Thursday, April 24, 2014

Two Reasons to Check out the Capitol this Weekend

Shoot, I'm not sure the beautiful sun we had earlier in the month will return on Sunday.

Though advance registration for the Monster Cookie on Sunday the 27th is closed, if the weather's not too bad, day-of-ride registration is easy!

Starts at 8am by the fountain on the north side of the Capitol.  You can print out the registration form at home.

The ride is always a great way to enjoy the gentle rolling hills of French Prairie and to see some of the earliest settlement area in Oregon.

If you're not up for a long ride, or the weather's too yucky, consider a ramble to observe ruins of the second Capitol building.

Capitol in flames, April 25-26, 1935
Capitol 75th Anniversary site
The 75th anniversary of our third, the current one, was celebrated this past year, and Friday the 25th is the anniversary of the conflagration in 1935 that destroyed the second.

Columns from State Capitol after 1935 Fire
After the fire and demolition, some of the columns remained, and it is interesting the way ruins are distributed around downtown. You may have seen some of the columns and the plaque in a formal display on the east side of the new Capitol in Willson Park. (Or is this side called something else?)

More of them at Deepwood!
But did you know there were some at Deepwood?

Was this some Lord & Schryver whimsey, a picturesque ruin for the garden?  Something else? There doesn't seem to be anything written online about this tidbit.

There are also several column fragments rolled into Mill Creek at the 13th St footbridge, behind ODOT and Olinger Pool.

Does anyone know of any more?

Either way, on the Cookie or on a shorter ramble, think about the Capitol this weekend!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Cherriots Retreats on Transit Components in Third Bridge Concept Design

On the agenda for the Thursday, April 24th, Cherriots Board meeting (whole agenda and packet here) is a proposed change to the terms of support for the Salem River Crossing "Salem Alternative." Having run into friction from the Oversight Team on transit, Cherriots seems willing to back down.

Cherriots' "New Vision"
In light of all the excitement and possibility represented in Gil Penalosa's talk earlier this year, the retreat is more than a little surprising.

In the proposed revision to their policy statement on the third bridge is a brief explanation of the objections:
[W]hen the letter (Attachment A) and policy statement (Attachment B) were presented to the SRC Oversight Team, a clear level of concern was expressed by some members of the SRC Oversight Team. As a result, the SRC Oversight Team has requested a revision be made to the policy statement submitted for inclusion by Salem-Keizer Transit. These members would prefer to have language that, in their perception, would be less prescriptive in nature and would allow for a greater level of discretion throughout the design process. [italics added]
The current, and apparently disagreeable, language:

THAT the Board of Directors hereby states as a matter of record, support for the “Salem Alternative” as the preferred alternative to be included in the Salem River Crossing Environmental Impact Statement, and

“…THAT the following statement be added to the Oversight Team Policy Statements:
Public Transportation supportive amenities such as bus stops, park and ride lots, transit centers, bus queue jump lanes, and transit signal priority will be included as an integral part of the design of the project.” [italics added]
The new language (the paragraphing and quotes aren't exactly parallel, so if you're a stickler, check the original):

THAT the Board of Directors hereby states as a matter of record, support for the “Salem Alternative” as the preferred alternative to be included in the Salem River Crossing Environmental Impact Statement, and

THAT the following statement be added to Oversight Team Policy Statements:
["]In order to avoid additional costs and design conflicts, bus stop locations and construction shall be coordinated with Salem-Keizer Transit. In addition, other public transportation supportive amenities such as park and ride lots, transit centers, bus queue jump lanes, and transit signal priority will be considered as part of the design of the project.” [italics added]
A change from "include as integral" to "consider" is a meaningful softening and retreat.

I don't really know how important this is as a component of designing the "Salem Alternative." The project's awfulness is so great that the difference between bad and badder may not be very important. In essential ways these details are lipstick on very smelly pig. Additionally, right now the project does not have a clear path to funding, and in some important ways this is all just posturing and rhetoric.

The costly, risky bridge will cost at least ten Courthouse Squares
Still, if this folly keeps going, imagine in ten or twenty years that the bridge and highway could be formally designed without "park and ride lots, transit centers, bus queue jump lanes, and transit signal priority." This project endorsement would permit just that!

It's also interesting that these design components are framed up as "amenities" instead of essentials.  That these things can't be insisted on is a measure of how far from multi-modal with complete streets this project really is.

Even more, it's a sad example of how far we remain from a "new vision" like that of Gil Penalosa's. Not only is Cherriots not able to say "we don't need it," but they can't even say "transit design is integral" to new transportation infrastructure.

Consider emailing the board and reminding them about Gil Penalosa, the power of transit to reduce congestion, and the folly of the giant bridge and highway.

The Salem Area Mass Transit District Board of Directors meets Thursday, April 24th, at 6:30pm, back in Courthouse Square, the Senator Hearing Room, 555 Court St NE.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Crazy! Admiral Embraces Climate Science; Exhorts Conservatives to Conserve

Climate change should be one of the dearest issues to conservatives, but somehow the idea of conserving the best of the past has got lost for many.

"If you’re a conservative—half of America—why would you take yourself out of the debate? C’mon, don’t be stupid. Conservative people want to conserve things. Preserving the climate should be high on that list."

