Sunday, August 20, 2017

Eclipse and Carmageddon Chance to Think Critically about Capacity

Maybe the gridlock will materialize, maybe not.

However it shakes out, the prospect of the eclipse of our current auto capacity today or on Monday is going to be a great time to think about the geometric limits of auto capacity.

Simply put: Cars are space hogs.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Windows into History at Moore Building of 1924

from 1948
The Historic Landmarks Commission meets this evening* and they will consider a proposal to replace windows on the Arthur Moore building. The Staff Report recommends approval, and it doesn't seem like there's anything important to say on that matter.

New Windows for Arthur H. Moore Building on High Street
However! Arthur Moore is of special interest here because he was an important early bike dealer. (He provides a "window" into transportation history!)

You can read more here and here.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

State Street Study has Consensus on Zoning, but not on the Street

The meeting summary and presentation boards for the State Street Open House last month have been out for a little while. There are no real surprises, but it might be worth visiting a few points.

The summary of comments suggest there is the outline of a consensus on zoning, but not on a street redesign.

Consensus on zoning, but not on the street
But before we talk about substantive matters, there is one tiny comment, buried deep in the summary, whose tone is arresting and which leaves me with the sinking, queasy feeling that it is a more dominant sentiment on the project than our polite society is usually willing to say:
  • Preferred alternative should focus on excluding low-income, transient populations and ensuring a better class of shoppers, tenants, and homeowners
Is that really the key to a lot of other criticism of the plan's concepts?

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

World War I Prompts Changes in Retail Transportation

Here's an interesting moment in transportation.

World War I Propaganda
US Food Administration Poster
via National Archives
(But also: Immigrants!)
At the same time as Herbert Hoover* was building out a system of price controls and food rationing for the United States Food Administration in August of 1917, Salem merchants were advertising the shift from a delivery system with credit to a "cash and carry" system that required customers to transport goods from store to home, business, or field.

August 15th, 1917

Monday, August 14, 2017

Eugene Parklets Show Mixed Results; New Mill Race Path Skirts Industry

Thanks to an expert guide, beyond the desolate industrial park and the new bridges to EMX on the Fern Ridge path, there were a few other things to highlight from a recent visit to Eugene.

One of them was an opportunity to see the winning parklets installed on the street.

Three of the four winning parklets in Eugene
"Vivid Summer," on the left, is full; the other two are empty
Three of them were on Broadway just west of Willamette. This was an area that used to be fully closed to auto traffic and part of the downtown pedestrian mall. SW Oregon Architect has notes on the competition and plans and on a visit to the installations.

Though empty in this image, "Vivid Summer" was sometimes full
via Southwest Oregon Architect
On his visit he lamented that
during my quick stroll-by I found all to be unoccupied, despite plenty of passersby on a busy Saturday afternoon. They appeared forlorn and all too quickly forsaken.
This was not what I saw the weekend before, or what I heard about the weekend of Sunday Streets a week prior to that. I saw and heard that one of the parklets - but not all four of them - seemed to enjoy consistent visitors. That was the "Vivid Summer" project.

It may have offered better seating, better chances to mingle and socialize, and a more dynamic set of levels.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Headlines Erase Subject in Attack by Car

Yesterday a man in Charlottesville, Virginia drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing one. The driver was later arrested and charged with "one count of second-degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding and one count of hit and run with injury."

How it appeared in the Statesman, via USA Today
Most of the headlines, both locally and nationally, treated the car gramatically as the actor, the responsible agent and grammatical subject, in a probable crime.

Friday, August 11, 2017

City Council, August 14th - Commercial-Vista Plan

Council meets on Monday, and it's likely that the biggest matter will not be on the agenda - what to do about the do-over on the SRC required by the recent LUBA decision.

There are several other transportation matters of interest on the agenda.

