Riding Blog

March 9, 2020

Backstories Around Biking

by Mary Kate Land

I had a great time at the Birthday Ride!

Some riders were sharing their stories about how they got into biking. Not everyone got a chance to speak, though. Let's start a thread to share our backstories around biking. Here's mine:

BikeStory

My bike story starts seven years ago, before I moved to Eugene. Living in Orange County, CA, I drove everywhere. Even though I only lived a mile from work, it wasn’t a nice mile to walk, and I didn’t feel safe biking it. I really wanted to live in a walkable/bikeable neighborhood. So I rented a truck to move my belongings to Eugene, and I sold my car before I left. I figured that if I really needed a car, I could always get one after I settled in.

During that first year, I rented a house in the hills, near my workplace. It was a lovely and bracing walk each morning and every evening, a great way to bookend my work day! As the seasons slowly changed, subtle differences accented each individual day, each individual walk. There were deer trails out my back patio. I learned to ride the bus when I needed to get downtown, and one of my housemates had a car that was somewhat available in a pinch. But I didn’t really realize how bike-friendly Eugene is until I moved to Whiteaker the following year.

I bought a cottage with a detached garage. The garage was already converted into a studio apartment. The driveway had long ago been replaced with raised beds and a walking path. The laundry shed has enough space to park six or seven bikes, depending on size. It’s three blocks from the river bank bike path.

As connected as Whiteaker feels to me now, I still wasn’t sure, in the beginning, that I could make my life work without owning a car. But the buses are much better in this part of town. And my workplace is directly on a bus line. So I decided to give it a try. That first winter, I bought the three month bus pass, a better deal than buying them each month. But even though I work almost six miles from my home, I didn’t get enough use out of my three month pass to justify the expense. More than three fourths of Eugene’s weather is totally bike-friendly!

The following year, I bought a monthly pass in January. But even that didn’t turn out to be a cost savings. It was more fun and more efficient to bike in cold weather, than to take the time to ride the bus. I eventually settled for buying rides in books of ten.

Perhaps the most critical changes I made were to my gear. The better I could customize my gear to the weather, the more I wanted to get on my bike. I often change clothes completely when I get to work, and again before I leave for home in the evening. There’s a process involved in finding the right gear for each rider, and no one can tell you what your solution will turn out to be. But I did get lots of good ideas from other riders! It wasn’t until I felt comfortable from 28 degrees to 90 + degrees that I really began to believe I could live car-free.

Purchasing a cargo bike helped a lot. I can do almost any shopping, and I can also carry two out of three grandchildren. In fact, for the past two years, my granddaughter has been riding along on my commute. The initial adjustment was a little tricky (she has to have good gear, too), and we sometimes bus more often than I would on my own, but it still works for more than 95% of our week days.

My choice to bike hasn’t come without cost. I can’t attend as many events as I might, and I don’t get out of town as often as I would like. But it is far easier to rent a car, or take a taxi to the airport than it would be to maintain a car. I worry about my safety sometimes, and recovering from falls is never easy. But I take many safety precautions and I ride slowly enough to enjoy the scenery.

I work to keep my contacts very local. My doctor and dentist are both bike-path accessible. Lucky for me there are plenty of places nearby for eating and shopping. I can bike to the farmer’s market, three different bakeries, and plenty of venues with live music! I’m grateful to live in a city that has invested in so much bike infrastructure. I hope we can all continue developing our bike culture.

February 6, 2020

Input to City of Eugene's Climate Act Plan (CAP) 2.0 for Transportation Impact from a Bicycler's Perspective

by Tomoko Sekiguchi

We know transportation is a major contributor to greenhouse gases, so impacting the CAP (Climate Action Plan) from the point of view of bicyclers is imperative. Using a bicycle for transportation is the most immediate, simple, and individually doable climate solution. Therefore, including greater support for bicyclers in the CAP is crucial. And it can be cost effective and inexpensive.

"A typical passenger vehicle emits about 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. This assumes the average gasoline vehicle on the road today has a fuel economy of about 22.0 miles per gallon and drives around 11,500 miles per year."[1] Using this statistic, if 30% of the population of Eugene switched to using bicycles for their main mode of transportation, the reduction would be 248,400 metric tons [2]. This translates to 31.44% of the necessary CRO reduction that could be achieved since "reaching the Climate Recovery Ordinance 2030 local emissions goal will require a 790,000 MTCO2e reduction."[3].

