Friday, November 30, 2012

Goodbye to the Allens

This week Salem is losing one of its most bikey families.

The moving truck was parked in front over Thanksgiving weekend and it is with sadness and the warmest wishes for the future that we all say good-bye to the Allens, Jim and Stephanie and Quinn, who are relocating to Boise.

Jim Allen:  Photo by Matt Haughey
Jim has been active in the leadership of Capitol Velo and Buy Local, and was Race Director and otherwise volunteered for many of the local races.

Stephanie at Ventis: Photo by the Allens
Stephanie you will remember as a founder and former President of Friends of Salem Saturday Market (now Sustainable Salem) and from the market's Zero Waste Initiative.

And of course tons of other stuff - a blurb is not a biography, and a biography always less than a life!  

Salem will miss you lots, but Salem's loss is Boise's gain.  Bon voyage! 

A Look Back at 1999 Parks Plan Revealing

Prodded by the December 6th open house and a commenter who pointed out a bridge in the 1999 Parks Master Plan, I wanted to start reviewing it before the open house.

Two things jumped out immediately.

What happened to this trail system?!
There's a big multi-use path system envisioned in it! Check out the bridge to Minto from West Salem at College Drive. The Geer line has a rails-to-trails conversion. Pringle creek has a parallel path connection to the downtown core, and links up with paths along smaller creeks. And the site of the Kroc Center was already marked out for a large park and a bridge connection across the Parkway.

It's fascinating to look back at what might have been, to reconsider some of what was built, and what has been retained and unbuilt in current plans. 

There's also a very basic set of Level of Service standards.

I'm not sure I want to argue these are especially good, but if parks have LOS standards, why can't bike transport? Why don't we have a multi-modal LOS for our streets?

Portland is developing one, handled by the same firm conducting the Downtown Mobility Study, so we can hope that its findings will inform our own projects and that eventually there might be a work product of LOS standards exportable from Portland to other communities.

Are you involved in Parks?  What else is in there?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Person on Bike in Collision on Chemeketa Last Night

Last night there was a brief note about a collision at Cottage and Chemeketa. This is right by the Ike Box and YMCA, and on the Chemeketa bikeway. 
The SJ story was updated to reflect that the person hit was on bike, not on foot:
Traffic was blocked for a short while in downtown Salem Wednesday evening when a vehicle struck a bicyclist at the intersection of Cottage and Chemeketa Streets NE.

Salem Police Sgt. Jon Hardy said the bicyclist was not wearing her helmet. She was transported to Salem Hospital, although the extent of her injuries are unknown at this time.

Hardy said it was unclear after initial investigation who had the right of way in the incident and so police did not immediately issue a traffic citation.

Hardy said Salem Police would not be releasing the bicyclist or the driver's names at this time.
(Not updated was whether the autoist was wearing a helmet, using a seatbelt, or deployed airbags!)

With the action on the southeast corner of the intersection, it looks like a turning movement and hook from Chemeketa onto Cottage might have been involved.  The confusion whether the person was on foot or on bike could also indicate a person on bike was operating in the crosswalk rather than on the roadway.

Lots of questions and uncertainty.  Hopefully the person struck was not injured severely and will recover speedily.  And hopefully we will learn more, as this is a key connection for people who bike.  

Update 1, Thursday

In a separate crash:
A bicyclist was taken to the hospital with a head injury after a collision with a vehicle early this morning, according to Salem police Lt. Dave Okada.

Eddie Felix, 60, of Tualatin was driving south on 23rd Street NE and Michael Burke, 42, of Salem was riding his bike west on Center Street NE when the two collided about 7 a.m. Okada said the crash is under investigation and it is unknown who was at fault.

Felix was cited for driving without a driver’s license, Okada said.
Update 2, Friday the 30th

This is yet a different crash, the second on Cottage this week:
An accident between a vehicle and bicycle closed the intersection of Cottage St. NE and D St. NE, according to dispatch.

The accident occurred just before 5 p.m. Salem Fire and Police Departments are on the scene. An official at dispatch was unsure of when the intersection would be reopened.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Dates and Tidbits in City December Newsletter

The City's December Community Connection newsletter has some interesting notes.

In the update on the Minto bridge and path, there's a rendering of the Minto side of the path.
Dutch-style and bike racks on the path!
Parks will have an open house on December 6th for the new draft master plan. There are lots of connections that run through parks, and it will be interesting to look at the draft plan from a transportation rather than purely recreation perspective.

Thursday, December 6th at 6:30 pm
The Downtown Mobility Study will hold an open house on Thursday the 13th (postcard here).

