Thursday, February 27, 2014

Salem Gravel Grinder Attracts Portland Riders to Polk County Back Roads

Did you know gravel and back roads are a thing now?  Even the hard core cyclists and racers are getting into gravel.

Last weekend Portland bicycling eminence J. Maus came down to participate in the Salem Gravel Grinder.
And this morning he posted a full ride report.

The ride across rural roads in West Salem had been scheduled for the 9th, but the big storm forced postponement to the 23rd.

Though it started and ended at the golf course, the focus was on gravel and the back roads.

It went through the 19th century villages of Perrydale, Ballston, and Bethel, by cemeteries like Pleasant Hill and Bethel again, by wonderful Victorian homes like this one in Perrydale, and of course it passed the Oak Grove Church where Maus shot his bike.

Here's more on last year's version in an online magazine devoted to the gravel riding.

Maybe as these things grow in popularity, there will be interest in "slow" versions, one that stops for the cemeteries and houses and birds, and isn't bothered that you might not be able to form a pace line!

In any case, it's great to see interest in the back roads and byways.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Three Interesting Cherriots Studies - One in Progress, Two to Come

The Cherriots Board meets tomorrow on the 27th and there are a number of interesting things percolating over there.  Studies on improving service in West Salem, a Strategic Plan for Rideshare, and the on-going System Analysis stand out.

Remember when the temporary transit mall was an actual place?!
The Long Shadow of the Third Bridge

Not on the agenda, but perhaps most relevant, is a series of just-announced meetings for a project  called "capturing the ride." These will take place in April, and there will doubtless be more to say, but Cherriots has recognized that
Current fixed-route transit service provided by Salem-Keizer Transit is inefficient in the low-density neighborhoods of West Salem, South Salem, and Keizer.
And so there will be community meetings in each area towards
finding substitutes to fixed-route transit that would increase ridership while increasing efficiency.

Through a five month planning process, Paradigm Planning will...explore mode and route options in order to produce a plan that provides innovative and feasible alternatives to current transit service that will meet the needs of the community. Paradigm will also determine underlying barriers that have prevented transit use and provide an additional set of recommendations to help increase ridership specific to the study areas.
It's not clear whether Cherriots hired consultants or whether this is some super-duper student project. The project team describes themselves as:
Paradigm Planning, a group of Portland State University Masters of Urban Planning students interested in transportation, land use, and community engagement. We volunteer our time and skills to work with community members to develop useful transit systems that balance the need for efficiency, coverage, and convenience. Our team is made up of six members with diverse backgrounds.
But it doesn't really matter. Either way the project can be enormously useful - if they don't succumb to study churn. And West Salem in particular is key.

We have seen how the Salem River Crossing team concluded that transit is powerless to reduce congestion on the Marion and Center Street bridges. As has been noted several times the TSM/TDM analysis of transit was profoundly flawed and, by a straw man argument, concluded transit was helpless to alleviate congestion (more here and here):

Sloppy or Intellectually Dishonest?
This is right at the faulty foundation of the whole chain of argument for the Third Bridge.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Herons, Hawks, Parking and Bees - updated

Birds.  The Minto Bridge looks like it's all about birds right now.

As a prelude to construction this summer, a group of trees was just cut down, six months in advance of construction, in order to ensure Federally protected birds aren't nesting in them.  There's also an interesting note in Salem Weekly about the possibility that the Minto Bridge will disturb the heron rookery.

But perhaps the more interesting bit in the piece is on the prospect of not having to drive and park.

Worry about insufficient parking at the Carousel
Last year, before the "Park Parcel" was sold to the City suddenly last month, you may recall the furor over the parking lot and a proposal for access near the Carousel.

In the Weekly piece, one of the principals of "Pringle Square Access," the chief opponents to the apartments and State Street access, weighed on the Minto Bridge and its value to the community:
Salem ‘smart growth’ proponent Elaine Sanchez feels pets disruption will be minimal. She points out that Minto-Brown already has a leash law and the patrolling volunteers care very much that dogs are kept leashed.

“People will always break the law,” Sanchez says, “but you can’t say that’s reason to stop such enormous benefits to the entire community.”

