Friday, April 30, 2010

Oil Spill's a Reminder: Pledge your Independence from Oil

According to the New York Times
Coast Guard officials were investigating reports early Friday morning that oil from a massive spill in the Gulf of Mexico had washed ashore overnight, threatening fisheries and wildlife in fragile marshes and islands along the Gulf Coast.

Yesterday they reported that
the offshore drilling accident that is spewing thousands of barrels of oil a day into the Gulf of Mexico could cost the company several hundred million dollars.

Nobody really knows whether the London-based oil giant is being too conservative about the cost for the April 20 accident, which some experts say could end up as the biggest oil spill in history. The 1989 grounding of the Exxon Valdez off Alaska, for example, cost Exxon Mobil more than $4.3 billion, including compensatory payments, cleanup costs, settlements and fines.

There are many reasons to reduce our reliance on oil. This is but one of them. Make every Friday a "Fuel-Free Friday."

It's the patriotic thing to do.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

8% or 20%? Why can't Bikes Relieve More Bridge Traffic?

As Salem considers new road projects and the prospect of a third bridge across the Willamette River, we would do well to reflect on the example of the Hawthorne Bridge in Portland.

On Tuesday the Rivercrossing Alternative Modes Study wrapped and issued their final report (91pp pdf). The study contains a number of suggestions for improving walking and bicycling facilities and for making it easier to walk and bike.

All of the suggestions are good ones, and they should be pursued independent of the proposed highway-style bridge. They are basic kinds of things that will help Salem renew its bicycle-friendly status at a higher level. We hope the City will shoot for gold, not merely silver!

Rather than discuss the suggestions now in a block, we'll probably refer to them as relevant topics and places arise. It is not likely that any of them will surprise you, as none of them are especially novel, but it is good to see them collected as part of a plan.

Still, the plan could be more ambitious. (For previous analysis see here and here.) The goal of the study's recommendations is
to reduce SOV [single-occupant vehicle or "drive alone"] travel over the Willamette River in Salem by 8 percent or more in the future planning horizon year (2031) over currently projected traffic volumes.

For comparison let's look at a different bridge, the Hawthorne Bridge in Portland.

Portland: Bike Rush Hour on the Hawthorne Bridge from Streetfilms on Vimeo.

Over at Bikeportland, a couple of slides from National Bike Summit presentation on Portland's bike strategy show the way that bikes save money. By dramatically growing total traffic volumes without an increase in motor vehicle volumes, the increase in bicycling improves total mobility without requiring costly road widening.

The captions in italics are from Portland's slide commentary.
The total number of vehicles on the Hawthorne Bridge has increased 20% since 1991…This increased demand for mobility is consistent with what most traffic models would predict, given increases in population and increased economic activity. This type of increased demand for mobility can spell problems for road users: more congestion, more delay and less travel reliability.
The next slide breaks out the 20% increase by mode share.

Notice the red line: The trendline for motor vehicles is flat. Bicycling has absorbed the growth!
In the case of the Hawthorne Bridge, the negative effects of congestion have been kept at bay. Because, while the number of vehicles increased 20% between 1991 and 1998, that increase has been almost wholly in bicycle traffic.
The comments go on to contrast this result with the expected results of prevailing traffic analysis and engineering:
Had the increase been—as it might be in most places—automobiles, then the intersections at either ends of the bridge would likely have failed in their ability to effectively and efficiently move traffic.

The engineering solution to this type of congestion would have been to widen the intersections, add more travel lanes to the bridge, add more green time to the movements onto the bridge. In reality, because there are scant funds for such improvements, nothing would have been done and the costs would have been those of increased congestion
Since bicycle traffic and not car traffic has absorbed the increase, auto traffic proceeds unhindered.
However, because the increased demand for mobility has been borne almost exclusively by the bicycle, automotive traffic flows in this area the same today as it did in 1991. It is for this reason, in part, that Portland’s award winning traffic engineer, Rob Burchfield, states that:Bicycling infrastructure is relatively easy to implement and low cost compared to other modes. It is by far the most cost-effective way to provide for personal mobility in an urban transportation system.

Some people have objected that west Salem is significantly more hilly than inner southeast Portland, and therefore that geography inherently makes bicycling in this area of Portland more likely than in west Salem. They say that it is not realistic to expect similar increases in Salem bicycling. This assumption is ratified in the Rivercrossing Alternate Modes Study, which supposes an 8% shift in all modes, not merely bicycling - nowhere close to Portland's 20%.

A more interesting question than the rhetorical one "why biking won't be more popular" is "what would it take for bicycling to be more popular?" What would it take to get that 20% shift in Salem bicycling across the river?

When we consider that a new bridge is a $500M proposition, we might ask ourselves, what would 10% of that applied to bicycling accomplish? Could we spend a dime in order to save a dollar? What would a $50M investment in bicycling yield? Would it yield 20%?

