In the current growth climate of Bend, Oregon you often hear cars and bikes pitched against each other. When one person talks about parking and roads, the other side cries out about bikes and public transit. The truth is that a healthy community has ALL of these things - safe bike/ped access throughout the City (especially in the Downtown district) abundant bike parking, a robust public transit system, forward-thinking development of roads and connectivity for cars, and adequate parking for residents and visitors.
I think most people can agree that biking & public transit have a plethora of benefits. It's healthy, it's better for the planet, it saves money, and it cuts down on congestion. The DBBA diligently works to encourage Downtown employees to bike and carpool, actively works with Commute Options to explore new ways to educate and encourage people to use alternative modes of transportation, and advocates in their future Downtown vision for the development of bike/ped connections into Downtown, protected bike lanes, and increased bike parking. The DBBA was an partner in bringing Zagster Bike Share and the Ride Bend bus to Downtown. We love alternative modes of transportation!
Although we are passionate about biking and public transit, we also recognize the need to develop easy, effective road connections as well as adequate parking in the Downtown district. Here are just a few cases where being able to drive and park in Downtown easily and safely is important:
The vision of the DBBA is to keep Downtown Bend an accessible and welcoming place for everyone, regardless of race, sex, religion, gender identity, age, social status, or mobility. Downtown serves a unique and special role in our community. It is the only shopping & arts district that is public. This allows it to fulfill a role in our community that no other place can. Nationally, Downtowns serve as locations where communities come alive, where bonds among neighbors are strengthened and where a sense of belonging is fostered. They are locations that spark economic development and drive entrepreneurial creativity.
Currently there are 5,799 parking spaces in Downtown Bend, there are about 4,000 Downtown Bend employees, 94,520 Bend residents (reported by World Population Review), almost 20,000 visitors to Bend daily (reported by The Source in July 2016), we have upwards of 3,200 hotel rooms in Bend (reported by the Bulletin in Sept 2016), and in November of 2018 KTVZ reported that the High Desert population was growing by 20 people per day.
At a recent meeting with ODOT, they reported that they expect the population to be 160,000 plus by 2040. This is a 50% population increase in 20 years. Currently, the Downtown Bend parking garage is frequently at capacity - especially during events or during busy shopping seasons (Art Walk, Christmas). With the current population growth prediction, we can expect it to be outdated very soon. We need to plan now for additional Downtown parking in the future.
Parking is an important part of Downtown Bend's future success, and needs to be developed hand-in-hand with increased bike access & public transportation. The City of Bend has done an amazing job addressing parking in Downtown Bend over this last year. The candidate chosen as the Downtown Bend Parking Manager has worked effectively and quickly to appraise the situation, find 'quick-win' solutions, enroll teamwork from community partners, and implement new strategies. Let's continue that good work by building a comprehensive plan for the future of transportation and parking in Downtown Bend.
Beginning today, parking improvements in downtown Bend will make parking easier, safer and more available for people looking for places to park.
Here are the five changes coming to downtown:
1. Enforcement times will be extended to 7pm to increase turnover for on-street parking and provide better access to businesses during evening hours in the busiest parts of downtown.
2. The ParkMobile app will be available as a quick, easy option for downtown patrons to pay for parking in the Mirror Pond Lots and Centennial Garage. ParkMobile will be the only way to pay for parking at the Greenwood/Wall Lot and Irving Street.
3. Parking permits will change from paper to virtual permits to make paying for and managing parking permits easier for downtown employees.
4. A four-hour time limit will go into effect for the Mirror Pond Lots to increase turnover and make more parking spaces available.
5. New parking rates will support better downtown parking management by encouraging people to park in the right places for the right amount of time, and respond to community expectations for parking availability, equity in opportunities for all downtown patrons, and the economic vitality of downtown.
“We know these improvements might taking some getting used to,” said Drew Dietrich parking demand manager for the City. “We’re going to start off by focusing our efforts on education first. Then we’ll move into enforcement. Our goal is to help people going downtown make the best use of the limited number of parking stalls and have a better experience while doing it.”
For more information on downtown parking, visit www.bendoregon.gov/parking.
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