Sanchez’s husband Alex points to the reduction of carbon emissions, saying, “the bridge will give people access to a beautiful trail system without having to drive to it.”
When some people argue, as they no doubt will, that the parking lot should be enlarged with some of the acreage of the park parcel, I hope that they will remember the way it was thought the "bridge will give people access to a beautiful trail system without having to drive to it." And I hope they will continue to give more thought to crossing the moat of Front Street, the Railroad, and the Liberty/Commercial couplet.  Will they support the Downtown Mobility Study's recommendations for two-way traffic and enhanced bikeways, especially on State Street as the main entry to the park? When there's a choice between implementing the two-way system with bikeways or expanding auto capacity, will they support better use of existing capacity?  A lot of advocacy right now is about saying "no" to things - but are there things to which we can say "yes"?

(Hint, hint - and, interestingly, a footnote on the Council Goals is to "Develop a streetscape connection on Court and/or State Streets to Riverfront Park to enhance access and visibility between downtown and Riverfront Park.")

Back to Wildlife

As for the herons, I have seen herons in the vicinity of Clark Creek, not far from Fred Meyer and the large intersection of Madrona and Commercial.

How disruptive really will the path be?
I have no expert knowledge of herons, but I wonder if they are more resilient and adaptive than we might think. They already contend with OR-22 across the river and concerts in the amphitheater. The path system from the bridge, as planned, will be far from the Audubon parcel on the peninsula.  I wonder if the fears are overstated.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Local MPO to Review 2014-15 Work Plan Tuesday the 25th

Our Metropolitan Planning Organization, the Salem-Keizer Area Transportation Study, meets tomorrow at noon, and here's a baggy post on some of the agenda, mostly about the "work plan" for next year. (It's all longueur, just fair warning!)  The major item of interest, bike counters for the Union Street Railroad and Minto Bridges, has already been discussed.

Context:  Red Tape

First off, in case you were wondering, here's a list just of Federal programs that require compliance on transportation planning:
1. 23 USC 134, 49 USC 5303 which require, in part, the preparation of a transportation plan that shall at a minimum include:
The projected transportation demand of persons and goods.
Identification of an integrated multimodal metropolitan transportation system.
Operational and management strategies to improve the performance of the existing transportation system. Consideration of the results of the congestion management process.
Assessment of strategies to preserve the existing and future transportation infrastructure.
Descriptions of existing and proposed transportation facilities of sufficient detail to prepare air quality determinations and cost estimates.
A discussion of types of potential environmental mitigation activities.
Pedestrian walkway and bicycle transportation facilities.
Transportation and transit activities, as appropriate.
A financial plan that demonstrates how the adopted transportation plan can be implemented.
2. Sections 174 and 176 (c) and (d) of the Clean Air Act, as amended.
3. Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended.
4. 49 USC 5332, prohibiting discrimination.
5. Section 1101(b) of the SAFETEA-LU regarding the involvement of disadvantaged business enterprises.
6. 23 CFR part 230, regarding the implementation of an equal employment opportunity program.
7. The provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.
8. The Older Americans Act, as amended.
9. Section 324 of title 23 USC regarding the prohibition of discrimination based on gender.
10. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 regarding discrimination against individuals with disabilities.
That's allotta red tape! And as you know from any regulatory environment, regulations work in multiple ways, sometimes ensuring that important stuff doesn't get overlooked or willfully ignored, other times also acting as a drag on efficiency and, for ordinary citizens, creating a Byzantine system which specialists and insiders can regularly exploit and by which they can baffle citizen advocates who cannot possibly master all the technical, regulatory, and bureaucratic details. 

The 2014-15 Work Plan

Here I want to wander a bit through the 2014-2015 Unified Planning Work Program (full packet and documents here) which is a required document that basically says, "this is what we're gonna do this year":

Saturday, February 22, 2014

City Council, February 24th - SATA and the Spandrels

Monday's Council agenda is light from our perspective, but we can lead with good news! City Parks and the Salem Area Trail Alliance will present an information report on the proposed bike park concept for north of the ballfields at Wallace Marine Park.

Proposed bike park with bridge alignment for comparison
The proposed giant bridge and highway is nearby, but I don't know how directly relevant is the proposed alignment for Marine Drive and the bridge.  There's an established tradition of using skate/bmx parks to fill the "spandrels" underneath bridges with licit recreational activity as a way to diminish homeless encampments, drug-dealing, and other illegal or unwanted forms of vagrancy. In many ways the proposed park fits in this tradition.

