Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Comment on the Bike Plan before 5pm or Attend the Planning Commission!

Tonight the Bike Plan goes for a final time before the Planning Commission. At the first session there were lots of people. At the second session there weren't very many. If you can make it, consider coming to show your support. The online comment tool is still taking comment, and the record will be kept open at least until 5pm.

Here's the staff report with the latest edits and well as the revision reformatted to conform to the existing TSP style sheet.

Some additional changes have been made to routes, and it's not clear how concerned to be. One the one hand, some of the changes represent accommodations to property owners who have complained about the possibility of eminent domain. On the other hand, in many cases they are tier 2 or 3 projects, rather far off, and not important at the present. So taken individually, they are not really worth getting too worked up over. But hopefully they do not also represent a wholesale retreat in the face of individual opponents.

Here's an excerpt of a letter from a resident of west Salem with a proposed change to a route. The writer is someone who thinks that a good bike route includes a dismount and enforced walking, and that "there is no...truly safe way off the West Salem hills using a bicycle." It's hard to see such a writer as a credible source for an amended route. Does this person even ride a bike? Nevertheless, the Staff Report of November 1st recommended adopting the proposed change and it is included this way in the current plan (and January 3rd Staff report) before the Planning Commission.

Another area of retreat is on the enforcement policy, Policy 3.1:
The City shall encourage schools, safety organizations, and law enforcement agencies to provide information and instruction on bicycle safety issues that focus on the most important accident problems. Law enforcement agencies should use warnings and citations as a tool to enforce safe operation by bicyclists. [italics added]
As Doug pointed out, the enforcement policy should be mode-neutral and accurately assess risk: Unsafe motorist behavior kills a lot more people than unsafe bicyclist behavior and is involved in most serious crashes.

There are a few other instances of language being weakened in response to plan opponents.

Fortunately, one of the key issues regarding property acquisition seemed to find a satisfactory conclusion:
Additional key issues raised at the Planning Commission Work Session included proposed methods for acquiring property for bicycle and pedestrian proejcts and how people were notified of the proposed TSP amendments. As noted, project implementations, including property acquisition, will be consistent with the provisions of the Salem Revised Code.
Unless there's a rotten "easter egg" hidden in the SRC, this means that property acquisition for bike/ped projects will proceed by the same processes and be evaluated by the same standards as property acquisition for auto-oriented road expansion.

So, you know, compromise on the edges and keep the key center intact. Still, I worry that the City may be too ready to compromise or even bail out at the slightest opposition. Death by 1000 cuts and all. There's just not enough of a sustaining vision here.

The solution to this is popular support! If you haven't commented, please do so! If you facebook and haven't posted about it, hit the facebook. If you blog or tweet or tumblr or whatever social media you use - let your friends, colleagues, and peers know it's important to show support for improving biking and walking in Salem!

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