Thursday, December 13th at 4pm
Because this is a comprehensive look at mobility that includes people in trucks with freight, people commuting or running errands in cars, people on foot and on bike, it may be the single most important and promising study going on at the moment. You should strongly consider attending!

Extra Bike? Donate this Weekend!

Help make Christmas a little bit better for young adults by donating a bike. The Bike Peddler is accepting donations on Saturday, December 1, from 11:00 to 1:00pm. In addition to bikes, locks, accessories, and money can also be donated.

The bike program is sponsored by the Assistance League of Salem, Auxiliary. The bikes are distributed to young adults who are transitioning out of foster care or young adults on the road to independence.

And while you're at it, consider emailing to urge Councilors adopt, fund, and implement Bike and Walk Salem. Without a complete system of safe, comfortable, and connected bike routes, a new bike is less effective and more difficult as transportation than it needs to be.

Monday, November 26, 2012

$687 Million Third Bridge at Council Worksession Wednesday

Wednesday the 28th at 5:30pm, City Council will hold a Work Session on the third Bridge. The session will be held in the Anderson room at the Salem Public Library.

4D is like an Eisenhower-era Interstate - it's really this big!
Remember Nate Silver? Even Doonsbury is cracking jokes now about fivethirtyeight, Silver's data-driven blog on politics.

If the bridge design looks like an Interstate from the Eisenhower era, the analysis in favor of the bridge looks like 1950s era polling data as well!

Isn't it time to bring the conversation into the 21st century?

No Third Bridge advocates have posted a checklist for Wednesday's work session with City Council.

An honest analysis will ask and would have good answers for each question.  A boondoggle analysis will elide or evade them.

Which will it be?
Salem City Council Work Session Checklist

How many of these critical issues does the Salem City Council address at its November 28th work session on the Third Bridge?

  • The Council discusses a plan to pay for the 3rd Bridge, acknowledging that it will involve considerable local revenue from tolls on all bridges, a property tax ballot measure, or a gas tax increase.

  • The Council discusses the fact that traffic on the existing bridges is at a 10-year low and that this trend is likely to continue with increasing gas prices and other changes in people's driving habits.
Driving and Recessions - Matthew Yglesias at Slate

Friday, November 23, 2012

The 360 Panorama at Fox Blue is Spectacular

I have been fascinated by the panorama on the wall at Fox Blue ever since I first saw it and spied Watt Shipp's storefront in it.

E.S. Lamport Saddlery
next to Watt Shipp Sporting Goods
and bikes, horses, and cars
David Fox reports that I'm far from the only one who loves this 360 view taken from the intersection of Court and Commercial.  He says daily he witnesses and participates in conversations about it.

Commercial and Court, May 1913; part 1
the full 360 panorama can be seen on the wall at Fox Blue
Commercial and Court, May 1913; part 2
the full 360 panorama can be seen on the wall at Fox Blue
Naturally, a big part of many conversations is speculation about its dating - when and why was it taken? It's possible that with the original image or negative in a file somewhere the information exists.  But you know how it goes.  As these things get handed down, from person to person, information is lost at each link in the chain.  It's a game of telephone. 

But even without knowing its date, there is plenty to find interesting in it!

Black Friday Yielded 82 Citations a Year Ago - Autoists on the Loose

Cherry-picking anecdotal "data" isn't really all that useful.  I love autoists who object to improvements for people who bike by appealing ironically to some indeterminate and distant future state when "bicyclists actually stop for traffic lights and stop signs."  To them it's eschatological, the Lion and the Lamb. 

Chronically we overestimate in-group virtue and underestimate out-group virtue. But whether a person walks, bikes, or drives a car, jerks are jerks.

The next time I run into the old "motorists are law abiding, but people on bikes are lawless," cliche, I'll trot out this handy datapoint: Exactly a year ago Thursday and very early Friday, State Police issued 82 citations to people in cars near the Woodburn Outlet stores.

From the Oregonian:
Offenses included one arrest for drunken driving, three citations for reckless endangerment [of another person], three citations for driving with a suspended license, one citation for driving without a license, and one citation for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana.
The Statesman added that
58 citations [were] for "Illegal Stopping or Standing" on Interstate 5.
This year presumably there will be a similar set of citations.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Transportation Enhancement and Kroc Access at SKATS Tuesday

Next week on Tuesday the 27th, the Salem-Keizer Area Transportation Study Policy Committee (our regional MPO) meets at noon in suite 200 at 100 High St. SE.

There's a high proportion of things - and acronyms - for people who bike. 

Most interesting is a progress report by the Salem Parkway Kroc Center Access Feasibility Study on the 3 alternatives advanced to the final round of analysis.

