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).
If you see a family with three little kids on a quintuple tandem in town, it may be the Pedouins.
The dad's from Kentucky and the mom's from Holland, the three daughters are six, four and two and they've biked more than 5,000 miles across America to get here. Their last blog post put them in Elkton on April 27 on route through Eugene.
Here's a video of them starting out:
Their website says they may be looking for places to stay, route advice etc.
Alder Street at 12th Avenue
By Alex Zielinski
Opinions clashed at the April 7 public meeting on whether Alder Street near the UO should be redesigned with Eugene's first separated cycletrack.
Described as a “bike highway," a cycletrack mimics the design of a regular bike path with bike lanes in each direction. The proposed cycletrack would be nestled between the sidewalk and a row of parked cars, providing a safety buffer from motor vehicle traffic.
Here's a look at a successful cycletrack in New York City:
Julie Berkbeugler, a University of Oregon graduate student, said she has biked the cycletracks in New York and liked them. “I felt safe riding the streets of the city in the cycletrack, which says a lot,” said Berkbuegler.
Peace Health employee Kathleen Brandt thought otherwise. “I am very scared of the idea of a cycletrack,” said Brandt, an Alder street resident who said she uses the bike lane at least six times a day. “Just imagine riding towards another biker who doesn’t have headlights at night or is plugged in to his iPod,” said Brandt. “Accidents are bound to happen.”
Paul Adkins of Paul’s Bicycle Way of Life said the cycletrack would improve safety. He said that the current bike lanes along one stretch of Alder, which force bicyclists to pedal towards oncoming, one-way car traffic, are causing more accidents than the cycletrack would.
“My business appreciates the current design,” said Adkins. “We have bikers coming in daily with bent bikes in need of repair, thanks to the [existing] bike lanes. It’s just an accident waiting to happen.”
In the block between 13th and 12th Avenues on Alder Street, home to a mixture of local businesses, there are now no bike lanes of any kind and the owner of Sy's Pizza spoke against adding the cycletrack. “We already have a hard time finding parking spots for delivery trucks,” said Sy’s owner, Mark Fisher. “Adding a bike lane between the parking spaces and the sidewalk would add to our problem.”
The cycletrack was the most discussed proposal at the over two-hour meeting, but participants also examined and discussed three other Alder Street design options, each presenting controversial aspects.
In response to funding from the Street Repair Bond Measure passed in 2008, the city of Eugene has formed a Transportation Advisory Committee to review the existing conditions of Alder Street between Franklin Boulevard and 18th Avenue, and work with the community to enhance the street's bike, pedestrian and car traffic and bike and car parking. In addition, the city plans to reevaluate the street design of 13th Avenue between Alder and Kincaid Streets.
However, to fund the proposed additions to the roads, the city must submit a polished project plan as a contender for a statewide competitive grant.
“The goal here is to think big,” said meeting host and city transportation planner David Roth. “Landscaping improvements, stormwater treatment additions, bike corrals, public art – it’s really up to you.”
Roth said if the city doesn't get the grant, the no-build option for Alder is the most feasible for the city at this time.
Roth predicts another public meeting near the end of May before the Technical Advisory Committee refines the final plan for the July grant deadline. “We need a solid project in order to compete with other applicants, which means community input is crucial,” he said.
By Alex Zielinski
Working in a city known for its fervent bicycle advocacy, the project contractor for the new Knight basketball arena said it plans to include up to 625 bike parking spaces.
“Feedback from University developers and Eugene bicycle supporters helped us grasp the importance of bike parking for the arena,” said JMI Sports Project Executive Kacie Renc. “We feel our design will appeal to the community.”
JMI plans 200 permanent bike parking spaces plus up to an additional 425 valet
bike parking spaces in a temporary bike coral for the largest events, according to Renc.
City code requires one bike parking space for every 20 seats in a facility like the arena. For the 12,500 seat arena, that's 625 spaces. The city gave a conditional use permit to the arena, which can allow for deviations from the city code.
According to Renc, 200 bike parking spaces, made up of standard bike racks, lockers and cages will be scattered around the site with 50 of those spaces in the underground parking garage. A bike valet service, similar to the Autzen Stadium “Duck Pen,” will also accommodate up to 425 additional bicycles for the largest events.
JMI Sports conducted a bike traffic study at MacArthur Court during the last basketball season, and said they found a maximum amount of 39 bikes using the neighboring bike racks.
