Monday, November 30, 2009

Boys and Girls Club Asks for Volunteers to Plan Family-Friendly Bicycle Event Ride

Help plan the biggest Salem-Keizer family-friendly event ride ever!

As many know, the Salem Bicycle Club decided to focus on the Monster Cookie and Peach rides. The Watermelon ride was kindof a "tweener," and together the SBC and Boys and Girls Club are creating a new event. The first planning meeting is next week, and the Boys and Girls Club sent out a call for volunteers.
The Boys and Girls Club of Marion and Polk County is recruiting cyclists and non-cyclists to come join our steering committee to support our future cycling fundraiser and the youth bicycling team.

The Club is planning to host its first Cycling Committee meeting to discuss the June 2010 Boys & Girls Club Cycling Challenge fundraiser. This event will benefit the local Boys & Girls Clubs, our new youth cycling development team "Flow Riders" and the regional cycling community. The only way to make this event successful is to develop a diverse group of volunteers to steer this event toward success.

2010 Boys & Girls Club Cycling Planning Committee Meeting
Date: December 7, 2009
Location: Boys & Girls Club - 1395 Summer St. NE - Salem 97301
Time: 5:30 p.m.
Refreshments: Pizza and soft drinks

Below are some of the general volunteer opportunities available. Meetings would be monthly, with a small amount support work being done between each meeting. Therefore this would be a 6 month commitment requiring about 1-3 hours of your time per month.

Volunteer Opportunities

Event Chair
Event Co-Chair
Marketing & Communications Committee
Corporate, Team & Underwriting Sponsors Committee
Rider Recruitment Committee
Volunteer Committee
Event Day Operations Committee

(All committees will have the full support of the Boys & Girls Clubs Resource Development Department) If you are interested in attending this meeting and possibly joining our committee please RSVP to Rosie Nash at

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Bike Drill Team Practice Next Friday; Assistance League Seeks Bikes

The bike drill team and parade float wants you! Fancy bike, plain bike, unicycle, rollerskates - any human-powered wheel!

The next practice for the PGE Festival of Lights Holiday Parade will be next Friday, December 4th, from 5pm - 7pm, in Columbia Hall, which is next to the Jackman Long Building. This time it will be indoors!

It's not necessary attend a practice to participate in the parade, but it will add to the fun!

For a map of the fairgrounds and location of Columbia Hall click here.

Also, next Saturday, December 5th from 10am - noon, the Assistance League of Salem, Willamette Valley Auxiliary is asking for bikes and bike-related donations at The Bike Peddler, 174 Commercial Street NE. They are looking to outfit young adults who have transitioned out of foster care. They seek: Bikes, helmets, locks, and accessories. For more information, please contact Becky Willhite at

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanks to our Sponsors this Holiday Season!

Breakfast on Bikes couldn't happen without the support of businesses who look forward to creating a sustainable transportation system. Thank you!

During the holidays please support those who support us!

Check out their holiday breads like Stollen, Julekage, and nut bread!

LifeSource Natural Foods.

Coffee House Cafe.

For their support we also thank the
Salem Bicycle Club
Willamette University Sustainability Council

(Remember, no B on B tomorrow morning - it's Dec 11th!)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

SKATS adds Projects to Funding List; Includes Study of Kroc Center Access

Today the Salem-Keizer Area Transportation Study Policy Committee voted to add seven projects (and perhaps an 8th) to the Regional Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) as well as the Regional Transportation System Plan (RTSP).

Two of the projects were necessary to add because HB 2001 has specified funding for them, and any Federal funding requires that they be included in the regional TSP and TIP.

