Sunday, September 30, 2012

Critics of Salem River Crossing Focus on Public Hearing

On the facebook?

Advocates for rational fiscal and transportation policy have just started a facebook page devoted to the Salem River Crossing!

They're also organizing a meeting on Sunday, November 4 at 3 pm in Anderson room A at the Salem Public Library. Council meets the next day on Monday and will hold a public hearing on the bridge, and the Sunday meeting will be a terrific opportunity to share information and organize public comment.

Stay tuned!

In the meantime, if you're on facebook, "like" the page! It along with to 1 to 100 streets is a great facebook resource for rational transportation policy in Salem.

For more on the River Crossing see a summary critique and all breakfast blog notes tagged River Crossing.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Good News for Wheelie Guy! World-Record may be in the Books

The Statesman had major coverage, it looks like:

Will it make the front page?!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Fall, Sharrows, Two-way Traffic Downtown at Breakfast

Two-Way Traffic on State at Liberty - Click for Detail

At Breakfast this morning we had an illness, and Jean Brougher helped out with some last minute snacks!

Thanks, Jean! 

You've almost certainly seen Jean on the road, and she's one of the friendliest people you'll meet.

You may not know that she operates a Bed and Breakfast, the Century House, with a special bike-friendly focus.

If you have friends or family coming to visit, think about the Century House!  (Thanks again, Jean.)

Breakfast also offered a brief window to check in on some of the recent road improvements downtown - and these are real improvements, not "improvements."

A week ago or so, the City opened up another block of State Street to two-way traffic.  At top you can see the new light at Commercial and the changed light at Liberty.  It looks normal, now, doesn't it?  Hopefully most people will quickly wonder why the rest of State Street - heck, why most of the grid - isn't restored to two-way functioning.  (Now we just have to get it down to two lanes instead of three!)

And the fall.  Leaves are turning.  Over at the Upright Cyclist, B+ has promised a series on fall colors!

Finally, in a comment the other day, Curt pointed out that sharrows are being restored on Chemeketa.  Here's one of the new mid-block sharrows!  The density is about twice what they had been before, with four (two each way) sharrows per block face.  I'm happy to see this, even if, as he suggests, they still might not quite meet the recommended placement frequency.  It's a substantial improvement. 

Mid-Block Sharrow on Chemeketa
Make sure you enjoy the lovely weather this weekend while it lasts...

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Leaking Revenue: Free Parking Dazzles; Makes us Forget about People

It is fashionable to say that there's not enough parking downtown, that we have a parking problem, and that the lack of parking is killing downtown.

This is all backwards.  Rather than focusing on cars, on their storage and movement, we need to focus on people, their housing - the "storage" - and their movement, which sometimes involves cars and sometimes doesn't.

The central problem with downtown is that there aren't enough people already there - not enough people living in the core downtown and not enough living close-in who feel it is easy to reach downtown and who visit it often for activities (generally with an economic component!).

Please:  No "Historic" Parking Structures! 
Writing on "Heritage Oregon" earlier this year about the late 70s, Virginia Green noted
In our downtown, urban renewal is attempting to accommodate customers of the 1970s who need places to park their cars. Salem’s business community of a century before had been built for residents who lived close enough to walk from their homes to shops and professional appointments, or lived in the upper floors of downtown buildings. However, the growth of the city had relocated families into neighborhoods that required automobile transportation. Along the east side of Commercial Street, the half-block south of the Chemeketa Street, already had been torn down for a Lipman & Wolfe (Liberty Plaza) surface parking lot quite a while before the Chemeketa Parkade came onto the scene. [italics added]
At one time there were houses here - it was a thriving residential neighborhood! (You can see part of a presentation on that here.)

Here's the Eugene Breyman house on Summer Street in probably the 60s or 70s.

