The Tri-County Summit met this past Monday to discuss bicycle and pedestrian transportation

by: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - The Tri-County Summit brought leaders from Crook, Deschutes, and Jefferson counties together on Monday to discuss ways to improve bicycle and pedestrian transportation throughout Central Oregon. The Summit was held in Prineville for the first time, at Meadow Lakes Restaurant.

When working on special projects, it sometimes helps to meet with peers and share information and experiences.
   This is the spirit behind the annual Tri-County Summit, which was held in Prineville for the first time this past Monday.
   The Summit, now in its third year, brings together community leaders from Crook, Jefferson, and Deschutes counties to discuss bicycle and pedestrian transportation. Participants consider programs that will encourage more cycling and walking and look for ways to improve the infrastructure that supports those activities.
   After holding the event in Madras one year and Sisters the next, Summit organizers chose Prineville for the latest gathering.
   “Prineville has a lot of exciting projects coming up the pipeline,” said Cheryl Howard, chair of the Deschutes County Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee. “It’s really an opportunity to visit a community that isn’t trying to cram infrastructure into an already fully-developed urban setting.”
   One such project is the remodel of the Ochoco Creek bike path, which has drawn help from multiple local agencies including the Community Health Improvement Partnership, the City of Prineville, and Crook County. At the conclusion of the Summit, City of Prineville Planning Director Scott Edelman took participants on a bicycle tour of the path.
   “What surprised me most is how responsive the motor vehicle community is to bikes and pedestrians in Prineville,” Howard said. “As you are approaching, everybody stops.”
   For Edelman and Crook County Commissioner Seth Crawford, the session provided them valuable information that they may later rely on as they work on bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure improvements.
   “It helps us see how other cities address challenges that they have,” Edelman said, referencing such examples as how the City of Madras was able to build a trail that follows the perimeter of the town, or how Bend installed its river crossings.
   “It’s always good to know what other people are doing,” Crawford added. “If you were to run into that problem, you are not reinventing the wheel.”
   Local leaders also gained insight that may help them as they seek funding for current or future projects.
   “Sometimes, it gives you some ideas on grants you haven’t though about, or creative ways to come up with funding,” Edelman said.
   At this time, community leaders are focusing primarily on the Ochoco Creek trail renovation project, however Edelman expects to start other projects at some point in the next few years. Whenever they can secure more funding, the City will try to expand its Safe Routes to School project, which installs or renovates sidewalks between local subdivisions and elementary schools. In addition, with the hospital soon occupying the Ochoco Lumber site, Edelman said they plan to eventually extend the Ochoco Creek trail through the site to Third Street.
   As they go forward with those projects, because of the Summit they will have armed themselves not only with new information and experiences from other communities, but a host of new regional connections as well.
   “For it being a one-day thing, it’s real valuable,” Edelman concluded.

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