transportation

Bikers Take Over for Sunday Streets

9-21 BIKESEUGENE, Ore. — Thousands of residents used nothing but foot-powered transportation Sunday.

Eugene Sunday Streets returned for its second event of the summer, this time in the Harlow neighborhood. Organizers say they hope the free community event inspires people to use other modes of transportation besides driving.

“We’re trying to help our community see that there are other ways to get around other than driving alone. So, showing people you can walk, and you can bike as a form of transportation. Not only is it fun, but it’s convenient, it costs less than driving and it helps you stay healthy,” says Lindsay Selser with the City of Eugene.

City representatives say they are already planing for next year, which will make the event’s fifth year.

Mass Transit Ridership Up in US

ltdEUGENE, Ore. — Mass transit was more popular in 2013 than is has been in 57 years, according to the American Public Transportation Association.

In a report released Monday, APTA said 10.7 billion trips were taken using mass transportation last year.

Locally, LTD says their overall ridership numbers have stayed pretty flat the last few years, but they say EmX ridership has risen about two to three percent each year since its establishment.

They say cutbacks during the recession made numbers stagnant, but things are starting to look up.

“We are excited for the first time this year to be looking at adding some services back,” said Andy Vobora, LTD’s Director of Marketing. “Customers should be seeing some new service starting this summer and in the fall. So, that should help that ridership number getting back up in the positive direction,” said Vobora.

LTD says some of the new services will include running buses on four additional holidays, and extending evening hours on a few routes.

Falling Sky Delicatessen Will Now Offer Bicycle Delivery

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That pastrami sandwich you’ve been craving can now be delivered to your door by an eco-friendly bike courier.

Falling Sky Delicatessen, has partnered with the Cascadian Courier Collective to deliver food every day from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. according to a release.

“I think it expands our customer base,” Falling Sky Owner Rob Cohen said, “because a lot of people can’t get out or don’t want to go out.

Cohen said the entire food menu will be available for delivery, but the law prohibits beer deliveries.

Lucas Strain, founder and co-owner of the Cascadian Courier Collective, said Falling Sky delivery will cost $2 for customers in the Whitaker neighborhood, downtown Eugene, and the University of Oregon Campus. Strain said the prices will increase as the deliveries get further from the $2 zone.

“It might cost a little more,” Strain said, “but we’ll go anywhere in town.”

Falling Sky Delicatessen is a second location of Falling Sky Brewing. The delicatessen makes, bakes, cures, pickles, brines and smokes everything from scratch.

Strain said there are three regular couriers delivering Falling Sky Delicatessen.

Falling Sky Delicatessen is located at 790 Blair Boulevard. To place an order call: 541-653-9167

 

 

Zimride creates rideshare network for LCC commuters

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Sarah Nicholson, EDN

LCC goes zimride

“Carpooling has always been a viable means of transportation,” says Paul J. Thompson, Account Manager at Zimride, “but it hasn’t always been very popular.”

What it lacks, he notes, is a critical mass of users. This is exactly what Zimride, a new social networking tool for ridesharing, aims to change.

By providing a platform that Thompson describes as a “virtual carpool bulletin board for the 21st century,” Zimride connects users in order to make carpooling an exciting and feasible option. In its partnerships with over 120 colleges and organizations, Zimride has now joined with Lane Community College to ease the commuter school’s tremendous transportation burden.

Carpooling got a heavy push during the 1973 oil crisis.

More than four years ago, Zimride’s two co-founders were moving separately towards the same goal of creating a rideshare network on two different sides of the country.

With a background in hotel management at Cornell University, co-founder John Zimmer was inspired by a course called “Green Cities,” and was interested in finding community solutions to environmental issues.

Co-founder Logan Green was busy on the opposite coast, where his background in transportation and web development had inspired him to start a car share program at UC Santa Barbara. Once the two linked up, ideas and energies were combined and Zimride was born.

Although it may appear that Zimride’s name is connected to co-founder Zimmer, the inspiration for its title came from elsewhere. While on a trip to Zimbabwe, Green was both inspired and frustrated by the efficiency of transportation in a third world country where technology is a far cry from what’s available here in the United States. Observing this phenomenon, Green was motivated to form a more efficient transportation system by using technology and social networking to link drivers together. Now, four years later, Zimride has zeroed in on college, university and corporate communities to create viable and convenient rideshare networks.

