Category Archives: Recent News

Trails, Parks, Sidewalks and Crosswalks Connect Community

A cyclist rides through the tunnel on the Larkspur Trail

By Katy Bryce, for Commute Options

Like many of us in central Oregon, good friends visited my husband and me this summer to enjoy everything that Bend has to offer. Each time we went out to dinner, or to an event, or to go to a park, we all hopped on our bikes (the littlest on a trail-a-bike) and rode bikes to our destination. Our visitors would say, “This is amazing, being able to go so many places on trails and bike paths!”

Parks and trails help make cities more livable, not only by creating natural “green” spaces, but also by providing important transportation choices. Urban trails are a critical part of a healthy transportation system because they allow residents and visitors to access off-street connections between neighborhoods, business districts, schools and parks. In terms of community “livability”, the ability to avoid busy streets while biking or walking to destinations ranks high on the list.

Bend Park and Recreation District (BPRD) is currently working on an updated comprehensive plan that will help shape Bend. Through a variety of surveys, questionnaires, focus groups and public meetings, BPRD discovered that soft and hard surface trails topped the list of park facilities most important to residents. According to Michelle Healy, Planning and Park Services Director for BPRD, “there is a strong emphasis on trails not just for recreation uses, but for transportation purposes as well. People like to use trails to get around.”

Residents also provided very insightful feedback on how they get to and from parks and recreation facilities. In an online questionnaire completed by 1400 residents, many respondents said that they are willing to walk 10 minutes or more to get to a park or recreation facility. However, the biggest barriers or problems that people encounter while walking to a park are bad intersections that are difficult to cross. Through this data, BPRD reaffirmed that improving walking and biking infrastructure throughout our city makes it easier for people to access public spaces, as well as businesses and services.

Planning, building and maintaining infrastructure that makes walking and biking safer and more convenient depends on collaboration and partnerships by many agencies. BPRD is working with the City of Bend, Oregon Department of Transportation, utilities and irrigation districts to not only create and improve trails, but to improve access to parks and facilities. They will first identify intersections and streets that may pose challenges for walkers or bikers, then work together to improve those areas.

Healy says “Trails continue to be identified as a high priority by the community. People are looking to trails to provide recreational and fitness opportunities, as well as a means to more easily commute around town by foot or bike. BPRD is working closely with other agencies and community partners to explore opportunities to provide trails that link people directly with key destinations, such a parks, schools, and businesses throughout Bend.”

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 www.commuteoptions.org

Katy Bryce is a freelance writer in Bend. www.katybryce.com

 

 

Transportation Bill To Boost Buses in Central Oregon

commute

In July 2017, Oregon reached an exciting milestone when the state legislature passed Oregon House Bill 2017, also known as Keep Oregon Moving — the most comprehensive transportation bill Oregon has ever passed. Keep Oregon Moving includes dedicated funding for maintaining roads and bridges, creating safer biking and walking infrastructure and strengthening and improving public transportation around the entire state.

Details on this new funding are still being finalized, but we do know that substantial improvements in public transportation will be coming to Central Oregon. The public transportation portion of the bill will be funded through an employee payroll tax at one-tenth of one percent tax on wages. It equates to less than $1 a week for the average worker, or about $50 a year. This funding will generate $115 million a year in Oregon for better public transportation. Of the $115 million to fund transit, ninety percent will go towards programs and systems, four percent will go to intercity services and one percent will go to a technical resource center to help very small rural communities.

The funding is county-based, so it is truly a local tax. That means the payroll tax that is collected here in Deschutes County, will stay in Deschutes County and will go towards bus system improvements in Deschutes County. The funding is also only to be used for new or expanded services such as additional routes, times, buses, bus stops, facilities and more.

Public transportation is beneficial to Central Oregon. It provides equal personal mobility and freedom for all people of all ages, abilities and economic backgrounds. A robust public transportation system supports the local economy, helping people access goods and services in an efficient manner. Public buses also reduce congestion on our roads and improve air quality.