Widen Aumsville Highway at the Mill Creek Corporate Center from a two-lane street with roadside ditches to a three-lane section (minor arterial standards) with center turn lane, sidewalks, and bicycle lanes. The intersection at Kuebler Boulevard will be widened, including modifications to the traffic signal. ($4M from ODOT via HB 2001)

Enlarge I-5 at Kuebler Interchange by adding a westbound-to-southbound loop ramp, modifying the existing southbound off-ramp, and modifying eastbound-to-southbound on-ramp. ($15M from ODOT via HB 2001)

The other additions included:

Conducting a Salem-Parkway / Kroc Center Access Study. Fund a study of alternative projects and alignments, including potential overpasses and/or underpasses of Salem Parkway and the Portland and Western rail line, to improve access and safety to the new Salvation Army Kroc Center. (SKATS-STP-U funds)

Complete 12th Street Promenade at Mill Street: Improve pedestrian crossing at the intersections of 12th Street SE and Mill Street and the Union Pacific Railroad tracks at Mill Street.

Widen Gaffin Road SE to minor arterial standards from Cordon Road east to western border of the Salem Renewable Energy and Technology Center, including a new signal at Cordon Road with a left turn pocket on Gaffin Road.

Construct a roundabout at the Chemawa Road and Verda Lane intersection. Add turn lanes on 14th at Lockhaven.

In Turner, from the Union Pacific RR tracks west to 7th Street, widen Delany Street from 24' to 36' to include sidewalks, bike lanes, and storm water culverts.

The Kroc Center piece is particularly interesting, and there will be a meeting in early December to start the discussion. Earlier this year, when the center opened, we observed that getting to the center is very difficult for bicyclists, especially kids. Hopefully the project will focus on getting kids to the center via active forms of transportation, not on adults driving to the center. We'll be sure to follow this!

The inclusion of the 12th & Mill project suggests the City does not plan to fund it with the "Keep Salem Moving" road bond bike/ped funds.

By placing these projects in the RTSP and TIP, the project become eligible for Federal funding. Their inclusion does not mean they are necessarily funded.

The comment period for the RTSP and TIP updates will close on January 23, 2010. I don't believe they have published formally the process for comment.

FTA seeks Comment on Proposed Expansion of "Catchment Area" for Bikes and Peds

This email and solicitation for comment from Congressman Blumenauer's office is making the rounds. The proposal, if enacted, looks to be a significant source of multi-modal funding. It's worth some attention.
Dear Transit, Bicycle, and Pedestrian Friends and Colleagues,

As Jonathan Maus posted in the Nov. 16 edition of, the Federal Transit Administration is currently accepting comments on a new policy that would extend and more clearly define the 'catchment area' for bikes and pedestrians around transit stops and stations.

I urge you to comment on the proposed policy. After all, who knows more about transit, bicycle and pedestrian behavior, needs and facilities than you? Communities across the country would benefit from your comments and recommendations.

You can find the policy, as well as the procedure for comments at [here]. The deadline is January 12, 2010; contact names and addresses and requirements are listed in the document.

A final request: please cc me on any comments you submit, so I can share them with my colleagues in DC.


Meeky Blizzard
Advisor for Livable Communities
Congressman Earl Blumenauer
[meeky.blizzard at]

Monday, November 23, 2009

Cutting Carbs: Learn about Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions Dec 4th

Want to learn more about reducing the carbon footprint from land use and from transportation?

The Oregon Environmental Council is offering a seminar "Cutting Carbs," a Professional Development Workshop for Transportation Professionals and Advocates on Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions. The Salem Workshop, on the afternoon of December 4th, will feature presentations from Gail Achterman, Chair of the Oregon Transportation Commission; Brian Gregor, Senior Transportation Analyst, Oregon Department of Transportation; Mike McKeever, Executive Eirector of Sacramento Council of Governments.

Register for the workshop here.

Read the note at BTA-HQ here.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Traffic Lights at Union and Front Improved for Bikes

Though the Union Street Railroad Bridge is closed for the winter and spring while contractors clean up the old lead paint, its eastern bridgehead just got better for bikes!

This week the City just installed two video cameras to make crossing Front street at Union easier. Originally, bicyclists were asked to use the pedestrian signal and crosswalk. The Vision 2020 bike/ped group asked the Downtown-Riverfront Urban Renewal Area for support on improving the intersection. They had set aside some fund for Vision 2020 projects and agreed to help fund the new signs and new traffic light controllers.

