Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Crash on Chemeketa Shows Need for Improvements; Beavers Show the Way: Newsbits

Some scattered notes from the paper...

Two Crashes; Chemeketa Still not First-Class Bikeway

Since we started counting in September 2012, drivers have crashed over twenty times into large stationary objects off the road.

Tracking multiple moving objects in space is difficult enough, but if drivers cannot avoid large stationary objects like houses, maybe the underlying conclusion should be that cars are inherently dangerous?

Two crashes
There was a crash also on a primary bikeway into downtown. The details are slightly alarming because the driver of the car admitted to police she "sped up to catch a green light" on Chemeketa and a moped driver, not expecting the speed-up, apparently was making a turn on to High Street and hit the car.

In order to make Chemeketa a first-class bikeway, it needs additional traffic calming and actions to shunt through-traffic over to Center street or the State/Court couplet.

Drivers should never see "speeding up" for a light as an option on a first-class bikeway.

Update on Parkway Car Dealerships

You might recall the announcement that Lithia Motors would be leaving downtown to move the the Parkway.

There's an update on the $16 million new facility.

Litha Motors Update
The site they're vacating had been considered for a new police station.

An O'Brien Parcel Considered for Police Station
But the City instead would like a mixed-use development here.

O'Brien parcel in car-dealer land at Division and Commercial
The City hopes for higher-density mixed-use development
Interestingly, this parcel is across the street from the proposed Union Gospel Mission shelter, and that might have an effect on what kinds of redevelopment is possible across the street.

O'Brien Parcel Sale Flyer
It is listed for sale at $5.6 million.

The early City estimate from 2011 on this parcel was for $4.4 million, and critics who say the City wildly overestimated costs for a new Police Station might find the City actually has better numbers after all.

Back to the new site on the Parkway, from the piece, it's clear that access to the Parkway is important and this seems likely to add to pressure for the third bridge:
The downtown locations Lithia will soon leave have become too small to meet car manufacturers' specifications. Consumer demand also played a part in the decision to move to Salem Parkway.

"We can stock more cars. It's easier and for them to get in and out," DeBoer said of the new location.
Beavers and Hydraulic Metaphor

I don't know if this will make it into the paper tomorrow - and if it does there might be more to say - but there's an interesting note about stream restoration, and a very different take from the "dredging operation" represented by the Parkway and our general approach to traffic congestion:
"Beavers can be really destructive, but in the right places, they can be good ecosystem engineers," said Mel Babik, project manager with the Mid-Columbia Fisheries Enhancement Group, a nonprofit that works to restore salmon populations.

In Washington, Oregon, Utah and other parts of the West, beavers increasingly are being used as an effective, low-cost tool to help restore rivers.

Beaver dams, ponds and other structures add complexity to an ecosystem, slowing the flow of water and sediment downstream. Salmon and other fish take advantage of pockets of slow water to rest, feed and hide.
Hydraulic metaphors govern traffic. We talk about flow, volume, capacity, and efficiency. The action of beavers in this extract is analogous to the action we need to make good public spaces and roads, especially downtown:
Traffic diverters, pocket parks and other structures add complexity to an ecosystem, slowing the flow of road users downstream. Out of their cars, people on foot and on bike take advantage of pockets of slow traffic to relax, do business, shop and socialize.

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