Fred Tepfer, Project Manager for Campus Planning and Real Estate and member of the city’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advocacy Committee, has been involved with campus bicycle projects since the mid-80s. His most recent project involvement was at the new College of Education building. But due to JMI’s conditional use permit for the campus arena, Tepfer has not been involved with the arena’s bike parking plan.
“Without much campus planning assistance, JMI’s conditional use permit leaves them at their own peril,” said Tepfer, adding that he believes the one in 20 seat ratio to be “pretty good.”
However, Tepfer said the underground bike parking areas may be unpopular, a trend he saw in the underground parking at the new education building.
In recent years, Tepfer has seen a notable drop off of the use of cars by students and faculty alike. According to a 2009 survey conducted by the campus planning and safety departments, driving rates have slowly sunk to the point where 17.4 percent of all students and 14.6 percent of faculty and staff members bicycle to campus.
“As more students and faculty members ride their bikes to school, the campus [bike] transportation issues will grow,” said Tepfer. “It’s important to maintain accommodations as the campus biking community develops.”
Completion of the $250-million arena is estimated for early 2011. Here's some illustrated designs of what it will look like:
By Alan Pittman
Eugene police issued an estimated 25 tickets to cyclists, 35 tickets to pedestrians and 126 tickets to motorists March 31 in a "targeted enforcement" effort downtown.
That breaks down to about 13 percent bikes, 19 percent pedestrians and 68 percent cars, EugeneCycles estimates.
EPD said in a press release that it conducted the targeted enforcement to increase safety:
"When two cars collide at low speeds, it can ruin someone's day. When a car collides with a pedestrian or bicyclist, it can end someone's life."
But the EPD press release did not mention the obvious big difference between the safety threat of driving versus walking and biking: While a car driver can easily kill or maim a person by breaking a traffic rule and bumping into a non-motorist, a biker or pedestrian can't.
In Europe, police and traffic laws recognize this truth and give bikes and peds preferential treatment, and people enjoy far lower injury rates. The Oregon Legislature took a step in this direction in 2007 by passing a "vulnerable road user" law with stiffer penalties for drivers who injure bikes and peds while breaking traffic laws. But last year the Legislature rejected an Idaho stop law that would have allowed bikes to safely treat stop signs as yield signs.
Recognizing the environmental, health and community benefits of cycling, Police in Portland appear to have taken a more progressive approach to enforcing traffic laws. A Portland police training video, for example, advises that if a cyclist doesn't fully stop at a stop sign but slowly and carefully roles through, "enforcement resources may best be used elsewhere."
Here's a list of all the downtown targeted enforcement citations from the EPD:
811.111 - Violating Designated Speed: 41
814.020 - Failure to Obey Pedestrian Control Device: 35
806.010 - Driving Uninsured: 23
811.265 - Failure to Obey Traffic Control Device: 23
811.210 - Failure to Wear Seatbelt: 13
811.507 - Operate Vehicle Using Mobile Comm. Device: 11
815.222 - Illegal Window Tinting: 7
807.570 - Failure to Carry/Present DL: 6
807.010 - Operate Vehicle w/Out Valid Driving Privileges: 3
803.300 - Failure to Renew Vehicle Registration: 2
803.545 - Expired Out of State Plates: 2
803.560 - Improper Display License Plate Stickers: 2
807.420 - Failure to Change Address on ID: 2
807.560 - Failure to Change Address on DL: 2
811.270 - Failure to Obey One-Way Designation: 2
811.405 - Failure to Signal Lane Change: 2
811.435 - Operate Vehicle on Bike Lane: 2
803.540 - Failure to Display License Plate: 1
811.020 - Passing Vehicle Stopped for Pedestrian: 1
811.170 - Open Container Alcohol in Vehicle: 1
811.175 - Driving While Suspended: 1
811.225 - Failure to Maintain Seatbelts: 1
811.360 - Failure to Stop & Remain Stopped for Ped. in Cross-Walk: 1
816.330 - Defective Brake Lights: 1
4.830 - Portion of Street reserved for Vehicular Traffic: 1
Misc. traffic violation warnings: 24
EPD spokeswoman Jenna McCulley said she didn't immediately have a break down of the citations by the bike, pedestrian and motorist categories. EugeneCycles above estimated numbers/percentages assume that the traffic control device (e.g., stop sign) and one-way citations went to bikers, and the pedestrian control device citations went to pedestrians. McCulley said she would forward the official break down when she could.
