La Pine Invests in Walking, Biking and Transit

By Katy Bryce, for Commute Options

La Pine may be Central Oregon’s newest and smallest incorporated city, but it is taking transportation options—walking, biking and public transportation—very seriously. The community, along with support from Deschutes County, the City of La Pine, Cascades East Transit and the La Pine Chamber, is continuously looking at ways in which they improve active transportation for all residents.

La Pine’s Mayor Ken Mulenex says, “It is important to show that we are committed to bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure here in La Pine. Our interest in investing in bicycle and pedestrian accommodations, from facilities to multiple bike-ped by-ways has been a goal for a long time. It’s just that we have to put a foundation under our new city government before we can move forward on this goal. But it will come.” In 2014, the Deschutes County Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee appointed Scott Morgan, a La Pine resident, to serve on the committee to help identify and prioritize improvements in and around the city.

Currently, Cascades East Transit (CET) operates Community Connector Route 30, which provides Monday through Friday service for people traveling between Bend and La Pine. The full route, from the Wickiup Junction Park and Ride to Hawthorne Station in Bend, is only 45 minutes and provides an alternative to driving to and from Bend for work. CET is looking at implementing a transit hub in La Pine to further support public transportation.

Adding and improving sidewalks is also a priority in La Pine, to provide safer walking access in a community where not everyone is able to drive, including children and seniors. This year, the city completed sidewalks, streetlights and landscaping additions at the intersection of First St. and US Highway 97, a popular shopping area that includes the Dollar Tree and Grocery Outlet. This intersection now has safer and more convenient pedestrian access so people can more easily walk to shopping and errands.

Morgan also worked with the La Pine Chamber of Commerce to add routes for recreational road biking to the La Pine Road Map, which is available at the chamber. The map designates routes between 10 and 50 miles that are good for riding on the road, which serves both recreational riding and daily bike commuting. Additionally, the community recently implemented a bike fix-it station located at the La Pine Community Center and Parks and Recreation building. The station includes a pump, bike stand, and basic tools so bicyclists can work on their bikes.

What’s in the future? More big plans, including extending the multi-use path from the community center to the La Pine Senior Center to give walkers a safe place to walk. “This gets walkers off the street and off the dirt shoulder, and provides a safe, off-street path for walking and biking. It’s an important north-south connector,” says Morgan.

Jeff Monson, Executive Director for Commute Options adds, “La Pine is always looking to the future and improving infrastructure to include walk, bike and transit friendly features. In a small community, these small improvements can have big impacts.”

Celebrating 25 years of Commute Options! Promoting choices that reduce the impacts of driving alone. For more information, contact Executive Director, Jeff Monson at 541-330-2647 or visit www.commuteoptions.org

Katy Bryce is a freelance writer in Bend. www.katybryce.com.