Why Your Voice Is Important For Active Transportation

The City of Eugene has completed work on the Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan (PBMP) and is now working to incorporate it into Eugene’s Transportation System Plan. The PBMP is an exciting step forward in making Eugene an even better city to walk and bike in. The plan calls for doubling the number of people who use active transportation to move around our city and it proposes to do that by creating safer, more comfortable places for people to walk and bike. It is filled with information about creating that ped/bike transportation system, facility types, system maps, project priorities, future feasibility studies, project lists, and possible funding sources. However, to make it more than a ‘plan on a shelf’ it will take leadership, direction, and funding from city leaders to put it into action.  But most importantly it will take a community of parents, kids, and other community members to call the city to action on these potential projects.

We have already seen the importance of both the plan and community involvement with some paving projects happening this summer.  The City of Eugene has several repaving projects happening that come from the 2008 bond measure to fix streets (20-145) including 24th Ave between Friendly and Chambers. The city held two open house meetings, conducted a speed and parking study, and presented a final design based on information gathered through that process to a Friendly Area Neighborhood meeting earlier this year. At that meeting the majority of people spoke in strong support to the city’s proposed design which included removing the existing bulb-outs, moving parking to one side of the street, adding bike lanes (as called for in TransPlan and the PBMP), removing the centerline (to create a more traffic calmed and ‘shared space’ street), adding a school zone for ATA/Family School, and painting a marked crosswalk.

Soon after that meeting the Friendly Area Neighbors Executive Board filed an appeal to try and stop the removal of the bulb-outs and allow the street to be repaved as it stands (with the addition of ‘sharrows’ or shared lane markings for cyclists).  Working with families in the neighborhood it was clear that the neighborhood board had not asked for further input and filed the appeal without recognition of the many hours of parent volunteer time that went into both the PBMP and the 24th project specifically.  During the neighborhood meeting concerns were raised by a couple people about the removal of the bulb-outs but the clear agreement (that night and in many other meetings and discussions) was that the design the city presented was a much better one for all users. Everyone wants a safer, more traffic calmed 24th Avenue, there are just different visions of how to get there. Having the involvement of parents who actually walk and bike (or want to) in this neighborhood was key to creating a safer more family friendly active transportation connection. The ideas presented by the neighborhood leaders of ‘sharrows’ or using the 22nd connection through a busy school parking lot were clearly not aimed at supporting that kind of system.

It is essential that the voices of parents and kids are heard through these processes. As a busy parent I know how hard that can be and I wish that the concerns and awareness of family active transportation was just a given but there are many competing interests for our public right-of-way. We need to stand up and speak out for healthy active transportation options if we want to be heard!

Public Space is for Kids Too!

As we move forward in the coming years and we work to implement progressive projects like cycle tracks, buffered bike lanes, bike boulevards, traffic calming, sidewalk infill, intersection repairs, and other measures that will help us reach the goal of more people walking and biking more often we will come across a lot of opposition. Change is hard. Creating a multi-modal transportation system is going to mean some hard decisions will have to be made. We need your voice there to help make that happen!

So, how?  First, subscribe to the EugeneSRTS E-News, the City of Eugene InMotion Newsletter, and become a member of GEARs. Then speak up. When you hear about a change being planned in your neighborhood call your City Councilor, attend your neighborhood meeting, and/or write a letter to the editor telling them why safe, comfortable, and active transportation options are important to you!

A special thanks to all the parents out there who are speaking up already, helping to create a better community for everyone!



3 Responses leave one →
  1. 2012 May 15
    Andrew Fisher permalink

    The concern from the FAN Boards perspective over 24th reconfiguration is not about the plan, but the process being used by the city. The traffic study you cite was conducted on a single day. This is really insufficient data to generate an accurate snapshot. Also, the process was rushed. There were two open houses. Everyone acknowledges the importance of safe rotes and reducing carbon output. The process could have been better though. The city downplayed the possibility of removing the calming initially. The burden of proof to install the original calming was considerable. It was installed when neighborhood residents voiced their concern over speeding automobile commuters on their streets. The burden of proof to try and remove the curb extensions was very different than what was required for installation. I have nothing against bike lanes. I would like to see a better process though for making these neighborhood decisions that takes everyone’s interests into concern.

  2. 2012 May 15

    I have heard from neighborhood parents that the Board is expressing concerns now about the process but at the open houses and the neighborhood meeting that I attended the main issue that I heard raised was on the design.

    I understand that it was a process and a lot of work to get the bulb-outs installed and appreciate the neighborhood efforts to make that happen. I don’t however believe that means that it should be a major process to get a different, even better design that suites all users and has the potential to create an even safer and more comfortable street for more users.

    What I heard were issues with the plan design (and continue to hear that from board members- see Letter to the Editor in today’s RG) so saying it’s about process now seems a bit disingenuous. What process did the FAN Board have to hear from neighbors? I have talked to several neighbors, some at the meetings and some not, who said they have not heard from the Board asking their opinion. The first meeting was in December. At least four months to get some kind of input from neighbors before filing a legal appeal in the name of neighbors seems reasonable.

    There have also been two years of Ped/Bike Master Planning in which the City of Eugene has been collecting neighborhood input and work from hundreds of hours of community volunteer time to create a plan for active transportation connections throughout our community and 24th was a part of those discussions.

    It’s interesting the Board wrote a letter to support bike lanes on Willamette (not in their neighborhood) but are working so hard to stop this project that so many of the neighbors came out to support.

  3. 2012 May 15
    Andrew Fisher permalink

    Thanks for your perspective.

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