Saturday, September 11, 2010

City Council, September 13th

Monday's City Council agenda contains lots of little bits related to bicycling and transportation.

Bus Mall

The biggest item is the Not-so-Temporary Transit Mall location. (For a map, see yesterday's note.)

Something interesting about the staff report are the letters in opposition to various sites. We've already mentioned opposition to the Capitol Mall location. The arguments from auto-oriented development against the Union Street location suggest both avenues of opposition and ways towards compromise to a Union Street Bicycle Boulevard. These arguments also underscore ways that further development along Union Street needs to support bike transportation and be consistent with increasing bike traffic on Union. If future development is solely auto-oriented, upgrading Union to a Bicycle Boulevard will run into more opposition, very similar to the opposition to the transit mall.

Unfortunately, the State seems more interested in parking revenues than in sustainable transportation. This is understandable, but is also a clear instance of the way costs are externalized and pricing is out of whack. The market can't allocate resources properly here.

The Arts

It may not seem very bikey, but it seemed relevant that a cluster of artsy activities was on the agenda.

Council will be selecting candidates for the new Public Art Commission.

Today's news that The Space is closing dovetails sadly with a progress report on the proposed Entertainment Districts and revised Noise Ordinance.

Music in the evening, though, is a kind of public art, and it is good to see movement towards the enrichment of our public spaces!

(Signage design: BAM Agency)

Another kind of public art is the Vision 2020 signage and wayfinding project. The Wayfinding and Entranceway Task Force is requesting about $50,000 in Downtown-Riverfront Urban Renewal Funds to design and install wayfinding and gateway signage. Obviously, there's a significant interest in making downtown attractive for bikes - infrastructure's the next step! - and linking this to tourism and the Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway.

Over at Desperately Seeking Salem, Emily offers a humorous set of alternative names!

Other Policy and Process

A tantalizing little detail is a teensy line-item in the Capital Improvement Plan. $54,420 is the "bikeway fund." This may be the State's contribution of 1% of highway funds for bike infrastructure.

The Subway Drive-through at 1245 Columbia NE is also on the docket.

Back in May, Mackenzie Ryan wrote an interesting piece on the School District's interest in a LEED certified school at the corner of Sunnyview and Cordon NE. The parcel was going to be on the ballot for annexation this fall, but the annexation has been withdrawn from the ballot. This may mean that development for the school is slowing down, or that the developers wish only to go through a County planning process.

Finally, on the agenda is the adoption of the Community Energy Strategy. This project funded the sharrows on Chemeketa NE and Rosemont NW.

The strategy's transportation goal focuses on "moving people." This small, but significant, because the mobility standards in the 1999 Highway Plan all focus on the rates of vehicles with engines. So a full bus counts the same as a drive-alone car trip. People on bike or foot don't count. This transportation energy policy focuses on the movement of people, and by this standard a bus counts for a lot more than a drive-alone trip. This is a necessary direction for all future transportation planning!

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