The Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center has designated Bend a Silver Walk Friendly Community for its walkability initiatives and programs.
The word comes after last week's news that the League of American Bicyclists again named Bend a Silver Bike Friendly Community.
Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration and FedEx, Walk Friendly Communities is a national recognition program aimed at recognizing communities for their commitment to pedestrian safety.
Bend has exhibited a desire to become a community that supports active transportation. The application to the Walk Friendly Communities program is an endorsement of that motivation.
Recent accomplishments to improve walking in Bend include the city’s first Pedestrian and Bicycle count program. The preliminary results showed that 410 people walking were counted at 13 volunteer-led locations throughout the city within a two hour period in May.
Additionally, a sub-committee of the Deschutes County Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee has begun to prioritize sidewalk needs based on proximity to key destinations.
“As a devoted walker and someone interested in accessibility for all citizens I feel that the Walkfriendly.org report highlights some of the great work being done in Bend to improve accessible means of transportation for all; whether that be carpooling, biking, or walking," said Karen Morris, Bend's accessibility manager.
"Sidewalks and accessible curb ramps assist individuals in all stages of life from mothers with strollers, adolescents walking to school, individuals with disabilities participating in their community, and seniors walking to the nearest store," Morris said. "Bend is moving in the right direction with a focus on creating more interconnecting sidewalks and bike paths, thus helping all its citizen participate in all the benefits the area provides.”
The city's Engineering Infrastructure Planning Department is working with the community to identify pedestrian facility needs and priorities, as well as implement safety enhancements throughout the community. Safety of crossing Bend’s wider streets is a priority.
"The WFC application process is rigorous and identifies areas in need of improvement and will help establish priorities for the coming years,” states Robin Lewis, PE, City of Bend Transportation Engineer.
"We are proud to add the Silver Walk Friendly Community designation to our accolades here in the city of Bend," said Kim Curley, Commute Options outreach coordinator. "Many of us explore our neighborhoods on foot. Good walking spaces work for everyone, age 8 to 80, making Bend a great place to live."
Bend is among four communities recognized in the latest round of Walk Friendly Communities announced.
The Walk Friendly Community designation, awarded from bronze to platinum, is given to applicant communities that have demonstrated a commitment to improving and sustaining walkability and pedestrian safety through comprehensive programs, plans and policies. To date, 36 communities in the U.S. have been designated as Walk Friendly Communities.
For more information on Walk Friendly Communities, please visit http://www.walkfriendly.org.