Eugenecycles is a Eugene Weekly effort to better report local bicycle news. To provide bike news tips or guest opinion pieces please contact News Editor Alan Pittman (firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-484-0519).
Oregonian political reporter and bike book author Jeff Mapes told Eugene bike advocates last week, "if you're not having anybody complain, then, frankly, you're not doing anything."
Mapes, who wrote Pedaling Revolution: How Cyclists Are Changing American Cities two years ago, credited the big jump in biking in Portland and other cities to an "iron triangle" of organized bike advocates, politicians and city transportation bureaucrats. Mapes spoke at Cozmic Pizza at an event sponsored by the UO group Live Move.
Mapes apologized that his book (NYT review here) didn't mention Eugene much because he didn't want to make it too Oregon-centric. "I purposely, when I was writing my book, didn't spend much time down here."
New York City's transportation bureaucrat Janette Sadik-Khan has become a celebrity by pushing the green, healthy, efficient and livable move to biking, according to Mapes. "She's someone in a powerful position and she doesn't say, ‘oh well, just do what's easy or little crumbs,'" he said. "She's been very aggressive."
Mapes said the increase in biking has lead to a "bikelash" in Portland, other cities and the Republican U.S. House as bikes compete for a share of road funding and space.
Multi-billion dollar road projects like a proposed bridge over the Columbia River to serve urban sprawl in Portland continue to garner support from Democrats due to lobbying by construction unions and truck freight interests, according to Mapes. Mapes said the expensive bridge may require a hike in the statewide gas tax. "You people down in Eugene will pay for it."
Bike advocates are a "small minority" but like NRA gun advocates they enjoy the advantage of focused intensity, Mapes said. "You are very passionate about cycling," he said. "They do pay attention when you are noisier."
But the biggest ongoing advantage for bike advocates may be generational. Mapes said that like gay marriage, young people show much stronger support for biking. The culture shift to bike transportation "is obviously not going to be easy, but I hope I'm around to see it," Mapes said.
The UO won a national silver award last week for student efforts to promote biking, but it's unclear if the commitment from the UO administration is there to go for the gold.
League of American Bicyclists President Andy Clarke made the trip from Washington, D.C. to hand UO President Richard Lariviere a sign for the 2011-2015 Bike Silver designation and congratulate the university for its 17 percent bike commute rate.
But Clarke recommended that the UO join other top biking universities by adding professional bike coordinator staff to plan for and promote cycling on campus. "You could be probably twice that [17 percent] number if you put your minds to it."
Lariviere touted the UO's bike credentials but acknowledged, "We have a long way to go. We have to plan better, we have to integrate overall transportation thinking into our planning better, and we need professional individuals to come to the rescue of our students who have been working so valiantly. We will do these things, and when we do, we expect you back, Andy, with a gold or a platinum award."
But interviewed after his speech, Lariviere balked at clarifying whether he was making any sort of commitment to actually adding any professional staff to support biking. Asked to clarify if what he said meant that the UO would add part-time professional support, a full-time position or was just considering whether to add professional support for biking, Lariviere answered only "yup." The UO President then laughed and turned away.
"The university needs more than just a student-lead program," Clarke said. "It needs to be a real priority for the university."
Clarke said universities like Michigan State, Stanford, the University of Arizona and Arizona State all have full-time, professional bike coordinators. The coordinators plan bike infrastructure, promote bicycling and educate students on safe riding, he said.
The student government funded UO Bike Program has a student working part time as a coordinator, Ted Sweeney. Sweeney, who plans to graduate next fall, said he agrees with Clarke that the UO administration needs to commit to adding dedicated professional staff to support the effort. "I think it's a great idea."
In accepting the award, Lariviere noted the importance of biking to the UO. "Bicycling is cost effective, healthy and contributes to campus sustainability," he said, noting that it fits with campus climate change reduction and health promotion plans. By reducing the cost of transportation, cycling is "effectively making the very education here less expensive," Lariviere said.
Lariviere thanked students in the campus Live Move group for completing and submitting the application for the award. Lariviere said "accommodating bicycling" is "something we have been proud to do well for a long time." He said the UO was a leader in closing 13th Ave. through campus to cars, in creating a campus bike plan in 1991, in offering a class in bike planning and in research on bike transportation.
"We are trying to keep construction of automobile parking to a minimum by making bicycling attractive and convenient," said Lariviere. He said the new basketball arena "has more permanent bicycle parking than any arena of its size in the entire nation, and, more importantly, it gets used."
On campus, "every time we expand our bicycle parking capacity, it's full in short order," Lariviere said. He said the student government association (ASUO) has funded the addition of way finding signs and shared lane markings on campus for this year. "Survey after survey shows the growing number of users. Over 4,000 students rely on bicycles as their main mode of transportation to the campus."
Lariviere, noted the city's success in promoting cycling. "Eugene sets the bar high, but we need to set it higher."
The UO's roving Bike Music Fest pedals off this Saturday, May 7 at noon at the UO Museum of Natural History.
