Sunday, July 31, 2016

SRC no help for People on Foot and on Bike

It's a highway bridge, for highway speeds and dust
not for pleasant walking
Over on Facebook, in a reply to a citizen comment, Councilor Bennett says
A new crossing also would connect east Salem residents as bicyclists and walkers to over 26 miles of new trails, parklands and walk ways. That would be a good thing.
This is dubious and almost certainly false. Unfortunately, it is a common misapprehension in no small part created by the SRC team themselves in a deeply faulty analysis, "Bridge Alternatives and Assessment of Connectivity to Existing and Proposed Bicycle Facilities within the Study Area." It's sugar to make the medicine go down, and the "sugar" it turns out is saccharine, bitter and not so very sweet after all.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Bike Lane Striping on High and Church to Start Monday!

via Twitter
From the City:
The contractor...will begin at the north end of High Street on August 1, 2016. The work will be complete by September 15, 2016. Both High and Church Streets will have lanes closed at night from 8 p.m. to 5:30 a.m.
(For more detail see the City site.)

Also on Monday is the Council Work Session on the Salem River Crossing.

via the official calendar
But there's nothing posted on it yet. (Update: It was hidden! See comments for more on the unintentional hiddenness, most likely just an artifact of the awkward calendaring system.)

The City shares information on downtown bike lanes far more readily than it does on a billion dollar bridge and highway. It also solicits dissent and critique on the bike lanes more readily than it does on a billion dollar bridge and highway. It has already said to the downtown neighborhood association: If you don't use it, you might lose it.

But this is a basic bike lane on a downtown street, legacy remediation to 1980s standards! There shouldn't be any controversy, any debate. This is merely a baseline. We should be able to assume stuff like this!

As we currently process things, though, there is more opportunity to criticize and throw up road blocks on two measly bike lanes than to hit the brakes on a project with risks and costs several orders of magnitude larger.

The bridge and highway will cost something on the order of 1000x the bike lane project.

In round terms, even at the risk of too much information, why isn't there 1000x times the public information and outreach and analysis? (To say that the process has been going on for a decade is not the same as actual analysis, by the way! Much of that has been churn and pre-determined outcome, not something course-correcting with actual feedback.)

If the City posts any materials on the Work Session there may be more to say over the weekend or on Monday. N3B will also doubtless have more.


Here's the the very brief Staff Report and agenda.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

New Heritage All-Star Video Surpasses Sizzle Video

The City has posted a new video arising out of the "Heritage All-Star" project.

Reed Opera House - Modern and historic
The opening montage is great! It's several dissolves created as a women "swipes" the screen as she is jogging by.

On one side is the modern image in color, on the other is an historic photo in black and white.

Right there, that anchors the piece with a sense of place. It takes place in Salem, in Salem only, and not in the interiors or parkland of some generic town hoping for "sizzle."

If you think I mean to draw a strong contrast with "There's Something about Salem," you are right.

The runner - and other people in the video - also move through space at a human pace. The editing is slower and there is an implied geography and relations between places. They show fewer things and let them develop a little more, and the editorial selections seem judicious. The community is actually more palpable here. The video has more heart.

This, honestly, is the "sizzle" video. Or what it should have been more like.

They love the Capitol
The casting is aimed at younger adults and newcomers, too, so it's not just trading on the nostalgia of old-timers or older adults who have gained a new interest in history or genealogy.

There's still no Spanish, and it's awfully downtown-centric. But it seems more balanced culturally. Sure, it's still a performed, curated vision of Salem, but from here it reads more authentically. It looks like it may be part of a series, so maybe there is more to come.

What do you think of it? Does it have one or more flaws you really notice?

Discover Salem Oregon: Your Capital of Culture from Salem Heritage All-Star Forum on Vimeo.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Send a Selfie to SBBA; SCAN asks for Safety - Newsbits

In a way that rhymes more than a little with the "This Place Matters" campaign by Historic Preservation Advocates, the Bike Boulevard Advocates are looking for folks who want to say "I Matter" when I am on my bike.

Because the way we build roads most certainly sends a message that you don't matter very much when you are on your bike!

After piloting it at some events, yesterday online they started recruiting folks to send photos and selfies with "I'm the 60%" signs.

"I'm the 60%" - via Facebook
From the post:
SBBA continues to advocate for investment in roadway projects that help the 60% of citizens who would be interested in riding their bikes, if only they felt safer.

But wait! Who are those 60%???

These riders are often hard to see because they stick to quiet side-roads, paths in the park, or (for now) leave their bike at home entirely.

