The City of Eugene prioritizes safety
Municipal efforts on behalf of cyclists and pedestriansBy PATRICK McCAULLY
The city of Eugene has long been a leader in sustainable commuting methods and bicycle initiatives. Beginning in the 1970s, Eugene has had various strategic plans and committees in place to help guide city policy on bicycle use and cyclists. Recently, in 2008, the city restructured its bicycle committee to include pedestrian issues. The Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) is the most recent incarnation of the longstanding program, and it continues to work to provide safe and functional paths for both cyclists and pedestrians within the city limits.
In 1970, Eugene created its first bicycle committee and by 1972 it had committed to $30,000 worth of bike path construction. This funding was used to create the bike path systems that run on both sides of the Willamette River on the north side of downtown.
Today, Eugene has 30 miles of off-street bike paths in addition to 89 miles of on-street bike lanes. In addition to promoting safety through community events and information distribution, BPAC collaborates with the Office of Public Works and members of the University of Oregon community to investigate and promote safety for both cyclists and pedestrians.
Some of the major safety initiatives that the city pursues are the leaf collection and street sweeping programs. Administered by the same individuals within the Public Works office, leaf collection only takes place during the fall when some 16,000 cubic yards of leaves are collected by the city and distributed to citizens who request mulch and composting materials. Conversely, the street sweeping program is in place year round.
While the street sweeping program was initially suggested and funded as a method of reducing water pollution, it has since grown to include a prioritization system for highly used arterial or collector streets with designated bike lanes. Twenty-five miles of roads within the city were established as having a need for greater regularity of attention by cleaning crews. These particular miles were selected by the Public Works office in conjunction with the advice of members of BPAC. Each of these streets is cleaned at least once a week, while lightly used neighborhood streets are cleaned about once a month.
On the current Public Works Department homepage, three icon links at the bottom of the page are designed for citizens to quickly interface with the city and report problem areas. Whether residents would like to report a pothole or debris in a bike lane, or simply find out when the next scheduled street-sweeping will be for a specific address, the site has been designed to quickly and efficiently point people in the right direction.
For more information about the outreach programs and initiatives of the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee and the City of Eugene Public Works Department, please visit the website.