Saturday, March 30, 2013

Legislative Update, Week 8 - conversations about the gas tax

Contemplating the gas tax
Monday brings a hearing on changing the gax tax to "allow revenue from taxes on motor vehicle fuel and ownership, operation or use of motor vehicles to be used for transportation projects that will prevent or reduce pollution and congestion created by use of motor vehicles." This would require a amendment to the Oregon Constitution and commensurately higher voting totals.

An Oregonian headline writer showed the systemic bias against which the proposal will struggle: "How can Oregon cyclists help pay their way?" as if they don't already, and missing all the ways that people on bike and other non-drivers and non-driving activity actually subsidize people driving cars - free parking, using property taxes and other non-gas tax revenue to fund roads, and so on. A better question is how can Oregon drivers better pay for the roads?  And maybe the best question of all is, how can we create a better system to fund the total transportation system.

Active transport
and smoking
But as we see with the studded tire debate, the question for drivers runs into the wall and gets a flat tire! It is question on which the optics wholly trump truth and reality.  We aren't yet ready to look at the legacy of a mid-century monoculture that subsidized and built out a transportation system based on the drive-alone auto trip.  The drive-alone trip and the system behind it is the clear-cutting solution to the forest and thickets of a transportation ecosystem.  Monoculture is easier to grasp and looks more efficient, but it's not.

BikePortland has more on Representative Jules Bailey and House Joint Resolution 9 and the uphill struggle. KATU also filed a story:
“We’re opposed to any further dilution of the state highway fund,” said Mike McArthur, the executive director of the Association of Oregon Counties.

McArthur argues highway funding is thin to being with as gas tax revenues decline.

“We’d have more deterioration of the roads we have now,” he said. “We’re not keeping up with what we’ve got.”

McArthur said he supports bicyclists and owns three bikes himself, but argues more bikes do not necessarily take cars off the roads.
The House Committee On Transportation and Economic Development will talk about the gax tax (House Joint Resolution 9) and hold a public hearing on Monday, April 1st at 3pm in Hearing room E.

The Joint SubCommittee On Transportation and Economic Development will hold a public hearing on Senate Bill 9, on cell phone use in cars, on April 1st at 1pm in Hearing room 174. I still find this bill as amended very confusing and it takes too much brainpower on a sunny Saturday morning to parse it out. (Maybe someone can help?)

More updates after the jump.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Old and New in Brick and Concrete - Plus Third Bridge Rumor

Just bits, maybe to inspire a noontime walk in the quiet city...get out and see the early spring - and buildings before the trees leaf out!

George Post Beaux-Arts Library and Pietro Belluschi Modernist YWCA
(More on Belluschi buildings in Salem here and here.)

New Commercial St. Bridge Half and Demolition of late 1920s Bridge
(More on the Commercial St Bridge and further links here.)

And finally a rumor that Rivercrossing Staff are preparing a staff recommendation to go to Council on monday, April 8th.  Look for more soon.  In the meantime, No 3rd Bridge posted a nice sheet of myths and facts.

$8 million in planning already spent could have built
a lot of sidewalks, bike lanes, and other needed improvements

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Boise Redevelopment Project Open House on Monday

The Boise Redevelopment Project team is going to hold an open house at the Carousel on Monday, April 1st, at 5pm. The date may not be wholly auspicious, but it's nice to see some outreach. They'll be talking about the proposed apartment complex and the medical clinic.

Maybe they can be persuaded to ditch the fence so it's not so much of a compound and gated community? (I don't see how it's "our" Riverfront Park Community if it's all fenced and gated.)

For more see notes and some preliminary assessment here.

Minto Bridge and Path Open House

The City is also holding an open house for the Minto Bridge and Path. It till be Tuesday, April 16th at 5:00pm at the Conference Center.

The City's asking for RSVPs by Friday the 29th. RSVP to

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Cherry Blossoms, Alleys, and Gargoyles: Urban Exploring in the Emptied City

Though the weather wasn't always sunny, at least it wasn't rainy, and the weekend offered peak cherry blossom! If you haven't been out for an urban ramble, in between bits of rain this week will be a great time for one.

