Saturday, March 31, 2012

Hank Bersani Rear-Ended on Highway 99w and Killed

In profoundly sad news for the weekend, the Statesman and Western Oregon University are reporting that Professor Hank Bersani died this morning after being struck while bicycling on Highway 99W, just north of Monmouth.

It is the second fatality of a person on bike this year in Polk County.

From the SJ:
Oregon State Police reported that its investigating the accident, which occurred at around 11:22 a.m. near the Hwy. 99W intersection with Hoffman Road.

Police said a 2001 Dodge Dakota pickup driven by Marvin H. Ford, 68, of Monmouth was traveling northbound on the highway when it struck a bicycle on which Henry “Hank” Alexander Bersani, Jr. was traveling north bound.

Bersani, 61, is a special education professor at WOU.

Police said the bicycle moved from the shoulder into the northbound lane in front of the pickup truck. Ford veered left in an unsuccessful attempt to avoid contact, striking the bicycle from behind.

Bersani was ejected from the bike and into the center of the highway and died at the scene. Police said he was wearing a helmet.
Heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Hank Bersani.

City Council, April 2nd - Hospital Facilities Authority

Earlier this month an ad appeared in the Statesman for the Joint Replacement group.

The idea, of course, is that after you get a new joint, you'll be able to bike and enjoy an active lifestyle.

But the big revenue is almost certainly in the joint replacement, not in preventative care, which might include low-impact bicycling, that might obviate the need for a joint replacement.

Such are the tensions endemic to our healthcare system and operating a non-profit hospital.

On Monday with a very short agenda,* City Council will reappoint four and newly appoint one to the Hospital Facilities Authority.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Bike Lanes on Sunset Ave Face Skepticism in Keizer

There might be no better example of the "popsicle test" in the Salem-Keizer area than Sunset Avenue in Keizer. Bounded by Sunset Park on one end, and a Baskin-Robbins on the other, kids and kids-in-spirit from 8-80 should be able to navigate the neighborhood safely and comfortably on their own.

Right now Sunset is a collector street with unimproved gravel shoulders. For most parents it almost certainly fails the popsicle test.

According to the Keizer Times, it is scheduled to be rebuilt with bike lanes, but not apparently with sidewalks.

The project has apparently been framed up as offering a choice between sidewalks or bike lanes, but not both, and many residents think the priorities should be different.*

Opportunities to Promote Walking and Biking to School

A couple of notes on walking and biking to schools...

Free Walk+Bike Webinar on April 12th
Tune in to learn about a variety of encouragement programs, including May's Walk+Bike Challenge Month, and the steps necessary to organize these successful events in communities big and small throughout Oregon.

Don’t miss this opportunity to learn the tricks of the trade when putting on the Walk+Bike Challenge Month and other encouragement events throughout the year.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Derby Girls and Prospects for a Renaissance on Madison

Madison is one of the most interesting streets in Salem.

It has history and diversity. With Mission on the southern edge, Madison represents the northern limits of the original downtown grid, oriented along the river and its steamboat commerce. Unlike Mission, which borders Bush Park, and a residential district, Madison also borders an industrial and commercial district, and contains links to the original Hollywood commercial center. Now a collector street, Madison crosses the barrier of the railroad and has traffic lights for crossing arterial streets. At one end it has the former Beth Sholom Temple, and at the other a mid-century neighborhood. Mid-point is the former Linen factory office, now the home of the Salem Leadership Foundation.

Full of connections, Madison should be a fertile border, a zone of mixed ecology, diverse uses, and innovation.

It's not quite there yet. Urban renewal in the Hollywood center certainly stripped it, and traffic along the arterials speeds through the neighborhood more than going to the neighborhood. The adjacent fairgrounds are a large parcel of land only intermittently used. As a City, we have frankly neglected it.

So it was very exciting to read that the Cherry City Derby Girls will be moving into a warehouse on Madison.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Winter Street Bridge and Slalom Offers Opportunity for Bikes

Though the City's barricades say "at your service," the message is clearly "go away."

In the aftermath of the flooding, the Winter Street bridge across Shelton Ditch sustained damage and is closed to auto traffic.

While the sidewalks remain open to people on foot, apparently as drivers have encroached on the barricades, workers have narrowed the palisade, stoutly blocking the bike lanes. Across the width of the bridge approaches, those moving the barricades haven't left other gaps through which a person on bike might fit consistently.

