More than a bridge – Drake to Juniper Pedestrian and Bike Corridor 

Matt here from Envision Bend.

How do we effectively guide our growth as a region? This question spurred 17 months of community engagement to capture core values, challenges, and strategies for moving forward. Community-based Vision Action Teams then turned the thousands of comments into 28 strategies in the Vision Action Plan providing a collective opportunity to step back and imagine what is possible. Like a North Star for our region, the Vision Action Plan brings the community’s voice into decision-making and long-range planning. 

(Screenshot of graphic from the Community Input Report)

Leading challenges mentioned in Envision Bend’s Community Input Report were cross-town connectivity, increased traffic congestion, and the current transportation system. These challenges will certainly continue as Central Oregon grows. In five years, the route and mode you use to commute to work or run your errands will change depending on today’s planning and tomorrow’s infrastructure.  

The City of Bend has a robust Transportation System Plan, but it need millions of dollars to bring projects to life. The City of Bend like the 2020 GO-Bond, 2024 Transportation Fee, and even past bond measures such as the “Gas tax” (which was denied by voters in 2016 by 64%) have been efforts to establish a sustainable funding source. It is important to note that a majority of transportation dollars go to paving, repairing, and cleaning streets for vehicles. However, the current City of Bend Council is passionate about increasing bike, walk, and roll as safe alternatives for driving a vehicle. Recent examples include the Bend Bikeways Project, Midtown Crossing improvements, and the Bend Bike Night that occurred on May 13, 2024. 

The state passed the Climate Friendly and Equitable Communities (CFEC) rules in July 2022. There are currently 10 potential ‘CFEC’ areas in Bend being considered. This summer, the City of Bend is preparing to do a low-car/no-car study for the core area of Bend to support the CFEC analysis. What does low-car look like for our community – local traffic only, single-lane one-ways, or roads with reduced street entrances and exits?? These are questions that the larger community will need to answer. The Community Vision strategy for a Drake-to-Juniper Pedestrian Corridor will be used as a case study within the low-car/no-car study. 

Hawthorne bridge design by Ashley Vance and Ten Over Studio

(Image: Bend Central District Hawthorne Bridge visual rendering)

The Drake-to-Juniper strategy in the Vision Action Plan outlines a pedestrian/bicycle/wheelchair corridor connecting east and west Bend, by linking Drake Park and Downtown Bend to the Bend Central District, the new Bend City Hall and Civic Plaza, and Juniper Park via the Hawthorne Avenue Pedestrian and Bicyclist Overcrossing (a.k.a. Hawthorne Bridge) which received $25M last year and is under development. The recent community input and proposed improvements to Midtown Crossings on Franklin Ave and Greenwood Ave are a big step towards creating safe connections to fulfill this vision. 

(Image: City of Bend Midtown Crossings)

Envision Bend in partnership with Bend Bikes, and the City of Bend are hosting a kid-friendly and e-bike-friendly community event on June 1st at the and the Commons Cafe and Taproom (875 NW Brooks St.). The goal is to ride and share conversation regarding the vision for the Drake-to-Juniper Pedestrian Corridor. Join us at 9am for a 2.25-mile group bike ride to Juniper Park via Greenwood Ave, and back via Franklin Ave by 10 am. Or, simply plan to stop by at 10am to hear from the City of Bend staff, updates from Bend Bikes and Envision Bend, and share community conversation with someone new. 

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The Commons Cafe and Taproom is donating proceeds from attendees at June 1st to support the implementation of the community’s Vision Action Plan, so please grab a snack and a beverage and invite a friend to show your support June 1st! 

Envision Bend is a nonpartisan, community nonprofit organization. Its mission is to bring diverse stakeholders together to educate, engage and empower all members of the Bend community to have a voice in our community’s future. In 2021, as the successor organization to Bend 2030, it reorganized and rebranded itself as Envision Bend. For more, please visit envisionbend.org or facebook.com/EnvisionBend.