Council will formally consider the Commercial-Vista Corridor Plan and whether to
accept the recommendations contained in the Commercial-Vista Corridor Plan project report and direct staff to seek funding to implement the recommendations and to incorporate the recommendations into the Salem Transportation System Plan at the next amendment opportunity.
Buffered bike lanes and enhanced crosswalks at Waldo Ave
Some of the project has been funded already, including:
  • Buffered bike lanes on Commercial Street SE from Oxford Street SE to Winding Way SE;
  • Pedestrian crossing islands on Commercial Street SE near Waldo Avenue SE and Triangle Drive SE; and
  • Bike signal on Commercial Street SE at the intersection with Liberty Road S, including adding protected left-turn phase from northbound Commercial Street SE to westbound Alice Street S.
This general approach is something we could consider extending farther south to the area on Commercial where a driver struck and killed Shatamera Pruden as she attempted to cross Commercial Street, where it is posted for 40mph, and 85th percentile speeds and design speed mean traffic routinely approaches full highway speed.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

LUBA Tepidly Remands SRC Decision back to City

By now you will have already heard that LUBA remanded the Salem River Crossing UGB expansion back to City Council.

The decision, however, is not a strong one, and it is interesting to see the autoist bias expressed in affirming procedural and technical details.

If the "spirit" of the law is to reduce drive-alone trips, LUBA makes no attempt to evaluate by the intent or spirit of the law, and instead finds that any fig leaf for compliance will do in order to protect autoist interests.

The matter that has seemed most interesting here is the question, "what does it mean to 'implement' something?"

LUBA finds that the need to implement things other than highway expansion first "is not as absolute as petitioners argue." They also find that as long as the benchmarks or standards are vague enough, there is nothing to challenge.

On "implement" and Policy 1G

On benchmarks
As a consequence, our advocacy task is to beef up our standards and benchmarks. For example, our milquetoast adopted standard is bike lane coverage on 70% of designated streets by 2030. Apparently a more solid appeal procedure would have pointed to a specific failure to meet this or other adopted standards.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

New Eugene Footbridges Will Connect Paths and Bus Rapid Transit

New footbridge across Amazon Creek at Buck Street
(Yeah, that's a paceline in the background on the Fern Ridge path)
With the Minto Bridge in the news this past week, it seemed like a good time to consider a somewhat similar bridge project in Eugene.

It was the top ranked bike/ped project:
Eugene's bridges connect streets and bike paths to transit
You may remember a few years back that Eugene and the Lane Transit District had put together a ConnectOregon application for lottery funding on three footbridges across Amazon Creek to connect neighborhoods, commercial areas, and the Fern Ridge path system to the westside expansion of EMX, Eugene's Bus Rapid Transit system, which opens September 17th.

The bridge project hit some kind of magic multi-modal trifecta, scored very highly, and secured funding easily.

Two of the three bridges are now complete, and this summer construction is proceeding on the third and final bridge.

Friday, August 4, 2017

SJ History Piece features Transportation Walking Tour

Though it'll appear in print on Sunday, last night online the paper posted a walking tour of some old Salem transportation sites circa 1917. (Map here.)

A favorite among the images was this stables business where the Liberty Parkade is today.

Club Stables at site of Liberty Parkade,
looking east along Ferry
(Willamette Heritage Center Collections, X2012.016.0872)
In the Library's collection, there's a somewhat later image of the same building. Its business model had transitioned from horses to cars.

Club Stables as Service Station circa 1930,
looking north along Liberty
Salem Library Historic Photos
And the site today is still dedicated to car storage.

There might be more to say after Sunday. The constraints of a newspaper column mean that there's lots that had to be left out. Nothing on bicycling, bike dealers, and their related buildings for example! The Vick Bros garage is still around as a few other early garages. Anyway, more in an update later perhaps. (Here are posts tagged "Wheeling: Old-time Biking," including notes on Harry Scott, Watt Shipp, Paul Hauser, Otto J. Wilson, Arthur Moore, Ben Taylor, and Myra Albert Wiggins.)

Update, Tuesday

Here it is...

Thursday, August 3, 2017

New Funding may Boost Safe Routes Planning: At the MPO

The Technical Advisory Committee for SKATS, our local Metropolitan Planning Organization, meets next week, and they'll be talking about Safe Routes to Schools.

The Legislature just funded Safe Routes with $10 million annually. That's statewide, though, and competition for funding will be very competitive. It will be interesting to see how far it actually goes. While the Street Trust and others have been quick to trumpet the feat and funding level, as a practical matter I think it is going to be disappointing when we see how thinly it ends up being spread statewide. Still, that funding level is effectively a huge jump from nothing - that's an "infinite" increase!

