Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Area Commission on Transportation Looks at Enhance and ConnectOregon VI

So last week our MPO, SKATS, looked at eight walk/bike/bus projects for State and Federal funding in the 2018-2021 cycle. This week those projects go up a level and join another seven from McMinnville, Stayton, Newberg and the rest of the mid-valley for a second round of evaluation and scoring. The Mid-Willamette Valley Area Commission on Transportation will also take its first look at the next round of lottery and video poker funding, ConnectOregon VI.

A Digression

This post is a bit dull and wonky, so here's a much more interesting historical note first from City Observatory and now from The Atlantic.
It's a very nice concrete example of change - of ways that things we might love now or might detest now might become radically revalued in just two or three generations. It's a caution against our prevailing assumptions today.

Enhance Program

Here are the rankings (from the MWACT steering committee agenda) of the eight Salem-Keizer area projects (here and here) for the non-highway "Enhance" program in the 2018-2021 cycle.

Local rankings from the Sept 22nd meeting
Buses for Cherriots was the leader followed by the Salem intersection and bikeway projects and the Hayesville, rather than 45th Ave, project. It will be interesting to learn more about the Cherriots ranking, but the three clustered for "second" seem solid.

Other proposed projects from the larger MWACT area include:
  • Yamhelas Westsider Trail Acquisition: Two to acquire approximately two miles of an abandoned railroad right-of-way owned by Union Pacific Railroad, between Gaston and McMinnville ($560,000)
  • Sidewalks, Crosswalks, and Bike lanes on Gun Club Road in Independence ($620,000)
  • Sidewalks and Bike lanes on Wynooski Road, Springbrook Road, and OR-219 in Newberg ($2.8 million)
  • Sidewalks and Bike lanes on Ninth Street in Dundee ($2.5 million)
  • Sidewalks and Bike lanes on Marion Street in Stayton ($1.1 million)
  • Six replacement buses for Yamhill County Transit ($1.6 million)
  • Sidewalks and Bike lanes for Third Street in Carlton ($1 million)
It just seems ridiculous that these projects, which on the surface all look reasonable, are all going begging.

In any case, the recommended procedure from ODOT is for MWACT to pick their top five recommendations from this list of 15 to advance with a full application for final consideration. Region 2 has $9.25 million on offer, and there are two or three other regional ACTS that will also feed into Region 2 - ones centered on Astoria, Corvallis-Albany, and Eugene-Springfield.

The Next Round of Video Poker

ConnectOregon VI is getting ready to kick-off, and there will be a few changes. ConnectOregon is the multi-modal program funded by video poker and lottery dollars. It's great that there's this program explicitly focused on non-auto and non-highway things, but it should be embarrassing that we have to rely on gambling money and the misfortune of problem gamblers for it.

One slightly amusing change is that "operating expenses and purchase of bicycles are not eligible for ConnectOregon funding." This is a change as I read it specifically in response to the fact that Eugene secured funding for bike share under ConnectOregon V, and some folks didn't like that.

In the last round, the South Salem Transit Center secured a chunk of funding, but the Kroc Center - Claggett Creek path did not. The agenda packet contains a list of all the local ConnectOregon V applications, so we may see some of them again. The application process also overlaps with the Enhance process, so there are possibilities - perhaps even expectations - that the two programs can be coordinated on some projects or areas. Statewide, ConnectOregon expects to fund $45 million and Enhance $30 million. One important difference is that Enhance funding only requires a 10% local match, but ConnectOregon VI will require a 30% match. So on a $1 million project, Enhance only requires about $100,000 in local funding, but ConnectOregon would require $300,000.

Like the Enhance program, the final applications for ConnectOregon V will be due November 20th. Projects expect to be awarded in August of 2016. (You can read more about ConnectOregon V here.)

Look for the historic sign
next to the entry
The Steering Committee meets today, the 30th, to make a preliminary ranking for the Enhance list, and the full Commission meets Thursday, October 1st. (Full meeting packet here.)

MWACT meets Thursday the 1st at 3:30pm. It meets at MWVCOG/SKATS at 100 High St. SE, Suite 200, above Bar Andaluz and Table Five 08.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Touring Little Free Libraries by Car. That Defeats the Purpose, Doesn't it?

