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

Eugene Velo Bicycle Club

A little over a year ago I noticed a new page on Facebook: Eugene Velo. It had the usual suspects and good dialogue about cycling, so I joined. Several weeks ago the discussions went in the direction of a full blown bicycle club. Curiosity got the best of me, so I contacted the organizer, Steve Lamper and we sat down for a one on one to find who, what, where, when, why and how. Following is Steve’s response:

EugeneVelo2Thank you for this opportunity to introduce myself and the story of how and why Eugene Velo has formed. First, I want to offer a warm hello to all bicyclists in the southern Willamette Valley. My name is Steve Lamper. I’m 50 years old, and like a lot people I discovered cycling after dabbling with many other sports. In college I was an exercise science major and became a personal trainer for my first 4 years out of college. I was an instructor of taekwondo and 3rd degree black belt for 15 years of my early adulthood.  Now I am the owner of Affordable Insurance Solutions in Eugene. Cycling became a more important part of my life 8 years ago. Dividing my life between Portland and Eugene when I bought my insurance agency in Springfield in 2005, I biked for fun and fitness in both towns. 

I found inspiration for more involvement in cycling from the relationships that I developed in the nurturing atmosphere within the Portland Velo cycling club. The people in Portland Velo taught me so much about the essentials of cycling, about riding effectively in a group, about cycling club culture, training, advocating and encouraging; I felt compelled to become one of their club sponsors and ride leaders. As my cycling skills and ties with the club developed over the years, I began to realize how much better the biking terrain in Eugene is. You know, we really are in cycling paradise here. What’s missing is the feeling of belonging to a group that really fits the level of biking at which I ride. I think that’s true for a lot of us, don’t you?  I have learned that I do not want to race, but I do want to ride with a well-organized group of riders at my skill and strength level who share in my passion. I know I’m not alone, because Portland Velo successfully follows this concept with over 500 active members. 

With this seed of this idea sprouting in my mind, it became clear to me that the biking community is fractured between bike shop teams, the Greater Eugene Area Riders (GEARs) and a few other small groups. I tried some GEARs rides and found that they were great for the slower riders, but they didn’t have a ride that suited my skill and fitness level. Stronger riders and intermediate riders were left to fend for themselves. I stumbled upon other groups that seemed to exclude outsiders like me. I have a different vision. I want to create that warm and welcoming sense of belonging to a broad spectrum of riders and abilities. Continue reading “Eugene Velo Bicycle Club”

One biker’s view on texting in traffic and running red lights

Reprinted from Cawood’s Blog

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I ride my bike everyday in and around Eugene, pedaling through traffic in the rain and fog over dimly lit streets. I look into the faces of people riding bikes and driving cars, and I see trouble in the streets.

Far too many people are using their phones and texting while driving. And judging by what I see, it is not a safe practice. According to the National Safety Council, 1.6 million accidents each year are caused by texting while driving. That’s nearly 25 percent of all accidents. At roughly 3,200 pounds, the typical car can become a giant weapon, dangerous to everything and everyone around it. All drivers should focus on driving safely.
As a person who bikes, I worry for my own safety, as well as for my family, friends and other people who bike and walk around Eugene and Springfield. I feel that anyone operating a motor vehicle should do so with the utmost respect and care for others. I beg you to create rules for yourself, your kids too (if you are a parent to new drivers), to eliminate any distractions while driving. And since I hesitate to ask others to do things that I’m not willing to do myself, I am committing to never texting in traffic. Ever.

I drive a car too and respect goes both ways. I’m amazed at how many bike riders and pedestrians don’t seem to respect other people using the streets. Whether running stop signs and traffic lights, riding without lights at night or walking out from between parked cars, people don’t seem to respect others in traffic or even the basic laws of physics. If people who ride bikes want car drivers to follow the laws, then bikers should follow the laws too. The laws are there to keep the roads safe for everyone. Expecting others to follow the laws while you ignore them is disrespectful.

Now, let me come back to the foundation of this issue. Respect is something that we all want. Respect is personal. It is an understanding that someone or something is important and should be shown consideration. Having respect for others using the streets means that you learn the laws and follow them. Respect doesn’t cost you anything to give to others, and the benefit is a safer, more comfortable environment for everyone.

 

Bikes on Roadway to replace Share the Road Signs

ODOT will now recommend traffic engineers use signs that say “Bikes on Roadway” instead of the old “Share the Road” signs.

The decision came at a recent meeting of the Traffic Control Devices Committee, following a presentation by Alexandra Phillips, Bicycle Recreation Specialist with Oregon Parks & Recreation Department, and Gary Obery of ODOT.

share_the_road

The decision doesn’t mean “Share the Road” signs already installed will be replaced, but that new signs or any in need of replacement for other reasons should be updated to “Bike on Roadway.”

