If you’ve been reading the Eugene Weekly, you may already know that Imperial Oil/ExxonMobil is planning to ship hundreds of tons of oil equipment up the Columbia River, destined for the Alberta Tar Sands in Canada as part of the Kearl Module Transport Project (KMTP). What you may not have realized is that once those shipments reach Lewiston on the Washington/Idaho border they will then be loaded on to gigantic, multi-lane wide trucks weighing upwards of 500,000 lbs and driven on the Adventure Cycling Trans America and Lewis & Clark Trails (Highway 12) through the Idaho panhandle into Missoula, Montana, and beyond. The route directly impacts 175 miles of Adventure Cycling Routes, including the above-mentioned trails, the Great Parks North Trail, and the Great Divide Mountain Bike Trail.
I understand that this has little to do with Eugene. I’m writing about it because I’ve ridden the Highway 12 route over Lolo Pass and into Missoula (the location of the Adventure Cycling Headquarters) twice as part of two separate cross-country tours, and it is one of the most scenic and peaceful bike routes that I’ve ever seen. In fact, I’d be tempted to say that it’s the best place I’ve ever ridden a bike. Putting 500,000 lb trucks on this road will destroy the pavement (semi-trucks generally max out at 80,000 lbs), and the infrastructure changes they are planning to do to the roads will open this road up as a permanent mega-shipping route. This is a French company shipping Korean-made products on Dutch trucks to a Canadian work-site, and it will destroy one of our country’s most prestigious scenic byways and flagship bike routes.
Take the jump to learn more about the plan, route, and if we can do anything about it. I highly recommend the video at the bottom of this post.
Note:The following editorial was written for the Sept 29th issue of BANG! This version is slightly longer and annotated. Elly Blue of Grist and BikePortland published a similar article recently, and I’ve added some of her perspective to mine. You can read her incredible article here.
A Silly Question
One of the biggest debates that we see in the transportation world is whether we should spend money on car infrastructure or bike and pedestrian infrastructure. It’s a common debate, but it’s also silly. It’s silly because those two ideas aren’t mutually exclusive – good bike infrastructure benefits cars and vice-versa. It’s also silly because the debate compares apples to oranges, or more aptly: huge friggin’ GMO hydroponic tomatoes to tiny cherry tomatoes. Car infrastructure is expensive, and bike infrastructure is cheap. Ridiculously cheap. Funding bike infrastructure is the best value per dollar for improving all types of transportation in Eugene. It provides for safe and attractive bike and pedestrian facilities which remove cars from the road and relieve congestion.
If you don’t drive a car, even for some trips, you are subsidizing those who do — by a lot. … To balance the road budget, we need 12 people commuting by bicycle for each person who commutes by car.
Consider this: Portland’s entire 300 miles of bike infrastructure – including bike lanes, paths, and bike boulevards, costs the same as one mile of urban highway. That’s 60 million dollars, if you want real dollar amounts. 60 million dollars for one mile! For the cost of just two miles of urban freeway, Eugene could catch and pass Portland and become the most bike friendly city in the country. This is why any debate around whether or not to fund bike infrastructure is so ridiculous. Cyclists want only pennies compared to what car infrastructure gets.
There’s only one week left in the BTA’s Bike Commute Challenge, but don’t worry, you can still participate and record trips from all month. If you aren’t into the competition aspect of the challenge, it at least tells you interesting things like your commute rate, calories burned, and CO2 saved. You also get discounts at select bike shops after seven trips. Check it out, and please post your results in our comments. Don’t worry if you aren’t at 100%, or are barely even at 1% – be proud of what you do. This website isn’t called WeBikeEugene for nothing. Everyone is welcome.
Participating WBE “staff” totals as of Friday, Sept 24th:
Katura Reynolds – Team Mt. Pisgah Arboretum – 277 Miles, 100% Commute Rate (+92 miles since last week.)
Kendra Seager -Team 4J School District – 259 Miles, 100% Commute Rate (+72 miles since last week)
Mike Seager – Team 4J School District – 217 Miles, 100% Commute Rate (+72 miles since last week)
Shane MacRhodes – Team 4J School District – 120 Miles, 100% Commute Rate (+20 miles since last week)
Kendra and I are in second and third place, respectively, for all of 4J. Katura is beating all of 4J. Shane is smarter about picking where he lives.
It takes many little things for a city to become and remain “bicycle friendly.” Our cycling infrastructure is more than just bridges and cycletracks, and while those things are important, they aren’t everything. If all we ever focus on is the big stuff, one might get the idea that not a lot is going on– but that’s hardly the truth. There are tons of little things being done to make cycling better in Eugene and Springfield all the time. These little things that may not change the whole city, but to the select people that ride in those areas, they may be ten times more important than a huge project across town.
Welcome to our new randomly repeating feature: The ‘Little Things’ Roundup!
The City of Eugene is planning on installing three bike corrals in the downtown area. They’ll be at KIVA (125 W 11th), Cornucopia (5th and Pearl), and Morning Glory Cafe (450 Willamette St). The source of funding for the racks varies: Morning Glory is helping to pay for theirs with help from the grower’s market, and the city parking fund is paying for the installation and most of the other racks. The project is currently in queue behind a mass parking meter installation project at the University of Oregon, and should begin sometime in October. Isaac Marquez, the City’s Public Art staffer, is helping the city plan for a public art component for future racks. Lee Imonen, of the Delta Ponds Bridge Sculpture fame, is also interested in helping with the art component.
