We need safety improvements on ODOT-controlled portions of Ashland Street

May 20, 2023

Streets for Everyone recently wrote to the Rogue Valley Metropolitan Planning Organization to request several critically important safety improvements on the ODOT-controlled sections of Ashland Street. These improvements would help achieve a continuous network of safe, practical and efficient bicycle routes in Ashland, complementing upcoming improvements the City is making on Ashland Street between the railroad bridge and Siskiyou Boulevard.

Specifically, Streets for Everyone recommends:

  1. Protected bike lanes on all of Ashland Street, independent of jurisdiction (RR overpass to southbound I-5 on-ramp). 
  2. A pedestrian crossing and flashing beacon at the intersection of YMCA Way and OR66
  3. Bike boxes on all legs of the Tolman Creek/Ashland Street intersection
  4. Lower speeds on OR66
  5. Walk these section yourself


Kent Chamberlain, an Ashland resident, tragically lost his life in December 2022 when he was struck by a Cadillac SRX, a midsize SUV, while crossing Ashland Street at YMCA Way. SUVs are far deadlier for pedestrians than cars; citing 12 independent studies of injury data, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration concluded that pedestrians are two to three times “more likely to suffer a fatality when struck by an SUV or pickup than when struck by a passenger car.” SUVs and pickup trucks are the fastest growing class of motor vehicles in the U.S.  

The city of Ashland plans to make safety improvements when it repaves Ashland Street between the railroad bridge and Siskiyou Boulevard (Rogue Valley Highway, OR99). A key feature of the city’s work will include the addition of protected bike lanes. Research shows that protected bike lanes improve safety for all road users. In addition, protected bike lanes serve to boost the number of people bicycling and, potentially, help to close the gender gap in cycling as well as reduce vehicle miles of travel and carbon emissions. They also serve to improve human health and save people money by avoiding the high cost of driving.

Recommendation 1: Protected bike lanes should be included on all of Ashland Street, independent of jurisdiction (RR overpass to southbound I-5 on-ramp). 

Consistent facility design between jurisdictions is an essential principle of transportation planning. Adding protected bike lanes to project 21184 is vital to begin building a continuous network of safe, practical and efficient bicycle routes in Ashland (see also project #22278). For that reason we ask that project 21184 include protected bike lanes throughout its length. 

Recommendation 2: Add a pedestrian crossing and flashing beacon at the intersection of YMCA Way and OR66

YMCA Way intersects OR66 approximately 460 feet west of Tolman Creek Road. The Donald E. Lewis Retirement Center (DLRC), located on YMCA Way, includes 30 one-bedroom and 10 subsidized studio apartments for seniors. It is within walking distance of several shopping centers, restaurants, and the YMCA. Walking to Shop’n Kart grocery store requires residents to either cross OR66 at the intersection of YMCA Way (where Mr. Chamberlain was struck) or increase the round-trip walking distance by approximately one-quarter mile to cross OR66 at the existing signal at Tolman Road. A quarter-mile out-of-direction walk is an insurmountable distance for many elderly and disabled persons, especially with groceries. Including a pedestrian crossing and flashing beacon at YMCA Way is a critically important safety measure. 

Recommendation 3: Include bike boxes on all legs of the Tolman Creek/Ashland Street intersection

A bike box is a designated area at the head of a traffic lane at a signalized intersection that provides bicyclists with a safe and visible way to get ahead of queuing traffic during the red signal phase. Including bike boxes on all legs of the Tolman Creek/Ashland Street intersection, will complement the existing bicycle signal on Ashland Street at the I-5 southbound on-ramp, serving to isolate bicycle turning and through movements from those of motor vehicles at intersections. This design should be utilized at all traffic signals within urban areas.

Recommendation 4: Lower the speed on OR66

The current speed limit has proven deadly and lower maximum speeds will improve safety of all road users. It is incongruous that the speed limit on the ODOT section of Ashland Street, where traffic volumes are greater and turning conflicts higher, is faster than on the city owned section. The entire stretch between Siskiyou and the southbound I-5 ramps should be slower. That will do more to save lives and avoid serious injuries than any other “safety” improvement. Redesigning the cross-section to reflect the slower posted speed is also recommended. 