Please help SBBA capture a sampling of the real 60% in Salem by sending us a photo telling city leaders: “I’m the 60%!”

Send your photos via Facebook private message or by email to

We’ll include them with others in an upcoming slide show.

MassDOT Separated Bike Lane Guide
Snap a picture of yourself and send it in!

SCAN Sends a Letter

The South Central Association of Neighbors has sent to the City a strongly worded request for more traffic calming and safety on the Liberty/Commercial couplet near Bush Park.

On the 20th of this month they wrote:
On Wednesday, June 29th, 18-year old Alex C. Armes was fatally injured in a hit-and-run crash near the 1600 block of Liberty Street SE...

SCAN is a livable, walking neighborhood...But we are bisected by Commercial Street and Liberty Street...this particular area of great concern...has approximately one half mile of road between marked crosswalks.

We ask the City to seriously explore traffic calming measures in this area. The posted speed limit of 30mph is routinely exceeded...It is not uncommon for young people - and indeed people of all ages - to walk, bike, or skateboard throughout our neighborhood, and we want to promote their safety.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Cheers to Abigail Scott Duniway and all the Others

Abigail Scott Duniway and Gov. Oswald West
Signing the Suffrage proclamation
via Wikipedia and Library of Congress

November 30th, 1912
From the paper:
In Portland today Governor West will sign the proclamation declaring equal suffrage in Oregon. The proclamation has been written [?] copied by Mrs. Abigail Scott Duniway, for years champion of equal suffrage in the state, and after being signed by the governor will be filed away in the archives of the state house as a tribute to Mrs. Duniway, whose life work is thus realized.

Monday, July 25, 2016

More on Henningsen and the Enterprise Zone

Over on Facebook there's more discussion of the Enterprise Zone tax abatement incentive program.

Councilor Bennett says
there's no cost to the taxpayer when nothing is built. It's a huge benefit when something is....

The 5 year tax abatement has no impact on anyone when you realize that no taxes will be collected if nothing is built. In five years the building goes on the tax roles. Recall it also is the first of three phases. In earlier work at another site this company promised 29 jobs and delivered over 40. This also is a major addition to the infrastructure serving our food processing industry and the jobs it will create and buildings it will build as a result of this project. [italics added]
The argument here is that there's a basic mistake or omission in the dimension of time. Here's the Strong Towns critique (written by an civil engineer, by the way):
the local unit of government benefits from the enhanced revenues associated with new growth. But it also typically assumes the long-term liability for maintaining the new infrastructure. This exchange — a near-term cash advantage for a long-term financial obligation — is one element of a Ponzi scheme.

The other is the realization that the revenue collected does not come near to covering the costs of maintaining the infrastructure. In America, we have a ticking time bomb of unfunded liability for infrastructure maintenance. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) estimates the cost at $5 trillion — but that's just for major infrastructure, not the minor streets, curbs, walks, and pipes that serve our homes.
This is the nut of the matter.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

City Council, July 25th - Governor Geer says Yes to Bike Park

Gov. T.T. Geer
Council meets on Monday and while it is not the most important thing, the proposal to move forward formally with a bike park and pump track at Geer Park is the most interesting thing.

It's just not possible to get tired of talking about Governor Geer and bikes. (If you are tired, skip ahead!)

He rode a bike and he signed Oregon's first bike path law in 1899. The law wasn't very successful, but it happened, and it happened before automobiles were significant.

You can read more about it here and here.

The upshot of it all is that Geer Park is a perfect place for a bike park.

More formally, the City determined that an amendment to the park master plan is a necessary step at the moment:
A bicycle pump track will be a major amenity to Geer Park and construction could be initiated in late 2016. However, a bicycle track is not identified in the 2003 master plan and conducting a full master planning process for Geer Park will not take place until sometime after 2020. Therefore, staff recommends Council approve the addition of a bicycle pump track as an amendment to the 2003 Geer Park Master Plan. Note that a playground and a picnic shelter are standard features of a community park per the Comprehensive Park System Master Plan Update (adopted 2013). When the master planning process is next conducted for Geer Park, a new location for these facilities will be identified.
We held a seance Friday night, by the way, and we are happy to report that Governor Geer enthusiastically supports the proposal. "Knock three times if you like the idea" and you should have heard the resounding, bam! bam! bam! The intensity was a little startling, actually, and we had to take a break for a moment to calm and recompose ourselves.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

100 Years ago The Birth of a Nation "took Salem by Storm"

100 years ago this month The Birth of a Nation played at the Grand Opera House. It had played Portland in August 1915, but didn't come to Salem until July 1916.

Salemites loved it.

