Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Support Sustainable Transportation for Young People in Foster Care

Help young people transitioning out of foster care. The Bike Peddler's hosting a bike drive this Saturday.

Saturday, December 4, 2010
10 a.m. to noon
The Bike Peddler

Donated bikes are fixed up and distributed to young adults transitioning out of foster care. Accepting bikes, helmets, locks, parts, donations. An Assistance League of Salem, Willamette Valley Auxiliary, Catholic Community Services and Bike Peddler collaboration. Please help spread the word. Becky Willhite, solesisters503@yahoo.com

Monday, November 29, 2010

City Council, Nov 29th - Airport Study & Smoke-Free Parks

With the holiday, everything's on short notice...

Bullet points today. Not much other than to hope that the "Community Energy Policy" thinking starts to sink in, and the prospects of a minor airport in a lower-carbon future turns planning instead to a full-court press for rail:

Less is More: Broadway Commons Gains by Subtraction

On Wednesday students from the Sustainable Cities Initiative will present projects on the North Downtown Waterfront Development, the waterfront north of the Union Street Railroad Bridge. The presentations will be at Broadway Commons between 9am and 3pm.

As a Salem success, it's a perfect place for this!

Mixed in with delight at CB|Two's* Broadway Commons building, its bike parking, and Stumptown Coffee, at the end of the Green + Solar tour, a small puzzle was the way the building looked from the south.

Here it is as built, looking from the south.

The windowed tower was a little too big, brooding over the brick wall rather than crowning and elevating it. It weighs down rather than lifts up.

Here's a concept sketch from before construction started - and before the economy tanked.

As built, the building footprint falls on the northern 2/3 of the half block. This concept, perhaps even original, was for the full half block. That concept also appears to have a quarter-round auditorium, which is now an outdoor amphitheater. The tower may be narrower, as well.

The change in the building shows clearly the way the massing of the fully glazed prayer and meditation tower might become a bit too heavy once the building was cut off.

Nevertheless, I think the totality of the building and site is much better with the patio and plaza, fountain and lawn, on that southern 1/3 of the half block. That makes the there there!

In the concept sketch, the entry is more like that of a mall, and however handsome the building, the focus shifts from the transition between street and building, walking and working, to the enclosure of the building itself. The focus moves indoors rather than sitting on the edge, on the the creativity of the margins.

Having the coffeeshop open to the street like that makes it a walking and bicycling destination - an urban destination and gathering place, and perfect for the new urban fabric of this new district.

Not every development here needs this sort of plaza, and it would be a mistake to make it into a template for each block's buildings. But with the plaza relating to Salem Cinema, the Y building, and cluster of new development on Broadway, centered a block away on Market and Broadway, this one is just right.

The Vision 2020 group had been working on a downtown square idea. That project has slowed down, and its champions might want to look at the Broadway Commons plaza as a successful local example.

The students and planners who are working on the north waterfront should also think about building uses and place-making. Riverfront Park is great, but it lacks attractions in the park, easy connections and bordering attractors across Front Street, and activity generators to send successive pulses of people into the park. With the coffeeshop, worship services, the clinic, and public meeting facilities, Broadway Commons has a diverse set of generators to create waves of activity in the plaza.

This is a great step and should provide cues for the next steps.

*CB|Two may be the most exciting new addition to Salem development in several years. One of the Jurors for the 2010 Salem AIA Design Awards, Randy Nishimura, said about the Travel Salem Travel Cafe, the Kroc Center, and Waterplace:
It’s notable that CB2 Architects had a hand in three of the four projects we recognized. This was a surprise to us because it was not apparent while reviewing the entries that the three were authored by the same office. The jury commends CB2 for the uniformly high quality of its work and looks forward to seeing much more from the firm for years to come.

Overall, none of the winning projects exhibited traits one would associate with avant-garde or cutting-edge architecture; none broke the mold to re-imagine a new approach to designing for the built environment. Instead, like all of the entries in this year’s program, they represent good solutions to the challenges the architects were charged with addressing.
(Top Image: CB|Two; Bottom Image: Salem Chapter of American Institute of Architects)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Eugene's New Bridge, Vancouver's New Bike Plan

Being a slow news week, here's a couple of interesting bits from neighboring communities. Eugene has a sweet new bridge for walking and biking across a busy highway and Clark County has a new bike plan for Vancouver and its suburbs.

