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.

Here's the latest staff report.

I don't know how meaningful it is at this moment to drill into details. In one key way, the plan is opting for generality rather than vision and specificity, so it may not be important to focus on the details.

The language here is dry, but the import clear: We are not just now going to articulate a vision* or strategy or priority for biking and walking in Salem, but instead will punt the matter for the citizenry to debate and discuss further. The process around the Capital Improvements Program is the proper place to discuss and settle on priorities, not the Transportation System Plan.

The goal here is mainly to identify a pool or universe of potential projects, not to articulate a vision for mobility and a 21st century transportation system.

The upside is more time for public opinion and passion to coalesce around certain projects.

The downside is passivity and inaction or ad hoc, piecemeal, and uncoordinated improvements.

Helpful, perhaps, is collating the list of projects into corridors. This would offset at least some of the potential for piecemeal implementation.

Regardless of what you think about the text of the Plan itself, continuing to show broad and vocal public support for walking and biking in Salem is essential. This plan is, pragmatically speaking, a placeholder and a challenge, and building momentum the key.

Ostensibly a plan with a 20 or 30 year horizon, it will need to be revisited in another five or ten years. Presumably gas and energy will be even more expensive, and the political climate for walking and biking more developed and hospitable. And if the climate changes sooner, the plan is certainly flexible enough that City Council could initiate a bunch of projects and go gang-busters with improvements for people who walk and bike.

So in this way it's also a challenge to fans of walking and biking to make more noise and make it uncomfortable for Council to do anything but to follow public opinion and to promote walking and biking. (It is clear that this process and document hasn't been designed to lead with a vision.)

Attending the Commission and Hearing with general support for walking and biking in Salem, therefore, may be more important than specific comment on the Plan and its details.

Please consider attending to show your support! A full house would be terrific and send a message to Council to adopt and start implementing the plan immediately.

* It is perhaps more than a little relevant that in an editorial following the Mayor's State of the City Address, the paper noted an aversion to vision:
As to where the mayor wants to take Salem during 2012, that was unclear. The drawback in Peterson's governing style has been her failure to spell out concrete details of her goals for Salem.

That was evident again in her 43-minute speech. Although she talked about Salem's budget challenges, she gave little hint of how city government should be redesigned and its services re-prioritized.
That's what we see in the bike plan process.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

See you there.