All posts by Commute Options

The Oregon Legislature’s Joint Interim Committee on Transportation Preservation and Modernization

The Oregon Legislature’s Joint Interim Committee on Transportation Preservation and Modernization is continuing a series of hearings throughout the state to hear from Oregonians. They need to hear from you! Please RSVP! 

Please speak up:
• Safe Routes to School creates safer neighborhoods and gets kids active! We need to expand the Safe Routes to School program to reach every child in Oregon with comprehensive bicycle and pedestrian education and create safe places to walk, bike, and access transit to school.
• We want a system that helps workers get to where jobs are; one that lets children walk and bike safely around their neighborhood; and one that allows older Oregonians and people with disabilities to get where they need to go.
We must hold our representatives and government accountable for what our community wants and needs—safe and clean transportation options that serve everyone.
Now is the time to show up and speak out, as our leaders consider investing and improving on Oregon’s transportation system.
RSVP, show up, and testify:
August 18, 5:30 p.m.
Wille Hall, Coats Campus Center
Central Oregon Community College
2600 NW College Way, Bend
Full list of hearing dates can be found in this blog post.

Commute Options is seeking applicants for a Board of Directors position

The Commute Options Board provides direction to the non- profit agency promoting transportation choice in Deschutes, Crook and Jefferson counties, as well as in The Dalles and Klamath Falls. Commute Options encourages bicycling, walking, car/vanpooling, teleworking and riding the bus.

The Board meets every other month on the fourth Thursday morning with some special meetings called as well. The new position would begin this September. Board members are nominated by the Commute Options Working Group and appointed by the current Board. Most meetings are held in Bend.

For further information, please call or email for a Board roles and responsibilities description and application.

To apply, please email your resume and completed application to: Board application

Jeff Monson
Executive Director
Commute Options
50 SW Bond Street, Suite 4
Bend, OR 97702
541 330-2647

OSU Cascades Has Big Plans for Transportation Options Programs

July CBN article photo
By Katy Bryce, for Commute Options

OSU Cascades is gearing up for the 2016-2017 school year by implementing a robust education and outreach program encouraging students to walk, bike, carpool or ride the bus to school. The soon to be launched “Individualized Marketing” program, a partnership between OSU Cascades, Commute Options and Alta Planning + Design, is an exciting opportunity to establish a campus culture that embraces transportation options.

Derek Hofbauer, Senior Transportation Demand Specialist at Alta Planning + Design will be overseeing the project. “The goal of this program is to reduce the number of drive-alone trips to and from campus. The exciting thing is that we have a huge opportunity to influence commuting behavior because this is a brand new campus. We’ve worked in other campus settings that are already well established and changing behaviors is more challenging. Here, we have an opportunity to start with a clean slate to help students choose transportation options from the get go.”

Rather than relying on mass marketing and broadcast messaging, Individualized Marketing programs focus on delivering customized experiences to facilitate behavior change. Students can select the specific information that they want. For instance, if a student that lives in Redmond is interested in how they can reduce their drive-alone trips to school, the program can provide information on how to find a carpool share or how to ride the bus to campus. For students that live close to campus and are interested in walking or biking, they’ll get information about the best biking routes from Bend’s west side.

The program will target 1,150 students, faculty and staff and will include customized surveys, information packets, campus outreach, and events such as bike commuting workshops, walking tours, and transit and carpool-focused events. The program also takes a positive, community-based approach. “We don’t tell people to get rid of their car. Instead, we encourage ​them to start with small changes, like ​​riding their bike for short trips or carpool​ing ​when they can. It’s more about reinforcing positive behavior instead of telling people they have to do something,” says Hofbauer.

Southern Oregon University in Ashland and Portland Community College Southeast both had very successful individualized marketing programs on campus. In Ashland, 70% of participants indicated that the program helped them walk more and 58% indicated the program helped them bicycle more. In Portland, 40% of participants said they are driving alone less often compared to when they first signed up for the program.

