Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Encouraging Bike Commute

I'd consider my new bike commute as a report card on how well our city accomodates bicycles. I'm working at a new job, teaching kickboxing at our karate dojo which is in the next town over, about 11 miles from here. So far I've been commuting by bike most days. It's really a terrific commute, which takes about 45 minutes each way on my around-town commuter bike. There is not a single block of the journey that I'm on a street without some sort of cycling accomodation, which is very encouraging as a bike commuter.

First, I start out on a street that's marked as a bike-friendly street. Around town they're delineated by green destination signs and these painted symbols on the street. They're generally low-traffic streets in which biking is encouraged and driving discouraged. In some cases, they have restricted entry to cars or speed bumps to discourage through-travel by cars.

After three miles on that street, I enter the riverfront bike path. Most of my commute is along this path, which winds along the Willamette river for miles on either side. This path connects the two cities of Eugene and Springfield.

Five miles down the bike path, I turn north onto a series of low-traffic streets with designated bike lanes. A new roundabout on one of the streets has a terrific bike accommodation to make it safer for cyclists. Eventually I end up on a new bike path that parallels I-5, and crossing over the freeway on a new cycling-only suspension bridge. This is one of two bike-and-pedestrian-only bridges that I cross on my commute. Our city has invested heavily in making sure cyclists and pedestrians can cross rivers and freeways easily and safely, and this makes my commute much more enjoyable.

The last part of my commute is about one mile on a high traffic street. It's the least enjoyable bit of the whole trip, but I have a good bike lane to travel in, and all of the drivers so far have been exceedingly courteous, yielding to me even when they have the right of way.

All in all, you can see how over the years the accommodations that my city has put into place to make cycling safer, easier, and more convenient have all added up to make it possible for me to commute to my job by bike. All of these changes did not occur overnight, or even in the same decade. It might be a bike lane here, a path there, a bridge here, a traffic change there. But when a city commits to making cycling a priority, you eventually end up with a network of paths, lanes, and streets that make commuting by bike an option that more and more people will choose. And that's to all of our benefit.


Thirty-Six Ten said...

How wonderful and lucky you are! Don't take that for granted. We live in a community that just trying to walk can become hazardous. No sidewalks, busy streets, etc.

Walt said...

Glad to hear that you have such a nice network. Can you describe what the accomodation on the roundabout is? I'm interested in both roundabouts and cycling advocacy, so if you think it works well I'd like to know what they've done there.

Robin said...

The roundabout has a system where the bike lane goes up a ramp onto the sidewalk, which makes a larger ring than the roundabout. There are crossings where cars are entering the roundabout, but at that point it's easier to see them coming than if you're inside the roundabout itself. On the other side, you have a ramp that leads back down to the bike lane. I'll try to take a photo of it to share. In general I think roundabouts are not as bike-friendly as intersections. This makes it more like an intersection for bikes and pedestrians, but a roundabout for cars. At least it improves it somewhat.