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

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Sustainable Service and Revenue Task Force meets October 15th, Doesn't Look Very Sustainable

The new Sustainable Services and Revenue Task Force meets on Monday the 15th, and they have a very meaty agenda.

This is a real agenda!
(in contrast to the Public Transit Task Force's, for example)
But they might also be tackling the problem in the wrong way.

They are starting with member poll about preferences on revenue sources to investigate further.

An initial poll to rank prospective sources
The Committee should instead back into funding by asking about policy. What do we want to do more of? What do we want less of? We should align fees and taxes so that they encourage things for which we have positive policy and discourage other things for which we have negative policy. The Strategic Plan and Comprehensive Plan should be controlling documents.

Structured as a preference, as the politically popular, or as what the most powerful and wealthy special interests will tolerate, in new fees and taxes we will almost certainly get misaligned incentives and less efficient or less just outcomes.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Salem Falls out of Bicycling Magazine Top 50 Ratings

Salem fell off the list - via Twitter
Bicycling Magazine today published their list of the top 50 cities for bicycling, and Salem fell off of it.

Salem has declined steadily in the ratings over the last decade:
Portland has declined also, to sit at #5, and Eugene climbed from #18 to sit at #7.

About Portland they say
In fact, since we last put out this guide two years ago, Portland has only built 5.2 miles of protected lanes. Seattle and San Francisco built 15 and 18 miles respectively in in that same period.
For Eugene they focused on younger students:
While most cities have some sort of safe routes to school program, Eugene is taking the recruitment of kid cyclists very seriously. “We have three full-time safe routes school coordinators,” he says, adding that there are five roving fleets of bikes that are passed from school to school so every fifth- and sixth-grade student in the area learns how to ride.
If Eugene is #7, that's also a comment on how bad things are. Ridership there has eroded a great deal in the last decade, and you'd think a top 10 city would show ridership increases. Overall the infrastructure still coasts on projects from the 1970s and 80s, and is still catching up to 21st century best practices.

In any case, Salem's previous spots in the top 50 were probably overstated, but the trend is on point: Relative to other cities, Salem is falling behind and only weakly dedicated to improving riding conditions. New facilities like the Minto Bridge and Geer Park are great, but they are not fully connected into a comprehensive system of bike transport. Just getting the Winter-Maple Greenway completed is a slog, and there is no plan yet for a successor, second Greenway. The Union Street bikeway/greenway/whateverway remains fragmentary; while its funding is in place, construction and completion is a few years off. Salem also did not renew their LAB Bicycle-Friendly Community rating.

On discrete projects some cheerleading is plausible, but overall the system is not keeping pace.

Addendum, October 11th

The City's published their "First-Ever Annual Community Report"on the Strategic Plan.

via Twitter
The City features this sweet image of a child learning to bicycle.

Over at Hinessight they note
I searched the report for every mention of "bicycle." There was exactly one. Here it is. LED lamps provide good lighting for bicycles, along with cars and pedestrians. Whoopee.
There's a disconnect here between image and reality.

From White Oak to Blue Oak: Street Tree Transition in Eugene

Friends of Trees is cranking up for the season, and now's the time to start thinking about planting trees!

Beyond their environmental and aesthetic benefits, street trees have useful roles in traffic calming. They are full win all the way around.

This year's schedule
Friends of Trees have offices and staff in Portland and Eugene, and it was interesting to learn more about their work in Eugene recently. A recent tree walk on the southeast side of campus followed part of the Fairmount streetcar line from 1907.

Eugene's Fairmount Streetcar line 1907
On Moss Street between 17th and Fairmount tracks were still visible in much of the street.

Friday, October 5, 2018

City Transit Committee to Meet Tuesday on Draft Recommendations - updated

The City's Public Transit Committee also meets Tuesday the 9th, and once again there's very little information.
October 9th agenda
A draft of the recommendations should be published as part of the meeting packet, but it is apparently secret!

Overall they've been very stingy with information during this process.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

City Council, October 8th - Safe Routes to School?

City Council meets on Monday, and we finally get to see a list of project applications for the new Safe Routes to School funding.

