Saturday, November 17, 2018

Airport Stories Continue Silence on Greenhouse Gases

There was a recent side conversation on twitter involving a reporter and a climate scientist about climate disruption.* Maybe there is a robust internal debate and conversation that we do not see at each media shop. They might be keeping it in house, and maybe it's not fair to comment on this. But it's really important. Reporters still overestimate the amount of coverage they give to climate disruption. It is mostly siloed in specialist topics, and not woven into the fabric of everyday coverage. There are features on climate disruption, but it does not yet constitute a basic ground for regular coverage. It is not foundational enough.

The Keeling Curve is the wrong kind of take-off!
The coverage of the proposals to expand airport service is a good example of this.

It continues to be framed up as an economic development story, but looks past what might be the single most important fact about it. It is assumed that passenger service is an unambiguous good, but the cost is in carbon and fossil fuel is elided.

Friday, November 16, 2018

New Bike Parking Standards Could be Improved and Strengthened

On Tuesday the 20th the Planning Commission will hold a Work Session on bike parking (agenda here). There are some good things in the proposal, but it's still weaker and less comprehensive than what was recommended in 2011 as part of Bike and Walk Salem.

Racks to Avoid - via a common industry guide
Too often it's a struggle to get basic bike parking at Salem buildings and businesses. It's an afterthought.

There's no bike parking at the main entry for the CCBI
At the Chemeketa Center for Business and Industry, despite being a school facility, they installed bike parking off the back car storage lot and by a secondary entry. It clearly violates code, but was allowed anyway.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

City Council, November 13th - Public Bike System and the Airport

Council meets on Tuesday following the observance of Veterans Day on Monday. They've got transportation projects great and small to consider.

Most interesting here is the small one, "bike share," a public bike rental system. (As with "ride share," there's not really much sharing going on, and it's a ride rental. It is interesting that ride-hailing and ride-booking have become standard for the TNCs, but "bike share" is hanging around. The term also seems inaccurate.)

After word came out in the Bicycling Magazine rating from 2016, and then the SJ wrote a feature later in the year, it's been a winding road. But here we are finally.

Three park sites, one at the transit center
They've been talking about six or seven total stations for launch, but right now at Council there are four only, all in public areas.

Two would be in Riverfront Park, near the playground and Carousel as well as at the Union Street Bridge. A third would be in Bush Park near the Winter Street parking lot, and a fourth at the downtown Transit Center.

Exclusive franchise for Riverfront Park
Most interesting is that the proposed contract includes an exclusive franchise for operating in Riverfront Park.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Hardball at the MPO? SKATS to Request new Hearings on SRC

Revanchist forces at the MPO are poised to raise the pressure on the City of Salem about the SRC.

Is this a "request" or a demand?
They've called a "special meeting" for the Policy Committee on the 13th - two weeks early, and piggy-backing a little on the Technical Advisory Committee meeting later that day - to call for finishing the SRC final Environmental Impact Statement. It's unclear what the timing element is that requires the special meeting and why this cannot wait until the next regular meeting on the 27th, but that apparent urgency is worth noting.
At the October 23, 2018 SKATS Policy Committee meeting, the Policy Committee directed staff to draft a letter from SKATS to the Salem City Council related to Salem River Crossing. The purpose of the letter is to request that the council respond to the LUBA remand and support completion of the Salem River Crossing Final EIS.
Of course the current Council has responded. By action or inaction they have said they don't believe the UGB expansion is warranted. And there is increasing sentiment that the FEIS can be completed for a "no build" alternative and satisfy all the Federal requirements.

But this letter would be written clearly to talk past all that.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Kludgy Details on 12th Street at Fairview

With changes to the Oregon Legislature, the path to a Clean Energy Jobs/Carbon Cap and Trade bill sure looks smoother. Nationally, Congressman DeFazio will likely have more say on any transportation legislation. But there's still a lot of uncertainty, and it's not like there was one single, unambiguous gesture made by the Electorate.

There are surely other things to note, but others will note them better.

So let's focus on local detail instead.

