Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Story of Salem's First Bicycle: Ben Taylor talks with Fred Lockley

Over at the blog of the Historic Landmarks Commission, in a list of 5 "random" things, there's a snip of a note about a bike ride in 1894.

What about the first bike in Salem?

You've probably seen this old image.

This image of Ben Taylor has been identified as taken in 1880,
but it is more likely from 1888
Salem Library Historic Photos
It's Ben Taylor, the owner of Salem's first high wheel. He got it in 1880 when he was 18 and in 1887 started working for the Post Office.  There's several versions of the image floating around, and the dating on it is not certain, but we can date it with great confidence to after 1887. 

Taylor was a fixture in this town of only a few thousand, and it's not surprising we find another image of him on a bike.

Ben Taylor at the Breyman House on Court Street
Salem Library Historic Photos
Towards the end of his life, in 1934 Ben Taylor was interviewed by noted journalist and historian Fred Lockley.  The oral history is great reading.

The fabrication details on Taylor's primitive bike are especially fascinating.  The spokes on the photographed bikes shown here are not wood, so at least the wheels are different than the first set of wheels Taylor discusses in the interview.  (We should remember, too, that after 50 years, not every detail may be recollected precisely.)   Taylor was always attracted to speed and advanced transportation technology.  After the first bike, he had an early motorcycle, and was involved in Salem's first airplanes.

It's the bike and the post office he discusses here:

Friday, August 30, 2013

Get off my Lawn! A Generation Gap at Riverfront Park? Newsbits

In his column yesterday, "Connecting the Dots," Dick Hughes makes some great points about a generation gap in our attitudes towards planning and development.
The City Council might not want to admit it, but what I observed in watching Monday’s meeting was a generation gap. It mostly was people my age — grandparents and great-grandparents — declaring what would be best for younger people.
But not to put too fine a point on it, he misses one basic fact:

Hill Architects was engaged for the design of the park parcel and here is how they self-describe their expertise:
HILL ARCHITECTS is a multi-disciplined design firm with specialized expertise in the master planning and design of destination resorts, hotels, senior living communities, corporate and multi-tenant office buildings, retail, mixed-use, multi-family residential and custom residential projects.
Destination resorts, hotels, and senior living communities. Pretty exciting, right?

Next door, another so-called "key" piece in the development is a nursing home.  

Is it really that surprising that young people haven't been flocking to support the project?  It's quite possible that young people are speaking:  With a yawn and a shrug.

There's a mismatch here.  And it's not simply between the young and the old.

There's also a gap between the design that's on the table, and a vibrant urban one.  A better design - and it's not too late for one! - can accommodate concerns about the Carousel and traffic, better knit the project with downtown, and create a more energetic mixed-use project that will attract the enthusiastic interest of younger adults.

Other Dots to Connect

The all-or-nothing stances is alarming, too.  Just because a person might oppose or have serious questions about the particular project details that are on the table for Boise doesn't mean that person also opposes the whole project or a big project at the Boise site in general.  Don't dismiss criticism of design and plan by calling it total opposition - it's not just concern trolling!

Also, as commenters have pointed out, there's a generational gap in the analysis of the Third Bridge.  Young adults are clearly driving less!

If we should be building the Boise project for the next generation, why aren't we planning the right transportation for the next generation?  The Third Bridge plan is stuck in your Great-Great-Grampa's Moses-Eisenhower School of Mid-Century Autoism!

(Not really mentioned in the piece are real structural problems with governance in Salem and in general.  If you rely on the bus, you can't go to City Council. Latinos, young people, and the car-free are at a distinct disadvantage.  So the generation gap and other problems of representation aren't just on this particular issue.  But that's a whole 'nother topic.)

Footnote, September 6th: QED

The Generation Gap in Action!  Parents ages 20-40
totally missing at PringleSquareAccess meeting Sept 5th
Photo:  HinesSight
Bike Club Op-Ed

Current President of the Salem Bicycle Club Larry Miles had also a piece.  That was nice to see!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

During Sunday Streets, Think Why Closing State Street for Boise Access would be Bad

It is concerning that out of the debate on the Boise Project is renewed interest in the old proposal to close the State Street RR crossing and have a new at-grade RR crossing and main entry further south.

Closing the State Street Entry Means a Real Dead End
Are people really thinking about how it would work to walk down State Street and find a gated, locked dead-end?  And then to have to walk down Front Street and along the railroad to loop around to find an entry to the park and Carousel?

Closing State Street in this way would locate the Carousel at the end of a suburban-style cul-de-sac, and make it even more auto-dependent.  Instead, we should want to knit the Carousel and Riverfront Park more closely to downtown!