Three years later, in 1919 George Putnam bought the Capital Journal, and with strong editorial leadership, he changed the narrative in the paper and partially changed it in Oregon politics more widely.

Over at Mission Mill they're starting a "History in the News" series. This month they'll be talking about the Conventions.
This year’s national party conventions in Cleveland and Philadelphia promise to provoke lively debates and counter-protests, but what do they have to do with Oregon? How might Oregonians influence the direction of national politics now, and how have they done so in the past? From Tom McCall’s and Mark Hatfield’s moderating influence on the Republican Party to Jeff Merkley’s early endorsement of Bernie Sanders, Oregonians have often played important roles in pushing both parties in new directions. The Willamette Heritage Center’s inaugural History in the News program will examine the relationship between Oregonians and the national political parties, focusing on how the state’s citizens and politicians have shifted the tone, content, and course of American politics.
The series has great promise and will be very interesting to watch. It looks like this installment will focus on fairly recent history of the late 20th and early 21st century.

There are other periods they could have chosen also. A great subtext of this election cycle - as has perhaps become a commonplace now, one of the nominees strengths is turning subtext into text - is a politics of white nationalism. That was a message that resonated 100 years ago this month. Within a few years, things at least partially changed. A man who became a Salemite then played an important role in checking one strand of popular white nationalism in the early 1920s.

Half-page ad, July 22nd, 1916
For about a week half-page ads ran, some horizontal, some vertical. You can see the proportion of space devoted to other films and theaters.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Oregon Transportation Commission to Discuss Safety Plan Thursday

Jenna Berman
via Bicycle Colorado
Readers of BikePortland - as well as ODOT insiders of course - will know that they've been hiring some new "Active Transportation Liasons" for each formal Region.

Portland's Region 1 has had the services of Jessica Horning for a few years now.

Last week ODOT announced that Jenna Berman is the new Liason for us in Region 2 - a large and mixed area with the south half of the Willamatte Valley and coast: Marion, Linn, Lane, Benton, Lincoln, Polk, Yamhill, Tillamook, Clatsop, and a couple others. (Her start date was June 20th, so the announcement is a little delayed.)

Hopefully her work and attention will give more visibility and effort to greater numbers and higher quality of complete street projects for all road users and help to curb the entrenched autoism that dominates systems thinking and strategy at ODOT.

And that's a fine lead to tomorrow's OTC meeting.

On Thursday the Oregon Transportation Commission meets and one of the central items on the agenda is the Transportation Safety Action Plan. That has seemed already compromised, weak, and autoist, garnished with tepid language about "vision zero," but with little actual commitment to it. It's nice green parsley, but it's not a meal.

Will the OTC be able to see this?
via Facebook

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Cherriots West Salem Connector and the Elephant: One Year In

On a day when Portland's launching their newest transit initiative, the BIKETOWN bikeshare system, let's look at Salem's own transit pilot program.

Last month Cherriots published the first year's report on the flexible transit "West Salem Connector" service. Detailed transit analysis isn't the thing here, so maybe you will have more to say. But there are several interesting bits in it - including the SRC elephant.

A Year in Review
(slides throughout from it)
Cherriots has not always seemed very self-aware or self-critical, and so it was great to see some frank statements about failure in the report. Here, for example, is the conclusion that the attempt to be thrifty by reusing old, retired paratransit vehicles was actually more costly.

Without drilling too deeply into it, on the surface it seemed like a credible self-assessment. That was nice to see.

The biggest complaint about it is that Cherriots continues to ignore the way service levels fit into the context of cross-river mobility. Cherriots is not analytically self-aware here, alas. The Salem River Crossing continues to be a giant lacuna, the proverbial "elephant in the room." It's not a factor in the analysis at all. In this Cherriots limits themselves to a tactical discussion about West Salem service, and avoids questions about larger strategy and priorities. This may be practical, sure, but it is also a huge evasion and renunciation, and ensures that much of West Salem will continue to be difficult to serve. It perpetuates, instead of ameliorates, conditions that we already know are problematic.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Long Register-Guard Article on Passenger Rail worth a Read

The Register-Guard has a nice longer piece on the prospects for improved passenger rail in the valley.

Several bits were interesting. One in particular was Congressman DeFazio going on the record with criticism of ODOT:
But the ­congressman said that Oregon has only itself to blame for the oft-clogged, single track rail line that ­carries both freight and passengers the length of the Willamette Valley.

In early 1990s, DeFazio said, Congress designated the valley for a high-speed rail route. Since then, ODOT officials have been mulling the issue, he said.