Commie-Hippie-Tree-Hugging-Agenda-21er, prolly
The other day a reader tipped this interview with Rear Admiral David Titley on Slate:
I see climate change as one of the driving forces in the 21st century. With modern technology and globalization, we are much more connected than ever before. The world’s warehouses are now container ships. Remember the Icelandic volcano with the unpronounceable name? Now, that’s not a climate change issue, but some of the people hit worst were flower growers in Kenya. In 24 hours, their entire business model disappeared. You can’t eat flowers....

Here’s another one: We basically do nothing on emissions. Sea level keeps rising, three to six feet by the end of the century. Then, you get a series of super-typhoons into Shanghai and millions of people die. Does the population there lose faith in Chinese government? Does China start to fissure? I’d prefer to deal with a rising, dominant China any day....

A lot of people who doubt climate change got co-opted by a libertarian agenda that tried to convince the public the science was uncertain—you know, the Merchants of Doubt. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of people in high places who understand the science but don’t like where the policy leads them: too much government control.

Where are the free-market, conservative ideas? The science is settled. Instead, we should have a legitimate policy debate between the center-right and the center-left on what to do about climate change. If you’re a conservative—half of America—why would you take yourself out of the debate? C’mon, don’t be stupid. Conservative people want to conserve things. Preserving the climate should be high on that list.
Happy Earth Day. Celebrate, worry, and act.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Framing Howard Hall as Practicality vs Sentimentality Misses Giant Parking Lot

The Hospital is gearing up for another attempt to demolish Howard Hall. But lost in the headline antithesis of practicality vs. sentimentality is the way the whole thing is a giant surface parking lot.

It's all about cars.

Drab and Useless?
Rather than framing it as reason vs emotion, how about we look at carbon footprint.  A more interesting angle might be how profoundly unsustainable and unhealthy is the whole model of car storage and new construction proposed here. In reuse, retaining the embodied carbon in an existing building isn't just sentimentality, and in fact it might be the most prudent, practical option of all.

Local MPO to Review Draft Project List for 2015-2020

On Tuesday the 22nd - the actual Earth Day - the Policy Committee for our local Metropolitan Planning Organization, the Salem Keizer Area Transportation Study, meets at noon. On the agenda is the draft Transportation Improvement Program and federal funding for 2015-2020.

Look!  It's the Light at Union and Commercial
You might ask, what is this TIP?
The SKATS Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) authorizes the allocation of federal, state, and matching local funds for transportation activities and improvements within the SKATS area boundary during the period October 1, 2014, through September 30, 2018, (federal fiscal years FY 2015 through FY 2018)...The TIP represents a policy document for the SKATS Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) area describing which projects will be given funding priority....[and] represents the formal programming mechanism by which funds are committed to specific transportation projects by the affected jurisdictions in the SKATS MPO area....[in this way it serves] as the mechanism for the incremental implementation of the regional transportation and program priorities in the adopted RTSP. [italics added hopefully for clarity]
So, how 'bout that cover?  Looks pretty good!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Celebrate Earth Day at Pringle Creek Community and Willamette

Last year for Earth Day, City Council celebrated fossil fuels and driving more.

Fortunately, this year there's no aggravating City Council meeting at odds with the spirit of the day - so instead, think about biking over to Pringle Creek Community for a low-key, family-friendly celebration of greener living!

And yummie food!

More from Pringle Creek Community:
Steel Bridge Coffee will offer a tasting of their delicious coffees, Curt Fisher will bring his bicycle blender and share coffee smoothies, Full Circle Creamery will offer selections of their cheese for tasting, Edgemaster will sharpen tools, The Bike Peddler will be here to help with bike maintenance, Straub Environmental Learning Center will share knowledge about worm composting, Garten Environmental Services will help us to gather electronic waste, Turtle Ridge Wildlife Center will show off local wildlife, and ZeroKar, a local electric car manufacturer, will show us their latest creations
(Salem Weekly also has a nice note on it.)


Tall Bike at Wulapalooza 2013
Not precisely for Earth Day, but a celebration of creativity and life on earth anyway, over at Willamette, during Wulapalooza check out some touring bands that, depending on your age, you might never have heard of before.

Especially if the weather's good, either one or both might be fine ways to think about the earth.

(If you know of other Earth Day events, on Saturday or the 22nd, drop them in the comments!)

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Annie Leonard to tell Story of Stuff tonight at Willamette

When you go by bike, you know you can't take a whole lot of stuff with you.

One of the underrated attributes of bike transportation is that is it helpful with "stuff management." When you shop, you have to ask yourself if you have room for that extra thing; when you commute, you have to pare down to the essential stuff. Bikes pose the question:  Can you carry it? and Do you need it? It's a way to be more disciplined about stuff.

A basket only carries so much stuff
Tonight, Thursday the 17th, Annie Leonard, internet personality, viral star, and serious advocate, will talk about stuff at Willamette University as the 2014 Dempsey Lecturer.
The lecture will take place in Hudson Hall on the Willamette University Campus. A book signing will follow. The lecture is FREE and open to the public--and does not require a ticket. Doors will open at 6:45.
You have almost certainly seen "The Story of Stuff."

If not, check it out!

Since its rollicking debut in 2007, Leonard has worked on several more features, including ones on bottled water, cosmetics, and electronics.

The talk will likely touch on consumerism, logistics, and disposal - The Story of Stuff. Hopefully she's also work in something about bikes!