Locally, you may remember that Hallman Elementary has struggled with a Safe Routes program, and that the whole Bike and Walk Salem project was supposed to generate a city-wide Safe Routes plan. Here and there, there have been little spurts of Safe Routes planning and even programming, but nothing like a sustained and coordinated effort.

At the SKATS meeting there's no specific action on the agenda, but it's very nice to see "the discussion of how to prepare and coordinate to apply for these funds."

Maybe we are at an inflection point and this will change.

Even if we aren't successful in securing funding from this particular source, the planning for it will yield actionable plans that can be funded by other means. This should take Safe Routes planning here locally to another level.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Sizzling Temps Move Minto Bridge Dedication; Open Streets Needs Volunteers

Though it's hot now, remember the rain and gloom:
About 4pm, December 19th, 2015
It's hard to believe the two-year construction project on the Minto Bridge is finally coming to an end.

Sun, glorious sun: Last night just before sunset
Because it's gonna be hotter than Hades for the formal opening ceremonies Wednesday the 2nd, the City's wisely decided to move things to earlier in the morning:
Due to the Extreme Heat Advisory August 2, the celebration has been moved to 9 a.m....

The Wed, Aug. 2 celebration begins with a community parade that starts in Wallace Marine Park​ at 9 a.m. The parade route crosses the Union Street Railroad Bridge and continues through Riverfront Park. The parade will be led by the Willamette Humane Society Rescue Dog contest winner and include a bagpiper, honor guard, government and community leaders, and community groups. The community parade will end at the Riverfront Park​ Amphitheater.​

At 9:30 a.m., a formal dedication ceremony in Riverfront Park Amphitheater will feature presentations by Mayor Chuck Bennett, Senator Peter Courtney, and Friends of Two Bridges. A ribbon cutting at the Bridge will follow to complete the ceremony.

The First Wednesday event has been canceled​ due to the weather.
Open Streets Salem

Map and schedule via Facebook
Earlier in July, Open Streets Salem posted the route and preliminary schedule for Sunday Streets v2.0. This time on a Saturday, and renamed Open Streets Salem, it features the proposed Winter-Maple bikeway, runs through the Grant and Highland neighborhoods - where people actually live! - and is anchored strongly by hubs at the Saturday Market, Broadway Commons, and two schools, Grant and Highland.

In every way this is an improvement on the the emptiness and low-energy of the Capitol Mall area in the prior versions of Sunday Streets!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Keep Union St RR Bridge for Walking and Biking During Eclipse

There's an interesting opinion piece in the paper today that proposes a shuttle across the Union Street Railroad Bridge on Eclipse Day 2017.

It's not nuts, it should be said right off.

But it's also a little askew with autoist bias.

It seems to trade on a notion that the bridge is "underutilized."

Automated daily counts, May 2 - August 8
Last year at this time in July and August it was averaging around 2800 trips per day. That's about the same number of trips that crossed the High Street Bridge over Pringle Creek, just below Gaiety Hill.

The notion that the Union Street Railroad Bridge is "underutilized" really seems to mean "I see no cars on it!" It treats foot and bike traffic as inconsequential - they literally don't count. Car trips are the only thing that can fully utilize it; foot trips and bike trips waste it a little.

That is wrong.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Cherriots Proposes Core Network and Cancels two Express Routes

The Cherriots Board meets on Thursday the 27th, and they'll be talking about a couple of cancelled routes as well as a proposal for a "Core Network." (Full packet here.)

Proposal for Core Network, July 2017
(list of corridors added to graphic)
The Board will consider a new formal policy for a "Core Network":
WHEREAS, Salem Area Mass Transit District, hereafter referred to as “District,” recognizes the need to establish a Core Network of bus service corridors in Salem and Keizer that represents the highest priority for service.

WHEREAS, the District will ensure riders, residents, developers, businesses, and municipal planning organizations know where the District plans to invest the most in transit service.