The Oregon Department of Transportation is a “turgid, dysfunctional” bureaucracy, DeFazio said, pointing to recent multimillion dollar contracting missteps. “They’ve got one person who does rail,” DeFazio said. “That’s not much of a focus.”
Later there's some on funding and our priorities:
Money to improve the tracks or add trains or any of the train-speeding strategies proposed by the rail leadership council will be a hard sell.

The federal government periodically doles out rail money, but it requires local areas to come up with a 20 percent match.

“There really isn’t money available to do the matches,” [ODOT project manager for the Oregon ­Passenger Rail Project Jim] Cox said.

There’s “no clear path” to state money to spend on rail track upgrades, Beyer said.

By comparison, the state has hundreds of millions of dollars, mostly from gas taxes, to pay for highway upgrades.

[Director of the Association of Oregon Rail and Transit Advocates, and Cherriots Board member Bob] Krebs said the state spent $750 million to add eight miles of a single freeway lane to I-5 at Salem. “For that you could almost double track all of the Willamette Valley,” he said.
The whole thing is worth a read.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

In the Neighborhood Associations this Week - Lots of Downtown News

A couple of notes about neighborhood association meetings this week.


There are several interesting things to note in the minutes from CANDO last month (and a few other related notes).

Bike Boulevard Update

In the context of an update on the Winter-Maple bike boulevard, the City introduced the new transportation planner who took over for Judith Johnduff, who had been working on the Commercial-Vista Corridor Study and other projects, including several with key biking and walking components.
Julie Warncke introduced her colleague Anthony Gamallo, who will be working on the Maple-Winter Street Family Friendly Bikeway, which is now in the planning phase. She informed the board that the consultant had been hired, and, despite the traffic counter being stolen, Public Works had gathered the data they needed (time-of-day volumes and intersection activity while school was in session) for the consultant. They are at this point just waiting for the notice to proceed. As a side note, Julie said that a bike-pedestrian counter placed mid-May in the middle of the Union Street pedestrian bridge appears to have recorded upwards of 2500 crossings per day, with a significant spike likely caused by the first On Your Feet Friday of the season.
The counts on the Union Street Railroad Bridge are interesting, and confirms that 1400 foot crossings and 500 bike crossings is an undercount. (Significantly, we plan streets for future peak rush hour car capacity, so to be consistent we need to do the same for those traveling on foot and on bike!)

Downtown Repair Stations

Tools missing, August 2015
The station in Riverfront Park has been missing tools since last summer, and it looks like they may be replaced.
Erma Hoffman commented that she had met with Toni Whitler (Public Works, Parks) to discuss additional matching grant opportunities relating to CANDO’s Pringle Park project and that the City was probably going to replace the two tools stolen from the bike -repair station at Riverfront Park . She also suggested that the board might want to consider applying for a grant to install a bike repair station at Minto-Brown Island Park .
Cherriots has added a repair station and pump - via Facebook
Cherriots you may have noticed has also installed one of the repair stations in the courtyard at High and Court. They are doing some interesting things right now. Quickly they jumped on the Pokemon fad and are leveraging it in general Cherriots marketing and as a perk and draw for public space. That's a nice embrace of pop culture, especially for a public agency! (For more discussion, see the local subreddit.)

Friday, July 15, 2016

Second St NW Crossing under Wallace Rd Looks Increasingly Boondoggular

In no small part because of all the autoist bells and whistles being crammed into the idea of a crossing along Second Street NW under Wallace Road, the estimated cost has ballooned to $30 million. The Union Street Railroad Bridge itself, a structure on the National Register of Historic Places, apparently would need to be modified.

This is a basin, too: A local street connection along Second Street
going under Wallace Road, from west side looking east
via City of Salem FB
Frankly, it's beginning to look like another boondoggle and it may need to become a bust, at least in its present form. Marine Drive and the Salem River Crossing is effing it all up!

Last week at the West Salem Redevelopment Advisory Board, the group overseeing the West Salem urban renewal area got an update, and there was less to like about it.

The latest plan map (Dec 2015 in February packet)
Here's an excerpt from the meeting handout (numbered notes are not in the original; the illustrations here are from previous memos and are not in the handout):

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Revised and Amended Sustainable Fairview Refinement Plan at Planning Commission

The Staff Report and full agenda's not posted yet, but on Tuesday the 19th, an amended plan for the Sustainable Fairview development will go before the Planning Commission.