The paper's editorial on Sunday, an early version online SJ piece, and even some commenters, have expressed some nostalgia for the old access proposal, and it's worth reminding folks that it was bad, bad, bad!
One idea discussed in 2011 [earlier in fact, at least to 2009] was to build a new access road from Front Street, going across the railroad tracks and into the park. A state prohibition on adding more at-grade crossings meant that the city would have had to close the State Street crossing. The city secured a permit from the state to close the crossing, but it lapsed in 2011. City officials and the developer blamed each other for the failure of this option.
This isn't an idea that should be brought back!  It creates new barriers and multiplies difficulties, especially for people on foot and on bike.

It created barriers at the natural sightline and procession down State Street, and would have made a dead zone on State Street between Front and Commercial. 

Imagine Sunday Streets with the old access plan;
State Street between Commercial and Front is a dead-end
In fact, the Downtown Advisory Board and their Downtown Strategic Action Plan recognized the importance of the intuitive connection and procession down State Street.  See the dotted purple "park to park" connection - one that we'll see in action on September 8th for Sunday Streets.

New Salem Bike Map at Breakfast on Bikes this Friday

Come to breakfast on Friday and get your copy of the Salem Area Bike Map v2.0!

v2.0 of the Salem Area Bike Map is out!
Thanks to Cherriots RideShare and MWVCOG a new print run with corrections is now out (online hasn't been updated yet, it looks like).  Your copy is old, battered, held together with tape!  You want a new one for yourself - and you know some people new to biking who just might need one!

Breakfast in Winter
This Friday, August 30th, between 7 and 9am, Breakfast on Bikes will be at Mission & Winter. Free coffee, fruit, and pastries for bike commuters! Start your Bike Commute Challenge with some conversation and cheer.

Lots of other topics, too.

The City's also been working on the sidewalk ramps at Mission & Winter - but they didn't take the opportunity to create a better alignment for bikes!

New Sidewalk Ramps and Truncated Dome Bump Pads

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

View Larger Map

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Heads-up on Two Talks: Autoist History Walking Tour and TEDx Presentation on Multi-Modalism

Announcements about two talks just came across the wires today, and they both look pretty great.

Autoists Attack

Coinciding with the Sunday Streets event, on Sunday, September 8th at 2:00 p.m., the "Autoists Attack" walking tour
explores life in a walkable downtown that was destroyed by the fatal attraction to the automobile...[The] walking tour will visit sites important to pre-auto travel, explaining the transformation of mobility in downtown Salem and the influence of cars on life, commerce and culture as the skyline was changed forever. Stories about travel will include Native American potlatch ceremonies, demise of the steamboat, expansion of rail and streetcars and the replacement of three landmarks to accommodate the automobile; the first Legislative Assembly Hall, Fashion Stables and the 1895 City Hall.
The walking tour starts at the Carousel and will go around to some of our great parking lots.  Organized by the same folks who did the creative pub crawls, it's free and it sounds very interesting!  (Not to mention that it's great to see more people using the word "autoist"!)

TEDx Salem

Also, you may remember Jeffrey Tumlin's talk on walkable cities back in April.

This fall, the folks behind January's "Before I Die" wall in Riverfront Park are organizing an independent TED conference for November 16th at the Grand Theater.

They just announced the full speaker list, and it looks like a colleague of Tumlin's at Nelson Nygaard, headquartered in San Francisco (and recently named a Silver Bike-Friendly Business), Stephanie Wright, will be talking about multi-modal planning.

I'm working on getting more information about the talk, but it's really exciting to see this kind of thing at a conference that's really not at all about transportation or planning. (Presumably, the words "multi-modal" will be banished from the talk!)

Momentum behind the Bike and Walk Salem Plan has stalled somewhat, and it is possible that getting presumably sympathetic ideas out to new people could provide a boost.

It's also possible that conference attendees who don't already have their heads in biking and walking issues will have novel perspectives that could really enrich the civic conversation around land use and transportation in Salem.

Stay tuned for more details!

Updated with silly graph

Frequency of "autoist" and "wheelman" between 1879 and 2008
via google ngram
The word "autoist" seems have peaked between 1910 and 1920. The word "motorist" was preferred, however, and obviously by mid-century had totally prevailed over autoist.  Here's a comparison of motorist and autoist, which doesn't make a very interesting graph.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

City council, August 26th - Boise and the Carousel, Parking of Two Kinds

Though the Boise project and Carousel has got all the headlines, there's a surprising amount of interesting things on Council's agenda for Monday.

Aerial Rendering in recent online advertising
The Boise project, of course leads, and much of the talk seems, at least from this angle, to be disproportionately focused on one issue - access and the proposed drive through the existing parking lot.

