Friday, January 30, 2015

Now-and-Then Photos Show Public Space Turned into Car Space

While these aren't local, and show much larger cities than Salem, the side-by-side imagery is very striking.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Like Weather Forecasting, our Traffic Forecasting Needs Error Bars

If the weather forecasters with all their supercomputing power can't get it right 12 hours in advance, how is it we are so confident in our 20 year transportation forecasting?

You probably went to bed on the 26th hearing that New York City was going to get buried in snow.

You probably woke up on the 27th and learned that it was Boston and New England east of New York that got buried.

One problem is that forecasters went with what they were comfortable with rather than what was most probable. 
Additionally, lots of computing power goes into weather forecasting, and even 24- and 12-hours in advance of events, there are still very meaningful error bars on predictions. Uncertainty
has been a problem for media forecasters who have historically been too confident in predicting precipitation events. A study of TV meteorologists in Kansas City found that when they predicted with 100 percent certainty that it would rain, it didn’t one-third of the time. Forecasters typically communicate margin of error by giving a range of outcomes (10 to 12 inches of snow, for example). In this instance, I don’t think the range adequately showed the disagreement among the models. Perhaps a probabilistic forecast is better.
We have our own local problem with forecasting. And here too forecasters are riding what's comfortable rather than what's probable.

Have we exaggerated likely traffic in 2031?
Our traffic forecasting, whether for the Salem Rivercrossing or for things like the Regional Transportation System Plan, generally assumes a linear growth rate based on the 1980s and 1990s. But that model broke down in the 2000s, and virtually no one has adopted a revised model. The model also spits out a single forecasted value.

Planners, policy makers, and electeds are all making decisions on a single traffic forecast pushed very far out into the future. We should know more about how reliable it is likely to be.

Minto Bridge Contract Awarded, Work to Start in April

You'll have already seen this, but since it's straight-up good news, it's worth repeating just in case you hadn't.
According to the City:
Jeff Howell, president of Stayton-based Legacy Contracting, said site preparation for the project will likely start in April. By June, the company will begin work in the river, he said.
The project is expected to be complete in 2016.


In other related good news, you might not have noticed that the Chair of Friends of Two Bridges, Hazel Patton, is also being honored as the 2014 "First Citizen" by the Chamber of Commerce.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Road Funding, Project Lists, and Road Fatalities at the MPO Yesterday

I missed the announcement of yesterday's meeting of our local Metropolitan Planning Organization, the Salem Keizer Area Transportation Study.

Nothing that needed close attention happened to be on the agenda (agenda and full meeting packet here - it's big), but there were some interesting tidbits.

The last RTSP during adoption
The new draft Regional Transportation System Plan (2015) is being discussed, and this time draft chapters four and five were on the agenda.

Chapter Four is on finance, and if you want to understand all the different ways we fund roads, that chapter dives right in. (Here's the adopted chapter from the 2011 RTSP with substantially the same material.)

All the different pots of money! Yellow are those for bikes.
(the pdf was scanned as an image, I think,
and it is not very clear throughout)
There's a nice chart that shows what the different funding programs can be used for. Many funding streams have restrictions.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Salem Bike Boulevard Advocates Organize

A group of neighbors in the Grant and Highland areas are organizing a campaign for family-friendly bikeways in Salem.

Connect with other advocates!
You might recall the talk at the Grant Neighborhood Association meeting. It looks like they plan to present at all 18 of Salem's neighborhood associations. That's an important piece of the puzzle, and is something that we all didn't do very well with the effort for Bike and Walk Salem earlier in the decade.

(It's no guarantee of success, of course. The neighborhood associations overwhelmingly supported a "no build" option for the Third Bridge, and we all know how far that got.)

Salem has no plan right now to implement a full family-friendly bikeway, and it is necessary to generate a more visible demand for one. (And then two and three and..!)

In any case, it's important not just to "like" on the facebook, but to write, call, lobby, and persuade others, especially electeds. Preaching to the choir isn't going to do it.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Queen of the LA Bus System Laments Loss of Free Range Kids

Did you see the opinion piece yesterday about "free range kids"?

I wonder, though, if it might have been pitched too much in the direction of exceptional people rather than ordinary people. That is to say, does the decision for free-range kids require too much of an individual, even seemingly heroic, gesture?

