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Eugene Weekly : Lead Story : 10.6.11

EW’s Back to Campus 2011

No Car? No Problem Living in Eugene sans automobile

Late Night Eats Stuffing face by moonlight

Gourmet Locavorism Eating well at LCC

Q&A: Students on the street

Ducking In Joiners can be choosers

Bass-Ack-Wards The world of collegiate tournament fishing

 

No Car? No Problem

Living in Eugene sans automobile

By Andy Valentine

Photo by Todd Cooper

Most folks that are new to Eugene — this mainly meaning new students — probably assume right off the bat that a car is the best mode of transportation in this city. That’s totally what I thought when I first got here, but I was seriously effin’ wrong, and so are they. And you’ll probably think the same, by the way, if you’re a newcomer: You’ll be standing sadly on the sidewalk, staring longingly at the cars while rain pounds your face, wishing more than anything that you had your car. Sure, it may look “glamorous” and “dry” inside those things, but once school starts and students, professors and commuters are all headed to their different ports of call, Eugene becomes something of a hectic, gas emission-shrouded clusterfuck. Seriously, you’re not missing out on much if you can’t join in. There are many reasons why Eugene is actually easier to navigate without a car (including the fact that this city seems like it was designed by drunks; the layout of our road system is truly abysmal in places), but why take those reasons to heart? What are your alternatives? Well, here ya go:

1. LTD

Lane County has an incredible public transit system known as LTD (Lane Transit District). The buses all leave from one hub in the center of downtown, and they’ll take you from just about any “a” to any “b” in a short amount of time. The EmX — which primarily runs along Franklin Boulevard on the north side of campus — and all inner-city buses are 100 percent free for UO and LCC students. Cherish this fact if you’re a student; it’s without a doubt the greatest piece of information anybody ever told me when I first got here, especially when it was pissing down rain. All you need is a valid student ID to flash at the bus driver, and you’re set to go. The best part about this, though, is that you can just sit and let the driver fight his way through traffic, pedestrians, bicycles, roadwork and all other obstacles while you relax. Seriously, use the bus system here; it rocks.

2. BICYCLE

By now I’d guess that you’ve probably noticed the bicycles. Yeah, Eugene is pretty much the Amsterdam of North America when it comes to bikes, and for good reason — the city pretty much revolves around bicycles: Nearly every road has a bike lane, nearly every business and building has a place to park bikes, every bus is equipped to strap bikes to the front, and nearly every thief in town is after that one bike without a U-lock. With this in mind, bike theft is huge here so it’s recommended that you buy a sturdy lock that can’t be cut off really easily. See? Even the crime rate helps motivate you to keep your bike safe and secure. Get out there and cycle.

3. YOUR FEET

Sometimes people forget that they literally have a mode of transportation attached to them. Walking is really easy in Eugene; there are plenty of crosswalks, and cars tend to give right of way without a fuss. If you think about the amount of places you really need to get to in this city, too, they are incredibly localized — be it downtown or campus area — so it’s never too far to walk. Of course, this one’s completely dependent upon you being badass enough to brave the winter rain; I suggest that you buy a waterproof jacket, some bad weather shoes and a bunch of cold medicine before you have at it.

Okay, so maybe the list of alternatives isn’t a mile long, but Eugene isn’t really that many miles long, so three options should be more than enough. These are really the best ways to get around, and as much as it looks like the people in their fancy cars are loving every second of it, the multiple instances of outrageous roadwork and confusion that they have to face every time they drive really add up to negativity. So don’t mope around just because you don’t have a car; get outside and use what’s given to you — Eugene’s pretty much done all of the work for you. All you have to do is commute.