Unfortunately, because the permitting process for the apartments was administrative, and didn't require a hearing at the Planning Commission, the proposed driveway and the concurrent tax abatement application have become proxies for judgment and opinion on the whole design of this portion of the development.  And so we get a bunch of spillover from the more narrow questions.  This isn't surprising:  The community deserves a chance to weigh in on the whole apartment configuration and design, and a process that doesn't give the community this opportunity is flawed.  As important as this project is, public design charettes might well have been in order.

The Drive and Access

If we spent as much energy on School safety as we seem to be spending on talking about Carousel safety, boy-oh-boy, things would be better!

According to a traffic analysis (which for the moment we will take at face value), the proposed apartments would add in round numbers about 1000 trips per day, and an estimated 60 trips during peak pm traffic.  Overall, that's less than one car per minute.  If you haven't stood and counted traffic, maybe that seems like a lot.  But it's not!

Concern about Orchard Heights and Doaks Ferry
4 Schools near Orchard Heights
We site schools all the time on or near roads much busier!  Think about Orchard Heights and Doaks Ferry, and all the schools there.

At Straub Middle School, Orchard Heights has about 5,000 daily trips, at West Salem High and Chapman Elementary, just south of Orchard Heights, Doaks Ferry has about 4,500 trips. (City Traffic Counts can be seen here.)

The roads are wider, the speeds are faster, and both the kids and cars far more numerous.

Alarm about an increase in traffic at the Carousel is in many ways more about development style than traffic substance.  And in fact, the actual letter from the Carousel says, "the Salem Riverfront Carousel Board of Directors opposes the proposed development of multi-family dwellings west of the railroad tracks and south of the Carousel."  Their opposition isn't just about the driveway.

It is about the encroachment on park land, what that looks like, and how it impacts the park and Carousel, and not so much about actual road capacity and parking lot safety.

Indeed, style and site plan are the reasons to be concerned. The apartment's design is rather middling, not in harmony with the park, and not in a configuration of uses optimal (or even just "pretty good") for downtown or a vibrant mixed-use development.

Proposed Design: View from carousel lot near playground equipment,
looking mostly east/southeast

For comparison, housing and retail on SE Division in Portland
 THA Architecture
That's a real reason to be concerned about the development - but judged by the way we site and handle schools, narrow concerns about an increase in traffic at the Carousel may be something of a red herring.

Also interesting, and perhaps more important, are some other points.  Allowing this access will require:
  • Amending the Riverfront Park Master Plan, which currently does not permit a driveway for a private development
  • Widening park pathways for Fire and Emergency response access from Union Street
  • A Federal Land & Water Conservation Fund Act 6(f) conversion, the process for trading new land and incorporating it into the park for the loss of the privatized portion lost to the Boise development.
Basically, nothing would normally permit this sort of thing, and the usual staff recommendation would be to deny it.  Since the Boise Redevelopment is in fact special, staff have made a defensible punt, and made no recommendation, asking instead for Council to make policy on this:
A request for the permanent private use of a City of Salem park property is very rare. While such a request would typically be presented to Council with a staff recommendation for denial, this proposal is quite unique given its location and history. Given that this proposal presents both opportunities for the community and possible negative impacts to the City's premier events park, staff believes that the decision to grant the access easements is ultimately a policy decision for Council. Thus, staff's recommendation to Council is to "consider" the request for access, rather than the standard recommendation to "accept" or "deny."
Others have criticized the punt, saying staff and Council should hold out for a better design and therefore should recommend a denial of this request.  But if staff really believe this is the best the developer can do, then the punt is understandable. 

As for the tax abatement, it may or may not be good policy, but the proposed apartments appear to meet the City's Multi-Unit Housing Tax Incentive Program, as it is written. Since the apartments are already in an urban renewal zone, this amounts to kind of double subtraction - there won't be a "tax increment" to go into the urban renewal district, either.  But there may be no good reason to deny the application.

The report on the abatement application contains some useful information, however.

The rents they are seeking still seem on the high side
The proposed rents might give one pause.  Is there really that big of a market for 2- and 3-bedroom apartments that rent for $1,100 to $1,570?   Though they are on the park, these are also right by a railroad line, remember. (See note below on rents in the North Downtown Housing Investment Strategy.)

In the staff report there's also a budget, placing the current estimated project cost at $17,630,254.

For more on the development and its design:
In the end, you might have the sinking feeling that this is the best Salem can do at the moment. But you also might think it would be worth continuing to work on the project design since what will be done essentially cannot be undone, and this is a special site we should take extra care to get right.

