Saturday, February 27, 2010

Kidical Mass, the Kid-Friendly Bike Ride - 1pm on Sunday

Kidical Mass is a fun, short, family-friendly bike ride, ready for the tag-along, trailer, and training-wheel set! Come out and join the fun!

Meet at Bush Park, between Bush House and the Barn, at 1pm!

For more information see the Kidical mass blog

City Proposes new draft Neighborhood Center Zoning

Planning is one of the most important ways to create good transportation. It also has more moving parts and is easy to screw up with unintended consequences.

One of the exciting processes in Salem planning involves the West Salem Neighborhood Plan and the intersection of Orchard Heights and Doaks Ferry.

The map here (full version here) shows in purple some of the envisioned mixed-use zones for the area. There's also hope to put in some schools on the northeast corner.

Not actually in purple, but the first parcel to be in play, is the Bone property.

The Bone estate is on the northwest corner. The city is currently working on a new zoning designation, the Neighborhood Center Mixed-Use (NCMU) Zone, which it hopes to apply to this parcel. The Code Concepts draft describes it:
In the spring of 2008, the City of Salem initiated a planning project to implement the adopted West Salem Neighborhood Plan (Plan) recommendation to create and apply a new Mixed-Use Neighborhood Center zone district. Although planned for initial use in West Salem, the new zone would be available for use elsewhere in the City in the future.
The key values the code seeks to instantiate are
Sense of place
Pedestrian orientation
Compact urban form
Neighborhood vitality
Innovative design
Transit accessibility
Connectivity with surrounding neighborhoods
Accommodation of the automobile
More specifcially, the proposed code treats connectivity and
calls for Mixed-Use Neighborhood Centers to have pedestrian orientation, transit accessibility, and connectivity with surrounding neighborhoods, as well a providing [sic] for auto use. Local street connections and a good system of pedestrian pathways will be important in any neighborhood center. On the Bone Estate property, establishing the required street connectivity would include an amendment to the City’s Transportation System Plan to show the proposed required new street connections.

The city is taking the draft code and code concepts out to three community meetings:
March 29, 2010:
West Salem High School (Commons)
1776 Titan Drive NW
Salem, Oregon 97304
6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

April 5, 2010:
Leslie Middle School (Commons)
3550 Pringle Creek Road SE
Salem, Oregon 97302
6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

April 6, 2010:
Swegle Elementary (Cafeteria)
4485 Market Street NE
Salem, Oregon 97301
6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

The current draft of the code is here. As written the code contains a loose designation of a "pedestrian street" as "routes designated in the Neighborhood Center Master Plan which provide direct access to key pedestrian attractors (e.g., nearby schools, transit, retail areas)." Later it calls for a circulation plan and defines the pedestrian streets:
The Neighborhood Center Master Plan shall include a traffic circulation plan for pedestrian, bicycle, and vehicular movement within and through the site...the emphasis of the circulation plan shall be on pedestrian mobility and accessibility and shall demonstrate an effective and convenient system of pedestrian pathways leading into, and within the neighborhood center....

Pedestrian streets shall be designed to encourage interaction among residents of the development and adjoining neighborhoods. Minimum sidewalk widths of eight (8) feet are required unless otherwise approved in the neighborhood Center Master Plan. Pedestrian amenities are integral elements of the enhanced streetscape design. Amenities such as public plazas, sitting areas, covered walkways, public art, pedestrian scaled lighting, and significant water features (e.g., creek and fountain) shall be incorporated within the streetscape and shall be proportionately scaled to the surrounding walkways, landscaping and buildings. Along all streets, pedestrian scale lighting shall be provided. (p. 23 of January 11, 2010 Public Review Draft - NCMU)
Parking "shall be provided in the NCMU zone pursuant to SRC Chapter 133."

The NCMU code looks promising, but 8-foot sidewalks aren't that much bigger than the current 5-foot minimum! The provisions for bicycles are even more slender, and based on an initial reading, it appears that there's room to enhance the multi-modality of the NCMU even more!

