The City of Bend launched a new tool Tuesday to help visitors to the downtown area find a place to park. The Parking Guidance System will use real-time data to show where parking is available downtown, including in parking lots and the Centennial Garage, the city said.
Digital signs are in place on NW Oregon Avenue, NW Minnesota Avenue, NW Lava Road and NW Bond Street.
“I think it will streamline a lot of the parking issues here in the Bend area,” Madras resident Josiah Bailey said.
The city says features like this can reduce circular search traffic — people driving around looking for a spot to park — by 30%.
“This will improve the parking experience and promote the vibrant atmosphere of our thriving downtown Bend,” Parking Services Division Manager Tobias Marx said. “We believe the parking guidance system will empower drivers with the information they need to find parking quickly and easily making their visit to downtown more enjoyable.”
Circular signs can also be found wrapped around streetlamp posts, with directional indicators.
“They’re basically turn-by-turn guidance signs. So you will see the parking available on the block ahead, to the left and to the right,” Marx said.
The parking system was originally supposed to be installed this spring, but approval from different agencies and system testing took longer than expected.
“We probably were a little ambitious. We brought it to city council in March. They approved it. Then we had to get work, fine tune some stuff. Make agreements with the power company that we can install onto streetlights, make sure everybody’s on board,” Marx said.
The City says the system is paid for through the city’s parking fund, which gets its revenues from parking fees including parking citations, monthly parking subscriptions and daily parking fees.
There are also plans to integrate the parking system into existing navigation tools, where it will direct you via GPS to an open space. That isn’t expected until at least next spring.