The city's best cherry tree?  Could make an old-timey postcard for sure
The cherry trees on the Capitol Mall may get most of the press, and there are many other clusters of them in other parks, along streets, and in yards, but this scene at Willamette, just outside of the library, along the Mill Race, might be the best of all of them. One perfectly placed tree in a grassy curve just off Jackson plaza. The elements of earth and water and sky encounter the built environment, here dedicated to music and to learning, in a harmony altogether uncharacteristic of Salem. Really lovely.

(The tree is also, I believe, part of a memorial to those Japanese-American students forced to leave Willamette in 1942 and sent to internment camps.  Especially now with the blossoms, it is a fitting place for contemplation on the too-fleetingness of the good and beautiful.)

A friend of the blog has shared a copy of Jeff Speck's Walkable City for review, and it'll be great fun.  Are any of you reading it?  It would be fun to work through it chapter-by-chapter in an online salon!  Speck's criteria for walkability call for a city's approach to be useful, safe, comfortable, and interesting.  The question of interest was particularly on the mind in the city emptied of folks by spring break.

What are the surfaces, forms, actions, and vistas that create an interesting walk?

Marion County to Hold Open House on Draft Transportation System Plan - Updated

Marion County has been working to update the 2005 Rural Transportation System Plan and tomorrow there's an open house on it.

From the email announcement:
Marion County will hold an open house for citizen review of the Rural Transportation System Plan (TSP) and the Strategy for Marion County Roads in Urbanized Areas on Wednesday, March 27, 2013 from 3:00 - 6:30 p.m. at the Public Works building located at 5155 Silverton Road NE, Salem....

I hope to see many of you at the Open House and meet you in person. If you are unable to attend, I still welcome your ideas on what are the biggest needs and challenges facing Marion County's Transportation Network, both urban and rural.
The project website is here.

You can look at draft chapters for the rural strategy or the urban strategy.

Overall, bike recreation and bike transport don't get much attention. Mostly it's about paved shoulders. (It is, for example, difficult and uncomfortable to reach the County shops by bike!)

If you'd like to see the County use asphalt rather than chipseal on important recreational routes, consider commenting or attending the open house.  If you'd like to see better ways to be able at least occasionally to commute from Silverton to Salem by bike, consider commenting.  If you'd like the County to abate the wretchedness of Lancaster, let 'em know!  It's all upside!

Update, Wednesday the 27th

They've added a survey, so that's another way to chime in! 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Legislative Update, Week 7 - Video Poker, Treadmills, and Drones?

The big news for people who bike was moving the ConnectOregon bill, HB 2310, out of committee and securing an amendment to include bike/ped projects.  ConnectOregon is a "Multimodal Transportation Fund to invest in air, marine, rail, and public transit infrastructure improvements."  The omission of "small-m-modes" biking and walking infrastructure is a serious one and
a rectified bill is a priority for the Portland Bicycle Transportation Alliance.  About the move out of committee they said:
After months of conversations with partners, stakeholders, and lawmakers and tons of public input from grassroots supporters and community leaders we are thrilled to see this program move one step closer to expanding to include biking and walking.

We are grateful for the unanimous support of Committee members and look forward to continuing this important conversation as the bill now moves to Ways and Means.

One important note, this amendment does not dedicate any specific dollar amount to biking and walking. The amendment does open up the door to funds that we hope to grow to $100 million. The BTA will continue to work to ensure that the 2013 Oregon Legislature does commit dedicated funding to bicycle projects to help meet this growing community need.
Gazing towards the Video Poker
Left unstated is the source of funding:  video poker and other lottery games "for entertainment purposes only."  That we rely on this, that this is apparently the only available source of funding at the moment should make us all a little queasy, even if it is the only pragmatic solution just now.  According to the State, the "Big-M-Modes" of air, marine, rail, and transit have enjoyed
$100 million in lottery-backed revenue bonds to fund the program in each of the 2005-07, 2007-09, and 2009-11 biennia. An additional $40 million was authorized in 2011 for the 2011-13 biennium.
And biking and walking shouldn't be left out.

But relying on lottery dollars isn't probably very good policy.

The CRC has worked its way out of the system and into law, and since the action is now on the Washington side, short of big developments, there will be no more to say here on Bridge Mania.


