And, apparently some "prominent" people here must be visiting Bend's Best Buds far too often.
How else to explain local support for continued use of studded tires and further widening bike lanes on a seldom-used road not from 5 feet to 6 feet, but all the way to 8 feet on either side. WTF?
First, studded tires.
Some guy from "liberal" Portland is circulating a petition to place a studded-tire ban on the November 2012 ballot.
He has a good shot of getting it on the ballot and a great chance in seeing it passed since, as his website notes, 84 percent of Oregon drivers don't use studded tires. They get to work and back just fine without them.
Presumably, the other 16 percent live east of the Cascades where snow is far more prevalent in winter.
We all know studded tires cause damage to Oregon roads every year, but, it's less than opponents claim when compared to semi-trucks. Still, $40 million worth of damage annually is not insignificant.
Ironically, fiscally conservative eastern Oregon, which rails against government spending, doesn't care about government spending at all when it comes to the damage caused by studded tires.
The fact is that studded tires are not as good as the main alternative, studless snow tires. They're so effective that Costco stopped selling studded tires years ago.
As the "PreservingOregonsRoads" website notes, Alaska considers studless snow tires an acceptable alternative to studded tires. And, since it apparently needs to be pointed out, Alaska gets more snow than Oregonians can ever imagine.
Studded tires have a slight edge about 2 percent of the time: climbing an icy road uphill at slow speed. The other 98 percent of the time, studless snow tires are vastly superior, particularly on wet, slushy pavement, which is what we usually get here in Central Oregon.
I've used both tires in my 27 years driving on High Desert highways in front-wheel drive vehicles only. I have never used four-wheel drive to get around Oregon. I can say unequivocally that studless tires are far better than studded tires. They're great.
Contrary to an editorial in the local paper, studded tires provide no advantage in stopping.
Drive up to Mt. Bachelor in winter and you'll see plenty of four-wheel-drive SUVs on their sides or tops because those drivers thought they were invincible since they had studded tires. What a dangerous joke.
The big reason to ban studded tires is that it will finally expose the main culprit to Oregon's deteriorating roadways: heavy semis.
Oregon is one of the few states to allow triple-trailer semis on its roads and the weight of those rigs is causing at least $300 million worth of un-repaired damage to Oregon main highways every year.
Ban studded tires. We don't need them and we can finally force the trucking industry to pay its fair share in maintaining Oregon's roads.
Now, the bike lane issue is far less contentious, at least it should be.
Skyliners Road, that extends for about 10 miles west of Bend, is a seldom used roadway past Mt. Washington Drive.
The county, using federal dollars, is planning on expanding the bike lanes from 5 feet to 6 feet because cyclists like to cruise this long road that sees a vehicle every 10 minutes or so.
Bend is known for its bike events, both road and mountain bike races, and these cyclists like using Skyliners. I've biked it and it's a great ride since there are so few cars on it.
But, please, why on earth, in these fiscally desperate times, are we even considering widening the bike lanes to 8 feet that will cost an additional $250,000 that the county does not have?!
In fact, Deschutes County is so broke that it can't even maintain its current road system and is proposing oiling roads, rather than re-paving them.
Also, most roads in Bend don't even have sidewalks, let alone bike lanes of any width.
Consider that county workers just bargained for less pay and less benefits and now some local yokel thinks whatever money left in the bare cupboard should be used on expanding a bike lane to 8 feet. Again, WTF?
Or consider that we're laying off teachers, increasing class sizes and diminishing the education of our youth, why is expanding a bike lane from 6 feet to 8 feet even proposed?
I don't think we can blame marijuana on this. We can just blame ignorance.