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).
A new bike path on a former railroad grade connecting Armitage Park to Coburg has been proposed for inclusion in the region's official transportation plan (RTP), but without funding.
The plan describes the proposed project as "a 10' wide hard surface, multiuse path extending approximately one mile" between Armitage and Coburg using the former rail grade. An historic rail bridge across the McKenzie is already used as a bicycle and pedestrian bridge.
The proposal lists the estimated cost at $865,000 but does not identify funding for the "illustrative" project. However, making it into the RTP is often one of the first steps for getting such a project built.
The project is shown below as a red-checked line. Possible extensions are in yellow.
A draft Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan for Eugene with hundreds of miles of new facilities could leap the city toward active transportation that will dramatically increase local health, livability and safety while reducing pollution, environmental impacts and global warming, and saving hundreds of millions of dollars.
The plan, created after a record-breaking 600 public comments, includes 116 miles of new bike lanes, cycletracks, bike boulevards and other treatments and 43 miles of new sidewalks, and sets the goal of doubling biking and walking. Eugene's 11 percent bike commute rate, already the highest in the nation for a city its size, would reach 22 percent in 20 years.
Here's a look at some of the key new improvements proposed in the draft plan:
• Bike lanes on Willamette Street from 18th to 32nd avenues. This long-sought improvement has received the most support in public comments, and Willamette has the third highest number of bike accidents in the city.
• A High Street cycletrack separated from cars from 19th to 6th to connect the Amazon bike path to the river path system. The city has called for a one-way cycletrack, although bike advocates have called for a two-way connection.
• A railway underpass connecting the city's planned and funded Alder Street cycletrack to the riverfront trail system.
• Improvements to the 18th and Pearl intersection near South Eugene High School where cars often dangerously try to pass cyclists as they turn to get to the Amazon path.
• A bike/ped bridge over I-105 to connect north Eugene neighborhoods to Alton Baker Park and the riverfront path system.
• Completion of missing parts of the riverfront path system between the Frohnmayer (Autzen) bike/foot bridge and Glenwood, and in the River Road neighborhood.
• Uphill bike lanes on Dillard and Lorane highways connecting to popular rural bike routes.
• A Beltline bike underpass to connect Chad Drive office parks and neighborhoods to the north to neighborhoods to the south.
• Bike boulevards on Friendly, Monroe and Blair streets connecting south Eugene neighborhoods to the river paths, and a bike boulevard on 15th connecting to the UO.
• A bike boulevard on 8th providing a connection across central Eugene.
• Bike/ped bridges connecting over Beltline and the rail yards/Northwest Expressway to connect neighborhoods cut off from the rest of the city by freeways.
• A bike/ped bridge connecting the Fern Ridge path to the Target and Walmart shopping areas on West 11th.
• Bike lanes on West 11th (highest for bike accidents), 13th and improved, wider "buffered" bike lanes on 18th (second highest for bike accidents).
• Intersection safety improvements at 23 locations heavily used by bikes and pedestrians.
Here's the map of proposed bike improvements (higher resolution maps are here):
Many of the projects should please cycling advocates. But some apparent gaps or controversial areas in the draft remain. For example, instead of bike lanes, the plan offers only a "bike boulevard" on busy Franklin Boulevard in the heavily biked UO area. In the plan, "bike boulevards" appear only loosely defined to include anything from an already existing bike route sign to a calmed street like Alder with "Do Not Enter; Except Bikes" signs.
The plan also appears to include a previous city plan for removing a very heavily used bike lane on 13th leading into the UO and replacing it with "sharrows" that will supposedly cause cars to share the lane with bikes. Other bike gaps include the absence of bike lanes on Willamette through downtown and on Hilyard between 17th and 24th.
The proposed plan also appears to deemphasize cycletracks, separated bike paths which have lead to increased safety and cycle commute rates as high as 50 percent in Europe. The plan cited a Danish study that found that cycletracks were three to four times more effective at increasing ridership than bike lanes. But the proposed plan's mileage is only 7 percent cycletracks with only the one-way, High Street connection in heavily biked central Eugene.
