BEND, OR -- A bicycle advocacy group is upset over the loss of bike lanes on Purcell Boulevard at Butler Market Road. Bend Bikes says the new "Bikes On Road" signs show the city is not interested in providing safe bicycle routes and is not committed to promoting alternate modes of transportation, which encourages more people to drive.
Principal Engineer for the city, George Franklet, says the intersection sees a lot more traffic now that Empire is closed for reconstruction, "But, the other big piece of it is concern about left and right turn hooks: vehicle and bike conflicts that really were an inordinate share of the car/bike conflicts in Bend that were identified in a 2012 crash study." He says with so many cars going through that intersection right now, there’s a much higher risk of a turning vehicle hitting a bike going straight.
While future plans for Purcell and Butler Market have not been finalized, Franklet doubts the bike lanes are gone for good, "The city really recognizes the importance of the Purcell corridor for multi-modal transportation, particularly for bikes, and being able to accommodate that is important. So, I think that’s very unlikely that that’s going to be a permanent situation." And, he says more bike lanes are coming to northeast Bend, "Bike lanes are included on the Empire extension itself. And, some of the things that we know are going to happen for the improvement of Purcell is, one of the big pinch-points along Purcell is the bridge over the North Unit Canal; we are planning on widening that bridge so pedestrian and bike traffic can be accommodated on that bridge without having to enter the traffic lane."
The Empire Corridor Improvement Project is expected to take several years. Empire Avenue, between 18th and Purcell, closed in early September and should reopen in mid-December.