The medium alternative, UC, has an estimated cost of $9.5 million
This is an excellent example of a transportation cost that got externalized out of the initial site and building costs when the center was plopped down in an industrial wasteland. The high-medium-low cost estimates range from $16 million to $2 million. From the agenda:

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Pull the Plug on Third Bridge Planning says West Salem

At last night's West Salem Neighborhood Association meeting, residents said "pull the plug!" on the oversized and costly $687 million Third Bridge process.

According to No Third Bridge advocates,
After hearing from those attending the meeting a vote was taken on opposing the 3rd Bridge. The result was a two to one vote in favor of opposing the bridge (28 to 10).

Neighbors heard from NO Third Bridge that Alternative 4D, which has the preliminary approval of the Salem River Crossing Oversight Team, should not be approved by the Salem City Council until there is a plan to pay for it. They also seemed swayed by the argument that expensive bridge planning efforts should cease immediately and attention should be given to improving access to and from the existing bridges instead of building a new bridge at an estimated cost of $687 million.
The Grant and Highland neighborhoods have also gone on record with opposition. None of the neighborhoods primarily affected - or ostensibly benefiting - from the bridge and highway are in fact in favor of it.

Next up is a City Council worksession on Wednesday the 28th and a continuation of the Public Hearing on Monday, December 10th.

If you haven't done so, consider emailing to urge Councilors to refocus efforts on better and much less costly ways to improve mobility and manage congestion.

For more on the River Crossing / Third Bridge see a summary critique and all breakfast blog notes tagged River Crossing. The No Third Bridge advocates also have lots of useful information.


Draft Minutes from Nov 19th Meeting

Flashing Beacon and Sharrows at 12th and Mill; Planning Commission and Airport

West-bound sharrow
If you missed it over the weekend, late last week 4 sharrows on Mill and a flashing beacon on the 12th street crosswalk went in!

The sharrows will help with letting people in cars know to expect bike traffic as well as to be aware that with the medians there is not sufficient room to pass a person on bike.

For those who wish to bike in the travel lane on Mill, this should be a positive step.

(Sunny & Not at Mill)
Also going in at the crosswalk is a push-button activated flashing beacon. This will be very helpful for people on foot.

It will be interesting to see how drivers on 12th respond.

Have you used it?

(Once the weather is better it will be possible to get a picture of the beacon in action! Also:  more on the depot and the general configuration of the intersection.)

Update Saturday, the 24th

A break in the rain and a trip nearby afforded an opportunity to take a picture of the crosswalk.

The standards are all on the south side; two turn pockets
As Walker pointed out in the comments, when you are going from east to west, you can't see the flashing light, as the light standard is between you and on-coming traffic. On the west side of the intersection, the light standard is behind you vis-a-vis on-coming traffic, and you can see the flasher. The standards are all in a line, and if actual conduit is involved I supposed this makes sense. But if they are radio controlled, there's no reason not to have an off-set that makes even more sense.

And as Curt points out, with the turn pocket on the north side of the intersection (the far side in the picture), the design prioritized auto traffic over the existing foot paths and patterns of use.

Planning Commission Tonight

Earlier this month the Planning Commission started a hearing on the Airport Master Plan, which envisions a longer runway and bigger airport.

In response to public testimony, the hearing will be continued tomorrow tonight.  Staff have returned with some additional information. What is interesting about it is that a good chunk of it pretty much wholly evades the questions.

It is, alas, a preview of some of the obfusation we will likely encounter and already have encountered with the bridge.

1. The justification for the runway extension project was based on 2008 data, which represents a peak year in airport activity and does not accurately reflect an overall trend of declining airport operations.

Staff response: The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires 500 operations (takeoff or landing) of a Critical Aircraft or group of aircraft to justify runway extension projects. Accoring to the Updated Master Plan, Critical Design Aircraft Operations at Salem Municipal Airport increased form 772 operations in 2000 to 1,358 operations in 2008. The FAA threshold of 500 Critical Design Aircraft Operations was exceeded in all of the years examined...In 2011, and year-to-date in 2012, Salem Municipal Airport exceeded the FAA threshold of 500 Critical Design Aircraft Operations sufficient to justify a runway extension.

2. The proposed runway extension will have a disproportionate negative impact low-income and minority populations, schools, historic resources and future development to the north of the airport in tems of exposure to increased noise and air pollution levels.

Staff response: ...The NEPA process will consider how recommended developments will interact with persons, property, and nature outside of the airport. As individual projects identified in the Capital Improvement Plan are brought forward for development, potential impacts will be examined in greater detail as part of the NEPA process, or Environmental Assessment.
The matter of a declining trend line is totally avoided, and the question of impacts is punted down the road to the NEPA.

