Thursday, November 20, 2014

Marine Drive, the Wallace Bike Park, and the Ambiguilties of Politics in Salem

As we start winding down the year and head into the next, one of the most exciting projects is the fund-raising and planning efforts by the Salem Area Trail Alliance for the proposed bike park north of the softball fields at Wallace Marine Park.

Proposed bike park with bridge alignment for comparison
It's a great project and worth tremendous community support. Go support it if you haven't already!

An exciting match for the Bike Park
But it is also very telling that perhaps for fundraising and sponsorship purposes or internal politics or whatever, the Alliance has not felt able to comment on Marine Drive and the Third Bridge.

Salem Alternative OR-22/Marine Drive Expressway
and new Glen Creek Path
In the two years since Bike and Walk Salem was adopted, aside from legacy remediation projects for bike lanes and sidewalks built to 1980s standards, the "landmark" kinds of projects have been in Parks. This proposed bike park and the Minto Bridge exemplify this.

Adults bike at Minto
in part because the streets
don't feel safe
The realities of bicycling in Salem are that folks are geared up to support recreational cycling off the street system, but are not yet persuaded in more than vague theory that we should actually be building out a robust network of on-street connections for people who bike and enabling more car-lite lifestyles.

And car companies, sometimes by design but more often by genuine lack of information, might seem more eager to support park facilities - that keep bikes off the road - than to support a fully multi-modal road and transportation system.

So with your support for the bike park, consider letting SATA know that Marine Drive would be an expressway with zooming cars and will make it more difficult for kids under their own power to enjoy the park safely. Wallace is already a formidable barrier, and Marine Drive just adds to it. The Third Bridge and its associated ramp system will harm connectivity to the park and will make it less beautiful.

Equally, consider thanking Withnell for their support of the bike park and then asking for their full participation in the Commercial Vista Corridor Study, which may kick-off the public phase in December. They have a facility right on Commercial here in the study area, and will probably have an opinion about any changes.

The study area includes Withnell Dodge
Getting an important business like Withnell on board with the corridor study will help greatly in building the political base and momentum for ensuring the study does not gather dust but informs and shapes the area in meaningful and timely ways.

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