Saturday, April 30, 2011

Bike Lanes at the Wedding

(Bike boxes and bike lanes in London: Reuters/John Giles via The Atlantic)

It's not like the bike boxes and pavement markings are unique to London or anything, but the way they make themselves present even amid the pomp and circumstance is a little amusing. Go bikes!

Friday, April 29, 2011

West Salem Open House Highlights Problems on Wallace

This past week the Bike and Walk Salem project held four open houses to present the draft proposals for biking, walking, and safe routes to schools.

The one at the West Salem Library was crowded at times, and folks attending included West Salem City Councilor Dan Clem (here talking to Bob Cortright in yellow).

The map for West Salem naturally was of interest to many people, and conversation focused on not merely what was desirable, but also on what was feasible in the near-term.

Creating an effective crossing on Wallace is something of a keystone. Glen Creek, the railroad right-of-way, and Edgewater all are important and logical crossing points. All are problematic.

One potential crossing that may not have received enough attention is Taggart.

Taggart has a light, and at least on a map, offers open space and much easier connections than an over- or undercrossing at the railroad. Purchasing easements or right-of-way would likely be much cheaper as well.

Since Wallace is a State highway and the intersection with Glen Creek is going to be dramatically widened in the next couple of years, a pragmatic near(er)-term solution might be to focus on Taggart and connections immediately on the east and west of Wallace along Taggart.

Do West Salem readers have additional thoughts?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Breakfast on Bikes - This Friday

Spring is definitely here! Sun, rain, hail - it's all here in moody, mercurial flux.

Friday, April 29th, we'll be at the North Office Mall Building on Winter street NE from 7am to 9am with free coffee, pastries, and fruit for you.

Please support our generous sponsors!
Cascade Baking Company
Governor's Cup Coffee Roasters
LifeSource Natural Foods
Salem Bicycle Club
Willamette University.

Mechanics from Santiam Bicycle will also be available for quick check derailleur adjustment, lube, and tire inflation!

If you can't make it to the Bike Plan Open Houses, we'll have some maps for your viewing pleasure. We'll also have information on the first Introduction to Smart Cycling Clinic of the season and Bike Safety Education Community Rides.

View Larger Map

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Check out the Bike Maps Today or Tomorrow

Don't forget the Open Houses! They're at the 50+ Center right now!

Learn about a proposed new alignment for the Winter Street Bike Boulevard.

And a whole lot more!

The maps bustle with lines, solid and dashed. The idea is to cover the city with a full network!

Here are the times again:
  • April 26, 2011, 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., Center 50+, 2615 Portland Road NE, Salem
  • April 26, 2011, 4:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m., Pringle Hall, 606 Church Street SE, Salem
  • April 27, 2011, 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., Mid-Willamette Valley Council of Governments, 105 High Street SE, Salem
  • April 27, 2011, 4:30 P.M.-6:30 p.m., West Salem Library, 295 Glen Creek Road NW, Salem
Click through for more on the City's Bike + Walk Salem project, as well as the full poster here.

Legislative Update - Week 12

The winnowing continues. The Oregonian has notes on the difficulties of getting bills out of committee this past week.

What's new?

A few more bills appear to hit the dead pile. It's also certain that this list here overstates the number of still-viable bills. (The published information about bills isn't very user-friendly about making clear the deadfall of bills not making it out of committee.)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

City Council, April 25th - Skinny Sidewalks for You!

When Gabe Klein came to town, he marveled at Salem's broad right-of-ways and the inefficient ways we used them.*

Monday night on Council's agenda (the Urban Renewal Agency, more precisely) is a perfect example.

Earlier this month the West Salem Redevelopment Advisory Board revisited the Second Street NW Plan.

The Edgewater/Second Street Action Plan calls for improved conditions for people on foot and on bike, but you wouldn't know it by the plan the Board approved for Second Street.

The Board recommended skinny sidewalks and maximum car parking for a section of Second Street NW between Rosemont and Gerth (below, cross-hatched in green). The new road space comes from taking out the railroad right-of-way, currently a gravel patch in the middle of the roadway.

The matter will go before the full Urban Renewal Agency on Monday night.

The Staff Report (8mb pdf) also contains an option supported by a minority on the board. It has larger sidewalks and uses only parallel parking.