In particular, the business and economic development community should recognize that public transportation helps build a stronger workforce because it helps employees reliably get to and from work. For every day that an employee misses work because they do not have adequate transportation, you lose revenue and your employee loses income. A strong public bus system helps your business, your employees and your community.

Now is the time to get involved in shaping public transportation in Central Oregon. If you are a business owner, start thinking about how public transportation can help you and your employees. Perhaps you want more customers to come to your business. Would a nearby bus route help? Or maybe you know you could better retain employees if they had a more reliable means of getting to and from work. How would a better bus system help?

This is an exciting time in Oregon and planning has begun on how our region can best grow our bus services. Commute Options is here to help you get involved. Start by contacting our local public transportation agency Cascades East Transit, or contact Kim Curley at kim@commuteoptions.org to find out how.

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 www.commuteoptions.org

Katy Bryce is a freelance writer in Bend. www.katybryce.com

The Oregon Drive Less Challenge is Back! September 16-30

6_2017 ODLC_Website Graphic_Text_Green

By Katy Bryce, for Commute Options

 You still have time to get moving for 2017 Oregon Drive Less Challenge! Discover healthy, green travel options for work, school and play that can save you money. Burn calories instead of gas by biking to work or divide the ride and the cost by carpooling. Take the bus and let someone else do the driving so you can relax and listen to music, or read that page-turning suspense thriller. Get quality time with your family by walking to the store.

When we all act together, we can make a huge positive impact. Last year, Oregonians from across the state logged 91,628 trips and 819,525 non-drive alone miles over the 14-day challenge. Through this, we collectively prevented 530,436 pounds of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere, and saved $93,947 in gasoline costs.

How to Participate (It’s easy!)

You can join the Challenge any time before Saturday September 30, which is the last day of the challenge. We encourage you to start right away by registering at www.drivelessconnect.com. Then, take the bus, carpool, vanpool, bike, walk and/or telework and log your trips on the website. Any trip counts for all days, including weekends – for work, school, errands or play. The more trips you log, the better your chances of winning fabulous prizes.

Win Daily and Grand Prizes

Throughout the challenge, you’ll be entered to win daily prizes such gift cards from KEEN, REI and Dutch Bros., plus Grand Prizes of GenZe electric bikes (valued at $1500 each), and $500 cash cards. Additionally, local central Oregon businesses have offered up local prizes such as gift cards from Savory Spice, Ruffwear, Strictly Organic Coffee, The Gear Fix and bus passes from Cascades East Transit.

Make It Fun

Challenge yourself and your family (you can certainly include your dog-walking into the mix too) to find creative ways to get around town without driving alone. Create a fun competition at your workplace to encourage and incentivize staff to walk, bike, carpool, or ride the bus. High-five your neighbor who brought the bike out of the garage so they can ride to work. Smile at the bus driver when you get on the bus. Give yourself your own rewards by taking the challenge – you deserve that extra latte for the extra miles walked to work!

“The Oregon Drive Less Challenge is a statewide signature event that can be fun and rewarding for everyone. Even opting for one or two days to walk, bike, or ride instead of driving can make a big difference in our community, and you might find you enjoy the time you spend not driving,” said Jeff Monson, Executive Director for Commute Options.

Join this year’s challenge to discover what more you can get by driving less by visiting www.drivelessconnect.com.  Need information, help, or resources on how to drive less? Contact Commute Options. We can help!

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 www.commuteoptions.org

Katy Bryce is a freelance writer in Bend. www.katybryce.com

 

Fifth Annual Oregon Drive Less Challenge

Discover healthy, green travel options that save money in

Fifth Annual Oregon Drive Less Challenge Sept. 16-30  

Screen Shot 2017-09-16 at 9.31.58 PMThe fifth annual Oregon Drive Less Challenge, spearheaded by Commute Options and the Oregon Department of Transportation, begins next week. Running Sept. 16 through Sept. 30, the challenge offers a timely reason to tap into healthy, green travel options that can save money. The goal of this year’s 15-day challenge is for participants to pedal their way, walk, share the ride and tap into transit and the train, plus telework and log their trips into Oregon’s free trip tracking tool DriveLessConnect.com.