Other Stuff - Including Good News for Bikes

There's a proposal to incorporate additional, permanent bike parking into the Riverfront-Downtown Urban Renewal Plan!

ODOT's LEED: Platinum or Potemkin - When will they LEAD with Sustainable Transportation?

At this point LEED's shortcomings with regard to transportation is old news. It is all too possible to plop a super "green" building out in a suburban or exurban wasteland that is not served by transit and can only be reached by drive-alone trips.

LEED is pretty good on
what is there, but not as good on how we use it and especially on how things and people get there.

Still, it was interesting that yesterday when the Oregon Department of Transportation announced that the T-Building renovation was certified "Platinum," there was very little talk of, you know, transportation.  Mostly, it's about water.  

And while managing run-off from impervious surfaces is an important part of road design and engineering, that should be a technical detail in support of the greater mission - moving people and goods.  The citation here shows how - like with Levels of Service - systematically we let technical details swamp the bigger picture, how the machine rules man.  (The "gadget green" is enough to make you a little luddite!)  The ODOT renovation was an opportunity to reconfigure ODOT for the 21st century, but the building fundamentally still looks to the 20th.  

Since the agency still thinks giant bridges and highways are good mobility solutions for the 21st century, this shouldn't be surprising.  

All this is not to say the building isn't an improvement, but geez, ODOT, you can do so much better! 

Sustainable transport and smoking at ODOT HQ
SALEM – The Oregon Department of Transportation’s headquarters building in Salem has received the LEED “Platinum” rating – the highest level – for being an environmentally-responsible and sustainable facility. The building, located on the Capitol Mall, was built in 1951; few updates were made over the years, and in 2010, the building closed for a nearly two-year rehabilitation. The refurbished, historic facility re-opened in August 2012 – offering a healthier atmosphere for employees and visitors and a friendlier impact on the environment.

A plaque was recently placed at the building’s east courtyard entrance indicating the LEED Platinum rating. LEED, or leadership in energy and environmental design, is the industry framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions. Here are some of the key elements contributing to the building’s designation:
  • Sustainable Sites (9 of 14 possible credits)
    • Storm water planters in the east courtyard filter water runoff from the roof.
    • The facility provides shower facilities and inside/outside bike parking.
Swales for run-off dwarf the three new bike racks

Friday, August 23, 2013

Weekend Fun: State Fair and the Novice Ride at Ankeny

The Fair starts today, and riding a bike's always a fun way to go. Even though parking a car is free, usually it's easier to get there by bike, and there's much less parking hassle.

Like the last couple of years, they aren't obviously marketing the bike parking with a discount or anything. That's too bad. But biking's still easier than messing with the car traffic and parking!

It'll be interesting to see what the new corporation does with things in the future.

Here's a map with the bike parking on 17th street. Be sure to bring your own lock!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Here's One Idea for Pringle Square Access - What's Your Idea? - updated

The "all or nothing" rhetoric that has seemed to coalesce around the Boise Redevelopment right now is a little alarming.

Are we really at that point? Or is this just positioning and talk?

One idea for the access problem
Anyway, here's one idea for a solution.  It accepts the basic deployment of the building units.

(A different site plan is almost certainly necessary for an optimal access solution.  As one commenter pointed out on the paper's article yesterday, the development lacks a waterfront restaurant.  It really seems like a better, more vibrant mixed-use scheme can be envisioned, and with that would come a different circulation pattern.  It's likely in the community's interest to go slow and get it right; the developer, on the other hand, probably wants to build now.  Somewhere in the middle hopefully there's a sweet spot of compromise.)

The idea here uses an already-planned driveway that goes underneath the trestle.  It then requires a footbridge across the creek for access to the apartments.  It would be preferable to have a public footbridge and for the apartment complex to be less of a gated enclave, but if necessary, the parking lot and footbridge could be private.  The footbridge concept is - perhaps naively - premised on the notion that spanning pringle creek is much shorter and would be easier and cheaper than spanning the slough.  The connection to the Carousel lot would be retained, but only for non-motorized travel (and emergency response).  This would give people on bike and on foot a direct shot to State Street and downtown.

Also since the Carousel parking lot is also unused at night, it seems like it ought to be possible for the City to sell to the development some nighttime-only parking permits to better utilize existing parking capacity there.  It seems like creating a tiered parking system with variable pricing - some free, and some "premium" parking for a fee - might better allocate stalls and reduce the net parking requirements for a successful development.

The First Idea was Bad

For comparison here's the first iteration proposal.  It involved closing the State Street crossing at the Carousel and adding a new driveway to Front Street southbound (with no access from Ferry Street and no crosswalk).  