But the fact remains that the new right-of-way created by paving over the railbed will be devoted to private car storage rather than to improved facilities, connectivity, and amenities for the public on foot and on bike.

It's hard to know what to say when the language in the Action Plan is so clear and the details in this road design so disconnected from the plain meaning of the Plan. It does underscore the importance of political support - the walking public's not calling loudly enough for wider sidwalks.

In any case, without the railroad connection between Patterson and Wallace, and across Wallace, Second Street is not a key bike connection, and the road could be restriped at some later time. More crucial is comfort and the east-west connectivity along Edgewater (retrofit ideas here).

Cemetery Path

On the 11th, Councilor Cannon pulled the alley vacation by the cemetery off the consent calendar and Council voted unanimously against staff recommendation. Meeting minutes here, and video here [choose April 11, 2011 --> agenda 4.3(d)]. There will be a full public hearing on the vacation later in the year. A connection to the alley is not the only way a path might go through the cemetery, so the loss of this alignment would not be a total show-stopper. Still, it was disappointing to see Council so quickly override the staff recommendation.

Other Matters

A hearing for adoption of the Capital Improvement Program (summary). Here's a longer discussion.

It was nice to see that a planning variance will require new Bike Parking at a clinic on 1810 East Nob Hill.

The City is moving forward with other plans for space in the Liberty Parkade instead of a Go Downtown Welcome Center (for history see here and here).

* Earlier this week new Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced that Klein would become his Director of Transportation.

Friday, April 22, 2011

For Earth Day: Go Gas Free

If you're not already on your bike, think about biking more this year.

With gas prices rising, you'll save money.

With the exercise, you can lose weight and get healthier.

And you'll take a step in reducing greenhouse gases and other pollution.

Here's a great way to remind yourself that short trips are often easier, faster, and more fun by bike!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Kidical Mass Looking for Volunteers; Register for the Monster Cookie

The bestest ride for the family and the wee ones is Kidical Mass. It's highly supervised short and fun ride perfect for new bicyclists.

And Kidical Mass is looking for volunteers to help with a summer of rides!
You can be involved as much or as little as you have time and interest. Tasks can be split or shared among different Committee members, such as:
* Develop ride themes
* Develop ride routes
* Lead rides
Email if you'd like to help out!

Monster Cookie

The Grand-daddy of them all is the Monster Cookie! It's been going for more than 30 years now.

The cookie takes place on Sunday, May 1st. Online registration is open until the 24th. Day-of-ride registration is also an option.

The ride starts at the State Capitol and goes through the rolling hills of French Prairie to Champoeg - where the Oregon Territory got started in 1843! For more information, including a map and elevation profile, click here.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Bike and Walk Salem - Paper Please Edition

Don't miss the Open Houses next week on the 26th and 27th!

Last night Rodger Gutierrez brought paper copies of the new Oregon Bicyclist Manual to the Bike + Walk Salem advisory committee meeting, and it was great to pick one up.

You can download the pdf, of course, but the dead tree edition makes it easier to see things like Salem-Keizer's own John Sangster on the cover!

Seeing the large poster-sized maps of the draft plan was also helpful, and they made clear many details the small maps perhaps obscured or made more difficult to see.

Here's an example of a proposed change to the Winter Street Bike Boulevard concept (you can see an earlier alignment on this map). It didn't leap out on the small map; graphically the crossing at Fairgrounds is really busy, so it's not easy to see on what streets they recommend a crossing.

It was much clearer on the large poster map.

So make sure you attend one of the Open Houses. You'll catch details you wouldn't otherwise!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Spring Brings Biking Opportunities for School Kids

Every spring Robert Fox uses the curriculum of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance to teach Bike Safety Education.

After 10 hours of class time and parking lot drills, the students go out on a five mile community ride on their neighborhood streets.

Here Fox starts with instruction in the classroom.

Volunteers from the Salem Bicycle Club, local BTA members, and local racing clubs, as well as interested parents and teachers, lead small groups of five or six students as they practice signaling, turning, stopping, and navigating around traffic.

Everybody has a blast, and the students learn important bike handling and safety skills.

This year the AC Gilbert House will also host Bike Safety Education classes. It will happen in first week in July, so look for more information later this spring!

(Bike Safety photos: Sage Freeman, Capitol Velo in Salem, OR.)

