Newport: Doggie park on the move, pump track at South Beach, To Sharrow or Not To Sharrow, That WAS the Question.
Dog Park Shuffle
The Newport City Council spent a lot of time Monday evening talking about some changes the city is going to be a part of by moving the dog park out of its present spot at Wilder off SE 40th to across 40th to the east, and how to create a new bicycle pump-track near the same site. And there’s a new coffee shop in that area popping up on the corner. So the landscape near the entrance to the college may get a refresher look soon.
The dog park there at College Way and 40th was built in 2010. It was never considered to be a permanent home and the city assumed maintenance responsibilities no matter where it eventually ended up.
Monday night the council announced that after talking with the Wilder developers, Wilder will pay to move the park (all that fencing, benches,etc) across 40th so it’ll be situated under the big power lines. Central Lincoln People’s Utility District, which owns the land under those lines says it’s fine with them if they want to stick a dog park under them. City officials predict the move will come rather soon so dog park users should keep an eye out for the new location across 40th. After it’s moved the original location will be developed by Wilder – something about a coffee shop of some kind.
Long tiresome search leads Pump-Trackers to South Beach
Then the news broke that despite shopping all over Newport-proper, the Newport Parks and Recreation Department couldn’t find a single piece of vacant ground, 150 feet by 150 feet, that was free or cheap to use or didn’t have neighbors complaining about having a kids bicycle pump-track in their neighborhood. City Parks and Recreation officials say they’re going to try to make a pump-track work at (you guessed it) currently vacant land at Wilder.
The plan is to install the dips and jumps for young all-terrain bicyclists near the soon-to-be-moved dog park. Pump-tracks all the rage all across the country according to Parks and Rec Director Jim Protiva. He says the trick is to not pedal your bike – just let the hills and dips propel you by working your body like a dancer – pushing, leaning, twisting, pressing down – all to keep the bike moving like a perpetual motion machine without pedaling throughout the track.
Bicycle families with young kids will be helping to design and build it. It requires very little maintenance and the bike clubs will help take care of it. They also say it’s “really cool” that the pump track will be right next to the start and finish line of the annual Coast Hills Classic bike race through the woods.
City Councilor Mark Saelens commented that pump-track boosters still haven’t given up that someday they’ll find a pump-track site north of the bridge, where most younger Newport families live.
Sharrows for bikes on Yaquina Bay Bridge – Safety hazard or safety reminder?
ODOT got some agenda time in front of the city council Monday night dealing with Sharrows – those bicycle stencils they put on the pavement reminding drivers to share the road with bicyclists. But their Sharrow idea got shot down before it could get much altitude.
ODOT proposed to partner with the city of Newport in painting Sharrows on the Yaquina Bay Bridge travel lanes as a safety reminder to motorists that the bridge may be old and narrow, but bicyclists still have the same right to use it as motorists. ODOT observed that many bicyclists fail to press the button at each end of the bridge that activates warning lights on the bridge that bicyclists are using it too.
To compensate for bicycLists who don’t push the button, ODOT suggested that Sharrows be painted on the pavement to remind motorists that the bridge is the only way for bicyclists to cross Yaquina Bay without riding 15 to 20 miles to the east and around through Toledo – SO THEY’RE GOING TO BE ON THE BRIDGE!
But City Councilor David Allen quickly steered the conversation away from using Sharrows because, he claimed, Sharrows would only encourage more bicyclists to ride their bikes across the bridge rather than walking them across using the sidewalks. The conversation went back and forth – some councilors saying that long-haul bicyclists, especially in groups, can’t fit themselves on the bridge’s narrow walkways, especially with bikes loaded with bags and storage packs. Councilor Mark Saelens said he couldn’t say whether the presence of Sharrows would, in fact, translate into more bicyclists using the travel lanes rather than the sidewalks. But he does believe that Sharrows constantly remind motorists that bicyclists are, in fact, on the bridge and to be careful driving near them – give them room.
There is also the fact that the sidewalks are so narrow that two bicyclists cannot pass each other without one of them having to step down into a traffic lane to let the other one by. Talk about danger!! But somehow that never came up.
The vote was three to three, meaning a majority was not reached and so the partnership with ODOT failed. Whether Sharrows ultimately show up on the bridge is still technically up to ODOT. We’ll just have to wait and see what they decide.
But one thing the community might bring up with ODOT is doing something like this – adding a bike/pedestrian lane either under or on either side of the bridge. Yes it costs money but everything costs money. And its ODOT’s main directive to provide safe motoring, walking and biking. The old bridge may last another fifty years, according to ODOT. That’s a long time to be looking at an already obsolete structure without adding a few things to make it more functional for everyone over those fifty years.
It sure couldn’t hurt to ask – because bicycle touring is going to keep right on growing along the Oregon Coast. Because you can’t get the Oregon Coast Experience anywhere else.