Unfortunately we don't know the answer. The transportation planning already postulates, already assumes as a given, that the only worthwhile and effective form of mobility - the only mobility for which we have to plan - is the single-passenger auto.

What truly is the cost-effectiveness in mobility among the different options? This question has not been asked in any serious way. Hopefully ODOT and others will start "least-cost" planning soon.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Salem Bike Registration Program Combats Theft

Today in the Statesman, Salem Police Community Relations Analyst Angie Hedrick writes about stolen bikes and Salem's registration program.
Bicycles are one of the most commonly stolen items in Salem....

Anyone interested in participating in the Bicycle Registration Program needs to complete a form that provides the police department with the bicycle and the owner's information so that it can be entered into our law enforcement database.

Upon return of the completed form with the $2 registration fee, registrants will receive a durable, etched sticker marked with a tracking number exclusive to them. This tag can be easily applied to the bicycle frame and identifies the bicycle as being registered with the Salem Police Department.
The program assists recovery and may even have a small deterrent effect.
For more information about the program or to receive a registration form, contact the Crime Prevention Unit at (503) 588-6175. Forms may also be picked up at the police department front counter, 555 Liberty St. SE, Room 130.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

May is Walk + Bike Month - Is your School Participating?

May is walk + bike month! Over at the BTAblog they've mapped all the participating schools.

But there's only three Salem schools!

Hooray to Miller Elementary, Salem Heights Elementary, and Willamette Christian!

Everybody else, consider signing up today! It's a great way to encourage kids and families to be active and healthy!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Breakfast on Bikes - April 30th, Mission and Winter

This Friday, April 30th, between 7 and 9am, we'll be at Mission & Winter. Please join us!

And please remember our sponsors!
Cascade Baking Company
Coffee House Cafe
LifeSource Natural Foods
Salem Bicycle Club
Willamette University Sustainability Council

View Larger Map

City Council Tonight - Pictsweet Annexation, Maple, Airport

On the Council agenda is nothing specifically about bicycles, but several matters show some of the ways "business as usual" hinders fully integrated transportation planning for the 21st century.

Maple Avenue

One of the matters may, however, be a small success.

As we have worked on making Winter Street a north-south connection through town, the way to connect it to Cherry Avenue and the prospect of a connection to the Kroc Center has been on our minds. The Highland neighborhood was also working on the possibility of connecting Maple Avenue to Salem Industrial Drive. The first step in making this a street connection is the dedication of right-of-way. This is before the Council tonight.

Update: The City adds that
On council is the dedication of right-of-way that was required as part of the Urban Growth Area (UGA) permit for the Capital Toyota development. The UGA, however, only requires that they develop the street south to their southern driveway. South of that they are only required to provide a bike/ped connection to Maple.


Less exciting are several other topics.

The chief one is the persistent interest in the airport. LoveSalem has a few tart observations. On the docket is a proposal to apply for $50,000 in State funds which will be a 5% match for $1M in Federal funds. The anticipated uses are to:
"continue the Airport Master Plan update, reconstruct Taxiway Charlie, upgrade airfield security, and undertake an environmental assessment of the runway/safety area extension."
Air travel is one of the least environmentally friendly forms of travel, and it is far from clear that a minor local airport will be important in the decades to come. As unpopular as the horns are, we would do better to focus on rail and ways to make rail common and acceptable.

Keubler Annexation

Also on the docket are two proposed annexations for significant chunks of development abutting the Keubler-Cordon parkway. One is out south, just off Keubler. The proposal involves about 40 acres and proposes to rezone one block:
Rezone the 14.53 acre portion of the Territory from a Marion County “Urban Transition” (UT-10)” zone to City of Salem “Single Family Residential” (RS), “Multiple Family Residential 1” (RM1), and “Multiple Family Residential 2” (RM2)....Apply the City of Salem “Residential Agriculture” (RA) zone and retain the SACP Map designation of “Developing Residential” for the 25.16 acre northern portion of the Territory...

Pictsweet Annexation

The other annexation involves a 118 acre parcel between State Street and Auburn Road just off Cordon Road. It proposes to:
Rezone a 118-acre portion of the Territory from a Marion County “Industrial Park” (IP), “Urban Transition” (UT), and “Urban Development”(UD) zones to City of Salem “Single Family Residential” (RS), “Multiple Family Residential 1” (RM1), “Multiple Family Residential 2” (RM2), and “Commercial Retail” (CR) zone...

The parcel is sandwiched between Lancaster and Cordon, an area poorly served by north-south alternatives to these very busy roads. We hope that street planning will encourage low-traffic connections and not always force bicyclists onto bike lanes striped on arterial and collector streets. This is especially critical because the Geer Line railroad right-of-way bisects the parcel, and you can see from the map that there are no paved official north-south connections across the Geer Line.

