New Bike Coffee Cart Coming to Eugene

This summer there’ll be a new bike working the streets, parks, and events of Eugene, and for those who love their coffee it will provide a special treat.

Wheelys Café Oregon — essentially a pedal-powered, mobile barista cart — is a new business started by Becky and Jason DeAngelis based on the successful Wheelys Indigogo project.

Wheelys Coffee Cafe Bike

The New Eugene Coffee Bike

Wheelys, based in Switzerland, now has more than 200 of these special café bikes in over 45 countries, but the DeAngelises are only the second in Oregon to purchase a bike. Another operator in Beaverton is also just getting started. There are about five bikes operating the United States now, with others attempting to open but dealing with permitting and regulation issues.

Wheelys ScreenshotThe DeAngelises purchased their bike last summer and though they had hoped to open by this past fall, preparations and permitting have taken some time. They now hope to do a “soft opening” this Spring and be ready to share the coffee-bike love by this Summer. Continue reading “New Bike Coffee Cart Coming to Eugene”

Local Shop Offers Bike Fitting Clinic

The following bike fit clinic was shared via GEARs, the Greater Eugene Area Riders:

BikeFitGetting Fit to Be Fit!
A Bicycle Fitting Clinic with Jay Loew, Licensed Body Geometry Fit Expert
Sunday, March 26th, 2:00 to 4:00
Collins Cycle Shop, 60 E. 11th

Do your hands tingle, knees hurt, feet burn and shoulders ache on long rides? Do you wish you got more power out of your pedal strokes on big hills? Do you want to go longer without needing to take breaks? If the answer to any of these questions is a resounding “Yes!”, then you should consider getting your bicycle “fit” by an expert. At this clinic, Jay Loew, Licensed Body Geometry Fit Expert with Collins Cycle Shop, will talk about the benefits of getting your bicycle best fit to your body. He’ll go over how a fit is different than a sizing, the reasons for getting a fit, the latest technology, how a fit can help with common aches and pains, and ways a fit can improve your performance. This clinic is open to everyone and free of charge. Please come and bring a friend!

Bike Theft Down in Eugene (but have you registered your bike?)

After a spike in 2015, the City of Eugene reported in this month’s InMotion newsletter that the Eugene Police Department (EPD) “registered more bicycles and had fewer bicycles reported stolen in 2016 than in 2015.”

That’s good news, especially since Eugene has been recognized as one of the worst places in the nation for bike theft.

However, it’s worth noting that we haven’t made “Kryptonite’s Top 10 Worst Cities For Bike Theft” since 2006 and our high theft rate also correlates to one of the higher per-capita bike ridership numbers in the nation (8.7%), second only to Boulder, Colorado (10.5%) for medium-sized cities (population of 100,000–199,999).

Most readers have their Eugene bike theft story, we have a “stolen bike listings” page, and we even know the worst spots in town thanks to a report last year from EPD.

But what are people and organizations doing to reduce bike theft in Eugene? Let’s look at some of the numbers and what people can do to reduce the chances that their bikes are stolen. Continue reading “Bike Theft Down in Eugene (but have you registered your bike?)”

City Offers First Report on South Willamette Street Improvements

New data about the re-striping of South Willamette Street shows the street is functioning well — and that critics’ concerns about major back-ups and decreased business activity have not come true.

Chris Henry, a city Transportation Planning Engineer and the Project Lead for the South Willamette project, shared data on the South Willamette Street Improvement Plan at a City Council work session in January and then at last week’s Active Transportation Committee, formerly the Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee. Henry has come to ATC a number of times to talk about the project and gather feedback, but this was the first time he had numbers on how the current design is working.

Old South Willamette

The old street design

Here are a few slides from the presentation that show what some of the pilot study results are so far:

S. Willamette Travel Time

It’s taking people about 3-10 more seconds to get through the corridor at the evening peak travel time.

S. Willamette Traffic Speed

More people are actually traveling at or below the speed limit

S. Willamette Neighboring Streets

Almost all neighboring streets have actually seen a reduction in traffic, not an increase.

S. Willamette Traffic Volumes

The number of cars on Willamette Street have actually increased!

In summary, despite the fear and concern among some opponents of the re-striping that there would be major delays and that people would stop using South Willamette Street, what we are seeing so far is that those predictions just aren’t coming true. In fact, what we are seeing is more in line with what city staff and consultants projected and even better than their predictions.