On the 12th Street project between Hoyt and Fairview, more of the striping has been done, and yet more of the design is coming into focus. But some details sure seem kludgy. (Some previous notes here.)

Looking south - two driveways (near, and at blue sign)
make dashed bike lane transition tricky and stressful
I don't like the way the bike lane transitions from the right hand margin to the left of the turn lane. There are two driveways right in the mixing zone of the dashed bike lane, so that makes three right-hook opportunities from drivers turning into the driveways or preparing to turn on Fairview.

There was talk about adding green paint to the bike lane here with ARTS funding, and that may help. But it might have been better not to make the transition in front of two driveways.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Cranking Marine Drive Back Up at WSRAB, 260 State at DAB

Two Urban Renewal Advisory Boards meet this week, and they'll be talking about a couple of important projects.

Tomorrow the 7th in West Salem, WSRAB will discuss renewing the push for Marine Drive, which the Congestion Relief Task Force lists among their recommendations.

Congestion Relief Task Force on Marine Drive

The agenda with Marine Drive
What that means exactly is not clear. There is still some $3.5M allotted to a project between Glen Creek and Cameo Streets, which is inside the Urban Growth Boundary, but the West Salem Neighborhood Association wanted a more northerly section, which is outside of the UGB.

The scope and sequencing here is still a little murky, but perhaps more will be clear after the meeting.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Drivers Strike and Kill Alexandria Tereshka on OR-22 in West Salem

Two people driving on Highway 22 in West Salem struck and killed Alexandria Tereshka on the roadway on Saturday evening. (Updated with names and drivers in the plural.)

As too often happens, the news erases the driver and makes the the dead person into an abstraction: "A female pedestrian died Saturday after being struck by a vehicle..."

via Twitter

Columbia Journalism Review
The crash may be similar to ones on Highway 22 in 2013 and in 2016. Little follow-up was published on these deaths, and it seemed likely the dead had been camping along the river. Even I-5 in East Salem has more crossings than OR-22 here, and the highway in West Salem is a huge barrier to the river. Lacking a house or apartment, the dead also lacked story, presence, and importance in our world, and they were made nameless in accounts of their demise.

So there may be two erasures here: The erasure of drivers, responsible for the safe operation of a vehicle, even on a highway; and the erasure of an unhoused person with their own history and story.

Friday, November 2, 2018

NW Hub Recognized, Trick or Treat at a Crossroad, Pilgrimage to Mt Angel - Newsbits

This year at the City's Volunteer Recognition, Northwest Hub won a Mayor's Merit Award.

It's nice to see a bike-related enterprise recognized again. Congratulations to the Hub!

(Not so nice is the lack of captions and a press release with each citation in the City's own posting, which is all too meagre for something ostensibly oriented for "recognition.")

With Michael Wolfe retiring and closing South Salem Cycleworks, and with the untimely passing of Joe Dobson at Bike Peddler, 2018 is shaping up to be a real transitional year in our bike shop ecosystem. Scott Cycle also is in the middle of a generational transition, and our bike shops will all be led by an entirely new cohort in very short order.

I don't know if there is any meaning to extract from this. We all age, we all must pass away, and when businesses endure from generation to generation they have successions. It's no great insight to observe the bare fact of change. But it's still something to register.

The bike shop owners who gained maturity in the 1970s bike boom are now yielding to those whose main experiences are from no earlier than the 90s, and often from the early 21st century.

Changing Halloween Practices

There was a funny piece in the USA TODAY section about tailgating in a parking lot for Halloween.

Apparently this is a thing now.

Strong Towns posted a lengthy critique of it recently.
While activities like Trunk-or-Treat, or even other alternatives such as the increasingly popular “mall trick-or-treat,” offer children the opportunity to have guaranteed fun in a safeguarded environment, the holistic benefits of trick-or-treating which result from neighborhood communities rallying together to create a fun, safe, and memorable experience are being lost. The sad part is that these holistic benefits would continue long beyond the Halloween holiday.
via Twitter
BikePortland today went the opposite direction, arguing that we should extend the "Block Party" or "Open Streets" concept to a new event on Halloween, the "Trick or Treat Street." Going car-free shouldn't require the autoist move with pedestrian displacement systems that shunt activity to the parking lot or retirement home or high school!