The cameras mean that improvements on the first intersection on the proposed Union Street Bicycle Boulevard are essentially completed!

The detection zone for bicycles is in a hypothetical bike lane near the right hand curb on each side of the intersection. Traffic engineers will fine-tune the zone over the next couple of weeks.

The west-bound crossing had been especially difficult, and the induction loops there seemed dead to bicycles. This makes it possible to cross the intersection while maintaining usual lane positioning!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Minto Bridge not the Only One Hung Up by Antiquated Laws

The Oregonian reports that the Portland Spirit wants more bridge clearance on the new Trimet light-rail and bike/ped bridge:
the Portland Spirit says it won't be high enough to guarantee passage. The Spirit's owners demand a higher bridge now to protect their cruise interests later.
According to the article there's not a problem now, but the cruise operator may add "a 10-foot-tall mast and 10-foot-tall wind turbines," which will require higher clearances.

Interestingly, according to the article, the legal framework that permits both the Willamette Queen and Portland Spirit challenges is apparently based in the The General Bridge Act of 1946. I always thought the problem was 19th century law - though the 1946 act may include vestigial 19th century components.

In any event, it's another example of the ways we are planning like it's 1950 instead of planning for 2050.

The article ends:
Climate change means a world of uncertain, erratic events, and TriMet and other large institutions are right to try to plan for it, says Bob Doppelt, director of the Climate Leadership Initiative at the University of Oregon.

"This historic planning for infrastructure really is no longer relevant for climate change -- that's the biggest issue," he says. "You've got to say look forward rather than backward and say, 'What are the most likely scenarios?' and plan for them."

Monday, November 16, 2009

Downtown Parking District costs almost $800 per Spot per Year

Downtown parking is in the news. Tonight City Council will consider some goals.

Back in June, City Council reauthorized the Downtown Parking District Tax. The staff report on it is here. As best I understand it, here are the numbers.* Salem residents pay directly and indirectly almost $800 per spot.

The tax rate on downtown businesses is $130.69 per spot next year to maintain a parking spot in downtown Salem. The total tax levy of the district is $373,550 for the next fiscal year.

$97,289.41 is the cost for the Chemeketa Parkade (26.04%),
$57,282.55 for the Liberty Parkade (15.33%),
$161,088.23 for the Marion Square garage (43.12%).
Total number of spots is 2809.

The total cost to run the District next year is apparently $2,217,690 or $789.49 per spot. (The difference between $789.49 and $130.69 per spot must come out of the general fund, but I did not analyze this.) Over a 20 year life of a spot, at these rates a spot is worth $15,789.80.

*There may be other downtown parking not covered here - perhaps someone with a better understanding of downtown parking will chime in? The relationship between on-street and parkade parking is not entirely clear, for example.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Electric Autoism & Magical Thinking

In today's Oregonian, Steve Duin and Gov. Kulongoski offer dueling opinions on the Business Energy Tax Credit. Hundreds of millions of dollars go from tax-payers to support green projects - many of which are important and have merit, some of which are speculative, and some of which appear pretty close to fraudulent. The pieces point to the difficulty in allocating resources to promote and invest in new technologies that do not yet generate profits.

A different program on which the Governor is similarly optimistic is the electric car:
My vision has always been for Oregonians to be able to drive from Astoria to Ontario and from Portland to Ashland emission free.
Of course, Oregonians are already able to bike in Astoria, Ontario, and Portland emission-free. The disparity in investment between the proven technology of bicycling and the novel technology of electric cars is disappointing.

Out in front of the Department of Energy is an overturned bucket. Under the bucket is the stub to a power source.

At some point in the next year or two the bucket will be transformed into a shiny charging station for electric cars.

