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Members of the Siskiyou Velo bike club gathered outside Medford City Hall Thursday evening in support of building bike-friendly streets. [Mail Tribune / Jamie Lusch]

Cyclists call on city to create safer streets

A small group of cyclists rallied in front of Medford City Hall Thursday to encourage transportation planners to build more bike-friendly streets suitable for all ages.

The Siskiyou Velo Club wants city leaders to develop road designs that would allow all age groups to pedal the streets of Medford. Now, they said, cyclists need to be "fearless" to ride through Medford.

"There are no bike lanes that accommodate all users," said Medford resident Gary Shaff, a member of the Velo Club, adding that the Bear Creek Greenway and Larson Creek Trail are two notable exceptions.

Shaff and the half-dozen other cyclists who gathered at City Hall called on the city to create better bike lanes that would be safer for seniors and children.

Older riders would like to cycle in Medford but are afraid to share the roadways with autos and trucks, even on streets with clearly marked bike lanes, they said.

 

The city is in the process of developing a Transportation System Plan to lay the groundwork for future design of major roads throughout the city. On Thursday night, the City Council was to continue its discussion of the Transportation System Plan.

So far the city has had several meetings on the plan, which will look at numerous transportation options, including bikes, buses, cars and pedestrians. In addition, public workshops have been held and an online survey received 1,029 responses.

Some of the suggestions to make cycling easier could be controversial, including slowing down traffic or putting more calming devices to prevent drivers from speeding.

In Europe, the cyclists noted, traffic engineers have experimented with even more radical designs, including eliminating most traffic signs in downtown areas so that drivers have to pay more attention to the roadway.

"A lot of this is not easy," Shaff said. "It's going to take a lot of work."

Harlan Bittner, president of the 225-member Velo Club, said the city should be commended for taking the time to explore options that would encourage bicycle and pedestrian friendly streets that are also designed for the disabled.

He said the city currently has a fairly good north-south route for cyclists on the Greenway but lacks safe east-west routes.

Bittner said some of traffic calming efforts in other countries and other cities in the U.S. might not go over well in Medford.

"There are concepts, but it takes time and money," he said.

Some cities purposely add small roundabouts or barriers on residential streets to help slow traffic down.

Bittner said there are discussions of adding a dedicate biked path along Foothill Road when it is widened to connect to Highway 140.

Medford officials have indicated there's also been discussion of replacing the third lane along Riverside Avenue and making it a dedicated north-south lane, he said.

Kent Clinkinbeard, a 66-year-old Medford cyclist, said he peddles his way all over town, even picking up groceries.

"I ride around town as much as possible," said Clinkinbeard, who was the only person to cycle to the rally in the cold. "I don't feel particularly unsafe. But there is a risk to riding a bike."

He said he tries to minimize the risk by wearing brightly colored clothes and lots of reflective materials. Over the years, he's learned some of the safer routes and avoids certain intersections.

"I do everything I can to make myself stand out as much as possible," Clinkinbeard said.

— Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or dmann@mailtribune.com. Follow him on www.twitter.com/reporterdm.

 

 

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