Contact: Thomas Hottman
Bicyclists Pete moody, left, and Stewart Decker, center, and Anna Olsen, were some who biked it to a meeting at the YMCA at Fairview on Wednesday night to learn more about protected bicycle lanes on Oregon Avenue.
Klamath Falls area resident Pete Moody rolled up to the YMCA at Fairview School on Wednesday evening on two wheels. Moody was one of at least 70 people who attended an informational open house to learn more about the concept of an enhanced connecting route between downtown and Moore Park for walkers, bicyclists and motorists.
The proposed project is being studied jointly by Sky Lakes Wellness Center and the city of Klamath Falls through a $104,000 grant awarded to Healthy Klamath by Cambia Health Foundation. The proposal aims to help improve bicycle and pedestrian safety in the downtown area.
"What we're trying to do here is to connect downtown Klamath Falls out to Moore Park," said Nick Foster, senior planner with Kittelson & Associates. "We identified the routes we think would make a direct connection for that."
The Boise firm was hired to study Oregon Avenue, Nevada Street, as well as Ninth and 11th Streets to see how they could be modified to ease travel for walkers, bicyclists and motorists.
"The goal here is to really make those streets more comfortable for everyone who uses them," said Foster. "There could be potential improvement for people driving it by adding these other facilities.
"We're looking to increase physical activity in the area, get people out and moving. We're also looking for something that might bring a little economic benefit to the area, too."
A healthy boost
Dr. Stephanie Van Dyke, medical director of Sky Lakes Wellness Center, shared the potential to improve health in areas designated for high risk of health complications.
"We decided on a protected bike path, which in other communities and abroad, has shown that it is really effective at improving physical activity rates," Van Dyke said, adding that proposed bicycle lanes could increase safety for those riding as well as boost property values and minimize vacancies on those streets.
Attendees took a look at concepts for traditional, no-barrier bicycle lanes, buffered or protected lanes, as well as two-way protected lanes as ways to better connect riders to and from downtown and Moore Park.
"We're trying to find options that are very low cost," Foster said. "We want to be realistic."
Moody commented he was in favor of a two-way bicycle lane for those traveling between downtown and Moore Park.
"I just think it's a safer option," he said, before getting on his bike to head home.
"Maybe we can find a medium for the bicyclists and the motorists, so we can get along."
Stewart Decker and Anna Olson, also Klamath Falls residents and local physicians, both advocate bicycling as a means of transportation and recreation.
Decker said he's technically never owned a car, except to drive one for six miles within six months while attending medical school. He enjoys the commute to work and sees the benefit a protected lane could have on the area.
Olson agreed, and said she became accustomed to a commute to medical school while she lived in the Portland area.
Not everyone agreed on the idea to make modifications to streets or to add bicycle lanes, such as Bob Pallies.
"I think it's going to impact the value of our house," he said.
In contrast, Foster said the opposite would likely occur if a bicycle path were installed near Pallie's home.
Pallie's wife, Connie, sees a benefit to a bicycle path in the area where the couple lives on Nevada Street.
"I would like to see a nice bike path," Connie Pallies said. "Our oldest grandson and his kids are really into biking and they would use that."
Oregon Avenue residents Lisa and Robert Branning also questioned how adding bicycle lanes would increase access to bicycles for those who already do not own one.
"There's a lot of people in this area on fixed incomes, everybody has to be thought about," Lisa Branning said. "I'm not against the bicyclists," she added, but said she wants to make sure everyone's voices are heard.
For more information
Any options for constructing a bicycle lane would need final approval from the city's planning commission and the city council. The concept design is being developed in coordination with the Klamath Falls Urban Trail Plan.
To share your perspective and learn more, a second open house is tentatively planned for Dec. 9, with a time to be determined.
To learn more about the urban trail plan, go online at klamathfallstrailplan.com.