Saturday, December 29, 2012

Downtown Mobility Study Summary: Full of Promise

The Downtown Mobility Study is a terrific start. All of the proposals have merit and some look good nearly as-is. Others may need more refinement or rethinking.

Most importantly, the study represents a serious look at restoring two-way traffic on several streets. 

Downtown Salem, July 2012
Just look at Vancouver, Washington.  In November of 2008, at the peak of the Great Recession, Vancouver went two way:
Within a few weeks, the entire business community was celebrating. "We have twice as many people going by as they did before," one of the employees at an antique store told a local reporter. The chairman of the Vancouver Downtown Association, Lee Coulthard, sounded more excited than almost anyone else. "It's like, wow," he exclaimed, "why did it take us so long to figure this out?"

A year later, the success of the project is even more apparent. Twice as many cars drive down Main Street every day, without traffic jams or serious congestion. The merchants are still happy. "One-way streets should not be allowed in prime downtown retail areas," says Rebecca Ocken, executive director of Vancouver's Downtown Association. "We've proven that."
One-way streets should not be allowed in prime downtown retail area.

Can it be any clearer than this?

The other great piece is a serious look at connectivity for people who aren't in cars.

In general, one approach would be to think about connectivity in a high-low, alternating way:  Roughly every other street should have a high-quality lane for people on bike.

Study Area with Streets under Consideration
If robust, enhanced facilities are correctly staggered, striping sharrows on the the roads in between can  adequately serve many people on bike.

So in this approach State, Chemeketa, and Union would get high-quality, family-friendly treatments running east and west.  Church, Winter, and 12th would get high-quality treatments running north and south. 

Simple Fixes: Two-Way + Sharrows
More Robust Fixes:  Yay, Cycletracks!
  • State Street - a cycletrack or equivalent is right
  • Church Street - a cycletrack should be considered here. This may require more study.
  • Winter Street - see below. Alternative 4, cycletracks on each side.
  • 12th Street - add bike lanes!
Need more Study or Detail
After thinking about it for several days, I'm still not persuaded that a cycletrack is the best solution for Union Street, and I'd like to see more exploration there and a wider range of solutions for people-space and less for car-space. (On the other hand, if consensus truly gathers around a cycletrack there, it's not like we'd be making a big mistake. It would still be a very positive move.) And the connections around the north downtown area need more detail to make sense of.

Even with these two areas where I'd like to see more detail, the Downtown Mobility Study has potential to be a road map to a set of transformative connections to downtown and within downtown. It's a solid start!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

A Happy Divorce: Decoupling Court and State in the Downtown Mobility Study

In the fourth part of our look at the initial concepts for downtown streets (part 1 on Union and Church; part 2 on North Downtown; part 3 on 12th, High, and Cottage) advanced in the Downtown Mobility Study, here are proposed treatments for Court and State Streets.

Court two-way: in 1960 you could have seen this coming and going!
Salem Library Photo Collection
As State Street comes into downtown from the east, at 13th it is diverted and with Court becomes part of a one-way couplet through downtown.  It has much higher traffic volumes than the other streets.  Additionally, Court street dead-ends in several places with cut-throughs for people on foot.  State Street, on the other hand, is a major east-west arterial through Salem and even out to the hinterlands. 

State/Court couplet starts at 13th; traffic volumes much higher
Since State Street is the major connecting throughway, it makes sense for it to have a robust provision for bicycles, and some kind of cycletrack is most appropriate.  This also connects directly with Willamette University, and would make it easier for students and staff to access downtown. 

State Street
Auto traffic volumes and frequent visitors to the Capitol are such that lesser facilities like bike lanes or sharrows will not be adquate to serve the full range of bicycle users on State Street. A cycletrack or equivalent is the right thing here.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

12th, Cottage, and High Streets, Downtown Mobility Study, Part 3

Today's "Capital Connect" column makes for a great wind-up to the Downtown Mobility Study. Columnists Michael Rose and Queenie Wong call out transportation twice as a favorite topic: Portland to Salem and Salem to Portland commutes; and the ways the vast single-use expanse of State Office buildings dictate downtown hours.

