Monday, November 20, 2017

Thanksgiving Ad for 1917 Frets over Loss of Neighborhood Stores

November 23rd, 1917
The full-page Thanksgiving Ad from 1917 is interesting in several ways.

If 1916's was gauzy, and the year before it was grim, this year's scene is nostalgic, domestic, and cozy. (And the one in 1914.)

The text betrays anxiety, however (yes, it's in CAPS):
This is evidence for change in the neighborhood store. At least in these tiled full-page ads, it's is the first hint of national or regional chains, store consolidation, and larger auto-oriented stores with parking lots and deployed farther from the neighborhood. Previously there were ads supporting "home industry," construed as city or region, but not down to the micro-scale of "neighborhood store." I read this concern as a significant shift, the first tremor of the coming changes in retailing and suburban development.

There is also theme of war-time austerity, both voluntary and involuntary.

Marion Apartments on Commercial at Union
completed in 1916 (image via Discover Salem)
As far as the tiles themselves go, the first ad is for the Marion Apartment Grocery. That's the apartment block on the corner of Union and Commercial. Did you know it had a grocery store in it at one time? That was interesting to learn.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Union St Bridge Shows Trip Growth; Minto Settles into a Routine

Now that we are well into the rainy season, and with the new light at Union and Commercial, it seems like a good time to visit the bike traffic counts on the Union and Minto Bridges.

Bike traffic on Union Street seemed to grow, and Minto settled into a routine, dominated by walking.

From the front pager on Soft Opening in April -
Not representative traffic it turns out

Union Street

The Eclipse was popular!
Would it surprise you to know that the highest traffic on the Union Street Railroad bridge in the last two years came on August 21st of this year?

Of course not!

The daily counts show lots of variation with weather and events, and the weekly counts seem like the most stable at the moment. (It would be nice to have M-F and Sat-Sun counts broken out in more detail, but this is what we have just now. Agencies are still working on a reporting and publishing routine.) By the eyeball test, it looks like biking showed some growth on the bridge. If last year the weekly peak rarely touched 4000, this year is regularly exceeded 4000 and hit 5000 for a bit. By my reckoning that's a substantial increase, at least in the summertime.

Weekly bike traffic on the Union St RR Bridge
Bike traffic also remains a full quarter of the total traffic on the Union Street Bridge.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Cranksgiving this Saturday, Transition at OBRA: Newsbits

Looking for some bikey fun this weekend? It's Cranksgiving time, organized by the Northwest Hub.

Here's the facebook event and description:
Each year Cranksgiving is held in November as a way for messengers and other urban cyclists to socialize, compete, and enjoy themselves while also raising food for local soup kitchens or food pantries in time for the Thanksgiving holiday. It is one of the only alleycats focused on raising donations for good causes.

Where: 1230 Broadway St. NE
When: Saturday Nov. 18th
Time: 10:00 am show up, 10:30 am roll out

Bring a bike, a bag, a lock, and about $15-$20 to buy food. All of the food collected at grocery stores will benefit Marion Polk food share.

PS There will also be Coffee provided by Steel Bridge and Sweet Bread
Here's news coverage from 2015.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

12th and Mill Project a Surprise on OTC Agenda

Almost two years ago at a SESNA meeting, a major revision was proposed for the very awkward connection across Mill Street at the end of the 12th Street promenade along the railroad, an odd corner bounded by the Mill, Willamette, and the Train Depot. (Previous notes here and here.)

The concept in early 2016, a serpentine three-stage crossing
(White text, black text, black arrows added)
The Oregon Transportation Commission meets on Friday the 17th (agenda and meeting items here), and the consent calendar has an item for funding a crossing at this intersection:
Work will include:
• Install raised median and pavement marking
• Upgrade rail signal system
• Install additional flashing lights for crossing users
• Reconstruct and flatten roadway approaches to better accommodate ADA community and adherence to current design standards
• Remove existing sidewalk on the north side of Mill Street
• Extend promenade fencing to channelize crossing user
That looks more-or-less what is in the plan view just above. (Maybe it's changed, and if we can get a new plan view, we'll update this post.)

