By BROOKE SNAVELY
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY
Imagine riding a bike from Bend to Lava Butte without having to ride on the shoulder of Highway 97 as cars and trucks go whizzing by at 65 mph.
The Deschutes National Forest is proposing building a paved pathway through the forest west of the highway so the public could do exactly that.
Kevin Slane, owner of Village Bike & Ski Shop in Sunriver calls the proposal a “no brainer.”
“The possibility that it would actually be a commute option for people seems great because, right now, riding a bike on Highway 97 between Bend and Sunriver or Lava Lands, it’s just not something people are willing to do,” he said.
A 5.5-mile Sun-Lava path currently connects Sunriver to the Lava Lands Visitor Center. The proposed new new trail would look much like that – 10-feet-wide and paved but it would run about four miles north from Lava Lands Visitors Center to Bend along the west side of the highway.
The proposed pathway would likely connect to the High Desert Museum via a tunnel under the highway, much like the one on Century Drive near the Rimrock Trailhead, but some of those details haven’t been finalized.
The trail would connect to the existing Sun Lava Pathway, giving cyclists the opportunity to ride all the way from Bend to Sunriver.
“I used to commute a lot by bike. I was unwilling to the 97 stretch so I would ride to Road 41,” he said. “It’s just too far to do it all the time. If there was a direct connection it would get me out of a car a couple of days a week, at least.
Public comments on the project will be taken until April 2, 2020. Comments can be submitted electronically to firstname.lastname@example.org .
People are asked to put “Bend Lava Lands Paved Path” in the subject line of their email.
Comments may also be submitted in writing by mail or in person. Written comments should be sent or delivered to Kevin Larkin, District Ranger, Bend-Fort Rock Ranger District, 63095 Deschutes Market Road, Bend, OR 97701. Hand-delivered and oral comments may be delivered to the same address during normal business hours: 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, excluding holidays.