River Rd redux hones in on cyclists, pedestrians

Visitors to an open house on revitalizing River Road assess some of the proposals coming out of the study. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

About three dozen Keizer residents, city officials and committee volunteers turned out to give feedback on proposals for revitalizing Keizer’s commercial corridors during an open house Tuesday, Feb. 12. 

Among the various ideas on the table is a way to transform River Road to accommodate and promote multimodal transportation such as biking and walking. Consultants from Otak prepared three options and asked attendees to place stickers indicating their level of support next to the three proposals. 

At a meeting of the Keizer Traffic Safety Committee two days later, Community Development Director Nate Brown said it was one of the more divisive issues, but problems will persist without change. 

“There are 32,000 trips a day on River Road, and when we expanded it some of the frontage on the east side was chopped off leaving businesses with substandard parking,” Brown said. 

The options Otak arrived at were: 

1 – Removing the center turn lane and installing buffered bike lanes on both sides of River Road. While the bike lanes would be buffered, some cyclists might be uncomfortable with the close proximity to vehicle traffic. 

2 – Installing a two-way bike and walking path on the east side of River Road. In this instance, vehicle travel lanes would be decreased from 12 feet to 10 feet and result in a more comfortable travel bike for riders of all levels. 

3 – Retaining all current lanes of travel, but reducing lane sizes to 10.5 feet across the board while installing four-foot bike lanes on each side of the road. Given the small bike lane size, Brown said only the most courageous riders would likely use the bike lanes. 

During the open house, participants mostly hated the idea of eliminating the center lane, they were lukewarm on Option 3 and a two-way bike and pedestrian lane received the most support. 

Brown said a fourth option is establishing parallel bike paths on exterior streets, but that options on the east and west sides are not as close to River Road as most riders would prefer. 

There might be opportunities to implement elements of all three options depending on the available space at various points along River Road, he added. 

When asked whether it would be possible to reduce the number of driveways on River Road as one way of alleviating some of the choke points, Brown said options are limited under the current development code. 

“It would take a concerted regulatory reform. Currently, it’s not in the program to eliminate driveways,” Brown said. 

Members of the traffic safety committee plan to examine how the different options might play out at a future meeting and, possibly, make a recommendation to the Keizer City Council.