Eugene will study a redesign of 13th Avenue by University of Oregon students when it considers changes for the roadway in the months ahead, a city official said recently.
The news capped an open house on the redesign held May 28 by LiveMove, an interdisciplinary student group that spent the academic year rethinking the corridor for safety and access.
Under the LiveMove ByDesign project, students studied 13th Avenue between downtown and campus, seeking to improve safety and access for bicyclists, motorists and others. They tracked transportation and parking behaviors and incorporated case studies from across the globe to reconsider traffic flow, lane spacing, parking and other concerns.
“A major demographic shift is taking place whereby fewer vehicle miles are being driven, rates of drivers’ licenses are going down and the next generation increasingly prefers places where many daily trips can be made by foot, bike or bus,” said Joe McAndrew, LiveMove president. “We still value automobile access, but we also want the same level of safety, directness and comfort for people on bike and foot. 13th is a major connector between campus and downtown and our effort is to create a signature corridor to spur additional economic development, create safe and direct two-way bicycle access and to catalyze a renaissance that can help meet many community and university goals.”
With the Capstone housing project at 13th and Olive Street promising to draw 1,200 university students this fall, the corridor will see a rush of additional people making their way eastbound to campus by bus, bike, foot or car. The avenue is already home to the highest number of daily bicyclists in the region, LiveMove said.
That’s created a potentially dangerous situation, given these students also need to go home at the end of the day – and many use 13th to head west, against the flow of traffic on this one-way street. A recent survey showed that 39 percent of bicyclists rode 13th illegally at Patterson Street in the evening, LiveMove said.
The LiveMove proposal calls for a two-way bikeway alongside the one-way car traffic on 13th – a common model in many cities, but fairly unusual in Eugene. Case studies show that bikes are good for business – cyclists are more likely than motorists to stop and spend money, McAndrew said.
The student proposal would also eliminate one of two turning lanes from eastbound 13th to northbound Hilyard, historically a dangerous intersection for pedestrians.
Dave Amos, co-project manager along with McAndrew, said that because the redesign project was student-initiated and student-run, there was the freedom to think big.
“Students can propose something boldly and get people talking,” Amos said. “We want to hear input from the business community and everybody else. We’re hoping the city will give this some consideration.”
Rob Inerfeld, city Transportation Planning Manager, attended the open house and said the city will consider the student redesign in a previously planned review of the 13th Avenue corridor.
“We really appreciate all of the work LiveMove put into this project,” Inerfeld said. “We’re going to take a close look at it.”
In its review of the corridor, the city will consider how changes would affect the level of service that the roadway provides.
City Traffic Engineer Thomas Larsen, also in attendance at the open house, said the students completed a “thorough analysis” of 13th Avenue but the city must also consider whether neighboring streets would best address problems in the area.
LiveMove brings together undergraduate and graduate students from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines to focus on the planning and design of transportation systems as they relate to community quality of life and livability. Students from Planning Public Policy & Management, Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Geography and other majors volunteered time and also earned credit during the year-long project.
“This is not an academic exercise on our part – we really want to see some fresh ideas put into action,” said Molly Bacon, of LiveMove. “We realize that many of us will never see the fruits of our labor as we will graduate and move on. But we passionately want to leave something behind for those students who come after us and for the greater Eugene community as a whole.”
- story and photo by Matt Cooper, UO Office of Strategic Communications