The bike powered and transported show will cycle with continuous music from the UO campus to downtown Eugene and back to campus. Here's how organizer's describe the event:
The Bike Music Festival exists to promote sustainable culture in general and bicycle culture in particular, by physically engaging and immersing our community in the 'power' of bicycles. Cultivating and nurturing a network of local musicians and touring acts, through a staging of free, community participatory, bicycle-based music events. The Bike Music Festival features: a 2,000 watt pedal-powered PA system, featuring as many as 15 bands and other performers. This is a law-abiding bicycle party that caravans between festival stops, with zero use of cars or trucks. The completely bike-haulable stage, is packed up and deployed numerous times: staged sequentially at different public parks/venues. Lastly, there is also a moving 'Live On Bike' stage that will feature artists who roll down city streets and bike paths. This is an event brought in part by The University of Oregon Bike Program.
Here's the schedule:
Museum of Natural History, 12:00 : Brooks Roberson
1:00 - Fire in the Rootz
1:45 - Grey Matter Jugglers
Live on Bike 2:15 - Stichcraft
Broadway Plaza, 3:00 - Whiskey Chasers
4:00 - Laura Kemp Trio
5:00 - Ginger Ninjas
5:45 - Grey Matter Jugglers
Live on Bike 6:00 - Beejan Iranshad
Willamette Amphitheatre (campus), 7:00 - RA Scion
Here's the map of locations:
The free bike event is part of the annual Willamette Valley Music Fest at the UO EMU.
Forget burning a stinking tank of expensive gas to for a long, dull drive to go car camping. Go by bike and your whole trip is a fun, intimate adventure in the great outdoors.
Eugene is a great place for bike touring. The city sits on one of the most famous bike routes in the nation, the 4,000-mile, TransAmerica route to Virginia.
But start with something easy enough for a 12-year-old—a weekend 40-mile, car free round trip through local history on one of the country's best rail-to-trail bike paths with camping at one of the best hidden campgrounds in Oregon.
Here's the route on Google:
Get or borrow some bike bags/baskets and/or a trailer for some camping gear (pack light) and LTD or drive 20 miles down to Cottage Grove to the Row River Trail. Bus riders can start downtown at Trailhead Park, drivers can park three miles down Mosby Creek Rd. at the Mosby Creek trailhead.
After using the restroom, bike across the old rail bridge and look upstream for a view of the Mosby Creek Covered Bridge. Built in 1920, the bridge here is the oldest of Lane County's 20 covered bridges.
In another mile and a half of floating on the smooth path through tree tunnels and flowery meadows, you'll cross another rail bridge over the Row River. The river was named in the early 1850's after a "row" among settlers over sheep and crow grazing rights that left one man dead.
At the bridge, look downstream for another of Lane County's covered bridges, there are more of these picturesque bridges here than any other county west of the Appalachians.
Shortly after the bridge, the rail grade begins a gentle climb. The railroad began operating in 1902 hauling logs, gold ore and passengers. At one point 20 timber mills operated along the Row River, destroying almost all of the area's old-growth forest before closing down after the big trees were gone.
For a dollar, tourists a hundred years ago could ride a rail trolley named the "Galloping Goose" to the end of the line at Rujada park to spend a day in the creek side forest. That's where you are headed, thanks to the BLM, which built the bike path on the abandoned rail grade in 1994.
In a couple miles biking up a wooded hillside, you'll reach Dorena Lake. The dammed lake was named after the town that it destroyed in the 1940s which was named after Dora and Rena, two girls in town in 1899.
Get a running start, and bike up a short hill onto the dam for a sweeping view of the huge concrete spillway, 4-mile lake and valley 150 feet below.
From the dam, the trail levels out along the lake with many great views. In a couple miles, Harms Park offers a good lunch/snack spot. Scenes from several movies were shot near here. The "Stand by Me" coming of age (with leeches) movie had kids walking the tracks in 1986. In 1926 Buster Keaton crashed a train off a burning railway trestle in the silent film "The General."
Past the end of the lake, the relocated town of Dorena offers another covered bridge and a store where you can eat ice cream out front while sitting on an old church pew.
The trail ends four miles later in Culp Creek. From there continue on busier Row River Rd. for about a mile turning left onto quieter Lower Brice Creek Rd. just before the bridge (see Google map).
After another mile you'll pass Wildwood Falls, a popular teen swimming and cliff jumping spot, after which there's almost no car traffic. The pleasant country road winds through forest and farmland past water tanks to the marked turnoff for the Forest Service's Rujada campground in about four more miles.
Rujada (opens for season May 25) is one of the best, less-known campgrounds in Oregon. There's sites tucked into the forest above a creek with lovely swimming and wading holes and remnants of old structures built by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the depression.
Wake up and take the lovely 1 mile hike through sword ferns and old growth in the morning. Then hop on your bike and gently glide the 20 miles back down the Row River Trail to the Mosby Creek trailhead.
Here's a slideshow of the bike tour:
Jeff Willensky has found a way to put the recycling in cycling.
Bothered by throwing away old tires and tubes from his environmentally friendly transit mode of choice, Willensky said he found for a better way to "Complete the Cycle" with recycling.