BMX/Skate Park under Highways 34, 20, and 99W in Corvallis
Still, Marine Drive would be another barrier between West Salem neighborhoods and the park, and kids will be darting across the road. Even if the bridge is not built, I am doubtful about Marine Drive as a stand-alone expressway.

Apart from these questions, the facility would be a great addition to Wallace Park, and the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board has unanimously endorsed the concept and City Staff find it complies with the Master Plan for Wallace.

(However! There are no funds and park would be privately funded, so SATA is working on that part. Breaking ground is a ways off yet.)

Other Stuff

It is interesting that there's also a proposal for more public art, and so far Salem has used public art in similar ways:  To attempt to activate poorly designed or configured spaces.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

After Gil, What Next? Amend and Improve Council Goals! - Updated

You might remember this from Bike and Walk Salem. A pedestrian median costs around $40,000 last I heard. For $7 million, you could construct and install about 175 pedestrian medians at difficult intersections in Salem.

Or you could spend it on the Salem River Crossing.

Council Goals on Transportation (January 2014)
click to enlarge
I'm not yet sure what action items might be on Council agenda for February 24th, but on March 10th, City Council will conduct a work session with a view towards updating the "Council Goals" document, which is a subset of plans and actions and goals that Council specifically wants to focus on in the near-term.  It's to help guide Staff and Council narrow things down to the important stuff.

The clip here is on "Transportation Connectivity," and there are four goals.  Two of them have to do with the Third Bridge.  In addition to being a bad idea, the Salem River Crossing is a huge drain on staff time and it has cost $7 million and countingKilling it would help a lot towards redirecting City Staff towards more productive pursuits - like an 8 to 80 city. That's 175 pedestrian medians!

The third goal is close to being crossed off - or at least being incremented forward.  The near-term goal for improving connections to the Union Street RR Bridge on the downtown side is in motion, and it looks like the Downtown Advisory Board will be moving up the schedule, even, with the addition of Urban Renewal Funds.

So rather than just simply updating this blurb to reflect that funding decision, Council should pick off the next item (preferably more than one!) in the Downtown Mobility Study and direct Staff to work on it.  (There's also the Wallace Road connection to the bridge, which remains a formidable barrier, as well as the recommendations in Bike and Walk Salem.)

If we were looking for ways to build on Gil Penalosa's visit, asking Council to ditch the Salem River Crossing and to accelerate implementation of the Downtown Mobility Study could be an excellent ask for the March 10th session!

(Or maybe you can think of an even better ask? That was the first one that came to my mind.)

Update, March 4th

Here's the full presentation!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Jargon and Crickets: Who is the Intended Audience for Gil Penalosa? - Updated

So tonight is Gil Penalosa's talk on 8 to 80 Cities and the Ciclovia movement, but who will be attending? There's no mention of the talk in the paper today! (There's more on closing streets for a movie production and filming than on closing the streets for Citizens to walk and bike...)

For whom, even, outside of transportation geeks who already know of Penalosa, for whom is the talk intended? At this point, it looks like a state secret for insiders only!

The Facebook is an imperfect proxy for publicity and interest, of course, but it seems to be the way a lot of stuff is shared and discussed in Salem.  So let's visit some public Facebook pages!

Cherriots own publicity, alas, talks past those who aren't already in the know:

Cherrots Facebook:  "Active Transportation Expert"
If you aren't already participating in conversations about "active transportation" - if you're not already a transportation geek in on the jargon - who the heck wants to attend a talk by an "active transportation expert"?  Shouldn't the lede be about kids and seniors and walking and a good civic life?

Bike Counters for the Bridges!

Look what they found under the sofa pads!

Up to $22,000 for two automated bike/ped counters to be installed on the Union St RR Bridge and Minto Bridge.

Next week our regional MPO looks to move on purchasing bike/ped counters!

Now we will have a good source of data, too! This is great news. While it won't give us a comprehensive view of bicycling in Salem, it will give us a baseline, and that will be something to build on.

Automated Bike Counter on Hawthorne Bridge
(Look for more on the whole SKATS agenda in the next few days, but this news was too good not to celebrate immediately!)

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Wednesday's Packed! Penalosa Talk, OBPAC and ODOT Bike Plan Meetings

And packed with gravel, too.

February 19th it turns out is a big day for bicycling in Salem, but you'll probably never notice it if you look at the bike lanes. They're gutters, full of crap, not people on bike!