ODOT's Office of Innovative Partnerships has been giving presentations on a pilot program for electric cars. In partnership with Nissan, an Arizona firm eTec is installing a pilot program for charging infrastructure in 5 markets, one of them being the I-5 corridor from Eugene to Portland. They will install 2500 charging stations. Salem will be part of it.

The program will be highly subsidized. The total national grant is almost $100 million. Here in Oregon, together the state and feds will offer tax credits up to $9,000 for qualified purchases of electric vehicles. Tax credits and streamlined building code regulations will also expedite installation of charging stations. Salem stands to get a couple of million for its infrastructure.

The program also has a propaganda end. To stimulate demand, during the 40s and 50s car manufacturers and road builders advertised cars and road trips. The whole Route 66 mythos. The aughts and teens are shaping up no differently. (And we say this, please note, without (much) irony, as we are unabashed bicycle propagandists!) One of the goals is to address the
strong need for more public education to gain familiarity and confidence in EVs [electric vehicles].

A shift to an electric fleet could be a good thing. But the ostensibly clean magic of batteries and plug-ins is designed to let us keep our driving habits intact. Batteries and plug-ins are like plenary indulgences, offered to absolve our conscience and conduct and to wash away our carbon sins. But in truth the electric fleet is only a good if we reduce the amount we drive and reduce our reliance on drive-alone trips, especially short trips.

At the MPO Greenhouse Gas Emissions Task Force meetings last month, ODOT presented a background memo. In it they observed that
Reducing on-road vehicle GHG emissions by 75 percent from 1990 levels would be equivalent to reducing Oregonian’s per capita annual consumption of petroleum fuels from 567 gallons to 68 gallons. This will not be achievable without transformative changes in vehicle fleets and fuels such as electrification of the light vehicle fleet. Reducing light vehicle VMT [vehicle miles traveled] will be necessary in order to accommodate transportation that will not be so easily transformed.[emphasis added]

The drive to switch to electric cars without also offering incentives to reduce driving is magical thinking. It is denial of a future in which energy of all kinds is increasingly expensive.

A recent Bloomberg article (h/t the Atlantic) suggests
California’s push to lead U.S. sales of electric cars may result in higher power rates for consumers in the state, as a growing number of rechargeable vehicles forces utilities to pay for grid upgrades.
Things will be no different here in Oregon. Without offsetting reductions in energy demand, the rising demand from an increasingly electric fleet will drive up energy costs and tempt utilities to use coal, the power source one critic has recently called "the meth of the energy world."

Alas, the vehicles are pitched as "zero-emission." But of course the energy to run the vehicle and the energy to produce the vehicle has already emitted plenty! Electric cars are no free lunch.

Indeed, there's good money to be made on a swapping gas cars for electric cars. For manufacturers, each gas-powered car will need to be replaced by a newly manufactured electric car. For power utilities, electric cars are the razor handle, and each instance of battery charging the razor refill. There's money in the refill. So they plug the handle:
Within a decade, plug-in cars could account for as much as 20% of new vehicles sold in Oregon.
But what if that read bikes? How about millions of dollars so people will gain familiarity and confidence in bicycling? What if bikes were 20% of new vehicles sold in Oregon?

Now that's a goal worth striving for! And wouldn't a tax credit of $1000 for a much cleaner bike be even cheaper and more effective than $9000 for a car?

In instance after instance, you could swap bicycle for EV and have an even more compelling set of claims. For example:
Compact urban boundaries perfect for transportation electrification.
Compact urban boundaries are also perfect for bicycling! The City of Portland's new Bicycle Plan for 2030 contains this over-arching goal:
Create conditions that make bicycling more attractive than driving for trips of three miles or less.

The hypothetical swap of bikes for electric cars points to our problem with allocating resources.

The problem is hardly Oregon's alone. Nationally, Streetsblog NY observes that ev gets more than transit:
Bloomberg notes that the Obama administration's total investment in low-emissions autos has topped $11 billion in six months -- about $500 million more than the annual budget of the Federal Transit Administration.

