City Recommends Bike Lanes for West 24th Avenue
The City of Eugene is repaving 24th Avenue this summer as part of it's pavement preservation program. So far there have been two neighborhood open houses, one in December and one last night (Jan. 5th). At the first meeting several options of what to do when 24th is repaved were discussed. Some of those options were: remove parking on both sides and add wide bike lanes, remove parking on one side and have more narrow bike lanes or a bike lane on one side and sharrows on the other, or do nothing and keep the street as it is. At last nights meeting the City brought their recommendation forward after taking community input, doing parking counts, and a completing a one day speed study*. The City is recommending: removal of the existing "bulb-outs", adding bike lanes on both sides of 24th (4-5 ft on 1 side and 5-6 on the other), consolidating parking to one side, removing the painted center line, adding one new marked crosswalk (at Fillmore), and adding a school zone near ATA/Family School. These should all be major improvements for safe multi-modal travel through this part of town and I'm excited to see the City taking these steps. The existing East/West bike facilities that exist in this area are on 18th and 28th, which have a higher traffic volume and don't service the two schools in the area like 24th does. These bike lanes were called for in TransPlan as well as the Pedestrian & Bicycle Master Plan so it's great to see the City follow through with those plans, even with concerns from some neighbors about the removal of parking (which in the cities parking study was shown to be very under utilized). One of the more exciting changes, along with the addition of the bike lanes, is the removal of the center line and the move towards a more "shared space" for motorists. This treatment has been shown to decrease speeds in some areas. With the narrowing of the visual space it will be interesting to see how speeds are reduced (see note below). The City has promised to do another speed and parking study after the project is built. I'm excited to see what kind of difference this will make for people walking, biking, busing, and driving on this street. I know personally I'm looking forward to riding these bike lanes with my family as we commute through the area as we currently zig-zag through other streets to avoid this more direct and convenient route. The City will be doing one final presentation to the Friendly Area Neighbors at their Jan. 19th meeting (at the Washington Park Cottage, 2025 Washington Street) and will be taking feedback up to that point. You can contact Reed Dunbar, City Transportation Planner, for more information: Reed.C.Dunbar@ci.eugene.or.us *It's interesting to note that with the speed study it was found that "the 85th percentile" speed was 29mph, only 4 mph over the posted speed limit and not enough for the City to implement 'traffic calming' measures (which they would do at 5mph and above). One question I have on this is that if the 85th percentile is 29mph that means that 15% are traveling 30mph or faster? With 3,500 vehicles a day that means 525 cars are driving 5 mph over the speed limit? That's approximately 30 cars an hour during main driving times or one every couple minutes. How much over 30mph are they going? Is this really acceptable? Five miles per hour matters with injuries and deaths (see graph below). Thinking it's okay that hundreds of cars are traveling on a
neighborhood 'residential major' collector, with two schools very close, at 5mph or over the speed limit doesn't seem right. We should be building a street where it feels like you should drive 25mph and not 30mph or over. Maybe this improvement will help with that. Or maybe more and better traffic calming will need to be considered for this corridor. For now it's a good start but let's not settle with "good enough". Update: (This update has been corrected with errors because of my misinterpretation of the numbers) The City forwarded the speed study data and here are some quick numbers I pulled out from it: 438 cars were driving 31-35 mph, 36 36-40 mph, 3 41-45 mph, 1 46-50 mph, and 1 51-55 mph. Clearly those few out layers in the 41+ just need better enforcement and probably wouldn't change their speed/behavior much with traffic calming. But the 438 driving 11 mph over the speed limit? The fact that this data doesn't meet the cities threshold for "traffic calming" needs is interesting. I think it shows how we've grown to just accept speeding traffic in the engineering of our city streets. I find myself asking, how do other communities do it? How do the other countries that have high-use multi-modal transportation systems measure speeds and determine traffic calming? Is the 85th percentile universal? Maybe so. Maybe it's just part and parcel with living in a world with the convenience of car travel and you're not going to out-engineer peoples 'need for speed'. I don't really believe that but I think some folks do.
The City will be doing another speed study after the improvements are made to this street and I'll be interested (as I know the City will be too) to see what kind of changes we might see in driver behavior. I know that it will make it a more comfortable environment for me, my family, and many others to ride our bikes on. Hopefully it will help with the dangerous speeding a bit too.