Not in the way of "when we were young we used to walk uphill in the snow barefoot for 20 miles both ways" type tales.

But Warren Binford's appeal to her own conditions and adventures in childhood suggests she and her family may have been exceptional, an outlier. A 21 mile solo ride to the beach is a terrific anecdote - but also a non-trivial feat!

And so I wondered if the piece still stressed too much the individual decisions of parents and kids to go against prevailing norms, and maybe didn't give enough attention to the way the built environment actively makes it more difficult for parents to give their kids more slack in transportation and play, to swim against the current. In addition to the act of will by parents and children, there is the matter of context in infrastructure.

Instead of making "free-range" the easy decision, our built environment makes it the difficult decision. We have a larger, interlocking set of policy decisions, ones local, state, and federal, that implicitly makes things difficult.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

City Council, January 26th - Downtown Parking and Uber

Now that the new Councilors are sworn in and there's no competing football game, Monday's Council agenda offers a busy agenda - but not perhaps super meaty.

The lead item, of course, will be an extension of the three-hour parking limit downtown.

Transportation Matters

Staff recommends extending the current downtown parking arrangements out one year, to February 2016, to get through another Holiday season and to give time to negotiate a real solution to the ongoing capital deficits on the parking district and parking garages. (I don't know if there's anything new to say on this, however.)

Nyet: Uber needs Licenses
There's also an update on Uber and the new ride-hailing services. (There is news on this!) The deal had been that as long as Uber wasn't charging for rides, the City wasn't going to penalize them. But early in December the City obtained evidence that Uber had started charging fees and so the City initiated enforcement actions.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Hospital Should Consider 85% Rule - Better Ways to Manage Parking

You just can't get away from the feeling that the paper is acting as a captive PR arm of the Hospital.

Like the earlier move of pitting advocates for a new playground against preservationists, the latest play is clearly an attempt to pit patients (and prospective patients, as we all are) against preservationists and neighborhood advocates.

This is low and mean.

Parking garage and lots from higher up
It also ignores the way free parking is a public health problem. The Centers for Disease Control says:
Although motor vehicle emissions have decreased significantly over the past three decades, traffic emissions continue to help cause undesirable respiratory and cardiovascular health effects and the degradation of our environment. Reducing the mileage that people drive has the potential to improve air quality and shift travel to other transportation options that can also promote physical activity.

Strategies recommended in existing Transportation HIAs:
  • Consider policies that reduce vehicle miles traveled; these policies can include vehicle miles traveled tax, tolls, or congestion pricing in downtown areas.
  • Implement parking pricing schemes.
  • Reduce the availability of on and off street parking to encourage alternate forms of transportation.
  • Create alternatives to single occupancy vehicle travel through the improvement of multimodal transportation options, including carpools, vanpools, public transportation, and active transportation—any self-propelled, human-powered mode of transportation. [italics added]
And the Salem River Crossing recommends this also.

Friday, January 23, 2015

What is Hydraulic Autoism? Why it's our Mobility Paradigm!

In an attempt to formulate a handy summary of our prevailing transportation philosophy, I have been using the phrase "hydraulic autoism." It's a stab at what a historian writing in the 22nd Century might have to say about the 20th Century and its characteristic patterns. Maybe the term is not very good, and maybe I haven't read widely enough, but I haven't seen anyone really try to identify the key features of our approach to mobility.

A Project for Public Spaces piece, "Levels of Service and Travel Projections: The Wrong Tools for Planning Our Streets?" doesn't have a name for it, nor does Todd Littman at the Victoria Transport Policy Institute in pieces like "Reform Transport Engineering: Expand Beyond Just Roadway Level of Service (LOS) Ratings" and "The New Transportation Planning Paradigm." You'd think a name for the paradigm would show up in sources like this. But it hides nameless, innocuous even, as our standard traffic engineering and planning.

So since a name hasn't appeared, I propose hydraulic autoism. (Do you know a better term or a deeper historical analysis of the trend?)