Proposed amended plan
This was made necessary by the demolitions in the "crescent" and by the sale of the park parcel to the City. Probably there were other reasons too, as parts of the development are changing as the market for the property generally has been slow to develop.
The goal of retrofitting Fairview Training Center buildings for re-use encountered economic and governmental regulatory obstacles that could not be overcome. On the other hand, the re-use of the materials contained in those buildings will exceed expectations. Almost zero hard material such as stone, brick, and concrete will leave the property. The bulk will be crushed and reused on site. Tens of thousands of board feet of lumber have been salvaged and are being reused. A modest amount of structural ornamentation has also been saved and reused...

Bike Ride and Rally at ODOT for Better Bike Lanes on Saturday the 16th

In an homage to a ride from 1971 (more about that here), folks from Portland and the rest of the state will be biking from Portland to Salem for a rally at ODOT-HQ on Saturday the 16th to ask for a more robust commitment to the bike bill and to active transportation generally in the proposed Transportation Package the Legislature is considering for the 2017 session.

Rally at ODOT, 5:30pm on Saturday the 16th
(see full route from Portland here)
From the event description:
Meet at Pioneer Courthouse Square at 7:00am. Leave at 7:30am.*

*If you are participating in the bike ride from downtown Portland, please arrive no later than 7:15 as we will be going over logistics. We will leave Pioneer Courthouse Square at 7:30 sharp. If you plan on joining the ride partway, please join us at the below meetup spots.

The main group will cycle at a slow pace (7-9 mph). If you’d like to go faster, feel free to ride ahead of the group. Below are a couple meetup points where we can regroup and where some people will be joining the ride. Note that we will likely arrive at these points before/after the times listed below; however, we will not leave these meet-up points before the below listed time, so as long as you arrive by that time you will not be left behind.

Meetup point #1: Wilsonville Fred Meyer, 30300 SW Boones Ferry Rd, Wilsonville, OR (30+ minute break for lunch)
Leaving no earlier than: 11:00am

Meetup point #2: St. Louis Fish Ponds County Park in Gervais, OR, on Tesch Ln NE just south of St Louis Rd NE (15 minute break)
Leaving no earlier than: 2:00pm

Rally Info
Where: ODOT Headquarters (one block from the capitol building), 355 Capitol St NE, Salem, OR 97301
When: 5:30pm

We encourage you to bring signs with messaging related to our goal of making Oregon’s streets safer and more livable for everyone. If you’d rather not carry the sign on your bike during the ride we will have a vehicle for carrying materials.

We look forward to seeing you on Saturday!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

New Setziol Sculpture vs. Pokemon's Bestiary and the new Flaneur

On Liberty at Trade/OR-22 looking north
Liberty and Trade is a pretty empty intersection. Clockwise from the southwest there is the Fire Station, Bentley's with the corner entry now closed, a parking lot, and Mill Race Park. There's very little activity except for cars, the four lanes of Liberty going north and the two/three lanes of OR-22 going west. There are no meaningful strorefronts or foot traffic attractors on the corners. Any storefronts are recessed, about a half-block from the corner itself. Within a block or so, there is more parking lot than anything else. The intersection itself and adjacent land uses are intensely car-oriented.

So it's an interesting move to put in a new sculpture here.

Leroy Setziol stone carving at Trade and Liberty
Across Liberty is the Fire Station
Over at Salem Progress they say a bit breathlessly
A new outdoor sculpture arrived in Salem today! A remarkable stone carving by Leroy Setzoil. Congratulations to Salem for becoming the home of this wonderful piece. Congratulations to the Oregon Artists Series Foundation, (OASF), the City, and the Salem Public Arts Commission for bringing vibrancy to the downtown. This is Salem Progress, Salem moving forward....

Another great improvement happening in Salem because of focused energy, selfless partnering, philanthropic vision and a crew who goes all in with great heart!
You probably will recognize Setziol's wood carvings from the library, where there is a large wood carved screen by the current periodicals display.

The Salem area's Fourth Walking Fatality this Year

This is old news and sad news, and there was enough uncertainty in the news reports that it seemed best to wait. There are still questions.

Last week, July 4th, the fourth area person on foot died as a result of injuries after being struck by a person driving a car.

The initial report on Friday, July 1st suggested the person driving had the right-of-way unambiguously and the person on foot mainly at fault:
A 20-year-old man from Keizer suffered life-threatening injuries after being struck by a car early Friday morning.

At about 2:41 a.m. on Friday, officers from the Keizer Police Department were investigating an alarm at a business located in the 5000 block of River Road North when they heard a vehicle strike a pedestrian on River Road North.

According to a Keizer Police Department, 65-year old Walter Westgarth of Keizer was driving a 2005 Volkswagen Passat northbound on River Road in the curb lane through the intersection of Chemawa Road NE with a green traffic signal when the male pedestrian stepped off the sidewalk into the roadway. He was struck by the motor vehicle.