For example, as we saw in the analysis of the Chemeketa Center for Business and Industry building and bike parking, SRC 133 currently provides for inadequate bike parking. The NCMU is a great place for bike corrals! Even without corrals, there should be much more bike parking that SRC would require.

As for the streetscape, there is nothing about bicycle boulevards or other engineering that would make the streets more bike-friendly. Indeed, the connectivity enhancements appear to be largely cosmetic and not substantive.

As we learn more about the NCMU, we'll revisit this in more detail. Stay tuned!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Breakfast Turns Two!

Two years ago we "Lept into the saddle on Leap Day" and this morning Breakfast on Bikes celebrated two years! Thanks for joining us!

Troy and Cory from Santiam Bicycle brought a tent and set up a stand to offer quick inspections for commuters - chain lube, derailleur adjustment, and tire inflation. Thanks for the help! In the rain the tent was extra welcome!

Breakfast on Bikes couldn't happen without the support of businesses who look forward to creating a sustainable transportation system. Thank you!

Cascade Baking Company.

LifeSource Natural Foods.

Coffee House Cafe.

For their support we also thank the
Salem Bicycle Club
Willamette University Sustainability Council

Finally, thanks to Al for the cups, Jean for treats, and special thanks to the B on B crew Doug, Robert, Debbie, & Gary!

Here's to year three!

(Thanks to Debbie for the pix!)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Possibly Impatient, Sanyo Turns to Portland for eBike Love

Almost exactly a year ago, Sanyo gave the City of Salem a Sanyo Eneloop bicycle. Mayor Taylor took it for several rides and there was much talk of a charging infrastructure and sales of the bicycle in town.

Now, a year later, Salem has not moved on charging stations nor has the bicycle appeared in the market. Part of this may be due to Sanyo and difficulties in getting it into the marketplace. Giant also has an eBike that is already in the Salem market, and retailers may be reluctant to get behind another brand before the first one takes off.

At the same time, the City hasn't exactly set the world on fire with plans for the infrastructure or other efforts to stimulate demand.

In this context, it's interesting to note news today that Sanyo is courting Portland and Mayor Adams.

City of Salem, you had a chance to be first, and now Portland's going to steal the thunder! It's not too late!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Legislative Update: How About BETC for Bicyclists?

Turns out this session hasn't been very active on matters relating to bicycles. And they are gearing up to adjourn in the next couple of days. At least one detail pointed out our crazy allocation of resources for green transportation.

Yesterday, however, the Senate passed Senate Bill 1059 on Greenhouse Gas emissions 17 - 13. Nays: Atkinson, Boquist, Ferrioli, George, Girod, Kruse, Metsger, Morse, Nelson, Starr, Telfer, Whitsett, Winters. Now it's in the house. We'll have more on the bill after the session.

House Bill 3680, on the Business Energy Tax Credit, also passed both Houses and is headed to the Governor. A couple of days ago in an Oregonian piece, they noted that
Mesilla Valley Transportation, based in El Paso and Las Cruces, N.M., received 752 separate tax credits worth $4.5 million to outfit its truck fleet with the latest fuel-saving technology under Oregon's Business Energy Tax Credit program...
But according to the Oregonian's investigation,
the company's long-haul rigs are running less than 1 percent of their miles on Oregon roads.

Oregon bicyclists log almost 100% of their miles on Oregon roads. They exert almost zero wear on the roads and reduce maintenance costs, emit negligible greenhouse gases and stave off climate change, and efficiently transfer calories into motion better than almost any other transportation. By subsituting bike trips for car trips, bicyclists take cars off the roads, reduce congestion, and improve freight mobility. They free up auto parking spots. What's not to like?

If there's a compelling public good in subsidizing the development of green energy, there's even more reason to invest in bicycling - in so many ways investing in bicycling is a more efficient allocation of scarce resources! So how about some BETC for bikes!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Spring Bicycle Racing Starts

April 3rd Willamette University will host the downtown Capital Cup criterium races. The racing team and the bike shop are planning this inaugural race.

It's especially fitting as Willson Park, on the part that is the current site of the Executive Building, and where Gatke Hall used to be located when it was the Post Office, used to have a bike track! In the 1890s bicycle racing at the Capitol was common, and a special feature of July 4th celebrations.