In a nutshell, hydraulic autoism is this:

1937 propaganda - via NYRB
It is characterized by:
  • The use of hydraulic metaphors and analysis: It's all about the free-flow of a fluid stream of cars. (This move to borrow from a hard science had analytic goals, of course, but it is also associated with making a professional guild more "scientific" and "respectable.")
  • Its principal tool is a dredging operation: Widen and straighten the road.
  • It prefers deep and wide channels to distributed networks: If streetcar-era grids are like river deltas with meandering, intertwined lowland shallow courses, the modern approach is for wide highways and arterials (like the picture!).
  • Modern analytics based on "Level of Service" count delay, congestion, meanders, anything that impedes powerful free-flow for cars, as problems or noise to be engineered out of the system.
  • People on foot are "pedestrian impedance"; they are noise in the system that cause delay. Other non-car users of the road are also noise. The roads aren't true public space for everybody, but are primarily for cars and their drivers.
  • Road "design speed" should be much higher than posted speed limits. It should be possible for drivers to exceed posted speeds routinely and safely. Not to do this is to engineer a "dangerous" road. Roads should "forgive" a range of driver error. (Consistent with theories of pedestrian impedance, roads do not need to forgive a range of errors by people on foot or on bike.)
  • A primary commitment to the drive-alone trip - autoism is about autonomy and individualism.
  • These principles are formalized in the MUTCD, AASHTO publications, and other professional standards adopted by governmental agencies.

City's Five Year Transportation Funding Forecast Runs a little Bleak

The City's Five Year Forecast is out, and here's a few quick hits on the Transportation Fund.

Projected expenses exceed revenues.

The deficits could be solved by staff reductions: 10 full time and 6 seasonal.

But the City's preferred solution is the Streetlight Fee.

A gas tax would work just as well!*

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Cherriots to Consider Funding for Evenings and Weekends; Flex Transit in West Salem

The Cherriots Board meets tonight and on the agenda are several interesting items, including the prospect of weekend and evening service.

As part of the system realignment, Cherriots and the consultant team identified a set of services for phase two:
Phase II builds on Phase I by adding evening, weekend, and holiday service. Evening service would include service past 9:00 PM with the last bus pullout at the downtown transit center occurring at 11:00 PM. Weekend service would include Saturday and Sunday service as well as service on the following holidays: Presidents Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, and Veterans Day. There will continue to be no service on New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day. Phase II would also allow for the incorporation of a downtown circulator and the reinstatement of the student bus pass program for middle and high school students.
Lots of things to like there!

But of course they aren't free.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

SK Education Foundation to Renovate Starkey-McCulley Block, DAB Considers Funding

The Downtown Advisory Board meets on Thursday the 22nd, and there are a couple of interesting tidbits in the meeting packet.

Starkey-McCully Block and First National Bank
(The tower and Gerlinger Block on the corner are long gone,
but you can still read Lamport in the sidewalk!)
Image circa 1887, Salem Library Historic Photos
  • Venti's is expanding into the space next door, vacated by Bittersweet (this is probably old news, but attention here has been on the McGilchrist-Roth renovation)
  • Last spring the Salem-Keizer Education Foundation purchased one of the very oldest buildings in Salem, the Starkey-McCulley block, which dates to 1867 & 68. Part of the renovation will include the Mike McClaren Center for Success, a college and career center.
The Starkey-McCulley block (modern view here) is also formally on the DAB agenda for some urban renewal funds, for which they are currently ineligible.
eligible applicants [are required to] be property owners who pay property taxes. This was in support of the Riverfront-Downtown Urban Renewal Plan goals to fund projects that would contribute to increased property value and associated tax increment funds.
So the SK Education Foundation, a non-profit, is asking for an exception.

This is interesting and seems like it's in a real grey area. The foundation proposes to pay on a one-time basis the property taxes for 2015, but it appears that in 2016 onwards the parcel would go off the tax rolls. So this would be a significant subsidy and would not generate a direct tax increment off the property, which is one of the goals of urban renewal.

On the other hand, it is an investment in an important old building in the historic district, a building that has languished for some time, and it looks like it would be a meaningful destination drawing kids and parents downtown, and so it will have an indirect benefit to downtown and the tax base.

There's not an obvious read to me on this, and maybe you will have a stronger opinion or see a better way to analyze it.

They'll also be getting an update on the North Downtown Housing Strategy and talk about the parking fund budget for 2015-16. 