Concept drawings for the Commercial Retail zone at the corner of State and Cordon show large parking lots, strip mall style footprints, and an orientation off State and Cordon. Developers appear to want destination box stores rather than smaller neighborhood businesses. It is not clear these will be pleasant to walk and bike to.

Both developments appear to represent 20th century thinking: auto-centric developments on the periphery of the city. The Keubler-Cordon parkway serves both of these developments as the primary transportation access. Even with the commercial cluster on Cordon and State, businesses on Lancaster will be the primary commercial destinations for the. The Keubler development will look to south Commercial and south Lancaster. Both suggest - can we do better?

Update: The City adds
As for Pictsweet - they will be required to provide north/south connectivity. The details of this will be fleshed out through the development process - including a required UGA permit, subdivision, and Site Plan Review (Site Plan Review is just for the commercial and multi-family elements). The old rail line is no longer owned by the railroad. They sold it off - and it is owned by someone different from the owners of the Pictsweet property.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Attend a Talk or Film on Tuesday - Two Great Bike Events!

You can't go wrong with either of these bikey entertainment options!

Metal Cowboy Joe Kurmaskie reads at Salem Bicycle Club

Feeling bookish or wanting some comic stories? The Metal Cowboy's your man!
The Metal Cowboy, Joe Kurmaskie, is speaking at the General meeting of the Salem Bicycle Club. The meeting is held at the First Methodist Church, 600 State St., Salem, at 7 PM Tuesday April 27, 2010. Joe has written several books and many articles on his bicycling adventures, the most recent in Bicycling magazine. He is a very entertaining speaker, so don't miss this. Everyone is welcome so bring the whole family.

Follow Me at Northern Lights

Or maybe you're an adrenaline junkie? Santiam Bicycle is hosting a freeride film to benefit bicycling for kids! Troy writes:

April 27th at 6:30 we'll be showing "Follow Me". A movie by Ant Hill productions, the same folks who brought you The Collective and Roam. We will be showing it at Northern Lights. Doors will be open at 6pm. Movie will be at 6:30. As always, Santiam will be donating the proceeds to BTA's "Safe Routes to Schools" program. Please bring cash as we'll be doing all ticket sales instead of the ticket box at Northern Lights. I know this is terribly short notice so could you please help spread the word and e-mail or text your riding friends who might want to see it.
Admission is $6.

The film just premiered a week ago in California, and officially it isn't released until May. Sounds like a great opportunity!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Bike Parking part of Waterplace and LEED Gold

In today's Statesman Dennis Thomspon writes about Waterplace, which held tours during a benefit "grand opening" yesterday.

But he didn't mention bike parking and its bike parking looks pretty good!

As soon as you approach the main entry from the street, the small rack to the left of the entry is obvious.

The rack is visible from the street and from the building, and at night will be light by the entry way. It is away from the primary walking path to the door, and will not impede pedestrians.

In addition to the bike parking out front, there is a shower on the bottom floor and there will be a larger configuration of bike parking in the back of the building, likely in the covered area of the parking structure.

We can only hope that Waterplace is swamped with bicyclists and has to add more parking!

Adequate bike parking is not the only reason to like the building, of course.

Thompson also writes
CB|Two hopes to earn a LEED Gold designation for WaterPlace for the building's many innovative and environmentally sensitive design features, Brandaw said.
The wood used in interior finishes includes maple from diseased and old trees felled in Eugene and reclaimed wood from old barns around Stayton.

The window system maximizes natural light and minimizes the need for artificial illumination.

The building also makes use of its relation to Pringle Creek.
WaterPlace also was placed farther back from Pringle Creek than the previous building there, the Tudor Rose. The builders have re-established the creek bank and replanted it, restoring the riparian area.
A bioswale drains and filters surface water run-off from the building and log. Pervious pavers drain the patio area.

Waterplace represents a good move and good direction in Salem architecture! Go check it out.

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Cookie opens Wheeling Season this Weekend

It's Monster Cookie weekend, and the weather looks good! On Sunday day-of-ride registration will open at 8am at the Capitol. For more information on this ride through historic French Prairie, see here.

The Cookie will also mark the first event ride for the Flow Riders, the Boys and Girls Club developmental team. You can follow their progress over at one of their sponsors, Pacific Pedaling, where Paul posts updates the Flow Riders!

(And don't forget to mark your calendar for Saturday, June 26th, for the Boys and Girls Club Cycle Challenge!)

Little Cookie

For the little ones who aren't big enough for the metric century, the Mini Cookie Metric Decade will start at 2pm at Grant Elementary. It's a cookie potluck, so put on your apron and get out the flour!

See the Kidical Mass site for more information!

Wulapalooza Bike Parade

If you're going to Wulapalooza at Willamette University, there's a bike parade that starts from Goudy at 4:20pm. Bike decorating will run from 2pm - 4pm outside of Goudy.