Millions of dollars could instead go towards bicycling - a form of active transportation that improves health, reduces healthcare costs, and puts money in the pockets of families who find they need one fewer car, much less gas and insurance.

And you know, even the military is worried about the lack of exercize!
"We've never had this problem of young people being obese like we have today," said Gen. John Shalikashvili, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He calls the rising number of youth unfit for duty a matter of national security. "We should be concerned about how this will impact this overstretched Army and its ability to recruit."

This circle is like a moebius strip! It comes with a twist. Defending our country requires reducing our dependence on oil. Defending our country also requires improved fitness among recruits. Bicycling does both! But we're more interested in electric cars.

If the allocation of resources were rational, we'd be spending millions of dollars marketing bicycles, improving bicycle infrastructure, and making it easy for people to drive less. Instead, we are working on ways to continue the habits that aren't working.

Without programs to reduce the miles we drive, the conversion to electric cars only maintains our bad habits and accelerates the coming warming. Investing in bicycling is a much cheaper way to accomplish all this.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Do You Know a Bicycle Friendly Business?

A year ago the League of American Bicyclists named Salem a bronze-level Bicycle Friendly Community.

Since 2003 the League has been recognizing cities and communities that make bicycling an important part of their transportation system.

Did you know the League also recognizes businesses that show an exemplary commitment to bicycling?

The Bicycle Friendly Business program is new, and people are only just beginning to learn about it!

The state of Oregon currently has only 8 businesses so recognized. There's no company in Salem yet!

The League offers a quick check to see if you should apply:
If your business scores five points or higher, you should apply!

Does your business provide secure bike parking? (three points)

Does your business provide showers for employees? (three points)

Does your business offer incentives for employees to commute to work by bike? (four points)

Does your business work with local advocates to improve bicycling conditions for the community? (two points)

Does your business have an action plan to help promote cycling? (two points)

Does your business support a bicycle team/club? (one point)
Here's the application site and a link to the forms. The application is FREE!

The current application round closes on January 15, 2010, with announcements in March, so there's plenty of time!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

MWVBTA Meeting Tuesday the 17th

The MWVBTA meets the third Tuesday of each month. The November meeting is this coming Tuesday, the 17th. This month (and in December), we'll be meeting from noon to 2:00 p.m. at the Sassy Onion on State Street. Agenda items will include:
Transportation System Plan Update
Sunday Parkways (V2020)
Bike/ped safety bond projects (please bring ideas for projects)
BSE funding
Bikeshed routes refinements
Holiday Parade of Lights
Police training videos
Downtown parking - free or metered?
Crossing 12th St. @ Mill
Top 12 Bike Projects
Commercial St. restriping
Wallace Road @ Glen Creek - proposed changes
If you are a member of the BTA, would like to learn more about the BTA, or are interested in making the Salem area a better place for bicycling, please join us!

Council Advances Pringle Parkway Vacation

Though the Commercial street plan was the big news, also on Monday night Council advanced the ordinance to vacate a parcel of Trade Street right of way.

This ivy-strewn plot, overlooking the Mill Race and a bike/ped path, isolated between two legs of the Pringle Parkway, is inactive and a little desolate. Envisioned changes offer the prospects of better landscaping and modest picnicking amenities.

Earlier in the year when we learned that the City was considering the vacation, some transportation advocates questioned whether the downtown core needed more surface lots, especially if built on public land.

At the October and November Vision 2020 Bike/Ped Workgroup meetings, Mark Shipman from Saalfeld Griggs very kindly joined the group and explained their hopes to purchase the lot and to make it into a more fully landscaped area around a 21-space parking lot expansion for clients and employees.

Though some members of the Vision 2020 group were ambivalent about the project, several members argued that the space along the Mill Race and the pedestrian path was downright unattractive in places, and that improved landscaping and use of the space would help to enliven it. They noted that it was a neglected "gateway" into the downtown core. As a whole the group expressed more interest in seeing a good project move forward than in taking a position against the vacation and sale.

