Yesterday the Oregon Active Transportation Summit (OATS) brought together over 400 people to talk about what is happening with active transportation throughout Oregon. From cutting edge designs, new plans, current research, recreational opportunities, classic programs, future legislation, and general updates there was a lot to share and learn.
There was great representation by several Eugene transportation planning staff and interns, UO students and staff, LTD/point2point Solutions local advocates and of course Eugene and Springfield SRTS staff. Over a dozen folks expanding their knowledge and making connections to improve walking, biking, and livability in Eugene.
One of the more interesting sessions was about studies Portland State University and others are doing regarding bike mode share increases and facility types. Two studies specifically showed no major increase (yet) with the implementation of bike boulevard improvements while another study shows major increases in biking when a separated facility (a cycle track) is installed.
On that note; A meeting was held last week by the City of Eugene looking at how to best improve the active transportation connection between the UO and downtown. One possibility is to install a separated cycle track along 13th avenue. This facility could be Eugene’s first real family-friendly on-street bike infrastructure project (unless the West Amazon Cycle Track gets built first…which is sounding like 2018). It could also be the first step in connecting up our path system with bikeways that link into a complete active transportation system that works for more than the confident and enthusiastic cyclists.
The city still needs to decide if they will move this project forward and how. One family has already stepped forward to donate $150,000 to the project in the name of their son, who lost his life in a crash at 13th & Willamette several years ago. More than 100 people have turned out at each of the last two meetings and community support for moving forward with a separated, safe, comfortable, and convenient connection is still growing.
There is the potential that the city could decide to stay with the status-quo and implement improvements that don’t help kids bike more but keep driving the easiest and most convenient choice. If they hear from enough families it will encourage them to continue to move forward with this great project. There is the potential to create a world-class active transportation project.
Remember, the Dutch got their great bike infrastructure not by magic but by people (including kids & families) rising up to say they wanted safer and more comfortable streets for their children! Write the cities transportation department and encourage them to continue moving forward with this important project!