Monday, March 25th, the Senate Committee On Business and Transportation will hold a public hearing on SB 756, which would permit specific donations to state Parks and Recreation for bike/ped trails. It will be at 3:00 PM in hearing room B.  At the same hearing will be SB 741, which requires helmet use during organized events, and SB 742, which raises the upper age for mandatory helmet use from 16 to 18.

Wednesday, March 27th, at 3pm in hearing room E, the House Committee On Transportation and Economic Development will hold a public hearing on HB 2453, which is a mileage tax on electric car and other gas-misers.

More updates after the jump.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

City Council, March 25th - Airport Control Tower Apocalypse!

The Feds have announced that Salem's airport is on par with those in Troutdale, Bend, and Pendleton, and the FAA will close our control tower on April 7th.

Predicted in February,
comes true in April
(Once we recover from the bruised ego, maybe we can see this as a sign our airport isn't really that important regionally after all?*)

In other news Salem City Council meets Monday night. There's no big transportation issue on the docket, however.

Probably most relevant is the preliminary Capital Improvement Plan for 2013/14-2017/18.  There are no big surprises in it, but you do see transportation investment tailing off dramatically as the 2008 road bond winds down.  The bond in 2013/14 will fund $21 million for transportation, but that tails of to $2 million in 2014/15, and zero thereafter. 

It will be interesting to see how the conversation goes on a subsequent round of transportation investment.  The projects are almost all major car capacity increases, and if we are making any progress, the complexion of the next round should be different.  On the other hand, financing looks to be increasingly problematic, and if not quite "austerity," the next round may well be characterized by "modesty."  Investments in biking and walking are, of course, excellently modest and offer excellent returns.  If we are serious about "least-cost planning," things may be looking up.

There are also proposed increases in parking fees and fines to bring them more in line with those in other Willamette Valley cities.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Transportation Commission Announces Brown Road, other TE/OBPAC Funding

At their Wednesday meeting, the Oregon Transportation Commission approved Salem's request for $610,000 for sidewalks and bike lanes on Brown Road.

Brown Road:  No sidewalks or bike lanes
It's an odd little project. First off, it's legacy remediation of a substandard road.  It's a standard 1980s solution. But more interesting is the small scope of the project and request. You can see sidewalks and bike lanes missing from most of Brown Road, but the City chose not to request the full $3.3 million that project was estimated to need.

TE/OBPAC funding for short section of Brown Rd
to construct sidewalks, gutters, and bike lanes -
the southern section to Sunnyview was too expensive
ODOT funded a total of $8.6 million.  From the blurb:

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Kroc Center, new SSA Office, and Proposed VA Clinic all have Access Issues

Problems with Kroc Center access are very similar to problems at the new Social Security office, and suggest issues might be more than merely with the Feds or with rail!

The Kroc with two RR lines!
When you look at the list of significant projects in Salem - the Boise Redevelopment, Sustainable Fairview Redevelopment and the Fairview Industrial Park, the Kroc Center - it's impressive how many of them involve access issues complicated by trains.

But even more, as annoying and problematic are the railroad tracks, access issues are complicated and difficult in Salem because fundamentally, all we plan for are cars and those who drive them.  Everything else is just lipstick, sometimes lovely, more often perfunctory, but always a cosmetic veneer layered on as afterthought.  Levels of service are always just for cars

Tracks complicate things,
but they aren't the core problem
It was great to see in the Sunday paper more investigation into the execrable decision to site the new Social Security Office in such an inaccessible location. 

Folks really screwed up and if an ostensibly "sound" or administratively "correct" process led to this outcome - well, maybe we've got a bad process on our hands!

Left mostly untouched is the system question.  The head on the article frames it up as an issue for seniors.  The body of the piece discusses decision points for Cherriots and the City where with better information both Cherriots and the City might have steered the Social Security Administration towards different sites, better suited for a special needs population.  Throughout, however, it's not about providing mobility options for all people, but about providing mobilty options for seniors or the disabled.

And these are really important things.  Moreover, focusing on a particular and particularly disadvantaged population makes for better storytelling (narrative seems to be a thing with the SJ these days).

But shouldn't all people, from the most able-bodied to the wheel-chair-bound, have a robust menu of choices on ways to get around?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Downtown Mobility Study Scorecard, Round 2

So how'd the Downtown Mobility Study do in round 2?