WHEREAS, the District’s routes serving the corridors of the Core Network may change over time. Service along these corridors will be maintained and prioritized, both in the case of service reductions and service expansions
So this looks like the start of a greater commitment to frequent service corridors and something that could easily grow into the start of one or more Bus Rapid Transit lines.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Talk on Downtown Value, State Street Open House, MPO - Tuesday

Tomorrow, Tuesday the 25th, has one talk, one open house, and one committee meeting of interest.

Don't forget about Joe Minicozzi at the Library tomorrow morning at 8:30. (More on it here, and two video clips here, here.)

Via Strongtowns and CNU Public Square


State Street Study Open House

Last month the City and consultant team published a set of draft concepts and is soliciting further comment.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

City Council, July 24th - Eclipse Mania

Council meets on Monday, and the eclipse is casting a long shadow.

There's a solution for anxiety!
(at least in the urban area)

Maybe it will be a banner day for paletas

Jane knew about efficient transport
Right now we are just executing a spectacular whiff on mobility solutions for it.

On the agenda is a discussion of "2017 Eclipse City Planning and Preparedness" and so far, we've been missing on one of the best mobility solutions around. This is an opportunity for the City to trumpet the advantages of bicycling, and they are refusing it.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

1980 Bridge Widening FEIS Overestimates Traffic Growth

A reader sent along a copy of the 1980 "Willamette River Bridges Final Environmental Impact Statement and Section 4(f) Statement."*

1980 FEIS on widening the bridges
As these things always are, it is fascinating to see what they got right, what they got wrong, and how our cultural norms have changed or remained the same.

One of the biggest things is that like with all the other traffic modeling done circa 1980, they significantly overestimated traffic volumes.

They overestimated by a little over 10% in year 2000
(inset color chart with actuals from
"New FHWA VMT Forecasts Implications for Local Planning")
Another fascinating admission was that it would take 27 years (and the reality was probably longer because the traffic didn't grow as fast) to "pay off" the additional energy used in construction. That's evidence that this kind of project is not sustainable. Additionally, once we subtract the energy inputs from on-going maintenance, like the paving this summer, it seems likely there is never a net energy advantage from projects like this. (And this doesn't touch greenhouse gas emissions at all.)

Monday, July 17, 2017

In the Neighborhoods: West Salem, Northeast Neighbors, and the Parks Board

The West Salem Neighborhood Association meets tonight, and several items on the agenda, which look to have formal presentations, look interesting:
  • Salem-Keizer School District's Citizens Facilities Task Force Report & Recommendations;
  • Capitol Manor Improvement & Expansion Report;
  • Edgewater Crossing Retail Center Proposed Project;
  • Riverbend Site Plan & Project Update;
  • Cherriot's Proposal to Change Bus Service in West Salem from Connector to a Fixed-Route System
Last month's minutes from the 19th have the summary of the epic contest over the Association's formal position on the Salem River Crossing:
Motion...that the West Salem Neighborhood Association vote to officially support the Salem River Crossing, completion of the Environmental Impact Study and encourage city council to act as soon as possible to complete a new bridge. 2nd....

[A]n amendment to direct the WSNA Land Use Committee to send a letter to City Council reporting the results of the motion and the response. 2nd....

Discussion

Question was called for at 8:15 pm....Motion to stop discussion and vote CARRIES.

[A board member] explained voting qualifications for WSNA. Bylaws define voting members as residents of West Salem that live within the Urban Growth Boundary, full time West Salem workers, business or property owners of West Salem within the Urban Growth Boundary. Voters are on the honor system to determine their qualifications. Neighbors must have signed the sign in sheet to vote.

Vote on the amendment to the motion 16 Oppose, 8 Abstain, 330 SUPPORT. Amendment CARRIES.

Vote on the amended motion 49 Oppose, 3 Abstain, 302 SUPPORT. Motion CARRIES.

The West Salem Neighborhood Association vote on this decision was made only by those in attendance on June 19, 2017 without prior public agenda notification.
It seems likely that there will be something of a power struggle for positions on the board and policy positions it takes. Also on the agenda is an information update on the annual elections in October, which look to be rather more lively this year.

The Cherriots conversation could be especially interesting in light of the prospect of about $9 million in new funding annually as a result of the new transportation package the Legislature passed.