It’s taking people about 3-10 more seconds to get through the corridor at the evening peak travel time. If you’ve driven or ridden the corridor you know that any backups occur southbound in the evening, and they are not that bad. If you’re on a bike you might pass a long line of cars, but they still make it through the corridor pretty quickly. A little bit more time through down the street (at a reasonable speed and with less jockeying in the four lanes) allows for them to see what businesses are actually on the street.

More people are traveling at or below the speed limit. Before the change about half the people going through the corridor were breaking the speed limit of 25 mph. Since the change that has dropped to half the drivers doing 22.3 mph or less through the corridor. The 85th percentile (the maximum speed at which 85 percent of all traffic on the street travels) has dropped from 31.2 mph to 27.5 mph. The design of the street is affecting how fast people drive and bringing it closer to the legal speed limit.

Almost all neighboring streets have seen a reduction in traffic, not an increase. Those opposed to the new street design said people would flee South Willamette and disrupt the neighborhood side streets. The numbers show that isn’t happening. It’s not taking much more time so it’s not worth people going out of their way to use the neighborhood streets and only Hilyard saw any increase in traffic and that’s another arterial that is built to handle the traffic.

The number of cars on Willamette Street has actually increased. More eyes on the street! Again, despite some business concerns about people fleeing South Willamette and then not seeing (or stopping) at their business, we see that even more people are using the street now that it’s a better designed street for all users.

S. Willamette Traffic

Traffic Backup?!

We still have until the summer of 2018 before the paving of South Willamette makes this design permanent and the City Council will still have to decide and vote on that change. City staff will continue to collect data including numbers on crashes and collisions, bicycle and pedestrian counts and some financial numbers from the small percentage of businesses who are participating in the financial impact analysis portion of the study.

Then even with the numbers it will be a political discussion and City Council will decide what will actually go down as a permanent design for this street. It’s hard to imagine going back from the current design that is actually working well for all users but as with any political decision you never know until the final vote is cast.

S. Willamette Josh Skov

Active Community Member Josh Skov Approves of the New Design

Amazon Corner & Active Transportation

Two projects on the drawing board have the potential to bring some great active transportation improvements to the south side of the Amazon Path system over the next couple of years: a city-planned cycle track on East Amazon Drive and the proposed Amazon Corner mixed-use development.

First, the Amazon Corner development: Planned for a lot at Hilyard and 32nd Avenue, the project is currently in the permitting stage and could bring housing, retail, and even some improvements for cycling and walking.

The former South Hills Assemblies of God church property was purchased last year by a local company owned by the Coughlin family and was torn down this winter to prepare the space for the new five-story project.

Amazon Corner Picture

Artist’s rendering of Amazon Corner

Mike Coughlin is a local businessman who has been involved in a number of businesses over the past 35 years and is the owner of Burley Designs, a manufacturer of balance bikes, tag-a-longs, strollers, and of course bike trailers. He says the new project will be a pedestrian and bicycle friendly project with a plaza that is inviting and open to the public, anchored by retail shops that bring life to the corner, some ground floor residential units at the edges that provide active engagement and character along the street frontage, engaging artwork, a bike repair station, quality long-term bike parking for tenants, and accessible bike parking for clients of the retail shops. Continue reading “Amazon Corner & Active Transportation”

City of Eugene Announces New Permanent Traffic Engineer

Matt Rodrigues, a frequent bicycle commuter who recently visited Denmark and Sweden to learn more about safe multimodal transportation, has been officially hired as Eugene’s new traffic engineer.

Rodrigues had been serving as the “Acting in Capacity” Traffic Engineer for about a year, after the previous engineer, Tom Larsen, resigned when it was revealed he failed to update his professional license for six years.

The city carried out a hiring process this winter for the permanent position and last week hired Rodrigues.

Rodrigues has worked in the City of Eugene Public Works department since 2004, but he brings a fresh perspective to this important upper-management role, as he is a daily bike commuter and an occasional transit user, as well as a walker and driver.

He said using all modes helps give him perspective for the projects he works on for the city.

Matt Rodrigues Bike Blender

Matt Rodrigues,the cities new Traffic Engineer, blends up smoothies at a Safe Routes to School event at Camas Ridge Elementary last October.

Continue reading “City of Eugene Announces New Permanent Traffic Engineer”

Refreshed Knickerbocker Bridge Open

 

Knickerbocker GraphiThe new and improved Knickerbocker Bridge opened again to the public yesterday after being closed for a few weeks as crews replaced the old railing that was partly made of wood and rotting out. The replacement was also part of a project to repave and improve the access on the south side from Franklin Boulevard to the bridge. This section of path hard large root heaves and very poor pavement before this work was completed. The approach from Franklin to the railroad underpass was also a tight turn so that turn radius was expanded to give cyclists a better view before entering the tunnel. Striping was also added to guide people to make a safe passage under the Union Pacific railroad right-of-way.