Meeting agenda and packet is here.

The Board meets Thursday the 22nd, from 12:00 pm – 1:30 pm in the Kalapuya Conference Room, 295 Church Street, Ste 201.

Watt Shipp was an important bike dealer a century ago, and he also had a store in the Starkey-McCully building.

E.S. Lamport Saddlery
next to Watt Shipp Sporting Goods
in the Starkey-McCully block, May 1913
You can read more about him here and here and about a great panorama photo here.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Goodwill Considering West Salem Site; NEN not sure about Looking Forward

Because of the holiday yesterday, the West Salem Neighborhood Association meeting was cancelled, but in the minutes for the last meeting was a very interesting note about Goodwill.

Possibility of a large retail store in a focus area
From the minutes:
They are planning on building a retail super on the se corner of Edgewater and Wallace Rd on 3.5 acres it will be the 43rd for them. We look forward to the final version of the project from Goodwill Industries and the proposed changes in 2nd street.
I'm struggling with the "se corner" part, which would put it in the ramp spaghetti for the bridges or perhaps where the Westside Station is.

I suspect it's more likely the southwest-ish corner, where there is an underwhelming cluster of buildings with a Goodwill donation drop as well as a computer store, a Thai restaurant, and a largely vacant strip mall on the equally orphaned Van Street.

This is a tricky area to reach - whether by car, by bike, or on foot. Wallace Road and the ramp spaghetti create more barriers than connections.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Edges on Orchard Heights and Bush Parks Likely Impact Vandalism

You probably saw the great story about a raptor attack in lower Bush Park.

Not sure it was a Great Horned Owl, though!
Farther inside the paper was a different story about vandalism at Orchard Heights Park.

Burning Rubber at the Park
In the story about tire tracks at Orchard Heights Park, Parks Superintendent Keith Keever called on citizens to be "eyes and ears" on the park.

Left undiscussed in the article is the way that the design of Orchard Heights Park likely makes eyes and ears more difficult. There are structural reasons that vandalism might go unnoticed until morning.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Elderly Man Killed in Unmarked Crosswalk on Center St: More Death at 30mph

An elderly man walking with a cane was trying to cross Center Street at an unmarked crosswalk early yesterday morning when a man driving a van struck him down and killed him.

18th jogs here at Center Street
There are convenience stores and an AA/Recovery club here
It's also another busy street signed for 30mph
Even in full daylight, this is a tricky crossing,
and without a marked crosswalk, drivers rarely stop.
Hydraulic autoism claims another victim.

You might think this is hyperbole, but the thing is, if we have a system in which drivers are acting lawfully and ostensibly reasonably in accordance with current practices - and they are still killing people, don't we have a system problem?

The position here is, why yes indeed, we have a profound system problem, one that claims the lives of over 30,000 people a year nationwide. These are not random, not vagaries of chance or accidents or "acts of God." These deaths are preventable, and the people are causalities of a system designed for hydraulic auto capacity, not for human capacity. In an urban environment, Twenty is plenty.

Odds of fatality by speed:
20mph - 5%
30mph - 40%
40mph -80%
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
From the police yesterday:
Salem Police are investigating an early morning fatal vehicle/pedestrian crash on Center St NE near 18th St NE.

Salem Police officers were dispatched to the intersection at approximately 5:45 this morning and found that 64-year old Stephen Buchanan of Keizer had been driving eastbound on Center St when he struck 77-year old David McGregor of Salem. Mr McGregor was pronounced deceased at the scene.

Mr McGregor was in an unmarked crosswalk attempting to cross Center St from the south side of the roadway to the north side when he was struck by the 2005 full-sized van that was being operated by Mr. Buchanan. He was wearing dark clothing and was walking very slowly with a cane at the time of the incident. Mr Buchanan stopped immediately and was cooperative with the investigation.

Center St was closed for approximately 3 1/2 hours while the Salem Police Department Traffic Control Unit reconstructed the scene.

No arrests have been made or citations issued at this time as the investigation is continuing.
Was it his fault was walking slowly and needed a cane for assistance? Does this relieve the driver of some responsibility?

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Commercial-Vista Corridor Study Open House Tonight is Opportunity for Streetmix

Tonight the study on middle Commercial, the Commercial-Vista Corridor Study, holds an Open House and public Workshop at South Salem High School.

