Thursday, March 26, 2015

Ashland, Oregon: Bike lane connectivity through downtown

White-against-green roadway sign displaying a bicycle in profile above the caption, 'Bike Route.'

Fliers about a proposal to connect existing bike lanes through downtown Ashland, Oregon have been taped up next to bicycle parking racks at locations around town. A meeting has been scheduled to inform the bicycle-riding public about the proposed “East Main" project.

The meeting, co-sponsored by Ashland Public Works and the Siskiyou Velo bicycle club, takes place from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. April 8 at the Grove, 1195 E. Main St. in Ashland. Attendees can learn and offer feedback on a proposal to connect existing bicycle lanes on North Main Street and Siskiyou Boulevard.
“That’s right. The City is beginning the process to provide connectivity through Downtown Ashland. If constructed, people riding bicycles could travel from the City’s north and south boundaries on dedicated bike lanes.”
For this commuting cyclist, the proposed “East Main project” can’t happen soon enough. For several blocks of southbound travel through downtown Ashland, there is no dedicated bike lane. There are, however, two and even three lanes of travel and curbside parking for cars.

I don’t feel safe pedaling on East Main Street through Ashland’s downtown: not when motorists who already have two outside lanes at their disposal still indulge a willingness to crowd past me in the far-right lane. Mere inches separate me from moving cars on one side and parked cars on the other.

Northbound travel is marginally better on Lithia Way through the downtown. I can travel a few additional blocks before I lose the dedicated lane. It’s replaced by a “sharrow,” the double-arrow-above-bicycle roadway marking that indicates motorists must “share the road” with cyclists.

The sharrow’s location coincides with a traffic merge from two into one lane of travel: the same lane in which I have to count on motorists doing the right thing and sharing the road.

Dedicated lanes won’t solve the problem of motorists cutting in front of cyclists, of treating bike lanes like parking spaces or right-hand turn lanes for cars. But they will, at least, provide physical space for cyclists and a reminder that we all must “share the road.”

The meeting will begin with Ashland Public Works Director Mike Faught sharing details about the proposal. “Following the presentation, participants will be asked to provide feedback on the proposed East Main project by using a workshop style process that divides participants into small groups. This will also help inform the City on what cyclists think!”

Siskiyou Velo is urging local cyclists to “Please plan to attend. We really need to show the City, by a large turn-out, that people who ride bicycles are committed to improving cycling and the infrastructure that supports our passion.”

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