By Lauryn Newson
In Eugene, Ore. biking has become a forefront in transportation due to environmental concerns, rising gas prices, and the cities motivation to create a better biking environment.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Eugene was recorded to have 7.3 percent of its community commute to work by way of bike. Thus, there are many efforts being made to encourage bicycle use.
The Center for Appropriate Transport non-profit organization is just one of many groups that is put in place to promote bicycling for transportation and recreational purposes.
CAT encompasses various biking programs that aids in the functionality of the bicycling community. For instance, Eugene Bicycle Works is an important entity within CAT that allows anyone and everyone to come in and repair their own bikes. With a selection of new and used parts as well as specialized tools, locals are able to utilize this workspace to become more knowledgeable and self-sufficient.
Greater Eugene Area Riders is also a non-profit organization that contributes to the movement for bicycle advocacy. GEARs Education is a sister organization to GEARs that provides classes for bicycle safety. Classes include Traffic Skills, Traffic Skills for Families, and Bicycle Commuting 101.
GEARs aims to raise the awareness of bicyclists and all utilize the roads in Eugene while simultaneously making strides to enhance bike culture.
Safety is a big concern amongst riders of all calibers and is a major priority throughout Oregon. Eugene has gone great lengths to accommodate bikers by improving roads and creating safe paths that will keep cyclists out of danger. Nonetheless, there is always room for improvement according to the implications of Measure 20-197.
Measure 20-197 will use bond proceeds to fix 74 lane miles of road as well as fund bicycle and pedestrian projects. The measure will accumulate $8 million in revenue annually. Out of that income, $516,000 will go to projects while the remainder will be used to fix damaged roads and pay bond issuance costs.
Willamette Street is currently in consideration in the Transportation Planning Office. General manager of Pedaler’s Express John Herberg felt as though 19th through 24th and Willamette easily works up the nerves of bicyclist with its absence of bicycle lanes. He believes that more people would bike if it were safer and easier for them to do so.
Funded by Measure 20-197, the city will repave Willamette Street from 19th to 24th avenues, which will open up an opportunity for bike lanes to be implemented and motor traffic to be reduced.
According to the city of Eugene, Eugene is home to: 42 miles of shared-use paths, 81 miles of on-street bicycle lanes, 35 miles of signed bikeways, and 5 bicycle/pedestrian bridges spanning the Willamette River, 2 bicycle/pedestrian bridges spanning major roads or highways.
With all of these improvements within the city, locals and businesses are becoming open to the idea of using bicycles as their main source of transportation.
Bikes have various purposes beyond means of human transportation. They can also transport goods in a cost efficient and eco friendly way.
Bikes and burritos is an outreach legacy at the Alpha Omega house on 13th and Kincaid that was started years ago by former student residents. Fueled by community service grants and donations from members at the First Baptist church, members of the AO house come together with all who are willing to participate and make burritos that are in turn carried and handed out by way of biking throughout Eugene.
In a city where the weather is infamously known to be wet and cold, most of the homeless society seeks shelter underneath overpasses and other covered areas throughout the city. Even though cars would undoubtedly make the Bikes and Burritos mission faster, bikes make it possible to reach those who are tucked into the crevices of the city.
It was four years ago when Keith Morreira left his hometown of Mill City, Ore. and took residency at the Alpha Omega house to attend the University of Oregon.
Driven by his Christian faith, Morreira makes it his duty to stand by those in need and give a helping hand the best way he can. After interpreting a scripture of the bible that he felt was telling him to support those in distress he stated, “I feel motivated to go out on bikes and burritos because Jesus calls us to serve as he served, and that is a major motivation for me.”
With a major in business and entrepreneurship, Morreira takes after his father who also has a passion for business. “He has an entrepreneurial soul and is always looking for the next adventure and the next thing that he can be apart of that he can manage, operate, own…” says Morreira as he spoke buoyantly about his father. From father to son, the quest for adventure is a trait that was inherently passed down to Morreira who is applying to the marines as a pilot. “I’m at a spot in my life where I’m really looking for an adventure and I think that being a military pilot will provide a lot of that adventure” he says. Bikes and Burritos kills two birds with one stone, as he is able to exercise good faith and take on adventure at the same time.
It was a frigid Monday night when the bikes and burritos squad road out to fulfill their mission. Blinding lights sported like headbands illuminated the route, bringing ghostly street décor back to life.