Recommendation 5: Try it Yourself

To evaluate the merits of these recommendations, we ask that you conduct the following test, suitable for transportation engineers, planners, elected and appointed officials, and staff: 

Park in the Shop’n Kart parking lot, cross Ashland Street at YMCA Way, and walk, using the sidewalk, over the bridge to Faith Street, then after crossing OR66 again, walk back over the bridge but this time walk in the painted bike lane (if only for a moment) before returning to your parked car. That experience will easily demonstrate why the above recommendations are warranted and necessary for safety, travel efficiency and to meet a multitude of goals/policies contained in the Oregon Transportation Plan.

Thank you again for the opportunity to provide this input.  We welcome the opportunity to engage with you further on these important issues, and encourage you to reach out to us to continue this discussion with the people of Ashland. To discuss further, please feel free to contact us at info@ashlandclimate.org

Ariel Daniel

Co-chair, Streets for Everyone

Say YES to Protected Bike Lanes on N. Mountain

Attention Ashland Transportation Committee!
Please move forward to add protected bike lanes on North Mountain.

May 23, 2023

We are writing to the City of Ashland Transportation Commission on behalf of the vocal constituency of Ashland residents who support moving forward expeditiously to create a protected, connected bicycle network.

We implore the City to move forward with the addition of protected bike lanes on North Mountain. We understand your reluctance to invite controversy by recommending to the Council the removal of parking on the “upper part” of North Mountain (above the hill). But that is essential in order to fit protected bike lanes on North Mountain within the existing 36-foot-wide curb-to-curb width. 

Adding protected bike lanes on major streets, including North Mountain, is essential to creating a bicycle network that is safe for everyone; including kids, women, minorities, and people with disabilities. The long-term vision is to create a connected system of protected bike lanes to include major streets (collectors/arterials or boulevards/avenues) and other streets with high volumes/speeds coupled with bicycle boulevards on selected residential streets. The most cost-effective way to create this network is to add this protection when      streets are repaved. The repaving project on North Mountain will set the precedent towards obtaining this vision of a functional and safe bicycle network.       

North Mountain is a critical bicycle route because it connects the eastern half of Ashland to the Bear Creek Greenway (when it is extended to Mountain). Additionally, the route will enable kids to get to baseball or soccer practice at North Mountain Park without being shuttled by a parent. We are aware that reducing vehicle miles traveled is a long-held objective of the Transportation Committee. Helping people to substitute a motor vehicle trip with a biking or walking trip will allow the Committee to achieve this goal. However, people will only make this decision if the bicycle network is as safe and convenient as the car/truck network. 

Let’s Not Miss an Opportunity

The redesign and rebuild of North Main and Hersey using only paint to distinguish between the motor vehicle travel lane and the bike lane was a missed opportunity that we cannot afford to repeat. Painted bike lanes do not serve “all ages and abilities” except on very low volume / low speed routes. North Mountain is not that.

We understand that the removal of parking is a large endeavor to undertake and can be contentious. The community has previously voiced their support for this protected bike lane. We urge you to continue collaborating with the community to accelerate this work. Protected bike lanes will benefit all residents, including those who would never ride a bicycle. Please let us know how we can be of assistance.  We can be reached at streets4everyone@gmail.com 

Thank you again for the opportunity to provide these comments. Attached you will find a cross-cut street diagram of our recommended changes. 

We can create safe routes to school in Ashland

May 2023

The City of Ashland was recently awarded Safe Routes to School (SRTS) planning assistance from the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT). Through this program, staff from City of Ashland, Ashland School District, and ODOT are working together to create a SRTS Plan that identifies street improvements near Ashland Middle School, Ashland High School, Walker Elementary School, TRAILS Outdoor School, Helman Elementary School and Bellview Elementary School to support students and families in walking and biking to school safely. The SRTS Plan will also recommend opportunities for education and engagement to promote walking and biking to school. Planners from Alta Planning + Design, an active transportation consulting firm, are guiding the planning process. 

The project team has been working to identify and prioritize safety needs within a mile of the school.  They have performed a walk audit to observe student arrival and dismissal. During this visit, the team and community members documented the walking and biking conditions around the school area.