This is the leading concept for replacement -
but it's still very conceptual!
Back in May this was the leading concept, and maybe it will change in response to both the desires of those who live and work in West Salem as well as the new possibilities created by the new funding. (Here's the Cherriots project site.)

The West Salem Neighborhood Association meets Monday the 17th at 7:00 P.M. in Roth’s West, Mezzanine (1130 Wallace Rd NW).

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Bikes offer Best Mobility During Eclipse; and the Agentless Car

A couple of items in the paper yesterday express two different forms of autoist bias, both a kind of erasure.

Editorial today + ODOT Advice
Eclipse mania is heating up. The paper published an editorial on the eclipse, and this past week the City announced a website on the eclipse.

Both of them miss what at least ODOT hints at: Your bike will be the best mobility around! Super easy for short trips, and still excellent for medium-length trips. At a moderate pace of 12mph, or even a slow pace of 8mph, you can traverse the length or width of the whole urban area in less than an hour. Silverton is a little more than an hour.

People on bike whiz by and have way more fun!
in Halifax via Twitter
Bike mobility is your best bet!

The City should correct this. They've got a long bit on "Parking in Salem & the Surrounding Area During the Eclipse" and don't mention the advantages of bicycling at all.

This is just silly. Instead of erasing bike mobility, the City should be saying, "bikes, bikes, bikes, bikes," hammering away at their utility and advantages in exactly this kind of situation.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Don't Dump Fertilizer on the Weeds: Downtown Development Talk July 25th

Remember this?

Via Strongtowns and CNU Public Square
The value/acre in jobs and in taxes generated by a downtown mid-rise vastly outstrips the value/acre generated by big box development on the edges of the city.

In a terrific summer surprise, its author, Joe Minicozzi of Urban3 will be giving a talk at the Library on Tuesday, July 25th!

And in an equally wonderful win-win, the Oregon Association of Realtors is one of the sponsors: Urbanists, advocates for livability, advocates for fiscal prudence and efficiency, and Realtors should be able to find common ground here.

You might remember a memorable phrase:
Even low-rise, mixed-use buildings of two or three stories—the kind you see on an old-style, small-town main street—bring in ten times the revenue per acre as that of an average big-box development. What’s stunning is that, thanks to the relationship between energy and distance, large-footprint sprawl development patterns can actually cost cities more to service than they give back in taxes. The result? Growth that produces deficits that simply cannot be overcome with new growth revenue.

“Cities and counties have essentially been taking tax revenues from downtowns and using them to subsidize development and services in sprawl,” Minicozzi told me. “This is like a farmer going out and dumping all his fertilizer on the weeds rather than on the tomatoes.” [italics added]
More recently, Strong Towns discussed "The real reason your city has no money," which featured the city maps with bar graphs, and the underlying analysis, you see on the talk poster.

The talk is free, but it is in the morning on Tuesday. Strongly consider attending!

(SCV posted it as an event, and if the City also posts a web page - I didn't find one anyway - I'll update this post.)

Some previous related posts here:

Monday, July 10, 2017

At the MPO: Starting to Plan for the CMAQ Bonus Funds

The Technical Advisory Committee for our local Metropolitan Planning Organization meets tomorrow, Tuesday the 11th, and they will be talking about the schedule for project selection to be funded by the new "Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality" funding.

From "Narrowed List of Eligible CMAQ Projects"
In the minutes from last month, there was also an interesting note about complications on the project to move the Doaks Ferry/Highway 22 intersection farther east west! in the old townsite of Eola.
[ODOT member, Dan] Fricke announced that due to unanticipated concerns, ODOT intends to pause work on two construction projects related to Hwy. 22 and Doaks Ferry Rd. in order to monitor conditions in the area for another year. The additional data will help with the evaluation of slide conditions in that area. Financial considerations related to the projects were discussed. It is unknown at this point if there will be any financial issues, how they would be resolved if there are, or when. [italics added]
From the Options Map, Summer 2015
(comments in white added; this also is a little old,
and it might be superseded - but you get the idea)
Fricke is also one of the project leads for the Salem River Crossing. And that project too has a problem with unstable soils.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

City Council, July 10th - Minto Bridge Change Order No. 6

Council meets on Monday, and for our purposes here they've got a very light schedule. So just some items in passing.