Bronze Bike-Friendly:
Gravel from February 7th - 9th
(reader photo)
A reader sent this image of the bike lane on Liberty at Superior, and it's a sight - and vibratory feeling in the handlebars - we know all too well.  All the road hazard gets swept to the edges, to the bike lanes treated as gutters, and it is weeks, sometimes months, before it gets cleaned up. (This particular spot is one of the most dangerous in Salem, as well.  The road here is cambered incorrectly:  Rather than sloping up on the outer edge of the turn, it slopes down, and the gravel really intensifies the probability that your wheel will go out from under you.)  We don't have a good policy yet for making sweeping bike lanes a priority; the City responds more than initiates too often on this.  So make 'em respond!

Cel phones are great for reporting gravel. Pull over into a safe parking spot or up onto the sidewalk and give 'em a ring! I have two City of Salem numbers: (503) 588-6333 and (503) 588-6211.

Ring early and often - the squeaky wheel gets the sweep!

Monday, February 17, 2014

The Minto Bridge would have Closed this Weekend

Minto Park was inundated during our big January 2012 flood, and it was affected by high water throughout much of that spring.

Entry to Minto closed for high water in Spring, 2012
Paths were closed again in December, 2012
Friday afternoon the City closed Minto again:
Minto Brown and Wallace Marine Parks to Close - 02/14/14

The City of Salem has closed two Salem Parks due to Willamette River levels.

The Willamette River in Salem is projected to rise above 24 feet Friday evening and continue rising through Wednesday, February 19, 2014. Access and parking at both locations are impacted when the river reaches 24 feet.

It is currently projected to crest at 27 feet, one foot below flood stage, on Thursday, February 20, 2014.

Both parks will remain closed until the Willamette River returns to normal levels.
Clearly flooding and high water will affect the Minto Bridge, and we've never really had a good answer about this. The City purports to answer it in the Minto bridge FAQ (July 9, 2013):

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Film about Portland's Critical Mass to Play Festival

Well, this is interesting!

At 6:00 p.m. on Friday, February 21st, a documentary about Portland's Critical Mass rides and their legacy will play the Mid-Valley Video Festival at Northern Lights Theatre Pub. Admission is $3.

In the announcement, festival organizers suggest there might have been a Friday afternoon Critical Mass ride in Salem in the 90s.

Anyone know about this? I have never heard of anything - no rumors in advocacy or club circles. But that doesn't mean that some intrepid folks might not have gone out occasionally!

If there was a meaningful history of Critical Mass in Salem, that would be good history to retrieve!

On the other hand, it could just be a juicy bit of apocrypha or hype.

Friday, February 14, 2014

What about a Green Bay Packers model for Real Estate Development?

With the North Campus of the State Hospital, the O'Brien car dealership parcels in downtown, the debate over a new Police Station, a stalled Request for Proposals at the Blind School, and the elongated development time at Boise, it seems like the moment might be ripe in Salem to at least talk about a different model of real estate development.

Howard Hall at Church and Mission
A little over a year ago there was a story in Atlantic Cities about a crowd-funded real estate development model in Washington, DC.

It's operated by a firm called Fundrise. Basically they created the legal framework for neighborhood residents to be able to invest as little as $100 in what amounts to a publicly-owned real estate deal. (It was complicated and difficult!)

From the Atlantic piece:
Dan and Ben Miller began tugging two years ago at a simple question they believe is central to the failings of the American real estate industry.

The brothers – sons of a well-known Washington, D.C. developer – had begun acquiring properties themselves in the city’s emerging neighborhoods where traditional capital seldom goes. Real estate developments are typically financed by wealthy investors who live in the suburbs, or by Wall Street funds even farther away. In a neighborhood like Washington’s H Street Northeast corridor, this means that local projects often can’t find backing, or that far-flung investors put up safe, formulaic products in their place: say, "the glass shiny office/condo building that’s horrible," Dan Miller says, grimacing.

This model – with its broken connection between a neighborhood’s desires and its investors' bottom line – seemed to the brothers illogical. Why couldn’t people in the community invest in real estate right next door? Why couldn’t the Millers raise money to purchase a property on H Street from the very people who live there? The neighborhood is a quirky mix of barbershops and hip beer gardens. It’s not the kind of place that investors from wealthy Chevy Chase, Maryland, quite get.
With "pride of ownership," in some ways it's like the Green Bay Packers approach to community ownership.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

This Week's Newsbits

Uh...did we miss anything?