As part of a series, "Kid Trips," the paper has a very nice note about touring some of Salem's Little Free Libraries.

Some kids have disabilities, and there are always factors you don't know about, so it's not something to make too much of - but it was very interesting that the sidewalk locations of the Little Free Libraries wasn't apparently a cue to walk to them, to take a walking or biking tour. The tour was instead taken instead by car, without considering any alternatives that might have been even more fun.

And in fact, one of the libraries was installed at a drive-thru coffee shop.
We had, on numerous trips through the drive through, pointed out the cute Little Free Library. We hadn’t, for some reason, ever stopped to look more closely.
It seems obvious why they hadn't stopped. Drive-thru's aren't configured for stopping and exiting the car. Their entire raison d'etre is to eliminate the need to stop and exit the car!

This to me is a fascinating example of the way a small moment in what many are calling a "tactical urbanism" with a focus on walking has been assimilated to autoist culture.

At least from the standpoint here, it is something to resist.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Conflicting Narratives about Walking Jostle in Story on Memorial to Crosslands

On Sunday the paper had a piece on the bench installed at Englewood Park as a memorial to Christine and Michael Crossland, whom a driver in a pickup struck and killed as they were walking along Market Street in January.

The SUV appears to be making the same turning movement
that killed the Crosslands on a Market Street sidewalk
It starts briefly on the front page, and the bulk of it is continued inside:

Mostly the piece is lovely, but the piece also engages in some questionable victim-blaming:
Some knew Mike and Chris simply as “The Walkers” and for good reason. They walked everywhere together and were recognizable with their matching black hats and blacks jackets, dark clothing that sadly contributed to their deaths.

The accident happened Jan. 7. The Crosslands were walking along Market Street NE, headed home after dinner on a dark and foggy evening, when they were struck by a pickup making a left turn into the Shilo Inn parking lot. The driver told police he didn’t see the couple. No charges were filed.
Once again our commitments to hydraulic autoism and the traffic cone theory of walking interfere with our ability - or more insidiously sometimes enact a refusal - to recognize the direct claim people on foot have to using the roads as part of ordinary, banal, everyday activity.

Instead, we tend to see it as a special, elective and consumerist activity carved out of discretionary time, funded with discretionary income, and signalled with special clothing and special pedestrian safety equipment.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

City Council, September 28th - St. Boniface or St. Francis?

St. Francis is thick in the air, of course, but another Saint deserves some consideration just now. One of St. Boniface's paradigmatic acts was felling Thor's oak, and his iconography sometimes features an axe. One biographer, Willibald, writes in his Vita about the event sometime in the 700s:
Boniface...attempted to cut down, at a place called Gaesmere, a certain oak of extraordinary size called in the old tongue of the pagans the Oak of Jupiter. Taking his courage in his hands (for a great crowd of pagans stood by watching and bitterly cursing in their hearts the enemy of the gods), he cut the first notch. But when he had made a superficial cut. Suddenly, the oak's vast bulk, shaken by a mighty blast of wind from above crashed to the ground shivering its topmost branches into fragments in its fall. As if by the express will of God (for the brethren present had done nothing to cause it) the oak burst asunder into four parts, each part having a trunk of equal length. At the sight of this extraordinary spectacle the heathens who had been cursing ceased to revile and began, on the contrary, to believe and bless the Lord. Thereupon the holy bishop took counsel with the brethren, built an oratory from the timber of the oak and dedicated it to Saint Peter the Apostle.
With somewhat different sympathies perhaps, Sir James Frazier writes:
In the religion of the ancient Germans the veneration for sacred groves seems to have held the foremost place, and according to Grimm the chief of their holy trees was the oak. It appears to have been especially dedicated to the god of thunder, Donar or Thunar, the equivalent of the Norse Thor; for a sacred oak near Geismar, in Hesse, which Boniface cut down in the eighth century, went among the heathen by the name of Jupiter’s oak (robur Jovis), which in old German would be Donares eih, “the oak of Donar.” That the Teutonic thunder god Donar, Thunar, Thor was identified with the Italian thunder god Jupiter appears from our word Thursday, Thunar’s day, which is merely a rendering of the Latin dies Jovis. Thus among the ancient Teutons, as among the Greeks and Italians, the god of the oak was also the god of the thunder. Moreover, he was regarded as the great fertilising power, who sent rain and caused the earth to bear fruit....
Your mileage may vary, of course, but the fact is, for many people, Christian or Pagan and members of other traditions too, big old trees rouse strong feelings. And for many, it may be St. Francis, not St. Boniface, who today offers a better model of reverence and respect for nature.