“Our challenge provides a timely reason to explore ways of getting around for work, school, errands and play other than driving alone. Even taking the bus into work or riding your bike to the corner store a few times a week adds up in dollars saved and calories burned, while helping the environment and keeping Oregon the livable place we all love,” said Kim Curley of Commute Options. “Every trip counts in the challenge, plus the more trips you log the greater your chances are of winning weekly and grand prizes.”

To join this year’s Oregon Drive Less Challenge, sign up for free at DriveLessConnect.com. Then, from Sept. 16 through Sept. 30, log bus, train, bike, carpool, vanpool and walking trips for work, errands or play, plus teleworking, for the chance to win prizes. Weekly prizes include $125 KEEN gift card, Hydro Flasks, $25 Dutch Bros gift cards, $50 REI gift cards and $50 Black Star Bags gift cards. Grand prizes include one of three GenZe electric bikes, or a $500 cash card. Local prizes are being offered by Savory Spice Shop, GearFix, Strictly Organic Coffee, Cascades East Transit and RuffWear. Individuals can join at any point during the challenge, but your chance to win prizes is higher the earlier you start logging trips!

Commute Options is available to help individuals find carpools and/or vanpools, navigate bus schedules and routes, determine bike routes, and answer challenge-related questions. Additionally, the Commute Options website, www.commuteoptions.org features useful local resources and guides to aid in planning trips.

The 2017 Oregon Drive Less Challenge is made possible with support from top sponsors, Providence Health and Services and GenZe. GenZe is a leading U.S. electric bike and scooter manufacturer dedicated to helping individuals connect with sustainable transportation solutions. Other sponsors include KEEN, Hydro Flask Dutch Bros and Black Star Bags.

More details about the Oregon Drive Less Challenge can be found at www.DriveLessConnect.com. Promotional materials including logos and visuals are found at www.drivelessconnect.com/promotions

Contacts: Kim Curley

(541) 408-6111

kim@commuteoptions.org

Join Us at Bend Open Streets: Sunday, September 17!

Bend Open Streets CBNBy Katy Bryce, for Commute Options

Back for a second year by popular demand, Bend Open Streets will celebrate Bend’s largest public space—our streets and roadways. From noon to 4pm on Sunday, September 17, Bend Open Streets will close streets to automobile traffic so people can walk, ride bikes, play, dance, learn and shop in the streets. The goal is to encourage sustained physical activity, increase community engagement, build support for broader transportation choices and promote a healthy local economy.

Last year, over 2,500 people turned out for Bend Open Streets and this year is expected to be even larger. Two miles of streets in Bend’s Central and Midtown areas, between NE 1st Street, NE Hawthorne Avenue, NE 6th Street and NE Olney Avenue, will be closed to vehicles from noon to 4:00pm.

“At Bend Open Streets, I was reminded why I love this town. I reconnected with friends I haven’t seen in a while and met amazing people from fantastic organizations that are helping shape and build our community. I rode my bike without the fear of disappearing bike lanes and I danced at a silent disco. But most importantly, I felt connected to community once again.” –Tina, Bend resident.

Bend Open Streets is different than a block party, street fair or festival in a few ways. There won’t be a beer garden, large music venue or booths for selling goods. It’s dog friendly (on-leash only, please) and free for everyone. All forms of non-auto transportation are encouraged—walking, running, biking, skateboarding, roller-skating, scooter riding—as long as you’re willing to have fun exploring.

Many businesses on the route will be open for business or providing fun activities such as human foosball (yes, it’s back for this year!), community art projects and more. Last year, residents on the route invited open street-goers into their yards with lawn games, music, and refreshment stands. Four designated Activity Hubs will also offer games, activities, educational opportunities, as well as food and beverage sales.

Open Streets, sometimes known as “ciclovias” are organized in over 160 towns of all sizes and shapes around the world, from Cape Town South Africa to Los Angeles, California. And now Bend can proudly be added to that list!