Study Area with Streets under Consideration
Here is one set of recommendations from round 1 with the results and a rough grade from round 2:

full and partial credit in green; one fail and one deletion in red
Church Street is probably the biggest missed opportunity. With connections from Bush Park, South Salem High School, McKinley Elementary School, the entire Church Street corridor, including the spine through downtown, should be upgraded to a complete family-friendly bikeway.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Celebrate Tom McCall's 100th - Born March 22nd, 1913

There are many reasons to celebrate what would be Tom McCall's 100th birthday!  Recent history hardly offers a more important and transformative figure in Oregon history.  Probably not even Mark Hatfield.

For people who bike, we remember a progressive Republican who agreed that biking deserved more love and serious thought.

Tom McCall's Official Portrait - Henk Pander

McCall signs the Bike Bill in 1971 on the Capitol Steps

He signed the second bike bill in 1971 and gave bicycling the first stable road funding.

The progress reports are fun to read, full of crazy optimism.  And it's too bad momentum tailed off.  So much more could have been done, of course.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Legislative Update, Week 6 - Roll the Dice!

Does he ever weep or laugh?
Not much to report this past week.  Bridge mania crested and has passed. Bills on helmets, voluntary check-box funding, and sortof voluntary lottery funding will get hearings.


Outside of strictly bike stuff, in related issues, today, the 18th, the House Committee On Transportation and Economic Development will hold a public hearing on HB 2338 on extending Westside Express Rail from Wilsonville to Salem.  It will be at 3:00 PM in hearing room E.  On Thursday, March 21st, the House Committee On Judiciary will hold a public hearing on HB 2115 on intoxicants that warrant a DUI.  It will be at 1:00 PM in hearing room 343.  The House Committee on Transportation and Economic Development will hold a public hearing on Friday, March 22nd at 3:00 PM in hearing room E, to look at HB 2310 and ConnectOregon, funded by lottery dollars.  See below for more. 

Monday, March 25th, the Senate Committee On Business and Transportation will hold a public hearing on SB 756, which would permit specific donations to state Parks and Recreation for bike/ped trails. It will be at 3:00 PM in hearing room B.

Also on Monday, March 25th, the Senate Committee On Business and Transportation will hold a public hearing on SB 741, which requires helmet use during organized events, and SB 742, which raises the upper age for mandatory helmet use from 16 to 18. It will be at 3:00 PM in hearing room B

More updates after the jump.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

West Salem NA, Northeast Neighbors talk Sidewalks - In the Neighborhood Associations

Monday, March 18th at 7:00 P.M. in Roth’s West, Mezzanine (1130 Wallace Rd NW), the West Salem Neighborhood Association meets.  On its agenda is clarification of the proposed sidewalk deletion on Linwood - the Lindbeck Orchard apartment development.

Sidewalk segments on Linwood street to be deleted?
The hearing notice to remove some sidewalks was baffling, and at the last neighborhood association meeting WSNA voted to oppose it.  The developers are going to attend the meeting to explain in hopes of changing the stance before the Tuesday Planning Commission hearing

The staff report is out, but it doesn't really clarify things.  Apparently another round of drawings and explanation was necessary, and the planner in charge of the case furnished these additional materials:

Path connections between a "back patio" and sidewalk
are proposed for deletion (red and yellow added)
It turns out no part of the sidewalk on Linwood is part of the proposed deletions.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Downtown Mobility Study Suggests Opening Crosswalks and Closing Double Turn Lanes

One of the elements of the Downtown Mobility Study is an assessment of the many dual-turn lanes downtown.

Dual Turns proposed for deletion in green!
For people on foot in a marked crosswalk, the side-by-side turn lanes create lots of extra danger. Unmarked crosswalks across dual turn lanes are often closed, forcing people on foot to make a three-movement crossing instead of one.  Dual turns are terrible, and should disappear!

Fortunately, they are less of a factor for people on bike.*

Right hook conflict because of bike lane, median, and dual-turn lanes
One intersection in particular, though, is terrible for people on bike, and it has a bike lane.  It was great to see the dual turn lane proposed for deletion!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Rhapsodies Greet RR Bridge in 1913, Suggest Caution on Third Bridge in 2013

At Council on Monday, Council President Chuck Bennett observed that the Union Street Railroad Bridge celebrates its 100th anniversary on Friday.