Jeff Monson, Executive Director for Commute Options, is excited for this program. “We’ll be hiring a OSU Cascades student as a Transportation Ambassador to help other students learn about how they can walk, bike, carpool or ride the bus. Commute Options commends OSU Cascades for being a proactive partner in our community with regards to transportation options.”

Celebrating 25 years of Commute Options! Promoting choices that reduce the impacts of driving alone. For more information, contact Executive Director, Jeff Monson at 541-330-2647 or visit

Katy Bryce is a freelance writer in Bend.

Redmond Embraces Transportation Options for Everyone

Dry Canyon Trail Photo
By Katy Bryce, for Commute Options

The City of Redmond, with a population of just under 28,000 people, is very committed to providing complete transportation options for all residents through innovative bicycling, pedestrian and transit improvements and programs.

“Sometime in 2008 or 2009, Redmond started talking seriously about the need for more bike, pedestrian and transit programs. We recognized early on that this is an important service for our community,” says City of Redmond’s Community Development Director, Heather Richards. Since then, Redmond has leveraged partnerships and community input to develop a comprehensive plan for improving biking, walking and public transit.

Key to their efforts is a desire to use local streets rather than major arterials to create a network of bicycle and pedestrian friendly routes to connect destination points. “Redmond’s goal is to increase the amount of families who walk and bike to destinations in Redmond for a variety of reasons: quality of life, health, transportation infrastructure savings, and perhaps most importantly, the opportunity to slow down and really enjoy each other and our community,” says Richards.

Redmond is working with Portland State University’s Reinventing the Wheel program with the goal of getting more families to walk and bike. The city just launched their first demonstration project on SW 15th Street—a multi-use path designed to improve the safety of bicyclists, pedestrians and rollers (such as people on scooters, skateboards or in wheelchairs.) Redmond continues to work with University of Oregon’s Sustainable City Year Program students to improve biking and walking options including a marketing campaign targeted to families. This fall, Commute Options will begin working with Redmond schools to develop Safe Routes to Schools programs to educate students.

The city also recently finished a Trails Amenities Plan to improve existing trails and create new trails to provide bicycle and pedestrian routes through town. The plan includes widening the 3.7-mile Dry Canyon Trail and, if funding is provided through a state grant, creating the Homestead Trail, which provides access to St. Charles Hospital and adjacent medical offices. Also in the works is improving the bus system in Redmond. The city is currently seeking state funding to create a new transit hub that will service the Cascades East Transit buses. “We are also very interested in a fixed transit route but the key will be to figure out when to do that,” says Richards.

According to Economic Development and Urban Renewal Coordinator Chuck Arnold, “This community puts very high value on biking and walking because residents still want to have that small town feel, even if our population is growing. This is evident in our downtown renewal efforts that include access for pedestrians and bicyclists. All public projects are scaled to create a walkable and bikeable experience because it not only makes a better experience for the community but it also makes a better environment for business.”

“Redmond is perfect for walking and biking. It is only five miles long by three miles wide with only one substantial hill,” adds Richards.

Celebrating 25 years of Commute Options! Promoting choices that reduce the impacts of driving alone. For more information, contact Executive Director, Jeff Monson at 541-330-2647 or visit

Katy Bryce is a freelance writer in Bend.

Commute Options Celebrates 25 Years in Central Oregon!

jeff with bike and bus
By Katy Bryce, for Commute Options

Commute Options is proud to announce its 25th birthday this year! Starting as a Bend-based grassroots bicycle enthusiast group growing into a region wide organization, they have been promoting the choices that reduce the impacts of driving alone since 1991.

Commute Options began as a project of the Central Oregon Environmental Center (now known as The Environmental Center) when John Schubert, future Bend City Councilor, had such a good time exploring Bend on his bike he decided he wanted to encourage other people to do the same. This new organization, Biking for a Better Community, was a “citizen’s group promoting bicycling as transportation—for fun, fitness, clean air and reduced traffic.”

