Another angle in the Eugene Weekly

FYI, the Eugene Weekly’s Alan Pittman has written an article in the current issue that offers another take on the case of Mingo Pelkey, who was hit by a car and killed on River Road this month.

Pittman writes about the delayed extension of the Riverbank Trail bike path under the Beltline and how that would have made it possible for Pelkey to avoid riding on River Road at all. The path extension is now under construction and is supposed to open later this fall. He also writes that the installation of bike lanes on Hunsaker has long been delayed.

Someone who knew Pelkey has told me she used the Riverbank Trail for most of her 10-mile commute from her home near River and Irving roads to her job in Springfield. That person said she typically took River Road and River Avenue to access the bike path near the Eugene waste water treatment plant.

That route is shown by the blue dashed line below. When the path extension (green dotted line) is finished, a cyclist could get from the intersection of River and Irving to the bike path by using Hunsaker Lane and Beaver Street.

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For a list of all posts about the Mingo Pelkey case, go here.

7 thoughts on “Another angle in the Eugene Weekly

  1. “The chinaman is not the issue here, Dude.”

    In the ‘what if’ universe, perhaps the river path extension would have prevented the awful killing. But building bike paths does not address the issue of incompetent driving. You can’t build closed off shared use paths, and expect cyclists to use only those. The streets are paid for and legally open to cyclists. Cyclists should not be cowed into thinking the only place they are safe and allowed is on the paths. I am glad the Weekly shed light on those hideous internet comments on the story.

    The SF / bay area focuses much less on closed-off shared use paths and instead CLEARLY states that cyclists are allowed full use of a lane. There is signage everywhere for this; essentially all one way streets have a dedicated sharrow-style lane, bike lane-less 2 way streets are easily shared, sharrowed or not, and people get around on bikes safely. Cyclists regularly ride the highways in the area without an agitated concern. It’s efficient, and motorists actually pay attention and can still get to where they are going, even with their accelerated “California Style” of driving.

    Eugene will never be San Francisco, but it’s worth noting that it’s very plausible to safely integrate bikes and cars onto the same road. Eugene can not tote itself as a progressive community, then overlook the hideous culture of poor driving, and try to sweep people off the streets to make way for the irresponsible fools. Bike paths are nice, but shouldn’t be considered the final answer.

    1. You are absolutely right that in the present case, it’s very likely that if everyone had been doing the right thing this tragedy would never have happened. Available evidence suggests that the driver was at fault, quite possibly criminally so.

      Cars and bikes should be able to share the roads, no question. But that doesn’t mean that there is no need for dedicated cycle paths too. Accidents will always happen, whether due to driver error or cyclist error. And cyclists will always be more vulnerable in collisions. Good laws, good road design, and good education of drivers and cyclists alike will reduce errors when bikes and cars share the road, but not to zero. When the cost-benefit balance make sense, dedicated bike paths should be part of the strategy too. It’s not either-or.

      It’s a difference between analyzing what happened in this instance (which was the driver’s fault), versus discussing good policy. Pittman has an axe to grind with Eugene bike policy, but unfortunately he is so eager to make that case that he sounds like he is excusing the driver.

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