Comments Sought on Proposals to Change Skateboard, Bike Laws

The City of Eugene will hold a public open house on Monday, Nov. 18, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the Eugene Public Library Bascom-Tykeson Room, 100 W. 10th Ave., to present three proposed changes to City bike and skateboard laws. The session will include a staff presentation followed by questions and comments from the public.

Proposal 1: Allow electric assisted bicycles to be ridden on off-street shared use paths. Currently, city code does not allow electric assisted bicycles to be ridden on off-street shared-use paths with the electric assist device engaged although electric bikes are considered bicycles under state law. Eugene’s prohibition is inconsistent with other cities in Oregon. Electric assist bicycles are increasingly popular because they allow users to travel for longer distances, carry more cargo on their bikes, and to get an extra boost when needed.

Proposal 2: Expand the downtown bicycle and skateboard “no sidewalk riding” zone to cover new areas where pedestrian safety concerns have been expressed by the public. Several alternative zones will be presented for consideration inside the area bounded by 6th Avenue, High Street, 13th Avenue and Charnelton Street. This proposal is intended to improve public safety in high-pedestrian areas.

20131114-185729.jpgProposal 3: Allow skateboards to be ridden on city streets. Currently, skateboards cannot be ridden in the portion of a street designated for automobile traffic, except when crossing a street in a crosswalk or at a right angle. Skateboarding is currently completely prohibited in areas of downtown Eugene and near the University of Oregon, where it is also banned on the sidewalks. This proposal would make skateboarding a more viable transportation option especially in areas where it is illegal to ride in the street and on the sidewalk. Skateboarding is increasing as a travel option, and the new WJ Skate Park will generate more demand for skateboarding from current residents and visitors from out of the area.

(Editors note: I have heard from city staff that there are major concerns from the police with this possible change on the skateboard law and that could be a major barrier especially if there isn’t a major advocacy push for this. If there is interest from people to create legal and safe transportation options for people using skateboards then we need people to step up and push for this change! Otherwise it will remain illegal for people to use skateboards on our streets. With changes in board technology, usage, culture, and how we want to use our public space we really need to change this law).

The public input received at this open house will be used to help determine what changes to the code will be recommended to the City Council at a work session in 2014. For more information about the open house or these proposals, contact Bicycle Pedestrian Coordinator Lee Shoemaker at lee.shoemaker@ci.eugene.or.us or 541-682-5471.

Author: Shane MacRhodes

Contributor & co-editor. Papa. Active Transportation Professional. BEST Board Member.