Thanks to the flu for an unscheduled break at the bloggery and the world in general, here are some summary bullets from the past week - did you attend any of these events?
  • Carole Glauber talked the photography of Myra Albert Wiggins at Deepwood on Tuesday.  Wiggins was an early bicyclist in Salem, and she met the man whom she later married while out bicycling!
  • Also on Tuesday, the NEN-SESNA Neighbornood Plan "Looking Forward" talked about redevelopment along that magnificent urban highway and STROAD:  Mission Street!  
  • The Morningside Neighborhood Association met on Wednesday to talk about Kuebler and Commercial widening.
  • SCAN met also on Wednesday, and on their agenda was the Blind School property and an update on the Hospital's plan for it, and an update on on the Boise/Pringle Square project. 
  • Today at Noon the Downtown Advisory Board is meeting, and there looks to be impetus and funding behind a chunk of the Downtown Mobility Study's recommendations.  Look for more on that soon.  Also a public art project.
  • SESNA meets tonight, and they'll be talking about25th Street, the T-intersection at 25th Street and State and the 4-way at 25th and Mission.
And this looks pretty great!

At the corner of D Street and Cottage is this neat 1920s brick church.  You might have seen the gardens in the curb strip - that'd be the Parkings! - out front. Currently the building is the home of the Evergreen Church of Salem, and they're starting up a bike program in the basement!
I expect that's a teaser to a piece in the weekend paper.  That'll be nice to see!

Friday, February 7, 2014

City Council, February 10th - Misplaced Bridge and Disaster Priorities?

Yesterday the Oversight Team voted to move the revised "Salem Alternative" forward as the "locally preferred alternative" for additional consideration and analysis in the final Environmental Impact Statement of the Salem River Crossing project.

What the heck does that have to do with Monday's City Council meeting?

1964 Flood, Evacuating Salem Hospital
Perhaps because of the snow and things slowing down at the office, the City posted Council agenda a day early on Thursday!

A little buried in it is an proposal for an update of "the City of Salem Natural Hazards Mitigation Plan."

Downtown bridges over Pringle Creek and Shelton Ditch
According to the staff report on the Hazards Mitigation Plan,
The proposed action item...identifies the need to develop transportation policies that emphasize the importance of planning, constructing, and maintaining multiple travel routes to connect critical facilities to the rest of the community (also referred to as "system redundancy")....The need for this action arose from an audit of the City's bridge program requested by [ODOT and FWHA].
The Hospital is located at the confluence of Shelton Ditch and Pringle Creek, and there are numerous small bridges ambulances have to cross to reach Hospital.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Let's Talk more about Public Health, Housing, and Development!

In the paper today was an article looking into anecdotal reports that the pending EPA inquiry on a possible cancer cluster in West Salem had impacted housing sales.

An implicit assumption in the piece seems to be that unimpeded housing sales in West Salem is an unambiguous good for Salem and its citizens.

A little snouty:  Houses lead with the garage!
You probably can't walk anywhere meaningful.
But in fact, as we debate the one billion dollar cost of a "third bridge," it's easy to see there's quite a large cost to unimpeded housing sales in West Salem.  A cost on which there is a clear price tag - even if we don't assign appropriate system development charges.  (We do have an urban growth boundary, and so at some level we have decided that true unimpeded growth is not a public good.)

Still, it's important we remember that we're only talking about the Salem River Crossing because the official modeling makes a chain of assumptions about population growth and vehicle miles traveled that depend in no small part on housing sales in West Salem.

Other costs to unimpeded housing sales are harder to monetize and to see as part of a market.

But public health costs are also incurred because of arsenic and auto particulates and the disincentives to walking or other regular exercise that the auto-dependent development patterns typical of West Salem entail.

While the premature deaths of children and young adults by cancer are especially shocking and tragic, we should not forget also to zoom out a bit and look at our systems and ask how our systems support or harm our health.

No wonder parents drive kids. (From two years ago)

Why would anyone walk here? (last month)
Running the systemic and actuarial risk numbers is beyond our math skillz here.

Bridges Guide Shows Historic Bridges in and out of Salem

Today there will be lots of talk about future bridges, not all of it happy to consider.

Lucky for us, ODOT just published a book on historic bridges and it's a fine distraction!

You might remember Chris Bell as the perennial winner of the "Brian Reynolds Distance Award" for highest mileage during the Bike Commute Challenge in years past. Especially during the summer, Chris has regularly commuted by bike from Portland to Salem!