Commuter Culture:  Transportation is Fundamental
An important subtext? Proximity, not efficiency, is paramount. No matter how "efficient" are the highways and arterials, if people don't live near where they work, they won't hang around and invest in the neighborhood. And in this context, the neighborhood means downtown.

A giant bridge and tolled highway (we need to stop calling it a freeway, because in so many ways it would be the opposite of free!) will in no way make downtown better. Not for State workers, not for anyone else.

Creating a more robust set of choices for getting to and around downtown will enhance proximity, even if some choices may on the surface appear to diminish efficiency.  Proximity should trump efficiency!

So, continuing the look at the initial concepts for downtown streets (part 1 on Union and Church, part 2 on the North Downtown parcel) advanced in the Downtown Mobility Study, here are proposed treatments for Cottage, High, and 12th Streets.

Downtown Mobility Study Area and Treatment Proposals
(Click to enlarge all images!)
With strong alternative facilities on adjacent streets or ways (Church St. and the Promenade on 12th), there don't need to be a lot of formal project alternatives on these streets, nor do the facilities need to be fancy or complicated for people on bikes.  So there's not a whole lot to say on these proposals.

For whatever reason there's only one alternative for Cottage Street. And that's ok.

Sharrows on Cottage Street
The proposal shows two-way traffic with sharrows, almost exactly like Chemeketa. In fact, the car traffic volumes on Cottage are slightly less than those on Chemeketa between Commercial and Winter.   As long as Church Street is improved to a family-friendly standard, then there's no need for more than sharrows on Cottage and High.  It would operate just like Chemeketa.

So one alternative is just fine.

The proposal for High Street shows one one-way alternative, but since that's not the point, let's just look at the two-way alternatives.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The North Downtown Appendix to the Downtown Mobility Study

The part of town right by Boon's has always been a little mysterious.

Boon's Tavern
It's the oldest part of Salem, for one. When Jason Lee relocated from Misson Bottom (site of Willamette Mission State Park), he chose a site very near Boon's. Mill creek winds through here just before it drains into the Willamette, and waterwheels offered power.

This site is ground zero, the origin, of Salem!

Almost a century later, between the two world wars some warehouses were built, served by the Oregon Electric line on High/Broadway.  In the spaces between the commercial industrial development and the creek, there's also a strange group of residential housing, apartments and single family homes.

See the house and box hedge in between the warehouses?
via the Google
This area is a little wacky with odd lots and dead-ends, winding and almost hidden streets, and things that time forgot.  Just north of it is the redevelopment on Broadway with Salem Cinema and Broadway Commons.  

You might recall a very popular note in Emily Grosvener's "Desperately Seeking Salem" about the area.  There's a history here that hasn't been written!

It's also a real barrier for people on bike, and the auto traffic patterns are more than a little convoluted.

Something of an outlier and appendix to the Downtown Mobility Study is a longer-range set of proposals for this North Downtown parcel bounded by Commercial, Division, Broadway, and Belmont.

North Downtown Area

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Union and Church Street Treatments, Downtown Mobility Study Part 1

Here's some news! The posters from the Downtown Mobility Study open house are on the website today.

There's still too much to take in and comment on, so here's part one.

Downtown Mobility Study Area and Treatment Proposals
(Click to enlarge all images!)
It seems to me that for making safe, comfortable, and connected bike access to downtown for families, Union and Church streets are most important. Winter Street doesn't offer direct access to downtown businesses or the transit mall, and for this reason, Church Street is a more important north-south connection.

Bike and Walk Salem called for "enhanced" treatment on Church
And while the proposals for Union Street run a pretty full gamut, the proposals for Church Street aren't as rich and robust as they might be.

Union Street cycletrack detail between Commercial and Liberty
The big sexy idea on the table was a cycletrack alternative for Union Street. It would offer full separation from cars for people who bike.