It's not exactly a Calatrava knock-off, but it sure is pretty with the lights!

Here's the OBEC site, the same engineering firm for the Minto bridge, and more on cable-stayed bridges.

(h/t BikePortland)

Also, just across the Columbia, Clark County has a new Bike Plan. In many ways Vancouver and Clark County are more like Salem and Marion County than Portland and Multnomah County. In an article on BikePortland, Michael Anderson plays the compare and contrast game with the Portland Master Plan. It's an interesting read.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Know a Bike Friendly Business or University?

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

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

The Bicycle Friendly Business program is a year or so old, and word is still getting out!

The state of Oregon currently has only 9 businesses so recognized. There's no company in Salem yet!

The League offers a quick check to see if you should apply.Here's the application site and a link to the forms. The application is FREE!

A brand new program, just announced this fall, is the Bicycle Friendly University.

The current application round for both programs closes in mid-January, 2011, with announcements in March, so there's plenty of time!

Friday, November 19, 2010

A Guide to Environmental Impact Statements may help With Bridge Process

Over at LoveSalem, Walker has already observed the disconnect in advocating for high speed rail while also pressing for a highway-style bridge across the Willamette and for air travel.

If we could only be so lucky to focus our regional transportation efforts on rail!

In the meantime, here's help with an important part of the bridge process.

Navigating Draft Environmental Impact Statements

Following and understanding the Salem Rivercrossing project isn't always easy - indeed, perhaps it's never easy. Sometimes it may seem like government agencies want it that way!

Here's a guide to the policy framework and process behind the Draft Environmental Impact Statement that is scheduled to be released early next year.

Its language about reasonable alternatives may be important, and we'll return to it later in more detail. The process behind "third bridge" is largely driven by the conviction that a large highway-style bridge is the only viable solution to several different problems. It is, at this point, far from certain that reasonable alternatives are being analyzed and entertained seriously. The "standpoint of the applicant" may hold undue weight here.
The lead agency or agencies must, “objectively evaluate all reasonable alternatives, and for alternatives which were eliminated from detailed study, briefly discuss the reasons for their having been eliminated.” Reasonable alternatives are those that substantially meet the agency’s purpose and need. If the agency is considering an application for a permit or other federal approval, the agency must still consider all reasonable alternatives. Reasonable alternatives include those that are practical or feasible from the technical and economic standpoint and using common sense, rather than simply desirable from the standpoint of the applicant. Agencies are obligated to evaluate all reasonable alternatives or a range ofreasonable alternatives in enough detail so that a reader can compare and contrast the environmental effects of the various alternatives.

If you are interested in the river crossing process, and not already a dab hand at the NEPA process, this guide may be helpful!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

State Cross Championships at West Salem High this Saturday

The OBRA State Championships come to West Salem High School this weekend.

If you missed the EZ Orchards races a couple of weekends ago, come on out to West Salem High School on Saturday to see the State's best cyclocross racers!

(EZ Orchards Race Image: Matt Howie)

The course will be challenging and some of the proceeds will benefit the school:
The terrain includes punchy climbs, several off-cambers, two run-ups, and a paved drag strip. Concessions will be provided by the West Salem High School Athletic Department. $1 Dollar from each race entry will be donated to West Salem High School.
Top categories will compete for $1000 prize. Races start at 9am and will run until about 3pm.

Juniors at 12:25pm and Kiddie Cross at 1pm. Come on out and cheer the kids!
(Photo: BTA blog)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Cranksgiving Alleycat Terrific Fun

Saturday's Cranksgiving was great fun. The fastest riders completed the hunt in a bit over an hour, and an entire family of four with two small children finished not long after! Cranksters enjoyed a beer afterwards.

Thanks to Venti's for letting Cory & Jessica use it as Cranksgiving HQ, and to Santiam for the great prizes.

Afterwards Cory and Jessica took the haul to Food Share.