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Bike Peddler Founder, Joe Dobson has Passed Away

For some this is now old news, but if you don't follow the bike shops and bike clubs, you might not have heard that earlier this week Bike Peddler reported that their founder, and a pillar of Salem bicycling, Joe Dobson, had died.

Joe working on a bike
at a Pringle Creek Community event
in the early 2010s
A few days ago from the Peddler:
Joe Dobson, the founder of Bike Peddler, passed away in the morning surrounded by his family and friends.

A celebration of life ceremony will take place in the coming weeks. Details to follow. In the meantime, we find ourselves swapping stories, laughing at tall tales of mischief, and reflecting on all the ways Joe touched our lives and this community at large. Since opening the shop in 1974, Joe’s love for cycling and getting people out on adventures has been infectious and unwavering. Help us honor his memory by grabbing your bike and getting out there today with friends, loved ones...heck, perhaps even strangers...because nothing unites us like the revolution of a pedal and wheel.
The Salem Bicycle Club adds
He had been in the hospital for about a week due to a fall from a ladder where he broke all ribs on one side and about 1/2 on the other side. As you probably know, he had been in poor health for several years due to stomach cancer.
In 2014 Salem Weekly had a nice feature on him.
A college job in a bike shop told Joe Dobson it was a line of work he would enjoy. His first impression of the city of Salem was favorable. Dobson joined the two together, and it has resulted in 40 years of owning one of our premier bicycle and cycling accessory stores, the Bike Peddler on Commercial Street NE, and influencing the town for the better.
So as we observe the Days of the Dead, tip your cap, say a prayer, have a drink and offer a toast, best of all, as the Peddler suggested, grab your bike and take a ride, however you honor the departed, take a moment to recognize Joe and the shop he created, the Bike Peddler.

Studded Tires, Tree Removal Appeal, Our Salem Background - Newsbits

Yesterday ODOT sent out the annual press release on the season for studded tires.

Studded tires damage roads
Studded tires harm roads and we don't recover that cost. We should have a tax on studded tires. This is one of the ways we subsidize road use. The ODOT number of $8.5 million per year does not include city road systems, and I don't think the City of Salem has ever estimated what studded tires cost us in road maintenance on city streets.

According to a story from 2011, the Oregon Department of Transportation said
studded tires cause close to $50 million damage each year on city streets, county roads and state highways, according to the department. About $11 million is spent each year repairing studded tire damage.
Studded tires contribute to our maintenance deficit.

We also tax the wrong things, like taxing bikes, but not studded tires.

This is a clear instance of the ways our incentives are misaligned with outcomes.

Oak Tree Removal at Bush Park

Appeal of Tree removals
This is very interesting. A group of tree advocates have appealed the Planning Adminstrator's decision to approve the City's request to remove four trees at Bush Park earlier this summer.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

What should we Expect from a Public Bikes Program?

News has been filtering out that operators of a public bike system will go to Council on November 13th for final approval of an agreement.

story on the front page today
The installation would occur over the winter and bike rentals themselves launch in early spring.

The SJ reports that the concept has been scaled back to about 30 bikes at six or seven stations.

Excitement will run high, but just for context, we should be clear about expectations.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Parking Reform Should Lead Congestion Task Force Recommendations

In advance of the November 5th Council Work Session, the final materials for the Congestion Relief Task Force have been published. (Summary here; final report, which is mostly appendices here. The Work Session immediately follows the Our Salem meeting at the Library.)

A quickie plus/minus assessment
The menu of "short term actions" has 15 items, and on the whole, if Council actually commits to them equally, and does not shuffle some off for inferior implementation or for greenwashy signalling by words only, it's possible to conclude this is a reasonable and balanced compromise. It's far from perfect, and still doesn't address greenhouse gases sufficiently. But if you squint and look at the totality, it's in the range of things on which reasonable people can disagree and has nothing outrageous in it.

