It was late. Riding down Alder Street on my bike without sunlight or the commodity of street lighting, visibility proved difficult in my zombie-like state. I had just finished with work and found myself trying to get home so I could pass out on my bed instead of the concrete.
As it turns out, I didn’t have control as to where I was going to lay my head.
My bike light is powerful, but small. It cannot cover the biggest areas with its white light, nor can it illuminate the crater-sized potholes in the street, where I just so happened to be pedaling.
The next thing I knew, I was thrown around like a dinghy in a hurricane. My front tire shook and jerked to the right and left. My light was rattled off my bike and on to the ground. I still can’t find the reflectors that were previously on my spokes.
Regardless, I made it out safely after swerving into the street to avoid the rest of the tumultuous event that I had just survived. I made it out with only a couple of dropped items and a popped tire.
Pause. I looked around to see where I was:
In the middle of the street.
If there had been a car passing to my left, I could have easily fallen straight into traffic and been injured. Despite Eugene being touted as such a bike-friendly city, I felt like I was being bullied by the streets that were supposed to help me in my daily, eco-friendly commute. With all of the construction happening on campus, one would think that there is progress being made around the University that plays such a large part in the success of the community.
Instead, there is road work going on around streets that, although still very important, are not essential. River Road is currently under plenty of construction, and still has a lot to go. Willamette Street from 29th Ave. to 46th Ave. is closed off. 18th Ave. up by Lawrence Street, Olive Street, and Oak Street is experiencing repairs. All of this according to the city of Eugene’s Public Works Road Traffic and Advisories calendar on their website.
This all sounds great, short of the action being taken closer to campus. West campus streets from Mill to Kincaid, 11th Ave. to 24th Ave. are some of the most widely used streets for walkers, bikers, and drivers alike.
And still, the streets close to campus are merely patched together with strips of asphalt, contrasting the age-worn concrete that surrounds it. With all of the construction that is supposed to go on during the summer, the city is building and repairing all the wrong areas.
I may sound like a greedy college student, but pull the construction closer to campus for the time being. The heavy renovation that has just started on Alder between 13th and 11th is a step in the right direction. The roads are destroyed as it is, and they’re not getting any better. It’s rare to see campus and the surrounding community so barren, as is the case in the summer. With all of the traffic that will come into town in about three months to watch an undefeated football team, visit their college-aged student, or simply experience the beauty that is Eugene, it’s time to change.
And hopefully — for the safety of the biker, the driver, and the walker alike — soon.