Headlining bands include Typhoon, Japandroids, The Dodos, and Portugal the Man. See the complete music schedule here.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Statesman Features Bicyclists for Earth Day

The print version of today's Statesman features small profiles of several "greenies" - and as you might expect, many of them bicycle!

Tom Krise and Stephanie Schmidt are utility cyclists who use a trailer and take care of most of their transportation needs by bike, logging over 100 miles a week. For bigger things or longer trips they use a biodiesel car. (Photo: Timothy J. Gonzalez | Statesman Journal)

Kathie Reeves with TravelSalem and Dottie Knecht with South Salem High School are also frequent bicycle commuters!

Bicycling's a great way to live a healthy life, and it helps to create sustainable, livable communities for everyone.

(The full article doesn't appear to be online. Updated with link!)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Rep. Schrader Disappoints

Over at LoveSalem, Walker's got a note about an extraordinarily disappointing stand taken by Rep. Kurt Schrader on climate change and regulating carbon dioxide. It's an election year, it's true...but still.

Check out Walker's note and Schrader's letter. And while you're at it, take a moment to send Rep. Schrader a note. Or call or write snail mail.

Salem District Office
494 State Street, Suite 210
Salem, OR 97301
Phone: (503) 588-9100
Fax: (503) 588-5517

Let Rep. Schrader know you support regulating C02 and support clean and healthy transportation choices that help families and livable communities thrive.

Monday, April 19, 2010

MWVBTA Meeting Tuesday, April 20th

The MWVBTA meets the third Tuesday of each month. The April meeting is tomorrow, Tuesday the 20th. We'll be meeting from noon to 2:00 p.m. at the Sassy Onion on State Street.

If you are a member of the BTA, would like to learn more about the BTA, or are interested in making the Salem area a better place for bicycling, please join us!

On the agenda...

City Road Projects & Planning
Safe Routes - School Board Meeting May 11
Planning Bridge to Work Day
Rail Quiet Zone - Chemeketa improvements and other crossings
Energy Conservation Grant & Signage/Sharrows project
TE & Bike/Ped grant ideas and applications
Battlecreek Park Connectivity - planning a ways down the road
Fast Lane - Cherriots Rideshare program

MWVBTA Project Updates
Bike Safety Ed update
B on B
Bike Route Mapping Project

Other Projects and News
New Event Rides - Boys & Girls Club, WV Vineyards, Ride of Silence
Cruiser "Fat Tire" Club
Monster Cookie and Mini Cookie

Other topics as time permits.

Comparative Carbon: Planes or Volcanoes?

Just last month the Salem airport was certified by the county as an "Earthwise" entity.

Over at Information is Beautiful, McCandless and Bartels offer a lovely representation of the net difference between the carbon emissions of the Iceland volcano, the emissions of the European aviation system, and the net savings. That's the savings in black.

Though air travel can be important, it is also overused, and it is difficult sometimes to understand how a minor local airport is "wise." As Salem thinks about its transportation system and public subsidies, hopefully it will think deeply about cost-effective and carbon-prudent ways to move freight, people, and services.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Weekend Bits: City Council and other Rides

Bunch of dribs and drabs for the weekend...mostly it looks nice, so get out and ride!

Battlecreek Park at City Council

At this point there's not much to add to last week's analysis. This Monday the 19th there will be a public hearing at the special City Council meeting. The staff reports on the park and collector street have been updated. Mark Becktel, Parks and Transportation Services Manager, adds that the new
street will be designed with bicycle lanes and bicycle lanes and will provide access to all three activity centers. We will be undertaking a more detailed analysis of the street circulation and classifications of the surrounding neighborhood during the next update to the Salem TSP.
We still have some concern that the traffic analysis will be auto-centric and not explore what it would take to make it easy to choose not to go by car. But it's good that some analysis will done.

Boys and Girls Club Flow Riders

Over at Pacific Pedaling, Paul's starting regular updates on the Flow Riders! Here the kids are learning bike maintenance at the Boys and Girls Club.

Pacific Pedaling is one of the group's sponsors so look for weekly updates over there!

The Flow Riders will also be riding in the Monster Cookie.

Final Days for Monster Cookie Advance Registration

Reminder that registration for the Monster Cookie will close soon!

The cookie takes place on Sunday, April 25th. Online registration is open until the 18th. Day-of-ride registration is also an option.

Cherriots Rideshare Fast Lane Campaign

On May 3rd, Cherriots Rideshare will launch the Fast Lane project, pledge-based campaign and trip-logging exercize aimed at reducing drive-alone trips. We'll have more as launch approaches!