Westgarth stopped his vehicle immediately on River Road and cooperated with the investigation.

Officers who were nearby when the incident occurred aided the pedestrian who was later transported by Keizer Fire District paramedics to Salem Hospital with life-threatening injuries.

The name of the pedestrian in not being released until his next of kin can be contacted.
And last Tuesday's notice of the Monday death seemed to confirm this:
A pedestrian struck after walking into the path of an oncoming car last week in Keizer died Monday from his injuries, police said.

Anthony Jon Ernest, 20, of Keizer, was hit by a Volkswagen Passat at the intersection of River Road North and Chemawa Road NE early Friday morning, Keizer Police Deputy Chief Jeffrey Kuhns said.

Officers were responding to an alarm at a nearby business when they heard the accident.

An independent witness reported that the driver of the car, Walter Westgarth, 65, of Keizer, had a green traffic signal when he drove through the intersection. Kuhns said he stopped immediately and cooperated with the investigation.

Keizer police are unsure whether Ernest saw the oncoming vehicle or if he was distracted.

No criminal charges have been filed, and no citations were issued.
So the best available public evidence suggests that Ernest suffered the ultimate penalty for a bad decision.

There are a few things to note here, then.

1) We engineer "forgiveness" into road design to forgive driver errors. Road design allows recovery for driver errors in speed, steering, and braking. There is little forgiveness engineered into road design for pedestrian errors. There's just a vast, vast asymmetry here.

2) Because of the severity of injuries to persons on foot, too often we don't get to hear their side and description of a crash. Because of the way jaywalking has been criminalized and those in cars have come to believe that the roads belong to cars, even when witnesses say a person on foot entered the road against a signal, you still wonder about how reliable truly is the description. There's a bias in the system, and maybe not here, but some proportion of crashes are described wrongly even by witnesses of good faith. "Of course the person walked into the path of the car." There is a default interpretation or bias in favor of the person driving.

3) The conjunction of "responding to an alarm at a nearby business" and crash may be an innocent detail, but it also plants the idea that Ernest may have been involved the events of the alarm and was fleeing the scene. Or maybe he was just stumbling home tipsy from the bar. Do we need to know the details? Maybe not. But it seems like crash narratives too often cluster details to ensure the driver and our autoist system is blameless, and then we don't really have to deal with the fact that a young man lost his life for what appears to be an error in walking judgement. It's just a sad, tragic accident, the person on foot wasn't careful enough, and "carry on, nothing more to see here."

No matter what mistakes Ernest may or may not have made early that morning, none of them warranted the loss of his life.

If new information comes out, this post may be updated.

Previously killed this year:

Saturday, July 9, 2016

City Council, July 11th - Federal Surface Transportation Funds

Council meets on Monday, and you'll already know about the possible work session on the Salem River Crossing. (Which seems to have been scrubbed from Council agenda in the last day or two. The charitable interpretation is that the schedule changed or is not finalized. More cynically, it might be that the City errantly posted it and wants instead to withhold the information as part of the way it seeks to manage debate for a pre-determined outcome. It is also interesting that this fall may be consumed with debate on the bridge and debate on the size-large police station - is that a "divide and conquer" strategy by the City or is that an opportunity for community advocates to unify on a consistent theme about the perils of super-sizing?)

Federal Surface Transportation Funds

On the agenda is also authorization to pursue formal full applications for Federal funding in 2018-2023 for a suite of road projects. (They are discussed here and here in the context of the MPO's assessment of the pre-applications.)

Center St Bridge Seismic Preapp Sheet
The City has split them into two buckets of priority:
Highest Priority Projects:
  • 12th Street SE Widening
  • Center Street Bridge Seismic Retrofit Study (co-applicant with Oregon Department of Transportation)
  • Hilfiker Lane SE/Commercial Street SE Intersection and Signal Upgrade
  • McGilchrist Street SE Complete Streets (right-of-way component)
  • Union Street NE Family Friendly Bikeway
Additional Applications:
  • 25th Street SE Multi-Use Path
  • Brush College Road NW Safe Routes to School
  • Liberty Street NE Bridge over Mill Creek
  • Orchard Heights Road NW Pedestrian Improvements
  • River Road N Traffic Signal Interconnect (co-applicant with City of Keizer)
In general terms that seems pretty reasonable. The 12th street project is already in process and needs extra funding. It's too late for effective criticism on that. The bridge retrofit is urgent. Hilfiker is at Trader Joe's and Firehouse Crossing and the y-intersection with Sunnyside - and maybe it does need an upgrade. That's the one project I might slide out and swap with the 25th Street path. McGilchrist needs badly to be rebuilt and between freight and disabled veterans and brewery visitors, it may have the widest range of uses of any transportation corridor in the city. The Union Street bikeway is key. At any rate, it's a list on which there is a kind of clear balance and on which the proverbial "reasonable people can disagree." It is not a list that has great and obvious flaws.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Summer Nights on Broadway Free Concert Series Saturdays this Summer

Even though it's privately owned (often called POPS for short) the patio and amphitheater at Broadway Commons is the best urban public space in Salem.

