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.

It explicitly called out that bike facilities were not possible on Lancaster Drive, so while Lancaster today remains awful, it did get bike lanes as part of an "urban upgrade."

Other projects like Cherry Avenue, Verda Lane, Kuebler Boulevard/Cordon Road, and the Salem Parkway also got bike lanes or paths as part of the regular construction or widening.

The plan was big on beltline/ring concepts. Croisan, Kuebler, Cordon, Lockhaven, and two more bridges formed a sururban ringroad. Curiously, the plan also envisioned a bike ringroute along the edges of downtown - D, Union, Riverfront, Trade/Ferry, and 14th. The plan's authors didn't want to take bike routes directly into downtown.

On the other hand, as meagre as is this plan (it is explicitly called "skeletal" in some places), in some ways it offered connectivity along Union, the Riverfront, and in the Cemetery we still lack today. (The Cemetery connection disappears in the 1992 Salem Transportation Plan.)

(One project is just now being designed, the jog between Market and Swegle!)

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