Local bicycle group calls for safer, more inclusive roads
MEDFORD, Ore. —
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 bike club. "So what we're doing today is good but it's not really working."
Roberts says experienced bikers 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 one of these cars to cause serious injury to a biker. These unprotected bike lanes are the most common type but they're not the only type that exist to give bikers more accessibility in a city.
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.
These kinds of solutions have been explored 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 bike infrastructure, and Brinkley says they don't always have the space to add it to existing streets.
But 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 for people of different ages and abilities to use.