By Tyler Leeds
Are those who get around Bend by walking or biking frowned upon by motorists? Are bikes on the west side vulnerable to theft? Can Century Drive be made more friendly for pedestrians?
Those are some of the questions raised by a group of west-side business owners during a meeting with an OSU-Cascades group planning for transportation at the university’s proposed four-year campus.
The transportation task force of the OSU-Cascades Campus Expansion and Advisory Committee (CEAC) had invited 200 businesses from the Century Drive, Chandler Avenue and Galveston Avenue corridors to meet in an effort to coordinate and plan for the influx of new students the university hopes to bring to Bend. At the early-morning meeting last week, 16 businesses came, though the task force members agreed at a meeting Thursday they were happy with the turnout given this was the first step in what they hope is a perpetual collaboration.
“These businesses will be impacted by the campus development process and everything that happens in association with the campus,” said Matt Shinderman, a senior instructor in sustainability who co-chairs the Campus Expansion and Advisory Committee. “We want to make sure we’re working with the businesses and not against them. If we don’t have an ongoing dialogue, we can’t really optimize the opportunities for collaboration.”
Mike McLandress is a member of the task force whose company, Brightwater Collaborative, is being paid to help with the planning.
McLandress said the collaboration with businesses can benefit both groups.
“We see OSU as a catalyst for changing how we look at transportation for these businesses,” he said. “Education is OSU’s business and the students are the customers, and they want to have options for getting around. We want to see how these changes can help the businesses, too.”
Nothing was finalized at last week’s meeting, but the task force members and business owners discussed plans such as educating bikers on how to properly lock their bikes to prevent theft. Also discussed were the benefits and drawbacks of having on-street parking with time limits. Another topic included the possibility that those who don’t drive are stigmatized by community members and what could be done to mitigate that.
“We didn’t necessarily get all the info we wanted, a lot of other things came up that people wanted to talk about,” Shinderman said. “And that’s what we anticipated and is why we are meeting again.”
Shinderman said the next meeting will be in August or September, and McLandress hopes 40 or more businesses will attend.
Jeff Monson, a task force member and executive director of Commute Options, suggested future discussions could be framed around where the university and businesses may be able to share costs on mutually beneficial projects.
“We need to figure out what can be done to benefit businesses, and see if we can get them to help pay for things like a nice bus stop or bike racks that they will use,” he said.
At the end of the meeting, McLandress announced that some steps had already been made in realizing one of the university’s transit goals — four orange, black and white bikes were purchased from Bend Velo to launch a bike share system. The longer term goal is to grow the fleet so students don’t have to own their bikes.
“It’s a start and more of a statement,” McLandress said. “They look really, really cool. Though I made an executive decision about adding the white. With just orange and black, they looked like a pumpkin.”
— Reporter: 541-633-2160, firstname.lastname@example.org