This ancient oak (pictured in 2011)
was cut down earlier this month
Council meets on Monday, and the big topic will be proposed changes to our tree ordinances.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Salem Driver kills Keizer Man Crossing Chemawa Road

Yesterday a Salem driver struck and killed a man apparently crossing an unmarked crosswalk at the intersection of Chemewa Road and Newberg Drive, where there is an old neighborhood market.

Chemawa Road and Newberg Drive - via Google
From the paper:
James Alton [68] was taken to Salem Hospital with life-threatening injuries. He later died from those injuries, said Lt. Andrew Copeland.

Officers were told Alton was crossing the street when he was hit by a 1999 Ford Ranger driving east on Chemawa Road. Salem resident Melody Krewson, 49, told officers she didn't see Alton crossing the street. Krewson has been cooperating with the investigation, officials said.
The photo at the scene from the Keizer Police shows rainy, possibly slick conditions. The crash was called in shortly after 7:30am.

At the scene Friday morning it was rainy - via Keizer PD
At top you can see the nearly white concrete. Chemawa here has had recent work with sidewalks, curbs, rain gardens and gutters, bike lanes, and some left-hand turn pockets. It is signed for 30mph.

But even though it is formally classified a "minor arterial," it still retains many characteristics of a local, neighborhood street. (Older information from Keizer suggests "collector," but the more recent draft regional TSP says "minor arterial." For this discussion it doesn't matter which is true.) If it's signed for 30mph, people routinely travel faster, and appears to be another example of a place where we have prioritized auto through-put too high. Lawful driving may yet be too dangerous to people out walking.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

City Club to talk Water and Drought on Friday

Remember that report on water flows, snowpack, and ways our drinking water will be impacted by climate change from a couple years ago?

Creeks feeding the Santiam and Willamette will be low in 2040!
Yeah. That.

There's a nice graphics feature with a series of before/after images and with a slider to toggle between them.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Cherriots Board Meets Thursday

Tomorrow, Thursday the 24th, the Cherriots Board meets and there's a few bits of small interest on the agenda.

The Legislative Summary Report from Cherriots' lobbyist, CFM, has some additional detail on the session. Apparently bus passes for State Employees encountered an "obstacle to success" in Senator Betsy Johnson:
During these meetings, opposition to DAS and their bus pass program POP [Policy Option Package] arose in the form of Democratic lawmaker Sen. Betsy Johnson from Scappoose.

Sen. Johnson had enjoyed a very positive relationship with transit up until this year. In particular, Sen. Johnson provided a keynote presentation at the Oregon Transit Association’s annual meeting in 2014. Due to a recent conflict with her local transit provider, Sen. Johnson’s attitudes towards transit and the services provided by districts turned decidedly sour. Unfortunately, this directly impacted SKT’s POP with DAS and her position on deciding Ways and Means General Government Subcommittee provided a substantial obstacle to success.
The tone of the discussion of the politics behind the "clean fuels" and "transportation package" is interesting, and reads, at least from here, as surprisingly partisan:
Throughout session, legislators from both sides of the aisle and from every perspective argued that we could not go home without a transportation package that would help repair broken roads and infrastructure. However, early controversial passage by Democratic lawmakers of the low carbon fuel standards bill (SB 324) caused all discussions around a transportation package to disintegrate.

Insiders believed that time and distance from the issue was all that was needed to ensure Republican and business support for a package. However, Republicans continued to feel slighted as a series of progressive liberal bills continued to move through both chambers at an alarming rate. Such action created a difficult political environment and gave Republican lawmakers little choice but to lock up on discussions unless the low carbon fuel standards bill was repealed.
The minutes to the August meeting has details on the individualized marketing program to the Grant and Englewood neighborhoods. Some 480 "go kits" with information on walking, biking, transit, and such were delivered by bike to households in the neighborhoods that requested them. It will be very interesting to learn what the yield on this is - how many were converted to shift from drive-alone trips.