Column detail Michael Goff
When he's not biking he's an ODOT historian and you might also remember hist talk on the "the Pineconian Order," a column style on some historic bridges he needed to reproduce.

Along with Rebecca Burrow and Chris Leedham, Bell has authored the Oregon's Historic Bridge Field Guide (it's big! 386pp, about 80mb pdf).

From the release:
The collection presents 334 bridges ODOT considers to be of historic value to the state, as of publication, organized by county. Some of the information may seem technical, but Oregonians and visitors to the state will also find it compelling. For example, the 1929 Alder Creek Bridge on old U.S. 30 is one of the few remaining from the original construction of the Old Oregon Trail Highway. Interstate 84 replaced most of the highway and its bridges, leaving the Conde McCullough-designed Alder Creek Bridge isolated.

“If you have ever read the milepoint-by-milepoint ‘Oregon for the Curious’ by Ralph Friedman, and liked it, this is your kind of fun,” said Chris Bell, ODOT historian and one of the book’s authors. “We have sought to create a tactile resource for our maintenance and bridge crews, but in doing so, we feel there is something for Oregonians in almost every part of the state, who undoubtedly cross one or more of these bridges on a regular basis.”

The new compilation is helping ODOT prioritize preservation efforts on a statewide basis while providing a guide to its crews who maintain these vital historic links to Oregon’s heritage.

“Bridges are the very fabric of our transportation network, but more than that, they serve as an object lesson in Oregon’s transportation history, physical geography and the evolution of engineering,” Bell said.
Unfortunately, the historians missed an opportunity to highlight the role of bikes!
Also beginning in the 1890s was the Good Roads movement, which demanded smooth-surfaced, allweather roads. As a result, the federal Office of Road Inquiry was created in the United States Department of Agriculture in 1893 to investigate, educate, and distribute information on road building. (In 1916, this agency became the United States Bureau of Public Roads, the antecedent of the current Federal Highway Administration.) In Oregon, the efforts of this movement were evidenced by the rapid construction of a number of major highway spans, especially in the Portland area
The League of American Wheelmen and people who biked started the Good Roads movement! The first autos didn't arrive until the early 1900s, and their adoption didn't speed up until the 19-teens and 20s.  This is a way that history, intentionally or not, is normalized to our current autocentric standards.

Besides that quibble, the bridge inventory is interesting. A lot of the bridges are outside of cities, but there's more than a few in Salem.  Just south of Market and Front is what might be the oldest existing road bridge still in use in Salem.  The Front Street bridge over Mill Creek was part of the Oregon Electric line, and built in 1913 - that makes it a peer of the Union Street Railroad Bridge
There's also a section on our City bridges that have been informally identified as "of the school of Conde McCullough."

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Tall Tales and Two Bridges: Salem River Crossing Meets on Third Bridge, MWACT on Minto

On Thursday the 6th, the Salem Rivercrossing Oversight Team and the Mid-Willamette Valley Area Commission on Transportation meet consecutively to talk about two different bridges.

One offers tall tales and the prospect of climate change and neighborhood destruction, the other offers greenery, recreation and a fuller civic life. 

Like the Salem River Crossing:   Library of Congress

1937 propaganda
for urban highways
via NYRB
From the River Crossing blurb:
The Salem River Crossing Project’s decision-making group, the Oversight Team, will meet on Thursday, February 6 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Mid Willamette Valley Council of Governments office (100 High St. SE, Suite 200). During the meeting, the team will recommend a locally preferred alternative. The group will also discuss the process to develop a project financial strategy and to review bridge type for the preferred alternative.
N3B says it's "all hands on deck" and asks everyone who is able to attend to say "no" to the dreck.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Transportation Advocate to Run for City Council!

You might remember the op-ed in the paper a couple years back in May.

And you might have seen him at City Council or at any number of the Salem River Crossing meetings.

Over the weekend, Scott Bassett announced that he is running for City Council in Ward 4!

Back in January, according to Salem Weekly, there was no formal candidate:
In Ward 4, restaurant lobbyist Steven McCoid has filed, but not gathered all his signatures. He has no opponent.
I don't know if McCoid has filed, but if he has, now he'll have an opponent.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Checking in on Edgewater and Eola Projects - And More Vintage Electro-Matic Boxes

The Salem River Crossing is heating up again - we'll have a cranky post about that in the next day or two, but in the meantime, see N3B for more - and it seemed like a good time to check out some of the road construction and streetscape improvements in the vicinity of the proposed bridge footprint.

