Should the focus be on cars or alternative solutions?

As Bend begins a major update of its transportation plan, city councilors understand that they’ll have to agree on whatever they come up with before asking voters to approve a bond.

But as councilors laid out their visions for the future of transportation in Bend at a recent City Council meeting, divisions emerged between those who favored designing more for cars and those who wanted to focus on other modes of transportation.

Mayor Casey Roats said Friday he was “very pleasantly surprised” by the discussion because it showed several major themes. Councilors generally agreed the final transportation plan needed to relieve traffic congestion and improve capacity, include geographic equity in how projects are considered and include some form of investment in multimodal transportation, such as biking, walking and using buses.

Roats said he wants to see genuine discussion from the council and a citywide committee working on Bend’s transportation plan before settling on what he supports. While he’s still “very auto-dependent,” experiences like meeting a young girl who has trouble getting around Bend in her wheelchair have changed his thinking on transportation issues, he said at a recent city council meeting.

“I have been and I’ll continue to encourage my colleagues to not be positional as we go into this,” he said Friday. “We have a lot of information to gather.”

Councilor Bill Moseley, meanwhile, said Friday that general agreement among council members about addressing problems like congestion falls apart as they come up with solutions.

“At a very high level, I think that there’s some agreement as to what the direction should be, but if we get down to details there’s a difference in what we’re saying,” he said.

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