Local bicycle group calls for safer, more inclusive roads

(KTVL/Georgia Lawson)

While driving down some of the major roads in town, you're likely to see a bike lane along the side of the road.

The intention of these lanes is to give bicyclists access to the same routes as cars, but that access doesn't always translate into use.

"We have spent a lot of money over the years putting in bicycle lanes, but it hasn't really increased the bicycle ridership over the last ten years or so. It still remains at 1 to 2 percent," says Jeff Roberts, web master and board member for Siskiyou Velo, a local bicycle club and advocacy group. "So what we're doing today is good but it's not really working."

Roberts says experienced bicyclists may not have a problem with these bike lanes, but most others don't feel safe biking next to fast moving vehicles.

All it takes is a swerve of a car to cause serious injury to a biker. Unprotected bike lanes are the most common type in Medford, but they're not the only means by which a city can offer more access to bicyclists.

Siskiyou Velo advocates for alternatives that allow children, seniors, and other more vulnerable groups to get out and bike.

"Other cities have created a bicycle boulevard or a separated bicycle lane when traffic is too high. Those kinds of solutions can help everybody get out and feel okay biking," Roberts says.

While Medford has yet to invest in these kinds of solutions, they have been discussed at the city level.

"Providing facilities for bicycles and pedestrians is something that we have to do according to state law, and something that we want to do because we want to provide adequate facilities for different modes of transportation," says Matt Brinkley, Planning Director for the City of Medford.

There is a cost associated with providing bicycle infrastructure, and Brinkley says they don't always have the space to add it to existing streets. However, Roberts hopes that bicycle transport will start to become a priority, not an afterthought, in all city planning.

That means thinking ahead of time about the major routes people take and designing a continuous bike path that is safe to use for people of different ages and abilities.

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