And more on the new "Connector" flexible transit pilot program in West Salem:
After 3 months of operation, the service seems to be doing well. We have seen an increase of ridership each month. The service has been used by 133 different passengers. The service is averaging 1.55 passengers per revenue hour (which is just slightly less than our CherryLift and RED Line services) . This is below our target of 3 - 5 passengers per revenue hour...
Yes for Cherriots
Of course the big item is the ballot measure for weekend and evening service, which the Chamber of Commerce is mobilizing mightily to defeat. "Yes for Cherriots" will need an equal effort!

Chamber's anti-service site
The Salem Area Mass Transit District Board of Directors meets Thursday, September 24th, at 6:30pm, in Courthouse Square, the Senator Hearing Room, 555 Court St NE.

A bit of a random add:

It happens that there's some chatter in Portland about what it would take to have a fareless system.

Here's a piechart with Trimet's revenue sources for FY15-16.
Fares are about 14% and the dreaded "employer tax" is about 36%. Trimet's "employer tax" rate is much higher than the one proposed by Cherriots.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Median Mania at Commercial Street Open House Today; SESNA Meets Also

Commercial-Vista Corridor Study meets Tuesday the 22nd with an Open House to show off the latest proposals, solicit feedback, and hopefully to build support for them.

Beacons and crosswalks on Commercial should be a no-brainer
The proposals include buffered bike lanes. While these represent a meaningful improvement along here, they are mainly an incremental one, and the more substantial changes are those proposed for people on foot. Because of the paucity and wide spacing of signalized intersections here, crossing Commercial on foot here is difficult and too often treacherous. The study proposes a set of several mid-block crosswalks and medians.

Mid-block crosswalks and medians will help a lot
This is between Rock-n-Rogers and Fussy Duck
There's also a new proposal for the dysfunction junction of the Commercial-Liberty "Y." That looks promising as well.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Eight Walk/Bike/Bus Projects to Battle at MPO for Funding Tuesday

Tomorrow, on Tuesday the 22nd, the Policy Committee for our local Metropolitan Planning Organization meets, and they'll be prioritizing some bike/ped/bus projects to advance for the next round of evaluation.

Last week many of you took a poll on them. And we'll get to that. First, though, here's one analysis and a preferred priority.

In round numbers here's a $10 million project.

All of Region 2 gets to compete over this much funding
Wallace and Glen Creek Widening
ODOT Region 2 will award $9.25 million of "Enhance non-highway funds," mostly for walking, biking, and transit projects. Region 2 includes Lane, Linn, Benton, Lincoln, Polk, Marion, Yamhill, Tillamook, Clatsop, Columbia, southern Clackamas and western Washington counties.

For all cities and communities in Lane, Linn, Benton, Lincoln, Polk, Marion, Yamhill, Tillamook, Clatsop, Columbia, southern Clackamas and western Washington counties, biking and walking projects are competing over funds equivalent to one Glen Creek and Wallace Road widening.

On the one hand, that apportionment of federal funds still more than a lot of states devote to non-auto projects. On the other hand, it's still very small, and doesn't in a strategic way get us very far on reconfiguring our city life and transportation choices for a much lower-carbon future, for a healthier future, for a more vibrant future.

Institutionally speaking, we're still very much stuck on the primacy of the drive-alone trip and on the centrifugal forces pushing people to live on the edges of the city.

So that's kindof still where we're at.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Driving and Bridges in the News

There might be a few details to quibble over, but basically "Yes." Glad to see these. Maybe they can inform future reporting and editorials.
  • It would be great to see the needs identified here on the Marion and Center Street bridges weighed more incisively against the "need" for the Third Bridge.
  • It would be good to see more thought on the relative lethality of errors in driving, walking, and biking - and lethality to whom?
  • And if driving is so dangerous, maybe the best risk-reduction strategy is not just to practice more, but also to drive less. And then how would that drive our transportation planning and spending at the Legislature and at the City?