Alta has provided draft recommendations, which Streets for Everyone has reviewed. We are recommending a number of changes.

The context: Oregon’s Transportation Planning Rules (OAR 660-012-000) guide municipal transportation system plans, and the City must follow these rules when it updates its Transportation System Plan. The rule states that transportation plans must be designed for all ages and abilities. 

The National Association for City Transportation Officials’ (NACTO) 2023, Designing for All Ages and Abilities is the state-of-the-art guidebook for enhancing street safety for all users – particularly children. The guidelines are based on standardized, evidence-based, and seamless approaches. NACTO guidelines allow for meaningful and equitable changes to occur on our streets. 

NACTO principles should be consistently incorporated into the SRTS recommendations

In particular, in the SRTS Ashland context, we highlight the following priority recommendations:

Ashland High School

Item 1- We recommend giving or loaning students U-locks and provide education on how and why to use them. 

Item 6- South Mountain speed limit is <25 mph and 2021 average daily totals (ADT) for traffic volume was 2,681 (Oregon Department of Transportation, 2021). However, NACTO recommends a protected bike lane in areas with “high curbside activity, frequent buses, motor vehicle congestion, or turning conflicts” (2023). As a school zone features all of these items at pick-up and drop off, a protected bike lane is necessary for the safety and comfort of students with a full range of abilities as well as motorists.

Ashland Middle School, TRAILS, and Walker Elementary

Item 2- We recommend that the second sentence be edited to remove the word “consider”; this change will create a strong active recommendation rather than passive. We also recommend adding a Rectangular Rapid Flash Beacon (RRFB) at the bike path crossing Walker, or assigning a crossing guard at this point during pick up and drop off.

Item 3- A protected bike lane, rather than a buffered bike lane is necessary here, due to high curbside activity, frequent buses, motor vehicle congestion, and turning conflicts. For reference, Walker’s speed limit is less than 25 mph, and 2021 ADT was 4,436 (Oregon Department of Transportation, 2021).

Item 6- This recommendation seems beyond the purview of SRTS infrastructure changes. However – again, following NACTO’s 2023 guidelines – this street requires a protected bike lane along the entire length, due to an ADT of 8,781 and a posted speed limit of 40 mph along this section of E. Main (Oregon Department of Transportation, 2021). A protected bike lane, rather than a separate and disconnected bike path along one segment of this street, will allow for a complete bicycle network within the city of Ashland.

Bellview Elementary

Item 2- We recommend protected bike lanes along Tolman, which has a 3,515 ADT, and high curbside activity and frequent buses, motor vehicle congestion, and turning conflicts (Oregon Department of Transportation, 2021). We also recommend a protected bike lane on Siskiyou, which has a posted speed limit of 35 MPH between Harmony and Tolman Creek Road and ADT of 5,742 (Oregon Department of Transportation, 2021).

Helman Elementary

Item 2- We recommend undertaking traffic calming measures along Nevada, such as speed humps or travel lane narrowing to reduce traffic speed. 

The Helman principal expressed concern that people do not stop at Laurel and Randy. This item is not listed in the recommendations. We would recommend painting high visibility cross/and bike walk paths across these streets to encourage people to stop. 

Willow Wind

Item 3- A protected bike lane, rather than a buffered bike lane is necessary here, due to ADT of 7,946 (Oregon Department of Transportation, 2021).

Thank you again for the opportunity to provide these recommendations. We’d be pleased to discuss these recommendations further with you. We can be reached at info@ashlandclimate.org.  We look forward to continuing to work with the City to create safe roads to schools and elsewhere!


Oregon Department of Transportation (2021). Oregon Traffic Monitoring System. Retrieved on 5/15/2023 from https://ordot.public.ms2soft.com/tcds/tsearch.asp?loc=Ordot&mod=TCDS

Oregon Planning; Department of Land Conservation and Development (2021). Goal 12: Transportation. Retrieved on 5/15/2023 from https://www.oregon.gov/lcd/OP/Pages/Goal-12.aspx

The National Association for Transportation Officials (2023). Designing for All Ages and Abilities. Retrieved on 5/15/2023 from https://nacto.org/publication/urban-bikeway-design-guide/designing-ages-abilities-new/