See table below for possible percentage of reduction that can be achieved by varying the percentage of the population that converts to using bicycles instead of cars:

From the table above, taking large percentages of fossil fuel powered cars off the road would go a long way in reducing the Gap 2.0 described in the CAP 2.0. It would take fearlessness and defiance of the status quo.

For bicycling to be adopted by the general public, it must be faster, easier, safer and more enjoyable than travelling by car. And the city must make it clear that we need to change our habits immediately. We are in a state of emergency and there is very little time to make significant changes. Here are some examples of CAP solutions from a bicycler's point of view:

1. In the Appendices of the CAP plan “Recommended Additional Actions to Close the Gap”, is “City adopts more aggressive rate of implementation of the Eugene Transportation System Plan”. Specifically, bicycling infrastructure increases bike ridership:

· More protected bike lanes.

· Prioritizing bicyclers at traffic light so their wait time is shorter than for cars.

· Require covered bike racks near the entrance of all public buildings.

· Increase the number of striped bike crossings that connect bike pathways (an example is the crossing near 24th Ave. & Pearl Street.) So riders, like pedestrians, can cross busy streets more easily.

· Close streets to motor vehicle traffic. Select two streets, one north-south and another east-west to close and continue to do this every year until the city core is accessible only by bike, walking or buses. This is a radical solution that requires emergency treatment and major change. We are at the point where drastic transformation is required. See recent precedent actions:

i. New Arizona Development Bans Residents From Bringing Cars: https://www.wsj.com/articles/new-arizona-development-bans-residents-from-bringing-cars-11574164801

ii. NYC Council passes $1.7B plan to add 250 miles of protected bike lanes and 1M sqft of pedestrian space: https://www.6sqft.com/city-council-speaker-johnsons-1-7b-streets-plan-will-bring-250-miles-of-protected-bike-lanes-to-nyc/

iii. Banning cars on SF’s Market Street, once a radical idea, approved unanimously: https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/Plan-to-remake-SF-s-Market-Street-without-car-14535887.php

iv. What happens when a city bans cars from its streets?: https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20191011-what-happens-when-a-city-bans-car-from-its-streets

v. Cars Were Banned on 14th Street. The Apocalypse Did Not Come: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/13/nyregion/14th-street-cars-banned.html

vi. The Spine of San Francisco Is Now Car-Free, Laura Bliss, January 29, 2020: https://www.citylab.com/transportation/2020/01/market-street-car-free-san-francisco-bike-lanes-transit/605674/

vii. Here is a Eugene citizen's initiative to close down street around Saturday Market when the market is open. Citizens for Car Free Community Fun https://cfcfcf.org. This type of action should be supported and allowed to go to fruition.

2. Reward the use of bicycling, walking and public transportation usage at the city level and lead by example. Require city employees to log their work-time travel (including air travel) and use this data to encourage and reward moving away from fossil fuel usage. There are websites such as https://getthereoregon.org (already used in a statewide campaign) to log miles and keep track of personal metrics. There would be little financial cost to implementing logging of miles since the website is already in place.

3. Create an incentive program for Eugene businesses (including city employees) that encourages and rewards employees for bicycling to work. Also there is a Federal Bike Credit (https://www.bikeleague.org/content/bicycle-commuter-benefit) that could reduce taxes of people who participate in bicycling to work.

4. Involve businesses in friendly competition to increase using alternative forms of transportation. This is what the Business Challenge does for 1-2 weeks only it should be sustained all year.

5. Restrict high schoolers from driving to school. On October 1, 2016, the total number of high school students enrolled in Eugene was 5263[4]. This action would encourage students to utilize alternate modes of transportation. If the city cannot legally restrict high school students from driving to school, then create economic incentives such as higher parking fees and free buses.

6. Grow riders-normalize youngsters bike riding so they choose bikes over cars when it's time for them to make their transportation choice through education such as in Safe Routes to School and well as providing bicycles to students in need. Create a campaign for positive peer pressure around normalizing bicycle usage and include bicycle education into the school curriculum.