Welcome back to Salem!

There are several other area races, and if you'd like to come out and cheer on the peloton, the racers would welcome you!

March 6, 13, 20 (Saturday) - "As the Raven Flies" Time Trial, McMinnville, OR; Time trials (aka TTs) are great for novice and first time racers.

April 3 (Saturday) - Salem Downtown Criterium, Salem, OR; Watch packs of racers speed around a 1KM multi-corner loop towards an all-out sprint finish. Organized by Willamette University Cycling Team.

April 10 (Saturday) - King's Valley Road Race, Dallas, OR; This Oregon Cup race will draw the best of the Pacific Northwest.

June 19 (Saturday) - Salem Twlight Criterium, Salem, OR Another downtown criterium. This time, with a slightly different course. Organized by Salem's local race team - Capitol Velo Criteriums are great spectator races.

June 27 (Sunday) - Salem Farview Circuit Race. A circuit race, in length, is between a road race and a criterium. Racers complete several loops of the course before an all-out sprint.

August 9, 16, 23, 30 - Salem Short Track. Racers ride either their cyclocross bike or mountain bike through a man-made dirt 'short track' course at the Fairgrounds.

The complete spring and summer racing schedule is at the OBRA schedule page.

(Thanks to racer Jen Ackroyd for help with the list!)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Thursday BTA Forum

BTA HQ sends out a note about statewide advocacy forums, the first one to be held here! Others will be in the Rogue Valley, Eugene, Bend, and Tigard. Portland staff don't join us all that often, so this is sure to be a special conversation!
On February 25, the BTA board and staff invite you to attend a member-guided discussion forum about the issues that are relevant and important to you. We would like to get your input as we strengthen our advocacy goals and strategies for 2010 to make sure they reflect the priorities for your community.

The first two meetings are in Portland and Salem, but there are more forums scheduled statewide throughout the year.

Feb 25 - Salem
Salem Public Library, Plaza Room
585 Liberty Street SE
5:30 - 7:30 pm

Please RSVP if you are likely to attend. Email Margaux or call 503-226-0676 x28.

The discussion will focus on one or two topics chosen by the audience. Possible topics include:

Hiring our next Executive Director
Statewide advocacy focus
Preparing for the 2011 Legislative Session
Increased member engagement
Anything else you'd like to discuss

Questions? Email Margaux or call 503-226-0676 x28.

If are interested in learning more about the BTA or joining the BTA, please RSVP and attend!

And remember, the Mid-Willamette Valley Chapter of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance meets the third Tuesday of each month to discuss Salem-Keizer area advocacy and bicycle matters.

Boys and Girls Club Organize New Family-Friendly Event Ride

As some know, the Watermelon Ride never really took off and attained the popularity of the Monster Cookie and Peach of a Century Rides. This summer there's going to be a bigger and better ride!

Supported by the Salem Bicycle Club, other area clubs, Oregon Parks and Recreation, the Oregon Garden, and others, the Boys and Girls Club of Salem is working on the inaugural Cycle Challenge. It will fill the hole between the Monster and Peach, and more importantly, offers a full-family opportunity!
The Boys & Girls Clubs provide thousands of children with critical life changing support by providing nutritious meals, basic health services and youth development opportunities every day.

Join us for a spectacular ride through the Willamette Valley where your tour will take you through lush vineyards, the stunning Oregon Gardens and across the Willamette River on the quaint Wheatland Ferry. Choose from a 75 mile route, a 40 mile route or bring the kids for the family fun
ride through the park.

Take the challenge. Every mile, every dollar makes a difference in the life of a child.

Where: Willamette Mission State Park
When: Saturday, June 26, 2010
Three Routes:Family Fun Ride through the park, 40 Mile Route, 70 Mile Route

The secret sauce is the Family Fun Ride through the protected paths at Willamette Mission State Park. This will be a great opportunity for the whole family to get out and ride!

So Save the Date!