By 1994, the group was coordinating a corporate challenge that included large employers such as St. Charles Hospital, COCC, and the U.S. Forest Service. In 1996, the Smart Cycling program started offering bicycle safety education to 4th graders in the local schools. This was the precursor to our current Safe Routes to School program. Also in 1996, Jeff Monson became the director, and the group solidified the current name and mission: Commute Options for Central Oregon: Promoting choices that reduce the impacts of driving alone. At that time, their scope broadened to include all transportation options, including walking, biking, teleworking, carpooling and public transportation.

In 2002, Commute Options moved from being a project of the Central Oregon Environmental Center to having its own 501c3 non-profit status. Since then, they have been working with numerous local and regional agencies, businesses, schools, and communities in fourteen counties east of the Cascades, from the Gorge to the California border.

“When Commute Options started, Bend was known as the largest city west of the Mississippi without a bus system. We had no Park and Ride lots and no vanpools. When I went to meetings, people would ask, ‘Why are you here? What does this have to do with bicycling?’ Now, Commute Options is at the forefront of every conversation about transportation. Transportation options are not just an afterthought, but are now recognized as an important part of our communities,” says Jeff Monson, Executive Director for Commute Options.

The future is bright for Commute Options as they continue to connect the dots between transportation options and community health and economic vitality. On September 18, Bend Open Streets will promote healthy, active living and a strong economy by opening the city’s largest public space—its streets—for people to walk and bike. “Imagine the city’s largest park, where people can hang out, run, bike skate, dance, walk their dog and discover their city,” says Brian Potwin, organizer for the event.

“Commute Options is also looking forward to our continued partnership with OSU Cascades to create a college campus that embraces all forms of transportation options. This is an exciting time for our community to move forward with public transportation as well as infrastructure and enthusiasm for walking and biking,” says Monson. “We invite everyone to celebrate our birthday this year by choosing transportation options.”

Celebrating 25 years of Commute Options! Promoting choices that reduce the impacts of driving alone. For more information, contact Executive Director, Jeff Monson at 541-330-2647 or visit

Katy Bryce is a freelance writer in Bend.

On the Move: An Update on Transit in Central Oregon

CET buses line up at Hawthorne Station

By Katy Bryce, for Commute Options

Lots of great things are happening with transit in Central Oregon. Commute Options recently talked with Cascades East Transit (CET) to get the latest updates on ridership, the recent route expansion, and plans for new and improved services over the next year.

In September of 2015, CET rolled out expanded routes and services that included adding three new bus routes: Route 7 that services the Bend medical district area, Route 12 which provides a direct connection between OSU Cascades and COCC campuses and Route 10 which connects Hawthorne Station to the Colorado/Simpson tech employment centers. This year, CET will complete the expansion by:

• Installing 54 new stops on the new routes. Major stops will be developed at several popular destinations, including St. Charles, OSU Cascades and downtown Bend. Infrastructure will also be improved on the current routes.
• Improving rider experience with additional services such as a mobile app that will provide real-time data on routes and possible Wi-Fi on the buses.
• Boosting marketing efforts to educate the community about the bus system and how to use it on a regular basis.

“The Bend CET expansion has resulted in a 30% increase in transit services in the Bend area – more routes, later hours of service, and shorter wait times between buses.”

“Coupled with our plans for upgrading bus stops, securing new buses and adding rider amenities like real-time online bus location information, our system will be more convenient and get riders to their destinations quickly and efficiently,” adds Andrew Spreadborough, Executive Director for the Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council (COIC), the agency that oversees CET.

The Bend City buses see about 31,000 rides per month, with the most popular routes being the two lines that access both north and south portions of Third St. The next most used route is the new direct line that connects to Bend’s medical facilities. Route 3, accessing COCC, is also a very busy route. Spreadborough is quick to point out, “Based on the data that we see, student ridership makes up the largest ‘group’ of people that ride the bus.”

In addition to the Bend City routes, CET services all other Central Oregon communities through their Rural Community Connection System, which is seeing an increase in ridership, particularly with routes from Madras, Prineville and Sisters into Redmond. Currently those routes are not optimal for employee commuting schedules, but CET plans to meet those needs by the end of 2016.