Here's to next year!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Eugene Panel Envisions Remixing Transportation and Development

Gary Obery, whom you will remember from his Intro to Smart Cycling clinics, writes this report about Eugene's Bike Plan Update and a trip there for a panel discussion on October 22nd.

My Reflections upon Eugene’s “Transportation ReMix”

One evening last month, I had the opportunity to check out the bike scene, the latest bicycle treatments, and a really cool bar in Eugene – at Eugene’s Transportation Remix. This was an event designed to inform local citizens on the latest developments in bicycle facility planning and design.

And after letting it settle in a bit, I realize it was much more. It was the city’s way of inspiring citizens to participate in the upcoming planning decisions, of showing how much fun it can be to talk about bicycle projects, and to give people hope for creating a city where nearly everyone can feel safe and comfortable riding a bicycle. All attendees certainly seemed comfortable in the relaxed atmosphere of the Electric Station!

We were treated to three excellent presentations. Ed Fischer, the just-retired State Traffic Engineer for ODOT, gave a summary presentation of his scan trip to Europe to see a wide variety of bicycle (and pedestrian) facility solutions and to learn about their programs and policies. Good to see a diverse group of established professionals tout the possibilities of the bicycle!

Next up was Hugh Pritchard, a retired developer and real-estate broker. Hugh traveled to Copenhagen for the Velo-City conference this past June, just as I did, and he came back inspired just as I did! What I really, really liked about Hugh’s presentation was his suggestion that we, as bicycle advocates, should strive get others to view people on bicycles with “affection.” Humm….sounds interesting. It goes like this:
If a motorist starts to appreciate a person on a bike for taking one less parking space, for emitting only a human breath, for lowering everyone else’s health insurance, etc, then they will have positive feelings about cycling.
Hugh gave credit to Michel Colville Anderson for this inspiration. Ever since hearing Hugh’s presentation, I’ve been following the laws more closely and smiling at everyone I see on the streets, all in hopes of creating positive feelings towards bicyclists. Maybe they think I’m friendly…or just strange!

Last up was Jessica Roberts, an experienced staffer at Alta Planning and Design. Her presentation highlighted some of the latest and greatest bicycle treatments right here in the U.S. Her presentation, along with Ed and Hugh’s left me thinking about how much more we can do for people on bicycles besides installing typical bike lanes on some busy roads.

As Salem works through its bike/ped plan update, I’m hoping we include cycle tracks, bike boulevards, buffered bike lanes, and a variety of intersection treatments in the updated document. In the mean time, I’ll keep smiling at all the people I see on my bike around town.

Additional Info:

The Eugene bike plan update info is here.

Ed's complete slide deck here.

Jessica's complete slide deck here.

Monday, November 15, 2010

BTA Benefit Showing of Freeride Film on Wednesday

Wednesday night check out the freeride film, Life Cycles and benefit local bike safety education and safer routes to schools.

Troy from Santiam sends out word about Life Cycles:
We will be showing the Lifecycles movie premier on Wednesday, November 17th at 6pm at Northern Lights. As always, any profits the movie makes will be donated to BTA for their Safe Routes to School for Kids program. If you havn't seen it yet, check out the movie trailer on-line. It looks SWEEEEEEET! Hope to see you there.

Life Cycles OFFICIAL Trailer from Life Cycles on Vimeo.

Northern Lights is at 3893 Commercial St. SE, just south of the Madrona Fred Meyer.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

City Council, Nov 15th - the Welcome Center, Continued

At the November 8th meeting of City Council, several matters were tabled and pushed forward. There is not much new for transportation or bicycling.

Tabled Items Include:

Proposed Downtown Welcome Center. Proposed for the Liberty Parkade and to face a state highway, it may not create a sufficiently welcoming walking environment to lure people from the Conference Center into downtown. For more discussion, see notes on its two previous council appearances on October 11 and November 8.

Renewing the Downtown Economic Improvement District. Also see October 11 and November 8 meetings.

Councilor Dickey's Smoke-Free Parks Ordinance.

New Items:

Renewing agreement and contract with Travel Salem for tourism promotion.

Letter of Intent for Electric Vehicle charging stations.

Revised Historic Preservation Code.