7. Make riding buses free. Kansas City, MO recently did this: https://www.citylab.com/transportation/2019/12/free-transit-how-much-cost-kansas-city-bus-streetcar-fare/603397. There should be studies about the increases in ridership when fares are free.

8. Develop bike brigades for emergency response that could respond quickly to and be available in catastrophic emergency situations. Overlapping and multiple agency solutions could share the cost of implementation. This would concurrently address City of Eugene Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan in Appendix 5, Triple Bottom Line Actions with increasing and normalizing bicycle use.

9. On page 93 in Appendix 5, Eugene's Triple Bottom Line Actions, the category of "Parks program: City of Eugene and Lane County providing recreational activities throughout the area" gets low marks. To address this area of deficit, create bike paths with art value. Intriguing art on the bike paths would entice riders to ride to these installations and make the ride more enjoyable. Examples of treatment of bike paths on the web include Starry Night in the Netherlands where glow-in-the-dark shards are embedded into the bike path and light up at night. And the list of ideas is as vast as the imagination.

https://www.wnyc.org/story/in-a-dutch-town-a-glowing-bike-path-inspired-by-van-gogh/

10. We need more than just infrastructure- we need a massive PR campaign. People need to hear every day that Eugene is prioritizing and supporting bicycling, bussing, and walking as a climate solution. It needs to be an effort - as in wartimes – to publicize the urgency of our climate crisis. In conjunction, create a bicycling campaign using billboards, radio, TV, and newspapers ads. Target public meetings and any congregations to address this emergency and existential crisis. Perhaps an acknowledgement of this could be made at the beginning of every city staff meeting. See the following link for information on wartime emergency support efforts: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_home_front_during_World_War_II

11. An example message is "25 X 25" which means 25,000 riders by 2025, a reasonable goal in light of closing the GAP.

12. Rebates and monetary incentives were discussed in the CAP to encourage the use of electric vehicles and is applauded. There should also be the same or larger incentives for bicycles. Anyone who wants a bicycle for transportation should be subsidized if needed. Bicycle adoption has a greater cost effectiveness toward reducing greenhouse gases, and they are a socially equitable solution. They should be intensely promoted.

13. Give up your car campaign. Give incentives to not own a car. Incentives can be monetary or in the form of credits for renting electric cars when traveling distances too far to bike. This is another drastic measure but only radical reductions will move the needle of greenhouse gas emissions down to what the CRO mandates.

14. The use of electric cars for city business is great but the three wheeled PEBL, Micro Car Ebike is less expensive and has a place in the fleet of city vehicles for around town use. https://www.better.bike/

Let's make Eugene look like Amsterdam or Hanoi or Santiago where there are so many riders that it feels natural and safe. Let's create a slice of the future so cities throughout the country will be inspired.

The notion of converting to a bicycle transportation culture within the city is extremely radical. But these are times that warrant such bold actions otherwise we will continue down the road of business as usual, and that would be disastrous. There is certainly a place for the marvelous technology and scientific discoveries but we must use them wisely and leverage them for necessary and appropriate use, not frivolously. Go by bi

...............................................................................................................

[1] from US EPA, United States Environmental Protection Agency, https://www.epa.gov/greenvehicles/greenhouse-gas-emissions-typical-passenger-vehicle

[2] (pop. of Eugene) x (percentage of pop. using bikes instead of cars)= (number of cars replaced by bicycles); (number of cars replaced by bicycles)x (typical emissions of CO2/year/vehicle) = (reduction of CO2/year in metric tons)

[3] Eugene Climate Action Plan 2.0, page 39.

[4] from https://www.4j.lane.edu/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Enrollment-as-of-10.01.2017.pdf

July 16, 2019

Report on the Central Eugene In Motion Open House

by Tomoko Sekiguchi

This event, on July 10th, was an information gathering session put on by the city, concerning four areas of central Eugene:

1.) High St. and Pearl St. from 19th Ave to 5th Ave. — Both are currently 2 lane one-way streets, one going north and the other south.

2.) 8th Ave. from High St. to Lincoln St.

3.) a 5 block area centering around Oak St. and 19th Ave.

4.) Bike path connector approximately between Pearl and Willamette Streets.

