Bicyclists approve ballot measure to fix Eugene streets

Bicycles locked at the Public Safety Department on the University of Oregon campus in Eugene, Ore. (Photo by Nicholas Filipas)

Measure 20-197 could give new life to nearly 74 lane miles of Eugene streets

By Nicholas Filipas

J361 Reporter

A majority of topics that are discussed during the Presidential elections between President Barack Obama and former governor Mitt Romney tend to focus on issues such as our nation’s debt, the fragile economy, foreign affairs with Iran and Syria and the war in Afghanistan.

While these are still important to our nation as a whole, many feel more like local issues need to have their time in the spotlight, and this 2012 election year could have an impact here in Eugene concerning bicyclists and improvements on the roads where they ride.

Voters this year in Lane County are being asked to vote in November on  ballot measure 20-197 that aims at fixing Eugene’s streets and fund bicycle and pedestrian projects using $43 million in bonds collected by the city. The ballot also says the measure would generate roughly $8 million annually plus inflation for five years.

An annual average of $516,000 would be used to support bicycle and pedestrian projects and rest to be used to fix streets. No bond money could be used motor vehicle capacity of street systems in the city.

This would mean cyclists would see approximately 74 lane miles of roads fixed so those nagging potholes would disappear. In a recent survey done by of the most bike-friendly cities across America, the City of Eugene came in 9th place out of 50 cities.

The City of Portland came in first place for achieving Platinum status and 180 miles of bike lanes and 79 miles of off-street bike paths. Salem was the other Oregon city to rank in the top 25 and took the 22nd spot.

Riders like Ellen Stember embrace the idea of smoother roads, “I think that’d be awesome,” Stember said, “Eugene has a lot of potholes and when they just re-did 18th [avenue], it was finally like I’m not jumping around the whole entire way.”

This measure is being well received from full-time cyclists like Stember and University of Oregon students Andrew Deichler and Branden Jensen who like Stember use bikes as their main mode of transportation.

“With the increasing number of students, being more bike friendly would be nice.” said Deichler about the impact of the measure.

Aside from the local politics, major national issues are still important to those voting on November 6th.

“I wish they talked more about medicated Medicare,” Stember said, “that is something that every single time it gets brought up it gets the whole debate and gets taken over. I’ve noticed both the candidates avoid answering that question because it’s long and complicated and no one wants to talk about the state of Medicare and our entitlements.”

Students like Deichler are more concerned about the future and security of jobs as well as Middle East relations while Jensen hasn’t followed much of the debates and political coverage.

“I think they are all assholes” Jensen said.

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