Friday, September 18, 2015

Learn about some of Salem's Little Free Libraries on Saturday

Just off the Winter Street bikeway, a quarter of a block east on Belmont is one of Salem's Little Free Libraries.

Little Free Library on Belmont just off Winter (in 2013)
As one of the activities scheduled for the Drive Less Save More project in the Grant and Englewood neighborhoods, on Saturday the 19th, Cherriots, ODOT, and other neighborhood advocates will lead a bike tour of the Little Free Libraries scattered around these close-in north and northeast neighborhoods.

The ride departs from the Englewood Park basketball courts (1132 19th St NE) at 3pm, and will last about an hour and a half.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

A Conservative Case for Amtrak, More on Transit, Bike Parking at Burgerville - Newsbits

Oof! But not Salem.

They know bike parking, though. Here's the installation in Monmouth. (It could be a model in Salem for lots of businesses!)

Mighty fine bike parking
at the Monmouth Burgerville!
Potentially, that's six customers in the space of one car spot. In the restaurant was one family of six, but mostly it was singles, pairs, and trios. So even if you assume that three people arrive by the average car visit, that's still a doubling of capacity per stall.

You may also recall the drive-thru complaint in 2009 and that Burgerville then made a corporate commitment to serving people on bike by the drive-thru.

Why is this so complicated!?

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Take the Poll: Pick Three Projects for State Funding in 2018-2021

Our MPO meets on Tuesday next week, and the agenda gives us the first look at area candidate projects for the 2018-2021 Statewide "Enhance Non-Highway" funds.

Later this week we'll come back around to the meeting agenda in more detail, but for the moment, let's take a brief look at the candidate projects. The goal for the meeting will be to craft a priority list to advance on to the next round of assessment. Committee members will be asked to vote for their top three projects.

So let's do the same!

If you want to be strict about the criteria, you can read it in the meeting packet here. But for our purposes I think it's more interesting just to ask outright, without hedging or otherwise qualifying or analyzing things, what three projects seem most important to you?

I'll present a very brief description of each, and at the end will be a poll. Pick three only!
  • 45th Avenue Sidewalks and Bike Lanes (County)
  • Brooklake Road Sidewalks and Bike Lanes (County)
  • Two Replacement Commuter Buses (Cherriots)
  • Planning for Eastbank Trail (Salem)
  • Hayesville Drive Sidewalks and Bike Lanes (County)
  • Claggett Creek Path from Hyacinth to Kroc Center (Salem)
  • Five Crossing Safety Projects, including two key Winter-Maple Bikeway crossings (Salem)
  • Eastern portion of Union Street Bikeway (Salem)

Monday, September 14, 2015

CAN-DO and NEN: Full Agenda for Downtown and Englewood Neighborhood Associations

Here's a reappraisal for you.

It's been a while since I've really looked at the "short-term (within 10 years)" recommendations from the Downtown Mobility Study, and you know what? With the exception of the proposed two-way conversion on Cottage (brown on the map), it looks like it is strongly likely that most of this will get done within the intended window of the decade. Funds are programmed for much of it and with the bike boulevard grant, there's momentum there and it hardly seems impossible to get the phase one of sharrows done - maybe even more.

Yes, the bulk of it is still out a few years, and some of the proposed designs could use some further refinement. There's a cluster planned for 2018-2019, for example, and the auto travel lane widths for High and Church are quite wide.

But while I wish things could be done more quickly, on its own terms this first phase of the study is en route to completion. We should still want to do it faster, but it looks like things unambiguously rate "on target" at the moment.

That's a win.

