2015

Help in Reducing Traffic Congestion A Benefit of Paved Paths

One of the few things on which Sisters Country folks seem in agreement is that we have a traffic problem. This is especially true Fridays-Mondays when vehicles are often lined up bumper to bumper all the way from Black Butte and Camp Sherman, past Tollgate and on through Sisters.

One way to help alleviate this problem and the accompanying air and noise pollution is to provide means for our Sisters area communities to get around safely by bicycle. The success of paved pathways has been demonstrated in many parts of the nation and throughout Europe. These pathways connect residential and resort communities with shopping, parks and schools, thereby helping to relieve traffic congestion.

Paved pathways not only provide residents with safe, healthy alternatives for commuting and recreating, they also appeal to visitors. In Oregon there already exist more than 80 off-street paved paths ranging from 1 to 37 miles in length. These have been featured on websites and in guidebooks as well as in many other publications. We have seen, for example, newspaper and magazine ads and feature articles about paved pathways around Klamath Falls, Cottage Grove and many others. We recently saw a full-page ad in National Geographic promoting Boise, ID, as a bike-friendly town.

We have made several trips to smaller towns in Idaho to gain firsthand information about some of their paved trail systems. One of our favorites links the Ketchum-Hailey-Bellevue communities of Woods County with the resort areas of Elkhorn and Sun Valley, as well as with shopping, schools, parks and campgrounds. We love being able to park our car at a motel or campground and then get around exclusively by bike. The Woods County paved pathways system has become so popular that county taxpayers have passed a recent bond measure to add to their existing 30-plus mile system.

Here in Sisters Country we have an opportunity to establish a modest version of that trail system without levying taxes to pay for it. The 7.6 mile trail between Black Butte and Sisters, located entirely on public lands, would be paid for with funds already allocated for the purpose of constructing trails. It would connect up with existing paved pathways and would be maintained by our own dedicated and hard-working Sisters Trails Alliance, together with other individuals and organizations involved in the newly formed Friends of the Black Butte Trail consortium.

For more information, we encourage everyone to check out http://blackbuttetrail.com/library.html to see how such trails have affected other communities in the US. The 97 studies referenced on the blackbuttetrail.com website show that trails connecting communities bring many health, economic and environmental benefits, not least of which is reduced dependence on cars for getting around locally.

Suzanne Pepin, Sisters, OR