Bicyclists listen up: Roseburg officials are working to expand the city’s bike route system so that one day riders will be able to get anywhere in the city, and use the Umpqua River Trail as the backbone for the new system.
Work has recently begun on a new bike routes plan after the city got the go-ahead from Oregon of Transportation officials. The effort is expected to lead to increased public infrastructure for biking and a digital, printable map that should help boost connectivity between the 5-mile, multi-use Umpqua River Trail and most other points in the city.
“The Umpqua River Trail can be a real gem for the city to be able to showcase the South Umpqua River. In my opinion, the South Umpqua River is one of the best assets the city has,” Community Development Director Stuart Cowie said in a news release. “We’ve got this beautiful river with a multi-use path that runs right along it that’s under-utilized.”
In September 2020, the Oregon Department of Transportation notified the city that it was eligible for a $120,000 planning grant, which can be used to help local jurisdictions increase opportunities for walking, bicycling and transit.
The city received the go-ahead from ODOT to proceed with the grant-funded project and entered into a joint contract with the agency and Parametrix, a Seattle engineering, planning and environmental sciences consultant.
Parametrix has begun the process of mapping existing bike routes and other work in an effort to produce a plan for establishing additional routes and developing other bicycle-related public infrastructure, Cowie said.
The bike routes plan being worked on by the consultant must identify ways to increase bicycle trips in Roseburg by establishing and mapping designated bike routes throughout the city, and supplementing existing routes with mapping, route signage and thermoplastic signage, a type of highly reflective road-marking that could consists of a bicycle symbol stencil paired with a shared-lane pavement marking.
A digital, printable map could allow people to figure out how to get from point A to point B using the least-busy streets that would make for safer, more comfortable rides, Cowie said. The bike routes plan could include other options to increase bicycle use such as more bike lanes, wider sidewalks, pathways along roads and even separated bike lanes.
LACK OF CONNECTIONThe project was proposed by city staff after they realized existing bike routes and signs don’t have enough connectivity and sometimes seem almost randomly placed, Cowie said.
“People who work here in the city live here in the city. We use the multi-use path. We ride our bikes in the streets. So we saw the need,” he said.
The project has a steering committee whose members include local bicycling advocates from Bike Walk Roseburg, Roseburg School District 4, Douglas Education Service District Safe Routes to School, ODOT and Roseburg Public Works. A local Blue Zones Project group also has been instrumental by encouraging the development of more opportunities for exercise and healthy activity.
Meanwhile, ODOT has been encouraging cities to improve bike routes, and the Oregon Land Conservation and Development Commission is currently updating the state’s transportation planning rules to be more climate-friendly by emphasizing development of networks for bikes, pedestrians and transit.
Currently, there’s a lack of connection between the Umpqua River Trail and bike lanes, neighborhoods, schools, parks and commercial areas including downtown – and that lack of connectivity can discourage people who might otherwise be interested from choosing bicycling more often as a mode of transportation.
“We want to be able to promote other means of transportation — specifically, bicycling. Two reasons: It’s good for you, and it decreases the number of vehicles on the roads,” Cowie said.
Developing the bike routes plan will allow the Roseburg Public Works Department to apply for more financial grants to pay for stencils, signs and other ways to implement the plan — perhaps even more bike lanes, because the City would be unlikely to qualify for such grants without a specific plan, Cowie noted.
The plan is expected to be completed by the end of next year or early 2023. While the city may not be able to immediately implement the most costly and ambitious options, the plan should detail smaller improvements that could be made soon and could lead to bigger improvements down the road, Cowie said.
“I don’t want to develop a plan that’s just going to sit on the shelf. I want to develop one that can be implemented quickly,” Cowie said.
For more information, contact associate planner John Lazur at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-492-6750.