The organizers laid out large maps and participants were instructed to mark on the map with areas of hazard and areas of opportunity, and descriptions of both. People had added comments objecting to a reduction in on-street parking, inconvenience of deliveries, alteration of garbage collection location, and the narrowing of car traffic to one lane. These comments seemed to come from the adjacent businesses who where invited to the event via hand delivered announcements.

The room was also filled with at least a dozen Climate Revolution Riders as well as other bicycle advocates. The demographic was mainly over 50. The younger generation was very scantly represented; it was a status quo kind of turn out. And at this crucial moment in the context of climate crisis, the younger generation should be loudly giving direction to the future of transportation planning. But there is still time to give input electronically at https://engage.eugene-or.gov until July 26th. Please give input and let them know you are a bicyclist.

Previous attempts to make these areas bike and pedestrian friendly were derailed by businesses in these area. Let’s not let that happen again. The city needs to know there is large public support of increased bike and pedestrian transportation ways.

June 16, 2019

First ride in Fifteen Years!

by Linda Heyl

I decided to join Eugene’s bike share program, PeaceHealth Rides. https://www.peacehealthrides.com

The online sign-up was easy. I watched some online safety videos at CyclingSavvy.com. https://cyclingsavvy.org Then I committed to joining the June ride with my peeps in Climate Revolutions by Bike. I decided I’d better hold myself accountable by telling my friend Cynthia about my intention – or I’d be more likely to find some excuse to avoid it.

So the day arrived. I had other kinda stressful stuff to get done before the ride at 2. And whoops, I’d forgotten my water bottle, so I popped by Down to Earth for a little $3 metal number. By 1:30, I had located where to pick up a bike (using the app). I checked the bike for flat tires, tapped in my account number and PIN, and ……yes indeed, it worked. I had my helmet on, and a bike in my hands.

Here’s what I want to tell you about my first minutes on a bike after 15 years. The bike itself is heavy, but it handles fine. I tend to weave around on the road, when I’m supposed to be staying to the right side. It feels strange not to have a seatbelt on! I almost forget to put my feet down on the ground when I came to a stop. I really like the upright sitting position of this bike!

Then I arrive at Monroe Park, where my friends are gathering. They’re surprised to see me, and so encouraging. I decide to stick towards the end of the pack, and I alert the “Sweeper”, who will be the last rider of the group, that I’m new to biking. He kindly reassures me. Then we’re “rolling”. I quickly learn there are calls used to alert riders to what’s happening – “Car up”, “Car back”, “Stopping”, “Ready to roll”, “Rolling” etc. I do best when I’m just concentrating on riding; when someone starts a conversation, I tend to take a hand off the handlebar or turn my head too far their way, and I wobble – big time.

It’s really, really fun! Riding along with others, bells brrrrinngging, people at Saturday Market clapping and waving. In no time, we’ve cycled the 5 mile loop and are back at Monroe Park. I’m pleased with myself, and all the stress of the morning is gone. I’m hot and tired, too. It all feels good, and doable.

I’m glad I went out with a supportive group first, instead of alone, because I would have been much more self-conscious by myself. My next goal is to use the bike again at least once a week during June, for transportation, not recreation. I’ll let you know how I fare in July!

https://www.peacehealthrides.com

June 2, 2019

Wait, what? Biking?? Me???!!!

by Linda Heyl

Ask me about biking, and I usually say “That’s not me”. Now, I do know how to make a bike go – I even once made a three week trip around the west and north of Ireland, and loved it. Except that it was under some duress from my current partner of the time, who could cycle 100 miles a day when he wanted to, whereas about 15 was my max. Maybe that intimidation is part of what makes me, at age 64, hesitant to think of myself as able to take up biking. Maybe it’s because the last time I was on a bike, in Venice Beach CA when my kids were small, I fell over and caused a pile-up; people were not happy. But if I’m honest, it’s most likely because I’ve gotten use to the convenience of a car.

I’m intentionally trying to get out of my car now – walking, taking the bus and car pooling more and more each month. Because the vital work of our time – mine, yours, everybody’s – is doing more and more to contribute to climate solutions. Biking added to walking and bus would be practical, giving me much more travel latitude for quick trips across town. But that means getting past the feelings that are holding me back. Well, here goes…..