10 year vision:  Sharrows on Union and Winter, bike lanes on
High and Church, two-way conversion on cottage
At CAN-DO on Tuesday the 15th, neighborhood advocate Curt Fisher will talk about the status of bicycle and pedestrian safety and access in the central area. Readers here will remember many of his smart comments and be aware of his advocacy on the Blind School redevelopment. He's sure to have an interesting take on the projects.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Tribute to Early Bike Committee Member Lt. Ricky Alan Serex on 1970s Sidepath

If you've gone out west on Highway 22 along the sidepath and then crossed over to Rickreall Road, you might have noticed the plaque at the small wayside on a rise across from the golf course at the landing for the overpass.*

Wayside and Memorial to Rick Serex across from Golf Course
The plaque reads:
Dedicated in memory of
Lt. Ricky Alan Serex, USNR
July 28, 1957 - May 9, 1991
Rick Serex was the youngest member ever appointed to a state committee when he served as the youth member on the Oregon Bicycle Advisory Committee from 1973 to 1975.
As a decorated naval aviator, he served his country with honor and selfless devotion.
Bicycle rest area dedicated May 9, 1992.
Serex was flying a Navy bomber on a training mission and crashed in a remote and mountainous area of West Virginia.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Salem Police Announce New Crosswalk Safety Project - updated

Salem Police have announced a new crosswalk safety and jay driving enforcement and education project.

New ODOT materials
Unfortunately, it's probably not be tied to ODOT's new materials on "Every intersection is a crosswalk." As BikePortland reports, this seems to be a PDX-centric, Region 1 campaign.

Still, it's good to see a focus on making the streets safe for people on foot and educating drivers about the crosswalk law.
From the release:
With children returning to school and daylight hours getting shorter, pedestrian safety issues become even more important. As a result, the Salem Police Department traffic unit will be conducting pedestrian safety enforcement and education campaigns throughout the City next week.

The campaigns will utilize plain clothes officers who will be crossing streets at crosswalk locations throughout the City, and video cameras will be used to record violations. Those who are contacted will be able to view the violation on video.

Oregon law requires all drivers to stop prior to entering a crosswalk for pedestrians who are crossing the street in a marked or unmarked crosswalk. Drivers are required to stop if a pedestrian is either in the lane in which the driver's vehicle is traveling or in a lane adjacent to the lane in which the driver's vehicle is traveling.

Marked crosswalks may be located at or between intersections and are recognized by solid or dashed white lines. Oregon Law also states that every intersection should be considered to have a crosswalk, whether marked or not. Additionally, a vehicle may not legally pass another vehicle that is stopped at a marked or unmarked crosswalk for a pedestrian. Failing to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk and for passing a stopped vehicle at a crosswalk are class B violations and carry a fine of up to $260.00.

This safety campaign is in partnership with Oregon Impact in order to address pedestrian and crosswalk safety through education and enforcement.
During a similar project at the beginning of June Police documented lots of jay driving:
On June 8, the Salem Police Department conducted a Pedestrian Enforcement Project in NE Salem from 0730-1330. During that six hour period, 97 citations and warnings were issued. Of those citations and warnings, 65 were for failing to yield to a pedestrian in marked crosswalks.
Update, Monday the 14th:
The Salem Police Department Traffic Control Unit conducted this pedestrian safety project today near the intersection of Summer St NE and Hood St NE earlier today. This location is in close proximity to Grant Community School as well as the Boys and Girls Club. This location was also chosen due to complaints received and also due to its proximity of a fatal pedestrian/vehicle crash earlier this year.

During the project, officers stopped 66 vehicles and cited 63 of those drivers for Failure to Stop and Remain Stopped For a Pedestrian in a Crosswalk. There were 30 other citations issued for various other violations such as Driving While Suspended, using a cellular phone while driving and no insurance. There was also one person arrested on an unrelated warrant.

Friday, September 11, 2015

City Council, September 14th - Council Rules

Council meets on Monday, and there's just a few things to note in passing. The most important look to be some changes to Council Rules.

But Council Rules are kinda boring and outside our scope here. So we'll get back to them in a moment.

Neon at the Grand!
(But on a Friday, the sidewalk was dark, alas)
Instead let's talk about some nice things!

The new sign on the Grand is great. On the agenda is an information report regarding the Hearings Officer's decision to permit a couple of sign wings to be enlarged. Once the corner cafe is operating again this could really enliven that corner.

New median, enhanced crosswalk at 17th and Nebraska!
There an information report on the dedication of teeny bits right-of-way on the corner ramps at the new median and crosswalk treatment at 17th and Nebraska.

(I believe this is the same plan that is perhaps even completed now at 17th and Mill.)

Thursday, September 10, 2015

State Street Study Kicks Off

Here's some pleasant news! The City finally has announced the public site and kick-off for the State Street Study.