This Wednesday, the Oregon Department of Transportation will confirm which of the 15 projects it will fund in this, the first year, of the Urban Trail Fund (UTF). Eugene is home to one of three recommended projects by the Oregon Transportation Commission. Eugene’s “Amazon and Willamette River Path Connector” project is expected to construct four important connectors to link the Amazon Path and Willamette River Path with the local street network, transit stops and on-street bike facilities. Lee Shoemaker, City of Eugene Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator, said that three of the connections will be to the popular West Bank River Path at Fir Lane, Rasor Park, and Merry Lane. The fourth project will lead from 30th Ave. to the Amazon Path. Read on for more about the UTF and more specifics on the Eugene project.
Are you taking the BTA’s Bike Commute Challenge? It’s about halfway over (it runs through September), but you can still join in and record miles from earlier this month. Be sure to mark the days you don’t work as “non-work days” so they don’t affect your commute rate. Four WeBikeEugene “staffers” are taking the challenge – and challenge all of you to as well. Post your stats in the comments and be proud!
What is it about a bridge? I can ride for miles along the riverfront, but I never stop to soak in the scenery and contemplate my place in the world until I am crossing a bridge.
Though it won’t be officially open until November, the community got to have a sneak preview of the Delta Ponds Bike & Ped Bridge during the dedication ceremony on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2010. And it wasn’t just the bike community that turned out–the neighborhood was there, complete with kids and dogs and contagious enthusiasm.
While the official speeches thanked the partnerships that made the bridge possible, pointed out how many jobs were created from the project, and stressed the importance of this safe passage over the Delta Highway to pedestrians, especially to kids going to and from school; while all these good, practical points were being made, we were basking in the fun of going back and forth over this new structure. Like cats rubbing their cheeks against the furniture, we were instantly working on making it our own.
Take the jump for more from Katura, Seager’s comments on the funding controversy, and multiple slideshows!
This isn’t the article that I had planned to write tonight, but it looks like the Delta Bridge opening party is going to have to wait another few days. It’s interesting that this post so quickly follows the one below it.
A KEZI Crimestoppers article/video was posted today about an event that happened “a few weeks ago.” I’m not sure why it took so long for the article to show up, considering that the perpetrator is still “at large.” The short version is that a man got mad when Ava Grenzsund passed him on the South Bank Path and body-checked her off her bike. She broke her left arm and severely bruised her right arm. The suspect was stopped by a crowd and returned briefly for a few minutes, but gave a false name and rode away. Police are still looking for him.
Take the jump for excerpts from the KEZI story and a link to their unfortunately sound-tracked video.
City planners recently released a PDF notice aiming to remind cyclists and pedestrians to share Eugene’s many “shared use” paths. Sometimes we need to be reminded that the Fern Ridge, Amazon, and River paths – as well as many other “bike paths” in Eugene – aren’t really bike paths at all. These paths are meant for everyone, including pedestrians and emergency vehicles. The message is a response to a very small–but constant– trickle of complaints to the city about bicycle and pedestrian crashes and conflicts. No doubt it also comes from personal observation, as many city staffers, including the author of the PDF, are frequent bike commuters and riders.
This is something I feel strongly about as well, and before I post the full PDF I’d like to offer a bit of perspective taking. I’ve written it in the form of a “social story;” a method that I use to help teach perspective taking to students with autism. When people divide themselves into groups (cars vs cyclists, cyclists vs pedestrians) I find that these groups tend to behave just like children with autism. Forgive me if this is preachy, but I’m often ashamed of how other cyclists ride on the paths. We must end the groupthink that allows this behavior. Notice which words are interchangeable:
When I’m (riding/walking) down the (street/path), I hate it when (cars/bikes) buzz past me. It makes me feel very unsafe and unwelcome. I wish they would understand that I have just as much right to the (road/path) as they do. I get very nervous and think it’s dangerous when (cars/bikers) don’t wait for oncoming traffic to pass before they try to pass me. Why don’t they just wait behind me for a second instead of trying to fit all three of us on the narrow (road/path)?!? They often force me off the (road/path) when passing in a hurry, and sometimes they hit me! Why are they such assholes? Sometimes I’ll (ride/walk) two or three abreast on the (road/path), but I’m not trying to get in the way. I’m just enjoying conversation. If the (car/biker) will give us a second we’ll move out of their way. Why are those (cagers/bike jerks) in such a hurry anyway? Can’t they take a route without so many (bikes/pedestrians)?
More food for thought: Chances are most of the pedestrians you see on the bike path also drive their cars around cyclists (and vote). If you “buzz” them on the path they might “buzz” a cyclist a few hours later with their cars.
Take the jump for the official message from the City of Eugene.
If you commute or ride between Eugene and Springfield on the River Path and/or Canal Path you’ll need to allow extra time Monday and Tuesday.
Canoe Canal Path User Alert
The Canoe Canal Path under I-5 will be closed on Monday, September 13 and Tuesday, September 14, as the contractor demolishes the remaining old Canoe Canal Bridge. During the closure, path users will be detoured to the North Bank Path through the major Willamette River Bridge construction zone. The route will include traveling on a very rough construction road. For that section, riders must dismount and walk their bikes through the zone. Flaggers will be posted to assist.
Traffic will return to the Canoe Canal Path at night when construction activity is not taking place. The path re-opens September 15, subject to delays as the clean up of the demolition is completed. Flaggers will control path traffic during the clean up.
Stay safe, and remember: Flaggers are our Friends.