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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Meet in the Street

Visited the Keystone Café last night to attend a planning meeting for Meet in the Street, a Cyclovia/Sunday Parkways-style event designed to bring our community together face-to-face in an urban environment, sans voiture. The specific date isn't set, but folks are talking about late summer/early fall.

Part of the goal is to bridge Eugene's riverside, Fern Ridge and Amazon bike paths. The challenge is to find a route that the city will accommodate, as it will require cooperation with local residents, businesses, the fire department, police, Lane Transit District, and more.

The illustrious Shane Rhodes has created maps of propositions for the final route:

The original route. Connects all bike paths by closing about 6 miles on Monroe/Blair, 15th, High, and Alder. Totally awesome, as it would create miles and miles of bikeway and several parks. Would require a lot of the city's resources, as it crosses a score of lit intersections.

West-side route. Connects river and Fern Ridge paths by closing just 2.3 miles in Whiteaker Neighborhood. Crosses 6 traffic lights and hits 4 parks.

A moderate route. Connects all three paths as well as campus, closes 2.75 miles to cars, and hits 4-6 parks, depending on how you count. Blocks only 5 lights.

Campus/Southtowne route. Connects river and Amazon paths. Closes 2.3 miles on 15th, Kincaid, and High. Connects a few parks, but only blocks two lights.

Though a longer route looks good on paper, Eugene is less than a quarter the size of Portland. The bigger city's 8-mile Sunday Parkways cost roughly $150,000 and was attended by some 10,000 of its 575,930 residents. With a proportional attendance, we'll see about 2,500 locals out in the street.

Imagine stretching those people out over 6 miles, and it might look like a middle-school dance in a high-school gymnasium; yeah, there's people there, but they're all spread out, and it doesn't really feel like a party. Now, stick those middle-schoolers in a preschool nap room, and you've got a wicked shindig!

Besides, if things go really well and the event is over-attended, there will be more reason to do it all again on a larger scale.

What do you think? Post your feedback on the Google Group and check back here for updates. There will be more opportunities for community members to meet, so come share ideas and help create a strong presentation to bring to the city of Eugene's Special Events team on April 20.

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