It’s no secret that finding parking in downtown Bend can be difficult.
“Parking’s definitely hard. It makes us late to class all the time,” one Bendite said.
The City of Bend is looking to make that parking process just a bit easier. The city council on Wednesday approved a new system that will include a mobile app and signage to help drivers find an open spot.
“It actually gives you turn-by-turn guidance based on digital signage to find available parking quicker,” Bend Parking Services Division Manager Tobias Marx said.
Signage will be posted on major entry points into downtown that will show parking locations. The signs will have numbers indicating how many spaces are available in each area and numbers will update in real time.
The signs will be posted at Lava Road, Franklin Avenue, and NW Greenwood Avenue.
The mobile app will allow users to find spots ahead of time. Other features will include a navigation tool that will lead the user to their desired spot. It will also send a notification if the spot has been taken before the user arrives. The app is not required and Marx says it is a secondary aspect for the system.
“It is not our main focus,” Marx said. “Our main focus is really to install the parking guidance, the dynamic signage. It is proven that cities that installed that reduced their traffic and congestion in their downtown corridor by 30-40%, as a result of people not having to drive around, looking for spots anymore.”
Most seem excited about the idea.
“I can’t wait! That will be super helpful,” another Bendite said.
Some have concerns what the signage will do to the look of downtown.
“When I originally heard about it, I didn’t like it,” Principal Broker for Cascade Sotheby’s & Compass Kristine Halverson said. “I think downtown is charming, I like the quaintness of it. So, addling more signs or anything, I don’t really want that to happen. But if it helps local businesses, if it helps people navigate a little bit better, then I lean more towards it.”
The city says you can expect to see these signs start to pop up by the end of March. It hopes to have the system completely launched by the summer. Installation will not disrupt traffic.