As an example of "public" process, this is junky and evasive! No wonder citizens check out or turn cynical. Makes you wonder about the report on "civic engagement" returned as part of the Sustainable Cities Initiative residency a couple of years ago.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Third Bridge Meeting in West Salem on Monday

Just in case the scale of the thing isn't clear, here's a concept detail drawing from 4D superimposed on a nearly identical bridge that was actually built. (Even the color scheme matches!)

4D:  It's really big!

The West Salem Neighborhood Association meets on Monday, and this is a chance to get a larger number of people engaged. Even if you think a ginormous bridge is necessary, surely you would agree that a $687 million expense deserves the highest level of scrutiny. 

And it's just not getting that scrutiny.  But that's a lot of money!

One of the things that is consistently surprising about the conversations about the Third Bridge is its lack of popular traction either way.

Courthouse Square, roughly a $50 million problem, gets tons of press and attention.

Alternative 4D, is officially a $687 million problem, and if built will surely hit a billion.

But apart from a nearly autonomous planning process, the broad public isn't much engaged. 

At present the West Salem Neighborhood Association does not seem to have a position on the proposed bridge alignment. It seems possible there is a deeply mixed sentiment rather than a broad consensus. 

But you know, it shouldn't be that difficult. As proposed, alternative 4D would rip through West Salem and the Highland neighborhoods. Just look at that aerial photo!  Think about it running lengthwise through Wallace Marine Park, looming over Edgewater, plowing through Highland. 

It's a turkey, a boondoggle, a bad idea all the way around, monstrously oversized and costly.

The association meets Monday, November 19, 2012 at 7:00 P.M., in Roth’s West, Mezzanine floor, 1130 Wallace Rd NW.

For more on the River Crossing / Third Bridge see a summary critique and all breakfast blog notes tagged River Crossing. The No Third Bridge advocates also have lots of useful information.

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Sidewalkification of Bicycling, Leaves - Friday Newsbits

B+'s note on fall color on D Street reminded me to check in on the railroad quiet zone projects on D Street and on Market Street.

Good thing signs don't pile up like leaves in the street!
But first!  The fall leaf haul will be on December 1st:
Compost your leaves and grass clippings at the Fall Leaf Haul on Saturday, December 1, 2012, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. This event provides a way for homeowners to drop off grass clippings and leaves (no tree limbs accepted), and to turn them into compost locally. The program is designed for Salem residents only (no commercial landscapers, please). This event also helps keep leaves out of storm drains, reducing the potential for clogged storm drains and flooding.

This year’s collection locations include the following Salem sites:

State Fairgrounds Lana Avenue NE Gate Lana Avenue NE and Silverton Road NE

Sprague High School 2373 Kuebler Road S

Wallace Marine Park East End of Glen Creek Road NW
In addition to clogging drains, leaves in the street also pose difficulties for people on bike - they're slick, can hide inducements to involuntary dismounts, and the resulting slalom then brings people on bike closer to pesky cars.  If you have neighbors blowing leaves into the streets, let 'em know about the fall leaf haul and remind 'em about the green barrels for yard debris!

Quiet Zone

The crossing on D didn't seem much further along than it had got in August (though I have been told the City agreed that sharrows at the crossing were a good idea), and all the action was at the apartment complex on the corner of D and Garnet that's getting a new driveway.

At the other end of Garnet, though, construction seemed to be on a temporary hiatus.

Garnet and Market
But the sidewalkification of bicycling was on display.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Historic Freight Depot Rehab Moves Forward with Funding

At yesterday's meeting of the Oregon Transportation Commission, Commissioners approved ODOT's request for a little over half a million dollars for the 1889 baggage depot at the train station.

Old Freight Depot: University of Oregon
From ODOT's release:
SALEM – The Oregon Transportation Commission today approved a request to award $575,200 from the Transportation Enhancement discretionary account to preserve and restore the historic baggage depot at the Salem Amtrak Station for use as an inter-city bus depot, as part of a larger effort to create a multimodal transportation hub. Transportation Enhancement (TE) funds, which focus on projects involving historic preservation, bicycle/pedestrian access, roadway beautification, and more, will be combined with other funds to complete the TE portion of the renovation ($96,000 from an anonymous donor and $20,000 from the State Historic Preservation Office). Greyhound has committed $60,000 and the remaining funds will come from regular transportation investment programs and state matching funds. Total estimated cost of the project is $874,154 which includes about $691,000 for the depot restoration and $183,000 to reconfigure and improve access for buses, bicyclists and pedestrians.

