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!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Study shows why Transit, Parking, and Bridge should be in Same Conversation

Capturing the Ride, the project to discuss "flexible transit" in West Salem, Keizer, and South Salem has started publishing some of their preliminary findings. Silence on the "third bridge" is interesting - and worrisome, unfortunately.

Lots of residential West Salem is far from a bus stop
The Existing Conditions report is especially interesting. In a heat map of places within a 1/4 and 1/2 mile of a bus stop, you can see large swaths of road and homes that are not well served by a bus.

Not surprisingly there are few boardings in the hills
And in fact the boardings follow the geography. Except for the high school, there's little activity in the hills.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Church Street and other Newsbits

Sunday: Yeah, so it was on a parking lot - but still!
Now that the transit mall is open again, the City has removed temporary markings and restored Church Street to three travel lanes.

Now that the bus mall is open, do we really need all three lanes?
But the section seemed to function alright with just two travel lanes - we managed just fine with a road diet!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

City Council, April 14th - Boise Project Grant

Monday at Council doesn't really bring any transportation issues, but there are some interesting bits anyway.  The main items of interest are some additional information about the Boise project and the adoption of the Morningside Neighborhood Plan. There's also a note about an upcoming work session on the Civic Center and Police Station concepts.

Don't miss the camas!
There are additional details on the nursing home proposed for the Boise site. None of them seem like big, meaningful changes - just tweaks and details. In the staff report is a note about how the project grant would be funded:
A RDURA Project Grant is paid solely from the tax increment revenues generated from the new construction of the Development...

Because a Project Grant is paid from the tax increment revenues of a single project, it will not be paid if the project isn't completed, or if the project is completed but later proves unsuccessful, is abandoned, or destroyed.
Proposed Marquis Care Facility on Boise Site
So it looks like the grant will just recycle some or all of the tax increment and will not draw on the tax increment from other properties.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Quotidian Work? Make Exercise less Awesome, more Often

Earlier this week columnist Jeanine Stice wrote about the Awesome 3000 and the goal of getting kids more exercise. "[T]he Awesome can develop habits that reduce children's risk for heart disease as adults." (etc, etc.)

Readers here will know all the arguments.

More interesting is the way it echos what might be a particularly American style of thinking in seeing the origins of "habits" in special-event, one-off episodes.  Isn't this heroic exceptionalism and sort-and-separate thinking oxymoronic, even contradictory? I mean habits are supposed to be routine, deadly-dull even.  That's their power. You chug along in them and don't give them any thought. Repetition, not epic heroism and trophies, is their hallmark.

Of course kids can bike and walk to school.  Rather than having parents drive them to the gym, to practice, or special event races, kids could just simply walk or bike to school most every day.

While it might not seem so "awesome," that routine and habit is all the "training" they need for a healthy foundation in every day life!

It should be easy to integrate exercise into daily living - it shouldn't require special clothes, special memberships, special events. We treat exercise with the trappings of the liminal, even! But the accessories should be optional, not normative.

La Dolce Vita:  Them Romans know to do it!
Yield for Walking school bus - from N3B
Maybe if we spent more time and effort and construction budgets on the everydayness of Safe Routes to School and Walk+Bike to School, and less on the Awesome Magnificence and Wonder of a single day's race - maybe then we'd be getting somewhere meaningful. Athletes will still find ways to train and avenues for competition, but for the rest of us, just a baseline level of walking or biking would do wonders.

It is cranky to pick on the Awesome 3000, because of course it's not like it's a bad thing.  It's a good thing! But it is telling that it seems to enjoy a level of institutional support that Safe Routes to School can only dream of right now.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Pothole Problems Remind us the Gas Tax is Running on Empty

There's a preview of the City budget in the paper today and it mentions Public Works and the Department of Pothole Repair.

Not much highlighted, since it's a piece on the whole budget, is the fact that the gas tax is falling further and further behind on our basic needs for potholes. But not mentioned at all is the way our committment to building new roads and new road capacity exacerbates the whole mess - why are we building new stuff if we already can't maintain the old stuff?

Preview of next year's budget: Fewer resources for potholes
From the piece:
City government still is shrinking. City staff would be reduced by a little more than 6.5 full-time equivalent positions in the draft budget. The reductions primarily are from positions already trimmed, mid-year, and positions left vacant.

Deeper budget cuts — perhaps as much as $6 million over five years — may be needed in future budget cycles if city revenues continue to lag behind costs, Norris said...

Salem Public Works Director Peter Fernandez, who also will give a presentation to the budget committee, said roads that are in bad shape will continue to be in bad shape. Projects to maintain roads, such as applying asphalt overlays, probably won’t get done, he said.

As Fernandez explained, the city will continue to fill potholes. Unfortunately, there may be more potholes to fill with fewer resources. Funds to pay for street maintenance are being squeezed for a couple of reasons:

The draft budget cuts general fund support for the transportation fund, which pays for street maintenance, to zero, he said. As late as fiscal 2010-11, the transportation fund was getting about $1.2 million from the general fund.

Revenue from gasoline taxes steadily has dropped because people are driving less and using more fuel efficient vehicles.

No layoffs are expected in public works, but the department will not fill four vacant positions in street operations and maintenance, Fernandez said.

Budget cuts might revive discussions about a streetlight fee. [italics added]
The gas tax and other car user fees don't come anywhere close to full funding for roads. The general fund supports maintenance and a property tax bond is doing all the road bond construction - $100 million worth! - since 2008. This is the trade-off:  If folks want to pay less at the pump, then they end up paying more on their house. (So, equally, if folks want to pay less at the pump, they may pay for streetlights instead.)