By Abra Cohen
Oregon probably isn’t the first place you think of when you hear about year-round cycling. With long, cold and wet winter months, many cyclists in Eugene don rain attire and cycle all four seasons on the extensive bike paths that extend throughout the city.
Connected by wide trails that accommodate runners and cyclists alike, you can easily bike for pleasure or transportation on the multiple trails that link neighborhoods in the North Eugene River Road area to the University of Oregon to Springfield and along the Fern Ridge bike path to Green Hill Road in West Eugene.
Bike commuters in the Willamette Valley are among some of the highest in the nation, according to the Corvallis Gazette-Times. Six percent of Eugene-Springfield commuters get to work by bicycle.
Andrew Alef, who manages community outreach at Paul’s Bikes in Eugene, says he believes gas prices are one reason for the increase in bike commuters. “People seek out an alternative way of getting around.”
Not only does Eugene have a lot of bike commuters, they also have “cyclists” – those who own more than one bike, specific to the type of riding they are doing. They not only ride to work, they also ride for fun. Alef says, “You wouldn’t use a mountain bike for commuting.” He explains that three is often seen as the magic number of bikes to own – one for commuting, one for mountain biking and one road bike.
Eugene has more than 30 miles of off-street bike paths and 89 miles of bike lanes, according to the City of Eugene. With connecting pedestrian bridges, you can easily cross the Willamette River and get from one area of town to another faster by bike than automobile, which not only allows riders to get fit, but can also cut their carbon footprint.
Depending on the area of town you are cycling to, you can often avoid street traffic by using the bike path routes (a bike path map is online at www.smarttripseugene.com/links/bicycling-maps).
An avid road cyclist, some of my favorite rides are outside of Eugene. Ranging from vineyard loops west of Eugene towards the small town of Crow to historic covered bridges east of Thurston, country roads are a great place to do long distance cycling.
If you are new to cycling, be sure to check out REI and the University of Oregon Outdoor Program – both offer bike clinics and bike support to community members. Other resources are the Bicycle Transportation Alliance and Greater Eugene Area Riders.
Abra Cohen is a freelance writer and photojournalist based in Eugene.