[The application] noted the 1889 Baggage Depot is one of the last 19th century railroad depots in Oregon. Salvaged from a fire in 1917 that burned Salem’s second railroad station, it became a stand-alone freight handling facility in 1918, but has been vacant for more than 20 years. The building sits next to the 1918 Beaux Arts Station, listed in the National Register of Historic Buildings.

By rehabilitating the facility, ODOT and its partners hope to create a regional multimodal transportation hub. Preliminary plans call for three phases of rehabilitation. In phase one, the building would receive extensive restoration work, including utilities, exterior wall finishes, restrooms, windows and doors. In phase two, the restoration would focus on the interior, such as bringing it up to compliance with ADA and building a ticket counter and waiting area. Phase three would include construction of bike and pedestrian access to the site and outdoor passenger amenities. Next steps include signing agreements with partners and retaining an architectural firm skilled in working with historic buildings.
The additional details on funding sources and staging are interesting. And you wonder just how much of the $183,000 is going to undo the work the City has just put in.  Hopefully, too, they will look at the whole street grid here and make all the connections, not just at 12th and Mill, more direct and safe.  You know, so like an entire family with kids could bike to the station!

Curiously, the request for the Minto Bridge and Path is not included in the press release, and it will be interesting to learn if it ran into trouble or if ODOT just didn't think it also merited a press release.  Maybe we'll learn more today.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Early Bike Dealers Hauser and Shipp Remind us of a Better Downtown

Most of these buildings are gone now
Commercial Street, 1966: UO Library

It is a wondrous age we live in, and the internet a marvel!

You may recall a note about early bike dealer Paul Hauser and Wild Pear.  With his brother Lloyd, Hauser built a chain of local sporting goods stores and installed this tile entry where today is Wild Pear.

A granddaughter of Paul Hauser happened to see the note, and shared a picture of Paul Hauser and Watt Shipp!

Watt Shipp (l) & Paul Hauser (r), circa 1900
(Image Courtesy of Sarah Hauser)
It's hard to tell where this was taken. It could be somewhere in Salem, or in any number of communities in the Willamette valley. (If you recognize the bridge, still wooden it seems, or other details, please comment!) As for time, presumably it was taken during the business partnership of Shipp and Hauser.

As best as I can tell they were business partners from the spring of 1901 to the winter of 1903/4.  The bike style matches - and the "bicycle suit" style of apparel seems consistent with this dating (though those with a better knowledge of costume and clothing might discern more exactly - to me it's more generally "old timey" than precisely 1901 or 1907 ). So it seems most logical to date the picture to the period of their partnership or just before.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Third Bridge has Faulty Foundations: Its Flawed Analysis of Transit

1975 Land yacht:  Wikipedia
The $687 million Alternative 4D is surely the vintage Cadillac of bridges.

So why aren't we talking about Lexus bus service? (Oh, wait, bus service always has to be bad!)

If there's just one picture that conveys the dubious nature of much of the analysis behind the Third Bridge, maybe it's the transit analysis. Even more than the declining rates of miles traveled and licensing that we can project into the future, the transit analysis shows the flaws in the process.
Sloppy or Intellectually Dishonest?
According to the River Crossing FAQ,
approximately half (46%) of the traffic using the bridges originates from or is destined for points in western Polk County and beyond. The other half (54%) originates from west Salem.
The approach that's taken is to solve the problem for the 46% who don't live in Salem by proposing a giant highway and bridge to by-pass downtown Salem.

But an easier and less costly approach would likely target the 54% who live in Salem.

When the team "studied" transit, however, it used a straw man to find that transit would fail the 54%.

According to the project alternatives page,
During the alternatives development process, a stand-alone Transportation System Management and Transportation Demand Management (TSM/TDM) alternative was studied and determined not to meet the project Purpose and Need all by itself.
And at the center of what it studied, as you can see from the picture, were just two new routes based on a park-and-ride approach.

You know:  Ask people to get into their cars, drive to a lot, then get out of their cars and transfer to a bus, and then make the reverse trip.

Left unstudied was a robust network of residential bus routes in West Salem that offered frequent and convenient door-to-door service.

The official study used crappy bus service that already asked people to get into their cars to conclude that all bus service is helpless to reduce congestion!

And once you accept this conclusion, as the citizens of Salem and project participants are asked to do, then so much of the giant highway and bridge concept seems to follow by necessity.

There are plenty of reasons to oppose the bridge.  One list is here, and another is here.   And the Oregonian has a heart-breaking story about "displacement," likely condemnation and resulting homelessness for an 86 year old woman in the way of "progress." 