Minto Bridge - via Facebook
In the administrative purchases report of the City, there's another change order, change order no. 6, on the Minto Bridge for $211,671.  Perhaps related to this, next week on the Downtown Advisory Board's agenda is an item, "Does the Downtown Advisory Board recommend Agency Board approval for increased funding for the Peter Courtney Pedestrian Bridge?"

Some will want to see in these overruns an argument against the bridge at all. That's not going to be the argument here of course.

Eugene's Greenway Bike Bridge, completed in 1978
It's true a side argument that emerged after the soft opening of the bridge is that a plainer, and somewhat less costly design would have better served the scenic qualities of the slough, river, and the wildlife while accomplishing the same connectivity. But this only became clear in retrospect, and the decision Council made for the "tied arch" design was defensible.

Commercial Street Bridge Replacement, March, 2013
Second Stage Demo, West-side Beams in place
But why the delays and overruns? It appears the Commercial Street Bridge replacement a few years ago was much more straight-forward, and was completed on-time and on-budget.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

A Century Ago: Speed Maniacs, Autoists, and the Fight over Road Space

Routinely we hear about how it is "common sense" for people on foot to "get out of the way," to wear bright clothing, to be constantly on the lookout for more powerful cars and their drivers. It is "common sense" that we must prioritize the free-flow of traffic, and manage for that flow around the effects of "pedestrian impedance."

It wasn't always this way, and this mid-century philosophy of autoism, we never tire of saying here, is something new, something culturally constructed, and not common sense at all.

100 years ago, common sense suggested that speed demons and autoists were trying to take over the roads.

July 5th, 1917:
About Speed Maniacs

Last Tuesday night a speed demon claimed another victim when Willie Ector was crushed beneath the wheels of a huge car driven by some speed crazed man - man is hardly the word - because had he been a man he would at least have stopped to learn whether or not his victim was killed, and to render assistance, instead of which he rode on leaving him maimed and bruised and he now lies in a hospital with small chance to live. This happened a few rods from my home.

Where are the laws of our state that these things are allowed to continue? The road north, called the river road is a very popular one for autoists and hundreds of them pass daily. Living on this road I have excellent opportunity to see the reckless driving and-speeding out here. Drivers are not content to drive decently but some of them race and those who don't happen to race drive all the way from twenty to fifty miles an hour. About one out of a dozen drives at a safe speed. If we don't need a traffic officer I don't know where one is needed, and the people of this district appeal to Sheriff Needham to protect us from these demons who think no one has a right to the road but an autoist.

Mrs. Pearl Cooper.
For an academic study of this, see Peter Norton's book Fighting Traffic:
Motorists arrived in American city streets as intruders, and had to fight to win a rightful place there. They and their allies fought their battles in legislatures, courtrooms, newspapers’ editorial pages, engineering offices, school classrooms, and the streets themselves. Motorists who ventured into city streets in the first quarter of the twentieth century were expected to conform to the street as it was: a place chiefly for pedestrians, horse-drawn vehicles, and streetcars. But in the 1920s, motorists threw off such constraints and fought for a new kind of city street—a place chiefly for motor vehicles. With their success came a new kind of city—a city that conforms to the needs of motorists. Though most city families still did not own a car, manufacturers were confident they could make room for motor traffic in cities. The car had already cleaned up its once bloody reputation in cities, less by killing fewer people than by enlisting others to share the responsibility for the carnage.
And previously here:

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

New Transportation Bill Includes Seismic Retrofit of Center St Bridge

A negotiated package of amendments to the proposed omnibus State transportation bill were released last week. Supposedly the votes are there for it to pass, although it has encountered some static from those who want to leverage their vote for other big legislation. (Update: It's passed both the House and Senate and is onto the Governor.)

Among transportation groups, the Street Trust is really plugging it for "record funding for cycling, walking, and public transit." Locally, it is also significant for an earmark on the Center Street Bridge.

A decade of support, via Street Trust
Transit dominates the non-auto numbers and seemingly the headlines.