Front page, March 15th, 1913

Though the construction was largely completed in 1912, its formal opening was in 1913, and the event was front page news. It was a big deal.

And it's still a big deal.  Its anniversary deserves a commemorative walk or bike ride - tip your cap!

Its anniversary might also remind us a certain humility in the face of projections about the future. As we consider another big bridge across the river, let's look at how the editorial page welcomed the bridge in 1913.

City to hold Open House on Eola Drive Widening in West Salem

On Thursday, March 14th, the City will hold an open house on the Eola Drive widening project.

Eola Drive is substandard; lacks shoulders, bike lanes, sidewalks
From the City neighborhood blog:
The City of Salem has scheduled an open house to provide information and details regarding the construction of the Eola Drive NW Corridor Safety Improvements for Thursday, March 14, 2013, at 6:30 p.m., in the media center of Myers Elementary School at 2160 Jewel Street NW. The City has received bids and is in the process of awarding a contract to K&E Excavating, Inc. Construction is expected to begin by mid-April 2013. Staff will be available to answer questions regarding the project construction until 8 p.m....

Improvements for the Eola Drive NW corridor will include: two travel lanes, curbs, sidewalks, bike lanes, and streetlights. Improvements will also include left turn lanes at Kingwood Drive NW, Woodland Drive NW, Turnage Street NW, Kaley Avenue NW, Eagle View Drive NW, and Sunwood Drive NW. The project will also construct a new traffic signal at the intersection of Kingwood Drive NW and Eola Drive NW.
Do we really need turn pockets here? I dunno. That's the part of the widening that will increase speeds and through-put.  Turning cars on a two-lane road create breaks in traffic for people on foot to cross, and the turn pockets will eliminate many of these lulls during high volume traffic.

But the sidewalks and bike lanes are desperately needed here, and even if we might dispute significant details - if you gave up the turn pocket, you could have a separated bike lane! - in general it is definitely a project in the road bond that is reasonable and meets an actual need.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Scott's Cycle Recovers Stolen Bike; SCAN to Talk Cemetery Connection - Newsbits

Another early
Scott's Cycle ad, 1915
How great is this?!  Over the weekend, folks at Scott's Cycle recognized a stolen bicycle that had been brought in for repair.
Exciting Day at the bike shop!!! Tony Jr's bike rolled in for a repair. Yes it was stolen and yes we kept it for him. Plus we found out the gentleman who brought it in is a fugitive. Wowie! To bad he made a break before the police arrived. BUT we did get his name and phone number....funny the police didn't have this info. But we did share it with them.
That's terrific.Thanks for looking out for people and their bikes!

(For more on Harry Scott and some early Scott's Cycle history, go here!)

SCAN to Discuss Pioneer Cemetery

The South Central Association of Neighbors meets Wednesday, March 13th at 6:30 p.m. in the South Salem High School Library at 1910 Church Street SE.

A favorite headstone.
John Shunk Zieber was U. S. Surveyor General for the State of Oregon,
worked for Asahel Bush, and was Asahel's father-in-law
On the agenda is "Pedestrian Access into Pioneer Cemetery." You may recall that the easement on the adjacent alley is for people on foot only, and Councilors and many others remained uncomfortable by the prospect of people on bike cutting through the cemetery. At the same time, Council did not make provision for a new access point and gate in the fence on the north side of the cemetery, or for a paved or graveled path. So at present, the idea of a connection even for people on foot is theoretical only, and some Councilors even seemed a interested in keeping it that way. (More history on the process here.)

Concerns from February 2005
It will take pressure and community support to advance the project, and so if you live nearby or would use a connection through the cemetery, consider attending the neighborhood meeting to show your support and to learn about what the next steps might be.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Legislative Update, Week 5

In the shadow of the CRC
Today the Legislature is going to dig into re-thinking the way we fund school transportation! It will hold a committee hearing on a bill that would permit forward-thinking (and backwards-thinking!) school districts to shift monies that had been restricted to yellow bus service to fund safe walking and biking facilities for kids getting to school on their own.  Let's have more of this retrograde thought!

Other than that, there's not much to report. 


Today, Monday, March 11th, at 1pm, the House Committee on Education will hold a public hearing on HB 2500 on school transportation funding. It will be in hearing room D.

