Category Archives: Recent News

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

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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

For Every Kid

Safe Routes to School Network
Safe Routes to School Network

People power is the key! You are this movement. We know that Safe Routes to School for every kid is important, but we have to make a splash in Salem this February through July to gain the support of our leaders. The only way we will do that is by showing how many people across Oregon support Safe Routes to School. Our goal is to get to 3,000 supporters and right now we have 800. Please help by sending two emails to your network or posting messages on social media to help reach families and neighbors across the state.

Coming Soon: Eugene Town Hall Meeting for Safe Routes to School. Where to next? On December 6th, we will be inviting youth, families, elders, and partners to a Safe Routes to School Town Hall Meeting in Eugene. RSVP here! Will you host a For Every Kid community meeting in your town? Please contact leeanne@btaoregon.org if you are in! We will be collecting a list of potential cities and hosts in the coming weeks. These community meetings will be full of fun, food, policy and campaign information, resources, and inspiring ways your community can win funding for Safe Routes to School!

La Pine Invests in Walking, Biking and Transit

By Katy Bryce, for Commute Options

La Pine may be Central Oregon’s newest and smallest incorporated city, but it is taking transportation options—walking, biking and public transportation—very seriously. The community, along with support from Deschutes County, the City of La Pine, Cascades East Transit and the La Pine Chamber, is continuously looking at ways in which they improve active transportation for all residents.

La Pine’s Mayor Ken Mulenex says, “It is important to show that we are committed to bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure here in La Pine. Our interest in investing in bicycle and pedestrian accommodations, from facilities to multiple bike-ped by-ways has been a goal for a long time. It’s just that we have to put a foundation under our new city government before we can move forward on this goal. But it will come.” In 2014, the Deschutes County Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee appointed Scott Morgan, a La Pine resident, to serve on the committee to help identify and prioritize improvements in and around the city.

Currently, Cascades East Transit (CET) operates Community Connector Route 30, which provides Monday through Friday service for people traveling between Bend and La Pine. The full route, from the Wickiup Junction Park and Ride to Hawthorne Station in Bend, is only 45 minutes and provides an alternative to driving to and from Bend for work. CET is looking at implementing a transit hub in La Pine to further support public transportation.

Adding and improving sidewalks is also a priority in La Pine, to provide safer walking access in a community where not everyone is able to drive, including children and seniors. This year, the city completed sidewalks, streetlights and landscaping additions at the intersection of First St. and US Highway 97, a popular shopping area that includes the Dollar Tree and Grocery Outlet. This intersection now has safer and more convenient pedestrian access so people can more easily walk to shopping and errands.

Morgan also worked with the La Pine Chamber of Commerce to add routes for recreational road biking to the La Pine Road Map, which is available at the chamber. The map designates routes between 10 and 50 miles that are good for riding on the road, which serves both recreational riding and daily bike commuting. Additionally, the community recently implemented a bike fix-it station located at the La Pine Community Center and Parks and Recreation building. The station includes a pump, bike stand, and basic tools so bicyclists can work on their bikes.

What’s in the future? More big plans, including extending the multi-use path from the community center to the La Pine Senior Center to give walkers a safe place to walk. “This gets walkers off the street and off the dirt shoulder, and provides a safe, off-street path for walking and biking. It’s an important north-south connector,” says Morgan.

Jeff Monson, Executive Director for Commute Options adds, “La Pine is always looking to the future and improving infrastructure to include walk, bike and transit friendly features. In a small community, these small improvements can have big impacts.”

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.

Old Mill District Launches Commute Options Programs

CBN August photo
By Katy Bryce, for Commute Options

Ah, summertime in Central Oregon. We really do have it all here. We can enjoy outdoor activities, top-notch restaurants, shopping and concerts. The Old Mill District and Les Schwab Amphitheater in Bend has become a focal point for all of these things.

Last year, the Old Mill District surveyed patrons to the district asking how they could enhance their experience at the amphitheater and Old Mill District. Visitors overwhelmingly shared that parking was a large concern. The Old Mill District has free parking, however a busy summer weekend that includes a big headline concert or festival can bring up to 8,000 people to the amphitheater and more to the overall district.

This summer, Old Mill District launched programs encouraging retail and restaurant employees and patrons to choose alternative transportation options. Noelle Fredland, Marketing Director for the Old Mill District & Les Schwab Amphitheater, adds, “We are constantly trying to be proactive to enhance the experiences of our guests and we are committed to sustainability practices that enhance our community. As Bend grows, it is important.”

The first goal is to encourage all retail and restaurant employees to choose transportation options. In July, Commute Options started working with the Old Mill District to designate all 55 retail and restaurant locations in the Old Mill District as Commute Options Partners. Through this voluntary program, all Old Mill District employees can track their trips at www.drivelessconnect.com and be rewarded with local gift certificates for every 45 trips they make by walking, biking, carpooling or riding the bus.

Second, the Old Mill District is providing gift cards for the Drive Less Connect program. This means that employees at any Commute Options Partner workplace (not just in the Old Mill District) can choose an Old Mill District gift certificate as their reward. The certificates are valid at any of the retail, dining, or recreation locations in the Old Mill District, including the Ticket Mill.

Some of the musicians that have played at the amphitheater are also driving the sustainable transportation trend. Several artists such as Jack Johnson, Dave Matthews Band and Coldplay have requested that some concert venues provide carbon-friendly transportation alternatives. The Sustainable Concerts Working Group is a collaboration of music industry leaders that are pushing for more sustainable practices at concerts. Their EnviroTour 2016 Guide asks venues to “Encourage fans to take alternative transportation to the show – carpool, bike, or take mass transit. Fan travel to shows is by far the biggest environmental footprint of any live music event.”

Kim Curley, Community Outreach Director for Commute Options, encourages shoppers, diners and concertgoers to help out. “Skip the parking hassle by carpooling, biking, or walking to the Old Mill District and Les Schwab Amphitheater. You can find rideshare buddies at www.drivelessconnect.com. You’ll feel good and save gas money!”

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.