IMG_8311 2The Knickerbocker bridge was built in 1978 and is one of the examples of a partnership between the City of Eugene and the Eugene Water and Electric Board (EWEB) that combined getting utility lines across the river while also providing a safe and convenient crossing of the river for people walking, biking, and rolling (the Autzen Bridge is another example). The bridge was dedicated in 1980 and is named for Willie Knickerbocker (1868–1960), who was called “The Father of Bicycling in Eugene.” There’s a good piece about Willy from the Register Guard if you’d like to learn more about him. The quote at the end show’s us why they picked a good person to name a Eugene bike bridge for:

“Let’s not forget the simple man who lived a simple life, riding his bicycle as the world sped up around him.

The man who, when asked why he rode — if it was the independence or the beauty or the solitude — cocked his head and scrunched his eyes and thought about it a moment and said, “No, it’s to get there.”

IMG_8317This bridge is not one you’ll cross much on a pure pleasure ride. It’s a pretty practical connection for “getting there”, providing a link from Springfield, the Northeast part of Eugene, campus, and the Glenwood area.  However, make sure you stop along your journey (maybe on one of the new benches) and enjoy the natural beauty of the Whilamut Natural Area, watch some boaters and tubers float by in the summer, and watch for all sorts of birds, water mammals, and other wildlife.

The sign commemorating the building of the bridge is a bit weathered and hidden on the north side of the bridge but Eugene Parks and Open Space says the old plaque will be incorporated into a new sign going in soon. A new bike counter will also be going in on the south side of the bridge as many new projects in Eugene include the counters as part of the project so that planners can better track the number of walkers and bikers using the system.

KnickerBocker SignWith the completion of this section and all the work that went into improving the river path system after the I5 bridge construction, including the new viaduct on the east side of I5 leading into Glenwood, one of the older parts of our river path network system is now updated and improved. Now if we could just figure out how to connect the south bank path from the Autzen Footbridge to the Knickerbocker without having to go up to Garden Avenue. More about that idea in an upcoming story on WeBikeEugene. Stay tuned.

 

 

Job Opening: Park Ambassador By Bike

Get paid to ride your bike. Become a Park Ambassador.

Via the City of Eugene:

“The City of Eugene Parks and Open Space Division currently has four full-time park ambassador positions open. This engaging work involves welcoming people to parks and natural areas, reminding visitors of park rules and playing a critical role in ensuring a safe and healthy park system. A good portion of the work is performed by bike. The program runs from mid-April through mid-October when parks are at their busiest. Apply by May 15.  Good people skills a must.”

More information and application information here.

Park.Ambassadors

 

 

Public Hearing Monday for Eugene’s Transportation System Plan

A nearly 7-year planning process on Eugene’s transportation system is nearing an end, and one of the last opportunities for community input is coming up next week.

On Monday March 6, the Eugene City Council and the Lane County Board of Commissioners will conduct a joint hearing on the draft “2035 Transportation System Plan” (TSP) which lays out the policies, priorities, and projects for Eugene’s transportation system over the next 20 years.

Eugene TSP 2017The TSP lays the groundwork and acts as a guide for future transportation decision making by creating the vision and laying out the specific projects that will make up the transportation system moving forward. The TSP states that transportation “decisions will be made within the overall context of the City’s land use plans, commitments to address climate recovery, and support for economic vitality.”

The plan includes the idea of “Triple Bottom Line” decision-making, that is, making transportation decisions as a way for the city to improve social equity, economic development, and environmental problems, such as climate change.

The plan specifically highlights that the “Eugene City Council adopted a Climate Screen Shot 2017-02-28 at 10.01.13 PMRecovery Ordinance that codified a Council goal of achieving a 50 percent citywide reduction of fossil fuel use by 2030” and rolls that goal into the TSP as well.

Finally, and maybe most importantly, the TSP incorporates the Eugene Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan, which was “accepted” by City Council in 2012. Part of that incorporation includes a specific goal that by 2035 the city will triple the percentage of trips made on foot, by bicycle, and by transit from 2014 levels.

In other words the plan has some lofty goals and a great vision but a few questions remain, including: does it go far enough, how will projects be prioritized, and where will the funding for bold visions come from?