He started asking local bike shops to set aside worn out tubes and tires. Then he found a local company, the Tire Factory, that was willing to take the bike tires/tubes for a fee and send them to Portland along with their auto and truck tires for recycling. RB recycling in McMinnville grinds the tires and makes rubber products including mats and recreational surfaces.
According to Willensky, at least six bike shops, some of which may ask for a donation, participate in the recycling effort: Arriving By Bike, Blue Heron, Collins, Life Cycle, Simple Cycles, and Wheelworks.
Willenski said he also plans to collect bike tires and tubes from 1 to 5 pm Saturday, May 21, in the parking lot of Wheelworks at 11th and Lawrence.
ODOT plans to provide a bike connection over or under Beltline in North Eugene as part of its $202 million I-5 Beltline interchange project.
"The bike path will be connected from the south side of Beltline to the north side of Beltline," said ODOT's local spokesman Rick Little.
ODOT engineers haven't decided yet on an underpass or an overpass, according to Little. With all the interchange on and off ramps, "its not an easy design," he said.
ODOT is designing the bike/pedestrian link now to fit in with the road project, but the path won't be built until 2014. Not all the federal funding for the interchange project is secured, but Little said ODOT is confident it will be. "At this point it's not a concern."
Once ODOT engineers come up with a draft design in the next few months, they plan to share it with members of the local bike community to get feedback, according to Little. "It's all going to start happening here pretty quick," he said.
A way to get around the Beltline freeway wall that cut north Eugene in half has long been sought by local bicyclists. Busy Coburg Rd. offers only a long and dangerous detour. The path would connect to existing paths and bridges leading to the riverfront path systems and Gateway Mall and could be heavily used by commuters to businesses on Chad Drive, employees going to lunch and errands, neighborhood residents and/or recreational cyclists heading to rural routes.
The 2001 TransPlan adopted by local officials includes the Beltline crossing as part of a priority I-5 path project from Harlow Rd. to Chad Dr. Most of the $716,000 path has already been built:
The draft of the Eugene bike/ped plan posted on the city's website appears to mistakenly have the key crossing as a bike lane on a road connection that doesn't exist:
Cyclists have appealed to the Eugene City Council to include bike lanes in a planned repaving project on south Willamette Street.
The local GEARs bicycle group posted an action alert on its website March 11. The group said they'd learned of a city re-paving project on Willamette from 29th to 32nd avenues that did not include bike lanes contrary to the TransPlan passed by local elected officials. "This is a serious error, especially given the fact that the Willamette and 29th area was highlighted at the last Advocacy Committee meeting as a top problem spot for biking."
The group called for people to write to the council urging them to pull the three block section of Willamette from the larger 17-block re-paving project so that the re-paving can be re-planned to include bike lanes.
Six citizens emailed councilors urging the elected officials to include the already planned bike lanes. "Our family relies on bicycle transport on a daily basis, including doing our shopping at the Woodfield Station area. We often take the risky ride along Willamette St., but when using our bike trailers, sometimes we are forced to take a long detour to avoid the stretch of Willamette St. between 29th and 32nd," wrote Lynn Cody.
Richie Weinman wrote that he lives near Willamette and that not including the bike lanes "seems to be inconsistent with city policy. If you look at a map, you will see that there aren't very satisfactory alternatives to Willamette Street in that area for bike riders."
"This violation of the city's own policy needs to be addressed," wrote Carin Wise of not including the bike lanes called for in TransPlan.
The bike lanes from 18th to 32nd streets on Willamette are also included as a key project in a draft new bicycle and pedestrian plan now under development. Cyclists have been calling for the safety improvement for decades and the lanes received the most support in hundreds of public comments on the plan. Willamette has the third highest number of bike accidents in Eugene, according to a recent city study.
The city has resisted adding bike lanes to paving projects in the past. In response to suggestions that the city include bike lanes with a repaving project on Hilyard near Roosevelt Middle School, city transportation planner David Roth told the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee last month, "it's way too late." Roth said, "we have to be a year in advance to even get striping changes."
That's a much less flexible process than in Portland. Mia Birk, Portland's bike coordinator from 1993 to 1999, came to Eugene in January and told of how she quickly re-striped a four-lane road for planned bike lanes with the help of the city's traffic engineer and a painting crew. They did it over a weekend.
Cars injured or killed 320 bicyclists and 141 pedestrians in a five year period in Eugene, according to a city analysis.
Cars did the most damage on the 11th, 18th, Willamette and Coburg roadways in Eugene, according to the study of 2005-2009 ODOT crash data.
"Busy roadways designed to carry high volumes of vehicles are potentially more dangerous for walking and bicycling and may require additional treatments to decrease crash risk and improve their safety," the consultant found. "Enhancing walking and bicycling routes that are on lower-traffic roadways may be a successful strategy to improve safety by allowing cyclists to travel on roadways that afford them lower exposure to vehicle traffic, and by increasing the numbers of Eugene residents who are cycling (by realizing the "safety in numbers" principle)."
The consultant did not identify any overall trends in the data, but the draft Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan for the city includes many improvements to increase safety at intersections and roadways identified by the consultant as having the most accidents.
Here's a table from the study showing the worst streets for bicycle and pedestrian crashes: