Safety Hazard: Fox Hollow @ 46th (Updated)

Update:  It’s now been replaced by an asphalt hump.  Take the jump for more

This isn’t a great week for people on bikes as far as construction is concerned.  First, people on bikes were directed head-on into cars by construction on Pearl and 5th;  now construction has place a huge, slick, unmarked metal plate (with a hole in the middle) in the high-speed downhill bike lane on Fox Hollow Rd just downhill of 46th St.

The unmarked steel plate in the downhill bike lane

I can only assume this is temporary and only during off-hours since there were flaggers in that spot this morning.   I hope flaggers will be there by the time the morning commute starts tomorrow so people on bike don’t hit the plate. In the meantime, people riding down Fox Hollow need to be very careful.

The slick plate is surrounded by 1-2 inch deep loose black asphalt/gravel.  A cyclist going typical speed down that hill (25-30mph) will first cut through that gravel, then their wheel will hit the metal plate lip, and if they survive that they’ll find themselves on a gravely slick metal plate with a hole in the middle.  I know because I tested it as slow speed, and hitting the plate was like hitting small curb.

As of 5pm this plate is now invisible due to darkness and unmarked (except by a construction sign that I moved near it myself, but it’s unlit and mostly invisible, and doesn’t indicate the presence of a plate.)

People are usually warned of steel plates in the road.

I’m more that a little frustrated, because everywhere else in Eugene when I’ve seen metal plates in the road signs have been used to warn people in cars of their presence.  People on bikes are far more at risk from these plates then people in cars, so I don’t understand why a plate in the bike lane wasn’t accompanied with a warning sign and flashing light.  I know it was most likely just a mistake/oversight, but this could really hurt someone.

I already reported it to the City Maintenance Line as well as to City Planner David Roth, who has already saved us from one construction snafu this week when he directed city workers to remove the bike lane marking that led bikes directly into oncoming cars at Pearl.

Updated (take the jump)

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Pearl Bike Lane Temporarily Gone @ 5th St.

Editors Note: The following story was submitted to WeBikeEugene by EugeneBicyclist.com in an effort to spread awareness about this potential hazard.  The post also appears on his site.

The disappearing bike lane

Posted on December 7, 2010 by Eugene Bicyclist
Here’s a hazard you don’t run across every day: You are coming home from work, a bit weary, in the dark, and set about making a habitual left turn into a bike lane that … that … whoa, what’s that pair of headlights? Coming straight at me!

This happened Monday evening. I rode west on Fifth Avenue, past Fifth Street Market, as I often do. I approached the four-way stop at Pearl, right in front of Lucky Noodle, slowed and got ready to turn left onto Pearl.

Pearl, just south of Fifth, has that bike lane in the middle of the street, between the north and southbound vehicle lanes. I turned south, toward the bike lane. I do this all the time.

This is when I noticed the headlights. I quickly veered right, into the auto traffic lane. And then I pulled over and stopped to figure out what had just happened.

After some rough cocktail napkin calculations, I concluded that the bike lane that used to be here is gone. I returned to the scene the morning after…

Continue reading “Pearl Bike Lane Temporarily Gone @ 5th St.”

West Bank Trail Extension Construction Coming Soon

This just in from the City of Eugene (emphasis mine):

Final approval was recently given by FHWA to construct the West Bank Trail Extension Project. This project will provide a shared use path connection between the Santa Clara area and the riverfront trail system south of Randy Pape Beltline. The project extends the existing West Bank Trail shared use path north along the bank of the Willamette River near the Wastewater Treatment Plant, under Randy Pape Beltline, and then west along the north side of Division Avenue, terminating at Beaver Street. This project includes path lighting, an undercrossing bridge which provides grade separation between path users and trucks entering and exiting the major Knife River driveway, and a retaining wall along the Willamette River. This project is scheduled to begin construction this winter and be completed in fall 2011.

This is a really important connection for this area.  As reported by the Eugene Bicyclist this summer in his report on “Eugene’s Meanest Streets,” this is currently one of the worst areas to ride;  getting around Beltline (aka Randy Papé Beltline) can be a real pain and dangerous.  The unfortunate piece is that the County had the opportunity to make improvements to Beaver/Hunsaker in the last round of STP-U funding (a pot of flexible transportation dollars). It was originally in their plans for improvements, but was mysteriously taken off so that road will remain an unimproved road with no shoulder, sidewalks, bike lane, or other improvements that would make it a “complete street” for all road users (see story on GEARs site for more details, County section).   This great path will dump riders onto a road on which they will have to claim the lane in order to be truly safe, and with a busier street like Beaver/Hunsaker, that can prove unpopular.

Here is a map of the area that will be improved this winter and summer.  The first phase of the project will be an undercrossing of the Knife River sand and gravel driveway, with path construction and light installation most likely happening in the summer.  There are some really great projects coming down the pipe for cyclists and pedestrians.  I hope to include a few reports in the next few days on those other projects as well.

West Bank Extension

Big Oil Threatens Adventure Cycling Routes

Would you want to bike with this? That tiny truck on the right is a logging truck.

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.

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The ‘Little Things’ Roundup

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!

A Portland Bike Corral

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.

Want more info on Bike Corrals?  Check out the City of Portland’s Bike Corral page and business order forms. (Portland has 61 bike corrals as of this posting.)

Take the jump for more, including new RFB beacons, wayfinding signs, and Springfield!

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Delta Ponds Bike & Ped Bridge Dedication

Lee Imonen's sculpture frames the Delta Pods Bridge

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!

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Canal/1-5 Bridge/River Path Construction Alert

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.

From ODOT:

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.

More updates: http://willametteriverbridge.blogspot.com