Thursday, March 14th, the House Committee On Judiciary will hold a public hearing on HB 3047, which would lengthen the period of a suspended license. It will be at 1:00 PM, in hearing room 343.

Monday, March 25th, the Senate Committee On Business and Transportation will hold a public hearing on SB 756, which would permit specific donations to state Parks and Recreation for bike/ped trails. It will be at 3:00 PM in hearing room B.

Also on Monday, March 25th, the Senate Committee On Business and Transportation will hold a public hearing on SB 741, which requires helmet use during organized events, and SB 742, which raises the upper age for mandatory helmet use from 16 to 18. It will be at 3:00 PM in hearing room B

What's new?

Didn't see this bill for a carbon tax earlier.  House Bill 2792  "Imposes tax on each fuel supplier and utility based on amount of carbon in carbon-based fuel that is sold by fuel supplier to consumers in state or that is used to produce carbon-generated electricity supplied by utility to consumers in state."  It was sad to see the "Sustainable" City of Salem oppose this in its legislative positions.  I guess we'll see how the California cap-and-trade thing goes.  It's difficult to see Oregon jumping out to lead on this or something like it.

Didn't see anything else new...did you?

More updates after the jump.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

City Council, March 11th

Monday's Council meeting is pretty quiet for our purposes here.

The Urban Renewal Agency has a couple of updates - information only - on the Minto Bridge and Path funding. $212,700 in urban renewal funds, an application for $750,000 in Oregon Parks and Recreation grant (from lottery monies), and news about the survey and $1,225,000 grant from the BPA and Department of Fish and Wildlife

Conference Center in Urban Renewal Agency Audit
There's also a brief mention of the annual audit of the Urban Renewal Agency, but no direct link to it because there was nothing remarkable in it, good or bad, apparently, and the auditors issued no "management letter." Still, if you burrow into the City's website to find the report, you can pluck out interesting bits like this:

Conference Center Operating Loss
So is the Conference Center actually generating a significant increment of additional money for the City of Salem and the community of Salem? Who knows!

It would still be great for someone to explain if the Pringle Creek URA actually outpaced inflation! Sure there are big concrete buildings there, but if we hadn't torn down other buildings and businesses, would gradual reinvestment and redevelopment actually have created more value than the dramatic make-over did? 

The scope of the audit doesn't appear to assess whether the investments are actually creating additional value - that is, it doesn't assess whether urban renewal actually works for the City at large! Instead it's mostly concerned with internal financials - the ability to service debt off the property tax increment and to pay for projects.

It sure seems like there's room and a need for a thoughtful analysis and critique of urban renewal and tax-increment financing here in town.   It seems difficult to believe critics who say it's all a crock, but at the same time, it sure seems like there are a number of instances where the investment didn't do much more (if anything) than a "do nothing" state, and we could probably use urban renewal more shrewdly if we had a more open discussion of its flaws and its successes.  Why don't we analyze the failures and net-zeros more honestly?  Right now it's too much mystical mumbo-jumbo, magical economic development

Other Stuff

Friday, March 8, 2013

Pedaling Licenses: Repealed in 1913, but Will the Legislature try Again?

In this 100th anniversary year of the State Highway Commission, the agency that became ODOT, there's another anniversary, far more obscure.

As talk about bike licensing and registration heats up at the Legislature, it might be worth remembering that the bike licensing and path building laws of 1899 and 1901 failed pretty badly, and after about a decade's worth of dormancy on the books, the laws were finally repealed in 1913, just a month before the State Highway Commission was created.

Watt Shipp (l) & Paul Hauser (r), circa 1900
(Image Courtesy of Sarah Hauser)
The bike path law of 1899 started off enthusiastically.  Primary responsibility for action on it devolved to the counties.  Marion County Surveyor B.B. Herrick, Jr. surveyed routes for five paths and again in 1900 surveyed routes for another five.

Mehama to Turner Bike Path Original Survey, June 6, 1899
This effort didn't go very far, and in Marion County it turns out path building was almost wholly limited to 1899. The plan was over-ambitious, and while fragments were completed, it's not clear that entire routes were ever finished.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Lovely Bridge Propaganda: Conde McCullough in ODOT's new Video

Talking about unneeded, oversized, and budget-busting bridges will many make anyone cranky. So it's nice periodically to return to lovely and useful things.