The vastness of Middle Commercial: Six wide, wide car lanes here
(also, the Clark Creek dale, totally buried in a culvert!)
The road is wide and vast, and turning movements and access conflicts here are similar to the ones that yielded the deaths of the Crosslands this week. There's a lot that can be done for safety and comfort here.

The SUV appears to be making the same turning movement
that killed the Crosslands
One concept that may not be getting enough attention is a multi-way boulevard, with local access on the edges and through-traffic in the center.

A Nelson/Nygaard proposal from the helpful
Stroad to Boulevard tumblr
But even better than design proposals from elsewhere are your own!

With Streetmix you can design your own road cross-section. The Open Houses should have stations where people can take the road widths and place different things on them.

Streetmix, an interactive web app that lets you
design your own roadway
At the first Stakeholder Advisory meeting, some worried about vagrants and prioritizing too much for non-auto users. There's an opportunity here for the project team to push back on some of the myths.

A Stupid Level of West Salem Transit could Cost 1/3 of a Bridge Yearly

One of the incredibly disappointing things about the system reboot at Cherriots is the way concurrently it has embraced the Salem River Crossing.

It is convenient, but not very truthful, to treat the system reboot
and the Third Bridge as wholly separate matters
Its new service levels will exacerbate pressure for a bridge.

Folks defend Cherriots and say that it doesn't make sense to run empty buses around the hills, and purely from an operations perspective that's right. But what's lacking is the structural vision for mobility in West Salem. If we are thinking about a giant bridge and highway, are there things we can do that are more cost-effective? Cherriots has ducked this one.

At the Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting in DC this week, folks from TransitMix used a Salem data set in their demo.

Transitmix Pro from Sam on Vimeo.

That's the 21 Rees Hill route in South Salem.

The pro version is enriched with demographic information that shows the number of riders within walking distance from a stop, as well as other bells and whistles. But the beta version publicly available does give some rudimentary costing information.

6 lines @ 7 day service = $15 million / year
via TransitMix beta
It turns out that you can fashion strong coverage - even stupid coverage - for about $15 million a year.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Walking Couple Killed on Market St Sidewalk

A man driving a pickup truck has struck and killed a couple walking on a Market Street sidewalk.

In many ways it looks like an expression of hydraulic autoism: The meaningful gap in traffic was apparently the gap in cars, and it was not important to take the extra time to scan the sidewalk because of the gap in auto traffic in the roadway. The sidewalk and its denizens constitute noise, at best an instance of pedestrian impedance, at worse an irrelevancy. (In the first two of three articles it was noted "they were wearing mostly dark clothing" as if on a major, major road in Salem, people on foot still had to conform to the traffic cone theory of high-vis apparel. Noise, that's what people on foot are.)

The SUV appears to be making the same turning movement
that killed the Crosslands
But it's important to note that Market Street here is exceedingly crappy. This is a classic stroad, a dangerous hybrid optimized neither for local traffic nor for arterial through-put. It is vast, there are lots of driveways, including driveways that are more like private roads than mere parking lot access, a sequence of strange intersections with Hawthorn, I-5, and Lancaster, disappearing bike lanes, and uncertain streetlighting.

It is a stroad engineered for catastrophic failure.

The second article
From the first crash report:
A Salem couple remained in critical condition at Salem Hospital on Friday, three days after they were a hit by a pick-up truck while they walked on a sidewalk along Market Street NE.

According to Mark Glyzewski, a spokesman with Salem Hospital, Michael Crossland, 64, and Christine Crossland, 63 were still in critical condition Friday

According to Salem Police, the couple was walking down Market Street NE when they were struck by a brown 1986 Ford pick-up truck making a left turn into the Shilo Inn parking lot located at 3304 Market NE around 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.

The driver, Phillip Carver, 46, of Salem, was in the center turn lane traveling westbound on Market Street waiting to turn left when he saw a break in traffic and made his turn. The couple, who were wearing mostly dark clothing, were transported to Salem Hospital immediately following the accident, Lt. Steve Birr with the Salem Police said Thursday.

