Sunday, July 25, 2010

City Council, July 26th - First Public Look at Bike Plan Process

Monday Public Works presents a report on the plan for the bicycle and pedestrian updates to the Transportation System Plan! This will be the first substantive public report on the project. A couple of excerpts:
The current Bicycle Plan places a major focus on building new bike lanes. The updated Bicycle Plan will go beyond an emphasis on bike lanes to develop innovating approaches to addressing the following special focus areas:
  • Accommodating all types of bicycle users, including entry-level, recreational, and other non-expert users who are not comfortable riding on bike lanes on busy streets;
  • Identifying downtown area bicycle routes and facilities that are more direct, convenient, safe, and comfortable;
  • Providing safe and convenient bicycle routes to schools; and
  • Improving bicycle routes to transit stops, especially to stops on major transit corridors.
About the Safe Routes to School plan, the report notes that
The School District's transportation system currently runs 218 bus routes per day...Last year district transportation reported a total of 2,867,568 student miles traveled with a total transported student rides per day of 20,0006. Of these totals, 23,980 miles traveled and 938 student rides per day were in hazardous walk zone areas. Many parents drive students to school even when they live well within the school walk zone area, adding to traffic congestion and vehicle trips.
It's encouraging to see these tied together and embodied in institutional rhetoric! Bikes are increasingly mainstream!

The Stakeholder Advisory Committee will be an important steering mechanism. The plan envisions a 20-person committee: 9 from public agencies (ODOT, DLCD, Cherriots, 24J, City of Salem, Marion County, Planning Commission), 5 from advocacy groups (Bicycle, Pedestrian, Elderly, Disabled, Schools), 5 from resident and business interests (including neighborhood associations, minorities, business owners), and a little discretionary fudge factor. (The numbers add to 19, not 20)

One area of possible omission comes from business: Go Downtown Salem, the Chamber of Commerce, and freight interests - though it seems likely that one or more members of these groups will be on the committee anyway.

Here is the Portland Business Association's critique of the Portland Bike Plan, and it might be good collaboratively to get out in front of some of these objections. (More on the PBA in a BikePortland article.) Additionally, we saw in Portland recently at the JPACT meeting how some freight interests didn't understand the ways removing cars from the road increases freight capacity and represented a more cost-effective approach than road expansion.

The steering committee may not be the right place to engage these interests, but it seems like conversation with folks having known objections might usefully start earlier rather than later in the process. It's important to have a plan with the political support for funding and implementation.

CH2M Hill and Alta Planning will be the consultants.

No comments: