In time for holiday shopping, the City of Bend is installing a Parking Guidance System in downtown Bend to enhance the parking experience, reduce traffic congestion and improve accessibility for everyone visiting the downtown area. This will allow drivers to navigate to vacant parking spaces more quickly and easily, reducing search time and improving convenience.

Starting Tuesday, December 5, the Parking Guidance System will use real-time data to provide up-to-date information on available parking spaces throughout the downtown area, including parking lots and the Centennial Garage. The system will continually update and use digital signage to direct people to open parking spaces. Guidance signs are located on NW Oregon Avenue, NW Minnesota Avenue, NW Lava Road and NW Bond Street.

In 2019, the Bend City Council approved the Downtown Parking Strategic Management Plan, which recommended improving parking wayfinding with innovative programs such as the parking guidance system. The goal is to facilitate easier access to available parking spaces and alleviate traffic congestion.

The new system can minimize cars driving around to find parking spots, which can reduce circular search traffic by 30% and lower greenhouse gas emissions.

“This will improve the parking experience and promote the vibrant atmosphere of our thriving downtown Bend,” said Parking Services Division Manager Tobias Marx. “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.”

After users have had a couple of months to try the new system, the City will engage the community to seek feedback in order to change or make improvements to the system.

“We will be looking for community feedback on the system after it’s been in place for a couple of months,” said Marx. “Watch for ways to weigh in later this winter so we can make continual improvements to the system.”

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. The system does not receive any funding from the General Fund.