Santiam Beginning Mountain Bike Rides

Though it came in too late for a meaningful notice, this morning is - was! - a beginning mountain bike ride with Santiam Bicycle. Check out their message board for the next ride! They're free, but bring lunch and a little gas money for car-pooling.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Salem Greenway Project Hopes to Preserve Church St. as Low-Traffic Connection

Yesterday at a kick-off meeting for Bridge to Work Day, we met Susan Miller, who is spearheading the Salem Greenway project.

The project originated with significant support from SCAN, the South Central Association of Neighbors.
Through the Salem Greenway Project, we plan to advocate for the walkways that connect 5 of our city parks – Bush Park, Pringle Park, Riverfront Park, Wallace Marine Park, and Minto Park. The walkways already exist, but there are a few missing links.

(Detail from Salem Greenway Project map)

While much of the greenway is parkland or multi-use path sheltered from motorized vehicles, a few important segments are on shared roadways.
Leaving Bush Park below Bush House, we can cross Mission in a pedestrian friendly crosswalk and go north on Church Street through a tree shaded walk to Pringle Park. At Pringle Park we pick up the walk that goes west along Pringle Creek, south of the SAIF building and south of Pringle Parkade. The walk goes under Liberty and comes out at the City Hall lagoon. Now we have one of the missing links – a walkway under Commercial to the Boise Cascade development and then to Riverfront Park. Wallace Marine Park is reached by crossing the Union St. pedestrian bridge. The other missing link is the bridge to Minto from Riverfront.

This connecting route is a “rolling trail” – no steps or dangerous intersections. And it shows off the beauty of Salem. We want to encourage people to walk and visit our parks.

Our goals are:
* To publish a map of walkways
* To advocate for the walk under Commercial St.
* To join the Friends of 2 Bridges in advocating for the bridge to Minto
* To preserve the “greenness” of Church St.

Church Street is a particular area of interest and concern. The Oregon School for the Blind had been located on an 8 acre parcel at the corner of Church and Mission. The State of Oregon closed the school and is slated to sell the property, presumably for some kind of commercial development. Miller said that neighbors are concerned that a high-volume parking structure could empty onto Church, that road widening might lead to tree removal, and that a traffic light might be installed at the intersection with Mission.

Bicyclists use Bush Park and Church street as an important alternative to busy north-south streets like 12th/13th, High, and Commercial/Liberty. Routing large amounts of auto traffic onto Church could harm Church as a bikeway. Indeed, we hope that Church street, and the connection to Bush Park, will be improved even further for bicycle and pedestrian traffic, and not enlarged for increased auto traffic. We're glad to see the neighborhood association concerned about Church street.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Community Energy Grant to Encourage Bike Transportation

Back in December, City Council endorsed a stimulus-funded Energy Efficiency and Conservation Grant application.

As part of its $1.5M allocations, $85,000 was to begin implementing recommendations from Rivercrossing Alternative Modes Study, which was to develop plans to ways to increase bike transportation and to reduce drive-alone car trips across the river and bridges.

The Department of Energy has approved the grant!

At our Vision 2020 meeting last week, Julie Warncke shared an outline of the projects:
Bike Route Destination Signs on the Winter Street route, from Hoyt Street SE to Cherry Avenue NE; on Center Street from 24th to Lancaster; in the West Salem business district (6th, Rosemont, Edgewater); and on the 12th Street Promenade.

Sharrows on Chemeketa Street between 14th and Front; on Rosemont Avenue NW; and on Musgrave Avenue NW.

Bike lockers/bike facilities at West Salem Transit Center and Downtown Transit Mall.

(An example of a bike route destination sign, this one on Chemeketa Street at 14th going east.)

Exact locations of signs and pavement markings, as well other details are still to be determined, and there will be further opportunities for feedback and comments.

All of these will be very nice incremental improvements and will make bicycling in the core downtown and close-in neighborhoods easier!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

St. Stephens in Portland to Honor Tracey Sparling and Bless Bikes

In Salem, the 2010 Ride of Silence will be on Wednesday, May 19th at 6pm. John Henry Maurice and Joanne Heilinger of the Salem Bicycle Club will lead the ride, which departs from the "red lot" downtown. Since 2003 "the mission of the world wide Ride of Silence is to honor bicyclists killed by motorists, promote sharing the road, and provide awareness of bicycling safety.

Today at 5:30pm, at St. Stephens Episcopal Church in Portland, West Salem grad Tracey Sparling's ghost bike will be dedicated in the Shrine of Madonna del Ghisallo. From St. Stephens' calendar:
Bike Blessing and Memorial
Tuesday, April 13 at 5:30 pm

Healing service and bike blessing in memory of Tracy Sparling, struck and killed in 2007 at 14th and Burnside. Tracy's parents donated the ghost bike that stood for two years at intersection where the accident occurred to St Stephen's. The ghost bike is now placed in the Shrine of Madonna del Ghisallo. The service will include the dedication of a plaque to be placed in the shrine as a memorial to Tracy, a spring blessing of bicycles and prayers for safety of everyone sharing our streets.