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Newsbits: Transportation at Gilbert House, Job at Safe Routes

Love the way the SJ piece on the new Gilbert House exhibit on transportation leads with Cherriots and Amtrak. Make 'em love the bus adventure early!

Class and cultural attitudes towards the bus are not fixed
In The Automobile and Urban Transit: The Formation of Public Policy in Chicago, 1900-1930 we can see how the signalling or status function of bus riding has changed over time.

Nowadays we still struggle with an image of the bus as second-class transport for those who can't afford adult transportation.

It's like yesterday's piece in The Onion on reducing bike crashes - just substitute the word "bus":
“Our data confirm that the vast majority of cyclist injuries can be avoided simply by driving an automobile instead of biking around like some weirdo,” said lead researcher Dr. Laura Gafferty....“Regular people drive cars because it’s the normal and not the abnormal thing to do. If every cyclist purchased and operated a car like you’re supposed to as an adult, bike fatalities would drop an estimated 40 percent within six months alone.”
More seriously, the Safe Routes to School partnership is looking to hire for a new position:
The Pacific Northwest Regional Policy Manager (Salem/Eugene) will build on existing work in the Pacific Northwest region, concentrating on expanding the regional network in Salem-Keizer and Central Lane areas. The primary focus of this position is to increase funding and improve policies that result in the prioritization of more infrastructure and programs to support safe walking and bicycling for children and families, especially in lower-income, underserved, and historically marginalized communities.
It will be interesting to see if the hire is based in Eugene or in Salem. On the surface, it would seem like Eugene probably was going to be the big focus area and an easier lift. But maybe the untapped potential in Salem, as well as its status as HQ for State agencies, would give it the edge. Anyway, see the full job description here, and BikePortland has a full job advertisement. This could be a very exciting development.


The City says the light at Union Street and Commercial is going live tomorrow!!!

Going to light up soon!
From the City:
​City delivers key project identified by Salem residents in 2013 Central Salem Mobility Study.

On Wednesday, November 15, 2017, the City will activate a new traffic signal at the intersection of Union Street NE and Commercial Street NE. The new signal increases safety for bicyclists and pedestrians traveling between the Union Street Railroad Bridge and downtown Salem. The City also improved lighting, added crosswalks, built curb extensions and a median island to further improve safety at the crossing.

Vehicles eastbound on Union Street NE will now be directed southbound-only onto Commercial Street NE. A blue light indicator for bicycles traveling across the intersection from west to east was also added.

The completion of this project delivers on a priority Salem residents identified in the 2013 Central Salem Mobility Study. According to project engineer Julie Titchbourne, the signal is the first step in connecting the Union Street Bridge with 12th ST as part of the Family-Friendly Bikeway. The $1.13-million intersection improvement began in June and is jointly funded by the Riverfront-Downtown Urban Renewal Area and the Salem-Keizer Area Study Metropolitan Planning Organization.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Induced Demand and Pedestrian Control in 1920s Chicago

Here's an interesting book! The Automobile and Urban Transit: The Formation of Public Policy in Chicago, 1900-1930. (Have any of you read it?)

It looks like there's an open online edition, so it may be that we'll take a little bit of a tour, since it looks like a fine-grained case study of the development of autoism a century ago.

Here's a bit on induced demand:
The Cycle of Street Improvements
Wider streets and better pavements failed to solve Chicago's traffic problems for three related reasons. First, even with the great expenditure on street improvement projects, the amount of the new street surface produced was far too little and came too slowly to keep up with the increase in automobile use. Second, improvements in and coordination of the roads surrounding the city helped to generate new traffic to and from the city and added to the demands on city streets. Finally, street improvement in the city itself attracted traffic. By the end of the 1920s Chicago was clearly in a cycle of street improvement followed by renewed congestion and the demand for further improvements. The classic pattern earlier seen in transit improvements was apparent in street improvements as well: the better the facilities, the greater the congestion.
And on the invention of jaywalking as a power move by autoists:
The Combatants
The motorized vehicle did not win control of Chicago's streets until the 1920s. Through the middle of that decade, its chief competitor for street space was the pedestrian, who had long been accustomed to using the street as an extension of the sidewalk when the latter became too congested for easy passage. The pedestrian, said the police lieutenant in charge of Loop traffic control in 1922, was the major element in downtown traffic congestion.