But the reply to many objections or critiques, as it was last Monday at Council, is that other solutions don't meet the purpose and need and that the project team has already investigated TSM/TDM measures and found them wanting.

Staff will continue to say to Council and others that a giant bridge and highway is necessary, and that the project team has already studied this exhaustively.

But that's just not true.

At the center of the analysis - maybe not the single point of the center, but certainly in that inner ring - is a spectacularly errant "study" of transit.  No conclusions on funding and building should be drawn until a better study has been undertaken.  Until then, support for a $687 million dollar bridge and highway is misguided and would lead to grave waste - waste in dollars and waste in the community.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Transportation Commission to Dedicate Achterman Room and Talk Bikes

Hopefully when representatives from the Oregon Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee address the Oregon Transportation Commission on Wednesday, ODOT-HQ will have figured out that equating bicycling with smoking isn't quite the right message to send.

Mixed Messaging for Active Transportation
Especially since the meeting agenda includes the formal dedication of the Gail Achterman Commission Room.  Achterman was a South Salem High School grad, Chair of the Commission, and advocate for active transportation.

Gail Achterman Room
The agenda offers some whiplash - though it's to be expected in politics, I suppose.

In addition to the dedication, an important item will be a presentation by members of OBPAC on active transportation.  Part, maybe even the great bulk, of the reason for this are the changes in transportation funding created by the new federal transportation bill.  ODOT Director Matt Garrett had sent out a memo describing how the law would affect walking and biking work:
  • MAP-21 cut dedicated funding levels for active transportation programs by nearly 40 percent. Regardless, ODOT is committed to funding active transportation programs.
  • We will honor all of our existing funding commitments to bicycle and pedestrian programs in the 2012-2015 STIP, which will provide about $4 million per year more of federal flexible funds than what MAP-21 provides to Oregon for bicycle and pedestrian projects through the new Transportation Alternatives Program.
  • MAP-21 abolishes the Safe Routes to School program. ODOT will keep it intact through 2015 and fund the education and outreach of the program going forward.
  • MAP-21 allows states to “opt out” of the Recreational Trails Program. Oregon will not opt out for the next three or four years. The Oregon State Parks Department will continue to administer the Recreational Trails Program until at least 2016.
  • Starting in 2016, all active transportation related programs that are infrastructure-related (including projects previously eligible for Safe Routes to School infrastructure programs) will be considered part of the Enhance Program in the 2016-19 STIP and projects will be chosen by the Area Commissions on Transportation.
At least in the current trajectory, OBPAC will no longer have a dedicated pot of funding to administer, and so I read this as part of the conversation about what its future will be.

The slides are interesting - and unsurprisingly, but still disappointingly, the Capital City is mostly on the sidelines.  What will it take for Salem to assume a leadership position on walking and biking?

OBPAC Slide to OTC - Nov 14th
Included in the consent agenda are a couple of Salem-area requests.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

First Bike-Only Traffic Light Installed

The City's first bike-only traffic light is up and operating!

Just before the downpour yesterday, I noticed that the traffic light west-bound on Chemeketa at 12th had been swapped out this week for the new bike light.

It's been a bit of a winding road to it...

New Bike Lights:  12th & Chemeketa
Back in the spring of 2010 a light was part of the proposed "Quiet Zone" crossing treatment for 12th and Chemeketa (revised to this).

Bike Signal Head: LADOT
During the 2011 Legislative session, a law for these had to be passed. Portland had had these signals for some time, but as Portland signals engineer Peter Koonce said to BikePortland, the bike signals had existed outside of statute and occupied a legal grey zone.  The law codifying them, Senate Bill 130, was introduced to the Legislature before the session and signed into law in June of 2011.

And now we have one!

So where will the second one be???

(Updated Sunday with picture of bike signal head; longer discussion at LA Dept of Transportation bike blog.)

Update 2, Tuesday the 13th

Front page on the SJ:

The Third Bridge and CRC Fiasco: They don't have to be Twins!

Very interesting. As reported in The Columbian the other day, Republican politicians in Washington's Clark County have issued a statement calling for a restart on the Columbia River Crossing:
No state-level financing plan has earned the support of either Oregon or Washington legislatures to meet the $900 million they are being asked to pay. There are serious concerns about the use of tolls to fund $1.4 billion of the project’s costs -- concerns about whether tolling projections are flawed and can come close to this funding level, and concerns from citizens unwilling to shoulder the tolling burden for a project that doesn’t meet their needs.

Right now, the CRC does not have a design that will earn the necessary permits to move forward.... [T]he CRC’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is significantly flawed....