At Third Bridge Work Session More Questions

Things are definitely slowing down for the holidays and news or other significant bikey developments are spotty.

If you haven't been over to No 3rd Bridge since Monday's work session, they've posted a wrap, which includes some interesting quotes.

Councilor Bennett's ward would see the biggest bridge impacts
Here are a couple:

"I drove here from 16th and D and everything was 'over capacity' [by Fernandez' definition]."
— Councilor Chuck Bennett

"If this represents connectivity between Portland and Newport, that's the wrong connectivity ... If it's all about creating a freeway though an established neighborhood, that isn't any kind of progress."
— Councilor Chuck Bennett

As you can see from the map, Ward 1 in yellow, Chuck Bennett's, really would bear the great brunt of construction and traffic, so it's not surprising to see him asking more probing questions.  Diana Dickey's Ward 6 and Dan Clem's Ward 8 would also be impacted. 

Also, from an early, likely unedited, draft story posted Monday night to the SJ website shortly after the meeting - but not yet in print, it seems:
Among the questions, Councilor Laura Tesler wondered if shifting demographics, such as a growing millennial generation relying less on motor vehicles, could affect river-crossing capacity needs. Brad Nanke wondered about the consistency of cost estimates and project costs of other bridges. Richard Clausen had questions about phasing in the construction stages and when the conversation about funding will surface.

Diana Dickey wondered what percentage of the bridge traffic comes from Polk County, and if changes in goods and services within the county has affected traffic levels. SRC studies indicated that 56 percent of current bridge traffic is local, trips within Salem, 37 percent is regional and just 7 percent is thru traffic.

Councilor Dan Clem noted that the River Crossing project will affect more than just east-west traffic in the region, but all traffic.

Councilor Chuck Bennett expressed concerns about the estimated 160 homes and businesses affected by the crossing option preferred by the Salem River Crossing oversight team, most of which, he said, are characterized by affordable housing and small businesses
It will take 5 votes on Council to accomplish anything, but Councilors appear finally to be digging in and asking some of the hard questions.  They'll return to the matter in January.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

That's the way, Patriot. Let the OPECs keep their Gasoline

The Governor came out with his big energy plan a few days ago.

The low-energy cover
There's not as much on transportation and bikes as you might have wished.

From the report:
The state will advance an investment package that includes increased funding for local roads and bridges that incorporate multi-model design elements, bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, transit operations and capital, freight and passenger rail improvements, as well as marine and air....

In addition, as federal fuel efficiency standards increase, low- and zero-emission vehicles hit the road and fuel use decreases. This trend challenges a transportation system funded by gas taxes that are restricted to road and automobile-based investments. To address this revenue challenge, the state will develop alternative transportation funding strategies that will provide stable and flexible funding to help the state achieve our energy and emission reduction goals.
So he has a couple of action items:
Action Item: The legislature should consider the use of a Road User Fee for highly efficient vehicles (55 mpg or greater) in lieu of a gas tax.

ODOT's Innovate Partnership Section should work with stakeholders to consider a demonstration of an alternative revenue model based on road user fee in an area of Oregon. The Road User Fee should include a vehicle impact fee based on vehicle class, including weight and emissions.

The state will support continued conversations about sustainable funding multi-modal transportation infrastructure in order to meet its greenhouse gas reduction goals for the transportation sector including freight and passenger travel by air, marine, rail, transit, bicycle and pedestrian.
Read: It's mostly about electric cars, and a mileage tax, not about creating lots of choices in transportation and making it easy not to use a car!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Draft Parks Master Plan Released

Last week the Draft 2012 Comprehensive Parks Master Plan came out, and on the surface for bikes it's a mixed bag. Hopefully folks who have been involved or whose primary interest is in Parks can comment more.

This pretty picture's from the new Minto Update, not the Parks Plan
For starters, the published draft may not be complete.

This is from the Parks Plan - Are maps missing? [their yellow]
One of the maps in which people who bike might have the most interest is not included and doesn't appear to have been published separately. So it's really not possible to get the high-level overview for the Parks system and the way it is envisioned to be part of the Transportation system.

