Downtown Eugene: Nerve center of creative thought

What we should do today is take some questions from our studio audience. You, sir. Over there on the bike. With your hand up. What’s your question?

I don’t have a question. I’m signaling a right turn.

Oh. Hey, good for you.

Actually, I just thought of a question. What the hell is going on here? Is this merely aesthetic? Or is it functional, too?

Well, thanks to a fine article in The Register-Guard, we know what is going on here. Police were locking abandoned junker bikes to the planter railings at Broadway and Olive.

Do we think that is an appropriate thing for the police to be doing?

They were trying to keep the wastrels from loitering on the planter railings. They say this was keeping them away.

Does that strike you as a rather unorthodox idea?

Preposterous was the word that came to mind first. But what do I know?

Well, actually this might be good P.R. for us cyclists. I mean, what better example of the never-ending utility of the humble bicycle. You couldn’t do that with a car!

Certainly not.

If they parked an abandoned old Dodge over there by the railings, what do you think the wastrels would do?

Just sit on the hood maybe?

Yeah, “drinking warm beer in the soft summer rain.” What kind of downtown would we have then?

A downtown with warm beer.

That’d keep people away! Hey, are the local cops here called “cherry tops”?

No.

What are they called?

They are called creative thinkers.

I know. And this is so amazing. Speaking of articles in The Register-Guard, did you see the one in today’s paper about a website — Livability.com — that says Eugene has the No. 9 downtown in the United States among “small to midsized communities”?

Dude, we got beat by Chattanooga (No. 8).

Yeah, but did you see what they said about our downtown: “a regional center for creativity and culture.” I think the anti-loitering bike lock-up put us over the top in creativity.

You know Livability.com has lots of lists like this. All different kinds of categories.

Is Eugene on any of the other lists?

Yeah, Eugene is No. 3 in: Best Place to Steal Parts From Bikes That Technically Belong to the Police Department!

Maybe they were like this when they installed them?

Maybe so — in which case we may or may not be keeping the wastrels away, but we are certainly climbing the list for: Best Downtown That Most Appears to Be a Hotbed of Petty Theft.

Hey, here’s an example of an early Haro prototype, a bicycle designed before the actual invention of the wheel:

I think the raccoon has something to do with all this. Is there anything they can do about those raccoons loitering on the railing?

This is Eugene. There is nothing you can do about the raccoons.

Yeah.

At the website called RaccoonLivability.com, Eugene is No. 2 for Overall Best Place to Live and No. 3 for Best Place to Find Free Bowls of Cat Food Outdoors.

If we want to keep the wastrels away, how about we put some real raccoons out here? Rabid ones?

I’m going to have to ask you to stop referring to these good people as “wastrels.”

Really? I think you started it.

Maybe so. Still, it doesn’t seem appropriate.

OK, anyway, I see that a few days after the R-G published the article about the bike lock-up (Oct. 3), the bikes up and vanished. What happened?

Well, I asked the EPD public information officers about that.

What did they say?

EPD spokeswoman Jenna B. McCulley tells us:

EPD removed them and returned them to the regular property inventory.  From there they will be identified for use in another program or processed and sent to auction …

Is she talking about the bikes or the wastrels?

I’m pretty sure she’s talking about the bikes. And I told you to stop calling them wastrels.

Why did the EPD tell The Register-Guard what great results these locked up bikes were having and then remove the bikes a few days later?

I wondered that myself. Jenna says:

The removal of the bikes from the Olive and Broadway area was prescheduled for this week as there will be new bicycle racks for public bike parking installed. …  This was in the works months prior to the R-G article.

Seems the officers would have mentioned that to the R-G.

For all we know, maybe they did. But Jenna was right. I swung by there this very morning and … behold!

More bike parking! Yay! But do you really want to park your bike where the wastrels loiter?

No, the creative thinking here is that the racks will be for public bike parking AND to keep the wastrels from sitting on the railings.

Hey, I know what that is! Isn’t that what they call a “win-win.”

Unless you’re a wastrel.

I still don’t trust that raccoon.

Maybe this guy is more to your liking?

No racks for bear?

Maybe they’re not done yet. But on the other two corners the racks are in:

So, tell me: Are the EPD public information officers amiable and helpful?

They are as friendly as Labrador puppies.

And helpful?

Very helpful. Unless you are trying to get some actual information about something that seems truly important.

In which case, what?

They are unable to say anything at this time.

Do you think it would be fun to ride around with the bike patrol officers for a few hours and watch what they do?

I do. And I think after this post, they’ll love to have me along.

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11 thoughts on “Downtown Eugene: Nerve center of creative thought

  1. The most annoying kind of bike racks, where their placement is based on the estimated front wheel size of about 4 inches. The raccoon looks like he’s in squiggly jail.

      1. Yeah, the way they arranged them, you pretty much have to put your bike sideways on the rack. Which actually works better, even though you feel like you’re hogging the whole rack. But in this case, I think the bike parking was secondary.

        I have to say, though, it looks a lot better than stripped bikes.

        Are you sure it’s a she raccoon?

        1. Well, she has a baby raccoon peeking around her shoulder. A male would have killed the upstart before posing for the sculptor.

  2. And how the heck are you supposed to be able to lock up to those racks??? (Actually, this is something I though of doing before my camera broke: going around town and taking pictures of all the racks that are poorly placed/inaccessible. Start with the ones at Papa’s Pizza on W. 11th and Chambers. You know, the ones that are around back next to the dumpster.)

  3. Sheesh… Those “wave” racks are 1) not allowed by Eugene City Code, and 2) even if they were, are placed way too close to the concrete walls – another code violation. Having worked downtown for 5+ years, I totally understand the desire to clear up the area so passers by are not subjected to the daily gauntlet of, how do you say, wastrels. But… there’s gotta be a better way. Perhaps EPD should hire a landscape architect who specializes in CPTED and actually put some thought and care into what they are doing.

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