(Photo above: Map shows recent and future sidewalks and multi-use paths in Prineville | Image Courtesy of Phil Stenbeck, City of Prineville Planner)
Shhh…it may be a secret to some, but Prineville is becoming Central Oregon’s next bicycling mecca. Part of that is due to Crook County and City of Prineville’s active community initiatives that include making biking and walking fun and safe for residents. Over the last few years, City of Prineville staff and community members have supported infrastructure and education programs that help residents stay active.
Abby Leibowitz is an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer who works with the Crook County Health Department to increase physical activity in local kids’ daily lives. Last fall, students at Crooked River Elementary School participated in a Walk and Bike to School Day, with full support from the school principal and staff members. Last fall, fourth and fifth graders at Barnes Butte Elementary School, with help from The Street Trust, partook in Bicycle Safety Education classes, taught by the Physical Education teacher. This spring, Crooked River fourth and fifth graders will learn about how to ride their bikes safely in town.
One of the main goals with the elementary schools is to create “walking school buses” where kids and parents can all walk together to school, picking up students along the way. Walking school buses have proven to be a safe, fun and community centered way to get to school. “Our goal is to get kids to be more active in their daily lives. It’s so easy to hop in the car to go to school, and we’re trying to help kids walk instead. It’s a fun way to get them moving,” adds Leibowitz.
In addition to education programs, the City of Prineville has developed extensive walking and biking paths throughout the city, connecting the schools to parks. Since 2013, the City has added several miles of a combination of new sidewalks and off-street multi-use paths. In 2018, the City is planning on converting a roughly mile long stretch of railroad grade into a multi-modal trail. Part of the goal of the Rails-to-Trails project is to give walkers and bike riders an alternative to Third Street.
“The City of Prineville appreciates the opportunity to provide a trail system that was built with our federal, state and local public and private partners. The City’s progress on the trail system opens up the opportunity to walk or bike to work, school, shopping or recreation while also enjoying Prineville’s amazing scenery and great views of our rim rock plateaus,” says Prineville’s Mayor Betty Roppe.
On the recreation side, the less than a year old Prineville Bike Park is a huge asset to the city. Kids and parents alike spend hours riding bikes, and many of them have become motivated to ride their bike instead of drive. And if you haven’t heard of Good Bike Company, it’s worth a trip to see Prineville’s first bike shop. Opened in 2014, the shop has seen an exponential growth in cycling, from young kids to older residents who want to ride a bike.
Commute Options promotes 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