There's also no mechanism for, or a discussion of, a public comment period.  Not sure what's going on here.

The Policy Statements in Chapter 5 look pretty good - though we have seen time and time again how policy statements that look fine in the abstract are watered down drastically by the time they get instantiated in buildable and funded projects.

The policy statements are promising [my yellow]
Still, it's exiting to see the City plant a flag for walking and biking to neighborhood parks:
Pedestrian and bicycle access shall be considered the primary transportation modes for neighborhood parks. For facilities with larger service areas, public transit and automobiles should also provide access. New facilities should be located near transit, when possible, to minimize traffic impacts and provide equitable access by all city residents.
I mean, this is it! This is exactly the balance and priority we wish for in transportation, to make the bicycle a preferred mode for short trips - recognizing that motorized travel, including transit, is preferred for longer trips.

So, yeah: BRAVO!

Would Third Bridge be an Indirect Subsidy for Troubled Keizer Station?

With Keizer Station in the news yesterday, it seems like a good time to revisit an old post.

The proposed bridge will by-pass downtown Salem and make Keizer Station the preferred shopping destination for many.

Contrary to bridge booster claims, a by-pass will not benefit Salem's core businesses or homes!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Historical Bridge Bits: Hippies in Eugene, the Flood of 1861 in Salem

It's a rainy weekend and a sad one.  And on Monday there will be another Council work session on a bridge we don't need.  So how about a pleasanter diversion on less contentious bridges?

In between bong hits and makin' love not war, down in Eugene it turns out the Hippies were partnering with the Man to find creative ways to fund and construct foot and bicycle bridges across the Willamette River.  (How about that!)

In an interesting piece in Salem Weekly, Scott Bassett writes about the ways in the 1970s that Eugene was building out parts of a transportation system rich with choices in mobility. 
Moving from Eugene to Salem in 1980 was a shock. I left a city with three bike bridges over the Willamette River and moved to one with none. The difference in mindset between the two was striking then and still is now, when it comes to City and regional leaders’ priorities for transportation projects.
He zeros in particularly on the engineering challenge posed and opportunity created by the nature of the Willamette riverbed.
Eugene’s head start on modern transportation infrastructure thinking and planning might be traced to a lucky coincidence in 1970. Exposed hard bedrock precluded burying a utility pipe under the Willamette River so the City planned to run it over a bridge, then let the county and University build a lane for bicycle and foot traffic over the top. This may have been the Aha! moment that changed the way Eugene viewed its needs and opportunities.
This was the Autzen bridge.

Scott shared some clips from a 1981 publication, "Bicycles in Cities: The Eugene Experience, Volume III, Bridges for Bicycles."

Friday, December 14, 2012

Downtown Mobility Study Open House Dazzles a Little

Certainly for many last night at Pringle Community Hall, the marquee highlight of the Downtown Moblity Study Open House was the cycle track concept for Union Street and connections to the Union Street Railroad Bridge.

Union St Concept: between Water and Commercial
Note cul-de-sac and light at Commercial!
Union St. Concept at Cottage
Note two-way protected cycletrack
and traffic divertor at Cottage
The Union Street concept offered a smorgasbord for everyone: Maintained car parking stalls, offered sections of 12 and ten-foot wide two-way cycle track, and installed the all-important light at the worst intersection in the world™ of Union @ Commercial.

Union @ Commercial
2009 Concept
Here's a note from a Union Street concept from the summer of 2009, and it shows just how much more - at least on paper - seems possible today!

In this older treatment on Commercial you can see a full traffic signal or a HAWK signal. But not a cycle track or traffic diverter. 

By comparison, the universe of possibilities really seems larger now.

At the open house there was lots of other stuff, too, and depending on your perspective, other streets and other treatments may have been the main feature.

There was, in truth, way too much to take in, and that was indeed a very nice problem to have.

The presentation boards will be posted soon to the study's website, and the City plans to take comment for another week or two on this preliminary round.