Breyman House: Salem Public Library Historic Photograph Collections
Here is the site today, the State Lands building.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Bike and Walk Salem Delay May Limit Funding Opportunities

The announcement for the funding process under the new federal transportation bill is out. Oregon Pedestrian and Bicycle Program Manager Sheila Lyons writes about the changes and urges local multi-modal transportation planners to apply statewide with lots of quality bike/ped projects:
Note that ALL PROJECT TYPES are eligible. That includes bike and ped projects, as well as project types eligible under the revised MAP-21 Transportation Alternatives category (formerly TE.)

Explanation/Information  There are many things in flux, many balls in the air and many processes that are being revised, all in support of ODOT's new Intermodal direction. I'll try to explain in broad brush strokes to help you sort it out.

  • The new "Enhance It" project selection process will determine the ODOT capital program (called the STIP) for federal fiscal years 2015 thru 2018.
  • This process will award FEDERAL dollars. Remember the "Modernization", "Bridge" and other like programs. Those are gone now, replaced by Fix It/Enhance It
  • We're sending you this e-mail to encourage you to submit your TE-OBPAC NOI [notice of intent] project to the Enhance It program.
  • If you have a TE-OBPAC NOI that advanced to "stage 2" you can still submit the same project to the Enhance It program. The Enhance It program will make project selections BEFORE TE-OBPAC. If you don't succeed in Enhance It, you'll still be in the running in TE-OBPAC.
  • Don't limit yourself - this solicitation will set the ODOT capital program for 4 years. Submit as many projects as allowed.
  • The projects will be selected by your local Area Commission on Transportation or JPAC (Portland/Metro). (There are a few locations not covered by ACTs)...
My 2-Cents The Oregon Transportation Commission and Director's Office are working hard to reorient ODOT's business model to be Intermodal. They have stressed that the best solution for the problem is on the table, EVEN if that solution is for biking and walking facilities. THE TIME IS NOW to put this to the test. I suggest you submit as many bike/ped projects from your Transportation System Plan or Bike and Ped Plan as the Enhance It process allows. Even if you are not successful, by submitting bike and ped needs to this process you'll be helping to inform ODOT, ACTs and local decision makers about our needs. DON'T be modest. The TE-OBPAC programs are typically over subscribed 7-9:1, so we know there is a lot of need out there. Let's demonstrate that need by flooding this application process with bike/ped applications...
[So] sharpen your pencils and get to work.

Our time is NOW!
But not necessarily Salem's.

Because Bike and Walk Salem has not yet been adopted, it is likely that Salem will be limited to the "same-ol-same-ol" list of projects from the current TSP. Innovation is contained in Bike and Walk Salem, but not so much in the 1996 TSP chapters, and, for example, developing key family friendly bikeways from these funds may not be possible.

Look also at the dates - 2015 to 2018 (full timeline here).  Our difficulty finishing the process today will have repercussions for the next five or six years.

The long lead times for funding sources may not be adequately considered by those who are ok with the very slow adoption process so far. Consider emailing Citycouncil@cityofsalem.net and let Councilors know that Salem is potentially losing out on important funding sources for safe, comfortable, and connected biking and walking facilities.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Breakfast this Friday


Remember when the camas was blooming? Summer's over! It's time for fall - squash and the root vegetables!

This Friday, September 28th, between 7 and 9am, Breakfast on Bikes wraps up the fair weather commute. We'll be at Mission & Winter. Free coffee, fruit, and pastries for bike commuters! End your bike commute challenge with some of the last warm weather.

We'll also have the latest on Bike and Walk Salem, the new biking and walking chapters for the Salem Transportation System Plan, and on the costly and risky Salem River crossing, a proposed $687 million highway project across the river.

Maybe other stuff too!

Please support our generous sponsors!
Cascade Baking Company
Governor's Cup Coffee Roasters
LifeSource Natural Foods
Salem Bicycle Club
Willamette University.


View Larger Map

Monday, September 24, 2012

Kids Bike Rides and Rodeo on Saturday

With Kidical Mass and Salem's bike safety education program* both on hiatus, there's plenty of opportunity for new youth bike programming.

Stepping into that opportunity, and with the national "Green Apple Day of Service" sponsored by the US Green Building Council Center for Green Schools, Jeremy McVeety has organized a bike festival for Saturday!