The barriers to bikes almost look intentional. At best it is a slalom course, at worst it is impassable.

Now with more fair weather approaching, more and more people will want to reach Willamette University, the Hospital, and downtown by bike. Winter Street here has been one of the city's busiest bikeways.

While the City works on finding $10M for the Minto Bridge and Path, right here is a much cheaper and easier opportunity for the City to show the benefits of bike mobility: No heavy cars, but light bikes encouraged! Make it a temporary bike/ped bridge only, and make it known - leverage the temporary inconvenience to car traffic as a way to trumpet the benefits of bikes and facilities for people who bike. Make lemonade out of a lemon!

Hopefully we won't have to wait too long.

Curt and his family use Winter street every day, and fortunately he's been in communication with the City on the barriers. Early in April he'll meet with City Staff to scope out an improved barricade and cone plan that will permit easy bike travel. Maybe they can come up with some groovy signage for people on bikes?

Thanks, Curt!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Is Auto Highway Traffic Really on the Rise?

In what might be the start of the PR campaign for the Rivercrossing, headlines in the Statesman today declared that "traffic through Salem increasing" and that the increase was unaffected by the Great Recession.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Washington DC Does Bikes - Why not Salem?

While we were getting snowed on, Oregon Bicycle Racing Association Executive Director Kenji Sugahara was in Washington, DC, at the National Bike Summit and enjoying the cherry blossoms and sun.

Reading BikePortland's coverage, you couldn't help notice the bike share and buffered bike lanes.

So here's a question: If a city as difficult and all-too-often dysfunctional as Washington, DC, can manage all this, what's keeping Salem back?

(All images from BikePortland. Full coverage of the 2012 Summit here.)

Marion County and Cherriots to Recieve Flex Funds

Wednesday the Oregon Department of Transportation announced Marion County's Brown Road project for bike lanes and sidewalks and Cherriots' bus stop improvements received funding via the flex funds program from the Oregon Transportation Commission.

The Brown Road project is, as I understand it, for the northern segment of Brown Road, above the dashed line. (The City of Salem also has a project for the southern segment, below the line.)

Cherriots' transit mall improvements at Courthouse Square are on the list of alternates.

Cherriots will get $1.9M for the bus stop improvements, and the County $1.2M for Brown Road.

The total is $23.6M for 25 projects. Overall, the program received 105 applications requesting more than $89M.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Maybe ODFW Passing on Capitol Mall is a Good Thing

Yesterday Michael Rose wrote about Oregon Fish and Wildlife's decision to by-pass downtown and the Capitol Mall.

It is complicated, of course, and while I'm not sure that the Fairview Industrial Park is the best location for the life of the City, I am sure that yet another single-use office building on the Capitol Mall would only add to the death of the City.

Those are strong words, I know, but continuing to build out superblocks or even regular blocks of single-purpose office buildings is one of the things that is killing downtown.*

For the City - again, not for the State or for any other entity - for the life of the City, the best decision might have been as part of the mixed use Boise project, and it's too bad we can't learn more about what the possibilities might have been at that site.**

I have written before about the ways our institutional development near downtown has girdled downtown proper. Residents and regular pulses of traffic into downtown, especially pulses by those on foot, on bike, or on transit, but even those in cars, face formidable barriers on the south, east, and west.

The Capitol Mall is large part of this. But it wasn't always this way.

(The block bounded by Summer, Winter, Marion, and Center,
side-by-side in 1926 and 2010 - homes to parking lot

At one time there were houses here - it was a thriving residential neighborhood!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Follow the National Bike Summit on Twitter

While there are lots of folks from Portland at the National Bike Summit, locally the Executive Director of the Oregon Bicycle Racing Assocation, Kenji Sugahara, is the only person I know there.

He doesn't seem to be tweeting about it, but others certainly are.

You follow the action here.

BikePortland is posting as well.

(I can't get the twitter widget to work, alas!)

Monday, March 19, 2012

Latest Fairview Plan Looks More Conventional than Sustainable

When you look up the hill from Pringle Creek Community, you can see there's still lots of the old Fairview campus. In fact, there are two large parcels yet to be developed.

Tuesday night the Planning Commission looks at the refinement plan for the third part of the Fairview Property.

Of the three parts, it looks on the surface to be the most conventional by far, and may not meet the spirit or intent of the master planning.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

City Council, March 19th - Hiring at the Airport; Development and Bikes

On Council Monday are several things that remind us the ways that thinking in the short-term and early-process can create downstream and longer-term problems for the community.