Once the boards are posted, I'll return for a better look. These are all concepts, and each street (except maybe one, I can't remember exactly) was assigned 3 or 4 different options in treatment. 

In some ways it seemed like the bike stuff was featured more than the one-way to two-way conversion, which in my mind remains the most important element of  the whole thing.  If I only get to pick one thing to change, it's the one-way grid. 

The reality with all this, of course, is the funding. By choosing not to put in applications for the 2015-2018 round of STIP funding, the City has hamstrung itself in important ways, and it was not possible to see all the multi-modal goodness and wonder if it was all just a pipedream.  It will take a lot of work to make things happen in concrete, paint, and asphalt.

Remember our Sponsors for Holiday Cheer!

Without the support from our sponsors who care about sustainable transportation, each month's Breakfast on Bikes wouldn't be possible.

This month Cascade Baking Company leads the way with holiday breads!

Living Culture has a sweet video on Stollen!

And remember the Governor's Cup Coffee Roasters.

Don't forget they have a liquor license, too - music and libations!

On Saturday the 15th, LifeSource Natural Foods will have a Party Platter Salami and Sausage Tasting - and they're a year into a boosted beer selection. They've also got lots of other things from staples to fancy treats for your holiday table.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Parks Planning Shows Barriers and Underserved Areas

While we wait for the Draft Parks Master Plan to be posted to the City's website, it's interesting to see that for Parks, unlike for Bike and Walk Salem, roads like Liberty, Skyline, Commercial, and Kuebler are all identified as barriers. (This strikes me as something the schools might use in planning boundaries.)

Barriers like Commercial and Kuebler in Brown
Map Detail from Neighborhood Service Areas
Neighborhood areas in yellow are also identified as being farther than 1/2 mile from a neighborhood park, and therefore in a service deficit.  Neighborhood areas in red and grey are within 1/2 mile from a park or unimproved planned park area. 

It would have been interesting in Bike and Walk Salem's analysis to see the parkways and major arterials labeled as barriers rather than as connections (since they have bike lanes).   And to see the number of neighborhoods that lack a full-service bike boulevard/family-friendly bikeway.

I'm not sure this would have led to a different set of proposed projects, but it might have been useful as a way to communicate to people who don't bike just how difficult it is to get around - how few safe, comfortable, and connected facilities there are.  It might underscore the urgency and promote more aggressive implementation. 

Once the draft plan is out, there will be more to say!

Almost every street downtown is a barrier - imagine that!
Don't forget the Downtown Mobility Study workshop tonight!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Willamette Week Calls SRC "The CRC's Mini-Me"

Ha ha! I don't know that Portland coverage is all that important, though the project certainly is big regional news for the mid-valley.

Still it's pretty funny - and quite accurate! - to call it the CRC "mini-me." The parallels are all too strong.(The first time it was mentioned here was back in 2010.)

While it shouldn't be necessary for Portland media to follow the story closely, it would be good for the statewide policy discussion not to proceed as if the CRC were all by itself. There's a systemic problem with the way we look at transportation, and both oversized projects express the problem in all its gory glory.

Downtown Mobility Study Workshop Tomorrow at Pringle Community Hall

Remember the Mobility Study open house and workshop tomorrow!

Downtown Salem, July 2012 - And remember the sun?!
The study is investigating and even hopes 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.
Check it out and help with early-stage feedback!

The time's maybe not so good. But stop by if you can!

It's on Thursday, December 13, 2012, 4-6 p.m. at Pringle Community Hall, 606 Church Street SE.

(For history on the study, see previous notes here.)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Save the Checkermallow; or, How Delta and SeaPort Show Airport Delusion

Following up on airport agenda items from the 3rd, today the paper reports that the City wants to ask for around $5 million for runway expansion in a new round of ConnectOregon funding.

The piece raises a couple of interesting questions.
Unlike Portland, Salem doesn’t have a port or a commercial airport. Trains do rumble throughout the city, but the area hasn’t been successful in securing major funding for railroads....