The Salem project starts at 9am at Grant with a 9:30 bike ride from McKinley to Grant. There are other events throughout the day at both Grant and McKinley schools:  are bike rides, opportunities to practice skills, basic bike tune-ups for kids - lots of good stuff!

Here's a downloadable flier in English and Spanish:

Saturday, September 22, 2012

City Council, September 24th - The $687 Million Bridge and Highway

Even though there is no public hearing, no action item, and only an informational report, the Salem River Crossing process, like the proposed bridge design itself, looms over Council on Monday.

Unsurprisingly the Oversight Team has taken for its motto, "Go Big or Go Home." The hypertrophied alternative they are leaning towards is 4D. Interestingly enough, the April OPB guide had a picture of its twin, so it is not so difficult to visualize:

The April OPB Cover Shows the Cross-Section!

Other items include some right-of-way acquisition for sidewalks near schools on Ellis NE and Gerth NW.

More funding for the Glen Creek Trail connecting the Union Street RR Bridge to Glen Creek Road.

And some interesting real estate orts along Pringle Creek and the path, which the City proposes to transfer from Urban Development to the City proper - I suppose occasioned by the fact that the Pringle Creek URA is going to disappear.

But even without a hearing, the big item is the bridge of course.

Both the OPB picture and option 4D are six lane cross-sections, with very similar ramp systems!

A Superhighway Bridge, Just like the OPB Picture
Here's the overview, and you can see just how big is this thing.

4D Overview in Blue and Widening in Grey

Friday, September 21, 2012

Remember the Peach Ride is on Sunday! Flat Tire Demo on Saturday

The Salem Bicycle Club Peach of a Century is on Sunday! Here are some pictures from a rainy Peach two years ago. The weather report for the weekend says mixed sun and clouds with temps in the 70s! The route takes you through the rollers of Waldo Hills and the valley below. Day of ride registration opens at 7:30.


Salem Bicycle Club's Novice Ride

An "outdoors best bet," the bike club's novice ride is on Saturday!

A short ride of around 10 miles, and aimed at practicing and learning new skills on super low-traffic roads, it starts at 2:30pm at Ankeny Wildlife Refuge.
This ride is a slow-paced ride on low-traffic roads for novice cyclists. The ride starts at the seasonal wildlife viewing blind on Wintel Rd, 0.1 mile west of the Marlatt Rd intersection.
But wait, there's more! A tire changing demonstration will be provided after the ride.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Is Salem still a Bronze Bicycle-Friendly Community?

A couple of days ago the League of American Bicyclists announced a new level in the Bicycle Friendly Community program.   Cities that are now rated Platinum will have a Diamond level to chase.   The Portland Bicycle Transportation Alliance and BikePortland weighed in.

The timing of the announcement looks like it prepares the way for the fall round of Bicycle Friendly Community announcements.  Salem's turn for re-certification is in this round, and it will be interesting to see how we fare.

On the one hand, after the Union Street Railroad Bridge and the initial pilot of sharrows on Commercial, Chemeketa, and Rosemount, the City has done nothing substantial.  It's all about legacy remediation: Bikelanes and sidewalks in the context of road expansion.  So you get busier, less comfortable streets, but you do get a bike lane.  Not sure how much of a win that is.  Definitely not a win, many intersections are being widened, and dual turn lanes added.  So in many places things are getting worse for non-auto travel.  Over on facebook, it was observed that "over the last 15 years Salem has gone from 1.7% bike mode share to 1.6%."  The manual bike counts from 2008-2011 (we didn't do them this year) haven't shown city-wide increases, either.

(Here are year-end reviews from 2009, 2010, 2011.)

So based on results, for the Engineering and Encouragement side, the City is not doing very well.

But you know, there are some "green shoots."  Style!  This summer there were lots of new kinds of bikes around, a diversity new to Salem. You saw the way Franklin's Bottle Shop welcomed bikes insideUpright Cyclist is devoted plain-clothes, everyday utility cycling.

Earlier this summer, there was a a big-box, department store "fixie," a Thruster, locked up at a store on Lancaster, not far from the store that sells it.


