Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Traffic Commission Could be Force for Good; Instead, it's like your Appendix

The Citizens Advisory Traffic Commission meets on Thursday the 5th after a long, long hiatus.

The Commission is missing four members and is only 5/9 full. Formally it is charged with making "recommendations to the City Council in the area of traffic movement and safety."

It's 4/9 empty!
But they barely seem to meet. The City shows no agenda for 2014, and only one for 2013 (here's notes on the last one, I think, a very small parking squabble).

Few meetings
It's hard not to conclude the Commission is about as functional as your appendix.

For Thursday, the City's calendar lists the agenda as:
  1. Account for remaining and new commissioners.
  2. Email from citizen regarding traffic in northeast Salem.
  3. Continued role of CATC.
So yeah, what is the "continued role of CATC"?

In one world, CATC would advise on big structural mobility matters. They could be charged with developing a list of projects for the next bond in concert with the Council Streets and Bridges Bond subcommittee, for advising on grant applications, analyzing new developments for adjacent road projects.

For figuring out ways to implement the Comprehensive Plan:
The implementation of transportation system and demand management measures, enhanced transit service, and provision for bicycle and pedestrian facilities shall be pursued as a first choice for accommodating travel demand and relieving congestion in a travel corridor, before widening projects are constructed.
They could talk about recent deaths of people out walking and think about the effects of speed on fatality rates, maybe even advocating for Vision Zero.

They would have a key role in things like the Commercial-Vista Corridor Study. Working with NGRAB on the Portland Road Corridor Action Plan.

There's a whole lotta interesting things on which they could be working and making recommendations.

Or, you know, we could just use it like our appendix.

The way the City chooses mostly to ignore the Commission is an important part of the evidence that they are not very serious about moving from the 1950s paradigm of hydraulic autoism to a 21st century paradigm that is more responsive to changing conditions, changing mobility technologies, and to changing cultural norms and preferences.

So I don't know: Let the Commission go on permanent hiatus?

Or push for a major expansion of responsibilities and uses, make sure Public Works buys in, and ask for representation from a more diverse set of road user groups?

The Commission meets at 6:00pm on Thursday the 5th in the Public Works Traffic Control Center, Conference Room 325, at City Hall.

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