The Mayor has a proposal for the South Waterfront URA Advisory Board. By itself this does not seem significant, but since the Boise Cascade Redevelopment project is stuck, this may have implications for restarting it and for the way it is shaped once it gets going again.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

MWVBTA Meeting, Tuesday, Nov 16th

The November meeting of the Mid-Willamette Valley Chapter of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance will be this coming Tuesday, the 16th. Time and location will again be from noon to 2:00 p.m. at the Sassy Onion Grill on State Street.

Please join us for the following agenda items, and any additional topics that you would like to bring to the table:

Cyclocross event in West Salem
Sustainable Cities Initiative
Salem Parks Connectivity
Kroc Center Connectivity
Breakfast on Bikes
Wallace Road bike/ped bridge
Publicity planning

One thing not on the agenda, and likely too early to discuss meaningfully is the new media agency. You may have seen on the BTA-HQ blog that North was just named a "partner" with the BTA to build out "a brand platform that connects with both cyclists and the community at large."

Is it fair to peg a media & branding agency because of a rock star? In the case of North, it just might be.

North, it happens, is the current incarnation of one of Dave Allen's projects. Allen, you may recall, was the bassist for Gang of Four. Later he worked for Intel as a sort of digital media anthropologist, still blogs at Pampelmoose on music and social media, and has had branding agencies Nemo and now North.

The guy's fascinating!

While a "brand platform" sounds awfully corporate, Allen's a creative traveler between the corporate and indie worlds.

Apparently North also cut a version of the People for Bikes "If I Ride" video:

If I Ride from NORTH on Vimeo.

The differences between it and the People for Bikes Version are interesting:

It will be exciting to watch this development unfold.

If you are a member of the BTA, are interested in the BTA, or would just like to make Salem a better place to bike, please join us!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Salute the US Army 25th Infantry Bicycle Corps

In the late 1890s, bicycles were advanced ground transportation technology, and the Army wanted to see how they could replace horses and improve mobility.

The Army formed a group of volunteers from the 25th Infantry, one of four African American regiments active from just after the Civil War through World War II.

As part of the testing, the 25th Infantry Bicycle Corps made several epic rides. They took nearly brakeless fixies (do spoon brakes count?) from Fort Missoula to Yellowstone in 1896 and went on a nearly 2,000 mile ride from Fort Missoula to St. Louis in 1897.

(Photo: Frank Jay Haynes at Northern Rockies Heritage Center)

The Northern Rockies Heritage Center has a nice overview from their time at Fort Missoula.

(Detail from Army History Journal [exact credit unavailable - click through for enlarged picture], but presumably from the University of Montana, Mansfield Library - see different print of same image here.)

Mike Higgins has blogged each day of the 1897 trip to St. Louis and has links to accounts of the other trips.

The next year, the Spanish-American war intervened and by the early 1900s, it was clear the automobile offered even more for troop movements and mobile gunnery.

Though it didn't last long, the Bicycle Corps is a fascinating episode of history in so many ways: Westward expansion, African-Americans and race relations, the technology of warfare.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Sustainable Cities Student Presentations Start in Late November

The University of Oregon Sustainable Cities Initiative has sent students around the city, documenting and analyzing existing conditions. The first round of student presentations - and first fruits of the program - can be seen later this month. Four classes will be making presentations:

(1) Portland State University Urban Transportation Systems Class:
Monday November 29 and Wednesday December 1, 8AM to 9:50 AM at PSU Civil Engineering Building. The class has divided into groups to analyze various scenarios, including
(a) Crossing of Commercial St. @ Union;
(b) Crossing of Wallace Road @ end of Union Street path;
(c) Possible Relocation of Edgewater Pathway;
(d) Potential to 2-way Church and High Streets through downtown;
(e) Potential to add bike lanes on Church and High Streets through downtown (retaining one-way);
(f) Potential to reduce lanes on Commercial Street between Mission and Owens;
(g) Feasibility of modifying intersection of Commercial/Liberty/Alice/Fairview.
(2) North Downtown (Planning, Public Policy and Management): December 1, 9AM to 3PM (Broadway Commons, Salem)

(3) North Downtown (Architecture): December 3, 2-6 PM (Eugene)