The biggest challenge for the bike/ped plan may be winning approval and millions of dollars in ongoing funding from the City Council and city staff. Although numerous studies have shown that bike facilities cost far less and are much better for human health and the environment than road projects, bike lanes in previous city plans have floundered when the city prioritized car parking over bike safety, and new asphalt and developer subsidies over safety improvements for bikes and pedestrians. In the last five years, 316 cyclists have been injured and four cyclists killed in Eugene.
In Portland, bike advocates have become one of the most organized, effective and powerful political groups lobbying the mayor and council directly. But although Eugene has a far larger concentration of cyclists, that hasn't happened here, yet.
The City of Eugene bolted hoops on posts downtown last week to help make up for bike parking that was lost after the city council ordered parking meter heads removed to create free car parking.
The city attached about 35 metal hoops to headless meter posts downtown. The city plans to install 25 more hoops incoming weeks, according to a press release.
The black metal hoops, popular in other cities as pictured above, feature a bike design from Creative Metalworks in Dayton, Oregon. The bolts appear to be tamper resistant to prevent bike theft.
Cyclists expressed concern about the bike parking loss when the city removed the meter heads from a 12 block area downtown in October. The council majority argued free parking would increase business downtown, but employees rather than customers have often used the spaces for parking.
City parking and transportation staff have also said they will install new on-street, sculptured bike corrals in car parking and unused space downtown in front of businesses that approve them. Bike corrals are planned for Morning Glory Cafe? (450 Willamette Street), Cornucopia (207 East 5th Avenue), and the Kiva Grocery Store (125 West 11th Avenue).
Lane Community College (LCC) instructor Lee Imonen's Art 117 is working on designs for the artistic bike corrals. The city said last month that it will display the bike parking art for public comment in the Atrium lobby in January, with an opening reception for the First Friday ArtWalk this Friday, and will continue the display in the downtown library in February. A committee including members from the City's Public Art Committee and Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee will review public comments and pick the winning designs in March. The corrals will be fabricated by an LCC class and installed in the spring, according to the city.
The city also plans to replace parking meters with area pay machines and install bike corrals on 13th St. near the UO.
The Dutch have been showing the world how to safely increase biking for more than a century:
LTD's EmX planners are talking to the City of Eugene about building a new bike/pedestrian bridge across Amazon Creek to connect the Fern Ridge Path to the Target commercial area in West Eugene.
"The city is looking at funding but wants us to also look at funding," said John Evans, LTD's lead planner on the proposed EmX route down West 11th.
The bridge connecting the commercial area to the bike path has been long sought by local bicycle advocates.
Evans said a "mitigation" proposal to reduce dedicated bus lanes on West 11th in response to objections from businesses could free up some LTD money for building the bridge. Evans said if built, cyclists could easily bike in on the path to the EmX station and then hop on the bus downtown, increasing EmX ridership.
The EmX takes three bikes inside and other cities have created elaborate "bike and ride" parking areas at rapid transit stops.
Here's the general area where the bridge might be built:
Here's LTD's plan for the EmX terminal stop at Target:
LTD has already proposed building two other bike/pedestrian bridges across Amazon to connect EmX stops to large neighborhoods to the south of the creek. At the westernmost proposed bridge, there's a possibility that Rexius may redevelop its bark chip and compost storage industrial land into a bike and walking friendly mixed-use development with hundreds of residents.
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LTD's proposed new EmX line on West 11th also proposes two new bike/ped bridges across Amazon Creek.
One of the proposed bridges would be built near Bike Friday and another near the Paul's bike shop along the Fern Ridge Path. Here's a map with markers:
Here's a closeup view from LTD's proposed design maps for the bridge near Bike Friday:
And near Paul's:
LTD doesn't propose a new bike/ped bridge near Target and Walmart, although local bike activists have called for such a connection to the Fern Ridge path for years.
Here's where the EmX would end, without a connecting bike/ped bridge:
The EmX, which has room for bikes, will about double the speed of current busses in the West 11th corridor. The project has run into strident opposition from some car-oriented businesses along the commercial strip. LTD is taking public comments on the proposal at email@example.com