I recently wrote a letter to Mayor Kitty Piercy. It was not a letter of complaint. It was not a letter of praise (although she constantly does wonderful things). It was a letter to suggest a temporary change.
When I returned from my European bicycling adventure I hopped on my bike and transgressed back to my old travel behaviors and favorite routes. I intended to take the 12th Avenue bike route from Polk Street to the University area, but alas I was confronted with a blockade. I had just come back from a month of being catered to as a cyclist through construction and then I encounter this:
It was startling and I had no idea whether to go left on a 3-lane one-way street (11th Avenue) and ride on the sidewalk against traffic or go right on another 3-lane one-way street where I would have to cross traffic to enter the bike lane which then swerves into a funky little S-shape to get through the intersection. Neither way was pleasant, and neither way was my beloved, safe, residential, mid-block connector on the 12th Avenue bike route.
The red pin marks the beginning of the construction on the 12th Avenue bike route, stretching across the entire block. One way streets are both north and south of the red pin. 12th Avenue is a beautiful ride, primarily residential and not highly traveled by cars.
I immediately got angry and thought “why didn’t the City think of a way to reroute bicycles?” and then I realized that I am an intelligent individual that just returned from a month of study with a wealth of knowledge. I can apply some of that knowledge right here. Marc, my professor, urged us to find ways to apply what we saw in Europe to our own city. I was having a really hard time doing this mainly because the changes seem so drastic for our roads.
But this can be done. There is constant buzz amidst the UO campus about making 13th Avenue into a two-way cycle track. There just never seems to be enough persuasion for it to happen. But now that a primary east-west bike route is out of commission for X amount of time, and that construction is for a student-like residential complex, why not experiment with a two-way option for cyclists. It could be used to reroute cyclists in a safe way during construction and serve as a temporary trial run for future possibilities. When construction is done it can be removed…or it can stay.
My professor’s urge for change lingered in my head for a few days until I finally reached my breaking point. The sidewalk I was using as a detour had been blocked off, and no alternative was offered for the users (bikes or pedestrians). I had to say something, so I posted a message on my study abroad class’s Facebook group suggesting a change. Marc piped up and encouraged me to “tell the City, tell [my] friends to tell the City, tell them to tell the City.” I wrote a letter to good ol’ Kitty Piercy and hand delivered it to the City Managers office last week. Contact me if you would like to read and if you feel the urge to contact her yourself.
And alas, this is how I decided to reach more people. If you ride 12th, if you ride in West Eugene, if you ride a bike at all in Eugene, if you are my mom or sister and are worried about my safety riding the wrong way on one-way streets (only once because of the dag nab sidewalk closure), if you want to see bicycle detours during construction just like car detours tell the City of Eugene. Write the transportation planners a letter, give them a call, pop into the office and say something to the transportation planning group, tell their interns Hannah and Kory, tell someone and make it aware.