, biking or rolling -- and also for drivers. 

"So there's a lot of fact finding," City Councilor Ariel Mendez said Friday. "There's a lot of gaps. We have gaps in funding, we have gaps in projects, and this is really about funding those gaps and taking a look at what kind of specific things we're going to do to make them safer."

As areas like Bear Creek Road have exploded with new homes and families, the call for safer infrastructure has grown louder. 

Mendez said the Crosstown Bikeways plans are for "one large north-south east-west network. It's about 11 miles total. Route one is this section here, Bear Creek, which is a huge gap in our safe routes."

On Bear Creek Road, there is a sidewalk that abruptly ends and a shoulder with no bike lane, putting the many who walk and bike the area in dangerous situations.

One supporter for the bikeway project and other safety efforts is David Burger, whose teen son tragically died earlier this year after being hit by a car while riding his e-bike on Highway 20.

Burger wrote an email to city councilors that Councilor Anthony Broadman read to his colleagues and the public on Wednesday evening:

"I commend the efforts to legislate more around e-bike safety and clarify the rules. I plan to support those efforts. ... Building the Bend Bikeway and designing it so that it works, so that it is used by all kinds of people, and is maintained well, will make kids in our community safer. This is one thing the city can do to honor Trenton and the lives we have lost in our community," Burger wrote. 

Next year, city staff will come together to  look at the costs, potential designs and see if there are still gaps that need to be addressed.

The project doesn't just benefit those who walk or bike, supporters say.

Mendez, who commutes by bike year-round, says the project will help drivers by taking more people off the roads, both easing traffic and reducing the risk of dangerous collisions. 

"Even if you drive today and you continue to drive in the future, you benefit from this project," he said. "Because it means fewer people demanding parking for your destinations, fewer people clogging up the roads in front of you, waiting in front of you at a red light. So this is one of those projects that's really wins all around."

Mendez said construction will likely happen in 2025, but things can still change. For example, there might be a utility in the way, or a less costly way to achieve the desired results. 

Here's the presentation given Wednesday evening to city councilors:

Article Topic Follows: Bend

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Kelsey McGee

Kelsey McGee is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Kelsey here.


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