The sputter of bike chains and crunching of leaves under tires was the soundtrack for the night. The tune was suddenly broken by the protective bark of a pit bull that roamed around the settlement of four homeless men. “You guys hungry?” asked a member of the Bikes and Burritos group, despite the threat that the dog posed. “Hell yea!”, exclaimed one of the men.
That night, long conversations stemmed from the basic question “Are you hungry?” and ended in many thank you’s. For many of the conversations, Morreira waited patiently in the background, taking precaution, and chiming in only when need be.
“Keith is a little more quiet at times”, says housemate Elijah Greer. “But he’s a real confident and a rock sturdy type of guy” he continued on to say. His demeanor was well noted amongst his peers. They had respect for the discipline Morreira displayed that would hopefully land him in the cockpit of an army plane in the near future.
The journey continued on for hours and involved sliding down hills to reach people camped by the Willamette riverbank, climbing hills for those who preferred the crawl spaces wedged between the peak of a mound and an overpass, and stealth missions to leave burritos and a water bottle for those who were turned in for the night.
“I struggle with making sense out of the world without my faith” says Keith. He continued on to say, “I don’t understand how life can be in some ways so perfect and so beautiful and in other ways so awful and so ugly in some of the things we do to each other.”
Bikes and Burritos is Morreira’s personal way of putting a hint of beautiful back into Eugene’s community. “Their thanks and my effort, they don’t really equal each other. Their thanks is much greater than my effort”, he says with a serene smile on his face.
Morreira plans on graduating in Spring 2013, leaving Bikes and Burritos behind, for now. He hopes that one day he can come back to the Alpha Omega house and it will still be a thriving blessing to the community.
While this is a progressive way to deliver goods, Morreira is not the only putting forth the effort to serve his community by bike.
John Herberg, Manager of Eugene based Pedaler’s Express, is a loyal courier who feels as though pedaling is benefiting his community in more ways than one.
The Pedaler’s Express delivery service is a program that is embraced by the Center for Appropriate Transport. They aim protect the environment, promote healthy lifestyle, and provide customers with a cost-friendly and efficient delivery service.
Their diverse client base consists of 15 contracted customers where in which mail is delivered daily, seven regular customers who use the service on a regular basis, and seven magazine and newspaper distribution companies.
Herberg expressed that their service is popular amongst the locals of Eugene because it promotes a green lifestyle and offers services that are not impacted economically by inflation.
Oregon is known for a wet and rainy climate throughout the majority of the year. This can affect people’s attitude towards biking, but Pedaler’s Express adapts to the rain by using water sealed cargo bins and tarps to protect the items being transported. However, during the rainy season, nobody is exempt from the initial threat that the rain poses for riders. In addition to the challenge of the rain, the riders must also be weary of slippery leaves and sharp turns. Herberg explained that riders must find a balance between rushing and being careful.
According to Herberg, human health is directly correlated to environmental cleanliness. It is believed that carbon dioxide emissions from motorized vehicles are threatening the quality of our climate. A vast number of wars have stemmed from the dispute over natural resources, such as oil. Although bikes are made with fossil fuels, the amount is almost insignificant in comparison to what automobiles require. Thus, Herberg takes pride in being a part of a program that does not support the consumption of foreign fuels.
Edward Belden fell in love with ice cream when he began his first job working for Baskin Robbins Ice Cream Shop. He enjoyed the experience of serving a popular treat to the masses and seeing the joy on their faces.
In high school, Belden worked tirelessly collecting cans and fulfilling other odd jobs in order to purchase his first trike, which he still uses to serve his customers today.
Peddler’s Creamery is a tricycle-powered business that serves vegan and non-vegan organic ice cream to the people of Los Angeles. Even though bicycle creameries are not unique to the LA area, Belden explains that Peddler’s Creamy is indeed different from the rest.
Churned ice cream that is powered by the peddling motion of the rider, gives Peddler’s Creamery a unique edge over their competition. Along with this innovative idea, Belden also gains the attention through his bold flavors such as Thai iced tea, chocolate coconut peanut butter, and apple and cheddar pie.
Not only does Peddler’s Creamery aim to serve their customers imaginative flavors, Belden finds it very important to give a portion of his profit to social and environmental causes. He stressed the use of sustainable and fair-trade ingredients in his products in order to demote exploitation and harm to the environment.
Belden is still seeking the support from outside investors in order to kick-start Peddler’s Creamery. Along with more peddlers, Belden is planning to use investments to open a stationary ice creamery which will be accessible to his customers at all times.