Bring your bike and your prayers for this special service of healing and remembrance. If you don't have a bike, come anyway with welcome, warmth and compassion. (Photo: The Oregonian)
More at The Oregonian and BikePortland.

Updated: BikePortland has a report about the dedication and blessing.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Connections to Battlecreek Park: City Council, April 12 - Part II

The next step for the former Battlecreek Golf Course is parks planning! This is great news, and for the park to be able to help manage floodwaters as well as to provide recreation and green space is terrific.

On Council agenda tomorrow night are ordinances to amend the Salem Comprehensive Parks System Master Plan and to amend the Transportation System Plan to service the proposed park.

A public hearing is to follow on Monday, April 19th.

The proposed park offers many sticky wickets, alas. It's beyond our scope just now to propose solutions, but we want to point out some of the pre-existing structural conditions that make connections to the park more difficult than they should be.

The current planning process does not appear to envision improving connectivity, and instead accepts the existing conditions and relies on bike lanes on busy streets. As it stands, the envisioned configuration will encourage people to drive autos to the park instead of using active transportation like walking and biking.

The park site is wedged in between Sunnyside Road, a minor arterial, and Commercial, a major arterial. On the north and south, Madras, 13th, Fairway, and Rees Hill are all rated as collector streets. Access to the park is fundamentally premised on the use of busy roads. (road classification map here)

Consistent with the area's development around golf courses, there are several fenced and private communities neighboring the park site, as well as a number of dead-end cul-de-sacs.

Between the busy roads and the unconnected neighborhoods, access looks to be problematic.

The City's plans call for a new collector street with bike lanes, and recent development has also entailed new bike lanes on other streets. Still, even with bike lanes and traffic lights the intersections with Commercial are long and busy, and don't exactly invite parents to send their children to the park by bike. The intersections on Sunnyside do not have traffic signals, and while traffic clearly pulses with clearings, at the same time speeds are higher and children may not see a car in time.

In the planning process, the City should spend more time thinking about the many residents to the west of Sunnyside and to the east of Commercial, and those north and increasingly south of the park, and the ways to make easy connections to the park in order to encourage walking, biking, skateboarding, and other active forms of transportation.

Friday, April 9, 2010

KGW and Grant's Getaway Feature Salem Bicycle Club and WV Scenic Bikeway

Check out Salem riders and the Salem route!

Alex Philips from Oregon Parks and Recreation, Doug Parrow from the Salem Bicycle Club and BTA Board, and George Schopfer from the Salem Bicycle Club talk about the scenic bikeway and biking around Salem!

For more see the article here.

Spring & Summer Event Ride Schedule in Salem

There are tons of great rides around Oregon this summer. But you knew that! What you might not know is now there's an increasing number of great rides here in Salem! There's one each month now. These are supported rides - with aid wagons, food, and rest stops. Plan your summer fun!

Monster Cookie

The Grand-daddy of them all is the Monster Cookie! It's been going for more than 30 years now.

The cookie takes place on Sunday, April 25th. Online registration is open until the 18th. Day-of-ride registration is also an option.

The ride starts at the State Capitol and goes through the rolling hills of French Prairie to Champoeg - where the Oregon Territory got started in 1843! For more information, including a map and elevation profile, click here.

(If you've got little ones that can't do a metric century, don't forget about the Kidical Mass Mini Cookie Metric Decade, a 6.2 mile ride around playgrounds starting at Grant Elementary School! The mini cookie is not affiliated with the Salem Bicycle Club ride, but it does take place at the same time.)

WVV Ride and Hill Climb Challenge

Updated - see below

Just announced a couple of days ago is a brand new ride.

Willamette Valley Vineyards is hosting a Bike Ride and Hill Climb Challenge on Sunday, May 23rd.
Enjoy a scenic 50, 25, or 10 mile bike ride through the beautiful central Willamette Valley on Sunday, May 23, 2010. Ride times start at 8:00 a.m. (50 mile), 9:00 a.m. (25 mile) and 10:00 a.m. (10 mile) at Cloverdale Elementary School located at 9666 Parrish Gap SE Turner, OR. Finish the day at the winery enjoying Willamette Valley Vineyards' delicious and sustainable wines accompanied by an incredible fajita buffet (vegetarian options available).

Registration is $30 and includes ride, souvenir t-shirt, wine tasting, Riedel wine glass, lunch, coupons and discounts, support vehicle and staff, prizes and bragging rights. An extra prize will be awarded to riders who ride their bike up our infamous hill for the Hill Climb Challenge. Guests are welcome for wine tasting lunch at an additional charge that can be purchased online or at the door the day of the event. Space is limited to first 200 registrants. Please register online here.
(We've got a question into WVV to ask about a "sustainability" package for Salem residents who bike out to the winery instead of driving a car and might not want to transport a fragile wine glass!)