Celebrate Earth Day with a Bike Train

Bike trains are a great way for kids to bike to school. The trains have adult conductors and cabooses, can accommodate a range of ages and skill levels, and offer healthy, active transportation options.

Daniel Evans, a parent at Hammond Elementary school, is organizing their own bike train! And they need volunteers. If you're an interested parent of a Hammond Elementary student, hit the volunteer page.

The first train ride will happen this Friday, on Earth Day. What a great way to celebrate!

Walk + Bike Challenge Month

May is Walk + Bike Challenge Month! Is your school signed up?

Check the map to find out! If not you can register here.

View 2011 Walk + Bike Challenge Schools in a larger map

Monday, April 18, 2011

1988 Transportation Plan Offers Historical Snapshot of Bikeway System

The 1985 staff report on the proposed Cemetery bikeway suggested a trip into the Transportation Planning "Archives." Fortunately, the Year 2005 Areawide Transportation Plan for the Salem-Keizer Urban Area (adopted in 1988) is available!

The plan noted that downtown Salem, South Salem, Lancaster Drive, and Keizer were "specific problem areas" and offered significant barriers to people on bike, whether experienced or prospective.

Much of the language is disappointingly familiar, and it's clear that bicycling hasn't been much of a priority in the intervening years. Plans, however fine, will alone not make for progress.

Here's a clip from Figure 4, Bicycle Routes, dated February 1988.

Most interesting are the designated, but never built, bikeways on
  • D Street
  • Union Street
  • Riverfront along Slough, Waterfront, North to Keizer
  • 25th Street
  • Cemetery connection between Skopil and John Streets
Off of the map detail here are routes on
  • Liberty (between Commercial and Browning)
  • Vista/Fairview couplet
  • Madrona connecting to 25th
The nature of the facilities aren't always clear: Some are signed only, while others are bike lanes or even separated paths.

In the end, the plan's a mixed bag. By 2005 in some ways we got more connectivity than it envisioned, but of course in other ways some projects we might wish had been completed were instead discarded.

Legislative Update - Week 11

Committee dockets are getting crowded and hearings more frequently rescheduled.

What's new?

Very little.

Bills Specifically about Bicycling

Senate Bill 130 for bicycle traffic lights. No change.

Senate Bill 415 would expand penalties for harming a vulnerable user of the road. Worksession scheduled for April 19th.
Tuesday-April 19
8:30 A.M.
Room: 343
Senate Bill 846 would regulate standards for bicycle trailers. Work Session scheduled for April 18th.
Monday-April 18
Time: 3:00 P.M.
Room: HR B

Sunday, April 17, 2011

In the Sunday Paper

The Sunday paper has a couple of things worth noting. Local Racer and Executive Director of the Oregon Bicycle Racing Association Kenji Sugahara has a little feature in the business section.

That's nice to see!

And on the front page is an article about Go Downtown and the downtown Economic Improvement District.

With the mobility study and everything else going on, it certainly seems like there's an opportunity to reshape downtown into something more vital, diverse, exciting, and profitable.

(On the other hand, this is exactly the mission of Vision 2020, and it's not like that project is going gang-busters with momentum. People often seem to want change in general and in the abstract, but to shrink from any specific changes.)

The online article also links to the staff reports and other documents around the Economic Improvement District.

Many of the online comments focus on parking, as you'd expect - that's another discussion, but it's worth noting that so many of the comments have to do with transportation. The one-way grid, transit, congestion, parking, all are implicated in the problem and the solutions.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Preview Bike Maps and Proposed Routes

Check out the first round of new bike routes and other proposed bike improvements!

In preparation for the Open Houses on the 26th & 27th, the Bike + Walk project team has posted the Draft Bicycle Concepts memo (6mb pdf) and Draft Safe Routes to School Solutions memo (5mb pdf).

The documents aren't exactly light reading, but they're worth dipping into.

In many ways the maps are the most important part.