Bend Open Streets is an initiative by Commute Options, the City of Bend and Bend Park & Recreation District and presented by Pacific Source Health Plans. We are also grateful to our sponsors: St. Charles Health System, Bend’s Makers District, Precise Flight, Central Oregon Landwatch, FootZone, Video Works, Pure Light Chiropractic, Lava City Roller Dolls, AARP and Bend Electric Bikes. We would also like to thank our community partners: Bend Bikes, the Orchard District and Larkspur Neighborhood Association.

We hope to see you there! Visit www.bendopenstreets.org for all information.

Promoting choices that reduce the impacts of driving alone. For more information, contact Executive Director, Jeff Monson at 541-330-2647 or visit www.commuteoptions.org. Katy Bryce is a freelance writer in Bend. www.katybryce.com.

OSU-Cascades Students Drive Less and Save More

OSU Commuter Challenge EventBy Katy Bryce, for Commute Options

Congratulations to OSU-Cascades for its first school year promoting transportation options in our community. Through the Drive Less Save More: OSU-Cascades program, students, staff and faculty reduced their drive alone trips through a combination of individualized marketing materials, incentives, challenges and fun events.
The Drive Less Save More: OSU-Cascades program was highly effective in engaging students and promoting walking, biking, riding the bus and ride sharing. During the fall, winter and spring terms:
• Students and employees logged 10,800 trips and a total of 41,000 miles using active transportation to/from campus.
• 6,750 more rides were taken in the 2016-2017 school year on CET bus routes 10, 11 and 12 than the previous academic year.
• Employees and students logged over 3,600 trips and 7,000 miles by bike throughout the fall, winter and spring terms, burning over 300,000 calories and saving more than $1,800 than if they had driven alone.

The unique “Individualized Marketing” program started with a baseline survey of students and staff throughout the year that asked about personal travel behavior. Survey respondents could then order a Go Kit that included personalized information and resources about transportation options that they were interested in. At the end of the year, the same students were surveyed and 47% of respondents who drive reported that they are driving alone less often now compared to six months ago. An impressive 49% of respondents felt that their reason for participating was to “make a positive contribution to my community.” We agree!

The Ride the Bus Challenge in November encouraged students and staff to ride the bus and garnered 472 total bus trips for the month. During the Winter Commute Challenge, participants logged 1,500 trips and 5,786 miles of transportation options, saving 3,094 lbs. of CO2 over the four-week challenge. The Bike for Burritos Challenge encouraged commuters to make at least 8 one-way trips by bicycle over a two-week period to win burritos from Chipotle. (Because what college student doesn’t love burritos?) Other smaller challenges and events throughout the year kept students engaged and informed about walking, biking and riding the bus in Bend.

Any student or staff can receive rewards through the Cascade Commuters rewards program when they register and log their non-drive-alone trips on www.drivelessconnect.com using their .edu email address. Students can get also get a free CET bus pass, free Zagster bike share membership, a discounted Zipcar membership and access to vanpools.

“We are working to establish an active transportation culture on our campus and the programs we offered this year were a great start. Every student on the OSU-Cascades campus had ample opportunity to get custom information and support to identify active transportation options for getting to campus. Those who participated saved money, improved their health, and reduced their environmental footprint,” said Casey Bergh, OSU-Cascades Transportation Program Manager.

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 www.commuteoptions.org. Katy Bryce is a freelance writer in Bend. www.katybryce.com.

Get or Give a Ride to the 4 Peaks Music Festival

4-Peaks-Music-Festival-2014-605-980x400

Commute Options is proud to be a non-profit partner with the 4 Peak Music Festival, June 15 – 18. Through this partnership, Commute Options is assisting 4 Peaks in their attempt to work alternative transportation options into their festival master plan. This year, festivalgoers can create an account (if they don’t have one already) at Drive Less Connect and use the Ride Match feature to find carpooling opportunities to and from the festival. By using rideshare to get the event, you can help reduce traffic (and have more fun!) at one of Bend’s signature music events. Visit www.drivelessconnect.com and go to Ride Match View Events to find rideshare partners. Also keep an eye out for Commute Options information at the 4 Peaks merchandise kiosk!