Recycling and Waste to Fund Airport Staff?

I don't get this at all. Urban Development wants to hire at the airport - but the City has a budget problem!

"The position will be funded solely with Airport revenues" and "this position will be funded...[by] the payment for the use of two large parcels of land by the City's Public Works Department for the construction and operation of a transfer site." These two statements seem like they're in tension with one another.

In fact, it looks like a position would be funded not from new revenues, but rather from shifting city funds from one pot to another, from Public Works to Urban Development.

Ultimately there's not enough information in the staff report to evaluate this. But somehow I doubt that the fees paid to the transfer station will arise mainly from airport users. Instead, the costs for the airport staff person look like they would be shifted from airport users to people with garbage and recycling. And if Public Works is going to shift that money around for something not directly related to waste reduction, I think active transportation would be a better investment than air transportation.

Salem needs a bike/ped coordinator far more than a new airport adminstrator!

(To be clear, I don't think that user fees always have to come back directly to users. My objection is that investing in the airport is an unwise and short-sighted investment that benefits too few.)

Friday, March 16, 2012

Sally Bush's Electric Car: What's Old is New!

Maybe you caught ODOT's press blurb today about the West Coast Electric Highway.

The rhetoric maps almost exactly to the ways we talked about the first cars and first highways a century ago, and this weekend offers a chance to learn more about the first attempt at electric cars.

The optimism for electric cars is palpable.
SALEM - Today, the Oregon Department of Transportation, along with charging station partner AeroVironment (NASDAQ: AVAV) and the Oregon Department of Energy, opened the first phase of the "West Coast Electric Highway." Eight charging station hubs with two outlets at each location are now available for public use. Two more will be installed soon north of Cottage Grove as part of this first phase. Together, these stations will provide EV owners access to a network of electric “refueling” spots along Interstate 5 in Oregon, paid for by American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds through the Department of Energy.

“As the first state in the nation to establish an EV charging infrastructure along a major interstate, Oregon is leading the EV pathway and supporting adoption of the next phase in the evolution of transportation,” said Pat Egan, chair of the Oregon Transportation Commission and vice president of customer and community affairs for Pacific Power. “Once Oregon’s segment of the West Coast Electric Highway is completed, EV drivers will be able to travel from Ashland to Portland at a fraction of the cost of filling a gas tank and with no direct emissions.”
But how much is hype?

Bush House is holding a free open house on Saturday, and they'll have photos of Sally Bush's 1909 Baker Electric (pictured here in 1947).

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Women's Rides aim to Boost Lady Cycling

Bicycling's mostly been about the guys. Lots of dude - and sometimes too much attitude.

At least two events this year aim to change that.

I don't know how the event rides shake out, but between 2008-2011, during rush hour in Salem women have been only about one quarter of the total people on bike.

I'm pretty sure the proportion of women on club and event rides isn't much different.

On Sunday the 18th at 9am, Specialized and the Bike Peddler are holding a short and easy-paced 25-30 mile introductory ride just for women.
On March 18th, women across the nation will be gathering for Women's Ride Day to enjoy a ride together on their local streets and trails to celebrate women in cycling. Whether you're an accomplished rider or a first-timer, Women's Ride Day events will help you strengthen your relationship with your bike and with other women in your area who ride!
Michelle will lead the ride and there won't be any boys on it.

In DIY spirit, CycloFemme is organizing rides all over the country on May 13th:
HONOR THE PAST and the emancipation of our grandmothers and great-grandmothers, for the freedom to choose and the chance to wear pants. CELEBRATE THE PRESENT and the riders who keep it rolling, bringing women's racing to the forefront, pushing the limits, breaking down barriers and sharing the love of the bike with everyone along the way. EMPOWER THE FUTURE of women in cycling and the opportunity for positive social change. Teach women to ride and they will change the world. MAY 13TH, 2012
There's no ride currently scheduled in Salem, so if you want to organize another lady-centric ride, here's a great opportunity!

The field is wide open in Salem for women-on-bikes programming - classes and clinics, rides and repair, fashion and fun. If you have an idea for a project, don't wait to start it! And if you have an interested friend, encourage her to try out one of these opportunities.

(And don't forget about Kidical Mass - which might be the most fun and relaxing introduction to city riding of all!)

