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

Tree Plantings By Bike

Via Friends of Trees:
TreeBikeIf you are pumped on biking and want to bring your bike out to a planting event – we would love that! Bicycling crews transport all of the trees, tools and people to each planting site during neighborhood planting events. Folks with bike trailers and racks are encouraged, though anyone with a bike is welcome to plant with us!

Friends of Trees provides trained planting guidance as well as a thoughtful planting route that won’t take you up steep hills, along busy highways, nor terribly long distances with your heavy loads of trees and tools. After every planting, we invite you to warm up at our potluck lunch with tasty soups and other homemade treats.

Last year we had a bike team at every planting and this year we plan on having two! I am here to invite you all, to bask in the awesomeness of pedal-powered tree-planting with Friends of Trees! With our first bike event taking place one month from now in November, I wanted to make sure you all got our schedule of events sooner than later.
Trailers, bungees, panniers, oh my! Bike planters always are an awesome scene, come planting morning.
If you have friends who may want to join you by bike this season – please invite them and send them the sign-up link! We are hoping to have more planting teams this season than ever before. The more bikes and trailers that show up, the better!

Friends of Trees Plant It!Please reach out to us if you have any questions about biking at our events, or volunteering with Friends of Trees in general. You may reach us at Eugenetrees@FriendsofTrees.org or 541-632-3683.

See our bike planting dates and sign up, click there –> Bike Planter Sign Up Form

bike-planting

Huge Crane to Lift New Bike-Ped Bridge Into Place

What- A 100-foot crane will hoist a prefabricated 90-foot bridge deck onto the support structure for a new bicycle-pedestrian bridge over Amazon Creek. Images from a prior lift are attached for reference.

Background- LTD is building two new bicycle-pedestrian bridges this year as part of the West Eugene EmX project. The bridges, plus a third bridge to be built next year by the City of Eugene, are funded through a $2.9 million ConnectOregon V grant. This investment will allow residents who live south of Amazon Creek to easily connect to West 11thAvenue businesses and the West Eugene EmX service that will launch next fall. The bridges also enhance Fern Ridge Path and the rest of the path system for recreational walking and bicycling.

When– Thursday, October 27, 2016. Be in position by 12:00 p.m. (Noon). The crane lift is expected to occur between 12:15 p.m. and 12:30 p.m.

Where- Just West of Acorn Park on the Fern Ridge Path. If driving you may park along the street on Buck Street or West 13th Avenue.

ltd-bikebridge-map

Knickerbocker Bridge Closure

The City of Eugene posted the following road construction advisory:

South Bank Path (Knickerbocker Bridge to Walnut Street): The South Bank Path is closed for construction between Walnut Street and Knickerbocker Bridge until mid-November. Path users should travel on the North Bank Path and the Autzen Bridge. The old path is being replaced with new concrete and will be slightly realigned. The Knickerbocker Bridge will receive new railing.

South Willamette bike lane striping delayed until June

The re-striping of south Willamette Street, which will add bike lanes from 24th to 29th avenues, has been delayed for a few weeks.

Crews have marked out the new configuration of the street, and the actual re-striping was expected in the next week or so.

Spray-painted white markings show where the new pavement striping will go.

Spray-painted white markings show where the new pavement striping will go.

But the contractor hired to do the striping had a conflict and is not available for few weeks, City of Eugene Transportation Planning Engineer Chris Henry told a meeting Thursday of the Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee. The striping should be completed by mid-June, Henry said.