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.