Bend Bikes’ Journey, New Beginnings, and Bikey Thangs for MLK Day of Service

[Photos: Bend Bikes] Past President LeeAnn with her three favorite bicycles…

A Note from Past President LeeAnn: Bend Bikes’ Journey and New Beginnings

After nearly six years on the board of Bend Bikes, two years as the board secretary, and over three years as the board president, the time has come to pass Bend Bikes onto new leadership. This is my last month as board president and the last newsletter I will “pen” to our supporters. 

When I joined Bend Bikes, we were primarily known for putting on the family friendly events Bike the Bridges and the Holiday Lights Ride. Behind the scenes, we built relationships with City staff and fought for what we could from Bend’s meager transportation budget.

We almost didn’t make it after former board president Ariel Mendez stepped down after being elected to the board of the Bend Parks and Recreation District. I was a reluctant leader, but the alternative was to seriously consider dissolving Bend Bikes. So I took a big breath, leaped into the unknown, and found myself at the helm … only to have the pandemic throw a wrench in it all just months later.

Since then, this scrappy all volunteer organization rebuilt itself and has grown to be a key stakeholder with the Bend City Transportation Bond Oversight Committee and Core Area Advisory Board and the Deschutes County BPAC, as well as the Oregon Department of Transportation and the Department of Land Conservation and Development, all while facing some of the most challenging times our community has faced. We’ve had City councilors, County Commissioners, and other key elected officials and changemakers as guests at our board meetings. We changed the dialogue on what the face of bike advocacy looks like as a women of color-led nonprofit. Oh yea, and we managed to develop Bend’s first city bike map, win a sustainability award, and find Bend Bikes a new home as a partner organization of the Environmental Center in the midst of all of this. 

Our success is a testament to the incredible people who stepped up over the past two years. Bend Bikes couldn’t have done it without an immense amount of trust and dedication, in particular from major donors like Spurcycle and Tall Tree Trust – whose unfettered support allowed us to focus on rebuilding and strategizing instead of chasing donations – and the new leadership team – Elisa Cheng (President), Kaitlin Greene (Vice President), and David Green (Secretary/Treasurer) – whose visionary dreams of a bike-friendly Bend have surpassed my own. And so it is with great pride, excitement, and gratitude that I am passing the torch on!

MLK Day of Service with Commute Options

Looking for a way to honor Martin Luther King Jr. and support sustainable transportation? Join Commute Options to clear School Bike Routes on MLK Day, Monday, January 16 from 11 am – 3 pm. Join Bend Bikes in helping to clear debris and snow from routes used by kids to get to school. Making it safe and easy for kids to walk, bike, and roll to school helps develop self-reliance and positive attitudes towards health and environment that will last a lifetime. Check out Volunteer Central Oregon for more details and to RSVP. Depending on the weather, bring a broom or snow shovel and join in the fellowship of service on this important day!

[Photo: Stan Wolfson] Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. commuting by bicycle in 1967.

City Wins E-bike Rebate Grant

The City won a $150,000 Mobility Grant from Pacific Power to fund a rebate program to help low-income households in Bend purchase electric bicycles (e-bikes). The program will provide a rebate of $2,000 each to 75 qualified transportation-disadvantaged, low-income households in Bend to be used toward the purchase of an e-bike. To quality, applicants must be considered low-income and live within Pacific Power territory in Bend.

The City will work with Commute Options to disperse the grant funds, who in turn will partner with local e-bike retailers so that participants will be able to deduct the $2,000 from the purchase at the time of sale. The rebates will be awarded via a lottery process and the first lottery will take place in the Spring. Stay tuned for more!

Call to Action: Comment on the Butler Market & Wells Acres Roundabout Project!

Bend has more roundabouts than any other city in Oregon and we’re getting more.  Roundabouts improve safety for both cars and people walking and biking, move more vehicles through intersections than traditional intersections, and reduce vehicle emissions by keeping cars moving rather than waiting and idling. To learn more about the benefits of roundabouts, check out SmartGrowth’s presentation “Designing Roundabouts to Support Walkability and Smart Growth.” Even so, designing a roundabout involves making choices and the City of Bend is inviting comments on a new roundabout at Butler Market and Wells Acres. Learn more about this planned roundabout at the project webpage and comment about any changes you think are needed.

A follow up project will design key routes along Butler Market and Boyd Acres for walking and biking. The city will be asking for input on these key routes in February, so stay tuned!

Bend Bikes Vision: Applying Sustainable Bicycle Transportation Lessons from Abroad to Bend

Earlier this month, 30+ Bend Bikes supporters and others gathered to hear from City of Bend Transportation Engineer, Robin Lewis, about what she learned about sustainable transportation during her travels to The Netherlands and Denmark. Robin highlighted that traveling on foot and by bike becomes enjoyable, safe, and a part of everyday life when cities are designed with bike infrastructure for people of all ages and abilities. A consistent theme throughout the presentation was the need for people who walk, bike, and roll to feel they belong in our transportation system. 

[Image: Bend Bikes] It was a pretty full house, including founding board member Lucas Freeman!

Robin graciously shared her ideas for translating what she saw in Denmark and The Netherlands to quickly make biking and walking in Bend easier. Naturally, discussions around such changes within the City’s engineering team are ongoing.

Some of her key takeaways included:

Consider the start, middle, and end of a bike route 

  • Install more lighting to illuminate people walking, biking, and rolling along their routes
  • Facilitate safer travel through intersections by shifting back the stop bar for vehicles at traffic lights and combine this with a two-stage bike left turn*, no right turn on red, and increased time for pedestrians to cross.
  • Design shopping centers, schools, and workplace buildings so that a bike lane seamlessly transitions to a path that leads to bike parking located near the entrances
  • Install more bike parking throughout the city

*While abroad, Robin encountered a frequently used design at intersections that created a safe and universally usable approach, known as the two-stage bike left turn (see an example on the left below, with a staging area for a left turn after the bike first travels straight through the intersection). In contrast, bike box (pictured on the right) is a distinct design that also uses a receded stop bar but that Robin learned does not always work well for a person on a bike approaching the intersection on a green light or approaching late at a red light when a queue of vehicles has formed.

Improve the existing infrastructure with sustainable transportation as a priority

  • Connect Bend’s existing separated multi-use paths (West Bend, Haul Road, Larkspur, Coyner Trails, for example) to increase the ease of cross-town travel
  • Extend sidewalks to become multi-use paths and/or install buffered bike lanes when roadways are improved (Bend Bikes note: we don’t love buffered bike lanes, which is just extra paint and space – we’d rather see bike lanes protected by a barrier)
  • Mark safe routes with wayfinding signs

Make it easier to know your neighbors

  • Reduce the regulations around permitting for block parties so neighborhoods can close to cars and experience the joys of open streets
  • Ensure access to parks is easy and safe to do on foot, in a wheelchair, or by bike and that parks have activities that are inclusive of all ages and abilities.