Phillips and Obery reported on the history of two signs and also discussed complaints from bicyclists that “Share the Road” is confusing, and that some interpreted the signs as telling bikes to share the road.

So the questions put before the committee were:

  1. Should the “On Roaway” plaque be put back into the Sign Policy & Guidelines?
  2. Should “On Roaway” be preferred over “Share the Road” for new and replacement signs?

Members agreed the current plaque is confusing and the consensus was to revert to “On Roadway” in connection with not just the bicycle icon signs, but all vehicular traffic signs, including trucks and tractors, etc. (as listed in Figure 2C-9 of the online 2009 Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, or MUTCD).

Bikes and On RoadwayCommittee member Scott McCanna noted that “On Roadway” doesn’t include the road shoulders under ORS 801.450 and this might be a litigation concern if a bicyclist gets hit on the shoulder. It was clarified this sign is actually meant for situations where bikes are expected in actual travel lanes. It was also clarified this would not affect Sharrow pavement markings since these are supposed to be used only on slower speed streets.

After some discussion, a motion to recommend ODOT state in the Sign Policy & Guidelines the “On Roadway” plaque is preferred over the “Share the Road” plaque was approved.

Slow Moving Vehicles

Guy Blocks Bike Box, Hits Me Twice: The Case for Green Bike Boxes

The bike box at High and 7th is needed to go from a left-side bike lane to a right-side bike lane. For some reason it’s not painted green like every other bike box, ever. (Like the bike boxes on Willamette and 18th and Alder and 13th.) This causes conflict.  When the bike box went in, I asked why it wasn’t green. The answer I got back (I forget from who) was that they didn’t think it needed to be green, and would be painted green if there were problems.  Well…  And now that we have lots of other green bike boxes in town, this one sends a message that it is somehow different from those.

Car drivers frequently block the box, not knowing or caring what it is. When riders try to get in front, sometimes the car drivers respond with threats and menacing. This was one of those times.

Update: From Eugene Transportation Planning on Facebook: “We do intend to put green paint in this bike box this summer. We will also be putting out some more education and outreach about bike boxes in the near future.” 

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Fill Out the Scenic Bikeway Survey

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Have you cycled on any one of Oregon’s twelve Scenic Bikeways this year? Want to help make Oregon even better for cycling? Take this survey now. Closes in two weeks!

Travel Oregon and Oregon Parks & Recreation Department (OPRD) are embarking on an economic impact and user study of bicycle recreation and travel for Oregon’s Scenic Bikeways. As part of the information gathering, the two organizations want cyclists to respond to this online survey by Dec. 31. Oregon is the only state in the nation with Scenic Bikeways – offering Oregon’s “best of the best” road routes – and the feedback gathered can make them even better.

Travel Oregon and OPRD want to hear how often people ride the Scenic Bikeways and get feedback on what people thought of them. The responses will be kept confidential and be used for statistical purposes only. The survey takes about 7 minutes and the results will help improve the Oregon cycling experience for all.

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special meeting: Bikes and a Vibrant Downtown

[Text version. Note new time.]

You are invited

Making Downtown Eugene a Great Place for Bicyclists, Pedestrians and Business:
A Vision for a Vibrant Community

Please join us for a special joint meeting of the city of Eugene’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) and city staff

Thursday, November 13
5:45 to 7:30 p.m. in the Atrium Building’s Sloat Conference Room,
99 W. 10th Ave (Enter from the back alley off 10th Ave)

Development is quickly changing the face of downtown Eugene.  The members of the Eugene BPAC have invited city planning officials to engage in a dialogue about the future of downtown Eugene.

*How can a bicycle and walking-friendly downtown benefit local businesses?

*What’s happening and what still needs to happen to make downtown a vibrant place that people can enjoy by foot or by bike?
This is a public meeting and all are encouraged to attend.  After the BPAC and city presentation we will have time for public dialogue and comment.

For more information contact sasha.luftig@gmail.com

 

 

special meeting: Bikes and a Vibrant Downtown

special meeting: Bikes and a Vibrant Downtown

That Time of the Year…Leaves!

Several years ago the city revamped their leaf pick-up material to stop telling people to “neatly place” their leaves in the bike lane and confirmed that yes, it IS illegal to put leaves (or any debris) in the bike lane. At the same time they improved their sweeping procedures, created priority routes, and even helped create an app, iBikeEugene that makes it easy to report the issue and get it cleaned up faster. Here’s a little video made by our intrepid founder just today that shows you how to use the app.

Now go get it and start making our streets safer and better for all!

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