Biking in Eugene, Oregon

I just spent a wonderful weekend in the amazingly bike-friendly Eugene, Oregon. I took the train–Amtrak Cascades allows roll-on bike service for $5 (reserve ahead of time to guarantee a bike spot). The trip is six and a half hours and is often early (my train was 20 minutes early, even with some fire alarm business and the forced detraining of a bathroom cigarette smoker in the middle of nowhere–Amtrak doesn’t mess around!). One can also take BoltBus between Seattle and Eugene, but I think it might be seasonal…I can see bookable trips in February when I click around now, but I wasn’t able to find trips back when I was booking this visit. We’ve taken the cargo bike on BoltBus to Portland, but it’s an as-space-allows thing when it comes to bikes so I prefer Amtrak and the guaranteed bike spot (though cargo bikes aren’t allowed).

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Saturday morning I kicked off the day with an Urban Cycling book reading at Arriving By Bike™, a terrific and super-friendly family-owned bike shop. It was a good-sized crowd, especially for 9am on a Saturday. I should have taken a photo from the front, but I was a little busy talking about how much I love biking so check out these snaps by Kent Peterson:

After the reading, Shane MacRhodes, creator of Kidical Mass, led a group bike ride. I cannot tell you how exciting it was for me to be in the birth city of Kidical Mass! Not to mention seeing several friends who live down here, including the aforementioned Kent Peterson who recently moved down from Issaquah, and my friend Victor who just moved down from my neighborhood. They both seem to have found heaven on earth in Eugene.

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I met Shane in Seattle when he taught my League Cycling Instructor class, but I hadn’t seen his striking Bike Friday Haul-a-Day cargo bike in person before now.

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And since his trailer bike is a Burley Piccolo like mine, I was able to borrow it and one of his kids! (Kid was more stoked than photo lets on.)

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There was quite a bit of kid shuffling and at one point, they were all three on separate bikes. So fun!

Photo by Sally Hunt

Photo by Sally Hunt

The amazing weather made our trip along roads and trails, across the river and back, all the more enjoyable. Just look at that sun!

Photo by Sally Hunt

Photo by Sally Hunt

Murals

Seattleite Neil Hodges paid a bike visit to Eugene a week ahead of mine and I was inspired his photos to check out some of the same places and same murals. Kent Peterson shared The Murals of Eugene on Twitter so I got a nice preview.

I got the idea to take note of murals after the Kidical Mass group ride when I rode with Sally Hunt to Bike Friday and decided we should recreate Neil’s photo.

Photo by Sally Hunt

Photo by Ron Hunt

Much of their showroom fleet was over at the fairgrounds for the Eugene Home Show, but there was still plenty to see and the first question as we entered was, “Are you here to test ride?”

By the way, many of my friends in Eugene have Bike Fridays. I love the hometown pride!

Sunday I went back by Arriving By Bike™ to sign the remaining books and my friend Maritess, also down from Seattle, humored me with a photo by ABB’s mural. See, too, ABB from the outside:

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Another mural at Sundance Natural Foods, Victor’s favorite grocery store:

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And two on the way to the train station, a block after the Ninkasi Brewery on the left, and at Morning Glory Cafe across the street from the train station (with awesome bike rack I want to climb!) on the right:

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Had Sunday not been so drizzly, there would have been even more mural stops.

Bicycle Infrastructure

Saturday’s group ride took two of the five (I think) walking-and-biking-only bridges across the Willamette River. The trails (a.k.a. multi-use paths) and car-free bridges are awesome.

Then on Sunday Maritess on her folding Brompton and I on my non-folding Surly Straggler biked around with Eugenians Jolene and Victor on their folding Bike Fridays.

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Near University of Oregon we used the two-way cycletrack and I hear there are more to come:

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I also quite liked this covered cut-through:

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The City of Eugene has a Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan and a Pedestrian & Bicycle Strategic Plan Update, but also some pushback from a couple businesses on much needed bike lanes. I’m not sure I’ll see any new developments come May, but Eugene is currently pretty great to bike around.

Wildlife

My photos aren’t worth sharing and I didn’t see any of the promised deer, but on Saturday I saw a nutria with Sally! I found this very exciting because I didn’t know they lived out here–I’ve only seen then in New Orleans (where they’re called jokingly “cajun chicken”).

The nutria sighting was right in town alongside a bike trail by a small river, but uphill towards Victor’s house we saw wild turkeys! And stopped a car to let them cross the street. I hear there’s a cougar in his neighborhood, but we didn’t see it.

Riding home through Amazon Park Saturday night I heard what I thought were crickets from far away, and then assumed was a burglar alarm as I got closer. Turns out it was bullfrogs! I don’t know if they were extra loud for the full moon, but they were deafening.

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Next time!

I cannot wait to come back to Eugene. A weekend is not enough time to do it all.

I’ll be back on Friday May 20th to be part of the University of Oregon LiveMove presentation series. And hang around for Bike Month activities through the weekend. I missed out on seeing the Center for Appropriate Transport so that’s at the top of my list of things to do.

And once school lets out, the kids and I will come down for a longer visit. We’ll probably travel by train without a bike and rent a cargo bike upon arrival, but perhaps we’ll take the Big Dummy on BoltBus or three separate bikes on the train…but I think we’re still a couple years away from them being in charge of all their own pedaling–I worry about the trip to and from the Seattle train station as well as an entire weekend in an unfamiliar city.

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