Going Greensprings - Fact Checking
The following is an open letter to Mark Freeman, Medford Mail Tribune reporter.
You might consider making a correction to your 1/23/15 Medford Mail Tribune article entitled Going Greensprings. Greensprings Highway after Buckhorn Springs Road to the Greensprings Inn has virtually no shoulder. ODOT’s highway inventory suggests that the road shoulder is one foot wide (but they must have rounded-up to the nearest whole foot). Buckhorn Springs Road is at the bottom of the steep grade, where the highway starts to have sharp corners and blind curves. You mistakenly wrote, that a bicycle rider goes out “Greensprings Highway, riding the shoulder of that two-lane highway 18 miles to the Greensprings.“ It is regrettable but true, that some highways (and county roads) lack either bike lanes or, at least, an adequate shoulder.
The lane widths on the Greensprings and Dead Indian Memorial Highways are 11 feet wide (with less than 12 inch shoulders). That is too narrow to be safely shared by two vehicles (i.e. two vehicles in a single lane), even when one of them is a bicycle. That roadway cross section, the fact that most motorists ignore or are ignorant of the Oregon (ORS) code 811.065 (unsafe passing of person operating bicycle), and limited site distances (due to terrain and blind corners) make these highways inappropriate for all but the most skilled cyclist (Matt Walker, who you quoted for the story, being one of them). Confidence, knowledge and expertise applying the “rules of the road,” defensive driving skills, heightened awareness of vehicles approaching and overtaking (using a rear view mirror), advanced bike handling skills, and good to excellent fitness, are all essential for a safe and enjoyable ride in this setting. Don’t forget to take along plenty of water, a little food, extra tubes, patch kit, tools, and the knowledge of how to use them. (For most, climbing from Buckhorn Road to the Greensprings Summit will take more than an hour).
Thank you for covering bicycling issues in Southern Oregon. Your articles, and others by the MMT, really help to elevate the general public’s awareness of cycling as a healthy, safe, enjoyable, low carbon foot-print activity; especially when the experience is shared with others (see Siskiyouvelo.org for a listing of future Club rides). Weather in Southern Oregon allows year-around cycling. I love it!
A loyal reader,
PS – Bicycles are considered vehicles under State law. People riding bicycles have every right to use the travel lane when needed – provided there is no bike lane. Please try to integrate that information into future articles about road cycling.
1/31/2015 at 2:34PM
I did explain to Mark that where necessary bicyclists are able to "take the lane" legally and that the roads are dangerous, especially in spring and summer when drivers are towing boats and trailers to the lakes. I also explained that there is no bike lane on these highways, and at best, there is a fog line that we are not required to ride behind.
I hope he follows up with your thoughts on the skill level needed to make this loop a safe and enjoyable one.