Former access plan with new rail crossing, long drive, and State St. closure
Imagine a visitor walking down State Street to the Carousel.  The gates would be closed!  This plan created lots of out-of-direction travel, and created barriers at the intuitive connection down State Street to the Carousel and Minto Bridge.  It was a bad idea.

Fortunately, that concept had an expiration date, which has passed.

So what's your idea?  We're at a point where we should all just be spitballing ideas to see if anything sticks!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

See Crater Lake Car-Free in September

The focus here in on commuting and the urban form, but this is really something.

After a trial run earlier this year that was a smashing success, Crater Lake is having a car-free weekend every year!

From the announcement:
Crater Lake National Park Superintendent Craig Ackerman announced today the inaugural Vehicle-Free Weekend at Crater Lake to be held this year Sept. 21-22. The park plans to preserve every third weekend in September as an annual opportunity to highlight non-motorized use of the park.

“In June, Crater Lake National Park, Travel Oregon and Cycle Oregon collaborated to open Crater Lake’s East Rim Drive to non-motorized traffic for a first-time trial,” said Ackerman. “After an outpouring of positive feedback from the many people who participated in this rare opportunity, we decided to make it an annual occurrence.”

Under the plan, East Rim Drive will be open to non-motorized vehicles only (except for administrative and emergency vehicles) from North Junction around the East Rim of Crater Lake all the way to the intersection at Crater Lake National Park Headquarters and the Steel Visitors Center. Hwy 62 through the south end of the park, West Rim Drive and the North Entrance Road will be open to vehicles. Regular parking areas will be open, but generally fill up quickly. Normal park entrance fees apply.
How great is this!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Join the Salem Area Bike Commute Challenge League!

If you're doing the Bike Commute Challenge in September, be sure to join the Salem-area League!

There's only 8 teams in it right now, but there should be more!

What's a bike commute challenge, you say? Here's the official description:
Join the friendly competition - workplace against workplace - to see who can bike to work more during the month of September. The workplaces with the highest percentage of commutes by bicycle during the month win!

Whether you're a rider or an employer, whether you're thinking about trying bike commuting for the first time, or you're an experienced rider, the Challenge is for you.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Ice Cream, Water, Beer, and Fall Hints: More Summer Newsbits

While it's certainly not the most lucrative bike business, it has seemed like the summeriest bike business might be ice cream bikes.  What's a more quintessential expression of summer delights than bicycling and ice cream?

Ice Cream Bike!
Have you bought ice cream from an Ice Cream Bike?

Lots of bikes at the waterfront this weekend.

Underneath the Union Street Railroad Bridge there many bikes scattered on the gravel beach. Some had clearly been brought by car on the bike rack, others had been obviously ridden there, and a number of others didn't speak clearly to the question.

Bikes and People under Union St Railroad Bridge
It was a remarkably lively scene.  Maybe it didn't exactly spring up only after bridge was opened, but the bridge, and its easy connections at least to the parking lots on both sides, has certainly nurtured and grown the recreational possibilities here.  (People on the gravel beach stretch a ways upstream and downstream from the photo's edges!  One group had tents on the inner bar for shade and were clearly making a long afternoon of it.  Another had beached kayaks.)

Don't let the nay-sayers suggest the Minto Bridge won't also be loved and used!


Beer's pretty summery, too, and Salem Ale Works opened up this weekend. It is interesting that code apparently doesn't require bike parking when you open a brewery or a tasting room attached to a brewery.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

2010 Census Map, Bike Tourism, New Library Sidewalk, Fish and Wildlife Office: Newsbits

In Bikes Mean Business, a sweet Canadian couple were seen recently disembarking from Amtrak at the railroad station.  They had just finished biking the Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway from Champoeg to Eugene, and took the train from Eugene to Salem before riding through French Prairie again.  The northern segment was their favorite, unsurprisingly!

These cheery Canadians rode
the Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway

More interesting is the way they settled on the Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway:  There was more than a little bit of "dart-throwing" in the decision!

They didn't have any specific interest in Salem or in the Willamette Valley.  This was an area new to them, easily served by I-5 and rail.  If many of the scenic bikeways are in more remote parts of Oregon, here in the most populated corridor, the Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway offers convenient access for short trips. 

So imagine what could happen if TravelSalem and the City really aggressively marketed bike tourism here! 

Additionally, at the train station there isn't any kind of mini bike station or kiosk that would direct travelers to other places to visit, restaurants to eat at, bike shops - any of the kinds of things in which bike tourists might have interest.  Taking another day to tour Eola Hills wineries by bike, for example.  A tire pump and tool kit could also be useful.

With the Greyhound depot renovation, we should really think about the ways we miss opportunities and under-serve visitors like this couple.