A single-speed on Lancaster!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Pioneer Cemetery at Historic Landmarks Commission Tomorrow - Updated

In a comment on the last City Council meeting, Jim Scheppke reasonably asks whether it is time for transportation and neighborhood advocates to "to say 'uncle' on the Rural - Hoyt 'connector'." In the big scheme of things it's not that big of a deal, he suggests.  And perhaps he's right.

Opponents of any connection that uses the cemetery have dug in, and have held up adoption of Bike and Walk Salem over just this matter.  Pragmatically, perhaps it would be wise to yield on this point for the greater good.

On Thursday, Elizabeth Potter will go before the Historic Landmarks Commission presumably to talk about her reasons for opposing a connection through the cemetery. It will be interesting to her her argument for this audience.

So far, the argument against the connection has been largely based on sentiment and fear rather than on good judgement.  There may still be an argument against such a connection, but it hasn't really been made yet.

Here are some questions.

Are the current arrangements really working?

This may be the most important question. In her testimony, Potter cited vandalism from February and April of this year. If the current system isn't working as well as we'd all like, why aren't we having vigorous and creative conversations about changing it?  Instead, the argument boils down to, "we fear things will get worse." Are things really working so well we shouldn't consider change?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Downtown Mobility Study Kicks-Off Wednesday

It's an exciting time for downtown streets.

The Downtown Partnership has a strong early-stage draft proposal on the table for changing some of the downtown streets, and the Central Salem Mobility Study's advisory committee meets for the first time on Wednesday morning.

The Partnership leads with a vision, and the Study offers a technical, political, and planning process. The two pieces are complimentary, not competitive, and strong plans can emerge from the twin conversations.

The ingredients for real change are right there! We just have to get over the hump of inertia and fear.

On Weekends, Church Street is Deserted - There's Plenty of Capacity!
The study's goals are to:
  • Improve pedestrian and bike access to the Union Street Railroad Bridge.
  • Convert selected streets to two-way operation (High, Court, Church, State, and/or Cottage Streets).
  • Improve street circulation and access for large blocks in north downtown.  (Union Street to Market Street).
  • Develop projects to support Family Friendly Bikeways (Union and/or Chemeketa Streets).
  • Develop pedestrian safety and circulation improvements at closed crosswalks or double turn lanes.
The Stakeholder Advisory Committee, with "representation from the major downtown employers, businesses, and major institutions" according to the City, meets Wednesday at 10am (agenda here). They'll briefly review the Downtown Strategic Action Plan, Sustainable Cities Initiative study, and Bike and Walk Salem, as well as looking at an overview of the study itself.

Bon Voyage!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Afternoon Gridlock, Salem Style; The Nature of Accidents

Over at the facebook, Lee's starting a crowd-sourced project to document downtown traffic volumes! Here's the first installment, Liberty and Court at 4:35pm.


And Here's High and Court, Liberty and State, and Commercial and Court.

Car Violence and "Accidents"

From the article:
The woman who hit him, Rose Litherland, was high on methamphetamine and marijuana when she barreled through the intersection of 17th and Chemeketa. She did not have a valid driver’s license and is legally blind herself. She has been sentenced to nearly six years in prison.
If someone were using a hunting rifle or chainsaw instead of a car in this manner, we'd describe it quite differently, wouldn't we? Whatever this is, it's not "accidental."

Protesting Coal by Burning Gas? Go by Bike Instead!

Oil, coal, none of the fossil fuels are clean and we use far too much of them.

The Oregon Sierra Club has been organizing a "Beyond Coal" campaign and with the recent developments around the prospect of shipping coal by train through Salem they have sent a field organizer to coordinate advocacy.

On Wednesday at 7pm, there's a meeting at the library in the Anderson Rooms downstairs to kick-off the campaign. "It will be the introduction to issue of coal exportation and its local effects as well as a strategy session for the campaign."

