Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Flashing Beacon and Sharrows at 12th and Mill; Planning Commission and Airport

West-bound sharrow
If you missed it over the weekend, late last week 4 sharrows on Mill and a flashing beacon on the 12th street crosswalk went in!

The sharrows will help with letting people in cars know to expect bike traffic as well as to be aware that with the medians there is not sufficient room to pass a person on bike.

For those who wish to bike in the travel lane on Mill, this should be a positive step.

(Sunny & Not at Mill)
Also going in at the crosswalk is a push-button activated flashing beacon. This will be very helpful for people on foot.

It will be interesting to see how drivers on 12th respond.

Have you used it?

(Once the weather is better it will be possible to get a picture of the beacon in action! Also:  more on the depot and the general configuration of the intersection.)

Update Saturday, the 24th

A break in the rain and a trip nearby afforded an opportunity to take a picture of the crosswalk.

The standards are all on the south side; two turn pockets
As Walker pointed out in the comments, when you are going from east to west, you can't see the flashing light, as the light standard is between you and on-coming traffic. On the west side of the intersection, the light standard is behind you vis-a-vis on-coming traffic, and you can see the flasher. The standards are all in a line, and if actual conduit is involved I supposed this makes sense. But if they are radio controlled, there's no reason not to have an off-set that makes even more sense.

And as Curt points out, with the turn pocket on the north side of the intersection (the far side in the picture), the design prioritized auto traffic over the existing foot paths and patterns of use.

Planning Commission Tonight

Earlier this month the Planning Commission started a hearing on the Airport Master Plan, which envisions a longer runway and bigger airport.

In response to public testimony, the hearing will be continued tomorrow tonight.  Staff have returned with some additional information. What is interesting about it is that a good chunk of it pretty much wholly evades the questions.

It is, alas, a preview of some of the obfusation we will likely encounter and already have encountered with the bridge.

1. The justification for the runway extension project was based on 2008 data, which represents a peak year in airport activity and does not accurately reflect an overall trend of declining airport operations.

Staff response: The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires 500 operations (takeoff or landing) of a Critical Aircraft or group of aircraft to justify runway extension projects. Accoring to the Updated Master Plan, Critical Design Aircraft Operations at Salem Municipal Airport increased form 772 operations in 2000 to 1,358 operations in 2008. The FAA threshold of 500 Critical Design Aircraft Operations was exceeded in all of the years examined...In addition...in 2011, and year-to-date in 2012, Salem Municipal Airport exceeded the FAA threshold of 500 Critical Design Aircraft Operations sufficient to justify a runway extension.

2. The proposed runway extension will have a disproportionate negative impact low-income and minority populations, schools, historic resources and future development to the north of the airport in tems of exposure to increased noise and air pollution levels.

Staff response: ...The NEPA process will consider how recommended developments will interact with persons, property, and nature outside of the airport. As individual projects identified in the Capital Improvement Plan are brought forward for development, potential impacts will be examined in greater detail as part of the NEPA process, or Environmental Assessment.
The matter of a declining trend line is totally avoided, and the question of impacts is punted down the road to the NEPA.

As an example of "public" process, this is junky and evasive! No wonder citizens check out or turn cynical. Makes you wonder about the report on "civic engagement" returned as part of the Sustainable Cities Initiative residency a couple of years ago.


Walker said...

The flashing lights have a serious design flaw, at least as installed on Court Street just a few feet west of the Capitol: a pedestrian who hits the activator button is not given any way to tell if the lights have come on.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

I have wondered if that is to enforce a double-check, that a person on foot, having activated the flasher, then must still verify that on-coming traffic offers an appropriate gap and/or is stopping.

But the ergonomics/feedback of activating them haven't always seemed quite right. I think they are novel enough that we may see yet a few more iterations.

It'll be interesting to hear what folks have to say after a month or two of use.

Curt said...

One can still never be too sure that the approaching driver isn't someone who either doesn't know the law or doesn't think peds have any business being in the roadway.

I'm dubious that the new crosswalk will get much use because it obviously doesn't serve established patterns of foot traffic. Seems more symbolic than practical.

Curt said...

So that southbound left turn pocket was not there before. That is where the refuge island should be. There aren't any other left turn pockets along 12th. Not at State, not at Court. There can't possibly be more demand for a left turn pocket onto Mill than onto the other major arterial intersecting 12th. Once again, compromising pedestrian comfort and safety of peds to provide vehicles with something that isn't even needed.