Let’s consider the piece incorporated from the Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan regarding tripling of active transportation trips. In 2015, 7.6% of Eugene residents got to work by bike; 7.6% walked; and 4% travelled by bus (LCOG). If we are to hit the target contained in the TSP to triple the percentage of non-auto trips, we will need some 23% of residents biking, 23% walking, and 12% riding the bus to work just 18 years from now.

Cities that have this level of biking include Copenhagen, Denmark (30%) and Davis, California (23%) (Wiki).  We would have to achieve mass transit ridership rates closer to LA (11%) or Portland (12%) (Wiki). We would need a walking environment closer to Cambridge, Massachusetts (23%), or Berkeley, California (16%) (Wiki). 

Does this plan have what it takes to get us to these kind of numbers? A good spot to look is the plan’s project list and the funding that is projected for those projects. Under the “Roadway, Multimodal, Transit, and Rail Projects to be Completed Within 20 Years” we see a total projection of $406.6 million worth of projects. Under the “Pedestrian and Bicycle Projects to be Completed Within 20 Years” we see $71.7 million worth of projects. That is 18% of the total budget for mode shares that we are hoping to get to 46% by 2035.

Screen Shot 2017-02-28 at 10.00.42 PMCompare the 130 miles of bicycle and pedestrian projects at $71.7 million to the .95 mile “Randy Papé Beltline Highway Facility” at $85 million (the largest project on the roadway list) and we can see where some of the problems might come as we try to reach these lofty but important goals.

Where will the prioritization of these projects come from and more importantly where will the funding come from? Sometimes it’s easier for a city to work, lobby, and find funding for one major bridge project than it is for it to find funding for 239 separate small projects that may add up to a complete network but also takes a lot more political work to make happen (and provides a much less interesting photo shoot).

What work will city leaders and staff do to make sure that these active transportation projects will get funded and built in time to reach these goals? Right now we don’t have the kind of funding needed to get these type of projects done. Will we in the future?

Screen Shot 2017-02-27 at 1.46.07 PMIf we were to build out the TSP bicycle and pedestrian project list in 20 years, we would need to be awarded some $3.6 million dollars for these projects every single year between 2018 and 2038. With some transportation funding already programmed out to 2023, and no major shifts to increase active transportation funding sources, it’s unclear how we’ll make any real strides until we see major changes in the funding structure of our transportation system. 

So what can be done to improve this plan and make it so we actually reach the goals laid out? Do we have the enough bold active transportation projects in the plan? Do we have a good enough prioritization plan so that we know the right projects will get built first? Do we have a plan for finding the right kind of funding to match our goals of increasing walking and biking rates?

Monday’s public hearing will be a good time to state support for the goals and projects laid out in the TSP, but it’s also a good time to ask some of those questions and any others that you might have around how the plan will be implemented. With the work that has gone into the many pieces of this plan and its 20-year horizon this is a crucial point to make any comments before its final adoption.

What: Joint hearing on the “2035 Transportation System Plan

When: Monday, March 6th, 5:30 pm

Where: Harris Hall in the Lane County Public Services Building (125 E. 8th Ave.)

City of Eugene Seeks New Members for Active Transportation Committee

The City of Eugene seeks residents who are interested in serving on the Active Transportation Committee (ATC), formerly Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee.  Recruitment is underway to fill vacancies for two year terms beginning January 2017.  Applicants must reside within Eugene’s Urban Growth Boundary and willing to attend monthly meetings and read background materials provided by city staff.  Additional meetings may be scheduled as needed.

The purpose of the ATC is: (1) to advise the City of Eugene staff and community organizations and partners on implementation of Eugene’s Pedestrian and Bicycle Strategic Plan; (2) to represent community and constituent interests in transportation planning decisions; and, (3) to provide feedback to staff on projects relating to walking and bicycling.

ATC members play a vital role in implementing walking and biking projects in the Transportation System Plan which will shape the future of the pedestrian and bicycling system for the next 20 years and make Eugene an even greater place for people who walk and bicycle.

Applications are available online via the City of Eugene website at http://www.eugene-or.gov/490/Committees, by e-mail at lee.shoemaker@ci.eugene.or.us, or by picking up an application at City of Eugene Engineering, 99 E. Broadway, Suite 400, Eugene.

The deadline for submitting applications is November 25, 2016.   

For more information, contact Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator Lee Shoemaker at 682-5471 or lee.shoemaker@ci.eugene.or.us.

Current BPAC Members