This summer they have a concert series early on Saturday evenings in it. (It started last Saturday.)

This Saturday True North will perform.

It's free and if you haven't been to Broadway Commons it's worth checking out as the kind of mid-rise urban development Salemites should embrace. As building it is walkable, and has storefronts in the the right relation to the sidewalk and street, with parking in back. The patio and amphitheater sit on the corner, just one block from Salem Cinema and Barrel & Keg, and function as sidewalk seating for the Broadway Coffeehouse. As public space it has active edges bordering both the street and the building. It's a winner!

(Hopefully the old laundry across the street will be redeveloped. This district has so much potential!)

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Third Bridge Cranking up Again; Urban Growth Boundary Expansion Attempt Likely

So buried in Council's agenda for next Monday is an announcement of a Work Session for September 19th on the Salem River Crossing. Over the past many months the City has been working on laying the groundwork for an expansion of the Urban Growth Boundary to accommodate the bridge, much of which would be outside of the current UGB. Here are details on what this would involve and presumably outlines the argument the City will need to make. 

Third Bridge outside UGB
Reciprocally, for any UGB Public Hearing this is also the form an argument against the UGB expansion will need to take, a point-by-point refutation or contesting couched in more-or-less exactly these terms. (Although see the footnote for a possible qualification to all this.)

Needless to say, if things are getting ready to crank up again, there will be much more to say! 

As a preliminary step, it seemed useful to share the text of the letter and to make it more widely available. The letter has not been published by the SRC team to the SRC website so far as I know.

Additionally, the lack of information from the City over the past few months suggests anything that must be made public will be shared only at the last minute in order to make a considered response as difficult as possible. It seems likely that as things mature and advocates scratch the surface, additional dates and meetings and information will turn up this summer and fall.

From a June 23,2014 letter to the City of Salem from DLCD (about which Salem Weekly wrote on July 10th, 2014). Formatting is close to - but not identical with - the original. Hopefully that does not alter the sense in any meaningful way.

Process for a UGB expansion and Goal 15 Exception

A UGB amendment is guided by Statewide Planning Goal 14, (Urbanization), which incorporates the requirements of ORS 197.298 (establishing the priority of lands to be included in a UGB expansion). Because the current UGB is governed by an urban growth management agreement, any amendments will require adoption by Salem, Keizer, Marion County, and Polk County.

Bike Boulevard Crossing Projects Continue to Advance for Funding in 2018-2021

Our local Area Commission on Transportation meets today, Thursday the 7th, and the Salem proposal for several enhanced crossings, including two for the the Winter-Maple Bike Boulevard route, one of them for an intersection where Caroline Storm was killed last year, continues to make progress as it is vetted for funding in the 2018-2021 cycle. (But other than a kind of progress report and check-in, there's nothing of great consequence on the agenda for us here.)

Five Crossing Safety Projects
Project estimate is now at $380,000
The crossing safety projects rank in a tie for third in the current scoring and looks to be funded. (Note the green and red scoring.)

Current rankings
At the top of the list is the Hayesville Drive NE project outside of Salem proper in unincorporated Marion County.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Travel Salem's new Bike Route, our Autoism, and our Incrementalism

Last month Travel Salem published a revised set of bike maps and routes aimed at visitors and tourists. There is one for downtown and four others at various distances from the city. (The page also links to other established routes and places.) They look to be a great improvement on v1.0, but in the context of a couple of other downtown initiatives, they show an inclination to accept things as they are too easily and not to point the way to change and a better future.

Revised Travel Salem Historic Downtown Bike Route (detail)
You might remember that the first version of the downtown map was impossible to use legally. It employed busy streets that lacked bike lanes and also required illegal travel against the one-way grid. It was a mess, unfortunately. Happily, maps are not so difficult to redraw, and the errors easily correctable.