Coal:  Oregon Sierra Club and Paul K. Anderson
Apart from more general and trans-regional concerns about climate change and coal, one way that people who bike should be interested in the matter is the prospect of inhaling coal dust as we bike. It's local, too. We already inhale particulates from car exhaust, and there are documented increases in illness and cancer along arterial and highway corridors.

So imagine coal dust - and the "sprays" they use to "minimize" it - on the Promenade, by Parrish Middle and North High Schools, and of course through all the residential districts.

Stryker Armored Vehicles by the Promenade
On the Promenade you'd be right there next to the coal shipments! 

It's hard to see how this benefits anyone other than the coal companies.  (If the argument comes down to jobs, well, maybe the best jobs program would be a massive public works campaign to pour sidewalks.  That's infrastructure that would benefit everyone!  And stuff that uses lots of manual labor rather than automation or heavy equipment.)

Maybe the meetings, too, will also get people thinking more about rail.  About ways to improve passenger rail, to shift freight from highway to rail, and ways to lessen the disruptions caused by rail's sort-and-separate impact on communities.  The importance of rail will only increase in the 21st century, and it will be important to develop better ways to work with it rather than against it. 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Franklin's Bottle Shop Joins other Bikey Businesses Downtown

While we struggle with making change at the City, the slow tide of change moves on, and it may be that new businesses and new thinking will finally create change from the bottom-up.

You already know about Venti's and the Governor's Cup as bike friendly businesses.

There's a new one you should know about!

"The Stable" at Franklin's Bottle Shop

Franklin's Bottle Shop is a new bar, and owner Nick Lopez has made it clear bikes are welcome!

And as downtown adds bike-friendly businesses, one-by-one, the momentum for change, already irreversible, will finally attain critical mass.

So after On Your Feet Friday, consider checking them out. I'm sure you'll be thirsty!

They're located half a block north of the Reed Opera House on Liberty.

(For more on OYFF, see NW Kid Chaser for some cheers on it!)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Fed Transportation Bill May Hinder Local Control of Roads

BikePortland has a story today on a set of changes coming down from MAP-21, the new federal transportation bill. The changes look on the surface like they could have very significant, even huge, implications for Salem.

The roads in red are City or County managed roads, all classified as "major arterials," that would become part of the National Highway System in an expansion effective October first.  (ODOT has published a mapping tool for use in analyzing the impacts.  The graphic is from this tool.)

At BikePortland Jonathan Maus writes about changes just as significant for Salem as for Portland:
several of our local streets — including ones that are crucial for bicycling — would suddenly be required to conform with design standards laid out by the Federal Highway Administration, instead of the more flexible local and state standards used today....

if engineers want to make any changes that deviate from FHWA design standards for "principal arterials", they would have to go through a cumbersome process of applying for exceptions....

Or, in the words of a source at ODOT, "this designation basically forces state and local governments to treat arterials like major highways... Speed will increase, certain designs, like bulb outs, won't be allowed without an exception. So on and so on."
You'll notice several downtown streets included in the reclassification, streets that are currently part of the downtown mobility study and are also ones involved in the Salem Downtown Partnership's proposal for greenscape improvements.

Arbuckle Costic and Salem Downtown Partnership
If making change in Salem is as difficult as it is, these changes could make them even more complicated and slow.

(Hopefully the City will be able to comment on this tomorrow....stay tuned for more.)

Car Attacks Building on Lancaster - Updating


Here's another one:
Let's just make this a on-going series.

Sunday, October 28th:

Drove into Quiznos
Friday, November 9th:

Drove into Pet Store
Interestingly, 3/4 - maybe 4/4 - of them are women. But we don't generalize about women drivers. Equally, we shouldn't generalize about people who bike.

Anyway, this will update as more people drive into buildings.  It may be that this happens far more often than we think.

Monday, November 19th:

Killed Self Driving into Church
And a second one:



Sunday, December 30th:
From the later story:
Police, fire and Portland General Electric crews were dispatched to a crash scene Saturday afternoon after a mid-sized U-Haul truck plowed into a storage unit on Silverton Road NE.

Witnesses said that just after 2 p.m. the truck pulled out of a Plaid Pantry parking lot and appeared to accelerate instead of brake as it crossed 47th Avenue NE.

