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.

Bike lanes are for…?

I may not have time for well researched articles like I did a few years ago, but I do seem to have time to make videos!  Here is a compilation of bike lane blockers from a winter of commuting.

South Willamette Street- Time for Action

Today I shared some information with a group that is considering endorsing Option One of the South Willamette Street plan, which is the plan to keep it the way it is. With the long op-ed last week and the signs cropping up on the street saying “Four Lanes for Safety” (a pure untruth) it is time for those who want to see a better street for all to speak up!  Write your council member, attend the City Council meeting next week (Facebook event), write your own letter to the editor and educate your friends and neighbors about Option Three.  City staff are working with EcoNorthwest on an economic impact study and once that is complete the City Council will be making a decision on the matter.  We need to get the information out there that a complete street is a safer street and that we want a vibrant business district where walking and biking (and driving) are better!

Here is what I shared with the group (after giving a brief intro the five E’s of Safe Routes to School):

Alternative Three- Wouldn't that be nice
Alternative Three- Wouldn’t that be nice

Today I am here to talk to you about the E of Engineering and the importance of how we build our transportation system in a way that creates a safe environment for our children. Engineering is the infrastructure piece of how we create safe routes not only to and from our schools but as a whole transportation system for families. Infrastructure dictates behavior and when we build a system that makes it very easy to drive everywhere we get an outcome like the one we find ourselves in today; which is walk and bike rates to school have declined from more than 50% in the 1970’s to down to less than 10% by the 2000’s.  Along with our major decline in students using active transportation to move themselves to and from school we have seen a huge increase in obesity.  We know that our built environment effects how we move around our city and we know we need to make some major changes in our built environment to make active transportation the easier choice for kids and families. We’ve seen it around the world and we’ve seen it right here in Eugene. When you build a better place for families to choose active transportation they make that healthier choice because they like it!

Bike Lanes On Willamette

Fresh new bike lanes have just been painted on South Willamette Street!!

No, it’s not the much talked about section from 24th to 32nd but the one from 18th to 23rd. The northbound cyclists on Willamette will pick up the bike lane at 23rd then be diverted (with the rest of the traffic) onto 2oth before heading North again on Oak…eventually that zig-zag will also have bike lanes, including the Oak one which will take you to the 18th Ave bike lanes! The city decided to wait to do the section from 23rd to 24th even though it was being repaved because they wanted to see where the 24th-32nd projected went so they knew where to line up the lanes.

These new bike lanes are a major improvement to the corridor as they now connect to the bike lanes on Willamette from 13th avenue.  It will surely increase bike traffic on Willamette since this section was a barrier before. Now that it is open more people will want to ride to their destinations on the South Willamette section from 24th onward.

Here’s hoping this major improvement is a step towards making Willamette A Place for Everyone!

Here are a few photos Larry Price sent in. Click one to see a little slideshow.

South Willamette One Step Closer To a Complete Street

This post deserves more time, photos, and editing but that just isn’t going to happen so I’m going to choose a less refined product for one that will at least get done. So here’s the latest:

swill-mast

The South Willamette Street Improvement Plan has passed another milestone and it appears to be on the right track. The official consultant recommendation is for “Alternative Three”; the five lane option with two bike lanes, two motor vehicle lanes, and a center turn lane. At a meeting on Wednesday the consultants from DKS Associates and Cogito, along with city staff, presented the executive summary of the consultants report. They wanted to gather one last round of comments and to get feedback before the final report and plan was complete.

Alternative Three- Wouldn't that be nice
Alternative Three- Wouldn’t that be nice

There were two stakeholder meetings held; one in the morning with more of the business owners and one in the afternoon that included a mix but with more bicycle and pedestrian advocates and general community members present. The presentations were pretty quick, giving an overview of the process and then a review of the findings, including more information on case studies than had been presented in the past. There was also a new set of Bluetooth data that wasn’t presented at any previous community forum. It showed that 63% of traffic (between 24th & 32nd) was a local trip (starts, ends, or stops on Willamette St., or uses local street for access) while 37% were through trips with 13% between 24th and 32nd and 24% via 29th.

WillametteTrips
More local trips that some expected.

After looking at all the previous case studies, analyzing all the data, and holding a major public involvement process (with focus groups, stakeholder meetings, 3 community forums, technical advisory committee meetings, and many staff and consultant meetings) 6 design alternatives were narrowed down to 3 and now 1 has been chosen as the BEST design for South Willamette street. That design would include 5 lanes; a bike lane in each direction, a motor vehicle lane in each direction, and a center turn lane. They call it the “3 lane with bike lanes” which really is 5 lanes but when they say “lane” they mean motor vehicle lane. Got it? That’s how you get the current car-centric thinking that “four lanes are better than three”. But to many the concern really is all about moving cars. Never mind the elderly, kids, disabled, or un-interested who choose or are forced not to drive. Never mind that it’s been shown time and again that it’s people that make a vibrant shopping district, not how many cars go through it. Never mind that multi-modal streets provide safety, equity, and prosperity to a neighborhood. Clearly a street with better sidewalks, bike lanes, and a safer lane configuration is better for our community. It’s good to know the professionals think so too.