CET will continue to operate the “Ride the River” shuttle to accommodate river floaters and they anticipate much higher ridership due to the removal of the spillway and the addition of the waterpark. CET also teams up with Deschutes National Forest to shuttle visitors up and back down Lava Butte in the summer.

Public transit, both in Bend and between all Central Oregon towns is a key component of having a transportation system that serves the needs of all residents in our communities.

Celebrating 25 years of Commute Options! Promoting choices that reduce the impacts of driving alone. For more information, contact Executive Director, Jeff Monson at 541-330-2647 or visit

Katy Bryce is a freelance writer in Bend.

Bend Open Streets: Opening Our Streets, Connecting Our Community

BOS-PNGBy Katy Bryce, for Commute Options

Bend Open Streets is coming September 18th to a neighborhood near you! Bring your bicycle or just your feet, and get ready to explore your community streets in a safe, healthy, livable way. Bend Open Streets will temporarily close streets to automobile traffic, so that people may use them for walking, bicycling, dancing, playing and shopping locally.

Open Streets are part of a broader city effort to encourage sustained physical activity, increase community engagement, build support for broader transportation choices, and promote a vibrant economy. The goal is to connect the community and allow residents to fully use our streets in a fun, active environment—without cars. It will build awareness of sustainable transportation options and increase neighborhood livability and connectivity.

Not to be confused with a block party, street fair or one of the many local festivals, Bend Open Streets will be unique in several ways. There is no beer garden, large music venue or booths for selling goods. It will be dog friendly, so you can bring your four-legged family member. Perhaps the best part? It will be totally free for everyone.

Open Streets is not a new idea. It is inspired by Bogota, Columbia’s world famous “ciclovia”, where every Sunday and public holiday from 7am to 2pm, certain streets are closed to cars for walkers, runners, and cyclists. Currently, 160 towns and cities of all sizes in the U.S. have Open Streets, from Las Cruces, New Mexico to Los Angeles, California. Atlanta, Georgia has one of the largest initiatives in the country with an 8-mile long stretch of open streets. In 2015, they estimated that 300,000 residents came out to enjoy their city.

Brian Potwin, Education Coordinator for Commute Options is the lead planner for the initiative. “Imagine the city’s largest park, where people can hang out, run, bike, skate, dance, walk their dog and discover their city. This is what we envision for this upcoming pilot project, Bend Open Streets. We are working closely with the City of Bend and garnering tremendous community support from organizations that have similar goals to get people physically active, increase community health, promote public spaces and create a vibrant local economy.”

“Rates of active transportation are a result of a complex set of factors that are unique in every community. In Bend, there is tremendous unrealized potential. Census data shows roughly 5% of the community bikes or walks to work. At roughly only 9 miles north-south and 5 miles east-west, Bend’s size should allow for higher active transportation rates. Through Bend Open Streets initiatives and focused outreach efforts we can introduce active transportation in safe, comfortable and fun ways,” says City of Bend Transportation Engineer Robin Lewis.

Commute Options is also collaborating with Oregon Department of Transportation, the Orchard District Neighborhood Association, the Larkspur District Neighborhood Association, Bend Bikes, Cascade East Transit, Bend 2030, the Maker’s District and Bend Parks and Recreation.

Join us for the first ever Bend Open Streets!

Celebrating 25 years of Commute Options! Promoting choices that reduce the impacts of driving alone. For more information, contact Executive Director, Jeff Monson at 541-330-2647 or visit

Katy Bryce is a freelance writer in Bend.


Bend Open Streets Pilot Project

Date: Sunday, September 18, 2016
Time: Noon – 4pm
Location: Bend’s Central District. The borders of Bend Open Streets will be NE Olney Ave, NE 6th Street, NE Hawthorne Ave, and NE 1st Street.
Who Can Participate: Everyone!

Learn more at Follow on Twitter @bendopenstreets and Instagram at bendopenstreets.

