Thursday, March 3, 2011

Where My Little Ones Will Ride

 My kids just continue to grow up lately.  Isn't it funny how that happens?  You think that you've got age 2 1/2 all figured out -- just how to finesse a reluctant visit to the potty chair, or how to help someone take a deep breath at the end of a tantrum...and then everything changes again.

We are thinking about kindergarten for Big next fall, since he'll turn five in June.  (Five!  I can't believe it.)  Transportation has figured heavily into our discussions.  As I map out some of the possible routes to school and consider the conditions we might be cycling in (dark, early mornings, with impatient auto traffic), I find myself wishing for little improvements.  I'd like to see our gold-rated cycling city transformed into the kind of place where I'll feel comfortable letting my sons ride their bikes around town on their own once they are a little older.

What if our bike boulevards looked a little more like Portland's neighborhood greenways?  I'm sure that anyone who has ridden a bike down 15th Ave has wished that the city would change the orientation of a few stop signs so that it's easier to get across some of those busy north-south streets.  And some serious traffic calming efforts would make places like Monroe friendlier for kids and families on bikes.  (I occasionally see one of my former students, now a teenager, riding his bike along the sidewalk on Monroe.  We can teach people over and over that it's safer to ride in the streets, but younger and less confident cyclists will continue to ride on sidewalks until we offer them alternatives that really feel safe.)

Cycle tracks, pedestrian refuge islands, path connections -- I want the city to know how I think Eugene could help families like mine get around better on bikes or on foot.  And I want to learn more about what my neighbors in other parts of the city need, too.   If you'd like to help Eugene grow up a little, join us at the Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan Open House tonight.  It's a drop-in event at Saint Mary's Catholic Church, downtown by the library and the transit center.  See you there, sometime between 4-7 pm.

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