(4) Local Review Opportunity on Downtown Parks Connectivity – the University of Oregon Intermediate GIS course will present their final projects on Thursday, December 2, 9 to 11 AM at Pringle Hall. Following is a list of the projects that individual students are working on:
(a) Recreational Routes: Urban Running Trail Systems
(b) Modeling Salem’s Bike Network in GIS (3 students – they are creating an entirely new GIS layer based on bicycle travel, including side of street travel, modeling turns, and ratings of quality
(c) Creating Strategic Links for a Salem Marathon
(d) Connectivity to Schools and parks: A case for Safe Routes to School
(e) Opening Willamette University to the City of Salem (2 students – thinking of Willamette as an urban park / destination for community at large)
(f) Defining and Creating Access: An Intersection Analysis of Park Connections in Downtown Salem (An ADA-based analysis of the final link to access parks)
(g) Connecting Salem Parks: Prioritizing Bike and Pedestrian Routes
(h) Mapping the Pedestrian Environment in Downtown Salem: An Analysis of the walkable network (2 students)
(i) Transit Access to Parks in Salem
(j) Mapping the Connectivity of Cultural Sites and Parks
The presentations will range from visionary to pragmatic. Some will be more useful or relevant than others. All of them look interesting!

Hopefully there will be a yield of some 10% or 20% that will be immediately useful and should be incorporated into current planning and funding cycles.

It appears that most (or perhaps all) of last year's reports from the residency in Gresham are archived here at the UO library. Presumably they will do the same thing this academic year for Salem. Here's the UO library page for Salem and the SCI page for Salem.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Lone Oak Park and Mildred Lane: Travel and Play at the Urban Growth Boundary

Lone Oak Park will be the newest park in Salem, so new, in fact, it doesn't have name yet. Situated on Mildred Lane at the crest of the hill overlooking the Battle Creek hollow, it is lovely without being fancy or showy.

It is also somewhat isolated. It is, in fact, at the city limits and on the edge of the urban growth boundary.

In an area still being developed and distant from most destinations, it has a very low walkscore of 12 on a scale to 100, meaning it is highly "car-dependent." Schools are not also very walkable, either requiring significant travel on roads without sidewalks or requiring crossing busy arterials at intersections uncontrolled by traffic signals and marked crosswalks.

It is in transition. But in addition to transitioning from less to more developed, it could also be changing in the way it is developed.

Writing in the Statesman on Saturday about the park, Elida Perez notes
"People were concerned about parking," said Patrick O'Dell, chairman for South Gateway.

"They didn't want too much." Residents wanted the area to be a neighborhood park and were concerned that providing too much parking would take away from that charm. Mildred Lane SE will have room for 10 parking spaces.
This concern with charm and with limiting parking suggests the neighborhood might be interested in becoming more walkable.

A sign of its transitional development is the abrupt end to bike lanes and sidewalks.

Here is the bike lane and sidewalk on Lone Oak, just north of Mildred. It just ends!

Lone Oak was a narrower, more rural road, but as part of the Southern Heights development, the road was widened to current standards, which includes bike lanes and sidewalks.

Mildred is even more baffling.

Mildred has a three-lane cross section its whole length, but there's hardly any place to turn! The center turn lane is superfluous. In this view the park is on the right and the fenced development to the north on the left.

Here is just a bit down the hill.

Mildred Lane is overbuilt and makes no sense for the current amount of development and the kind of development. Fenced and other separated communities dominate, and developments tend to be enclosed enclaves and planned communities.

Just around the corner, and part of the Creekside golf course development, Lone Oak has a two lane cross section with bike lanes and a parking strip. No turn pockets, even though the many driveways make for lots of left- and right-turn possibilities!

Apparently the City is "thinking ahead." Mildred is formally classified as a "minor arterial," and Lone Oak a "collector." Arterials are meant to handle more traffic and the prevailing standards call for a three-lane cross-section.

When Mildred first went in, however, there was a bike lane on only one side of the road - it didn't meet standard.

You can see a new patch of asphalt where the bike lane terminates. It appears that as part of the park development they may have widened the road slightly and will then stripe it with a bike lane.