To Stop Or Not To Stop – That Is the Question

By Katy Bryce, for Commute Options

You may have seen the infamous skit from Portlandia, a television comedy that takes place in Portland. The scene is a four-way intersection, with four cars waiting to proceed. The problem is, everyone is so polite that they sit there for hours and wave each other on. “No, no. You go,” and “No, you go. It’s your turn.”
As a driver, you may have done the same thing by waving on a pedestrian or bicyclist to cross a street. But, do you really know the rules of the road when a pedestrian or bicyclist is crossing a road? Let’s take a look at Oregon’s rules of the road for crosswalks and crossings.

Pedestrian Crossing Rules
The first thing to understand is that anyone traveling on foot or by wheelchair is a pedestrian. The second thing is to know the definition of a crosswalk. A crosswalk can be a marked crossing, like a typical crosswalk with painted lines. Crosswalks can also be unmarked. In Oregon, ANY intersection, where two roads cross each other, is considered a crosswalk—whether it is marked or not.
• Vehicles must stop when a pedestrian is crossing a roadway at a marked or unmarked crosswalk. A pedestrian is considered to be crossing when “any part or extension of the body moves into the roadway” in a crosswalk. Even if it is just a toe.
• When a pedestrian is crossing a road where there is no crosswalk (no intersections or corners), vehicles are not required to stop. Simply put, if you see a person visibly trying to cross a street at a corner, you are required to stop your vehicle and let them cross.

Bicycle Crossing Rules
A person riding a bicycle is considered to be a vehicle. The rules of the road apply to them very much like they apply to a vehicle. However, a person walking a bicycle is considered to be a pedestrian.
• When a person riding a bicycle is crossing a road at a marked or unmarked crosswalk, (any intersection of two roads), vehicles are NOT required to stop and let the bicycle cross. The bicycle must wait until it is safe to cross.
• When a person riding a bicycle is crossing a road with no crosswalk, corner or intersection, the bicyclist must wait until it is safe to cross. Vehicles are NOT required to stop to let the bicyclist cross.

So, what do you do as a driver? If you see a pedestrian at an intersection with clear intent to cross, you are required to stop. If you see a person riding a bike trying to cross, you are not required to stop. Stopping for a bicycle can create a more dangerous situation because cars traveling in the other direction may not stop. Additionally, stopping for a bicyclist crossing a four-lane road can be dangerous for the bicyclist because the other lane of traffic may not see or stop for the bicyclist. And remember, if you see a person walking a bicycle, they are considered to be a pedestrian!
Brian Potwin, Education Coordinator at Commute Options is an excellent resource on the rules of the road. Contact Brian at

Celebrating 25 years of Commute Options! Promoting choices that reduce the impacts of driving alone. For more information, contact Executive Director, Jeff Monson at 541-330-2647 or visit

Katy Bryce is a freelance writer in Bend.

Let’s Make Central Oregon a Blue Zone

By Katy Bryce, for Commute Options

Have you ever heard the story about Okinawa, Japan and how its residents tend to live much longer than the rest of the world? The same goes for Sardinia, Italy and a handful of other communities in the world that share a unique claim to fame—residents reach the age of 100 at rates 10 times greater than in the United States. Researchers have name for these long living communities—“Blue Zones.”

Researchers identified nine common denominators of these communities that have exceptionally long living residents. The number one, most common attribute that Blue Zones have in common is that their residents “move naturally.” According to researchers, “The world’s longest-lived people don’t pump iron, run marathons or join gyms. Instead, they live in environments that constantly nudge them into moving without thinking about it.”

Creating a built environment that not only allows, but actively invites people to “move naturally” by walking and riding bikes has a direct, tangible, positive impact on the people that live there. Not to mention the added benefits of fewer cars on the road, cleaner air and financial savings.

What if you knew that you could add 12 healthy and happy years to your life by living in a Blue Zone? What can we do in Central Oregon to become a Blue Zone? We can optimize our communities by looking at policies, regulations, and the physical environment for ways to encourage natural movement. Creating “complete streets” that include sidewalks, bike lanes, public spaces, and traffic calming tactics can increase real and perceived safety and invite more people to move naturally throughout their day—without really thinking about it.

