Sunday, May 3, 2009

Why Updating the TSP is Important - Monday at City Council

Monday night City Council will be discussing some land use planning benchmarks.

The issues have been contentious, and date back to 2005. The City and the State Department of Land Conservation and Development disagreed over the ways the City's Salem Area Comprehensive Plan does or does not conform to the Statewide Planning Goal 12: Transportation. They even tried mediation, but that didn't work.

Finally, a year ago the DLCD decided it was time to move on and look forward rather than backward.

Who knows what a mutually agreeable set of benchmarks for land use and transportation planning might have looked like in 2005.

But in 2009, this is what we bicyclists get:

Bike Lanes.

In 2008 apparently 53% of "streets designated to have bike lanes...are striped with bike lanes." In 2010 this increases to 54%, in 2015 to 58%, in 2020 to 62%, in 2025 to 66%, and in 2030 Salem will enjoy a 70% completion rate. (Though I don't believe these benchmarks are legally binding.)

The Salem Area Comprehensive Plan will be updated with this language:
GOAL: To provide a balanced, multimodal transportation system for the Salem Urban Area that supports the safe and efficient movement of goods and people.

Policy 11: Decreased Reliance on the SOV [single occupant vehicle]

Local governments within the Salem Urban Area shall develop multimodal plans, services, and programs that decrease reliance on the SOV as the dominant means of travel. Progress towards this objective shall be monitored through benchmarks set forth in Table #1.
Table #1 gives the bike lane striping percentages from 53% to 70%.

The Bicycle Element of the TSP stresses striping bike lanes on arterial and collector streets. It seems likely that this document controlled the benchmarks, and accounts for its weakness.

Moving from 53% to 70% bike lane striping sets a pretty low floor of accomplishment. There's no reason why 100% of designated streets can't be striped by 2030. None! Moreover, we know that bike lanes on busy streets appeal only to a small segment of the population; and that to make bicycling appeal to broader numbers, bike lanes on busy streets alone cannot accomplish the job. To make meaningful reductions in our reliance on the SOV will take more than an increment of 17% more bike lanes! It will require a mix of low-traffic bikeways, separated facilities, and lane markings like bike lanes and sharrows.

Getting the TSP updated will help ensure that related transportation planning and issues will give proper weight to bicycle facilities and will incorporate a more appropriate mix of types of facilities.

[updated 10/21/2010 with revised link to staff report, which had been broken]

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