Friday, April 5, 2013

State Bike and Walk Committee to Meet, State Announces new Bike and Walk Plan

Early April brings a couple of interesting things for bicycling at the State level.

Active transport and smoking at ODOT HQ
From one announcement:
SALEM – The Oregon Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee will meet in a phone conference on Tues., April 9 from 1 p.m. – 3 p.m. Although most members will be attending via phone, the public is invited to attend in person at the ODOT Mill Creek Building, 555 13th St. NE in Salem.

Agenda items include a presentation on ODOT's Fix-It program, a review of the recently completed grant program, and an update on committee member recruitment.
OBPAC in 2011
You can read more about the recruitment here.  It'll be interesting to learn more about how the bike/ped program will be involved on the Fix-it side of the funding, which gets 76% of funds and is meant for maintaining and fixing ODOT facilities. 

New Bicycle and Walking "Modal Plan"

Yesterday, the Department of Transportation also announced the process for a "Ped/Bike Modal Plan."
This policy portion of the Plan has not been updated since the 1995 version and lacks the elements currently required of a modal plan, in addition it needs to be brought up to date with any changes to federal requirements and the goals of the statewide planning program. The Design Guide was separated from the policy portion of the plan and updated in 2011. The Oregon Bicycle and Pedestrian Mode Plan is one of several statewide transportation mode and topic plans that further defines and implements the Oregon Transportation Plan’s (OTP) goals, policies, strategies, and key initiatives.

This is a great new opportunity. As always with new planning efforts, there's a blank slate, full of opportunity. This one, in particular, will also result in a product at a higher level of generality and policy: "The plan will be similar to and equal in stature to the Highway Plan and the Freight Plan." Other bike/ped plans haven't been as high-powered.

BikePortland has more on the sunny side.


Until, ODOT gets real about grotesque projects like the Columbia River Crossing and Salem River Crossing, this is just lipstick. Same pig, but better, more colorful lipstick. Maybe it'll be enriched with chlorophyll, too.  Also, "modal plan" sounds like the theory behind music from a child of Arnold Schoenberg and Arvo Part

Ugh.  I worry there will be far too much talk and theory and not nearly enough concrete and concrete change.

It still won't be about moving people - people, actual humans, will remain abstracted out in the modal conversation, and levels of service will remain calculated by counting cars.  It will be about secondary layering of facilities for people who bike and walk onto roads still primarily designed for cars.

The Highway Plan, in particular, contains the especially pernicious "mobility standard," which is one of the tools used to shoot down more sensible proposals for improving connectivity across the Willamette River - Third Bridge, and "I'm afraid this idea doesn't meet the mobility standard," I'm lookin' at you!  Until our approach to levels of service and mobility standards is changed, we will still just be monkeying around on the edges of transportation planning and policy.


Walker said...

1) why is every single state committee meeting that is open to the public not simultaneously webcast and available for call-in by the public who lack high speed Internet?

2) what you said. It's not just LOS standards though, it's also that we've been sold an autistic zoning and planning regime that, like most thing that fascinate those with autism, is extremely complex and complicated but absolutely terrible at interfacing with people. That planning and zoning regime is our attempt to regulate what goes on in the streets without ever addssing what goes on inthe streets but, rather, by controlling what goes on in the buildings.

Attend any neighborhood or planning meeting and when a permitting or variance discussion comes up, what you'll quickly learn is that the neighbors could care less about what goes on next to them, meth dens excepted; what neighbors care about is how much traffic the proposed use creates, and how much parking it consumes. However, since we don't allow neighbors to have any say on either, what they end up doing is opposing what goes on IN the buildings around them because it's their only hope of keeping the stupid zombie planning model from destroying their place.

Watching the system at work in Salem is depressing -- downtown is being hollowed out and destroyed, all to serve automobiles. And no one will even name the problem: that we've made people in cars the only ones who matter. Everyone else is just invisible.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Webcasting them is a great idea, Walker.

(Reading Jeff Speck's "Walkable City" is turning my attention to more of the questions around zoning - very consistent with your observations. That's a topic worth more analysis.)