Wednesday, April 16, 2008

BPAC April Recap

It is my intention - since the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee's website here in Medford is so darn hard to find and not really updated all that often - to post the monthly recap here on the blog, so folks who are interested in what we're doing in Medford to improve or at least defend cycling and walking can check in and see what's up.

First up this month, we had a recap of our ongoing issues. There's a couple of pet projects involved here, so this frequently takes a bit of time. The first it sidewalks, bike facilities and lighting in the area of Washington Elementary School on Dakota and Peach. Apparently it's a rather dark neighborhood and it could do very well with some lighting.

One of the other issues down that way is that Washington Elementary is just kitty-cornered from Union Park, which residents of Medford will probably remember is the site of the "Take Back the Park" movement. Gang activity in that area is quite heavy, and it seems to congregate in those couple blocks, especially in the parks and playgrounds around there. I whole-heartedly agree that the lighting needs of that neighborhood need to be addressed.

Another ongoing issue is one of my pet projects - people parking in the bike lanes on Jackson Street in front of Hendrick Middle school. Mothers drive up in their Suburban Assault Vehicles and pull up to the curb, throw it in park, and idle. Alternatively, they shut off the engine. Now, Medford code permits parking in a bike lane "momentarily," but apparently the city attorney doesn't want to get into what "momentarily" actually means. At this point, they're "momentarily" parking in the bike lane for up to 20 minutes. On top of that, they're doing it on the other side of the road, too, which narrows traffic to a single lane. Basically, you have to drive over the center line to get past all the giant SAV's. As a cyclist, that also means your chances of being hit head on by Ms. Soccer Mom's giant Excursion or Escolade increases by a factor of 10, especially since you're coming out into the middle of the lane from the bike lane who's view is obscured by another Escolade. It makes riding predictably very, very tricky.

Add to that the fact that there are all these giant 7-10' tall vehicles parked on both sides of the road, meaning some of the middle schoolers WILL have to cross the street to get to mom's SUV of Death. Last time I checked, middle schoolers are about 4-5' tall. It creates this great big nasty hazard. We've been informed that it's a "perceived" hazard as opposed to an actual hazard. The crosswalks in Ashland were a perceived hazard until just recently when a student was struck and killed in one. The difference between a perceived hazard and an actual hazard is apparently that one has a body count while one doesn't. So, it's not an actual hazard until little Johnny gets flattened by Mrs. Smith in her jacked-up V10 H2, because she's doing her makeup and talking with little Sally in the back seat instead of paying attention to where she's going.

Next up was a review of a new development planned at the intersection of Harbrooke and Stanford, just south of the Masons Lodge and the Fire Station off Barnett and North Phoenix. I'm actually impressed with this development going in. It has a definite community feel that is missing in most towns nowadays. The only part I'm unhappy about is that you have to cross a whole lot of busy streets to get anywhere of import down there. I'd really like someone to put together a development that more seamlessly meshes commercial and residential with good transit options, thereby creating a definitely livable place.

Past that, we reviewed "An Inconvenient Ride" which will be coming through on Saturday. We're inviting the county commissioners and the Siskiyou Velo, and Alex from Rogue Cycle Sport will be providing bikes for everyone to use.

I also took the lead in starting to develop motorist-bicycle cooperation Public Service Announcements. We'll see how that pans out in future months.

If you have any questions about the committee and what we've got going on, feel free to attend a meeting. All meetings are at 5:15 at the Laussman Annex just past City Hall on Holly St. Or check out the website here.

Remember, ride predictably, and ride assertively.