Thursday, July 31, 2014

Cherriots Holds Open Houses on Proposed Route and Service Changes

At last week's board meeting, Cherriots adopted the "Moving Forward" plan, aimed at implementing the service recommendations generated by Jarrett Walker's study earlier this year.

Cherriots proposed five-day coverage for West Salem
only Edgewater route (G) goes downtown
Both Wallace and Edgewater routes go downtown
Perhaps the most notable element? The void in West Salem.While there are prospects for piloting a "flexible transit" route on the west side, at the moment, Cherriots has thrown in the towel, saying "it's too hard" to serve West Salem.

This approach may save Cherriots short-term budget, but it exacts a great cost on Salem generally as it will tend to increase drive-alone trips across the bridges. This looks like a strategic mistake and a tactical trade-off in the wrong direction. Lots of the residents in the hills work in downtown, and the service plan just abandons them.

"most of these workers have jobs located in downtown Salem"
(from the flexible transit study)
People want improved service, not depleted service.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Bike Recycling Programs Consolidate and Plan to Grow

You might recall stories this year about the bike recycling programs at Hillcrest and at Evergreen Church.

At Hillcrest

At Evergreen Church
The principals are joining forces and starting work on a new venture, called the Northwest Hub.

Northwest Hub
They're looking for a retail storefront and look to expand programming much along the lines of Portland's Community Cycling Center.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Salem Sunday Streets Shrinks for 2014

The City has updated the site for Salem Sunday Streets 2014, and the first thing you notice is: The route shrunk!

Salem Sunday Streets 2014: 5 blocks long!

Salem Sunday Streets 2013
Last year's route felt really small as it was, and this thing is dinky!

In fact, it's reasonable to ask whether it even counts as a car-free open streets event. As it is now, it's a street fair.
Salem Sunday Streets is an annual event that promotes healthy and active living by opening up city streets for people to play and explore together. The event is family-friendly, free, and open to all. The route will feature activities as diverse as yoga, food carts, music on a pedal-powered stage, interactive art projects, hula hooping, disc golf, a farmers market, bike repair stations, and a musical-parading dance troop. Full event schedule is coming soon.
It's promoting "active living" not by giving us a long route on which to walk or bike and to experience a good part of the city car-free, but giving us a bunch of vendor booths with healthy lifestyle swag and games. Because it's not even in downtown proper, there won't hardly be any businesses on the route, and mainly vendors with tents. It's a destination event and lifestyle fair.

Which isn't a bad thing, but it's not really an open streets thing this year.

The best part might be the bike trains to the fair. Bike trains will gather at:
  • Highland Elementary
  • Hoover Elementary
  • McKinley Elementary
  • Wallace Marine Park (at Union St Railroad Bridge)
But hey, Wandering Aengus is a sponsor, so there may be adult beverages!

Salem Sunday Streets is September 7th, from noon to 4pm.

Signal or Noise? Traffic Fatalities Up - and Down

From the Wall Street Journal last week

From the Statesman Journal yesterday
"Really, car use is a safe activity!"


Monday, July 28, 2014

Construction and Street Closure Notes: Fairgrounds Road, 14th Street, the Capitol

Summer's construction and event season, and here's some notes on three street closures.

There's a good bit of work already completed on the safety median at the angled intersection of Hood, Fairgrounds Road, and Church Street.

New median at intersection of  Hood/Fairgrounds/Church
The crosswalks are deflected and slightly less conveniently located now, but they will be marked with much greater visibility - so the walking environment seems like a definite upgrade!

The biking environment may not be upgraded however.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

City Council, July 28th - To Demolish Howard Hall?

Council meets Monday night at 6:30, and the prospect of the demolition of the last remaining building of the Oregon School for the Blind is atop the marquee.

The City looks to be heading towards a big FAIL on that one, so let's start of with what so far looks to be an unqualified success.

Council will receive an information report on possible pod locations for food carts.

Detail from downtown map of possible pod locations
The report is "for example only" and doesn't mean a commitment, public or private, to any location. But it is yet more evidence of striking swiftness and purpose on this project!

A group of downtowners will hold a temporary pod on First Wednesday, August 6th.  Organizers say,
the first Salem food pod pulls into the alley behind Taproot (Pete’s Place) during First Wednesday Pop Up. Fusion, Sample This BBQ and Uncle Chuck’s Wagon join Vagabond Brewing, Santiam Brewing, 2 Towns Cider House and Hard Times Distillery.
As for some of the squawking by restaurant owners, the downtown restaurant scene still doesn't seem like a "mature" or "saturated" market. In an immature market, we should see a "rising tide floats all boats," and it is likely that food carts will not primarily cannibalize existing restaurant activity, but will draw more and different people downtown. Maybe not, but the bet here is that food carts will strengthen, not diffuse, total activity downtown and enlarge the pool of customers for restauranteurs in brick-and-mortar locations.

Howard Hall

Salem's fond of touting its historic preservation efforts.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Building Bits: AIA Awards and Community Development Block Grant Survey

Late last week the Salem chapter of the American Institute of Architects announced the 2014 design awards:
On June 3rd, the AIA-Salem Chapter gathered for an awards dinner to celebrate local design as well as to announce and present design awards for 2014. The event was moderated by Award Committee Chairman Alan Costic, AIA and Jurist Bill Seider, FAIA was on hand to present Awards as well as to provide jury comments and insight into their selection process.

Five Salem firms submitted a total of 13 projects for consideration to a three person Jury consisting of Becca Cavell, FAIA, Portland, Bill Seider, FAIA, Eugene, and Jane Jarrett, Portland. Upon deliberation, the Jury awarded two Merit Awards and one Honor Award. In addition, a People’s Choice Award was voted on by the public at large.
The last round of awards was in 2010, and with the Great Recession and all, there hasn't been very much new design and construction.  So that should frame our expectations.

Two buildings in particular are interesting and, maybe, show how the way the buildings fit into the urban fabric may not adequately have been considered - that is, the building may have been considered more as absolute sculpture than as part of a city context.

The Chemeketa Center for Business and Industry won a "merit" award, the second place citation. The jury citation is a little bland, however:
  • Careful attention to solar shading based on orientation
  • Well organized plan
  • Strong urban fabric building
And I think it gets the "strong urban fabric" part wrong.