Blue Zones Project Oregon launched this year to help communities, businesses and organizations develop strategies and programs to make “the healthy choice the easiest choice.” They work with worksites, schools, restaurants, grocery stores, faith-based organizations and community leaders to make small but sustainable improvements to increase wellness.

Two of the activities listed on their website include walking school buses where students walk to school together in groups, adding students along the way, and Moai® (pronounced “Mo Eye”) Walking Groups. Moai Walking Groups are groups of 5-8 people that meet at least once a week to walk throughout the community, providing social interaction and healthy exercise.

Aaron Patnode is the Executive Director for Blue Zones Project Oregon. “Blue Zones Project Oregon is here to help communities and organizations develop strategies to make ‘the healthy choice the easy choice.’ We work throughout Oregon to identify the very small to the very large changes that can be made to promote wellness. It might be encouraging employees to take the stairs rather than the elevator, or helping communities develop strategies for complete streets to get people moving throughout their day. Through small changes, we can accomplish a lot.”

Is your workplace or organization interested in becoming a Blue Zone? Learn more about Blue Zone Project Oregon at

Commute Options promotes choices that reduce the impacts of driving alone. For more information, contact Executive Director, Jeff Monson at 541-330-2647 or visit

Katy Bryce is a freelance writer in Bend.

Local Businesses Can Help Kids Walk and Ride Bikes to School

Elk Meadow bikers
By Katy Bryce, for Commute Options

Central Oregon is not only known for awesome recreational bicycling, but also for students riding their bikes to school. Elk Meadow Elementary School was recognized once again for its stellar efforts in getting kids riding bikes and walking to school.

The “Fire Up Your Feet” Fall Challenge, from October 1 – 31, encouraged students, parents, guardians, teachers, and school staff to “walk or roll” to and from school. The Challenge calculated the total number of participants who tracked their activity divided by school enrollment. Throughout the month, Elk Meadow participants tracked their trips, resulting in an impressive tie for second place in Oregon and $1,000 awarded to the school Parent Teach Organization.

In addition to second place, the school also won an additional award of $500 for the PeopleForBikes CHALLENGE Award. This award went to the top three schools in the nation with the highest percentage of participants tracking bicycle activity. Fire Up Your Feet and Walk+Bike Day have become permanent fixtures as one of the many wellness activities Elk Meadow includes encouraging well-rounded students and greater school community.

Studies show that kids who get at least 60 minutes or more of physical activity a day are not only healthier, but also do better in school. Active kids are shown to have improved attendance, increased focus, better behavior and higher test scores. Walking or riding bikes to school helps children and families stay active throughout the day while also getting to and from school.

Getting kids active and encouraging them to walk or ride their bikes to school is a community effort and Commute Options encourages local businesses to help out. “There are many ways for small businesses to help get kids walking and riding their bikes more in Bend and surrounding communities. Our schools are often located in areas that are surrounded by businesses that have the opportunity to help out,” says Kim Curley, Community Outreach Director for Commute Options.

Offer up your business as a gathering place for families to start a “walking school bus.” A walking school bus is an organized group of students and families that all walk to school together and has proven to be a safe and fun way to get to school. C.E. Lovejoy’s Market in the Brookswood Meadow Plaza offered their outdoor area to families as a starting place for a walking school bus to Elk Meadow Elementary School.

Provide snacks or beverages for families that walk or bike to school. Providing a little cup of hot cocoa for students or coffee for parents can be a toasty way to support walking to school, especially in the winter months!

Offer prizes or sponsor a celebration party for a classroom that logs the most walking and biking trips to and from school.

Partner with Commute Options to help sponsor the Safe Routes to School Program for a school near your business. The Safe Routes to School Program encourages and educates Central Oregon children on the benefits and safety knowledge of biking and walking to and from school. There are several ways a business can support this program.

Commute Options promotes choices that reduce the impacts of driving alone. For more information, contact Executive Director, Jeff Monson at 541-330-2647 or visit

Katy Bryce is a freelance writer in Bend.