By early 1920s, the motorist and the pedestrian were engaged in an angry and often deadly struggle for mastery of the street. Pedestrians ducked around traffic policemen who tried to hold them back at street corners. They surged across automobile thoroughfares near beaches and mobbed Loop streets during rush hours, blocking all traffic.

Pedestrians were exceedingly difficult to control. Twelve policemen could not keep the crowds at one Loop intersection from spilling into the streets. In New York and other densely populated cities, walkers were likewise too numerous to be arrested, ticketed, or otherwise regulated. Only in relatively uncrowded Los Angeles was some measure of control achieved.

Businessmen and automobile clubs advocated anti-jaywalking ordinances as a solution "There is no more reason for the pedestrian to be permitted to run wild on that portion of the street set aside for vehicles," a Chicago Motor Club spokesman complained, "than there would be for vehicles to run wild on the sidewalks." Indeed pedestrian control was an issue of traffic segregation.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

City Council, November 13th - New Bridge Task Force

Council meets on Monday, and the most interesting item is a proposed task force to look at "improving vehicular mobility" around the Center and Marion Street Bridges.
While acknowledging the importance of improving non-vehicular modes of transportation-including pedestrian, bicycle, and public transit-and the possibility that other travel demand management measures-such as changed work hours-the work of this Task Force is to be directed primarily at identifying opportunities for improving vehicular mobility and ways to reduce vehicular congestion within the study area.
Here are two perspectives, both of them essentially true, but probably not equally true:
  • Politics is the art of the compromise. At the present moment, this may be the best we can agree on, and it's better than the stalemate on the Salem River Crossing itself.
  • This is manure! We already know what we need to do. There is no reason the City should not commit whole-heartedly to the recommendations in the Alternate Modes Study as well as the earlier Bridgehead study. Just do it! Quit screwing around with new committees.  And the way to manage congestion is not to improve "flow." We need instead to talk about total mobility and to offer other kinds of mobility so that people have realistic choices instead of drive-alone trips.
Councilor Hoy has very ably made the case for politics and for compromise:
This argument [on the SRC] has gotten us nowhere, except an atmosphere of divisiveness, hostility and differently colored t-shirts.

On this issue, and many others, I am eager to focus on areas where we can find common ground. In this debate, the common ground is this: we have a peak hour congestion problem downtown and in West Salem and we need to fix it....

I am eager to work toward real, short term, achievable solutions to this situation. We can effectively address this issue by coming together and focusing on areas of agreement and implementing real, affordable solutions. We won’t agree on everything – and that’s perfectly fine. But we can all agree that we need a solution now to our peak hour congestion problem downtown. Through several discussions, there is a vehicle to bring this effort to fruition on Monday night’s City Council agenda. I look forward to enthusiastically supporting this motion.
But the Task Force's restriction on "primarily at identifying opportunities for improving vehicular mobility and ways to reduce vehicular congestion" - and here even though bikes are generally considered vehicles, the meaning is clearly to exclude them and to construe "vehicles" as automobiles only - already rules out a number "real, affordable solutions."

There are substantive grounds here for criticism of the proposal.

Back in 1980, nearly two generations ago, we knew things, and we mostly blew them off.

  1. [There will be a need for] A substantial increase in use of transit, carpooling, bicycling and walking, and perhaps the introduction of peak-hour shuttle systems between downtown Salem and West Salem.
  2. More attractors (employment, shopping, entertainment, schools) west of the river
Getting on to twenty years ago now, the Willamette River Crossing Capacity Study recommended many of the same things. (This is from an undated brochure after 1997 but before 2004. It used to be on the MWVCOG/SKATS site, but has been scrubbed for a while now.)