Your comments help raise bike access issue in Sunriver

Your comments help raise bike access issue in Sunriver

Bikes made the ‘Scene’ in Sunriver.
(Photo: Tigue Howe)

As often happens here on BikePortland, reader comments bring up unexpected insights into our stories. While Internet comments are the butt of a lot of jokes and criticism, I remain extremely proud of the smart and valuable contributions many of you make to our stories. Case in point…

Back in July I wasn’t shy about my feelings for the riding conditions in Sunriver, the privately-owned resort community nestled in the Deschutes River valley just south of Bend in central Oregon. I deemed Sunriver’s 33 miles of dedicated bike paths, “the best bikeway network in North America.” I still believe that due to the mix of safety, connectivity, and wayfinding Sunriver’s path network provides people of all ages and riding abilities.

While my story had a very positive tone, several commenters pointed out their disappointment that the paths don’t serve their needs and the more direct roads that wind through Sunriver expressly forbid bicycles. While bikes are not allowed on the roadways, the paths are serpentine, subject to low speed limits, and are set up for recreational riding rather than direct access and/or fast riding. Here’s a sampling of your responses:

“Bikesalot” wrote:

“I found Sunriver very frustrating by bike. Being forced onto the paths exclusively meant it took forever to get anywhere – they are NOT designed for speed.”

Ron G. wrote:

“I took off from the Village at Sunriver to ride to Bend along the Deschutes River Trail. I just wanted to get to the trailhead, and the roads would have provided a simple, fast, direct route. I was shocked to find that I wasn’t allowed to do that. Instead, I had to follow a complicated route with about five times as many intersections. Sure, there were kiosks to help me along — and I had to use every damn one of them. It was frustratingly slow.

These paths aren’t there because the developers like bicycles. Rather, they suggest that Sunriver sees bicycles as a problem in search of a solution. If you need evidence that it’s a passive-aggressive approach, try riding on the roads — you’ll experience the aggression quickly.”

And reader Jim Lee wrote that, “Maybe we should put cars on the paths and bikes on the road!”

It was an interesting comment thread.

“Given that road biking is booming in popularity, Sunriver would be wise to consider the impact its bike pathway rules have on this increasingly important visitor demographic.”
— Sunriver Scene newspaper

Fast forward to the January 2013 issue of the Sunriver Scene newspaper and their “Top 10 Stories of 2012.” Among them at number nine was, unexpectedly, “Pathways Named Best Bikeway in North America.” (Thanks to Tigue Howe for bringing this to my attention!). I was surprised they felt our story merited top 10 story status; but what they wrote was an even bigger surprise:

“… The comments boiled down to two categories: 1) The paths are great for casual riders of all ages, but 2) serious riders may want to consider elsewhere to get their fix of high speed distance and/or endurance riding.

Given that road biking is booming in popularity, Sunriver would be wise to consider the impact its bike pathway rules have on this increasingly important visitor demographic.”

Is Sunriver ready to change their rules and allow bicycles on the roadways? There’s no concrete movement yet; but at least your comments helped raise the issue. Thanks! And who knows, we’ll follow-up and let you know if there’s any opportunity to weight in on a real proposal in the future..

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