In 2016, Klamath County, Oregon, ranked near the bottom of Oregon counties in health outcomes, while ranking about average in terms of clinical care. In response to this disparity, the Healthy Klamath partnership began to look for opportunities to improve health outcomes outside of the realm of traditional medicine. They decided to focus on the built environment and identified a specific location in Klamath Falls that could benefit from a more walkable and bike-friendly environment.
Kittelson was brought in to identify the specific route for a low-stress bikeway that would best connect downtown Klamath Falls to Moore Park. The firm focused on designing a bikeway that would provide surrounding residents with more opportunities to walk and bike, while calming traffic and helping to revitalize a neighborhood that has seen local businesses leave. Kittelson worked with Sky Lakes Wellness Center, its partners, and the City of Klamath Falls to develop the plan for a protected bike lane connecting downtown Klamath Falls to Moore Park.
In the plan, the team outlined three objectives:
1. Improve the comfort of biking, walking, and driving for all users and abilities
2. Provide daily opportunities for increased physical activity
3. Stimulate economic development opportunities
From the initial data gathering and existing conditions analysis, Kittelson developed five design concepts that met the objectives of the corridor plan. The team analyzed impacts on traffic lanes and operations, on-street parking, maintenance considerations, access to businesses, visibility, vertical grades, and general implementation costs.
In addition, the project team held three public open houses and one virtual open house to engage the community. At the second open house, community members weighed in on the options. This input, along with more detailed analyses of alternatives, led to selection of a preferred concept including a two-way protected bike lane. The project team shared the preferred concept at the third open house and received near unanimous support from attendees.
The Doctor-Prescribed Bike Lane
Kittelson’s plan received widespread grassroots support from the community. Since the plan was adopted, Sky Lakes Wellness Center secured funding for the first phase of design and construction, which was completed in June 2018. This first phase connects downtown to the adjacent neighborhood and provides a key connection between downtown and routes that lead to the Oregon Institute of Technology, the local hospital campus, and popular recreation areas.