After discussing the advantages that all the research shows for these type of “right sizing” street projects: safety improvements (S. Willamette currently has an 80% higher collision rate from the statewide average), the speed reductions, and equal traffic volume and capacity (a newer design could handle the numbers that are on Willamette now and into the future) the one question that still remained for people at these stakeholder meetings was “what is the business impact.” The unfortunate part is that the consultants and city staff choose to ignore the research (1) (2) (3) (etc) that is out there that shows that roads that are reconfigured to be more multi-modal have either an increase in business sales or no effect. The concern they stated was that the source material was from organizations that were pro-right sizing streets. It’s true that there could be more hard data on the topic but the real problem is that all the data that is out there shows that businesses are NOT hurt by these kind of changes and often are helped by such a change. Many businesses just refuse to believe this and say “well that may have been true for X,Y, or Z community but our street is different.” Except that’s what all of those other community businesses said before their streets were changed. Yet no one has been able to find studies that show that these kind of complete street improvements decrease business…because they simply don’t. Maybe there will be one or two outliers in a community that did the design work wrong or the study parameters were off but there are dozens of places where it has worked amazingly well for businesses AND they have improved safety, health, equity and livability. Go back and ask those businesses now what they think and most say they can’t imagine going back to the old design.

Alternative Three- What's not to like when you know the facts?!
Alternative Three- What’s not to like when you know the facts?!

It’s great that the extensive work the City and consultants did on this project came to the conclusion that a street that works for all is the best choice. Now the hard political battle begins to fight off the nay-sayers who don’t see that our transportation system needs improving and that we are not in the 1950 era of simply moving cars through our community anymore. We are at a time where we need to provide real choices for everyone in how they move about in their daily lives. Alternative three obviously meets the goals laid out from the beginning of the study to “help Willamette Street become a vibrant urban corridor accessible by bicycle, foot, car, and bus” and to “support the area’s businesses, encourage the district’s vitality,” and create a “balanced multi-modal transportation system.”

In the next two months staff will present the consultant report to the Planning Commission and then to the City Council along with an official staff recommendation which Chris Henry, the project director, said will most likely mimic the consultant recommendation. The final recommendation will be presented to council by the city manager on November 25th. Once presented to council they will gather more input and will hold a public hearing on January 21st and then most likely vote on something in February or March.

So now we throw it out into the Eugene political wind and see what craziness comes out. There is already a report that Capella, the small local market on Willamette, has a “Four Lanes Are Safer” sign up. Clearly more education needs to be done. So now it’s time to celebrate a little but still keep in mind the work ahead to make Willamette Street a place for everyone!

20131004-103227.jpg

Summer Projects Wrap-up

It’s been a VERY active summer for repaving projects around Eugene and several of them have seen improvements for cyclists.

Here’s a quick recap on some of those projects:

5th Avenue  (Blair to High)

photo 1

What’s been done:

  • Improved pedestrian crossing at 5th/High
  • Removed parking on the south side of 5th Ave from Blair to Jefferson to fit wider bike lanes (including a door zone buffer on the north side)
  • Widened the remainder of the bikes lanes along the corridor and included buffer stripes where feasible
  • Smoooooth pavement

 

What isn’t going to be done (but should be):

  • Improve the crossing of Monroe at 5th Ave
  • Some traffic calming measures to make it feel more comfortable
  • More bike corrals to create good sidewalk environment & improve streetscape

18th Avenue (Westmoreland Park to Washington Street)

What’s been done:

18th Ave. repaving

  • Installed a new pedestrian island at Van Buren Street
  • Updated the pedestrian island at Friendly Street
  • Removed parking between Polk and Friendly to widen bike lanes to national standard (best part!)

What’s still left to do:

  • Final painting- let’s hope they get it right
  • Install RRFBs at 18th @ Friendly (scheduled for Summer of 2014 as part of SRTS grant)
  • Enforcement of parking (already seen some issues)

Pearl (between 18th & 19th)

What’s been done:

  • Installed buffered bike lanes (east and west side of street) and a bike box at 19th Avenue
  • Moved bike lane from left side of Pearl to the right side of the left turn lane (middle of street) to improve safety and reduce crash risk.

