Willamette Street: Mobilizing

The news is out of a city planning project that imagines the commercial strip on south Willamette Street turned into a thriving but bucolic place filled with happy pedestrians, motorists and cyclists, all of them carrying shopping bags and smiling in the sunshine.

The initial plan, though, seems to forgo bike lanes on Willamette. And the good people at Arriving by Bike — the bike shop down at 2705 Willamette — want to make sure that is not what the future holds.

Shop owner Paul Moore was featured in a KVAL report on this yesterday.

Moore and his colleagues at Arriving by Bike are trying to organize “a campaign to ensure dedicated bicycle access along south Willamette.”

They plan an organizational meeting this Friday, Jan. 13 at 5:30 p.m. The discussion will start at 6 p.m. and continue until 7:30 or 8:00 p.m. The meeting will be in the banquet room at the Agate Alley Laboratory Restaurant, 2645 Willamette St. You can order food and drink if you like.

Moore writes: “The purpose of this meeting will be to identify those who might play an active role and to begin to explore strategies and activities which will accomplish our goal.”

If you don’t ride on south Willamette, the blog BreadBike has posted a helmet-cam video that pretty well captures the experience. (Jump to about 1:40 and you won’t have to sit through the interminable red light at 28th. And the best moment comes at about 2:12 when he gets honked at just as he nears Arriving by Bike.)

In an earlier report in the Eugene Weekly about the city plan, Alan Pittman suggests that initial discussions were “dominated by business interests who opposed bike lanes.” He doesn’t give any examples, and we do think Alan Pittman sometimes exaggerates. However, if this is true, we certainly wonder which business interests these are and what they fear — except maybe change.

13 thoughts on “Willamette Street: Mobilizing

  1. I like your description of the my video. The lights are long, but I didn’t want to speed it up or edit it in any way. I wanted the full experience of the ride to be shown.

  2. Thanks for the update. That video from breadbike is golden. Pretty much exactly how it is down there on Willy Street. Particularly nice is the motorist who honks, cuts the cyclist off, and then has to get on the brakes to stop at the red light. Pointless.

  3. That stretch of Willamette seems like a candidate for a “road diet” (http://www.oregonite.org/2007D6/paper_review/D4_201_Rosales_paper.pdf). Basically it involves converting 4 car lanes to 2 bike lanes, two thru car lanes and a center turn lane. Interestingly, although businesses tend to initially resist the concept of the road diet for the same old “it will drive away customers” reasons, the reality appears to be the opposite. It actually improves access by lowering traffic speeds and making it easier to enter and leave parking areas. The downside is that it can slow down public transportation
    There aren’t a lot of alternative bike routes that don’t involve grunting over College Hill or diverting over to Amazon because there aren’t a lot of thru street on the east side. Seems like any progressive & sustainable “vision” of Eugene should include bikes lanes on the main North-South street.

    1. TransitBikerDave,
      Your right, it is a prime candidate for that and it’s what many “visions” and plans have called for over the years. Somehow the City feels it’s an idea that STILL needs study.

    2. You know, I drive down there sometimes, too, and even from that perspective a center turn lane would make a lot of sense — at least to me. Anybody ever tried to turn left out of the Market of Choice shopping center lot to head northbound on Willamette?

  4. I live on Portland St and 26th (the street parallel to and just west of Willamette). We get a ton of bikers, walkers, and runners going by our house and I think a lot of these folks are diverted off Willamette because it’s so crappy to bike or walk down. I wish that any south Willamette businesses who oppose bike lanes because they think it will hurt business could see the amount of pedestrian traffic they are missing out on when people take side streets instead. And honestly, those who are walking or biking are more likely to notice a new restaurant or see that a store has a sale rather than people who are zooming past in their cars.

    The center turn lane with bikes lanes makes a ton of sense for Willamette. Seems like it works fine for 18th, and it’s a lot easier and more pleasant to ride, drive, and get in and out of business on 18th compared to Willamette (which I try to avoid as much as possible using any form of transportation, even though I live right off it). Make it a street that works well for pedestrians, bikes and cars and it will actually be much better for the businesses located there.

  5. I’ve attended a number of neighborhood and business meetings about South Willamette and will relate some of the fears I’ve heard: So much auto congestion that traffic/customers avoid Willamette Street, loss of customers, traffic diverted through residential neighborhoods, closed driveways, loss of parking, buses stopped in bike lane/single traffic lane, inability to make left turns, center turn lane that is so crowded as to be unsafe, precluded opportunity to add a streetcar or trolley in the future, inability to accommodate future planned growth in the area, businesses being asked to pay for the improvements, and bike lanes that still won’t seem safe enough to encourage more use. The City successfully applied for a grant to systematically study these issues, with lots of public involvement, in an attempt to “get to yes.” It will be about April before the funds are released and the study begins in earnest.

    1. Kurt,
      Thanks for stopping in here and adding this info. I really appreciate you doing that. OK, I see that this is complicated.

      Is Willamette really that busy that going to three lanes would create big congestion issues and diversions? I guess those are just the worries you’ve heard and that that’s part of what the study will try to tell us.

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