Corvallis Campus Way Conflicts

Another Corvallis controversy has been a-brewing along OSU’s Campus Way. The scenic, semi-public access road provides both fresh air-related activities as well as the ingress of some people’s livelihoods…and surprisingly the two parties are not seeing eye-to-eye.

As Campus Way continues west of campus, the road becomes increasingly populated with runners, walkers, cyclists, and more recumbent bikers than I’ve seen anywhere else in the world. Outdoor enthusiasts enjoy open spaces to run their dogs, the Irish Bend Covered Bridge over Oak Creek, and direct access to Bald Hill.

This road is also home to several facilities in the Department of Animal and Rangeland Sciences including sheep facilities, the OSU dairy, the swine center, Steer-a-Year facilities, and other OSU animal facilities, some of which have been operating since the 1960s.

Although there is no through access to 53rd Street and thus no reason for the public to drive on the road, animal care personnel and campus veterinarians must drive on this road to get to work and move livestock. However, that’s not always welcomed by the frequent walkers, runners, and cyclists on the road.

In the last several years, conflicts have arisen between farm personnel and the public regarding the use of the road, and several OSU employees report being accosted by bikers and walkers while driving.

Although campus veterinarians have started using signage on their cars to indicate their reason for being on the road, one veterinarian reported being yelled at through the window of her car. “It startled me,” she said about the upset biker. “I had my ‘Campus Veterinarian’ sign in my window but he either didn’t see or didn’t care.”

Another OSU employee reported one particularly dangerous confrontation: “A bike rider swerved in front of me to force me to slow down so he could yell at me to get off the road.”

To be clear, the road is, in part, meant for cars. While much of the property along the road is maintained by the Benton County Parks Department and clearly caters to pedestrians and cyclists, the property is owned by the university for the purpose of these research farms.

However, the same OSU employee also admitted to having driven over the 15 mile per hour speed limit to get to work, and there is certainly room for abuse of the road by OSU employees and the public that is unsafe for recreational frequenters of the road.

Similar conflicts have occurred at other universities, the campus veterinarian said, where research farms once built out of town are increasingly encroached upon as the university expands. Since there are no current plans for OSU to move its research farms elsewhere, the remaining solution is the same as many other conflicts in our day: human kindness.

Hey, cyclists, don’t spit on people who are trying to do their jobs. And you, the employee with the heavy-duty pickup truck, take it easy! Got it? See you all on the road.

By Keely Corder

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