Anyway, the roads here make no sense. This is a car-dependent, suburban bedroom development that is connected to nothing. No movies, no restaurants, no cleaners, no grocery stores, nothing.

Fortunately, now there's a park. A gracefully serpentine path sits on a grassy shoulder and looks down over the small creek valley and the lightly forested hillside. Even with the exposed soil of the path bed newly seeded, some fencing, and scattered bits of construction debris, it is charming.

Unlike many parks there are bike racks in two places - nice to have from the very start! A wave rack is near the playground.

Not far away, by the basketball court, is an art rack in the form of a bike. This one is visible from the road and is a nice touch - though the parking strip may conceal it once cars come.

Though the neighborhood is clearly focused on car travel, Lone Oak Park is set up for walking and biking. This is encouraging. The area looks like a good candidate for the new Neighborhood Center Mixed Use zoning. At a crossroads it could use a coffee shop and a neighborhood grocery or deli. It needs a small commercial cluster to walk to - a neighborhood hearth and gathering place. A there there.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

City Council, Nov 8th - Downtown Welcome Center, part 2: The Safety Railing

Surely one test of a friendly sidewalk or other place to walk is whether there is need for a safety railing or bollards. Of course, over a river, cliff, or other vista, a railing might be necessary. But who likes to walk along a highway, where there is no vista?

Unfortunately proposed along a State highway, the Downtown Welcome Center has great design work from CB|Two, but without additional work on the walking environment, it risks being insufficiently inviting and effective.

Other interesting agenda items are:

Continuing the debate on the Downtown Economic Improvement District

A proposal to purchase the abandoned rail right-of-way on Second Avenue NW between Gerth and Rosemont

The intergovernmental agreement on the walking and bicycling connectivity study for the Kroc Center.

Councilor Dickey confirmed that the proposed smoke-free parks ordinance was tabled from the October 25th meeting and will be carried forward, meeting date TBD.

Downtown Welcome Center

(Screen captures from CCTV stream of October 11th, 2010, Salem City Council meeting)

Walking along a highway is exactly the weak spot in the Go Downtown Salem proposal for a Welcome Center in the Liberty Parkade, across the street from the Conference Center. (Here's the first impression, and a few more photos, from the Oct 11th Council meeting.)

The signing is lovely, the design is jazzy and modern - but the safety railing emphatically says, "it's not safe to walk here."

Without traffic calming to create a more inviting walking environment, and without greater diversity and interest in storefront attractors along Liberty and visible from the Conference Center, it will still be difficult to lure people from the Conference Center into the downtown core.

The problem is not information. The problem is the traffic moat formed by highways 99E and 22: four lanes of Liberty, the dual turns from Liberty onto the Parkway, and the four lanes of Ferry/Parkway. Without traffic calming or choosing a different site where the bollards are not necessary, the design work will be for naught.

Here's an elevation from farther away. You can see the string of bollards along the Parkway/Ferry. "Go Downtown" and "Salem" is bold and attractive.

Here is the current streetview for reference.

At night the interior would stand out from the parking garage - though the upper floors of the garage won't be quite so dark. Still, note the horizontal line of the safety railing.

At the October 11th Council meeting, Councilor Nanke suggested that a skybridge between the parkade and conference center was the solution, as he was reluctant do to anything to encourage increasing numbers of people walking to use the crosswalk on Ferry and thereby impede auto traffic. Getting people off the sidewalks is not the solution; rather, getting more people on the sidewalks is!

Fortunately, the interior is another matter. The best part of the proposal might be the interior. The map, perhaps keyed to historic properties, looks great! You can imagine giving directions by walking across the map, a full kinesthetic experience.

The proposal is also caught up in deliberations about the future of the Downtown Economic Improvement District. In an addendum to the October 25th meeting, officials from Pioneer Trust Bank suggested that
The EID assessment itself is not popular among the downtown property owners we have had discussions with....Since the EID became effective, vacancy is up while rental rates and property values continue to slide....Go Downtown is widely perceived as an assessment funded event planning service.
Additionally, the Salem Downtown Partnership thinks the Liberty Parkade location is problematic, and Travel Salem finds that the center likely duplicates services they already provide (letters here).

