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!