WVV sends an update!
We will have a pick-up at Travel Salem for bike riders who choose to “Be Green” and do not drive a car. Participants can pick up wine glasses and bottles purchased at Travel Salem.

Boys and Girls Club Cycle Challenge

Another new ride is the Boys and Girls Club Cycle Challenge on Saturday, June 26th.

It's a benefit ride and replaces the old SBC Watermelon ride. Its secret sauce is the "Family Fun Ride" in Willamette Mission! That's a short course, inside the park and wholly protected from auto traffic. It should be great fun - and the kids get a medal for finishing! Salem hasn't had an event ride for kids and families, and this fills a real need.
The ride benefits the Boys and Girls Club of Salem. It will take you through lush vineyards, to the stunning Oregon Gardens, over the historic Gallon House covered bridge and across the Willamette River on the Wheatland Ferry. Choose from a 75-mile route, a 40-mile route or bring the kids for the family fun ride through the park.

Registration for the Family Fun Ride through Willamette Mission State Park is $15 for adults and one child. Registration includes an adult Cycle Challenge t-shirt, lunch for you and a child, a participation medal for your child presented when they finish and even rest stops along the path. Additional children are $5 each.
Registration for adults on the longer courses is $50. Register online here. For more information, including maps and a pre-ride training program, click here.

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.

City Council, April 12 - part I

Our discussion of Monday night's City Council agenda will probably fall into two pieces. We need to learn more about street and park project for the former Battlecreek golf course.

Pretty straight-forward, however, is the project list for the "pedestrian crossing safety" category of the Keep Salem Moving road bond.

Public Works is recommending $431,000 be allocated to the project list and $150,000 assigned to a six-year traffic calming program.

Here is the project list (the full staff report contains a map labeled with the ID numbers).

The major one with bicycle implications is the median at the six-legged intersection of Fairgrounds, Winter, and Jefferson NE. Winter street is an important north-south low-traffic bikeway, and crossing Fairgrounds there is difficult. This will assist bicyclists in addition to pedestrians and contribute to the development of Winter Street NE as a major low-traffic bikeway in Salem.

As the staff report indicates, the City anticipates funding the "recommended" projects as well as the first three (the numbered ones) "alternate" projects. While they sum to more than $431,000, it is anticipated that one or more of the projects will be bid under the estimates and that savings will allow additional projects to be funded.

At the April 29th the Citizens Advisory Traffic Commission will meet to discuss the sidewalk and bike lane projects.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Budget Busted? Save $12,000 a Year: Go by Bike!

An easy way to whack almost $12,000 from your yearly budget is to ditch the second car!

In the Statesman today is a piece about the new projected $2.5M shortfall in the Salem budget and the corresponding reductions likely to follow.

Unfortunately, in a separate pot of money entirely, the $100M road bond is not merely about necessary road maintenance, but contains a heap of unnecessary road expansion. With the economy in contraction generally and the cost of energy increasing, the wisdom of road expansion is far from obvious.

If only we could cut unwise road expansion in order to reallocate intelligently to necessary city services and infrastructure!

But since we can't, we can recommend this: If you want an extra $1000 per month on average, ditch a car and get a bike!

Your neighborhood bike shop can help!

Bike Peddler
Santiam Bicycle
Scott's Cycle
South Salem Cycleworks

(Cool ad in Willamette Week from River City Bicycles in Portland)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Chemeketa & Bike Peddler Offer Bike Maintenance Class

Got a bike with a flat tire in the garage? Want to be confident you can handle minor repairs out on the commute or a weekend ride? Want to extend the life of your bicycle?

If you answer yes to any of these, Bike Peddler and Chemeketa Community College have an answer for you! Take a Bicycle Maintenance class in the evening and get yourself ready for spring and summer riding!

Course Description: Get ready to get your hands dirty! Gain the skills you need to maintain your bicycle for safety and find out what needs attention once or twice a year. Repair a flat tire, align the chain, and conduct a complete inspection of your bicycle for adjustments and safety. Bring your bike! Jon Wolf, instructor.

7–9 pm at Bike Peddler. $35.

Thursday, April 15: Course No. CRN 78923.
Tuesday, May 18: Course No. CRN 78924.
Or Thursday, June 10: Course No. CRN 78925.

Register online here.

Neighborhood Meeting on 12th & Chemeketa; ODOT to move

A couple of notes from the Statesman on Rail Crossings and State office moves...

As part of the effort to create a "Quiet Zone" through downtown, a meeting tomorrow night will include information on proposed changes to the intersection of Chemeketa and 12th. Since this is an important bikeway, neighborhood bicyclists should be sure to attend. Last week we met with Tony Martin, and the proposals look to retain bicycle connectivity across 12th street. Check 'em out, and let Tony know what you think!
A meeting on the Railroad Safety and Quiet Zone will be at 6 p.m. Thursday in the Local Government Building, 1201 Court St. NE.