“Like Olympia, Wash., we’re a capital city that’s in the shadow of another metropolitan area, and we’re just close enough,” said Mark Becktel, Parks and Transportation Services Manager for Salem’s Public Works Department. “They have transit systems that are far more complex and expansive.”

With the largest employer in the city being state government, he said, Salem also doesn’t have large business employers who actively are lobbying for more transportation-related economic development funds — at least compared with more populated cities such as Portland.
It should be obvious that the Portland airport serves the Salem area for many purposes - after all, Delta and SeaPort both were unable to sustain passenger service without enormous subsidy, and it's not clear what commercial purposes actually need a longer runway.

There's a role for some kind of airport in Salem, but it's certainly not as big as many people seem to wish.

But why has rail languished?  Why can't we invest in more frequent passenger service to along the I-5 corridor?  Why can't we invest in some double-tracking so freight and passenger rail can more easily co-exist?  And why can't we invest in better solutions for cross-traffic of all kinds - people on foot, on bike, and in cars - so that the rail lines aren't so disruptive to neighborhoods and local mobility? 

Becktel's comment also points to the ways that advocates for rational transportation need to engage business interests.  It's absolutely the case that making it easier for people to take transit, to bike and to walk takes cars off the road and makes for easier frieght delivery.  This is much less costly than building additional road capacity.  But so far we haven't made our case effectively.

The former Executive Director of SEDCOR was making this case almost exactly a year ago, but there's a new Director now, and we don't know how he feels.

And as evidenced by the Chamber of Commerce's sudden mania for the Third Bridge, this "green shoot" for rational transportation policy might have perished. 

So if it comes down to it, maybe we have to make more noise about the Nelson's Checkermallow.

According to the City's November airport update,
A plant designated as threatened by federal and state authorities—Nelson’s checkermallow—was discovered at the south end of the runway, near the area where a runway extension is planned. This will delay completion of the Environmental Assessment by six to nine months while a mitigation plan is finished.
Fortunately there are other projects. Again from the paper:
But the city will have its share of competition.

In 2011, the Oregon Department of Transportation received 70 applications for funding but only about half of the projects were awarded funds.

State Bike Committee to Meet Wednesday

Tomorrow, Wednesday the 12th, the state bicycle advisory commmittee meets to talk about the changing funding environment at the State and Federal levels.

OBPAC in 2011
From the blurb:
SALEM – The Oregon Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee will meet Wed., Dec. 12 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the ODOT Mill Creek Building located at 555 13th St. NE, Mt. McLoughlin Room, in Salem. The agenda includes an update on the upcoming legislative session and a discussion about bicycle/pedestrian investments as they relate to the new Enhance/Fix It framework in the Statewide Transportation Investment Program.
If you're interested in learning more about the way the STIP works for bike/ped stuff, this might be a good meeting to attend.

In years past there was a separate pot of bike/ped funds that OPBAC administered.  This cycle, the OPBAC funds are combined with the Transportation Enhancement funds.  Next cycle (2015-18), there's an even larger pot of Enhancement monies, but no specific set-asides for bike/ped projects.  So the question is, what's going to be the funded reality behind the rhetoric for active transportation.  We'll know what the real priorities are soon enough.

(Salem is applying for one project only in the TE/OBPAC round, for sidewalks and bikelanes on Brown Road.  Salem is also applying for one project only in the 2015-18 Enhance-it round, for the Minto Bridge and Path.  Other jurisdictions have taken to heart the admonition to apply early and often.  For the Enhance-it round, here's a crazy (or wonderful!) slate of 16 projects totalling $39 million by the City of Portland.)

Monday, December 10, 2012

Bronze Bicycle Friendly Community Feedback in 2008 and 2012

You may recall that in September of 2008, Salem was named a bronze-level Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists.

Renewal is every four years, and a couple months ago Salem maintained its bronze level citation.

I thought a comparison of the two sets of feedback might be interesting, but where I hoped for incisive commentary, there is instead cheerfully bland encouragement.