Finally, there is a plan on the table
that is responsive to these policies
And, in fact, it looks like something that it should not have taken a decade and a failed process to yield. It looks like a plan that fairly directly follows from policy J.12 on transportation in our Comprehensive Plan:
The implementation of transportation system and demand management measures, enhanced transit service, and provision for bicycle and pedestrian facilities shall be pursued as a first choice for accommodating travel demand and relieving congestion in a travel corridor, before widening projects are constructed.
The proposal here is solidly in the range of the kind of program that should have been first out of the gate during the SRC process! It's what we should have developed between 2006-2008 and started to implement at the start of the Great Recession.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Airport Stories miss on Climate and History of Failure for Subsidies

Back in June, about the time we we in the middle of the cyanotoxins and drinking water crisis, the Chamber and its allies floated a proposal for subsidizing commercial service at the airport.

This week, it looks like the Chamber is cranking up the propaganda machine for another round.

Today's front page,
chart and comment added
A couple of days ago Salem Reporter had a very sympathetic and rather one-sided piece about it, "Salem businesses in pursuit of commercial airliner."

Today's front-pager, also largely sympathetic, frames it up as rivalry - and fear of missing out - with the Aurora airport.

Both pieces minimize the full history of subsidy and failure for commercial service to Salem and, even worse, both pieces utterly miss on climate, passing on any discussion at all.

Friday, October 26, 2018

French Prairie Bridge at Wilsonville Moves Ahead

BikePortland's got a nice post with an update on the French Prarie Bridge project.

That's not something we've been following here, especially as it had seemed more "wish list" than likely, but things are moving along with a little more than $1M budgeted for preliminary engineering, so go read their note and check out the official project page.

There's an online Open House and opportunity to comment, also.

This would help connect the north end of the Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway at Champoeg and make for easier transitions across the river to points and trails further north.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Another California Winery Makes Climate Hedge Here in Valley

These stories in today's paper are not unrelated!

Earlier this year
See here and here and here for more on the ways vineyard land is a canary - or klaxon - for us.

Tussle over Field Near McNary High Hides Committment to Autoism

When I first saw yesterday's piece on McNary High and the prospect of eminent domain, I though, Geez, the neighbors just built a lovely new church.

But that land and building isn't in play at all. Instead the conflict is over an undeveloped, empty field.

Current conditions: contested field, top center;
ball field to become parking, lower left
According to the article
The school district wants to acquire about six acres of the church's land, located on the 5300 block of River Road N in Keizer. Their plan is to move McNary's athletic fields and parking lot to address traffic and safety issues near the school's entrance on the southern side.

Officials say this is a necessity because the current setup puts students, pedestrians, bicyclists, drivers and others in danger when entering or exiting the school's main parking lot.

The existing parking lots would be taken out to make way for building expansions outlined in the nearly $620 million capital-construction bond approved earlier this year and more parking would be added in other sections of the campus.
And it's a little hard to see what really is going on.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Council Policy Agenda Town Hall, Planning Commission, Downtown Advisory Board Meet this Week

The City's hosting a Town Hall on Wednesday the 24th to solicit ideas for the 2019 Council Policy Agenda. On Tuesday and Thursday are a couple of other meetings to note.

Council's 2018 Policy Agenda
Our local chapter strongly suggests that we make a Climate Action Plan - to move beyond the "inventory" in the 2018 Agenda - the center for 2019.
Come to this town hall meeting to tell our City Council that we need to stay on track with a Climate Action Plan for Salem. Salem is one of the only major cities in Oregon without one. Development of a Climate Action Plan needs to be funded in the next City budget for 2019-20.
That would be a fine center. Other goals like Safe Routes to Schools, better bike lanes, improved transit, more housing in the city center all fall easily under the umbrella of a Climate Action Plan and follow naturally from it.

The Town Hall's at Broadway Commons, 1300 Broadway St NE, at 6pm on Wednesday the 24th.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Portland to Eugene Passenger Rail DEIS is Out! Open House in December

Did you see the piece on a funny episode of train nostalgia in 1955?