We'll have more as details get finalized.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Physician Recruitment: Salem is So-Lame

While the Salem area is enjoying a bit of a renaissance among some younger professionals, creatives, and the tech savvy, it remains a difficult sell for many.

In today's Statesman, Ruth Liao writes about changing patterns in local physician employment and insurance policies that affect the supply of healthcare. The delivery isn't paying for physicians, and consequently the supply is thinning for patients.

In the face of a diminishing supply, Liao also writes that recruiting new doctors is increasingly difficult:
Dean Larsen, executive director of the Marion-Polk County Medical Society, said the problem of finding a doctor as a new patient is not limited to those on Medicare, but any kind of health insurance.

"The reality is, we don't have enough doctors regardless of your insurance," he said.

Recruiting is further challenging because of an overall shortage of doctors — in 2009, 16,000 physicians graduated from medical school nationwide. Less than 20 percent of those graduates are in primary care, which includes family medicine, pediatrics or internists, Larsen said.

"The pipeline's not big enough," he said.

Promoting the Salem area to incoming physicians can be challenging: The cost of living in Salem is comparable to other parts of the U.S.; reimbursements are lower in small-population states such as Oregon; and Salem's demographic size can be a tough sell to a new medical school graduate from Chicago, Seattle or New York.

"Salem looks very rural," Larsen said.

There it is. Salem looks like a back-water to highly skilled professionals coming from more urban environments. There are many reasons for this, of course, and we cannot discuss them in any meaningfully comprehensive manner. But one element common to both New York and Chicago, and also now to Seattle with new Mayor and bicyclist Mike McGinn, is that all of these cities are more bike- and transit-friendly than is Salem.

A bike-friendly city correlates to a strong transportation infrastructure and to a high quality of life. Bicycling is not a frill and it is not a fringey activity for the freaks. It is, on the contrary, a core activity for great cities and a significant attraction for highly skilled professionals.

Improving Salem's bicycling infrastructure and bike culture should be part of its overall economic strategy and its package for prospective professionals like physicians. It will take more than just this, of course, but a core commitment to a multi-modal transportation system should be part of it. Salem needs to look to the challenges of the 21st century, not to nostalgia for the Eisenhower administration: We must plan for 2050, not like it's 1950.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Breakfast on Bikes - February 26th

Indications are that the Legislature will wrap up before the 26th, so we decided to revert to our regular B on B schedule.

A week from this Friday, on February 26th, we'll be at the North Office Mall Building on Winter street NE from 7am to 9am with coffee, pastries, and fruit for you. See you then!

Thanks also to our sponsors - please support them with your business!
Cascade Baking Company
Coffee House Cafe
LifeSource Natural Foods
Salem Bicycle Club
Willamette University Sustainability Council

View Larger Map

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Kidical Mass schedules First Ride for February 28th

Kidical Mass is a fun, short, family-friendly bike ride, ready for the tag-along, trailer, and training-wheel set! Come out and join the fun!
When: Sunday, February 28th, 2010 @ 1:00 pm
Location: Bush Pasture City Park, near the Bush House Museum
Theme: "Slip on Your Rain Boots! Kick-Off Ride." Rain or Shine, we're gonna ride!

For more information see the Kidical mass blog

Kidical Mass on Facebook

Kidical Mass on Twitter

Friday, February 5, 2010

At City Council on Monday

Monday night Council will touch on four transportation related matters.

At 5:30pm they will get an update on the Salem Rivercrossing process. This is a half-billion dollar project to place a highway-style bridge across the river. If you are concerned about the possibility of overbuilding a bridge, of designing one that is less safe, harms neighborhoods, increases greenhouse gas emissions, and fails to anticipate changing community transportation needs, consider attending the meeting or watching the video stream. This is the single biggest infrastructure project considered in the region, dwarfs the current road bond by a factor of five, and will have large impacts over the next century. It's too important not to pay attention to it!

Then, at the regular 6:30pm start are three other matters.

Last month at City Council, Sustainable Fairview presented their latest Refinement Plan for developing the Fairview Training Center parcel. One of the interesting things about it was its proposed use of sharrows on a proposed collector-level street.

