Sunday, March 1, 2015

In the Neighborhood Associations this Week - Building Support for Bikes

Lots of things to note in the neighborhood associations this week!

West Salem - Monday

Five years ago, when so much seemed possible:
City and UO/SCI Staff talk bike access
at Union St. Bridge path dead-end.
The West Salem Neighborhood Association has on the agenda a nice group of green things:
  • Keizer Rapids (Regional) Park and the Big Toy Project - Marion County, Commissioner Janet Carlson
  • Bicycle Boulevard Networks – Gary Obery
  • Energy Conservation and Solar - Jeff Lewis, Salem Electric
And at last month's meeting they adopted goals, which include some nice transportation goals:
WSNA Transportation goals for 2015
The West Salem Neighborhood Association meeting is at Roth’s West, Mezzanine level, at 1130 Wallace Rd NW on Monday the 2nd at 7pm.

NEN - Tuesday

Though there aren't any items on the agenda to note, the minutes from last month's NEN meeting are awfully interesting.

The presentation and discussion on bike boulevards looked good, and Councilors appear to have agreed to talk more about including them in Council Goals!

(Sorry for the awkward page break!)
Getting over skepticism - "we don't see any people on bike, so why should we spend for them" - remains a hurdle.

Council Report
And it was not surprising to see the topic of bike counts come up.

Well, we have some! We conducted an all-volunteer bike count project from 2008-2011. Here are reports from 2008 and 2011. The best set of counts is reported in Appendix B, "Travel Characteristics of the Salem-Keizer Region" from the SKATS 2011 RTSP.

We abandoned the project for two primary and interlinked reasons: In the absence of highly visible progress and more active City support, recruiting volunteers became increasingly difficult each year. To keep the project going required a better feedback loop where volunteers felt taking time out of their day to stand and count bikes during rush hour resulted in meaningful progress. Folks have to feel like they are "making a difference." So we needed City Staff to embrace and act on the results, and this in turn would make recruiting volunteers easier.

That said, relying on volunteers for the counts is not sustainable, and we need to have a system, as we do for cars, of automated bike counts. The counters to go in on the Union Street and Minto Bridges will help in this a great deal by providing a rudimentary baseline. But we still need more. And once the City shows they take counting people on bike seriously, then we will be able to recruit more easily for hand counts at spot locations.

Also interesting in the Council report: On the topic of bike boulevards a person they were "never seeing bicyclists" and were skeptical of spending for bike boulevards; the same person later said, "you take your life in your hand when you use the sidewalks."

(One of these days we'll figure out how to make the connections!)

NEN meets Tuesday the 3rd, at 6:30pm in the Salem First Church of the Nazarene, 1550 Market Street NE.

Grant - Thursday

Early grocery on close-in Broadway, circa 1925
And now site of Salem's first Food Cart Pod
The Grant neighborhood meets Thursday, and on the agenda is some more history:
  • Update on the Architectural Handbook/Guide, Professor Hubka, Kimberli Fitzgerald & Historic Interns;
  • Barrel & Keg Food Truck Pod/ Parking;
Two-page spread from draft pamphlet on historic houses
You will remember last month the draft Architectural Handbook, and there will be an update on it.

And more about new history - the first food cart pod in town.

And we'll say it again, it's likely not a coincidence that it is sited not on a highway or major arterial and stroad, but on a minor arterial/collector nexus - medium sized streets - that still retain some characteristics of the streetcar era.

The Neighborhood Association also formally adopted a resolution for bike boulevards!
“We adopt a position in favor of the bike boulevard running from Cherry Avenue, along Winter Street, to Bush Park, subject to the Downtown Mobility Study.”
The Grant Neighborhood Association meeting is on Thursday the 5th at 6:15 p.m. in the Library of Grant Community School, 725 Market St NE.


East Lancaster (ELNA) also voted to adopt a resolution in favor of bike boulevards!

And at Southwest Association of Neighbors (SWAN) bike boulevards will also be on the agenda. SWAN also meets Thursday the 5th.

Zig-zaggy bike boulevard in SWAN
SWAN is bounded basically by River Road, the Cemetery, Liberty and Browning. It has a lot of different issues, among the most complicated in the city:
  • The area north of River Road will be partially served by the connections created by the Minto Bridge and path, although in darkness and foul weather the isolation in the park will not be attractive to most users and in high water the park won't be usable at all. So River Road, as unattractive as it is with high speeds, remains a key connection and will need work.
  • Liberty also lacks bike lanes, and only the most confident people will ever bike on it. I have seen many using the old sidewalks on Liberty. This is a problem for people on foot, of course.
  • The proposed bike boulevard route is very zig-zaggy. The street system here is not rich with connections, and connectivity is a problem. There are also the hills. If we evaluate bike boulevards on the number of people they are likely to serve, ones in the gridded flats offer more immediate benefits for a larger proportion of people who might be interested in biking. (People don't move into SWAN because they are looking for a low-car life!)
  • SWAN enjoys a higher level of income, and equity concerns may suggest improvements elsewhere in the City should be a higher priority.
  • And the Cemetery itself, a huge structural and unresolved barrier.
SWAN meets at the LifeSource Community Room, 2649 Commerical Street SE (located on the first floor of the Candalaria Terrace building, one block south of LifeSource itself) at 6:30pm.


Laurie Dougherty said...

Regarding the comment near the end of the copied NEN discussion: "Drivers will often use the bicycle lane for turns." In some places this is encouraged and IMO is safer. Cars and bikes making a right turn merge to the curb lane. Bikes or cars making the right turn line up each vehicle behind the other to make the turn. Bikes wanting to go straight shift to the left of the right turning car. The situation in Oregon, where cars are prohibited from ever traveling in the bike lane means that, especially at stop signs or red lights, a bicyclist in the bike lane can come alongside a stopped car unexpectedly and possibly in the driver's blind spot. Yet in Oregon, that is what the law requires.

Laurie Dougherty said...

In my earlier comment I should have said first that I'm really glad to see Salem Bike Boulevards gearing up and will look for ways to support this effort.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

The West Salem NA meets on the 16th, and it looks like on the 2nd they passed a resolution in support of the bike boulevards.