|Salem Sunday Streets 2014: 5 blocks long!|
|Salem Sunday Streets 2013|
In fact, it's reasonable to ask whether it even counts as a car-free open streets event. As it is now, it's a street fair.
Salem Sunday Streets is an annual event that promotes healthy and active living by opening up city streets for people to play and explore together. The event is family-friendly, free, and open to all. The route will feature activities as diverse as yoga, food carts, music on a pedal-powered stage, interactive art projects, hula hooping, disc golf, a farmers market, bike repair stations, and a musical-parading dance troop. Full event schedule is coming soon.It's promoting "active living" not by giving us a long route on which to walk or bike and to experience a good part of the city car-free, but giving us a bunch of vendor booths with healthy lifestyle swag and games. Because it's not even in downtown proper, there won't hardly be any businesses on the route, and mainly vendors with tents. It's a destination event and lifestyle fair.
Which isn't a bad thing, but it's not really an open streets thing this year.
The best part might be the bike trains to the fair. Bike trains will gather at:
- Highland Elementary
- Hoover Elementary
- McKinley Elementary
- Wallace Marine Park (at Union St Railroad Bridge)
Salem Sunday Streets is September 7th, from noon to 4pm.
Update, August 2st
City staff send in some explanation:
The intention was to create a loop that would allow for maximum hard closures -- which is a benefit of the design. Last year's route was about 1.36 miles long and this year's is just under 2.25 kilometers, or about 1.4 miles. In addition, there will be designated and marked safe routes to Salem Sunday Streets, which will include much more area for cyclists. There will be good space for open cycling on the route -- and, possibly, a protected bike lane demonstration/education site.Here's a scene from last year:
|The only drag?|
State Street wasn't completely open!
And north-south cross traffic still prioritized at lights
(around 4pm, things were slowing down)
Around 2pm, one City employee also said he had to stop a private chartered bus driver and between 10 to 15 automobile drivers from driving through the barricades. He sincerely felt that it was necessary to have a person at the barricades since driver compliance with the street closures wasn't close enough to 100%.Staffing all the soft and hard closures is has used employee time rather than all volunteers, and if the streets aren't full of people, the closures might seem like a waste of time. I'm sure that police and staff overtime is an ingredient in the decision.
It also seems likely that there was a choice to focus on kids, who would benefit from a smaller loop with hard closures, rather than on adults, who would better tolerate and manage a series of soft closures and be interested in a longer route.
Still, this is a also a decision not to impact Liberty, Commercial, and Front Streets. In the regard for north-south car traffic, there's some autocentrism here.
And it represents in many ways what seemed disappointing about the way the City and Cherriots managed Gil Penalosa's visit: Rather than leveraging his visit as a way to generate support for a big expansion of Sunday Streets, folks let go of the visit's possibilities and settled for a smaller route.
In the end, Salem's still piloting the concept, and going small is a defensible, if unfortunate decision, one on which reasonable people can disagree. Hopefully the more modest scope this year will build support for an expansion next year.