There are five detail maps, one for each quadrant of the city and a zoom on the downtown core.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Save the Date: Open Houses on April 26th and 27th

Just announced:
Come review the proposed bicycle, pedestrian, and safe routes to school recommendations at one of four open houses. Pick a time and location convenient to you:
  • April 26, 2011, 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., Center 50+, 2615 Portland Road NE, Salem
  • April 26, 2011, 4:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m., Pringle Hall, 606 Church Street SE, Salem
  • April 27, 2011, 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., Mid-Willamette Valley Council of Governments, 105 High Street SE, Salem
  • April 27, 2011, 4:30 P.M.-6:30 p.m., West Salem Library, 295 Glen Creek Road NW, Salem
More on Bike + Walk Salem here, full poster here.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Sustainable Cities Expert Wheels Around Town Last Thursday

Aside from both being capital cities, it's hard to say how much Salem and Washington, DC have in common. So when Gabe Klein, former Director of Transportation for DC was in town last Thursday, visiting Eugene, Salem, and Portland as the Sustainable Cities Expert-in-Residence, it was hard to know what to expect.

Size alone might suggest Portlanders are more likely to be on the same page. Salemites might have a very different set of problems and solutions.

Fortunately, Klein's smart and completely charming, and it was delightful to have a chance to chat with him. A former bike mechanic, he spotted that the tires on the City's Eneloop needed air, and immediately offered to fill them. As a small group of us biked around town, Klein didn't talk too much about other places, other cities, other models; he wore his expertise lightly and with great friendliness.

(Wearing a trenchcoat and stingy brim, Klein stood out with style.
Images courtesy of Chris Jones, Sustainable Cities Initiative

Bikes Still Cheaper than Electric Cars!

Just a reminder that a bike is a lot cheaper than an electric car. With gas prices on the rise, invest in your health, reduce greenhouse gases, and save money.

Tell your friends. Visit your local bikeshop.

Bike Peddler

Santiam Bicycle

Scott's Cycle

South Salem Cycleworks

Monday, April 11, 2011

Legislative Update - Week 10 - When Bills Die

This past week was a great winnowing. In a wire story, Democratic Rep. Sara Gelser of Corvallis called it "dead week."

What's new?

Friday was the deadline to schedule committee votes for bills, and those for which no votes were scheduled are effectively dead. The bill for a bike licensing study has a hearing today.

Friday, April 8, 2011

City Council, April 11th - Cemetery Connections

Monday night's City Council session offers some interesting history, a happy postponement, and an intersection widening.

Top of mind for people who bike is a request for vacation of right-of-way just north of the Pioneer and City View Cemeteries.

City Staff asks Council to postpone consideration of a small segment of alleyway so that it can be evaluated for a connection through the cemeteries as part of the update to the bike plan.

This is great to see!

At the same time, the history of the alley is fascinating. In 1985 a pathway had been considered, and a city staff report mentions that there was a
possibility that it [the relevant portion of the alley] might be incorporated into the proposed Cemetery Bikeway which would provide bicycle/pedestrian access through the cemetery between Rural and Hoyt Streets.
The project soon became dormant, and after 20 years, in 2004 some proposed a pathway. Apparently it was decisively rejected!
In January 2005, the City Council held a hearing on the proposal to re-insert the bike path concept into the Salem Transportation Plan. Many local neighbors opposed the proposal; the owners of City View Cemetery opposed the proposal; the SCAN Board of Directors opposed the proposal; and the SCAN Bike Advisory Committee opposed the proposal. The Friends of Pioneer Cemetery expressed reluctance about the proposal (a position that has subsequently turned to opposition). The City Council voted against the proposal in no uncertain terms.
It's good the City is willing to revisit the concept, and it will be interesting to learn more about the reasons for the rejection in 2004/05 and how the climate might have changed in the mean time.

A path through the cemetery could benefit not just the Fairmount neighborhood, but also those in the Candelaria, Salem Heights, and Sunnyslope neighborhoods who might wish to use a low-traffic route that avoids Commercial and Liberty streets.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Sustainable Cities Transportation Talk and Bike Tour on Thursday

Our nation's capital has a bike sharing program. Could our state's capital have one too?

Thursday night Gabe Klein comes to Salem as part of the Sustainable City Intitiative. He'll be talking about the future of transportation.

From the release:
Please join us for a public lecture by transportation expert Gabe Klein on "The Future of Transportation" at 6 pm Thursday, April 7th, in the Paulus Lecture Hall at the Willamette University College of Law. Klein is the former Transportation Director for the city of Washington, DC, and is the 2011 SCI Expert in Residence at the University of Oregon. The Lecture is sponsored by the Sustainable Cities Initiative at the University of Oregon and the Willamette University Center for Sustainable Communities.
Gabe Klein is the Sustainable Cities Expert-in-Residence for 2011. As Director of Transportation in DC, he implemented the bike sharing program, Capital Bikeshare. He's also been an executive with Zipcar.