As part of celebrating 100 years of the Department of Transportation, ODOT just released a 7 minute video on the bridges of Conde McCullough.

You will recognize his bridges on the Oregon coast.

Yaquina Bay Bridge, 1936
McCullough lived in Salem and many of our smaller bridges were designed under his management as chief engineer.

McCullough Checked Plans
Some are arguing, and preparing a nomination to the National Register, that McCullough directly designed the Church Street bridge over the confluence of Pringle Creek and Shelton Ditch.

Lanterns on Church Street Bridge
The exact provenance of the smaller bridges in Salem may never be known, but the ones on the coast and around the state are magnificent.

Interestingly, the video directly discusses the role of at least one bridge in the attempt to spur development. The bridge over the Rogue River was constructed in part to attract Californians to Oregon.

(h/t Joseph Rose at The Oregonian)

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

What's Old is New: LAB recycles 1880s LAW Logo

At the national bike summit yesterday, the League of American Bicyclists announced a new logo.

Evolution of the new LAB logo
Clearly nodding to the past, they say:
Our new look may seem a bit familiar: It draws on our unique history and depth of knowledge, using elements of the original winged wheel logo of the League of American Wheelmen. But, with a modern edge and forward motion, it also showcases our commitment to propel the new, diverse and growing ranks of bicyclists in the United States, recognizing and representing the current and future face of the cycling movement.
Sometimes I wonder just how much has really changed. Are we perhaps just doing the same things we did over a century ago?

In 1895 Salem newspapers could spin enthusiastically for paved roads and effective action by wheelmen.
What the Bicycle Men are Doing for Good Roads.
April 24th, 1895
No one wants to see good roads any better than wheelmen. They get over the roads more than anyone else, and see the necessity for road reform.

Work for good roads is imperative. Before good roads can be obtained the public must be educated to see the imperative necessity of it.

Some one must give the good roads movement an impetus it has never yet had or we shall never have any good roads in Oregon. The wheelman can do this.

Start the boom now for better public roads!

Salem's four hundred wheelmen are interested and organizing to push the good roads movement....

Let the wheelmen organize and push and work together and two years will see a wonderful reformation in roads. THE JOURNAL invites the hearty co-operation of the wheelmen of Salem and the adjoining country in the cause of the Good Roads Reform.
Within seven years, sales of new bicycles had declined precipitously, the giant bicycle trust had gone bankrupt in 1901, bicycling was becoming working-class transportation and a toy for kids, and the League was in tatters.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Grant Neighborhood to talk Calming Traffic on Fairgrounds Road

On Thursday, March 7th at 6:15 p.m. in the Grant Community School Library (725 Market St NE), the Grant Neighborhood Association will talk about traffic calming on Fairgrounds Road.

Fairgrounds at Norway:  School and bikeway crossing
Church in-line at far end of Fairgrounds
You might recall last fall when a driver killed himself while speeding when he failed to navigate the turn from Fairgrounds Road onto Hood.  The road is a wide, straight shot, a configuration that encourages speeding.

Killed Self Driving into Church
This has been a persistent problem, and over the years several drivers have run into the building on the corner, which is now operated as a Sunday school.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Creating Choices for Going Downtown: Mobility Study Open House Wednesday

On Wednesday, March 6, 2013, 4-6 p.m., in the Anderson Rooms of the Salem Public Library, the City of Salem will hold the next open house on the Downtown Mobility Study.

An important part of the study is reconfiguring some downtown streets so that people feel they have a genuine choice about how to go downtown.

How do we make this
a true everyday option
and not simply advertising confection?
Round two of public comment is coming up, and study managers have posted the presentation given to the advisory committee (42pp pdf).

You may recall the summary from December:  

Simple Fixes: Two-Way + Sharrows
More Robust Fixes:  Yay, Cycletracks!
  • State Street - a cycletrack or equivalent is right
  • Church Street - a cycletrack should be considered here. This may require more study.
  • Winter Street - see below. Alternative 4, cycletracks on each side.
  • 12th Street - add bike lanes!
Need more Study or Detail
Here are the treatments for Church Street. They still aren't considering a cycletrack, it seems, and this may haunt the project as an important missed opportunity.

