What could Bend do to get more people riding the bus or on bikes?
Make it terribly easy and convenient. Make it safer.
Do you want to stand in the snow and wait a half an hour for a bus? Or even when it’s nice out? Many people wouldn’t if they had a choice.
The folks from Cascades East Transit get that. They told a city of Bend committee Tuesday that increasing bus frequency is a critical factor in getting more people to ride. So Bend is going to change.
This fall, bus routes on Third Street, Greenwood Avenue and along Newport will go from 30-minute frequency to 15 minutes. And Cascades East Transit is adding two new routes in the northeast and southeast of Bend. That’s courtesy of your state tax dollars.
Those changes might not tick the ridership arrow straight up. But as Bend grows, traffic misery will grow, too, almost inevitably. Even the Oregon Department of Transportation predicts peak demand on the Bend Parkway is going to exceed capacity. We hate to tell you what that is going to be like. Inch ahead. Stop. Wait. Inch ahead. That’s coming even with tens of millions spent on improvements. More people are going to want to free themselves from the bumper to bumper and daily parking quests. Bend needs to boost its bus system to lessen the misery.
Bend also should make biking safer and more attractive. Getting around Bend on a bike can be fun. Nothing is that far away. Maneuvering around town, though, can feel like being in a movie chase scene and you are the prey.
Some communities have separated bike lanes. The bike lanes may still be right up against traffic, but dividers protect bikers. Many use cones or humps. Why isn’t that the way all bike lanes are built in Bend? They might take up more space, are likely more expensive and they would make street maintenance more of a problem. But if we want biking to be more attractive it’s the kind of thing Bend should be doing as it spends its $190 million voter-approved transportation bond. There’s talk of putting in more dividers. It should happen.