First draft Historic Downtown Route and 2012 Salem Bike Map
(click to enlarge)
But because of downtown's autoism, it was very difficult to map any kind of useful and pleasant loop. The best I could think of was a cruciform plan that used the axes of Chemeketa and Winter Streets as two-way streets to reach meaningful tourist destinations. But it wasn't a loop or a route in any meaningful way. So the conclusion was that in order to have a meaningful bike route downtown, we need to change the streets, and the action item was principally advocacy, not simply better mapping:
Travel Salem, let Council know that this is a difficult project and that to support bike tourism, you need more bike-friendly streets - more better, and more of them. Don't let Council be complacent and think the job is done
The new sheet and route
So now we have a new edition of the downtown route.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Don't be too Dazzled by Fancy Tech in Columbus and the Smart City Project

Over the weekend a letter to the editor rightly pointed out the enormous waste in the proposed Third Bridge. (Additional comment over at N3B.)
Our community plans to spend more than $500 million for a new bridge and highway. This mid-20th century technology encourages single-occupancy vehicles and discourages transit, pedestrian and cycling options.

For less than half that amount of money, Columbus, Ohio plans to completely re-think and re-design its transportation system.

Columbus beat out six other finalists for the Smart City competition sponsored by the federal DOT to receive $50 million to develop Columbus into the nation’s proving ground for intelligent transportation systems. The innovative competition encouraged cities to reshape their transportation systems, harnessing the power of technology, data and creativity to re-imagine how people and goods move throughout cities.

With additional private funds, Columbus will use $190 million to support driver-less vehicles and access to electric vehicle charging stations, and will enable cars and transit to communicate with traffic signals and other transportation infrastructure.

The finalist cities demonstrated vision and creativity in developing meaningful plans to use technology to improve the lives of their citizens and create a truly smart city. Think what we could do if we spent even half the cost of a new bridge for innovative transportation projects that would benefit the entire community.

Come on — we can do better!
But as with the notion for a streetcar across the Union Street Railroad Bridge, the alternative being pitched will likely be an overengineered and expensive solution whose return on investment will underperform.

updated via jonorcutt (see below for original)

ODOT Safety Plan is Autoist, Insufficiently Bold; Comment through August 1

2016 draft Oregon Transportation Safety Action Plan
Last month ODOT released the draft Transportaton Safety Action Plan for public comment.

It's hard to get excited about it.

It's really autoist.

While it is garlanded with some of the rhetoric of vision zero, it's not very deeply thought through or enacted.

page 5-3

For example, it proposes we "identify unsafe walking, biking, or driving behaviors which could be addressed through legislation."

That sounds like a page out of the same playbook that criminalized jaywalking and wants to carve out plenty of room in the frame to blame the victim when a person on foot is killed.

Later, in a section on "Healthy, livable communities," it's mostly about "law enforcement" rather than about "planned land uses" or about health and livability.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Cherrians King Bing and Queen Estella Led Independence Day in 1916

It may not be possible to be definitive about anything, but even in the context of carnival surely there's a little irony in the way Salemites looked to a European model and celebrated a "monarchy" with a royal court on the 4th of July a century ago.
HARK YE! HARK YE! HARK YE! Loyal subjects of Cherry Land. You are hereby asked to lay aside all worldly care and abandon the pursuit of wealth for the next two days. Today and tomorrow your queen reigns supreme. Let the subjects of her realm devote their energies to making it a period of pleasure and enjoyment for all, great and little. From now until tomorrow night surfeit yourselves with pleasure and let joy reign throughout the land. Queen Estella so decrees and it is ordered by King Bing.
3 July 1916
From the afternoon news on the 4th:
Great Crowd Gathers at Fair Ground - Fine Races Give Zest to Celebration
4th July 1916
All Salem is gathered today at the state fair grounds. Most of Marion county is there too, judging by the throngs that besiege every sideshow, popcorn stand and dance hull.

By noon there were ten thousand people on the grounds and every street car and automobile was adding to the multitude. Only on special days at the state fair has the attendance been so heavy as today.

Queen Estella and the royal court were on the ground at 10 o'clock, where they were met by the Cherrians and the Cherrian band. The triumphal procession immediately got under way and a circuit of the ground was made ending at the reviewing stand to the north of the main entrance.

Red, white and blue bunting and flags garnished the stand where the patriotic events incident to a proper celebration of Independence Day were held. As the queen and her maids entered the stand the band played a flourish.

Marshal Ben Brick made a brief speech of welcome and Rev. James Elvin delivered an invocation. Mrs. Hallie Parrish Hinges sang The Star Spangled Banner, accompanied by the band while the audience stood bare-headed.

The Declaration of Independence was read by Judge P.H. D'Arcy after a few words calling the attention of the crowd to the significance of the occasion attending the promulgation of the document.