At his second visit, Mark offered a sneak peek at the draft plans for the lot. The purchase is not final, so these are tentative and provisional. Nevertheless, the plans offer the prospect of making the area immediately overlooking the pedestrian underpass of Pringle Parkway a more lively place. The area is currently underused, and the Vision 2020 group was united in wishing for reasons for people to use the area and for improved landscaping to attract and delight the eye.

The overall plan makes use of lots of maples and gets rid of the ivy. The plant list also features Rhododendrons, vine maples, and looks to offer a good grouping of native plants. There's also some Japanese influence.

One of the highlights is a picnic area directly overlooking the plaza between arms of Pringle Parkway. The trees on either side of the area are cherry trees, and echo, perhaps intentionally, those on the Capitol Mall.

Regardless of what one thinks of the parking lot expansion, the landscaping plan looks significantly more inviting than what's there now!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Council Approves Restriping Plan

Good news! This evening City Council voted unanimously to move forward with the Commercial restriping plan. This is a big step for Salem and a great step in the right direction. Public Works did a terrific job of outreach and creating a plan that lots of very different people could get behind!

Crossing 12th at Mill Street

In this morning's Statesman is an article about the pedestrian bridge over 12th Street.

Crossing 12th street here is very difficult, and Willamette University and Tokyo International University of America together funded and built a private footbridge across 12th street. Initially the bridge was open, but vandalism and theft led the universities to close the bridge to the public. Crime diminished by 90%. It's hard to argue with that!

Nonetheless, the crossing remains difficult for the public, and the bridge is not very bike friendly.

The city has dormant plans to finish the 12th Street Promenade and add a pedestrian median to 12th. These plans could be funded by the bike/ped portion of the Keep Salem Moving road bond.

In general terms this is a great idea! Mill Street is an important low-traffic bikeway that connects to Willamette University. Just as Chemeketa is an important way between State and Center, so is Mill important between Mission and State.

The draft plan, however, requires bicyclists to use the crosswalk on the south side of the intersection. West-bound bike traffic is especially crimped in this way. The project can be improved so that both the walking and bicycling public can cross 12th Street more easily.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Commercial Street Plan...Finally at Council!

The Vision 2020 Bicycle and Pedestrian Connections Workgroup met on Wednesday, and we got confirmation that the downtown Commercial restriping plan will finally go to City Council on November 9th!

Lots of people have been working on it, and it has twisted and turned. The plan that is on the table (staff report here) enjoys a broad range of support, and while it is not perfect, the breadth of support should make for a stronger execution and set the table for future projects. This looks like real progress!

Those who support it include:
The Citizens Advisory Traffic Commission supports it unanimously.
A Go Downtown Salem survey of 34 businesses (out of 79 distributed surveys) support it 23:9 with one undecided.
And the Downtown Advisory Board supports it unanimously.

These groups were not all in support of the previous plan, and there is still considerable opposition to bike lanes on Commercial. But since bicyclists are themselves in many cases not persuaded that bike lanes here are best, it's not valid to conclude that merchants oppose bike lanes generally. Angle parking is a problem in many ways, and underlies much of the concern - though different parties value the angle parking very differently.

The plan is for lane reduction + sharrows. It will reduce Commercial from 4 to 3 lanes, and add sharrow markings on the outside lanes. The cross-section will have five segments: a 15 foot parking strip, 15 foot shared lane, 11 foot travel lane, 15 foot shared lane, and another 15 foot parking. The outer lanes with sharrows will be extra wide, allowing for flexibility in auto and bike positioning in the lane.

Here is a comparison of existing conditions and the proposed cross-section.

The use of sharrows on a high volume street like Commercial is perhaps stretching the customary uses for sharrows. With stop lights at every block, and with the signal timing, traffic engineers believe this is a sound use of them, albeit at the outer bounds of established practice. In some ways it will be a good experiment. Slow bicyclists and families were unlikely to want to bicycle on Commercial anyway, and the sharrows ratify that those who are confident enough to bike on Commercial will be doing so largely using vehicular cycling practices.