Church St Alternatives for 2nd Round Evaluation
click to enlarge
On the other hand, there are places that are substantially improved and, maybe just as important, places where complicated fixes are avoided - like on Cottage Street, where opinion seems united that two-way + sharrows is the right solution. Study managers have also reasonably punted off the North Downtown conceptual piece.

There's good and bad, strong and weak - but no stupid or catastrophic!  Mostly it's a range of things on which reasonable people can disagree.  When we are faced with stupid stuff like the giant third bridge and highway, it's a relief to come to something like this.

Don't miss the open house and there will be much more to say afterwards!

(Bike ad from summer 2011.)

Legislative Update, Week 4 - CRC Smash!

Clouds and Shadow
The CRC Tsunami continues to inundate and smash, and it will have a Senate vote today.   But there's really nothing new to say on it, so that'll be after the jump.

Instead, let's talk about studded tires! The three bills that look to make a start on recovering some of the costs of road damage created by studded tires will get a hearing. That's something to cheer!

Another thing to boo? A bike registration bill.


On Tuesday, March 5th, at 9am, the Senate Committe on Judiciary will hold a work session on SB 9 on driving distracted with communication devices.

On Wednesday, March 6th, at 3pm, the House Committee on Transportation and Economic Development will hold a public hearing on HB 2277, HB 2278, and HB 2397 on fees for studded tires. It will be in hearing room E.

Next Monday, March 11th, at 1pm, the House Committee on Education will hold a public hearing on HB 2500 on school transportation funding. It will be in hearing room D.

What's new

Senate Bill 741 would require persons "of any age to wear helmet when using bicycle, skateboard, scooter, in-line skates or roller skates when participating in organized exhibition, competition or contest." Senate Bill 742 would require kids "under 18 years of age to wear protective headgear while operating or riding on bicycle, riding on skateboard or scooter or using in-line skates or roller skates, on public or private land."

Senate Bill 756 would allow "Department of Transportation to accept donations to State Parks and Recreation Department Fund for purpose of improving bicycle and pedestrian facilities. Permits registered owner of vehicle to make donation to fund when registration is renewed."

Senate Bill 769 "Requires registration of bicycles. Imposes $10 registration fee. Creates offense of failure to register bicycle. Punishes by presumptive fine of $25. Provides exemptions. Creates offense of failure to ensure bicycle registration. Punishes by presumptive fine of $25. Provides exemptions. Creates offense of failure to report change of ownership or change of address to Department of Transportation. Punishes by presumptive fine of $25. Establishes Bicycle Transportation Improvement Fund. Continuously appropriates moneys in fund to Department of Transportation for bicycle related transportation improvement projects."

House Bill 3320 would create a new residential speed limit of 20 mph.   This might be the BTA bill, but it doesn't have a chief sponsor yet.

House Bill 3348 approaches the matter of the apparently stalled SB 247 and would expand ConnectOregon. "Requires that 18 percent of net proceeds from Oregon State Lottery be deposited in Multimodal Transportation Fund. Expands use of fund. Directs Department of Transportation, after consultation with Oregon Department of Aviation, to administer aeronautic and airport transportation projects selected from projects to be funded with moneys in Multimodal Transportation Fund."

More updates after the jump.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Constance Fowler's Water Works and our Smaller Bridges

Today in the paper there's a nice note about the Salem Water Company and the Water Works located just north of the Commercial Street bridge over Pringle Creek. Bridge replacement construction has revealed brick foundation work, likely part of the Water Works.

The photo they used to illustrate the piece doesn't show the Water Works very well, however.  But there's a painting that does!

Constance Fowler's painting at Hallie Ford shows the bridge and Water Works - only the painting doesn't work quite right!

South Commercial Street and Water Works (circa 1940)
Constance Fowler, Hallie Ford Museum of Art
Check out the angle of the bridge and road. If the Water Works is on your right, you are looking north and are looking downhill, not uphill!

Commercial Street Bridge and Water Works
Since this is a painting clearly of a Salem scene, we shouldn't feel badly about being literal-minded. Why would Fowler reverse the slope? I suppose the sideways < formed by the street and the roofline elements of the Water Works might make for a better composition, but it's still distracting and even annoying!