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News » Local News

Taken for a Ride: New Skyliner bike rules, furlough days and more

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After months of wrangling with residents and cyclists, the Deschutes County Commission is prepared to tighten the rules governing recreational cycling on Skyliners Road. On Wednesday the commission was scheduled to vote on an "emergency" ordinance requiring bikers to ride single file on Skyliners where neighbors have complained that cyclists are clogging the narrow road.

The commission has already tightened the reins on races by limiting the number of road events on Skyliners and forcing those that have been grandfathered to go through an application process with a fee that requires event planners to show they cannot reasonably relocate. The move to crack down on recreation riders is likely to provoke a backlash from cycle-happy Bend, particularly given the popularity of the Skyliners Road ride west of town. The county's own bike and pedestrian advisory board refused to endorse the move to restrict cyclists, saying that it sends the wrong message about sharing the road (as required by law). Rather than make the road safer, additional restrictions could make the road more dangerous by extending passing zones in practice, it wrote.


"It is the position of the Committee that, while enacting the ordinance may be in compliance with the laws and policies of the State of Oregon... such action is contrary to the spirit of those laws that govern bicycling on roadways and shared use of roadways by motorists and non-motorists," BPAC wrote in comments recently submitted to the county commission.

The commission submitted a series of potential actions that it suggested the county consider as an alternative to the single file rule, including a public education and outreach plan to cyclists and drivers. The county commission was scheduled to take up the issue at its Wednesday meeting.

Off Of Work

Like a school suspension without the obligatory sit-down chat, state workers will be sent home without credit (i.e. pay) this Friday as state offices shutter for the fourth time this year as part of a series of scheduled "furlough" days. Closing state offices is expected to save the state about $2 million per day while allowing state workers to catch up on DVR programming and the Ellen DeGeneres Show. Public safety related workers, including police, corrections officers and some hospital staff, will remain on duty, but you'll need to wait until Monday if you want hang out at the DMV. In all, state workers are taking seven scheduled days off and four floating days (all unpaid) to help the state deal with its funding shortfall. For more info on the closures, including specifics about which departments will be closed, go to www.oregon.gov.

Green Horsepower

Car dealerships and sustainability aren't often mentioned in the same sentence, but the plans for the new Toyota-Scion of Bend dealership are bucking that trend. Given that this is the annual Green Issue, a mention of the planned project didn't seem like a stretch. According to architects Neal Huston and John Gerard, the new 50,000-plus-square-foot facility on S. Hwy. 97 is pursuing a gold, and possibly platinum, LEED certification. Some of the design elements for the new dealer include expanded bicycle parking and changing areas to (hello irony!) encourage employees to leave their cars at home. Other elements include onsite storm water management, increased insulation for energy efficiency and drought-resistant landscaping. The new dealership will be located adjacent to the Bend Mercedes dealership on Bend's south side.

Speaking of Green

Mothers Against Misuse and Abuse (MAMA), one of Oregon's leading marijuana advocacy groups , has scheduled a free pot prohibition forum at Bend's Community Center on April 27. The event, which runs from 7-8:30 p.m., is part of MAMA's statewide tour stumping for reform of marijuana laws. Speakers for the Bend stop include Howard Woolbridge, a retired law enforcement officer, and Alice Ivany, a licensed medical toker. Oregon is one of 14 states with a medical marijuana law. The law, which has survived several challenges, allows doctors to prescribe marijuana as medicine and cardholders to grow and possess a small amount of pot.

MAMA and other pro-marijuana organizations are now pushing voters to decide if Oregon should follow California's lead (I think I know how this story ends... ) and ask voters to decriminalize pot entirely. For more info on Bend's event, call Sandee Burbank, 541-298-4202 ext. 404.

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