Why Your Voice Is Important For Active Transportation
The City of Eugene has completed work on the Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan (PBMP) and is now working to incorporate it into Eugene’s Transportation System Plan. The PBMP is an exciting step forward in making Eugene an even better city to walk and bike in. The plan calls for doubling the number of people who use active transportation to move around our city and it proposes to do that by creating safer, more comfortable places for people to walk and bike. It is filled with information about creating that ped/bike transportation system, facility types, system maps, project priorities, future feasibility studies, project lists, and possible funding sources. However, to make it more than a ‘plan on a shelf’ it will take leadership, direction, and funding from city leaders to put it into action. But most importantly it will take a community of parents, kids, and other community members to call the city to action on these potential projects.
We have already seen the importance of both the plan and community involvement with some paving projects happening this summer. The City of Eugene has several repaving projects happening that come from the 2008 bond measure to fix streets (20-145) including 24th Ave between Friendly and Chambers. The city held two open house meetings, conducted a speed and parking study, and presented a final design based on information gathered through that process to a Friendly Area Neighborhood meeting earlier this year. At that meeting the majority of people spoke in strong support to the city’s proposed design which included removing the existing bulb-outs, moving parking to one side of the street, adding bike lanes (as called for in TransPlan and the PBMP), removing the centerline (to create a more traffic calmed and ‘shared space’ street), adding a school zone for ATA/Family School, and painting a marked crosswalk.
Soon after that meeting the Friendly Area Neighbors Executive Board filed an appeal to try and stop the removal of the bulb-outs and allow the street to be repaved as it stands (with the addition of ‘sharrows’ or shared lane markings for cyclists). Working with families in the neighborhood it was clear that the neighborhood board had not asked for further input and filed the appeal without recognition of the many hours of parent volunteer time that went into both the PBMP and the 24th project specifically. During the neighborhood meeting concerns were raised by a couple people about the removal of the bulb-outs but the clear agreement (that night and in many other meetings and discussions) was that the design the city presented was a much better one for all users. Everyone wants a safer, more traffic calmed 24th Avenue, there are just different visions of how to get there. Having the involvement of parents who actually walk and bike (or want to) in this neighborhood was key to creating a safer more family friendly active transportation connection. The ideas presented by the neighborhood leaders of ‘sharrows’ or using the 22nd connection through a busy school parking lot were clearly not aimed at supporting that kind of system.
It is essential that the voices of parents and kids are heard through these processes. As a busy parent I know how hard that can be and I wish that the concerns and awareness of family active transportation was just a given but there are many competing interests for our public right-of-way. We need to stand up and speak out for healthy active transportation options if we want to be heard!
As we move forward in the coming years and we work to implement progressive projects like cycle tracks, buffered bike lanes, bike boulevards, traffic calming, sidewalk infill, intersection repairs, and other measures that will help us reach the goal of more people walking and biking more often we will come across a lot of opposition. Change is hard. Creating a multi-modal transportation system is going to mean some hard decisions will have to be made. We need your voice there to help make that happen!
So, how? First, subscribe to the EugeneSRTS E-News, the City of Eugene InMotion Newsletter, and become a member of GEARs. Then speak up. When you hear about a change being planned in your neighborhood call your City Councilor, attend your neighborhood meeting, and/or write a letter to the editor telling them why safe, comfortable, and active transportation options are important to you!
A special thanks to all the parents out there who are speaking up already, helping to create a better community for everyone!