Vintage image from "Bicycling for Women" in Cosmo, 1896! See also Francis Elizabeth Willard's 1895 book, A Wheel within a Wheel: How I learned to Ride the Bicycle.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Check out Paving Details for Court and State Streets Downtown

Thursday the City is hosting an open house on the repaving of Court and State streets downtown this summer.
Salem residents, business owners, and representatives are invited to attend an open house on the 2012 Downtown Street Resurfacing Project on Thursday, March 15, 2012, from 4-7 p.m. at the United Methodist Church, 600 State Street, Salem.

The 2012 Downtown Street Resurfacing Project is part of part of the Keep Salem Moving! Streets and Bridges Bond approved by Salem voters in 2008.

The 2012 Downtown Project includes the grinding and repaving of State Street and Court Street NE between Front Street NE on the west and 12th Street NE on the east, and constructing new curb ramps and curb extensions to meet Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements. The project is expected to begin in April 2012 and continue through November 2012. This work will be similar to the work that was completed during the 2010 and 2011 summer seasons in the downtown area.

Work to be completed during the daytime will include the necessary upgrades to bring all corners and ramps to current ADA standards. After completion of this work, nighttime work will include grinding the old pavement and resurfacing both Court Street NE and State Street with new pavement. The project will be coordinated with the July 20-22, 2012, Hoopla Basketball event.

City staff will be present at the open house to answer any questions about the proposed work and identify concerns and possible conflicts.

The City will begin publishing weekly updates when the construction period approaches. Attendees will be asked to provide contact information so they can be included in the distribution of these updates. Residents and business owners may also send contact information directly to the Project Manager and/or Public Information Officer at the email addresses listed above.
Here's a map from last fall with relevant details for people who walk and bike!

Especially welcome will be opening the east-side crosswalk on State and Winter. Hopefully the striping plan will work to obviate the risk of right-hooks here.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Picking Projects from the Bike Plan; SCAN to meet on Church Street

Now that the Bike Plan is out of the Planning Commission, it's time for the City to make a bold move!

The next step is for the Plan to go to Council, but preparations to apply for the next big set of grants can't wait.

The City should think big and select one or more tier 1 projects from the Bike Plan to start implementing. The Transportation Enhancement and Bike/Ped grants will be combined this year and there's a meeting today on the program criteria.
The Oregon Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee and the Transportation Enhancement Advisory Committee will hold a joint meeting from 9 a.m. – 11 a.m. on Tues., March 13 at ODOT’s Mill Creek Building, 555 13th St. NE in Salem. The groups will be reviewing and approving goals and criteria for the upcoming joint TE-Bike/Ped Grant selection process.
Presumably the City will continue to chase funding for the Minto Bridge and Path as well as the Wallace Park connection between Glen Creek and the Union St. RR Bridge.

The City should also pursue projects within the public right-of-way that will improve connectivity and comfort for people who bike to work, for errands, and other transportation needs.

Monday, March 12, 2012

North Broadway Parking Study to Hold Community Workshop

Tuesday from 6pm - 8pm in the Grant/Highland room at Broadway Commons the North Broadway - High Street Parking Management Study will hold a Community Workshop.

The study is intended to develop strategies to manage existing car parking better, to reduce conflicts between residential and commercial parking needs, and to encourage walking and biking trips trips for neighborhood circulation and other short trips to the district.

They're looking for ideas! So if you visit or live in the neighborhood, consider attending.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

City Council, March 12th - Flood Damage

On Monday Council will receive an information report on the damage caused by the flooding earlier this year.

The most significant item is the damage to the Winter Street bridge over Shelton Ditch.
Of the seven bridge structures significantly damaged, only the Winter Street SE Bridge over Shelton Ditch is currently closed to traffic. Given its critical location providing access to Salem Hospital, Public Works staff is working to expedite the process to evaluate options for either repairing or replacing the 84-year old bridge. The cost estimate [$4.4M] contained in Table 4 is based on complete replacement.
There was also damage to parks, streets, wastewater and stormwater facilities, and to private property.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

As Volt Halts Production, Sustainbility Summit can Look to Human Power

Monday is Salem-Keizer Sustainability Summit at the Conference Center.

With PGE the lead sponsor, a significant theme will be on electric vehicles.

EVs won't get us out from congestion, though. But human power can! And of course it is the most efficient and sustainable.

Robert from the Bike Peddler will be there to represent!

If you're going to be at the summit, stop by to say hello! He'll have a couple of bikes, even.