What’s still left to do:

  • install bicycle loop detectors (and remove signal actuator in left turn only lane)
  • colorant is supposed to be applied to the weave lane and bike box (delayed due to EWEB water main break)

What isn’t going to be done (but maybe should be):

  • Sign telling northbound traffic to yield to southbound traffic on Pearl/Amazon Parkway

Alder St. (18th to 24th)

Alder Sharrow

What’s been done:

  • Redesigned the entries at 19th Avenue and 24th Avenue
  • Installed shared lane markings on the whole stretch
  • Replaced camera signal detection with inductive loops at 18th & Alder (too bad).

What isn’t going to be done (but probably should be):

  • Prioritize Alder Street movement at Alder @ 19th!!
  • Better traffic calming measures
  • Finish bicycle boulevard from 24th to 30th (sharrows, traffic calming, and diversion)

 

There have been a few other minor projects I might report on later. Another major project, Willamette Street between 18th & 24th, is still being worked on and I’ll save that one for another post since there are several more weeks until that one will be done. Some of the highlights of that work are: southbound bike lanes from 17th to 23rd, northbound bike lanes on Willamette from 24th to 20th and Oak from 20th to 17th (plus the jog on 20th from Willamette to Oak), a bike box at 18th & Oak, and a curb extension on 19th to divert traffic southbound traffic and shorten the crossing for pedestrians.

 

South Willamette Street Plan- Bike Lanes?!

Tomorrow the City of Eugene will be hosting the third community forum on the South Willamette Street Improvement Plan.  It’s very important that those who want a multi-modal street attend the meeting and give their input on making a street that works for all users, including pedestrians and cyclists. Here’s the basic information and then some information from the “Bike Willamette” campaign:

Community Forum #3: Rank & Refine the Alternatives

WHEN: Tuesday, June 11, 4:00 – 5:45 or 7:00-8:45
We are holding two meetings to accommodate the high interest in this project. Please come to the earlier time if you can, as many can only come to the later.

WHERE: South Eugene High School Cafeteria (back of school), 400 East 19th Avenue

Come hear study results for the three alternatives:

* Conceptual layouts
* Cost estimates
* Projected travel times
* Function for cars, pedestrians, bicyclists, and buses.

If you plan to attend and have not yet sent us an email, please RSVP now to help us prepare. Send an email with your name and which time you prefer (4 pm or 7 pm) to: chris.c.henry@ci.eugene.or.us

Can’t make the meeting? Visit the project website between June 12 -18th to take a survey.

Option 3-Bike Lanes!

What will happen at the meeting and why is it important to attend?
Continue reading “South Willamette Street Plan- Bike Lanes?!”

Road Signs and Bike Lanes: A How-To Guide

18th St. 1
There is no need to block the bike lane to tell bikes to merge. We can figure that out on our own. Also, at our slower speeds we don’t need to merge 1/4 mile before the construction, we can do it later.

For at least four years I’ve been communicating with city officials and documenting road signs blocking  bike lanes, and the problem still isn’t fixed. For this reason I’ve created this guide so the city can train their employees and subcontractors. If you see a sign violating this guide please take a picture and report it using the mobile app, or report it online, or call the Eugene maintenance line at (541 )682-4800 and complain. If you can please note the subcontractor who is making the violation and when/where it occurred.

Before I get to the pictures, let me explain why this is such a big deal:

  • This is about safety – the bike lanes exist on these busy streets for a reason. “Just going around the sign” is much easier said then done, especially during rush hour, periods of low visibility for car drivers, on fast downhills, s-l-0-w uphills, and with multitudes of aggressive car drivers.
  • This is about families – if you want to increase ridership, you have to let people feel safe and not kick them out of the bike lane needlessly. Not everyone feels able to take the lane or can ride the speed of traffic. A ten-year-old or parent with two kids on their bike can’t always “just go around the sign.”
  • This is about predicable behavior – car drivers don’t expect bikers to weave in and out of lanes, and can rarely take our perspective and predict our behavior. They certainly can’t predict the behavior of a ten-year-old encountering these signs while biking to school.
  • This is about respect – “Car lanes” are never blocked until the last possible moment, and we want the same consideration. It’s wrong to risk the lives of people on bikes to send a message to people in cars. There are other ways and this guide shows how.
  • This it not about hating road construction in general or wanting special treatment.
  • This is not anti-road sign. I like signs, I just want them to be in the correct place.
  • This is not about blocking the sidewalk – when that is an issue this guide clearly shows that you can use the sign to straddle the bike lane and sidewalk so both users have room. I’m well versed in ADA.

Click “more” to see the rest of the guide.

 

Continue reading “Road Signs and Bike Lanes: A How-To Guide”