It then hopped a curb and crashed into the storage unit — where power lines connected to the building.
How about a bridge?
March 7th - a car storage unit
March 8th - another bridge and a store!
 


April 16th - North High Student cited for DUI



June 10th - drove into shelton ditch

Merry Christmas! December 19th, 2013

From the paper:
No one was hurt Thursday when a sport utility vehicle crashed into an apartment in northeast Salem.

The driver...told Marion County sheriff’s deputies she mistook the gas pedal for the brake pedal as she was attempting to park the 2002 Ford Explorer about 12:30 p.m. at the Silverpark Apartments, 3527 Silverpark Place NE. The Explorer jumped the concrete curb barrier and crashed into the living room of an apartment next to the parking space.


New Year! April 6th, 2014 - Crash into Tokyo University

This one's a little scary: 14th Street is a good north-south route for bicycling. About 10pm the driver was going north, crossed the road to the left, and ended up on the west side of the street. She must have been speeding in addition to being alcohol-impaired. Note the SJ language, though! "the driver crashed into a building." It's not the agent-less autonomous car that crashed; it's the driver who crashed! Nice job.

April 19th

Here's a crash into a home on Center Street.


April 29th - another bridge

On Riverside Drive:

August 18th - a fire station!

August 13th crash into Fire Station 11 on Orchard Heights
From the story:
The tracks are the least of the department's worries, though, since the car that left them also crashed into the front of the building, and into the exterior portion of its museum room, said Deputy Chief Greg Hadley.

The crash occurred around 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 13. The vehicle, headed west up the hill on Orchard Heights left the roadway, drove over the island between lanes, through the landscaping and into the building.
This is right across the street from a cluster of schools! And Orchard Heights is pretty wide and zoomy here.

October 6th


December 4th

December 8th

Driver: No license, no insurance

February 10th, 2015

Crashed into Tree and Fence

February, 24th

April 3rd


July 18th


August 20th

Here's a good one. Maybe it's a medical issue, but still...
Here's another view.


August 26th
September 29th

Those RR overpasses again!
November 3rd
November 19th

Here's a good one!
Christmas Eve, 2015!
April 29th, 2016
That's near Summer and Hoyt, apparently. Drivers often seem to take the hills on Hoyt too quickly, so it will not be surprising to learn that speed might have been an issue.

May 2nd

This one's not in Salem, but the image is quite striking.
May 16th

This one's icky.

From the paper:
A Salem man was cited for harassment, DUI and reckless driving after crashing and rolling his car near Commercial Street SE and Wilstey Road SE Sunday evening.

Timothy Keju, 25, was cited and released from Salem Hospital after Sunday's crash, Salem Police Lt. Dave Okada said.

Michelle Haines, of Salem, said she saw Keju pull up alongside her 5-year-old daughter, who was riding her tricycle outside their South Salem home. Haines' husband approached Keju's car and confronted him, according to Salem police.

Haines said as she dialed 911, Keju drove away, doubled back, spotted her on the phone and sped off. A few moments later, she and her husband heard a crash.
May 27th

Into the 7-11!
This is nuts:
The driver, Cindy Rojas Ortega, 22, was cited for driving without a license and her passenger, Johana Gomez Ortega, 27, of Keizer, was issued a traffic citation for providing a vehicle to an unlicensed driver.

Keizer Police Deputy Chief Jeffrey Kuhns said Gomez Ortega was unable to tell Rojas Ortega, who is deaf, how to stop the vehicle. It was Rojas Ortega's first time behind the wheel.
October 14th

via Twitter
Looks likes somebody tried to drive into Table Five08 on State Street on Friday night.

November 28th

via Twitter
From the paper:
A Gervais man driving an SUV was killed early Monday morning in Salem after his vehicle left the road and struck a tree, police said.

Police responded to reports of a crash involving a maroon 2006 Chevrolet Trailblazer shortly after 1:30 a.m. near the intersection of Liberty Street SE and Superior Street SE and found Andrew Ramon, 32, dead inside the vehicle.
Update: This was a murder. Apparently after the crash, another man stabbed the driver.

