Close to town, there’s the open road – Hasso Hering


A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Close to town, there’s the open road

Written July 31st, 2020 by Hasso Hering

The start of a Linn County scenic bikeway just outside Albany on Bryant Way.

One of my bike routes from Albany goes out Riverside Drive and turns right on Bryant Drive for the return. I’m in town one minute and in the middle of the country 60 seconds later.

Bryant Drive quickly turns into Bryant Way. And in 10 minutes, after riding past orchards and fields and a detour through Bryant Park, I’m back on city streets. For this clean dividing line between urban and rural, I think we have Oregon’s land-use laws to thank.

Urban growth boundaries were established as part of the statewide scheme of land-use planning and regulation in the 1970s.

Amazingly, despite various initiatives to change other parts of the original principles over the years, the growth boundaries are still with us. And in this part of the valley, away from the metro area, you can clearly see their effect.

The deal is that outside of cities, it’s very hard or impossible to develop land for anything other than farming or forestry. Cities can’t expand outside their growth boundaries, set decades ago. And changing the growth boundary is hard.

The law has critics, obviously. You sometimes hear that Oregon’s approach to land use is to blame for a shortage and therefore the rising cost of housing. Maybe that’s so. But not being surrounded by endless subdivisions is a benefit that can’t be ignored.

Anyway, whatever the social costs of not letting cities spread out, I appreciate being able to get on the bike and ride out of town without having to go far.

Like in the seven-minute interlude below. (hh)

12 responses to “Close to town, there’s the open road”

  1. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    The natural effect of an urban growth boundary is density.

    And density is a contributing factor of scarcity.

    And scarcity makes housing more expensive.

    Yes, urban growth boundaries are doing exactly what they are intended to do. Force a lot of people into living on top of each other at an extremely high price.

    Progressive social engineering at its finest.

    • H. R. Richner says:

      We all forget the property owner outside the boundary. His property rights have been severely damaged. I don’t believe this arbitrary regulation of private property rights is really constitutional, no matter any idyllic results. I am not aware of any constitutional amendment that would allow this theft by the state.

  2. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    My previous comment was probably too harsh.

    There is a big benefit of an urban growth boundary – it makes “peaceful rioting” much more efficient and effective. Witness Portland.

  3. Dave Smith says:

    Thanks Hasso for a relaxing 7 minute sojourn along Bryant Drive. The music was very pleasant and nicely fit the sunny day and the countryside; the cars seemed to keep a respectful distance; and, the shoulder seemed remarkably clear of rocks and debris. I’m a sometimes cyclist on country roads and it nice to have a clean shoulder, especially where gravel drives intersect the main road.

  4. John Klock says:

    Without the urban growth boundaries of the 1970s Oregon would be like Denver, Houston or Atlanta, or Ohio. These boundaries are the best thing the governor of this state ever did. Seriously, do we want the countryside to look like Pacific Blvd in Albany? Get real people.

  5. James Engel says:

    Awww, the country side. Preparing for swing shift I’d ride my Honda out Queen Ave then to Riverside Dr then to Bryant Way & putter slowly amongst the fields into the old PD station at 2nd & Broadalbin. Very relaxing. I imagine on a bicycle it would last longer.

  6. Robert D Stalick says:

    Thanks to the late Hector Macpherson for his vision to provide for our state. He was a Linn County farmer and a visionary in my opinion. Hasso, you migtht do a bit of research and report on Hector.

  7. Jennifer Stuart says:

    I was just out there today ferrying family for a little Calapooia kayak float from SW Queen to Bryant Park, and I thought I saw your name on some of those Scenic Bikeway signs, Hasso. What is the story behind that?

    • Hasso Hering says:

      I had been writing editorials supporting the Bryant-Riverside link to a new bikeway ODOT intended to build on Highway 34. So when I left the paper in 2012, the Linn County Board of Commissioners voted to put my name on the route. I believe the vote was 2-1. The signs went up after the first part on Riverside (wider shoulders) was completed a year or two ago.

  8. CHEZZ says:

    Hasso, you made my friend’s day – he is an avid rabid cyclist and illness has kept him off the bike for several weeks. I forwarded your bike ride to him. He is on a trainer now and will be back out there very soon. He appreciated it!


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