A 1955 ride on the Oregon Electric line
Though it not yet easy to see a path to funding, the project to improve passenger rail between Eugene and Portland is one more step along.

This month they published the draft Environmental Impact Statement, and will hold an open house on December 5th at Pringle Hall on Church Street behind the Hospital at 5pm.


Mostly things seem unchanged since 2014 when we learned about the preferred alternative.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

After Last Meeting Abandoned, City Transit Committee to Meet Again on 23rd

The City Public Transit Committee meets on Tuesday the 23rd, and the reasons might be a little embarrassing.

Agenda and packet
They were supposed to meet on the 9th, but over half of the committee did not show up, and those who couldn't make it apparently had not also let City Staff know with sufficient lead time - or even any lead time - to reschedule the meeting.

Trying to read the "tea leaves" here might be a stretch, and yet it's a little odd that the City published "minutes" like this on a meeting that had to be abandoned. This is out of the ordinary enough to constitute "a message" perhaps.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

For 2020 Library Should Align Salem Reads with Our Salem

Even if the colors aren't quite magnificent, it's still pretty great
Make sure to get out before the rains start!

Poster in the foyer
At the Library the other day, I noticed the announcement for the 2019 citywide reading club selection.

The City doesn't seem to have updated their website, but Library Foundation has some info. About Good Morning, Midnight the publisher says
Lily Brooks-Dalton’s haunting debut is the unforgettable story of two outsiders—a lonely scientist in the Arctic and an astronaut trying to return to Earth—as they grapple with love, regret, and survival in a world transformed.
One reviewer calls it a "sparse post-apocalyptic novel."

So considering the urgency of climate disruption, that's apposite for sure.

Indeed, the Library Foundation says it
sees Salem Reads as an opportunity to increase the Library’s visibility, and act as a catalyst to bring the community together around shared values. The committee selected Good Morning, Midnight because the book has many dimensions that lend to broad community engagement. These include science education, climate change, species extinction, isolation, living in extreme environments, and disaster preparedness.
For 2020 the City and Library Foundation should consider The Death and Life of Great American Cities or, if that's too old a classic, some more recent book on urbanism and urban analysis. If non-fiction's not the thing, there's probably some novel that's appropriate. Whatever they choose, they should give strong consideration to making "the city" and the history of the city the thematic center for the selection.*

"Our Salem" is an important multi-year project to update the Comprehensive Plan, and it could be helpful to extend the set of concepts, vocabulary, and debate beyond the planning nerds, neighborhood advocates, and business interests, and to give people a broader foundation with "shared values" and terms in common for sharper debate and analysis.

* Heck, one of the main characters in Good Morning, Midnight is named Augustine! His namesake wrote on the City, of course, if also in a little different context. Still, that's a bridge, right there.

Friday, October 19, 2018

City Council, October 22nd - Brown Road Park

Council meets on Monday, and the plastic bag ordinance will lead the headlines and interest.

Here, the most interesting item is the proposed master plan for the new Brown Road Park.

Crosswalk and on-street parking at Brown Road Park
Since it will be a neighborhood park, it should be easy to walk and bike to, and it's appropriate not to devote a large space for car storage, and the City's 2013 Parks Master Plan recommends only on-street parking for neighborhood parks. (For larger parks that are expected to draw from a larger area, the City does sometimes recommend off-street parking.)

Additionally, the best place for an interior parking lot would impact a wetland area.

For these reasons the preferred alternative is a widening in Brown Road with a pocket for on-street parking. (There's no striping plan, but it looks like parallel stalls. Some thought should be given to a bus stop also.) This offers better visibility for "eyes and ears" on park activity, at least on the streetside edge, as well as traffic calming from the median and crosswalk refuge.

This seems like a good plan, and is similar to what has been done at Bryan Johnston and Hood View parks.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Gaps at the MPO: Chapter 5 of the RTSP, Goal 7 Also

Just a couple of weeks ago, the technical committee at our Metropolitan Planning Organization started reviewing an all-new draft chapter 5 of the Regional Transportation System Plan. Since then, the authors have expanded the draft by quite a bit, and the Policy Committee will review its latest version. The PC meets on Tuesday the 23rd.

