A fight is taking place in Eugene, Oregon as the Friendly Area Neighbors has locked horns with city officials and the local cycling group. At issue is whether traffic calming features on the residential West 24th Street would be removed and replaced with bike lanes beginning next month.
While the neighborhood group isn’t against the bike lanes in general, there are concerns over the removal of six pairs of semicircular curb extensions, which were installed by the city nine years ago as a way to slow down speeding motorists. “The issue is removal of parking and returning the street to the drag racers that the current traffic calming measures eliminated,” said Bernie Corrigan, a member of Friendly Area Neighbors.
City officials have noted that there are several reasons to put bike lanes on West 24th Avenue, including the fact that the street is the area’s only continuous east-west link between Jefferson and Chambers streets. Additionally, West 24th Avenue for years has been designated as a bicycle corridor in the city’s transportation plan.
However, the residents think the plan should be changed.
Corrigan added that 35 of the 48 effected residences have already signed a petition against removing parking and asking that the street be repaved with the traffic calming in place. He says there are also other places to ride just blocks away. “There is a perfectly good bicycle route two blocks north on 22nd Avenue which can be far longer than the 24th Avenue stretch with one tweak to improve it,” added Corrigan.
But area cyclists are still pushing for the bike lanes, which would make the streets more attractive for cyclists but could also help calm traffic.
At present the curb extensions narrow from 36-foot-wide to 20ft in six places, but under the new design with bikes lanes on each side of the street, the center portion of the road would be 19ft wide without a centerline. The intention from city planners is that this will result in more cautious and hopefully slower drivers.
“This bike lane opposition is simply a minority of neighborhood leaders who don’t want to lose some traffic calming bulb outs they worked hard to get installed years ago,” Shane MacRhodes from GEARS (Greater Eugene Area Riders) told BikeRadar. “This route is by two elementary schools and a small middle school. It is an important connection through the community for a lot of families. It has been identified in the pedestrian and bicycle master plan and called out in transportation plans for over 10 years.”