Wayfinding blades and crosswalk bulb-outs
In several places along Edgewater, the City and West Salem Urban Renewal Area have installed wayfinding and identity blades. Many of them are on improved crosswalks with curb extensions to shorten the crossing distance.

Magrittian Welcome and Information Sign
The larger maps with historic information on the flipside have also been continued here. They highlight the Falls City and Western rail line, the development of Kingwood and West Salem generally, and the history of fruit processing.

1911 Ad for Kingwood Park development
The history of land speculation and its relation to major transportation initiatives - well, it shouldn't be too hard to see the parallels.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Two Visions of the State of the City February 19th?

Salem will be hopping on Wednesday the 19th!

Not sure if this is an unfortunate or a felicitous coincidence, but that day at noon the Mayor will give her State of the City address:
Salem Mayor Anna M. Peterson will present the 2014 State of the City Address at noon on Wednesday, February 19, 2014, in the Salem Conference Center.

Mayor Peterson will highlight her vision for the coming year and report on the accomplishments from the past year, particularly the results of public‐private partnerships and other projects that the City funded or otherwise supported. Economic Development activity will highlight the speech with emphasis on the City’s collaboration with SEDCOR, the State of Oregon, and the business community. City Councilors will join the Mayor for this event and are looking forward to the opportunity for community dialogue.
Later that same day, another civic leader will be giving a talk, and it could provide an interesting contrast - certainly it will be more cosmopolitan and less informed about specifically local conditions. It may also offer very different notions of what constitutes a good civic life.

Cherriots is bringing Gil Penalosa of the 8-80 Cities project to Salem, and if you enjoyed Sunday Streets in September, you already know one of the most important things about Penalosa.
As former Commissioner of Parks, Sport and Recreation for the City of Bogotá, Colombia, Gil successfully led the design and development of over 200 parks of which Simón Bolívar, a 360 hectare park in the heart of the city is the best known; here he created the Summer Festival, with over 100 events in 10 days and more than 3 million people attending, making it the main annual recreational and cultural event in the country. Gil’s team also initiated the “new Ciclovia”— a program which sees over 1 million people walk, run, skate and bike along 121 kilometers of Bogotá’s city roads every Sunday, and today it's internationally recognized and emulated.

Gil advises decision makers and communities on how to create vibrant cities and healthy communities for all: from 8 to 80 years old. His focus is the design and use of parks and streets as great public places, as well as on sustainable mobility. As Executive Director of the Canadian non-profit organization 8-80 Cities for the past six years, Gil has worked in over 130 different cities in all continents.
As we think about our "ornamental emptinesses" at the Civic Center, and the prevailing auto-centric environment on our streets, largely inhospitable for anyone else - people on foot, on bike, in wheelchairs - it might be that this talk will say more about the "State of the City" than anything Mayor Peterson might say.

Mirror Pond from Liberty, empty at 5pm on a weekday

Peace Plaza. empty on a weekday at closing time
In addition to having good and active public spaces, a 8-80 city is one that meets the popsicle test - can you send your eight-year-old out on her own to get a popsicle? Do you trust the street enough that your 80 year-old grandmother can get groceries by walking and/or transit? Do the streets function for people who aren't making a drive-alone trip? Do the streets and development patterns support public health, or get in the way of it?

One of our giant stroads:
Even with low traffic, do you send your 8-year old out on it?
Can your 80-year old grandmother take the bus and cross it?
There aren't many streets in Salem that meet an 8-80 standard, and it would be great to create more of them. Great to accelerate implementation of what we've adopted already, and great to raise the standards for what we've yet to adopt.

Salem right now has all these semi-dormant studies - Bike and Walk Salem, the Downtown Mobility Study, the River Crossing Alternate Modes Study.  There are plenty of adopted plans with projects that express the 8-80 ideals to various degrees, but most of the projects are not funded, and none of them have much urgency behind them.  Sunday Streets is scheduled for one day only in 2014.

Penalosa's lecture will be an opportunity to introduce more people to the concepts and to build more support to take to City Council and our neighborhoods. 

The lecture will be Wednesday, February 19th at 6:30pm at the Willamette University College of Law, 245 Winter St. SE, in the John C. Paulus Great Hall.