"No enforcement action has been taken yet," Birr said. "At the least he'll probably be cited for failing to yield to a pedestrian, but they're watching the condition of the patients before making that call." [italics added]

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

OTC Chair Fired; Legislative Update, Week One - Pre-Session Filings

Holy Smokes! If you thought there was a chance that the Oregon Transportation Commission was empowered to exercise independent judgement, think again.

The Oregonian reported yesterday that Governor Kitzhaber has fired the Chair of the Oregon Transportation Commission because she voted against a coal terminal project.
Catherine Mater, a Corvallis civil engineer appointed just last summer by Kitzhaber, told The Oregonian/Oregonlive on Monday that the governor pressured her to approve a $2 million subsidy.

She was the deciding vote in a 3-2 commission motion in August that doomed the grant that would've benefited Ambre Energy, the company proposing to annually export 8.8 million tons of coal through Oregon.

Kitzhaber's action is puzzling because of his outspoken opposition to coal exports. His office didn't immediately respond to a request for comment....

She penned an opinion piece for The Oregonian/Oregonlive Jan. 3, arguing that the state should discriminate against coal and oil projects in awarding transportation grants.

Mater said Kitzhaber's chief of staff, Mike Bonetto, called Friday and said she needed to step down immediately. Mater said she was drafting her resignation letter.

Mater recalled Bonetto saying: "We have a situation that has escalated. We need to accelerate your removal."

Her forced removal clears the way for the grant to be approved when the commission meets again in February and sends a clear message from Kitzhaber to members of the Oregon Transportation Commission to fall in line.
According to OTC site, "The Oregon Transportation Commission establishes state transportation policy."

Guess again! The OTC meets on Thursday and they will reconsider some ConnectOregon funding. It looks like the coal terminal project is going to slide back in. (See below for an update on ConnectOregon.)

And on that note of checks and balances, and of intellectual honesty and independence, the Legislature kicked things off yesterday, and it was interesting to see this:

Monday, January 12, 2015

State Hospital North Campus and Corbusier's Radiant City both Retreat from Sidewalk

Recently folks over at SCV have raised the alarum over the prospect of demolition at the North State Hospital Campus.

It's something to watch, but maybe not something for the highest defcon level.

There are a number of things in play with the prospect of demolition, but one factor that so far has not got sufficient attention is the deployment of the buildings on the superblock.

North State Hospital Campus
I'm not talking about the forms of the buildings themselves, how high they are, how beautiful or ugly they are, or their functions, how easily or difficult they might be converted to one use or another.

I'm just talking about how they are set in two-dimensional space on the block. How you might arrange them on board game surface.

Half of Belluschi's Breitenbush Hall - A shallow strip, super wide
and a good distance from the sidewalk across a lawn
One fact is significant: They're really far from the street. They are deployed on an internally-oriented park-like campus.

I want to suggest this could be a near-fatal defect for several of them.

The Radiant City as Parallel

Sketch for housing project, circa 1922 - Le Corbusier
Much of our mid-century "urban renewal" was focused on bulldozing "blight" and erecting mid-rise and high-rise blocks set on park-like campuses. The movement had its roots in utopian ideas, the "Radiant City," of Le Corbusier.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

City Council, January 12th - Ducking the Usual Start Time

Who the heck is going to Council?! Even with an early start time of 5pm crowds are gonna be thin.

Four new City Councilors
You might have heard there's a popular sporting and entertainment event Monday night, complete with a gubernatorial bet involving a Total Domination IPA from a large Eugene Brewery.

There are other, even better gladiatorial notions too!
You don't have to love the sport to enjoy the festival and spectacle.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Planning Commission: Phase Two of Pringle Square Apartments a Continuation

The staff report is out on the second phase of the Pringle Square Apartments at the Boise site, and it's one of those "no news is good news" moments I think.

The hearing at the Planning Commission will be Tuesday, January 13th, and it would be surprising to learn of meaningful critique or objection. It looks alright and likely to be approved.

Phase 2 on the south side, looking northwest

Before! Close to the same view
The second phase is principally an extension of the design and plan in the first phase, and so any quibbles with it are also quibbles with the overall design that's already been approved - that ship sailed long ago and it's not useful or important to dwell on them.

