Making Sisters a truly walkable town
Last updated 12/12/2023 at 9:34am
A few months ago, I addressed the issue of the increase in traffic at the west end roundabout and the surrounding area. Today, I am addressing pedestrian safety in this area, specifically McKinney Butte from McKinney Meadows to the roundabout.
Currently, as you travel east down McKinney Butte from McKinney Meadows to the roundabout there is: a 25 mph near Fremont westbound, a 25 mph near The Hanger eastbound, a 25 mph near Desert Rose/Wellhouse westbound, and a 25mph near Arrowleaf /Mckinney Butte westbound. There are no speed signs eastbound from The Hanger to the roundabout. There are marked pedestrian crossings on McKinney Butte near Fremont, Brooks Camp intersection, Wheeler Loop. and Dollar General and at the roundabout. There is no marked crossing at Trinity or Arrowleaf.
In the next two to five years we will add 1,500-plus people to this area with Sisters Woodlands, Sunset Meadows, Heavenly Acres, and the completion of Oxbow Flats. That is not counting foot traffic from the yet-to-be-built businesses of Oxbow Flats, the East Portal, and the new elementary school. In my small 55-plus community, 20 percent are regular walkers. If we apply that to the additional population that means 300-plus pedestrians added to the 950-plus vehicles from new developments.
To make this area safer for pedestrians/cyclists the following should be done:
1. Add speed and pedestrian signs to the area just east of the Brooks Camp/McKinney Butte intersection and make McKinney Butte from the roundabout to Brooks Camp 20 mph. Reducing the speed is essential with the volume of cars and pedestrians in such a small, congested area. The pedestrian sign east of the Brooks Camp/McKinney Butte intersection is critical as you cannot fully see the crosswalk at Wheeler Loop/McKinney Butte until you enter the curve. Twenty mph would also be consistent with the posted speed on Brooks Camp and on Arrowleaf.
2. Add a pathway into the Bi-Mart Shopping Center. There are none.
3. Consider other options for the driveway of Dairy Queen, Bi-Mart/Dollar General, and Felicity/Dollar General. These driveways are really used as side streets with higher volume than regular driveways. People walking from Arrowleaf to the Bi-Mart area tend to cross where there is no marked crossing. They do not go up to the roundabout or down a block to the crossing just before Wheeler Loop.
4. Place no-parking signs along the south side of McKinney Butte between Wheeler Loop and DQ and also along the east side of Brooks Camp Rd (same as what was done from McKinney Butte to Rail Way).
5. Petition ODOT to make the following changes to the roundabout:
a. Reduce entry into the roundabout to 25 mph from all directions except for 20 mph on McKinney Butte. The recommended approach speed is 20-25 mph for a single lane roundabout. The lower the speed the safer it is for pedestrians.
b. Add a pedestrian activated warning signal. In addition to Sisters Woodlands residences crossing to access shops, and west side residences accessing the only park in the area, the roundabout could be considered a school crossing.
The signage changes on McKinney Butte (20 mph, pedestrian crossing, and no parking signs) are low-cost measures yielding immediate results. Perhaps these would qualify for the Spot Improvement program. The process to make changes to the roundabout should start sooner rather than later. It will take time to get these done. A study should be conducted for the south side of McKinney Butte between Dollar General and DQ. Increased volume of vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists will make this area more dangerous for all users.
Action needs to be taken to keep residents and visitors in this area safe and to help Sisters become a truly walkable community. If you, too, have concerns about pedestrian safety in this area please contact Paul Bertagna, public works director.