The Lewis & Clark Sustainability Council has joined the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) in calling for common-sense safety improvements on Barbur Blvd. The chair of the council, Law Professor Daniel Rohlf, has penned a powerful letter (PDF) to Jason Tell, the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) manager for this region.
Rohlf’s letter points out how, “Lewis & Clark is directly impacted by the lack of safe bicycle access across the 99W Newbury & Vermont Street bridges.” Quoting the BTA message to ODOT, Rohlf calls for “a safe, separate, well-lit space for people walking and bicycling” on Barbur.
In anticipation of a common response from ODOT (that Barbur is an overflow route for I-5) Rohlf writes the following:
“ODOT staff members have suggested that preserving high-speed motor vehicle lane capacity on Barbur is essential to allow it to function as a relief valve for I-5 during periods of peak congestion. We believe this thinking does not grasp the full problem. If major institutions like Lewis & Clark remain largely inaccessible except by motor vehicles, there will inevitably be more cars trying to use I-5 for intra-city commute trips, resulting in more days of peak congestion, and more disruption to long-distance trips on the interstate.“
An informal group of Lewis & Clark commuters, including staff and students, have also sent Tell a letter. In it, they explain that Lewis & Clark’s admirable double-digit bicycle/pedestrian mode split (the percentage of trips to campus by bicycle or on foot) would likely be far higher were it not for the dangerous and inconvenient routes currently connecting the campus to downtown.
Referring specifically to the Vermont and Newbury St Bridges, they note, “Those of us who do use Barbur have, nearly to a person, experienced harrowing close calls crossing the bridges.”