Category Archives: Recent News

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.

For Every Kid Campaign

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Speak up! Sign our petition

When it is safe, convenient, and fun to walk to neighborhood schools, our children are healthier, our streets are safer for everyone, and our communities thrive. Every kid in Oregon deserves a chance at a healthy future. Commute Options is partnering with the Street Trust, Safe Routes to School National Partnership, American Heart Association, and others to secure dedicated funding that will reach every kid in Oregon with Safe Routes to School.

A Dangerous Trend for Oregon’s Kids

Our kids are getting less exercise than any previous generation. One in three kids in the U.S. is overweight or obese, conditions that lead to heart disease, diabetes, hypertension—and eventually early death. Something as simple as walking to school every day isn’t an option for many families in the Portland metro-area. Too many communities lack safe sidewalks, bikeways, and crosswalks. Kids who most need opportunities for physical activity often don’t have safe routes for walking or biking to school which could give them 66% percent of their recommended daily exercise.

Healthier Kids, Safer Communities

Kids who can safely walk and bike to their neighborhood school get regular physical activity and perform better in school. To ensure that’s an option for all families, Safe Routes to School programs:

Make streets and crossings within the mile-radius of schools safer.
Empower communities to take charge of their own health and safety with bike and pedestrian safety education.
Create communities of families walking and biking together through fun, school-based events.

Safe Routes to Schools Works

Some metro-area schools have received funding since 2006 for a robust Safe Routes to School program. Schools with well-supported programs have seen walking and biking to school quadruple in one year. We can and should do more to ensure every kid has a chance at a healthy future. More than 60,000 kids in the Portland metro-area could be walking and biking to school after just one year of a robust regional Safe Routes to School program.

Every School District in Oregon

When it is safe, convenient, and fun to walk to neighborhood schools, our children are healthier, our streets are safer for everyone, and our communities thrive. Safe Routes to School programs could bring the following to every community in the metro-area:

Healthier kids ready to learn
Safer neighborhood streets for all residents
Kids equipped with crucial bike and pedestrian safety education
Thriving neighborhoods that foster community
Opportunities for physical activity for kids who need it most

Transportation Options Boost the Economy and Benefit Everyone

By Jeff Monson and Katy Bryce

Central Oregon is truly an amazing place to live and work. Our cities are changing rapidly and we have big opportunities for economic growth and diversity—something we haven’t always had in our past. As we continue to grow, it will be critical to include transportation options into all parts of our community. We will need to look strategically ahead to ensure that we offer a full range of options for residents and visitors to efficiently get around.

Affordability is more than affordable housing
Over the last few years, there has been much dialogue around affordable housing. We agree. Rent and mortgage costs should span the affordability spectrum so that all members of our community—from service employees to retirees—can afford to live and work comfortably in central Oregon.

While the rising cost of housing is alarming, here at Commute Options, we propose that we think even more broadly: affordable cost of living, rather than just affordable housing. The cost of living includes all the things, such as housing, utilities, and food, which we spend money on to live and thrive. And one of the key components of affordable living is transportation.

Cars are expensive. The Automobile Association of America (AAA) estimates that the average cost of owning an average sized sedan is $8698 per year. These costs include the purchase, maintenance, insurance, registration and depreciation of an automobile, for a total of $725 a month. Imagine what $725 a month in the pocketbook can do for a household!

When we invest in a full spectrum of transportation infrastructure and complete streets that include connected bike lanes, sidewalks, paths, and public transportation, we provide more choices for residents to opt out of driving. A family who can drive less, or even get by with one fewer vehicle, can then spend their dollars elsewhere such as back into our local economy.

Buses help our workforce and our economy
Our economic development community must recognize that affordable transportation is critical for strengthening our workforce, particularly for manufacturing and service jobs. Public transportation is a viable and reliable means of commuting for working class families and riding the bus is inexpensive and allows workers to get to work safely.

We need to get past the stigma that riding the bus is only for a select population. Public transportation can and should be for everyone—students, professionals, service workers, seniors, and families.

A person who lives in La Pine and works in Bend could very well spend as much money on transportation than they do on housing. The drive from La Pine to Bend is about 70 miles round trip. At the federal mileage reimbursement rate of 53.5 cents per mile, that is $37.45 per day, totaling over $750 per month! Not to mention the time that is spent driving rather than time spent with family, friends or doing more enjoyable things instead of driving.

A monthly pass to ride the Cascades East Transit bus from La Pine to Bend and back costs $100 a month. An efficient, and convenient public transportation system provides a reliable, safe, and less expensive means for workers to get to work and back.

Smartly planned cities thrive
Renowned German urban planner Harmut Topp once said, “The prosperity of a city does not depend on private car traffic, but on accessibility in general, on the amenity of its streets and open spaces and – to put it more succinctly – on its genius.”

Bend reached a “genius” milestone last December when the Urban Growth Boundary (UGB) expansion was approved by the state. The decision allows for adequate growth without unnecessary sprawl but also provides enough land for housing and business needs. Commute Options commends the City of Bend and all participating organizations for the UGB expansion plan which will facilitate transportation options in Bend with thoughtful redevelopment and infill development.