Christmas Day, 2016

Drove into the DQ at 3:30am on Christmas


May 3rd, 2017

Drove into Triangle Inn - via Twitter

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

ODOT T-Building Sends Mixed Messages at Open House

At the Transportation Building open house on Saturday, it was difficult to say how far we've come. The sign out front said, "No Smoking, No Bicycling, No Skateboarding, No Rollerblading Rollerskating."

Is this really what ODOT wants to say about Active Transportation?

Hopefully this was just construction-related, a wish to forbid the sort of "grinding" that is also destructive and even vandalizing. But whether intended or not, it also cast a dismissive shadow on forms of active transportation, implicitly equating them with smoking.

On the mall side of the building, in shadowy lettering you can still read the words "State Highway Department."

Mall and T-Building, 1955
First Presbyterian hasn't yet been moved!
Choosing to renovate a building completed in 1951 was a green choice to be sure, but the way it was done also seemed to embody the conservatism of the Highway Department.  Transportation is changing, and the building seemed to take its cues from the recent past, the late 90s or early 00s, rather than really look forward. Though the building clearly needed an update and a seismic retrofit, I was hoping for stronger statements and symbolism about the future of transportation. In so many ways ODOT remains devoted to the primacy of Highway.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Council Delays Action on Bike Plan; Continues Hearing

There was one unambiguously terrific development at Council last night: Councilor Thomas revealed she had asked for and received a bike for her birthday on Friday!

But outside of this, good news was sparse, and Council delayed action.

Councilor Dickey offered a motion to ask staff to include skateboarding in the plan and Council voted to continue the hearing with a view towards clarifying rules, roles, and infrastructure for skateboarding.

Councilor Tesler and the Mayor both opposed the delay, saying that so much testimony had been received, the process had gone on so long, that it was unwise to delay further. Mayor Peterson also observed that the plan could be adopted and staff still directed to pursue provisions and clarification for skateboarding. Addressing skateboarding didn't require putting the bike and walk portions on hold.

But sentiment for delay prevailed, and it was not difficult to see the penumbral shadow of the cemetery in the decision to continue to delay.

After Councilor Thomas' news about the new bike, one other element was, if not cheering, at least straightforward and clarifying. A retired veteran finally uttered some of the words that are behind the cemetery problem: "Shopping carts." He didn't want to see shopping carts in the cemetery, just as they were not allowed in Arlington.  It was a classic unsolicited denial that revealed important truth.

Some part of the resistance to a connection between Hoyt and Rural through one or the other of the cemeteries, and part of the fears of vandalism, is a species of "stranger danger." It is not so much that people who walk and bike are feared, but that opening the cemetery, it is feared, will create additional traffic by transients. The fear of hobos, the homeless, and their shopping carts drives a significant part of the resistance to a cemetery connection. Unfortunately this fear is not being faced head-on, but instead is expressed through the code of resistance to walkers and cyclists in the cemetery. (That is not all of the fear, to be sure, but it is a largely unacknowledged component of it.)

Dave Moss recapitulated the claim that the "cloud" on the map would put a cloud of uncertainty on property and property owners. But two owners of houses with backyards abutting the cemetery said that they biked and they welcomed a connection, and said they thought more eyeballs and ears would improve, not harm, cemetery security.

Other testimony helpfully pointed out that infrastructure for people who walk and bike is like lightbulbs and insulation: Cheap transportation efficiency. If 5% of people biked downtown, that's like a free parking garage. The analogy was shrewd.

Replying to Councilor Dickey's questions about bike salmon and enforcement, Salem Police Department noted that so far this year they have issued 57 citations to people on bike, 1 violation, and 8 people have been charged with crimes (or it might be that 8 crimes have been charged). They have also issued 65 warnings. 

In total 4 people spoke in opposition to a cemetery connection - though they did not oppose the plan in general. 9 people spoke in favor of the plan. No one opposed the plan.  In the latest round of written comment, no one opposed the plan and several letters supported the plan.