More than anything it'll just be great to see life, activity, commerce, and strolling where there was rubble and empty concrete.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Grant Neighborhood to Talk Bikeways Tonight

Sunday Streets 2013
via DIY Studio
At least until the Hospital started logging the Blind School, the new year was getting started in a mighty-fine way.

First the decision at the Blind School was itself good, never mind the Hospital's subsequent action, and now is some new momentum in the neighborhoods for family-friendly bikeways.

The Grant Neighborhood Association meets today, Thursday the 8th, and on the agenda is talk about bikeways to connect Highland, Grant, and downtown.

You may recall that as part of Bike and Walk Salem, there are lines on the map for a future bikeway along Winter and Maple Streets, ultimately to connect to the Kroc Center in a way that avoids Portland Road.

Just before opening the path extension on Maple

The City has installed some preliminary signage  as well as a path connection behind the auto dealerships, but the route hasn't been at all improved otherwise. There is traffic calming, stop-sign-turning, and other things that would enhance the route in ways that would make it appropriate and inviting for people and families of all ages, not just the usual suspects who are already biking.

Folks  are working on building broader support at the neighborhood level.

In addition to the bike talk, there might also be some history talk. There will be an update on the neighborhood calendar as well as the "heritage neighborhood" project.

It looks like an especially pleasant meeting this month!

The Neighborhood Association meeting is on Thursday the 8th at 6:15 p.m. in the Library of Grant Community School, 725 Market St NE.

Portland Road

But wait, there's more! Also today, at the meeting of the North Gateway Redevelopment Advisory Board, there will be more talk about the execrable conditions of the sidewalk tunnel going under the railroad as well as bike lanes along Portland Road generally.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

City Shares Surveys on Social Media and the Commercial-Vista Corridor

Two new surveys are out this week and offer a chance to tell the City what you think.

Social Media: One-way or Two-way?

I don't really get yet the City's approach to social media. Are they looking to use it to have a conversation - you know, like "social"? - or are they just going to use it as a propaganda arm for press releases and other prepared and sometimes Pollyanna-ish bits?

The way the City's Planning group treated recent decisions by LUBA was interesting:
LUBA's remand only gets a retweet about "limbo"
People on Facebook have also suggested that criticism of the City might have been deleted. (Of course, some criticism is simply name-calling, trolling, or so under-informed it's at all not useful. Some moderation of comments and response is certainly appropriate in this context.)

The City has a survey out now about the ways they do use and should in the future use social media, and it might be worth your while to let them know what you think - and to suggest that a wider view of dissent and debate might be useful.

Update, Jan 9th

Here's a great one! The library's twitter account is private:

Want information? Not for you!
That is totally bass-ackwards social media.

Middle Commercial Study

The Commercial-Vista Corridor Study also has a survey out. Let 'em know you value slower auto speeds, general traffic calming, and improved conditions for people on foot and on bike!

Additionally, looking back at the recent decision from LUBA, it seems like it is time to push for more plan language in city code itself:
On appeal to LUBA, petitioners make no particular arguments under SRC 220.005(f)(3)(B), but instead argue that the Bicycle System Element of the city's TSP include plans for improving the facilities at the adjoining intersection of Mission and Winter Streets, and that the hearings officer erred in failing to require the Hospital to construct these improvements....SRC 220.005(f)(3)(B) does not reference the TSP or require site plan review applicants to construct the bicycle facilities referenced in the TSP. Absent a more developed argument based on the requirements of SRC 220.005(f)(3)(B), petitioners’ arguments under these assignments of error do not provide a basis for reversal or remand.
When we went through Bike and Walk Salem to update the bike chapter of the Transportation System Plan, it seemed like its policy language was going to shape actual decisions.

But as we see, the City and LUBA are free to ignore language in the TSP because it is not also expressed in the SRC ordinances, which evidently have greater binding force.

The recommendations in the Commercial Vista Corridor study will be aspirational and advisory - empty in this regard - without incorporating them more robustly in the SRC.

So consider letting the City know that we should be more serious about executing on adopted plans, and one way to do this is by incorporating more plan language into city ordinances.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Hydraulic Autoism and Death at 30mph: Twenty is Plenty

The day after Christmas, a driver struck and killed a man attempting a mid-block crossing on Summer Street NE in the Grant neighborhood shortly after dark:
At approx. 5:27pm., Friday, 12/26/14; Salem Police responded to a vehicle vs pedestrian traffic crash on Summer St. NE near E St NE. On arrival of police, fire and medics it was determined that the pedestrian was deceased at scene.