Denser, mixed use development with affordable housing that is near Bend’s center will allow residents the ability to walk or ride a bike to key business centers, rather than drive. Perhaps we can allocate fewer funds towards parking lots and garages, and instead invest more in medical facilities, libraries, parks, or retail centers. Remember that parking lots and garages don’t make money, but actually cost money to build and maintain. Maybe we will even reach a point where the parking requirements are reduced because we have tons of transportation options!

Be a part of our transportation future
We are excited for the future of transportation options in central Oregon. We, along with our city government partners, private businesses, non-profit organizations, and local families and individuals have made great strides in promoting choices that reduce the impacts of driving alone. We ask our community to reach high and think big. Together we can have a wonderful 2017 and beyond!

Commute Options promotes choices that reduce the impacts of driving alone. Jeff Monson is Commute Options Executive Director and can be reached at 541-330-2647 or at www.commuteoptions.org. Katy Bryce is a freelance writer at www.katybryce.com

Happy New Years …

commute options Jan 2017
By Katy Bryce, for Commute Options

Happy New Year! Make 2017 a great year for walking, biking, carpooling, riding the bus and teleworking. We thought we’d share some of our goals for this year.

Jeff Monson, Executive Director
This year, I’m hoping to better utilize technology to reduce my drive alone trips. For instance, Cascades East Transit will soon launch their Transit Tracker, an app to track their buses in real-time so I can see how long it will be before a bus arrives and adjust my schedule accordingly. I’m also looking forward to using Uber or Lyft when they come to central Oregon. I think these app-based transportation network companies will only enhance our transportation options here.

Kim Curley, Community Outreach Director
My family became a one-car family last August, but this has only broadened my thinking to add more walking, biking, busing and carpooling into my life. I’m excited to telework more and I’m thankful that I work for an employer that embraces teleworking. I also want to become a more patient carpooler when I’m waiting for my carpool driver to show up. Spending that time journaling, knitting, or a playing quick game of “Words with Friends” makes any idle time pass quickly!

Brian Potwin, Education Coordinator
This year, my wife and I are adopting a child so we are really excited to make some changes in our household. To prepare for our new addition, we bought a traditional Dutch cargo bike to fit our little one and I took it to Bend Electric Bikes to retrofit it with an electric motor assist. We also bought a Nissan Leaf electric car to reduce our carbon emissions even more. I’m also really excited to bring Bend Open Streets to Bend again this year, along with open streets events in other communities.

Willow Hamilton, Safe Routes to School Instructor
I’m a car-free Bendite, so I rely on my bike to get around—until the icy grip of winter comes like it did this year. So instead, I’m walking more. It’s a great way to spend time outside, so I don’t mind the extra time it takes. I’m working on riding the bus more, so I’m trying to be better about planning ahead to make sure I get to meetings on time. And lastly, I’m going to be a perfect example for my Safe Routes to School students by always following the rules of the road when I’m commuting on my bike!

Kathy King, Special Projects Coordinator
As a full-time teleworker, I will continue this great way to work. I spent 20 years traveling around the country setting up employer programs and training employees and managers, so I’m always excited to work with local employers. Because I live in Sisters, trip planning is a top priority. When we come to Bend, we try to include all of our errands in one trip, and our reward is usually hitting a brew pub for dinner. My big goal for Commute Options is to help the Bend-La Pine School District become a Commute Options Partner. Yes, I am seeking sponsors for this!

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.

Join us for the Safe Routes to School Town Hall

15895477_1765643660427052_4200206863713008294_oJoin us for a fun event in YOUR community!

The For Every Kid Coalition is hosting a Safe Routes to School Town Hall on Wednesday, January 25th in Redmond.

Date: Wednesday, January 25th
Time: 4:30 – 6 pm; Doors open at 4 pm
Place: Redmond City Hall, 716 SW Evergreen Ave. Redmond, OR
Snacks: Provided!
Please RSVP!
Join the Facebook event here!

In 2017, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to put kids and families first. Let’s seize this moment and make our roads safe so that every kid can walk, bike, and access transit to school. Join the For Every Kid Coalition for this community event; bring your friends, and find out how!

Childcare will be provided upon request.

At this event you will learn:

What’s new with the Safe Routes to School programs in your area.
How to provide public testimony, as well as other things you can do to make sure that every kid in Oregon has a safe route to school.
Why local leaders love Safe Routes to School and why streets matter for all generations.
How the For Every Kid Coalition needs your to help to make it safe for every kid to walk, bike, and access transit to school in Redmond, Bend, and all across Oregon.
RSVP today!

This is our second in a series of six events across the state for Safe Routes to School. Read about and see pics of the December Safe Route to School Town Hall in Eugene.

Thanks to our event partners: Commute Options, the City of Redmond, The Street Trust, and Alta Planning and Design!

Uber and Lyft Add Value to Our Transportation Options

uber app 2
By Katy Bryce, for Commute Options

Uber and Lyft are looking to come to central Oregon in the very near future. These services, often known as “transportation network companies (TNCs)” or “ride-hailing companies”, connect paying passengers with drivers who provide the transportation with their own non-commercial vehicles. They are now found in many metropolitan areas, providing peer-to-peer ridesharing opportunities for people around the world. Currently, City of Bend and City of Redmond officials are determining the best policies to safely allow these services to operate in the area.

