Social Justice

Where is the best place to spend transportation dollars in Bend?

You could pick based on safety, congestion, supporting more alternative transportation, such as biking, walking and transit or some mix of all of them.

Or what about based on equity? Equity has many meanings and levels. But the city of Bend has an equity mapping tool that overlays census data. There are tabs for looking at residents with disabilities, minority residents, limited English proficiency, residents living below the poverty line and seniors.

It’s much easier if you look at the maps of the city yourself. They are available here: You can click on the tabs and it will color in the maps.

The results aren’t too much of a surprise. Awbrey Butte doesn’t light up no matter what category you look at. Most of the concentrations are on Bend’s east side, particularly centered near Third Street. The area along SE 15th Street also shows up, depending on the category.

This mapping data is based on census data. It’s limited by how good that data is. And it changes as people move in and out. But it’s one of the best tools we have of suggesting where people live that may be struggling more than in other areas.

How do we use this data? The city, which has the link we mentioned earlier, set it up so you can click on projects from the GO transportation bond and see how they fall in the highlighted areas. The Bend Park & Recreation District has talked about using the equity tool.

This week, the Bend Metropolitan Planning Organization, a regional group that makes decisions about transportation, will be looking at it. When federal money is involved there must be a commitment to nondiscrimination.

The city’s equity mapping data should act as a moral beacon. Without it, the light is off.

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(2) comments


This seems like a very useful tool, and I'm glad it's available to the public.


Isn’t it always wise to get the most bang for the buck when providing public services and utilities? The Bulletin editorial board here is suggesting it is the moral thing to do, but the morality benefit is secondary to the utility. Wouldn’t we have said that public transportation should be organized to serve those who need it the most 50 years ago? The question I have is why the emphasis on morality? Are we taking innocuous things and using them to elevate ourselves to a higher moral ground? I don’t think of myself as a good person just because I stop for red lights.

Also, The Bulletin doesn’t empower me, I do. Does The Bulletin think of itself as some divine educational source supplying Bend with critical insight that we just couldn’t come up with ourselves as if we would be less moral or intelligent without them? Yes, education and reading can sharpen the mind, but the source of the education isn’t what makes us better.

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