By Alan Pittman
With bikes offering a simple solution to many of the world's environmental, global warming and livability challenges, they've become a major focus of environmentalists.
The Public Interest Environmental Law Conference (PIELC ) at the UO last month, one of the largest environmental conferences anywhere, included a panel on bicycle advocacy with discussion of such hot potato issues as critical mass protests, the Idaho stop and "sharrows."
Panelists included Daniel Gregor, an attorney and bike advocate from Atlanta; Christopher Larsen, a cyclist and Multnomah County Circuit Court judge; Ray Thomas, a Portland bike law attorney; and Jim Wilcox director of the local BikeLane Coalition.
Gregor said he's participated in the controversial bike protest rides. "It's useful for people to see cyclists do have a right to the road." Gregor said he's also participated in "Courteous Mass" rides which obey all laws meticulously, often creating greater delays for cars.
Judge Larsen argued the rides do more harm than good for promoting biking. "When you're being seen and you're blowing through multiple lights, you're also going to be seen by the police," he said.
In Eugene Wilcox said he's seen six police officers writing a single peaceful Critical Mass rider a ticket. "This was a result of the [years] earlier Critical Mass that was so in your face," he said.
Thomas said he witnessed the original inspiration for "Critical Mass" when he was in China years ago. "It was terrifying," he said. Hundreds of cyclists would build up at an intersection before they dared to push there way through traffic. "There was really no sense other than desperation."
Thomas said he did criminal defense work for Critical Mass riders in Portland in the ‘80s and ‘90s. "While it does bring out the stark brutality of the police state," Thomas said, "most people don't get it."
Thomas said the rides create animosity and bias against all cyclists while diverting activist resources. "I don't believe Critical Mass takes us anywhere, in fact it takes us in reverse."
Last year, bike advocates tried and failed to pass a law in Oregon modeled after a successful Idaho law allowing cyclists to carefully treat stop signs as yield signs.
"I was against it for a long time," said Thomas of the Idaho stop law. He thought the special treatment for cyclists would anger motorists. But Thomas said he was convinced when he saw data indicating that the three-decade-old Idaho law had not resulted in increased injuries.
Larsen said he was also convinced by the accident numbers and wrote a letter as an individual supporting the legal change.
"It's just ridiculous," said Thomas of the current law. "Why should I expend the aluminum, the break pads and the calories, if there is no one around. It's just stupid." He said it's not like a cyclist is going to run a stop sign and "blast a hole in a school bus...we don't want to die."
Thomas said the Idaho stop law was moving with a coalition of lawmakers behind it but it "became a political hot potato." One key turning point was when the city of Eugene "totally blindsided us" by sending a staffer to testify against the bike law.
Wilcox said local cycling advocates made a mistake in trusting that city staff who ride bikes would be in favor of the pro-bike reform. "There was a certain sense of, I think, self delusion."
City staff did not discuss their plan to lobby against the bill with local bike advocates or the city's bicycling advisory committee, Wilcox said. "There was no warning about this, there was no discussion."
Wilcox said the city lobbying resulted in a "huge outcry" from bike advocates. "We actually got the [city] council to go from against it to neutral," he said. But "it was too late by then."
Wilcox said part of the public perception problem is that motorists see a few people on bikes dangerously blowing through stop signs and unfairly equate that to all cyclists. Some people are on bikes because they lost their license for drunk driving, he said, but "they lump them all together." Wilcox compares it to seeing someone with shoes breaking the law. "I don't say what are all these people that wear shoes doing."
Larsen said European cities have demonstrated that safe separated cycling facilities rather than some painted "sharrows" indicating bikes share space with cars are the way to increase biking.
"The more safe the passage is for cyclists, the more inclined people are to ride," Larsen said. "I'd love it if we had bike freeways to insulate us from the thousands of pounds of metal," he said. "We won't increase our numbers and our political clout until we increase our safety."
Wilcox points to a Portland survey indicating that 60 percent of respondents were interested in cycling but not riding in large part due to safety concerns. "We have to make it more safe."
But separated cycletracks and bikeways to increase safety will cost money. "We don't have enough resources because we spend so much on the car," Wilcox said.
Wilcox said bike advocates have tried and failed in the past to get small increases in the roughly one percent of transportation funding spent on bikes. "I'm not very optimistic," he said.