A new map of gaps in the regional bikeway system
Most striking here in the latest draft of the chapter, though perhaps not the most important part of it, is a new map of gaps in the regional bikeway system. I don't recall seeing a map specifically on gaps before. (Do you?) This is a helpful advance in reporting.

At the same time, the map has functional limits. It may be the best a regional agency can do from an overview and aggregate level. There are fairly clean definitions and metrics here that can generate the binary yes/no on a map. But the map's binary scheme does not always match practical riding experience on the road.

Bicycle system gaps in red - downtown detail
Let's look at a few places downtown.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Big Data, Robot Cars, and Mission Street/OR-22 Study at Oregon Transportation Commission

ODOT's board, the Oregon Transportation Commission, meets Thursday and Friday this week in Silverton, and there are several interesting items on the agenda. And there's a bit of a theme: Big Data.

Maybe too much highway because it's simpler...
What about an urban environment with many different road users?
And what are the privacy implications?
The main course on the agenda is a half-day workshop before the main meeting the following day:
Emerging Trends: Innovation, Technology and Sustainability Develop understanding of the potential implications of emerging transportation technologies and explore how they relate to Oregon transportation policies. (4 hours, facilitated by ODOT Transportation Development Division Administrator Jerri Bohard, JLA Associates, Inc. President Jeanne Lawson; Global Technology Leader of Advanced Mobility Systems Brian Burkhard and Jacobs Engineering Group, Inc. Senior Project Manager Kristin Hull.)
This hints at the regulatory capture we are beginning to see with robot cars. It's outside consultants boosting for the products and contracts they hope to secure and see in wider acceptance. (And is Big Data serving us? Or are we being packaged and serving Big Data? The graphic is rightly, but perhaps unintentionally, ambiguous about surveillance capitalism and its use on the roadways.)

But the uncertainty bars here are so big that it mostly looks like a raft of BS packaged up as techno-sales!

On both axes there's a lot of fudge factor!

Monday, October 15, 2018

Safer Crossings Committee to meet Tuesday the 16th

While the new gas station at Madrona and Commercial is all up and operating for a week or two now, as of Sunday, the new sidewalk at the turn lane and the reconfigured crosswalk both remained barricaded and incomplete. Strong young people can negotiate it, but for someone blind or infirm it's a dangerous barrier. The next crosswalks are blocks away at Vista and Browning.

Our priority for cars is clear.

The City's Safer Crossing Project Advisory Committee meets tomorrow, Tuesday the 16th, at noon in Public Works at City Hall.

Mostly it's framed up as "Where do we need new crosswalks?"

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Building Dot Map and Editorial on Climate Report - In the News

Only the buildings are marked (red comments added)
via NY Times
The New York Times yesterday published an interactive map of buildings in the lower 48 states. No roads, no parks. Everything else is an absence, white space.

You can see here the transition from downtown to the areas where apartments are banned and there's a near monoculture of single-family homes. It says something about the inefficiency of the ways we use land in an urban setting. But you can already see that from zoning maps, and so I'm not sure this is dramatically new.

Consequently, I didn't see any "ah-ha"s or anything that crystallized a kind of gestalt shift. Maybe it's more ambiguous than that. Maybe you will have an interpretive angle that sheds new light on something.

Just generally its kindof neat and we might come back to it.

Check it out at the NY Times.

The Limits of our Autoism

Ad and editorial in yesterday's paper
Also yesterday, it was nice to see the editorial in the paper, "UN climate change report isn't recipe for despair or paralysis."

Friday, October 12, 2018

100 Years Ago: No School, No Dance, No Movies - Influenza's Damper on Public Space and Association

A very early ad about it, October 12th, 1918
In early October, influenza came to Salem mainly by the rail corridor from the larger cities and ports on the coast. On October 12th, exactly 100 years ago, Salem ordered its first closures and formal public health actions.

Northern California, October 7, 1918

In Seattle, October 7th, 1918

In Tacoma, October 8th, 1918