Should Eugene allow skateboards on city streets?

EUGENE, Ore. - Skateboards on city streets.

Electric bicycles on paved off-road paths.

And no riding or skating on city sidewalks.

Those three proposal are up for discussion Monday at the Eugene Public Library.

Bicyclist Elizabeth Miller isn't sure she'd want to share the roads with people on skateboards.

"I would be concerned about skateboarders only because when I've biked by them, they tend to step out really wide and I've almost gotten hit by them unexpectedly," she said. "As a cyclist I'd probably be pretty worried about it."

Lee Shoemaker, the bicycle-pedestrian coordinator for the City of Eugene, said they're considering this proposal to give skaters one more way to get to the new W-J Skatepark once it's open.

Police aren't entirely sure yet how such a change would affect their work.

"If we allow them to operate in the street, we have a bit of a quandary," said Lt. Doug Mozan with the traffic enforcement division. "If a skateboarder violates a vehicle law, how do we hold them accountable?"

The City of Eugene will hold a public open house on Monday, Nov. 18, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the Eugene Public Library Bascom-Tykeson Room, 100 W. 10th Ave., on the three proposed changes to City bike and skateboard laws.

The session will include a staff presentation followed by questions and comments from the public.

Proposal 1: Allow electric assisted bicycles to be ridden on off-street shared use paths. Currently, city code does not allow electric assisted bicycles to be ridden on off-street shared-use paths with the electric assist device engaged although electric bikes are considered bicycles under state law. Eugene's prohibition is inconsistent with other cities in Oregon. Electric assist bicycles are increasingly popular because they allow users to travel for longer distances, carry more cargo on their bikes, and to get an extra boost when needed.

Proposal 2: Expand the downtown bicycle and skateboard "no sidewalk riding" zone to cover new areas where pedestrian safety concerns have been expressed by the public. Several alternative zones will be presented for consideration inside the area bounded by 6th Avenue, High Street, 13th Avenue and Charnelton Street. This proposal is intended to improve public safety in high-pedestrian areas.

Proposal 3: Allow skateboards to be ridden on city streets. Currently, skateboards cannot be ridden in the portion of a street designated for automobile traffic, except when crossing a street in a crosswalk or at a right angle. Skateboarding is currently completely prohibited in areas of downtown Eugene and near the University of Oregon, where it is also banned on the sidewalks. This proposal would make skateboarding a more viable transportation option especially in areas where it is illegal to ride in the street and on the sidewalk. Skateboarding is increasing as a travel option, and the new WJ Skate Park will generate more demand for skateboarding from current residents and visitors from out of the area.

The public input received at the open house will be used to help determine what changes to the code will be recommended to the City Council in 2014.