Library Sidewalk Skirts Awful Stairs

There's new construction at the library.  A new sidewalk will make it possible to avoid the awful, awful stairs on the Liberty side between the Civic Center and the Library. 

New path makes it possible to avoid the awful stairs
The dimensions of these stairs are almost certainly the worst in the city: Far too deep, they take more than one step to traverse; far too low, their rise is miniscule. They are spectacularly awkward.  It's like they were designed for an alien being with limbs in some other configuration and length!

So, many people avoid them. That has meant walking through the parking lot.  Not much additional distance, but annoying.

No more!  Now there's a way to walk right past them.

(Maybe the stairs can be filled in to create a level platform and some other more interesting and active use could be installed on the new slab!)

Census Map shows Diversity and Clustering in Salem

A crazy map compiled from 2010 census data has been zinging round the internets the last few days.

Each dot represents one person in 2010 census!
(The color saturation on this clip is juiced for clarity)
The map compiled by University of Virginia geographers, the "Racial Dot Map," shows the entire US, but you can zoom in on individual cities. Each dot represents one person in a household and their self-selected racial identity. Most demographic data on Salem has been reproduced at a much coarser level, by census block, so this is really something. And it shows a lot about our city.  In the detail here you can see squares at Willamette University and the Union Gospel Mission, and scattered dots along the waterfront and in Bush Park, presumably homeless people.  Most of downtown is empty.  Yellow dots show those who selected "Hispanic." 

The full Salem clip is a bit large, so look for it after the jump at the end...

Thursday, August 15, 2013

City Releases Official Sunday Streets Announcement - Coming September 8th

A couple of days ago the City sent out the official notice for Sunday Streets!

Salem Sunday Streets Coming Sept 8th!
From the release:
On Sunday, September 8, the City of Salem will hold its first open streets event. Salem Sunday Streets will open up an approximately two-mile traffic-free route in the heart of the city for the public to enjoy.

Salem Sunday Streets is a free community event, open to everyone from 11:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.

The event, organized by the City of Salem's Community Development, Urban Development, and Public Works, community partners, and volunteers, is expecting over 2,000 participants.

There will be three activity centers anchoring the route (Wallace Marine Park, Riverfront Park, and the Capitol Mall), which will be spaces that feature fun, family-oriented activities like zumba, yoga, dancing, disc golf, bocce ball, soccer, bike safety skills and repair workshops, art, and music. There will also be a farmers market located in Wilson Park.

Salem Sunday Streets will be an opportunity to discover active transportation, safely engage in physical activity, and build community. Ultimately, the event will be an opportunity for temporarily transforming our community and streets into vibrant, people-centered spaces.

The route connects Wallace Marine Park, the Union St Bridge, Riverfront Park, Willamette University's campus, and the Capitol building.
From Wallace to the Capitol - No Cars on State Street!
Street closures include:
* State Street between Front Street and 12th Street
* Court Street NE between Cottage Street NE and 12th Street NE
* Cottage Street NE between State Street and Court Street NE
* Waverly Street NE between State Street and Court Street NE

Two additional street segments will be local access only:
* Water Street NE
* Church Street between Ferry Street SE and Court Street NE

These closures and access restrictions will be in place from approximately 10 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Motorized vehicles are allowed to pass through the route at designated crossings and allowed on the route for emergency access.

In order to protect the health, safety, and general welfare of event participants, the event will be tobacco-free and zero-waste.

Salem Sunday Streets is made possible by community sponsors Salem Health, Oregon Department of Transportation, Kaiser Permanente, and Cherriots Rideshare.

For more information, including volunteer opportunities, please contact Corinne Fletcher,, or visit
If you want to table or have an idea for an activity along the route, here's the link to the "Activity Booth Registration" form. Registrations right now are open through August 23rd.

Lottery-Funded ConnectOregon V Could Fund Local Bike/Ped Projects

On Monday the Oregon Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee heard a presentation on the way the ConnectOregon program could fund bike/ped projects.

ConnectOregon Project?  Old Freight Depot: University of Oregon
Previous rounds have allocated about $350 million to air, rail, and transit projects, and this year the new ConnectOregon V added bike/ped projects to the eligible list!

In this fifth round about $42 million will be available.

Applications will be due in late November of this year and after several rounds of review, awards made at the Oregon Transportation Commission meeting in August 2014.

One key component is that projects will not be in the road right-of-way or projects eligible for funding from the State Highway fund.

So this means we're talking things like shared use paths and bike parking!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Proposed May's Landing Apartment Complex Back at City; Units Reduced, Still Not Recommended

Tonight the Hearings Officer will deliberate on a site plan review, conditional use permit, and design review of a proposed 54-unit apartment complex located just south of Mission and 23rd.

