Friday, June 15, 2012

Boulevard Treatments for Busy Roads Should Complement Low-Traffic Bikeways

On Monday at Council, members of the Downtown Advisory Board indicated "there is difficulty finding patience for waiting for studies to unfold."

No kidding! The downtown mobility study is taking for-ev-er.

And who knows whether it'll result in substantive change, visionary change, or will just sit on a shelf collecting dust.

In the mean time, we can dream, right?

Over on the facebooks there's been some talk about ways boulevard- and multiway-treatments might help with our broad, intimidating, and ultimately dehumanizing arterial roads.

At the level of concept, several have been proposed for various Salem locations.

Here's two looks for a treatment for Liberty downtown between State and Court.

Arbuckle Costic and Salem Downtown Partnership

Arbuckle Costic and Salem Downtown Partnership
And here's an image for south Commercial from the Sustainable Cities residency and the South of Mission project.

SCI Grand Boulevard design proposals
On June 19th at 6:30pm, the downtown neighborhood association, CAN-DO, will learn about another one, as I understand it, proposed for Court and State streets.

It would be great, of course, to be able to make these conversions! But Salem struggles with the baby steps: Basic sidewalk and bike lane remediation too often is a stretch, an "enhancement," and not a baseline.

If we can't seem to walk, how are we going to run or dance?

At the same time, sometimes it's easier to stretch for the visionary, to rally behind something grand, than to execute the merely adequate, which seems banal and, well, pedestrian. In this way it might be easier to dance than to walk.

These treatments would help a lot for internal circulation. Through traffic wouldn't have to wait for people parking, local traffic would be slower and calmer and more thoroughly multi-modal.

While we pursue family-friendly bike boulevard treatments for lower traffic streets like Chemeketa, Union, Church, and Winter, we should also work for more urbane boulevard treatments for our busy arterials.

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