LCC’s use of Zimride was an idea initiated by Mario Parker Milligan, the school’s student body president, in response  to the college’s growing student body, full parking lots and mile-long lineups at LCC’s exit off the I-5.  Funds for Zimride come out of the Student Transportation Fee, which is currently a $27 fee paid by students each term.

Launched on September 22, the program already has 919 members with a total of 495 rides posted, which include one-time trips and regular commutes.

Currently administered by LCC’s Brian Kelly, Dean of the Division of Conference and Culinary Services, together with Helen Garrett, Executive Dean of Student Affairs, the adoption of Zimride has been well-received.

“Students think this is a great resource,” said Kelly. “They also enjoy the link to Facebook and the flexibility of the service.”

When I log onto my Zimride account, I can create a customized commute schedule for my trips to and from Lane, as well as any other trips I plan to take. I can identify whether I am a driver, passenger, or both, I can include a picture, car type, smoking preference and music preference, as well as link to my Facebook page.  

Zimride then shows me my ride “matches,” posted by users who have matching commute times or similar locations, and allows me to search amongst the users to find a good fit. A map appears on the upper right portion of the screen, plotting out my route along with the starting and ending locations of the rides I am viewing. Zimride ensures user safety by protecting personal addresses, and lists starting points only as the nearest crossroad.

Zimride’s Paul Thompson usually handles accounts in other regions, but as an Oregon native and graduate of University of Oregon, he has a special interest in setting up the platforms at LCC and UO.  The numbers so far have been positive feedback for the platform at Lane. In addition to the number of users and the number of rides posted, the average number of potential matches per ride is a real indicator of the “health of the platform,” as Thompson calls it.  In general, Thompson says, Zimride shoots to have an average of five to 10 matches per post in the first six months. At Lane, there are an average of 37 matches per post, a good sign that Zimride can provide a long-term solution to transportation troubles at the commuter campus.  

LCC’s Kelly is also excited about the success of the program.

“The interface is very well designed, intuitive and user-friendly.”  Kelly’s hope is that more people will rideshare and use LTD so that LCC can avoid building more parking lots.

Thompson shared excitement about future prospects for Zimride, with exciting changes happening in the coming months.

After the initial successful launch of UO’s platform (which happened this week), the two platforms will be able to link through a trusted partnership to create a larger ride pool. 

Zimride will also be offering a mobile offering in the near future, as well as other incremental changes that will help people find rides and ways to coordinate.

As word gets out and rideshare efforts grow, perhaps that “critical mass” will be reached to propel carpooling forward as an effective and sustainable means of transportation.

The Riverbank Pathway Extends to The Santa Clara Neighborhood

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Fresh Pavement Where The Riverbank Path Now Splits

 Kevin Baird, EDN

One of Eugene’s finest amenities are the wide concrete pathways that hug the Willamette River. Whether you’re commuting to work, going bird-watching, running to get in shape, or going to your favorite swimming hole, the Riverbank pathway provides a fun and efficient way to get around town.  The pathway isn’t convenient for everybody though, getting there can be difficult and sometimes dangerous.

The residents of the Santa Clara neighborhood, which is north of the Beltline Highway, have to cross a congested stretch of River Road to reach the river path. This summer the City of Eugene is extending the western Riverbank Path to the Santa Clara neighborhood, so users of the pathway can safely bypass the often dangerous crossings on River Road.

River Rd Can Be Hard To Navigate On A Bicycle

Lee Shoemaker, the Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator with the city of Eugene, explained the conflict between bicyclists and cars on River Road:

“If you’re riding on a bike, at every driveway and every intersection there’s a potential conflict. Cars come across bike lanes to enter and leave parking lots and businesses. There’s a lot of driveways on River Road, and speeds are relatively high as compared to some other streets.”

Currently the river trail veers away from the Willamette approximately 850 feet south of the Beltline highway, and then it comes to an end at the River Avenue exit.  The 1.6 million dollar project, which has received funding from a federal transportation enhancement grant, will be completed in September. The construction project will extend the pathway further along the banks of the Willamette River until it goes under the Beltline Highway overpass. From there the pathway will follow Division Avenue to Beaver Street. This will provide a new, safer and more convenient jumping off point for users of the Riverbank trail system.