4 Peaks is committed to providing an intimate, family-friendly festival, but on a grand scale. Patrons should expect grander views, bigger grassy fields, a larger late night tent, additional “chill” areas, and a greater selection of vendors. Most importantly, 4 Peaks brings in an impressive lineup of world class music from around the world.

4 Peaks’ mission is to provide a multi-day music event in beautiful Central Oregon, featuring an array of eclectic, national, regional and local bands for music enthusiasts, community members and families. The stage is set for the 10th year, as we bring people from all over the region, benefitting the economy of Bend and its surrounding communities.
4PeaksMusic.com

Walking: The Superfood of Physical Activity

commute options may 2017

By Katy Bryce, for Commute Options

We all know that physical activity is good for us and many of us make the effort to include an hour of exercise a day. However, research now shows that you can’t necessarily offset 10 hours of sitting with one hour of exercise.

“Active sedentary” is relatively new term for people who are active for a short period of their day, then sit and remain inactive for the rest of the day. Perhaps this sounds like you—you take an early morning jog, sit down for breakfast, sit in your car as you drive to work, sit at your desk for eight hours, drive home, sit for dinner, then sit in front of a screen as you end your day. As a writer, I am all too guilty of exercising for an hour, then sitting at my desk for the rest of the day!

Regular activity has been engineered out of our lives in the last few decades. We use cars to get nearly everywhere, we push a button on our garage door instead of physically lifting it and we take the elevator instead of the stairs. What if you could incorporate short periods of activity into your day—without needing to change into gym clothes or break a sweat?

Try going for a walk – it just may be the answer you are looking for. It’s been called the “superfood of physical activity.”

Walking is truly the easiest, cheapest and most accessible form of physical activity and it is particularly important for elderly, disabled, and lower income people who have fewer opportunities to participate in sports or formal exercise programs. Not everyone wants (or can afford) a ski pass, a fancy mountain bike or a pass to the gym, but nearly everyone can use walking to incorporate regular physical activity.

How can we, as individuals and communities, walk more?

Take the bus. Studies show that transit riders get 20 more minutes of physical exercise a day than non-transit riders. Riding the bus means you could include more walking between your destination and the bus station.

Park further away. If you live too far away from your workplace and must drive, consider parking further away and walking to your workplace from there. As an added benefit, you might save money on parking fees!

Support measures for walkable communities. Get involved in your neighborhood association, parks and recreation district and local government. Local cities are actively working towards designing and building sidewalks, paths and walking trails.

Just do it. Walk to meetings, walk to lunch, walk your kids to school, and of course, walk your dog. Can you walk to the post office to drop off those bills? Can you walk to a dinner date, then get a ride back? Get creative and get walking.

“Walking is one of the simplest ways to incorporate more activity into your daily life. With warmer weather and longer days, we encourage everyone to get walking whenever they can,” adds Jeff Monson, Executive Director for Commute Options.

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 www.commuteoptions.org

Katy Bryce is a freelance writer in Bend. www.katybryce.com

Oregon Legislators Eye $131 Million for Active Transportation

By Katy Bryce, for Commute Options

The Oregon Legislative session began on February 1 st , but legislators are just now sharing details that might make up a statewide transportation funding bill. On March 23, during a meeting of the Joint Committee on Transportation Preservation and Modernization, State Senator Lee Beyer (D-Springfield) introduced a proposal package that would raise $131 million in additional funds thatwould improve active transportation such as biking, walking and public transit.

Statewide Transit Improvement Fund: $107 million a year Legislators are seeking to create a Statewide Transit Improvement Fund to increase the frequency,quality and reach of Oregon’s urban, rural and intercity transit systems. This would be funded through a one-tenth of one percent ($0.001) employee payroll tax. These new funds would be in addition to existing funds, bringing the state’s share of transit funds to $135 million a year. This would be a much-needed boost for public transportation in Oregon.