There will also be a bike tour of Salem beforehand. Meet at the bike racks in front of the City's Urban Development offices at 2:45pm! (350 Commercial NE, directly under the Chemeketa Parkade, just north of Chemeketa. See map)

Klein will also be giving a talk on Friday at noon for the Center for Transportation Studies at PSU. You can stream the talk or watch an archived version after.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Draft of Regional Transportation System Plan Released for Public Comment

Last week our Metropolitan Planning Organization, the Salem-Keizer Area Transportation Study, released the draft 2011-2035 Regional Transportation System Plan.
The review period will run from March 31 to May 9, 2011.

During this period, SKATS will hold several open houses and a public hearing. The public hearing will be held on April 26, 2011 at 12:00 noon in the Pringle Hall Community Center located at 606 Church St SE in Salem. Check the calendar on the COG's website for details on the open houses and other events. In addition, SKATS staff are available to make presentations regarding the content of the RTSP to interested groups.

The RTSP is available, as a PDF, either as one document [big pdf], or as individual chapters. A printed copy of the RTSP is also available at the Salem Public Library and at our office at 105 High St SE in Salem.
The RTSP is in many ways a compiliation, and it coordinates plans from Salem, Keizer, Turner, Marion County, Cherriots, and the State. It does not generally originate road projects and it is not the place to look for novelty or change.

So it's not clear what might change with public comment. In any case, it's never a bad idea remind planners that bicycling meets nearly every key objective of the plan:
Provide a multimodal system
A multimodal system provides the residents of the area choices for their transportation needs, has the potential to decrease overall congestion, and to reduce pollutants and greenhouse gases creation. It also provides a measure of resiliency.
Maximize the efficient use of the existing infrastructure
Building new roads and widening existing roads is expensive. The region should continue to promote and fund travel demand options, system management techniques, and other cost‐effective projects that increase the carrying capacity of the regional system in order to limit the necessity and costs of expanding the roadway system.
Reduce the impact to the environment and natural systems


Limits the increase in congestion during the peak hours along the regional corridors
Send comments to

I'll try to have more detailed thoughts later after I've read through it. Hopefully others will read and chime in with their own analysis!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Legislative Update - Week 9

What's new?

Wednesday there will be a hearing on bicycle traffic lights and on a possible bicycle licensing study. Personal car-sharing continues to move forward.

Bills Specifically about Bicycling

Senate Bill 130 for bicycle traffic lights. Public Hearing for April 6th:
Wednesday-April 6
1:00 P.M.
Room: 50

Saturday, April 2, 2011

City Council, April 4 - Air Subsidies and the Sustainable City

Should a sustainable city subsidize air travel?

On Monday in a special meeting, City Council considers Seaport's wish to offer commuter air service in Salem. According to the staff report,
The primary market Seaport is targeting is business travelers from Salem to Seattle. Results form an informal polling of Chamber of Commerce and SEDCOR members show strong support with a majority of respondents indicating they would be likely to use the service, depending on price.
Last month, Seaport discontinued service in Astoria.
In a move that came as no surprise to many, SeaPort Airlines announced last week it is ending flights between Astoria and Portland on March 12 when $4.5 million in state and federal subsidies run out....Astoria passenger loads never averaged much above three passengers per flight on SeaPort's nine-seat planes. In recent months, Astoria averaged about two passengers a trip.
Now it's Salem's turn.

According to the Oregon Business Journal,
Seaport President Rob McKinney says the service will probably begin with two daily flights, and will be completely unsubsidized.
The City, however, proposes a number of small subsidies:
The dollar amounts are not large at the moment, and perhaps it is not useful to make too much of this. But if you think that rail is significantly more sustainable than air travel, what sense does it make to continue to chase after air service?

(Additionally, when someone complains about the number of people who use bike lanes or other bike facilities, it is perhaps useful to recall the $4.5M spent on 3 passengers per flight. It's hard to think of any bike facility that expensive with such a low usage. Hundreds of people use the Union Street Railroad Bridge every day, for example, and it won't be long before its daily use is measured in thousands!)