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home : opinions : opinions May 29, 2016


8/5/2014 4:44:00 PM
Unintended consequences of path
By Steve Nugent


The proposed Black Butte Ranch-to-Sisters bike/pedestrian path provides for the safety of bicyclists and encouragement for more people to bicycle. However, like most developments, there are unintended consequences that should be brought up and addressed. Having lived at BBR for more than 12 years and walking the BBR bike paths daily, I have experienced some of these consequences. They include:

• Maintenance of the paths to repair cracks and repave.

The asphalt BBR paths, because of the extremes in temperature and tree roots, require repaving every 4-5 years and crack repair virtually every year. Because the major benefit of the path is for BBR guests and owners, I can imagine an assessment to the BBR homeowners in the future to repave or patch this path. I seriously doubt if the City of Sisters or their voters will be willing to pay for this and I don't believe the state of Oregon can afford it.

• Off-road sprawl.

It is likely that off-road bicyclists will want to take advantage. Even at BBR, it is difficult to keep children on the bike path even though it is forbidden to bicycle off the paths. Because the BBR-Sisters bike path is out of sight and not policed, it is likely that dozens of new off-road paths will appear in a very short time. These will not only connect the highway to the new path at multiple points, but potentially venture deep into the forest.

• Motorcycle, snowmobile, and ATV use.

Because the path is not policed, it is likely that we will find off-road motorcycles, ATVs, and snowmobiles on the path. These compete with the intended users and have potential for causing more wildfires, litter and damage to the forest. I can imagine a giant network of dirt bike/motorcycle/ATV/snowmobile trails forming in the next 10 years throughout that forest, with accompanying noise and environmental impact.

• Litter along the paved path.

Because the BBR-Sisters path is out of sight of homes and roads, it is even more likely to collect litter, including plastic bottles, candy wrappers, beer bottles/cans and bike parts that fall off. This is exactly what my wife and I pick up all summer long along the BBR bike paths.

• Potential for more local wildfires and campsite damage.

Because the path is out of view of homes and the highway, it is more likely that long-range bicyclists and transients will camp near the path and have illegal campfires. Even if these do not cause wildfires, they will further disturb the forest in potentially large areas in sight of the path, causing eyesores and more litter, including human feces. This even happens occasionally at BBR, and my dog finds it. Because of the proximity to Tollgate, BBR, and the adjacent houses along Powerline Road, such fires may be difficult to control without losing many homes.

An alternative solution:

Powerline Road is a road with a few houses along it that stretches from Tollgate to BBR. This is an unpaved road that gets very little vehicle traffic. The paved trail proposed could terminate at Tollgate and then Powerline Road could be paved to BBR. This would provide emergency access and most of the concerns above would be eliminated or minimized. Maintenance of this road could be shared among many homeowners, and other agencies. One disadvantage is that this would make more development along this road attractive to developers. Another disadvantage is that Powerline Road connects to BBR in the middle, where there is a lack of security and easy access to Glaze Meadow pool from unauthorized persons.

As voiced by the board of BBR, I am generally in favor of the bike trail concept, but the above concerns need to be addressed.









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