It seems that we got quite a bit more snow then our friends up in Portland, which should make for some fun biking today. Since 4J is closed I don’t have to leave the house until 3pm today, which gives me a chance to share some information with you about the City of Eugene’s policies around snow and ice, and gives you a chance to share with the world what the conditions are like on your commute and to share pictures (we need some for this story).
I can tell you that Fox Hollow is completely iced over, which will make descending it interesting when I leave to go to a meeting this afternoon. I grew up biking in the snow in Iowa, but I never had to ride down a huge hill. Also, there are seven turkeys and a squirrel currently eating my front yard – not relevant, but still cool. What are the conditions like where you are? (Update: A truck sanded and de-iced Fox Hollow around 11am while I was writing this story. The road is now fine for riding.)
Take the jump to share information, and read about the City of Eugene’ suspended leaf delivery and sanding.
Fall is perhaps the most dangerous time of year for cyclists in Eugene. The days get shorter and the rain returns – requiring car drivers to pay more attention to the road and our safety. It’s not unusual for a bike commuter to ride both to and from work in the dark, and the window for daylight recreational cycling shrinks to less then 12 hours.
And then there’s the leaves… and acorns, and sticks, and rocks, and whatever else happens to drop or get blown in to the bike lane this time of year. The leaves stack up, hiding potholes and other debris, or stay thin and wet, making an ice-like surface. Sometimes they pack deceptively tight and kick your wheels out to the side like you’ve hit a curb – making even minimally blocked lanes dangerous. Bike lanes often become unridable, especially at night, forcing riders to “take the lane” or risk a crash.
Luckily for us, the City of Eugene is on our side. 2010 is the second year of the City’s new leaf program. The new program (originally reported on by the Register-Guard in 2009) is a marked change from the program previous to 2009, which actually encouraged people to pile leaves in the bike lanes. The fliers distributed by the City even had a graphic of leaves neatly stacked in the middle of a bike lane, somehow still leaving room for a cyclist and water drainage.
Take the jump to find out what changed, and how you can report blocked bike lanes and paths.
Before we get this article underway, I’d like to acknowledge that I am, indeed, blatantly ripping off the idea for this feature from BikePortland. If you can’t beat ’em (and who could?) join ’em copy ’em.
Today’s question stems from a hodgepodge of posts that showed up on the GEARs mailing list over the last few days. Posts like:
“The River Trails were great yesterday! However, the leaves are falling at a good rate and are starting to cover the pavement in spots, really well, hiding those areas that may cause someone to fall or worse.”
“I’d love to know the answer to how often they clear off the river paths. I roller blade (yesterday) as well as bike (today on my rain bike – ’93 Specialized Rockhopper) and last winter I was EXTREMELY PLEASED to find the paths occasionally cleared. Or maybe it was my imagination? Or maybe it was the wind? I really don’t know. Does anyone?”
So how often does the City clear the leaves on the off-street (multi-use) bike paths? Did the budget cuts which we were warned about back in April affect this schedule? What can we do when we encounter a path blocked by leaves?
These are the questions that I asked the City of Eugene’s intrepid Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator Lee Shoemaker. I summarize and expand on his answers after the jump!