You may recall the note about Firehouse Crossing last fall.
It's in the news again, this time for questions about traffic impact.
|Firehouse Crossing from northeast corner looking southwest|
via CB|Two (click to enlarge)
|Behind Trader Joe's, Hilfiker is old and narrow|
"As it is now, you go look at Sunnyside during morning traffic and then lunch rush and then the afternoon rush, people can't even get through," said Kent Windover, who lives nearby. "It's all plugged up. And then three restaurants? Come on. That's a no-brainer."Maybe it's not the intersection of Commercial and Hilfiker that needed to be improved in the minds of neighbors, but the fact that off of Commercial this area lacks sidewalks. At the church and Trader Joe's the street had a half-street improvement and partially "widened to urban standards." But behind this are the old narrow streets from the era of county standards without sidewalks.
Windover lives on the east side of Commercial, opposite the restaurants, where he says he already sees drivers flying through his neighborhood to reach Hilfiker.
"What I don't understand is, before they started approving anything, why did that intersection not get improved?" he said. "We're all worried on our street."
Maybe the issue here is equity and sidewalks rather than enlarging the intersection for more car traffic. Hard to say.
Also interesting is the insane precision that "the estimated new daily traffic is 83 vehicles."
That is an exact illustration of the way our traffic modeling offers false precision and needs error bars! What's the confidence interval here?
Anyway, in the big scheme, on a big road, the shift from auto dealer to strip mall is probably not that big a deal - and error bars would help with understanding this! - but even though the neighbors are also using different language, the concern about traffic is also a question about walking - have we made the development easier to walk to?
Just Walk gets Grant
Speaking of walking, the neighborhood "Just Walk" project was announced as the recipient of a $50,000 grant to build it out further.
But the choice of photo is interesting.
Even though it's not as well composed, I wish they had gone with this photo, or one taken on the same street, from the same walk:
Image: Brent Drinkut/Statesman Journal
But maybe it's a problem.
Like "On your Feet Friday," "Just Walk" is a scheduled walk, an event walk. Salemites seem to like event walks, event rides - carving out separate time for an elective, recreational activity.
Looking at walking this way supports the idea, too, that one might need special shoes, special clothing, even special pedestrian safety equipment. Even as it organizes opportunities for walking, which is a great boon, it may also make walking problematic and extraordinary rather than routine and banal.
As we shape the conversation about "event walking" and don't talk much about walking as an everyday, yes banal, part of our transportation and living, have we accommodated too much a transportation system and set of prevailing cultural norms that discounts non-auto travel? Is "Just Walk" set up so it doesn't disturb the fundamental, autoist assumptions in our transportation system?
Projects like "Just Walk" could turn out to be a gateway activity, a lure to more walking and more advocacy about road engineering and land use.
But as we have seen with the bike club here, and with club riding everywhere, this narrative arc doesn't hold very broadly. Recreational riders in Salem have not jumped to bike commuting or bike advocacy in large numbers. Recreational riding is not much of a gateway.
Will, then, recreational walkers start walking to the store, park once downtown and walk all around, will walking become part of everyday life? Will they think more about how far the stores are from their homes? Will they ask for better walking conditions?
Or will the walking remain stuck in our sort-and-separate model of special time and specialized zoning? And will walkers continue to think they have to "make do" with inferior conditions?