Last summer a much larger complex was proposed and ultimately Council redirected the developer.

It's back, and the Staff Report notes some of the changes, while also not recommending approval:
The request includes a reduced number of dwelling units from the January 2012 proposal from 96 to 54, and includes a non-residential office building. Access to Oxford Street SE is not proposed with this application.

Staff recommends that the Hearings Officer DENY the request...
Mission Street here is a State Highway, and it is so auto-oriented.  This is not a good place for a traditional auto-oriented housing development.  It's also by the airport, and both the neighborhood association and the airport/FAA have concerns about the site's fitness for more residential housing.   The neighborhood lacks a grocery store also. 

Notice the person on bike going opposite traffic (they're on the sidewalk, though, not in the bike lane) and the right-in, right-out treatments for 23rd, the cross street. There's really nothing multi-modal about this road. It's a highway.  (It's a stroad!)

If we want to create higher density housing in lower-car and more walkable configurations, this is not a good project yet.  The neighborhood association feels development at this site should be more commercial or industrial and not primarily residential.  At the very least it should have some kind of mixed-uses - not more of the same.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Pringle Square Salem Launches Web Site for Boise Redevelopment

You know things are heating up for the Boise Redevelopment project when banner ads are starting to show up around the web!

Aerial Rendering in online advertising
And yet, this is something maybe a little more remarkable.

For nothing is built yet!

The ad is for the concept, the development company and whole development, and not for any individual piece, completed or otherwise.  It is, in fact, marketing for the current iteration of the master plan.

And if you go to the link for Pringle Square Salem, you'll see a pretty fancy website.  It's worth poking around because it has a pretty good set of renderings and discusses many of the individual parts - including more contentious bits.

Has anything been done quite like this before for a development in Salem?

Site Map with pushpins keyed to comments
The site plan offers a significant level of detail.

Click on a pushpin and a detail window zooms in.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

City Council, August 12th - Trees, Streets, Minto Island

The headline today is about the prospect of the City acquiring more land on Minto-Brown from Boise Cascade through a BPA Conservation Program.

But with potentially greater reaches, both the recommendations of the Downtown Mobility Study and the Community Forestry Plan could be more important.

Mobility Study

Union St Bikeway out on 25 year horizon
About the Downtown Mobility Study much has been said.  At the moment it is nice enough, but its recommendations have been watered down and its theoretical timeline is awfully far out.  Is waiting a quarter-century for a Union Street bikeway really reasonable?  That punt seems like the opposite of visionary and forward-thinking.  What could have been a transformative plan for restoring two-way functionality and creating realistic choices for people on bike, is instead more milquetoast and aspirational, a set of concepts for "out there" sometime.

The proposal at Council is limited for the moment:
Staff recommends that Council adopt the Central Salem Mobility Study Recommendations (Attachment A) and direct staff to: (1) seek funding to implement the recommendations, and (2) incorporate the recommendations into the Salem Transportation System Plan at the next amendment opportunity.
Forestry Plan

Trees are often the the public right-of-way, and offer beauty, clean the air, enhance property values.  What's not to like?

Old Oak in one of Salem's older neighborhoods
There's been a lot of talk about trees and the way the City does or does not allow people to cut them down.  So it's probably worth paying more attention to the Community Forestry Strategic Plan. (The copy of it in the staff report is a second- or third-generation copy.  Here's a first-generation pdf.)

If you've reviewed it more closely, are there things especially good or lousy about it?

Minto Brown

The City proposes to acquire a parcel from Boise Cascade next to the Minto bridge and path.  It is independent of the bridge and path and would not affect the bridge and path funding or construction.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Bike Recycling Leader named Y's Volunteer of the Year

Just last summer the Second Chance Bicycle Recycling got off the ground as a collaborative venture between the Family YMCA of Marion and Polk Counties and Oregon Youth Authority/Hillcrest.

And after just one year, at the Annual Meeting the YMCA, founder and organizer Aaron Ryals was named Volunteer of the Year!

At the meeting in May, in front of a room full of about 50 YMCA supporters, Aaron recieved the award from Y Board Chair Richard Berger and CEO Paul Manning.

Aaron congratulated by Richard Berger (Chair of Board)
and Paul Manning (CEO) of
the Family YMCA of Marion & Polk Counties
In her nomination, Senior Director of Health Innovations Janice Naimy wrote:
Aaron is our bike mechanic for 2nd Chance and has been volunteering his Wednesdays for the past year to help get the program off the ground. He has spent countless hours teaching the youth at Hillcrest how to repair bicycles, maintain a shop, orders supplies and delivers bicycles to be given back to the community. Aaron always insures that the safety is put first before returning a bike back in to the community. [He] works part of the year as a bike mechanic for Santiam Bicycle...He volunteers... as much time as possible to the project even during the busy season because he wants to see the success of the program, give back to the community and teach the youth at OYA that taking pride in your work and giving back matters.