The old ice cream factory on State Street for sale
The study will make transportation and land use recommendations for the State Street corridor from 12th Street to 25th Street.

State Street study area from 12th to 25th
(Here's a much larger and more detailed version)
As you can see from the ice cream factory and other similar buildings
There are many land use issues that make the State Street corridor unattractive, auto-oriented and unwelcoming. There are several vacant or underutilized properties on State Street, as well as numerous surface parking lots and parking areas in front of buildings. These conditions detract from the overall vitality and attractiveness of the area and tend to discourage walking. Additionally, much of the development is single-story, single-use buildings, which do not create a vibrant environment.
It is exciting that both buildings and streets are being analyzed together, as focusing on just one or the other too often leaves the whole system insufficiently considered, and resulting change too fragmentary to shift the functioning of the whole system.

One thing to be aware of is that from the outset, it seems still to be framed up a little bit in 20th century assumptions:
[T]he configuration of State Street contributes to an auto-oriented corridor. As a major arterial in the City's Transportation System Plan, State Street should have a 96-foot right-of-way and include four travel lanes, bike lanes, a planter strip and sidewalks. The actual right-of-way of State Street varies from approximately 100 feet near 12th Street NE to 60 feet near 19th Street SE. Due to this constrained right-of-way, improvements to the State Street corridor have not advanced, resulting in a lack of sufficient bicycle and pedestrian facilities and amenities.
While this isn't a full-on expression of hydraulic autoism, it still envisions facilities for people on foot and on bike as secondary consequences of - or competing with - auto travel lane expansion.

The narrative of "progress" here is a little wayward. The narrow right-of-way isn't what keeps things from "advancing"; on the contrary. it is our commitments to drive-alone trips and capacity for peak hour car use that keep things from advancing. 

A better 21st century perspective would focus on the mobility of people and accept as a possibility that four travel lanes might not be necessary or even "advanced." An "advanced" road design would likely not see a need for four travel lanes. A 21st century plan would look at sidewalks and comfortable bike lanes as centrally constitutive of a proper whole road, and not merely as optional enhancements, and crucially would consider climate change impacts as an important constraint.

Happily, one of the explicit project goals addresses some of this:
The proposed street designs will illustrate how the constrained right-of-way on State Street can accommodate facilities and amenities to make the street feel welcome and comfortable for pedestrians, bicyclists and vehicles.
But it will require strong public support, advocacy, and perhaps even pressure to ensure that this promise, especially for "welcome and comfortable," is fulfilled.

See all notes on the State Street Study here.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Greenhouse Gas Modeling, Discredited Congestion Report at MPO Yesterday

From the SKATS-TAC meeting packet for Sept 8th
The Technical Advisory Committee of our local Metropolitan Planning Organization (SKATS) met yesterday, and one of the items on the agenda was a politically motivated "study" by the Texas Transportation Institute. The report is an annual ritual of hydraulic autoism that seeks to alarm folks with the supposed high costs of congestion and to build support for more highway and road expansion. It's about an idealized world for cars, not about mobility of people.

A civilian precis of the TTI study in the paper last month
Over at the City Observatory there's a compendium of criticism from multiple sources (and more here). It is symptomatic of the commitment to hydraulic autoism at SKATS that "findings" on congestion have not been modified in light of this large body of counter-evidence and critique.

TTI definitions from the meeting packet
But let's just look again at one part of its definitions and analytical method. It measures delay and congestion from a baseline of "free-flow speeds." However, on both highways and arterial roads, "free-flow speeds" are often 10, 20, maybe even 30mph over the posted speed limit! These "free-flow speeds" are measured at night, when such zooming is especially easy. So the whole study is based on a fantasy standard of impossible and even unlawful conditions. And they know this. They say "Other speed thresholds may be appropriate for urban project evaluations or sub-region studies."

Anyway, above and beyond this the study is a bunch of hooey and horse-pucky, and only an agency committed to hydraulic autoism would waste time with an uncritical presentation of it.

(Much more useful would have been a critique of it!)

Monday, September 7, 2015

Why Bike Corrals might be Better for Sidewalk Life and for Merchants

Happily, this summer sidewalk cafe life seems increasingly vibrant, and that is great to see.