Part of winning funding will be pointing out the big benefits of cycling to motorists and the community, Wilcox said. Money spent on gas in Lane County is $800-million a year that's sent out of the local economy rather than spent locally, he argued. Also more bikes mean less cars which means less traffic and safer roads, according to Wilcox. Drivers should realize that if more people bike, "I can actually get to work quicker."
Cyclists may have a tough long road ahead when it comes to bike advocacy, but they appear to have the energy and determination for the challenge. One group of 13 bikers from Lewis and Clark Law School in Portland rose at 5:30 am for a 135-mile, soggy bike ride to Eugene to attend the PIELC and demonstrate their support for sustainable transportation.
The first cycletrack in Eugene may be built on Alder Street near the UO, according to the city.
Here's a proposed draft design:
The city drawing is a cross section looking south on Alder between 12th and 13th Avenue. The above picture is from a cycletrack in New York.
Here's a map of where the cycletrack might go (yellow line):
Another option the city is considering for Alder is removing the existing bike lanes from the street and forcing bikes into car traffic. That alternative for the project drew hisses and boos from the Eugene Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee meeting last night.
By Alex Zielinski
This week, at Washington D.C.'s National Bike Summit, Google introduced a much-anticipated new feature to Google Maps: bike routes. Titled "Grab Your Bike and Go," this addition to the worldwide direction-finding website offers directions via bike in Eugene and over 150 cities across the country, calculating in time and distance. Google, who partnered up with the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, has mapped an estimated 12,000 miles total.
"This new tool will open people's eyes to the possibility and practicality of hopping on a bike and riding," said League of American Bicyclists President Andy Clarke in a press release, calling the feature a "Game-changer" in the transportation world.
According to Google, the feature is the result of a February 2008 petition signed by over 50,000 bicyclists. This petition stressed that the addition could "empower world citizens to better adapt their lifestyles to face the challenge of global climate change" and increase bicycle safety through awareness.
The bicycling feature also offers different colored routes for different types of paths: dark green for bike-only trails, light green for bike lanes alongside a road, and dashed green for roads designated for bicycling, but without bike lanes. According to Google project manager Shannon Guymon, routes will continue to be added to the system with help from bicyclists' feedback.
City Bike and Pedestrian Coordinator Lee Shoemaker said that while it is a helpful feature, he advised local bicyclists to try out the Google routes and report glitches, as it still is in its early stages. "I tried my work trip on the bike mapping feature this morning and their suggested routing does take people on bike friendly streets," said Shoemaker "but I usually take a different route."
[Editor's note: On the Google map, click "more" and "bicycling" in the drop down to show the bike map. In the "Get Directions" window, change "By Car" to "Bicycling." The routing appears to try to avoid big hills. Report problems using the link in the get directions window. Some of the more recent bike projects, like the I-5 bike bridge, appear to be missing along with most bike paths in Springfield.]
Hart Godbold holds the bike frame he built before a reckless driver destroyed the frame and seriously injured Godbold.
By Alex Zielinski
A cyclist hit on the sidewalk by an allegedly drunk and racing, hit-and-run driver is not giving up biking.
“Other than a bit of nerves, I am unchanged as a rider and bicycle lover,” said Hart Godbold, 26. “I was hit on the sidewalk by a drunk man who was racing his car two lanes of traffic away from me. One cannot protect against that sort of thing short of ceasing to ride, so I’ll continue riding.”
Last week Judge Jack Billings sentenced driver Joshua Clifton, a 23-year-old with previous DUI charges, to over 90 months in jail for the Oct. 16 collision that left Godbold bleeding and unconscious.
According to Godbold, Judge Billings said he believed there was no safer place for Clifton than in jail. “I don’t think punishment is the goal here,” said cyclist Godbold in an e-mail interview. “That fact is he [Clifton] is unable to quit drinking and driving, and is untrustworthy.”
The late-night collision near Amazon Parkway reportedly left Godbold bleeding from a head injury as Springfield driver Clifton, who was allegedly racing another car, sped off. Clifton later claimed to be unaware that he had just hit someone and his trial attorney questioned whether Godbold was seriously injured. After the accident, Clifton falsely reported his dented car stolen to the police. Clifton was arrested on Oct. 21.
Godbold, a fine arts graduate from the University of Oregon and aspiring carpenter, had only ridden his self-built bike for eight days prior to the destructive crash. Godbold said he only has a vague memory of the ride up until the crash and has no recollection of the actual incident and head injury.
“I am mostly recovered, though I have a number of lingering ailments,” said Godbold.