Aaron is also a Y kid. [H]e spent many hours here as a child while his Dad worked.

Janice and Aaron collect bikes last June

Aaron and Cory
This year the program has grown, and Aaron needed to add a second mechanic. Aaron and Cory look forward to continuing growth and the next step in the Recyclery's evolution.

Congratulations, Aaron!

Friday, August 9, 2013

State Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee Meets Monday; Kenji Sugahara Appointed

The Oregon Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee meets on Monday here in Salem, and one of the main agenda items is that it's the first meeting for several new members.

Kenji Sugahara's "My Passion: Cycling Offers Many Benefits"
And one of them is from Salem!

Executive Director of the Oregon Bicycle Racing Association and current Chair of the West Salem Neighborhood Association, Kenji Sugahara has been appointed to the committee. (BikePortland has details on the other new appointments.)

So it looks like Salem has two members now.  Kenji joins Wayne Baum on the committee.

From the meeting announcement:
ConnectOregon V:
Buy a lottery ticket,
Support bikeways!
SALEM – The Oregon Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee will meet Monday, Aug. 12 from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. at ODOT’s Mill Creek office, 555 13th St. NE in Salem. Agenda items include presentations on the Pedestrian-Bicycle Modal Plan Update, ConnectOregon V and other topics. It will be the first meeting for several new appointees to the advisory committee.

All Bicycle/Pedestrian Advisory Committee meetings are open to the public. Time will be available at the meeting for committee members to hear public comments. Those who wish to testify are encouraged to sign up on the public comment sheet provided at the meeting. General guidelines: provide written summaries when possible and limit comments to 3 minutes. If you bring written summaries or other materials to the meeting, please provide the chairperson with a copy prior to your testimony.

Accommodations will be provided to persons with disabilities. To request an accommodation, please call ODOT’s Bicycle/Pedestrian Program office at (503) 986-3555 or statewide relay, 7-1-1.
Figuring out lottery-funded ConnectOregon will be interesting.  It's a high-risk, high-reward kind of thing, it seems to me.  On the one hand, mandates look to be on the way out:  In this program at least, bike/ped stuff will have to compete openly against the big business of transit, rail, and air.  On the other hand, if the State is serious about greenhouse gas reduction, least-cost planning, and livability, good bike/ped projects should offer terrific returns-on-investment and be very competitive.

We'll see.  The proof is in the pudding, as they say.  

The Bicycle and Pedestrian Mode Plan probably sounds more grand than it is - given our propensity not to follow-through in funded action with plan rhetoric.  But again, things start with a blank slate, and if the State is really serious, it could be a significant step! There are real high-level policy opportunities.

Former Chair of the Committee, AJ Zelada, has said he thinks this is an important transitional moment.  In an open letter he wrote:
I don't want you to paint white bike lane stripes as the only answer; I want you to think in life-cycles where infants, children, school age, young adults, working stiffs, retired people and aging individuals are traffic. Not cars or bikes. But communities of people on the move.
So it'll be interesting to see how it all turns out.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Transportation and Place at First Wednesday: Downtown Salem Rides, but can We All Ride?

Officially the theme for First Wednesday was "Downtown Salem Rides," but another theme ran a loud counterpoint: How do we ride with the little people?

N3B Magister Scheppke talks about bridge alignments and
Helen Caswell's photos of people in the way
Helen Caswell's show at the Photo Diner highlighted some of the ways proponents of a giant bridge and highway seem ok to ride roughshod over those they consider the "little people" in Highland and in West Salem.

Of course a family bikes on the sidewalk to downtown -
are they going to bike in the road, on High Street? -
they locked up to the first staple they found
Earlier, on the way to downtown, a family was riding on the sidewalks.  There was no place safe or comfortable on the road for their little person.

Both were reflections of the prevailing priority for cars, and illustrate why sometimes people flee more than flock to downtown.

Though there was a bike corral at the Elsinore just two blocks up from Pringle Plaza, after dismounting for the pedestrian zone, the family locked up to the first staple rack they saw. Between the one-way grid and the sidewalk prohibition, there wasn't really a family-friendly way to bike to the  corral. The staple racks offered better security, anyway.

It is interesting that we'll block off a full road for a concert, but we still can't wrap our minds around a single lane for people on bike.