Bike lanes on South Willamette?

Meetings of government officials have never been my idea of fun, so I tend to avoid them.

But I made an exception Tuesday, for a city of Eugene event known as:

“An Evening with Associate Transportation Planner Reed Dunbar”

The topic was the city’s plan to repave a stretch of South Willamette Street next summer.

As emcee, Dunbar has a certain charm — a kind of feigned bluntness, is about the best way I can describe it.

I for one think he did about as well as anyone could do presiding over a 90-minute discussion of asphalt.

But here’s the real reason I sat through this meeting: It gives me an excuse to repost one of my favorite illustrations: a carefully hand-drawn map (I think it took three drafts!) of Willamette Street, as seen by a cyclist.

The part of the road under consideration in the Transportation Planning office right now is the stretch I have identified as the “Straights of Peril.” (I know, it’s misspelled on the map — I was too tired to do a fourth draft.)

So, here’s what I learned at the meeting:

  1. The city will repave Willamette Street from 19th to 24th avenues sometime late next summer — about a year from now. Money is already budgeted, from that 2008 street repair bond.
  2. Said repaving will leave a blank canvas of new, unsullied pavement.
  3. The arrangement of any white and yellow stripes on this new, unsullied pavement is completely up for grabs, constrained only by the limits of your imagination — within reason, of course. Don’t get carried away.

I’ll skip many of the boring details, and give you my take:

  1. I suspect the city is very open to putting bike lanes on this stretch. As amazing as this seems — it’s been so long without them — it looks to be within reach.
  2. To make room for the bike lanes, the city would probably have to remove some on-street parking spaces. Some people will surely complain about that.
  3. Probably we should keep up the pressure to make sure this happens. You can make your thoughts known by taking the city’s online survey.
  4. So, you’re wondering about Willamette Street south of 24th, down to 29th? Indeed, on our map, you see this is “The Shining City of Gold.” Unfortunately, it’s not on the table right now. They have money budgeted only for 19th to 24th.
  5. No one can say for sure if Willamette from 24th to 29th will ever be changed (they’re studying it). But change there is years away.
  6. Wait, what about 18th to 19th? Oddly, this isn’t part of the budgeted project. Something about how the street bond was put together. But Dunbar did say that if changes were made from 19th to 24th — bike lanes added for instance — the city could probably scrounge up enough extra money to add new stripes from 18th to 19th.
  7. I imagine this involves going back to the recently vacated Eugene City Hall and peeking under the seat cushions of any abandoned furniture and checking the change compartments of old broken down vending machines.

But if we can get the “Straights of Peril” fixed — or at least improved — I’d personally buy whoever is responsible a beer. If that helps at all.

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12 thoughts on “Bike lanes on South Willamette?

  1. Please do the survey, it’s very important to City Planners and will be a big part of what paint goes where on that stretch of road.

    1. Yeah, that caught my eye, too. You’re referring to this, right?

      http://www.registerguard.com/web/newslocalnews/28641112-41/street-willamette-lanes-paving-avenues.html.csp

      A ways down in the story, GEARs president Richard Hughes suggests shared lanes rather than bike lanes. I’m assuming what he means by a shared lane is like what’s on 13th by campus. With “sharrows” on the pavement.

      During the meeting Reed Dunbar actually addressed that. He said the city won’t consider sharrows on a minor arterial like Willamette. Traffic goes too fast.

      Of course, the city actually did put sharrows on Willamette — down by 29th. But maybe that was just an experiment. Probably a failed one. I’m willing to bet more cyclists down there take the sidewalk as opposed to taking the lane.

      I don’t know, I’ll see if I can get Richard to come over here and comment. I don’t want to speak for him.

      1. Those sharrows are only for about 50 feet and then a bike lane appears. I and other cyclist take them all the time. They are super nice and that sidewalk there sucks.

        1. I certainly wasn’t recommending the sidewalk. Just what I’ve seen sometimes.

          Those sharrows may work for people who are very confident riding in traffic, but I don’t think they are a good solution. If the light at 29th is green, cars are going through there close to 35 mph. Maybe if cars actually went the speed limit …

          But I understand what happened there. That was a band-aid – maybe the best that could be done there for now.

  2. This was my weekend discovery in that general area – I used sunday streets as an excuse to travel to the shining city of gold and eat lunch at 16 tons.

    http://goo.gl/maps/bFS9C

    The bike lane ends, and there’s a sign that tells you that you should have already fled to the sidewalk if you want to go straight.

    It’s the kind of infrastructure that almost seems actively hostile, like they’re trying to trick nice people in cars and nice people on bikes into having a bad interaction.

  3. If bike lanes on Willamette are in the Transplan, why don’t opponents of them have to go through a long and arduous amendment process to remove them from the official plan, otherwise they get automatically included in any repaving, stripping work?

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