Why Park at All?ANNISSA ANDERSON for Commute Options

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Providing customers with on-street parking is critical to the success of downtown Bend’s shops and businesses. And for employees of these businesses, finding a convenient parking space is sometimes challenging. But rather than being frustrated about where to park when you go to work, why park at all? When you consider the economical impact of the parking space you are taking up, you may want to try a commute option that completely eliminates the need for parking.

According to data collected by the National Main Street Center, an on-street parking space in a downtown area is worth about $30,000 a year in retail sales. As an employee or owner of a downtown business, if you take up a parking space near your business, you are personally whittling away at your own profit.

Using a commute option – like walking, biking, carpooling or riding the bus – to get to work even one day a week can help improve your business’ bottom line by freeing up parking spaces for customers. Freeing up on-street parking in downtown Bend is so vital to the area’s economy that the Downtown Bend Business Association (DBBA) – a private nonprofit serving the over 325 businesses and 85 property owners in Bend’s downtown district – is teaming up with Commute Options to create an incentive program for downtown commuters.

“The on-street (parking) spots are the most valuable asset we have downtown,” says Chuck Arnold, executive director of the DBBA. “If business owners can encourage employees to use commute options, it will free up valuable parking spaces.”

The commuter incentive program, to launch later this spring, will create an opportunity for downtown businesses to receive incentives similar to those of Commute Options Partners while having a portion of the fees covered by the DBBA. Participation will be available to a limited number of businesses on a first-come first-served basis, says Arnold.

“Bend is an ideal place to use commute options,” says Jeff Monson, executive director of Commute Options. “Sunny days, in winter and summer, offer good biking and walking opportunities.”

Downtown is especially accessible for west side residents, adds Monson, who have the added benefit of active bike and walk commuting through scenic Drake Park.

With a bus stop within two blocks of every business in downtown Bend, using public transit to get to work is also a viable option for commuters during cold or wet weather, or for workers who live farther away. For downtown workers, any commute that does not involve a single occupant driver not only reduces traffic and help saves the environment, it also makes good business sense.

“Every little bit helps,” says Arnold, when it comes to freeing up parking space for paying customers. “If you can at commit to using a commute option for at least one trip a week, that’s a good start,” he says.

For more information on the DBBA’s new commuter incentive program, visit www.downtownbend.org.

Commute Options promotes choices that reduce the impacts of driving alone. For more information about Commute Options, contact Jeff Monson, Executive Director of Commute Options at 541-330-2647 or visit www.commuteoptions.org.

Annissa Anderson is a freelance writer and PR consultant in Bend.

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