The name of the deceased is being with held pending notification to next of kin.

The driver of the vehicle was identified as Guadalupe GARCIA, 42yrs of Salem. Garcia was operating a 2014 Chevrolet Camaro.

The investigation revealed that Garcia was traveling south on Summer St. NE, which is a two lane, 30mph, one way street, near E St. NE. As Garcia continued driving south of E St. NE approx 25 yds., the pedestrian walked out into the path of her vehicle and was struck.

Garcia remained at the crash scene and is cooperating with Traffic Control Unit investigators. There is no indication of any impairment of Garcia, the driver. Nor is there any indication of excessive speed involved.

Summer St. NE was re-opened for normal traffic flow at 9:00pm.

Once next of kin notification of the deceased has been made, an update press release will be sent out.
Last night police identified the man and have asked for help with next of kin:
Traffic Unit investigators have released the name of the pedestrian who was struck and killed in a traffic crash which occurred at 5:27pm Friday, 12/26/14 on Summer St. NE near "E" St. NE. The deceased pedestrian has been identified as Michael Allen Johnson, 63 yrs., (dob: 02/25/1951), a white male adult. All avenues in attempting to notify next of kin have been unsuccessful. Should anyone have any information concerning Michael Johnson's next of kin or a relative are asked to call the Salem Police Traffic Unit at 503-588-6171.
There is much we don't know. It seems likely he was doing what we now call "jaywalking," but even if the person on foot was walking very carelessly, a crash at the ostensibly "modest" and legal speed of 30mph has killed a man, and reminds us why we should consider an urban speed limit of 20mph.

For long we have known speed exponentially compounds catastrophe in crashes.

1940s Stopping Distance Poster
Iowa State Safety Council
(credit unknown)

Sunday, January 4, 2015

LUBA: City Erred on Parking Lot and Tree Removal Approvals at Blind School

Here's some good news for the new year!

Way more parking lot than building
The effort led by former SCAN Land Use Chair Curt Fisher has prevailed at the Blind School in the appeal heard last month at the State Land Use Board of Appeals.

Appeal at the Blind School
The board decided for SCAN on two important counts: The City erroneously approved too much parking; and because of this, the tree removals need to be reassessed once a plan with less parking is approved. LUBA remanded the matter back to the City Hearing Officer. (Update - Final decision here.)

LUBA found that the City's math on aggregating lots for parking minima or maxima is wrong.
Nothing in the SRC chapter 133 parking provisions suggests that multiple developed lots in common ownership can be aggregated into a single "lot" or "site" for purposes of locating parking or calculating...parking...
The City doesn't get to "aggregate" lots into a giant parking lot
This could have implications going forward!

Consequently, the Hearing Officer will need to reevaluate the site plan for 264 stalls, and it seems likely the Hospital will need to develop a new plan with only 189 stalls.

189 stalls only looks likely
Since fewer stalls will likely be approved, fewer trees also are likely to be removed.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Tidbits from Lord and Schryver's Gaiety Hollow National Register Listing

The State Historic Preservation Office has posted the nomination form for the house and garden (and tool shed!) of Elizabeth Lord and Edith Schryver. The complex was approved for an individual listing on the National Register of Historic Places, so that's a neat thing to celebrate. (The "recently listed" page scrolls for about six months or so, and soon it will fall below the fold.)

Preservation Work at Gaiety Hollow
a half block from Howard Hall
In the nomination are a number of interesting details, but one stood out here. In an early plan view of the property, you can see the little cut-out that remains today at Mission and High (lower left).

High and Mission before the house on the corner!
You can see the bite out of the corner in lower left
The tree canopy conceals the corner on the satellite view, but there are several other "bites" scattered around town. Here's a full set of four at Cottage and Union (also the location of the venerable honeysuckle).

Similar bites on Union Street at Cottage
Looking at High and Mission, you might think the "bite" was merely a product of plat jog and the need to align streets that didn't actually line up. But the strict rectilinearity of the grid at Union and Cottage shows that plat jog is not the cause of them.