But because of our legacy approach to bike parking that makes it part of the sidewalk furniture, this sometimes creates conflict over uses, and since bike parking is sometimes still under fairly low demand, it has been easy and convenient for merchants to encroach on the rack zone with their own furniture.

Seating and the bike rack at Christo's
The recent removal of trees on High Street at DaVinci's has seemingly also meant the loss of bike racks here.

The bike racks disappeared along with the trees
The rack used to get covered by a standing-level table, which cunningly used the rack for structural support.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Labor and Hops on the Belluschi Bank, Skyline Widening, A Bus Foe - more Newsbits

It's so great to see hops on the front page of the paper again. (Though not so much the effects of the hot year.)

Front page: Polk County Observer, Feb 18th, 1910
And while the Belluschi Bank on the corner of Liberty and Chemeketa is still with us, a reminder once again to stroll by this weekend and enjoy the reliefs to labor and industry. The building is slated to be demolished, and these reliefs by Frederic Littman will likely disappear.

Probably hops!
Harvest on the Belluschi Bank,
relief by Frederic Littman

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Climate Scientist Gloom, Pinot By Paddle and Pedal, Parking Ratios - Newsbits

Did you see the piece in Esquire? "When the End of Human Civilization Is Your Day Job: Among many climate scientists, gloom has set in. Things are worse than we think, but they can't really talk about it."
Maybe it hit some social media, but it certainly didn't hit the Statesman. And it should have. Know why? That's Leslie Venti's brother, Jason Box! That local tie just makes it less abstract, a little more real and urgent, doesn't it.
Almost as if they were getting ready for the low-tech post-apocalyptic world, Illahe Vineyards transported four cases of their all-by-hand, no electricity "Project 1899 Pinot Noir" to their Portland distributor, Casa Bruno, all without motorized vehicle. Their twitter feed has images of water transport by canoe and this final leg by cargo bike in Portland. It took them 4 days to go 93 miles. You might recall their bicycle-powered pump, as well. Stuff like this doesn't really scale up to meaningful commercial numbers, but it's still neat to see and a fun project.
Last month at the Planning Commission there was the path deletion and upzoning for an apartment complex on the former Battle Creek golf course. A neighbor has appealed it to City Council, and the grounds of the appeal boil down to "not enough parking."

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Recollections about Horse Racing at Fair Recall Bike Racing as Well

Watt Shipp and the Giant Quad
Oregonian, April 9th, 1934
There's not much going on at the moment, so here's another baggy flashback.

Watt Shipp, circa 1913
With the 150th anniversary of the State Fair this year, there's been lots of talk about horse racing there.

For a few years in the 1890s, we also had a thriving bike racing scene. And it also used the track.

At top is a 1934 reprint of an image at the fairgrounds from 1898 - itself a "did you remember?" kind of flashback.

That's a quad. I remain amazed as the size of the last chainring for the stoker and the gradual diminution towards the front! I'm not sure how that gearing actually works. (Anyone know?)

Watt Shipp, whom you might remember (More on Watt Shipp, and here), was one of the racers.

Now that Willamette University has digitized large parts of their archives, it's possible to learn a little more about Shipp's activities in 1898.

Willamette Collegian, June 1st, 1898, p. 13
"[S]everal protests were lodged against Willamette's team and Watt Shipp was thrown out because he had ridden in races not sanctioned by the L. A. W."

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Join the Salem Area League for the Bike Commute Challenge

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

There's only 10 teams in it right now, but there should be more! There are 27 teams with the word "Salem" in them - and you know there are more Salem-area teams that don't necessarily have the word "Salem" in them. Joining the league is one of the best ways make it local and get out of the insistently PDX-centric nature of it all.

With Cherriots conducing the "individualized marketing" project in the Grant and Englewood neighborhoods, this year there's more local institutional support and interest than in previous years, and if you're on the fence about it, it might be a good time to try it out.

There's also a very nice piece over at BikePortland about the importance of the social dimension trying out a bike commute and then starting to make it a new habit. There's a very real way the fun in bike commuting is contagious and magnified in numbers.

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.