Discussions also will include Chemeketa Street crossing alternatives

For more information, contact assistant city traffic engineer Tony Martin at (503) 588-6211 or at

Originally called the State Highway Building, ODOT's Transportation Building was completed in 1951, and it needs some R & R! During renovation and restoration of the T Building, ODOT employees will relocate out to a couple of buildings in the Fairview Industrial Park. Apparently, not all of the folks will be able to return to the mall when the renovation is completed.

On the mall, the Transportation Building was centrally located, especially to the close-in N and NE neighborhoods. The Fairview Park is not served well by low-traffic streets, and the commercial and truck traffic make it a less attractive biking destination. There are lots of bike commuters at ODOT, and hopefully this will not make it more difficult for them!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Bridge to Work Day - May 17th

Last night at City Council, West Salem Councilor Dan Clem introduced a motion to organize a "bridge to work" day on Monday, May 17th to feature the re-opening of the Union St. Railroad Bridge and to promote active transportation, like walking and biking, to work.

[*Update: At the Wednesday Vision 2020 Bike/Ped meeting, Todd Klocke indicated the date was not certain. There will be a planning meeting next week, and more details will be available then.]

We weren't able to be at council, but according to the Statesman, Clem
said he will ask city staffers to look into safe routes signs that would direct bike riders and pedestrians to the Capitol Mall.

"More people should know they choose to walk or bicycle to work," he said. "We all don't have to be stuck in cars every work day."

Herm Boes, co-chairman of the West Salem Neighborhood Association, said he's on board for "Bridge-to-Work Day."

"I'll participate in it," he said.

Terry Kelly, the president of the West Salem Business Association, supports the idea, with one condition.

"If there is adequate security for those that choose to park their cars in the parking areas on the west side of the river," he said. "It's an area which has a lot of transients."

We hope the Wallace lots don't become a park-n-walk/ride, but perhaps this will highlight the difficulties in crossing Wallace.

In any event, featuring the bridge on a commute focused event is great to see!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Got an Old-School Balloon Tire Cruiser? Salem's got a Ride for You!

Did you know Salem has a Fat Tire cruiser club?

Was out on my way to a friend's for Easter dinner, and as I was getting ready to turn left, straight-ahead I saw a bunch of bicyclists gathering on the street in the rain. So naturally, I went straight.

And they had a bunch of old-school cruisers! I was in a rush, and was running late because I had to change clothes for the rain. So we didn't talk much. To add insult, my camera's battery crapped out, so I don't have a fresh photo for you. But it looks like they'll be getting some pictures up.

Go check out the facebook page - and get out your old cruiser!

They're adventurous and ride rain or shine! And they're a mighty friendly bunch.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Bicycling Magazine Names Salem 19th Best

Bicycling Magazine has named Salem one of America's top 50 bike-friendly cities. The citation, actually, perfectly captures the situation:
19. Salem, OR
In a region that includes Portland, Eugene, Seattle and other cycling hotbeds, Salem is sometimes forgotten—but the city of 152,000 has 60 percent of its arterial roads accommodating cyclists, so it certainly holds its own.
We're indeed behind Corvallis, Eugene, Seattle, and Portland, but by national standards we're ahead of the curve! That's the good news.

Unintentionally ambiguous, but perfectly capturing our ambivalence about Salem's current planning, is the observation about arterials and bike lane striping. Sure, Salem's got lots of arterials striped with bike lanes, and if you are a confident cyclist who doesn't mind lots of traffic around you, the accommodations are adequate. But to make bicycling more popular and appealing outside of the spandex and lycra set, low-traffic bikeways are even more important. By this standard, Salem still has a ways to go.

The recognition, especially for the Union St. Railroad Bridge, is good to see. We look forward to the next steps as we undertake the update of the Bicycle Plan in the Transportation System Plan.

Sunday update: More good press!

Capi Lynn's got a great article on the Boys and Girls Club Flow Riders (photo: KOBBI R. BLAIR | Statesman Journal).

Justin Much writes about the Capitol Cup. At the Salem Daily Photo Diary, Gogouci posted more great shots from the races.

And not about Salem, but interesting anyway, the
Oregonian's music critic, David Stabler, who also bikes, writes about biking the McKenzie Pass before it opens to cars for the season!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Saturday - Bike Racing at the Capitol, Market Kicks off Downtown

Tomorrow brings all kinds of excitement to downtown!

The Salem Saturday Market starts another season of yummy produce goodness! Though the Friends's valet bike parking doesn't start until May, you can still ride your bike and shop sustainably!

Also on Saturday, Willamette University will host the downtown Capital Cup criterium races. The racing team and the bike shop host 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!

According to the Statesman, there will be college racers in the morning. The first OBRA race starts at 1:30pm.

Go check it out!