Safe Routes to School: $15 million a year

Currently, the Safe Routes to School portion of the proposal would address safety issues for children walking or biking to school by providing sidewalks, bike lanes and safe crossings. The goals would be to complete Safe Routes to School networks within a ¼ mile of every elementary and middle school in the next 10 years. The current funding for this is $40 million (through federal, state and local funding) and this bill would add another $15 million a year through the State Highway Fund. As currently proposed, this would only fund infrastructure, but advocates are lobbying to ensure the funding package includes money set aside for education by introducing House Bill 3230, which would include funds for education and outreach programs. Such programs are very successful in Central Oregon and throughout the state to teach kids how to bike and walk safely in their communities.

Off-Road Biking and Walking Paths: $4 million a year

This portion would add $4 million to invest in off-road biking and walking paths to link local road networks and physically separate people biking and walking from motor vehicles. Funds would come from a Bike Excise Tax and Parks Lottery Receipts.

All Roads Transportation Safety Program: $10 million a year

This portion allows ODOT to identify the 450 most dangerous locations – for all transportation modes – on state highways within 10 years. The focus would be on three primary types of severe crashes in Oregon: roadway departure crashes, crashes at intersections, and crashes involving bicycles or pedestrians. The additional $10 million in funding would bring the total amount allocated to $45 million.

“This proposal is still in the early stages and could change as negotiations ensue, but we are exited to see more support for active transportation. Many of these changes could help central Oregon improve the safety and convenience of walking, biking and riding the bus,” says Jeff Monson, Executive Director for Commute Options.

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 www.commuteoptions.org

Katy Bryce is a freelance writer in Bend. www.katybryce.com.

Walking and Biking…In A Roundabout Way

sisters roundabout construction
By Katy Bryce, for Commute Options

Roundabouts. They’re a Bend “thing”, right? Bend is peppered with these traffic intersections, usually marked by lovely public art. Now the City of Sisters is getting in on the game, constructing its first roundabout at the intersection of U.S. Highway 20 and Barclay Drive/McKinney Butte Road. Construction has started and will end before Memorial Day of this year.

Based on traffic analysis over the last few years, the City of Sisters determined that the previous intersection didn’t meet the standards for volume-to-capacity and safety conditions. In fact, there had been recent serious crashes at the intersection. This, coupled with a concern for school related pedestrian safety, prompted the city to explore other options. The new roundabout will better accommodate large truck traffic, expand intersection capacity and be safer for people walking and riding bikes.

“Our research into roundabouts shows that they are definitely safer than other forms of intersection control and working with the City of Sisters we have decided it’s the best solution for congestion at US20 and Barclay on the west side. We’ve also shown to the trucking industry that roundabouts work for large loads. We knew that something had to be done to make the intersection safer, and the roundabout is that solution,” says Peter Murphy, Oregon Department of Transportation’s Public Information Officer.

Roundabouts promote safety for drivers, walkers and bikers in several ways. Studies of intersections in the United States that were converted from traffic signals or stop signs into roundabouts found that roundabouts lowered the number of vehicle injury crashes by 75 to 80 percent and all vehicle crashes by 35 to 47 percent. When used properly, roundabouts also decrease pedestrian related crashes by 30 to 40 percent and bicycle-vehicle conflicts by least a 10 percent. Why are roundabouts so great for people walking and biking?

Slower speeds create a safer intersection. Driving speeds in the roundabout are typically between 15 and 20 miles per hour, allowing easier yielding to pedestrians or bicyclists. Slower speeds also create a safer environment for all users.

One direction travel. Unlike an intersection with stop signs or traffic signals, the traffic in a roundabout is all going the same direction. This way, nobody has to cross anyone’s path, making travel safer.

Easier lane crossing for pedestrians. The small “split” islands that funnel traffic into the roundabout make it safer for walkers because it creates a median. Walkers then only have to cross one lane of traffic at a time.

Bicyclists have two ways of using a roundabout. The lack of cross-directional travel also makes roundabouts safer for cyclists. A person riding a bike can choose to ride through the roundabout by merging into the roundabout when it is safe to do so, then signaling and leaving the roundabout when they need to. Or the bike rider can choose to get off and walk the bike using the pedestrian crosswalks.

Kudos to Sisters for their first roundabout!

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 www.commuteoptions.org

Katy Bryce is a freelance writer in Bend. www.katybryce.com.