Having a wide variety of transportation options is the key to a complete and accessible-for-everyone transportation system. These app-based companies can open up more opportunities for active transportation in our region.

One important benefit that a TNC can bring to our region is flexibility. Imagine if you walk or bike to your workplace, but need to go to a meeting across town. You can very quickly access the app and request a ride. Is your car in the shop for a few days? Plan some trips using Uber. Or, with our sometimes wild and wooly weather, you might walk to work in the morning, only to find yourself heading home in a snowstorm—another great case for a using a TNC.

Some areas are exploring partnerships between ride-hailing companies and health care facilities to help patients get to and from medical appointments. Several research studies show that for 10-50% of patients in suburban and rural areas, a lack of transportation is a barrier to health care access. Having a local TNC would expand the opportunities for access to health care.

Also consider the habits and desires of the Millennial generation. Millennials aged 18-34 years are not only embracing the “sharing economy”, but are demanding it, and seeking to live in places that offer such services. Over half of Millennials use sharing apps such as Uber, Lyft, and Airbnb. Our economic future will partly rely on drawing top talent for local businesses in our region, and having flexible transportation options will only make central Oregon a more appealing place to live.

A recent study by researchers at Arizona State University found that Uber reduced traffic congestion in 87 different urban areas in the U.S. Because Ubers can’t accept street hails, they do much less unnecessary driving-around looking for customers (like taxis) and they eliminate the need to look for parking for every trip made.

Home to the University of Montana, the town of Missoula (pop. 71,000) recently added Uber, with initial good results. Not only does it provide an alternative transportation service, but also opens up opportunities for college students to earn money on the side.

Jeff Monson, Executive Director for Commute Options says, “Having an app-based transportation network company such as Uber or Lyft adds value to our community by providing more options for people to either not have a car, or not use their car for single-occupant trips.”
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

Register: How to Start a Walking School Bus at Your School Webinar

Register for the Safe Routes to School National Partnership Next Webinar:
How to Start a Walking School Bus at Your School
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Join this webinar to learn about the Safe Routes to School National Partnership’s new toolkit, Step by Step: How to Start a Walking School Bus at Your School, an easy-to-follow guide to getting a walking school bus up and “walking” in your community! During this webinar, we will introduce the concept of a walking school bus, review how to use the toolkit, and provide time for communities to ask questions about planning their program.

Date: January 11, 2017
Time: 2:00 pm ET
Register here

The Many Benefits of Bike Sharing Programs

OSU Bikeshare photo
By Katy Bryce, for Commute Options

Cities across the nation are abuzz with bike share programs. You may have even seen or heard about Portland’s BIKETOWN program that launched this summer. So, what’s the big deal? It turns out quality bike share programs can have a huge positive impact on cities.

Bike sharing relies on a system of self-service bike stations. Users typically check out a bike using a membership or credit/debit card. They can then ride to their destination and park the bike in a nearby docking station. Bike share bikes are comfortable, have integrated locks and cargo baskets and usually include gearing, fenders and lights that make urban biking safe and enjoyable. Many of them are accessed by a mobile app, so you can usually find a bike nearby from wherever you are at the time.

Bike sharing programs can introduce new people into bicycle commuting by providing fun, safe, and secure bikes. A 2013 study in Washington D.C. from the Transportation Research Record suggested that bike share users were different from regular cyclists. In this case, they were more likely to be women, to be younger, to have lower incomes and to be less likely to own bicycles or automobiles.

Bike sharing can encourage new demographics – those who wouldn’t normally ride a bike – to start using bikes for transportation. One bike share user in Portland said that riding a bike was not something she really considered until BIKETOWN came along, “It was very new. I don’t think I would have tried it without Biketown.”

According to the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO), bike share programs increase the visibility of cyclists, making riding safer for everyone. Studies also show that more people riding bikes in urban areas leads to improved bicycling and walking infrastructure.

Another Washington D.C. study suggested that bike share programs have a positive economic impact on commercial areas. Based on the findings, bike sharing stations attract more customers to nearby businesses and bike share users were more likely to spend money within four blocks of a bike share station. In more congested areas, like downtown centers, the bike share users spent considerably less time finding parking, and more time patronizing the nearby businesses.

Bike sharing programs are also valuable in towns such as Bend, where we have a high influx of tourists in the summer months. It provides an easy and fun way for residents and visitors to use bikes for transportation, whether they’re shopping in the Old Mill District or following the Bend Ale Trail. Bike shares are also flexible. You can use a bike share bike for a round trip, or for one-way use. Did you carpool with a coworker to that lunch meeting, but need to stay a little longer? Grab a bike share bike and head back to the office when you are ready.

“Bike sharing offers a great chance for people to choose active transportation for short trips. This is a health benefit as well. Riding a bike is good exercise, while also getting to where you need to be,” says Jeff Monson, Executive Director for Commute 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 www.commuteoptions.org

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