Perhaps most troubling about the current design is that the project’s users – the public -- were discouraged from participating from the start. Shielding citizens who will use and pay for this project from its planning process no doubt contributed to design and financing flaws.
Substitute the word "Salem" for "Columbia" and adjust the dollar amounts, and the whole thing maps alarmingly closely to the Salem River Crossing mess!

Some differences remain, of course.  In addition criticizing it for being too big, with too many traffic lanes, many in Clark County also oppose light rail.  Suburban and exurban autoist critics loathe light rail; rail fans want more choice in mobility and alternatives to the drive-alone trip.  The project is getting squeezed from both sides - but both are united in thinking it too big, too ambitious, too costly.   

Fortunately in Salem we are still in the draft EIS process, and there's time to redirect this thing to a smaller set of projects, multi-modal in scope, that will actually meet area needs in 2050, and cost a whole lot less.

Streetcar? There be Dragons!

One of the smaller ideas that has been floated is for a streetcar. It's just at the brainstorming stage, so perhaps it is premature to comment on it. Nevertheless, it seems to me to share some of the same problems that the big highway and bridge has: Relatively speaking, it may be overkill, too complicated and too ambitious of a solution.

It could also dampen other modes of travel.

Two of the key streets, Chemeketa and Union, bicycle advocates hope will become family friendly bikeways. Putting down streetcar tracks, as we have seen in Portland, creates problems. I fear the rail lanes here would cannibalize rather than complement bike lanes, especially on Union and Chemeketa.

Double-decking the Union Street RR Bridge would also put a lid on the bridge, and even in the rain, one of the things I like about it is its openness. I'm not real excited by the prospect of a roof there.

Street Piano on the Bridge, Summer 2012
Finally, is Salem really dense enough for streetcar right now?  It seems to me that what made the streetcar work circa 1900 was that we hadn't yet gutted downtown with parking lots and single-use office buildings. I suspect we need more redevelopment downtown first. 

In any case shouldn't as a rule we prefer simple solutions to complicated ones? Biking, walking, busing and staggered start times are easier and less costly to implement at the moment.  And in the absence of compelling argument these should be preferred to more difficult and more costly solutions like streetcar.

At the same time, we should be brainstorming vigorously, throwing lots of ideas against the wall to see what sticks and holds up.  Maybe there's a streetcar configuration that does make sense.  Streetcar certainly seems to spur more transit-oriented development than bus lines or bike boulevards - though the results aren't always as clear-cut and robust as some proponents have argued.  

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

City Council, Tues, Nov 13th

Tuesday - not Monday, because of the holiday - brings a pretty light City Council agenda. Certainly as regards transportation issues, the relevant items are on the future schedule.

Upcoming Dates:

Work Session: Salem River Crossing - To be held in the Council Chambers ~ Wednesday, November 28, Immediately following Budget Committee Meeting (at 6:00 p.m)

Continuation: Amendments to the Salem Transportation System Plan Bicycle and Pedestrian Elements; Amending the Salem Area Comprehensive Plan ~ Monday, December 3

Continuation: Salem River Crossing Preferred Alternative Preliminary Recommendation ~ Monday, December 10

Comprehensive Parks System Master Plan – Joint work session with Planning Commission ~ Monday, January 14, 5:30 p.m.

It's possible that the Parks Master Plan deserves more attention, by the way. Many key connections go through parks, and it may be that as transportation corridors and connections they need more love! Something to keep in mind. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

New Restaurant at Liberty and State to Remodel in Old Building

One of the neat old buildings in Salem is the Gray Building of 1891.

There's an unconfirmed rumor floating around that a restaurant currently out in south Salem may be moving into the spot vacated by the Coffee House Cafe. (Our friends at eat Salem will nose out the details, I'm sure!) I've seen workmen there in the past month and, not so coincidentally, there's going to be a hearing before the Historic Landmarks Commission next Thursday to modify the storefront window system and facade. So it definitely looks like something is cooking there!

Proposed Storefront
The brick and awning of The Brick is not so great, and hopefully the new modfications will better acknowledge the quality that makes for "a neat old building"!  CB|Two is handing the work, but it's hard to tell very much from the drawings in the announcement.  The staff report doesn't show much more detail, other than to ask for the retention of more of the old building and finish materials.

Hopefully the remodeled storefront will look more like the facade of Wild Pear than The Brick.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

In the Neighborhood Associations this Week

Remember that development on 23rd street just off Mission? The developer withdrew it, but it looks like they are interested in coming back with a different proposal.

Tonight at 7:00 p.m. at the Capital Park Wesleyan Church, 410 19th Streeet SE, SESNA meets, and on the agenda is a talk by the developer's representative.

