Bike lanes on S. Willamette: 'For 4 decades we haven't gotten to it'

Bike lanes on S. Willamette: 'For 4 decades we haven't gotten to it'

EUGENE, Ore. - Bike riders have to take their chances on the street or come barreling down the sidewalks on Willamette Street between 19th and 24th avenues.

City planners think it's time for another idea: bike lanes.

"We have a policy for multi-modal transportation, and this is something that's been in our plan since the '70s and for 4 decades we haven't gotten around to doing it," said Reed Dunbar, associate transportation planner.

Plans are for a bike lanes southbound and northbound in that 5 block stretch as part of a summer paving program. 

That means more than 35 parking spots would have to go.

The chair of the Friendly Area Neighbors knows that will be controversial.

"Anything that we can do to help the businesses and to help the city to meet its mandate to the state, we'll support that," said Carlos Barrera.

Barrera thinks the bike lanes will fit, even past Civic Stadium where it's a little tight.

"But that probably will not be a major problem for bicyclists," he said. "Ii think that it probably will work to do that."

Another change will be the safety island on 20th that's kind of shaped like a pork chop. The chunk of concrete will be coming out when the paving begins. In its place will be what planners call "a pedestrian refuge."

The refuge "would allow them to cross half of the street and then dwell on that island and then cross the other half which they don't have now," Dunbar said.

Still, some neighbors have no use for the half million dollar project.

"We've never had traffic, we still don't have much traffic back up here," said Dick Griggs, who lives near Willamette Street, "but we will soon as they narrow the lanes. That's bad."