If approved, it is not yet certain when the rebuild will occur. The summer of 2010 is still a possibility, but the condition of underground utilities may require a delay.

The Commercial project will also extend south to the 12th Street cut-off. This is more than we were expecting, and the workgroup expressed interest in fixing two problematic Y-junctions: The Y at Liberty, and the Y at Sunnyview. A subcommittee will meet to analyze the intersection and to discuss bicycle improvements to propose.

We also learned that the balance of funding for signage on Chemeketa Street and the Union Street RR Bridge had been completed. Look for more on this once it's installed!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Buffett bets on Burlington; WES can't Silence Horns

Normally we're all about bikes here, but two pieces of rail news this morning are worth extra attention. Because, of course, with better rail, we don't need to make as many car or truck trips.

The big news is Warren Buffett's intention to purchase of Burlington Northern. When the shrewdest investor in America bets on rail rather than roads and road expansion, others are sure to listen.

In other news, Portland and Western, which operates the Westside Express Service, is resisting Trimet's request for quieter horns. According to the Oregonian
"We believe public safety is our No. 1 challenge," said Ron Russ, general manager for the railroad company, which operates WES for TriMet. "We're putting public safety at risk here by allowing the differential."
Not that safety is unimportant, but one would think that things like moving goods and maintaining schedules would be more central to the core mission of the railroad.

Here in Salem the bugaboo of overcautious rail safety concerns creates disruption in the downtown core along 12th street, where residents would like less horn, and made the Boise Redevelopment Project choose to close State street at the Carousel.

Perhaps Warren Buffett and the minds at Berkshire Hathaway will examine "rail safety" and offer improved risk analysis and create some novel solutions. We are hardly alone here, and if we are not to let rail lines slice and dice our communities, we will need to figure out better ways to create connections across railroads as in the next 50 years they will again be used more and more.

Addendum: Streetsblog has an interesting note in which the writer mentions the possibility that Buffett's move is more about moving coal and coal-burning electric plants, than about shifting transportation infrastructure. Even if it is, the investment will still surely bring more attention and other investment to rail.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Straight from NY Pizza and Bike Parking on the Other Corners

One of the best racks around town is the one on the rear of Straight From New York Pizza at the intersection of Owens and Commercial SE. It's from Creative Metalworks and is the same design as the one at LifeSource. On some days, the "Liberty" cut-out catches the afternoon sun and makes a lovely silhouette.

One of the principals of SFNY is a big bike commuter, and provided excellent pizza for the Bike Commute Challenge Kick-Off. Again, a big thanks to SFNY (and Indigo Wellness and Widmer Bros.)!

Turns out there's actually an interesting cluster of bike parking at the intersection!

Just across the street at the Best Little Roadhouse is a stylized bike. This rack is pretty, but as it is separated from the entry by quite a ways, and it is not visible from within the restaurant. But it does advertise bikes! Was there a bike shop nearby at one time?

And on another corner of the intersection, Dutch Brothers has two racks installed between the drive-thru and the sidewalk. The racks aren't ideally placed on the concrete pad, and it's not clear the pair could be loaded to intended capacity with four bikes. These look like they might be installed as part of code for new construction.

The cluster of bike parking, more than decent by Salem standards, suggests this could be an area for bikey business. Wouldn't that be great! The biggest problem is the difficulty of biking along South Commercial here. The road narrows and there's no bike lane. With the high speeds and high traffic volumes, the Salem-Keizer bike map marks it in red. While Saginaw offers a scenic low-traffic alternative, Saginaw is something of an orphan, dead-ending on both the north and south. Even so, there's intriguing potential here.

On the other side of downtown, at the corner of 13th and Chemeketa, Dr. Gary Boehne's dentist office has a cute bike rack that doubles as business sign and advert. It's visible from within and from the entry, and lacks only shelter to be top-notch. That's a great form of short-term parking for a trip to the dentist! (h/t reader Stephanie)