Friday, March 9, 2012

From Highland to Hooverville: A Well-Wrought or Rotten Rivercrossing?

Old drive-ins pose kindof interesting questions. On the one hand, as they reach 50 years of age, the mid-century architecture represents a distinctive style and phase in land use and development history.

On the other hand, yeah: cars.

Lots of empty space devoted to a ritual obeisance to autos, autoism, and food. I don't know if our nostalgia for the 50s and 60s should trump the wasted space they represent. But it's also unwise to bulldoze over our history; today's Mid-century Modern and Atomic Googie was yesterday's Queen Anne, Stick Style, and over-the-top Victorian. Still, the magic is in the streetcar neighborhoods and commercial centers from the early 20th century, not so much in post-war and car-centric suburbanism.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Salem Longtails Help with Easy Fuel Free Fridays

Oh the sun is great! Things are starting to bloom out and the color reminds me of a favorite day last spring when I saw this longtail at the West Salem library. It's a tandem converted to kids- and cargo-hauling!

And it belongs to Conductor Curt of Kidical Mass!

Cargo bikes are at present an under-used resource in Salem - but they can help individuals and families avoid the need for a second car!

Earlier in the year, John brought his Yuba cargo bike to B on B.

Xtracycle longtail conversions can do much the same.

And there are lots of other cargo configurations out there too. The great thing about them is they promote an active lifestyle, and provide occasions to notice things and even stop and talk about them.

That's quality family time!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Planning Commission Accepts Staff Recommendation, Sends Plan to Council

Holy Smokes! With Commissioner Gallagher absent, it looked like things might be set for another postponement. Even worse, as the meeting opened, it seemed Commissioners and staff might be tired of the matter, and I had an overwhelming sense of DOOM.

But in a very pleasant surprise indeed, last night the Planning Commission voted 5-0 to accept the current round of revisions and staff clarifications and to send the Plan to Council with a recommendation to adopt!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Bike Plan at Planning Commission Tonight - Show up to Support Walking and Biking!

Once again, into the breach!

The martial metaphor is uncomfortable, but getting the Bike Plan adopted continues to be a struggle. Tonight, Tuesday the 6th at 5:30pm, the Planning Commission will continue the Public Hearing on the plan.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Statesman Profiles Kidical Mass

If you didn't see it this morning - and to take your mind back from the rain to yesterday's lovely sunshine! - there's a sweet piece on Curt and Kidical Mass on the front of the Life Section!

The next ride is coming up March 11th at 1pm 3pm, and meets at Broadway Commons.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

A Preview of ODOT's New Public Art - and Why Not Bikes?

Over at On the Way, Bonnie Hull has a preview of new public art going in at the Transportation Building.

ODOT employees have been exiled from the 1951 T-Building for a year-and-a-half now while it undergoes some much needed renovation.

Finish work is apparently on the horizon, and soon some employees (not all, alas) will be able to move back into it.

Retired Art Professor Roger Hull is part of the group working on the 1% for art. You may recall the Environmental Art show at Hallie Ford from a couple of years ago. Michael Brophy is a favorite northwest landscape artist, and apparently he'll have several works in the new building!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Image of Biking: Types and how they Matter in the Popular Imagination

Last month the MSM picked up Portland's Zoobomb Mini-bike Festival.

While it was great to see coverage for bike fun, it was also definitely about the freak-show side of bike culture. Oooh, look at those scruffy and exotic ruffians!

With Cactus League play starting yesterday, talk in baseball's spring training was also about bikes, and it was nice to see how "normal" it seemed there.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Make a Video for the Salem Rivercrossing!

The Salem Rivercrossing Project is a lot like the Columbia Rivercrossing between Portland and Vancouver: Though the issues are not identical, many are similar, and the planning efforts drive with the same inertia towards elephantine overbuilding.

One important way they are similar is the donut hole: There's no middle. The planning and alternatives have focused on "no build" and hypertrophied "high build" highway options, but little in the way of "low build" options, like a smaller, local bridge for arterial traffic or modifications to the existing bridges. The universe of possibilities looks like it's being constrained as a way to bias the selection.

Spencer Boomhower is doing amazing work up in Portland. Here's a couple of videos on the CRC. Are there any enterprising animators in Salem who would like to do something similar for the Rivercrossing?

The CRC: A Boatload of Questions 1.1 from Spencer Boomhower on Vimeo.

A Common Sense Alternative to the CRC from Spencer Boomhower on Vimeo.