OTC Advocacy, E-Bike Joy, and Safe Routes to School!

Winter is back and we hope everyone is staying warm and remembering all the layers they need for winter riding.

Call to Action: Federal Transportation Dollars for Bend

As we mentioned last month, the Oregon Transportation Commission (aka ODOT’s boss) will decide on a spending scenario for a once-in-a-generation investment of federal transportation dollars in March. The next OTC meeting is on March 10th and then we expect a final decision to be made at a special meeting dedicated to this topic on March 30th.

We heard definitive support at the last OTC meeting for the prioritization of funds for public and active transportation. It is important the OTC continues to hear this type of support from around the state. The OTC only wants to hear new oral testimony, so if you’re up for it, sign-up opens on March 3 for the next meeting. We are happy to help ya out with talking points, so if you are interested, email us at [email protected].

If oral testimony is not your thing, please consider submitting written comments telling the OTC that the Bend community supports the prioritization of IIJA federal transportation dollars for people who walk, bike, roll, and take transit and to ensure that the climate and equity are at the center of their decision-making. 

Board President LeeAnn O’Neill Re-Appointed as TBOC Chair

The Transportation Bond Oversight Committee reconvened for the first time in 2022 and has moved to quarterly meetings. Bend Bikes board president LeeAnn O’Neill was re-appointed as the TBOC chair and Scott Robinson was re-appointed as the TBOC vice-chair.

The TBOC received some initial updates on Bond projects, provided staff feedback on what updates could look like both for committee members as well as the public, and is in ongoing discussions on performance metrics to assess how well the Bond projects. The TBOC will make a recommendation to Council later this year on what those metrics should look like. 

While there are no action items at this time, we did learn more about what Intelligent Transportation Systems can do, and while some of it is less exciting (e.g. ensuring that vehicles can travel more efficiently down a corridor and produce lower emissions), we are looking forward to learning more about the movement towards using infrared or heat detection to help sensors for traffic lights to detect people who bike when they take the lane. 

Pedal With Power: All About E-Bike Joy!

Bend Bikes has long known that e-bikes are changing the landscape of biking and our vision includes a robust bike culture that embraces them. After spending time with e-bike advocates and local policymakers this past fall, we heard through the grapevine that being able to demo an e-bike convinced one policymaker to take the plunge and buy an e-bike! For many traditional pedal pushers, it can be hard to understand what the big deal is. So here’s a few great reasons to love e-bikes brought to us by Pedal with Power, a blog authored by Chris Phillips, an expert in all things bikes over at Bend Velo. We love e-bikes because they…

  • Allow riders of different fitness levels to ride together
  • Can replace your car (yay cargo bikes!)
  • Keep older adults active and feeling younger
  • Allow people with injuries or disabilities to ride a bike
  • Eliminate the obstacles of traditional bike riding
  • Re-ignite your spark for cycling (because they are so fun!)

Speaking of which, if you are hankering for an e-bike, check out this opportunity to win an e-bike if you donate to NeighborImpact

Bend Bikes Vision: Safe Routes to School 

A common complaint is that it is not safe for our kids to walk and bike to school on their own. So instead, parents drop their kids off by car. We believe that the front of a school is a valuable commodity, yet our community chooses to make this a chaotic car and noxious emissions zone. Our children have no choice but to walk and bike through the pickup line to get in the doors. Cars idling around the school create clouds of carbon monoxide in the exact places that we don’t want them – directly into the air our kids breathe. 

We need a multi-faceted solution to this problem: (1) safe connected routes for kids who walk and bike connected to schools; (2) a two-block or a ¼ mile “no drive” zone around all schools so kids walking and biking will not be endangered by school drop-off traffic; and (3) parents dedicated to reducing traffic and car conflicts by walking or biking with their kiddos to school to reduce the volume and chaos of the pickup line.

[Image by MoBikeFed licensed under Creative Commons] Walk to School Day should be every day!

Parents can be part of the solution by supporting the efforts of organizations like Commute Options (and their safe routes initiatives and walking school buses), participating in transportation project open houses to advocate for bike infrastructure that school aged kids will feel safe on, and advocating with the City of Bend and the Bend La Pine Schools to create a “no drive” zone around all schools. 

And in the meantime, parents can make immediate meaningful change by reducing traffic and creating a safer school zone for students who already walk and bike by joining them with their young ones! 

Bend Bikes Volunteer Spotlight: Rob Garrott 

We have a few superstar volunteers, and this month, we are featuring Rob Garrott who was pivotal in getting our bike map off the ground last year!

[Photo: Rob Garrott] Rob out the mountain bike trails because taking selfies while riding bikes around town is dangerous!

“I’ve been in love with bikes since my father first pushed me down the street with no training wheels and no helmet at the age of 6. I hit a parked car and bonked my head but I wanted to get back on right away. We lived on a military base at the time with very little traffic so I had miles of quiet streets and a relatively safe environment that I could suddenly explore with my friends and without needing to rely on my parents for a ride. The sense of freedom and empowerment I felt have stayed with me throughout my life and I’ve tried to make riding a central component of my everyday world. 

When I moved to Bend in 2015, I hadn’t ever ridden a bike here but I thought I was coming to “bike friendly” town. I’d been living and riding in Los Angeles for almost 30 years, and it was shocking to see first hand just how frightening and hard it is to ride a bike in one of the most “outdoor friendly” cities in the country. It’s easy to complain about the problems here, but nothing ever changes if that’s all you do. 

My involvement in the bike map project began with me asking the question… Is there a way to document safe routes for bikes in Bend? Maybe more people would try riding here if they knew where you could ride “safely.” I figured there had to be other people here who felt the same way, and talking with Brian Potwin at Commute Options led me to the amazing people at Bend Bikes. 

We were able to put together a set of data that is a great foundation to build on for the future. Although it took longer than I anticipated, this first draft of bike routes in Bend points the way to a more bike friendly version of the town I love. 

If you see a chunky but funky guy on a really nice bike wearing an obnoxiously bright safety green jersey, please say ‘hi’!”