Comments are organized around the "five Es": Engineering, Education, Encouragement, Enforcement, and Evaluation & Planning. In Salem's bronze citation of 2008 we were awarded marks for Engineering and Encouragement.

Plainly the city (both City of Salem proper and the community collectively) has made progress on some of them, has perhaps retreated on a couple (most notably in the dwindling Bike Safety Education program for kids), and probably just maintained the status quo on the bulk of them.

Here's the feedback from 2008:

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Third Bridge Proponents Organize

So now the propaganda war really starts. Debate over the third bridge is going social.

Is this a Calatrava?
Proponents of the giant highway and bridge have started a blog and facebook page.

The iconography for the Third Bridge Alliance already is fascinating!

The image appears to use a cable-stayed design and engineering motif from the bridges of Santiago Calatrava!  There is a bicycle and foot-bridge in Redding, California, for example. 

These are amazing bridges, world-class and beautiful.

That's not what's on the docket for Salem, however.

4D is not a Calatrava
At best, using imagery from Calatrava and cable-stayed designs like his is wishful thinking; at worst, it could represent a blatant appeal to what is not true.

But the more interesting question is about debate. What is the best way to make and receive argument? Is the social networking just going to engender increasingly loud talking to ourselves? Or will there be ways to engage the facts and to debate different interpretations in opinion?

Alas, increasingly debate everywhere is framed as "trolling."  It's not clear what to do.

For example, already there is difficulty with the matter of traffic counts.

Driving and Recessions
The decline is structural, not cyclical
I mean, this is from the Federal Reserve! This is not from "some wackadoodle luddite anti-car, anti-growth lobby." The same pattern exists on the I-5 bridge counts for the Columbia River Crossing and for the Salem River Crossing.

The arguments for the bridges have become notoriously resistant to the facts of these traffic counts, however.  Just ignored.  How to engage this?

Anyway, maybe now the matter of the bridge will get the debate it deserves, even if it's just shouting.  Courthouse Square is a $50 million problem; this is 20x bigger, a $1 billion problem.

City Council, December 10th

There's the second reading of Bike and Walk Salem, which I think is largely a formality, now that the hearing is closed. Mayor Peterson and Councilor Clem did vote "no" on it, as a commenter suggested and the minutes now confirm, and presumably they will do so again as it doesn't matter.

After that it's mostly interesting tidbits.

An information report on an approved subdivision request shows the network of private streets at the Simpson Hills Fairview development (Fairview III?).

These seem like glorified parking lot connections, and you wonder what might have been if they had been treated as actual, public streets. 

The latest version shows private streets
I mean, there's something of a grid there.

Is it really all that different from old version?  Maybe a little.
It is, in truth, an improvement on the loops in the old version, but - it could have been so much more! 

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Statesman Misses Facts on Declining Driving and Other Bridge Costs

Yesterday the Statesman came out with a draft of its Sunday editorial. Unsurprisingly, it says we unequivocally need the bridge.

SJ says Yes yes yes!
Unequivocally Yes!
Among other things, it misses the structural change we are seeing in driving, calling it cyclical, a slight dip during the recession. But it started several years before the current recession, and previous recessions haven't created an equal dip - in fact, driving has risen with other recessions.  The data doesn't support the claim about driving dipping in a recession!  We're seeing a structural change, not a cyclical one. 

Driving and Recessions
The decline is structural, not cyclical
Email the editorial board or if you're on facebook comment on the story, and let 'em know the facts.  Fortunately there are good comments already, many by the No Third Bridge group.

Holidays Lights Ride on Wednesday; Other Holiday Fun

The Salem Bicycle Club's holding the annual Keizer Christmas ride on Wednesday!

(Photo: Commute by Bike)

The relaxed ride leaves at 6:30pm:
Meet in the Keizer Station shopping center near Round Table Pizza. Decorated bikes are encouraged, but not required. Bring a can of food or other donation for the Marion-Polk Food Bank. Legal head lights and tail lights are required.

If you're curious about club riding, this is a great ride for an introduction.