Construction Will Be Finished in September

Shoemaker also said,  “We hear from people on a regular basis about wanting better walking and biking options in that neighborhood so people can avoid having to go out on a very busy River Road. They would like to experience the Riverpath system just like the rest of the residents (of Eugene).”

The completion of this project will give Santa Clara residents the experience they’ve been hankering for.

 

Envision Eugene – The Bicycle Masterplan

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EUGENE– Eugene is 1 of only 10 cities in America that has achieved gold-level status as a Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists and over 10% of us regularly ride our bicycles to work. So what does that have to do with Urban Growth Boundaries? Well since the 1970s Oregon has been one of the only states in the nation (in fact one of the few places in the world) to require its cities to have Urban Growth Boundaries. It was Governor Tom McCall who famously told Californians, “Come visit us again and again… But for heaven’s sake, don’t come here to live,” and convinced the Oregon legislature to adopt strict UGBs that have kept our state from turning into one long strip mall along I-5.

Well urban sprawl has seeped into our periphery… and attempts to stem the tide are ramping up with leftover stimulus money. Part of the state’s UGB law requires each city to have a 20-year plan for managing the land within their boundary in regards to housing, industrial, businesses, etc. Thus the City Council has implemented its latest project Envision Eugene. EE is our city’s plan for how to deal with the projected 15% increase in population (nearly 50,000 more citizens) over the next two decades, pursuant to Oregon law. The plan is an interactive project that includes town hall meetings, online feedback, and online transparency in the process.

One of the goals of the project is to double the amount of bicycle and pedestrian traffic in the city in the next five years– mainly by making significant improvements and additions to existing multi-use paths and bike lanes. Basically- with the price of gas skyrocketing again, Eugene wants to make sure we have the infrastructure for a transition toward a more bicycle-based community. The city, in turn, has created the Eugene Transportation System Plan (TSP) as an extension of the Envision Eugene project that deals specifically with transportation.

“Promote Compact Urban Development and Efficient Transportation Options.” Legalese for giving up the gas. Whether or not we like it, the price of gasoline is sky-rocketing, and it’s not even April… I have nightmares where I’m forced to pay over $5 a gallon this summer… So, thanks to some loving family, I’ve secured myself about the best loaner-bike you can get- and can’t wait to blaze new bike paths out here in my neck of the woods. One of the plans includes continuing the path along the Willamette, past Beltline, around the golf course, and up the MacKenzie River to Armitage Park. How cool is that? We’ll be able to ride from Valley River, all the way out to Springfield past Autzen, over the bridge, then back down river all the way around the horn and up to Armitage, then straight down Coburg to home!

The North River extension is only part of the 116 miles of extra multi-use path the city is proposing to lay over the next few years. Altogether the draft calls for many new neighborhood bike-friendly connections (such as 18th & Willamette), new pedestrian, and bike bridges. The Eugene Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan was borne out of need for a better infrastructure to build our transportation options for the immediate future. With the push toward reducing carbon emissions and cutting our reliance on fossil fuels, our city is making it easy for us to hang up the keys more and more.

When I escaped from Salem in 1998, I had already been riding a bike as long as I could remember. For a year or two before I moved I tried living as simply as possible, including riding a bicycle for my day-to-day transportation in town. Let me tell you, growing up riding those streets and sidewalks, Eugene is Mecca for anybody who prefers 2 wheels to 4. Salem has almost no commitment to providing alternative transportation systems other than their buses, which are barely better than LTD. In my first few years of Eugene I was a walker. I lived on campus for a year, then downtown for another, so it was easy to catch a bus and/or walk around town (even though I had to lug a huge “CD player” around).

Public hearings have been very successful in coordinating efforts to help Envision Eugene’s proposals get pushed through. An open house March 3rd provided officials with public feedback, and final draft conclusions for the entire project were presented at the City Club of Eugene last Friday. More public hearings are set to happen April 4th at the Downtown Library from 3-6 pm; and April 25th in City Council Chambers (777 Pearl) at 7:30 pm… the first meeting being a question and answer period, while the second being a hearing on the draft proposal.