The matter of vacating portion of Strong Road for the creation of that new collector street will go before Council on Monday.

Council will also be asked to adopt the first set of legislative positions from the Legislative Committee. The committee strongly opposes Senate Bill 1059, which would create a "process for adoption and implementation of plans for reducing greenhouse gas emissions caused by motor vehicles." The bill, came from last session's House Bill 2186, Metropolitan Planning Organization Greenhouse Gas Emissions Task Force. Particularly in light of the City's recent Community Energy Forum and interest in a sustainable energy strategy, it is disappointing to see the City take a position inconsistent with its energy goals. Let the City Manager and City Council know that supporting SB 1059 is a good thing!

Finally, the multi-use path between the Union St. RR Bridge to Glen Creek Road continues to make progress. Before Council will be the matter of the 11% match for Federal Funds. Details here and here. The path will help make more intuitive connections between the Bridge and Glen Creek road.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Comment on Draft Criteria for 2012-15 State Transportation Projects

The Oregon Transportation Commission can adopt better ways to evaluate and rank large road projects!

Late last month the Oregon Environmental Council sent out a note urging the public to comment on the draft eligibility criteria and prioritization factors for the 2012-2015 STIP.

Comments are due by February 19th, 2010

Submit your comments to Lucia Ramirez, Principal Planner in ODOT’s Transportation Development Division, at Lucia can also be reached at 503-986-4168.

Deputy OEC Director Chris Hagerbaumer writes:
Oregon Environmental Council (OEC) strongly urges you to review and comment on these criteria and prioritization factors because we have an unprecedented opportunity to ensure improved transportation decision making in the state.

The Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) is the funding and scheduling document for major road, highway, and transit projects in Oregon. It lists projects for the next four years...

During the 2009 legislative session, OEC and others forwarded a set of 10 considerations to be incorporated into STIP criteria, which were adopted as part of House Bill 2001 (see the list on page 4 of the draft). Three are of particular interest to OEC:
8. Fosters livable communities by demonstrating that the investment does not undermine sustainable urban development. This consideration is addressed in the new criterion “Implement OHP Policy 1B: Land Use and Transportation” on pages 24-25.

9. Enhances the value of transportation projects through designs and development that reflect environmental stewardship and community sensitivity. This consideration is addressed primarily in the new criterion “Implement OHP Policy 5A: Environmental Resources” on pages 27-28.

10. Is consistent with the state’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals and reduces this state’s dependence on foreign oil. This consideration is addressed in the new criterion “Implement OHP Policy 5A: Environmental Resources” on pages 27-28, as well as the discussion of least cost planning in the introduction.

While OEC believes the revisions suggested by the STIP Stakeholder Committee go a long way toward ensuring adequate consideration of these goals, it’s our opinion that the proposal falls a bit short with regard to the state’s greenhouse gas reduction (GHG) goals.*

The introduction (see pages 4-9) discusses how GHGs should be considered, but is a bit schizophrenic in its recommendations....

OEC feels that entities proposing transportation projects should be given a consistent signal that the time has arrived for addressing the global warming consequences of transportation infrastructure choices. Every transportation and land use decision made has GHG consequences that will last far into the future, and in order to meet the state’s 2020 and 2050 GHG reduction goals we must make the correct choices now. Even without a perfect means of assessing the GHG implications of a specific project, VMT, fleet mix and modal split can serve as a rough proxy for GHGs in the mean time.

Even if you don't want to wonk out on detail, drop Lucia Ramirez a note to say that assessing projects for greenhouse gas impact is one of the most important future tasks for transportation planning.

*italics added

Legislative Session 2010 - The Start

And they're off! There's nothing about bikes directly, and not a whole lot that touches bicycling indirectly. Still, here's some of the things to watch...

The House Committee on Transportation is sponsoring a HB 2001 clean-up, titled Legislative Concept 140.

With the Senate they are also working on Senate Bill 1059, which will extend to additional Metropolitan Planning Organizations the greenhouse gas reduction efforts started for Portland in HB 2186.

The BTA will also be working to introduce a Vehicular Homicide law.