If you live near, it will be interesting to learn more about the proposal. Mission is lousy for people who walk and bike - lousy even for cars as this week's crashes show - and creating a development that makes sense could turn that "stroad" in the right direction. Our arterials and urban highways are terrible, and better land use along them is a key to making them livable. 

Also, last month OBRA Director and BTA Board Member Kenji Sugahara was elected Chair of the West Salem Neighborhood Association!

If you live or work in West Salem, this is a great time to plug into the neighborhood association. With the Third Bridge conversation, the redevelopment of the Edgewater/2nd Street district, and the ginormous enlargement of Wallace @ Glen Creek, it's a decisive moment for people who bike to talk about mobility and livability. The more people who talk it up, the more political space the electeds and staff will have to maneuver and make good decisions.

(Unfortunately this month's meeting was on Monday - at the same time City Council was holding the hearing on the bridge!  That's a head-scratcher for sure.)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

One Dead in Crash on Portland Road - updated

News agencies and Salem Police report a fatal crash involving a person on bike early this evening.  No additional specific information is out.  I suppose it's possible that a person in the car has died, but the sad, sad probability is that tonight a person on bike has died in Salem. (Much more to come and this post will be updated.)

Portland Road and Wayside Terrace

Update 1, 9:50pm

From the police:
The investigation has thus far determined that a male, approximately in his 60s, was riding a bicycle across Portland Rd near Wayside NE when he was struck by a vehicle. The victim was transported to the hospital where he was pronounced deceased. The identity of the deceased has not yet been positively confirmed and will not be released until confirmed and next of kin notified. No further details are being released at this time.
Update 2, Thursday, midday

From the SJ:
The man who died in a vehicle versus bicycle crash Wednesday evening was identified as a 62-year-old Salem man.

Miguel Maciel-Alejo was crossing Portland Road near Bill Frey Drive NE about 5:45 p.m. when a vehicle struck him.

The driver of the vehicle, Lucas Ferrando, 17, saw the cyclist too late and was not able to stop in time, Salem police Lt. Dave Okada said.

Northbound lanes of Portland Road were blocked until about 9 p.m. No citations have been issued, but Okada said the investigation is ongoing.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Monday, November 5, 2012

City Council Live Blog - Third Bridge River Crossing Edition

Let's try writing a piece on the fly. New stuff will go at the top, so start reading from the bottom.

So the hearing was continued and no great conclusions made.  Councilors definitely seemed to want more public comment and analysis. It was great to see the No 3rd Bridge stickers.

8:35 - In response to Councilor Blasi's question, Julie Warncke appeals to the Alt Modes Study, as having investigated TSM/TDM measures.  But this is a house of cards!  The foundation of the Alt Modes Study is not sound, and they used faulty assumptions.  GIGO.  But how to make it clear to Councilors that there are these analytical problems behind the faulty conclusions.

8:26 - Councilor Nanke asks who would own and maintain the bridge.  Julie Warncke said they didn't know! 

8:22 - Councilor Bennett has some hard questions about how the process works.  He was especially interested in how Councilor Clem as the representative on the Oversight Team and on the SKATS Policy Committee was bound to follow, or free to ignore, Salem City Council.  Bennett also said that this is "our town, our bridge" and that "$700 million is a pretty big deal."  After Councilor Clem addressed the question, Bennett said so "we have a veto," and wanted to be clear that this was true. 

8:13 - Councilor Nanke suggests Council continue the hearing.  Council settles on December 10th.  This would be after the work session.  Interestingly, the continuation of the Bike and Walk Salem Hearing without a "date certain" was bad form!  Councilor Bennett says that the public should be invited again to give written or in person comment.  And makes clear this is not a quasi-judicial hearing and that outside contact is possible and even encouraged with constituents!

8:04 - Some memorable quotes:  Tolls would be "appalling,"  "There's no hope in Hope [Ave NW]," 4D would be an "attractive nuisance."  So far there are 17 NOs, 3 YESs, and a couple of unknowns. 

7:45 - John Miller of the Chamber of Commerce talked about being "astonished" by the Union Street Railroad Bridge. He was a skeptic, but now a fan! Councilor Bennett asks him what he thinks of the $700 million cost.   Not sure he answered the question.  Councilor Blasi asks for a specific position, and the Chamber supports 4D.

7:40 - Mike Erdman of the Home Builders Association has interesting perspectives.  Talks about growth mainly occurring in West Salem.  But the Home Builders Association will be displaced.  "It would be a significant disruption to our business." But it would be the price of progress, he said.  

Guest Councilor Dickey asked about restaurants and other businesses that might be more dependent on location than the Home Builders Assocaition.  Erdmann says his business is not so dependent on locations.