The Roseburg city staff made a good decision when it pulled back a proposal to declare the city’s bike lanes safe.
We wish the bike lanes were safer and more prevalent around town, but until they are, it would be wrong for the city to make such a claim.
We can see the reasons why they’d want to do so — a law requires cities to declare their bike lanes safe before they can ticket cyclists for riding outside the lanes. The Roseburg Police Department is hampered in its efforts to educate cyclists about the rules of the road if citations aren’t an option.
That’s too bad because it’s really dangerous when bicyclists ride against the traffic on the wrong side of the road — and we’ve seen that happen in Roseburg. It’s also dangerous for pedestrians, people in wheelchairs and people pushing strollers when they have to share sidewalks with bicyclists. But that’s where the cyclists often end up when there are no bike lanes, as is the case on many of Roseburg’s streets.
One of Roseburg’s goals, therefore, needs to be the comprehensive development of safe bike lanes on its major thoroughfares and/or alternate bike routes. In the meantime, the city needs to educate both motorists and cyclists on the rules of the road.
Fortunately, the city appears to be making some progress in these areas. Roseburg Police Chief Jim Burge believes pedestrians, bikes and cars should have equal access to our roadways. He has been writing periodic guest columns in The News-Review about traffic safety and he often addresses issues with bicycle safety. He should keep up this effort.
The city has some bike paths it can brag about, such as the Stewart Park bike loop. It also improved the entrance to the bike path off Odell Street and tried to move a portion of the bike path off busy Garden Valley Boulevard and onto the Roseburg Veterans Affairs campus.
The city staff appears to be listening to bicycle advocates. It’s lucky to have a group of active, reasonable and knowledgeable people on the Roseburg Bicycle/Pedestrian Coalition that want to work with the city to make it more bike-friendly.
There may always be more cars than bicycles on the road in Roseburg because it’s the commercial center for the outlying areas of Douglas County, but cyclists should be able to share the roads without fearing for their lives.
Bicycling is a viable and healthy way to get around the city. Considering our county’s poor health statistics, it’s an approach that more people should utilize.
We’re encouraged that Roseburg recognized it shouldn’t declare bike lanes safe just so it could issue citations.
We expect the city to continue to think of ways to accommodate bicyclists when it plans transportation projects and to look for more opportunities to educate residents on bicycle safety.