Crossing projects to offset 45mph posted speeds?
The City proposes to apply for a little over $1 Million in funding for several projects. One of the projects is related to one has been around for a while, the one on Macleay (one round in 2016 and another round in 2017 of unsuccessful application for different funding sources*), and the other two are wholly new:
Based on grant award criteria provided by Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT), City staff have identified three projects that should be competitive in the next round of screening by ODOT.
  • Liberty Road S: Install a pedestrian median island on Liberty Road S at Liberty Elementary School. Estimated project cost is $175,000.
  • Macleay Road SE: Install missing sidewalk on the west side of Macleay Road SE, serving Miller Elementary School and Houck Middle School. Estimated project cost is $430,000.
  • Kuebler Boulevard S and Skyline Road S: Install pedestrian median islands on Kuebler Boulevard S at Croisan Scenic Way S, and Skyline Road S at Croisan Scenic Way S, serving Schirle Elementary School, Sprague High School, and Crossler Middle School. Estimated project cost is $445,000.
On the location map, shown above, the City helpfully shows the posted speeds.

Scoring Criteria and Draft Chapter 5 of RTSP look more Autoist: At the MPO

The Technical Advisory Committee for our local Metropolitan Planning Organization meets on Tuesday the 9th, and it looks like the current draft of the evaluation criteria for scoring projects in the Regional Transportation System Plan has eliminated most anything related to the environment, bikes, walking, or transit. It's all about cars. Overall, the RTSP may be heading in the wrong direction.

The latest criteria: Avoiding Goal 7 here
Apparently impacting a "CEH resource" - cultural, environmental, historic? - could be a problem, but that's more about paving over a wetland and less about polluting the air. It's about direct impacts to a specific place and not about indirect impacts to whole systems.

Here's the first draft for comparison. On the one hand it's reasonable to want to simplify, but on the other, the current draft is more autoist.

Stop Erasing the Driver in Crashes!

From the paper:
A mini-van crashed into a Salem donut shop Wednesday, injuring a customer standing at the counter.

At around 12:40 p.m., a red Honda Odyssey was heading northbound on Fairgrounds Road NE, when it rammed into the Daynight Donuts shop at 2234 Fairgrounds Road NE.
Where's the driver in all this, the driver who is supposed to maintain control of a motor vehicle???

via Twitter

Columbia Journalism Review
Here's a better example from 2015, identifying a driver error and failure to operate a vehicle safely.

These are not isolated. Here's a post from September 2012 that lists at least 43 crashes into large stationary objects like buildings well off the roadway.

The consistent inability of humans to operate vehicles safely and their propensity to crash, not just into other moving vehicles or other moving people like those on foot or on bike, but into very large buildings, not at all invisible, and far from the roadway, constitute a significant body of evidence that we wildly overstate the safety of cars. Cars are dangerous, and we need to use them less often, use them for fewer miles, and drive them at slower speeds.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Celebrate Hallie Ford Museum of Art at 20

Bike Reflectors!
Detail of "Portals Through Time" - Hallie Ford Museum of Art
There are many reasons to love Willamette's Hallie Ford Museum of Art. It's one of Salem's finest things.

Much more narrowly here, it also has what might be the highest possible expression of the bike reflector, elevated into multivalent signs and symbols and art.

Large 3-page feature
The museum is also perfectly sized. Though staff and artists may wish they had more room, one of the things that is great about it for the public is that it's small enough you don't get fatigued and can engage all the art as deeply as you please. By international museum standards it's a dinky thing, but for ordinary humans who may not already be attached to art, it's a perfect serving size. The virtues of this modesty may not be appreciated enough!

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

1914 Knighton at Hillcrest Worth Extra Care and Attention

Since we did such a crappy job with Le Breton Hall at Fairview and Howard Hall at the Blind School (see especially posts from 2013-2015), it's worth thinking more about the earliest building at Hillcrest, the former State Industrial School for Girls. That building might still be an instance of institutional architecture, but the State Architect was William C. Knighton, whom we celebrate for Deepwood from 1893 and the Supreme Court building completed in 1914. Stylistically it might be a minor example of Knighton's oeuvre, but as part of the history of State institutions in Salem, with each round of demolition the surviving buildings, like this one, gain significance.

The first building at Hillcrest was a Knighton
It looks like it could be cleaned-up and restored!

April 13th, 1914