Creating a Sustainable Transportation Vision for Central Oregon
Imagine a place that has swarming bugs, constant wind, blowing dirt and the smell of fish. How does that sound? Probably not like somewhere you want to go on vacation. Now imagine warm sand in your toes, soft sea breezes, vibrant sunsets, fresh fish for dinner and beach volleyball.
We are talking about the same place, a place that most of us have gone on vacation to—the beach. Much like the proposed OSU campus, we can choose to think of the negatives, or we can look at the positives. We can envision very different scenarios and perhaps we need to take a step back and look at the big picture through a positive lens.
It is important to remember that during the first phase of development, the capacity at the new OSU campus will allow for a little over 1,300 students, faculty and staff to be on campus at any one point in time. The majority of those 1,300 people are already here on the Westside of town at the current campus located at COCC. Additionally, the Cascades East Transit bus route that goes to the COCC campus is the busiest route in the system. The students are already utilizing the public transportation that we currently have here in Central Oregon. We can learn something from them starting now.
The issues surrounding the OSU campus and transportation systems goes far beyond the number of parking spaces or the fickle Central Oregon winter weather. We can argue to the end about how many parking spaces should be allowed or if students will actually ride their bikes in the winter. Instead, this is about creating a vision for Bend to have the best and brightest multi-modal community on the west coast. We encourage our community to think big.
We have a huge opportunity to improve the mobility and livability in our community through a combination of infrastructure, policies and individual behavior. We can’t solely put the burden on OSU Cascades or any other large business or institution in our region. But we can start now by looking closely at the transportation choices that we make every day—and these choices involve more than riding a bike around town. They also include carpooling, combining trips, working from home and taking the bus.
Jeff Monson, executive director for Commute Options adds, “Let’s change the transportation culture in Central Oregon. It is up to our whole community to participate in transportation options—whether it is walking to work or voting on a ballot measure.”
While it isn’t possible to have the pleasures of a nearby ocean and beaches, we can have a four-year university to enhance our community and bring opportunity. OSU is poised to lead the way for sustainable transportation in Central Oregon. We—residents, businesses, government and educational institutions—can all participate in a positive vision for the future of our community by supporting a multitude of transportation options.
Commute Options promotes choices that reduce the impacts of driving alone. For more information, contact Executive Director, Jeff Monson at 541-330-2647 or visit www.commuteoptions.org.
Katy Bryce is a freelance writer in Bend. www.katybryce.com.