Luring people from the Conference Center into the downtown core is a real problem and deserves attention. CB|Two has done terrific work, and it would be sad to waste it. But it is difficult to argue that without traffic calming and improvements to the walking environment, a fancy welcome center in this location can do the job by itself.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Applecore Races at EZ Orchards Tomorrow

Racing starts just before 9am on Saturday - with unicycles? That's right: Unicycle Cross! You gotta see it.

From the race flier:
The Applecore Cross is as fast as they come. If it's wet, be prepared for mud. Not overly technical, it's great for beginners and non-hillclimbers. You'll experience gravel, cool high speed runs between orchard trees, a pumpkin/aka mud patch and travel through a corn maze. With the EZ Orchards Market there, you can pick up some great produce at the same time. Beware though, don't enter all dirty and muddy as the owner promised to use a cold high pressure hose to thwart all muddy folks. This race was conceived with the idea of having a low key and entertaining race so don't expect fields of 200 plus. Mark from EZ Orchards also mentioned something about sausage.
Sounds like fun, huh?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Walk or Bike in the Hills or in East Salem? The Map Needs You!

Salem's Walk + Bike update project posted an online collaborative map a couple of weeks ago.

As of today, it's been viewed about 1200 times. Already the comments and push-pins cluster in interesting ways.

Perhaps the most interesting thing is that comments cluster in downtown and the close-in residential neighborhoods - that is, on the streetcar era grid of the late 19th and early 20th century. Except for downtown proper, this is also the easiest place to walk and bike: There are sidewalks and the grid makes for plenty of low-traffic alternatives.

Out in the mid-century neighborhoods, where the tree-like street heirarchy dominates, with a structure of arterial trunks, large collector branches, and small branch and twig local streets, and where sidewalks are fewer and bike lanes on busy streets prevail, there are hardly any comments.

Even more interesting, the special focus of the project is to develop good walking and bicycling routes to schools, and in East, West, and South Salem, there are hardly any push-pins around neighborhood schools.

Needless to say, if you live, walk, or bike in these outer neighborhoods - the map needs your thoughts! In important ways it is as much or more an update for good walking than for good bicycling. So even if you don't bike, don't have any interest in biking - the project still needs your comments!

So make sure you take the survey and comment on the map! (Additional map instructions here.)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Election: The Road Construction Lobby Paves History in Addition to Roads

National politics is not the Breakfast on Bikes forte - hopefully others will chime in with thoughts - but clearly the election promises change.

Thanks to the waybackmachine, we can visit an old, and now revised, history of the road construction lobby. The American Road and Transportation Builders Association, ARTBA, used to highlight the role of the League of American Wheelmen in their origins. Horatio Earle had been president, "Chief Consul," of the League and wanted to shift emphasis from racing to road improvement.

Some time in the later aughts, ARTBA updated the website and removed reference to the League. They erased the role of bikes.

The history now reads:
Established in 1902 at the Cadillac Hotel in New York City, ARTBA is the oldest and most respected national transportation construction-related association. ARTBA founder Horatio Earle, a Michigan public official, was the first to articulate the need for a federally-built network of Interstate highways. Earle called it the "Capital Connecting Government Highway System," which he said, would "connect every state capital with each other and the Nation's Capital-Washington, D.C." [bold added]

In anticipation of the election results, ARTBA published a "grassroots" advocacy pamphlet. Among other things, the pamphlet calls for road construction firms to ask legislators to oppose efforts on climate change legislation:
Vigorously oppose the Kerry-Lieberman energy/climate bill approach that would impose new fees on motor fuel at the refinery level for non-transportation investments like rebates to utility users for higher utility bills.

With the election, the House's effort to reauthorize the Federal Transportation funding bill (SAFETEA-LU, or whatever other Byzantine nomenclature they concoct!) will now look much different, and ARTBA obviously aims to have a major say.

BikePortland has a long note about the loss of Minnesota Congressman Oberstar, Chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Oregon Congressman DeFazio will also lose his chairmanship of the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit.

Getting funding for bicycle, walking, transit, rail, and most things other than road expansion are likely to become much more difficult.