Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Open House for Regional Transportation Plan; Thoughts on Walking Kuebler

The draft Regional Transportation System Plan is out, and SKATS has announced some open houses and other events. One is tomorrow, Wednesday, April 1st.

Carbon is a huge void at the center of the plan
Draft RTSP, with chart from CO2Now
The first thing to say about the RTSP is again that carbon is missing.

But it's important to understand that mostly the RTSP is a compilation of projects - not an originator of them - fed into it by the cities of Keizer and Salem, by Polk and Marion counties, and by ODOT. The document reflects the priorities and policies of its member organizations far more than it sets the priorities and policies.

So it's not like this is the best advocacy opportunity to lobby for including one project and cutting another.

It will be more useful, for example, to lobby the City of Salem for bike boulevards than to try to lobby the RTSP process to include them.

1,584 injuries = lots of unnecessary healthcare costs!
SKATS 2013 summary
Still, here are three things to consider passing along as public comment:
  • We need more attention to carbon and greenhouse gas emissions
  • The Third Bridge remains an enormous folly - that's one project it's totally worth criticizing.
  • More and more cities are embracing "vision zero." We tolerate a lot of death and serious injury as acceptable "costs" of using the roads and of road-widening to reduce congestion. If we actually wanted to, we could do a lot more with reducing speeds and better engineering roads for safety.
The Open House is Wednesday the 1st. It's from 5 pm to 7 pm at 100 High St. SE, Suite 200, above in the first-floor lobby between Bar Andaluz and Table Five 08. Ah, it's a street-level, First Wednesday kind of thing. That's nice.

Want more? Read on...

A Few Bike/Ped Projects

Three bike/ped projects are funded (aka "committed")
On the actually funded side of the RTSP are three  straigh-up bike/ped projects. There are several more in a longer list of unfunded projects, on the "wish list" and in the queue for funding.

Second Street connection to the Union St RR Bridge.
But also a bunch of Third Bridge Balderdash
The interactive GIS map shows, for example, the Second Street NW project. Right now it's out to 2025, not yet funded, and maybe the date is real or maybe that's a placeholder date. Again there's no committed funding yet for it, so it's not on the officially funded list of "committed" projects. But at least it's in the queue for funding.

But of course right next to it is a bunch of Marine Drive twiggery and the right-of-way for the Salem Alternative. Sanity and insanity jostle for position!

This list of projects shows only the ones with committed funding; the ones in the queue are whited out. So that shows the overall proportions here.

There's a summary list of projects
and here only the funded ones are left;
3-1/2 columns of not-yet-funded are blanked.
(You see the three funded bike/ped projects)
The Firehose of Hydraulic Autoism

More concretely on the funded list, a project already in the works is on Kuebler. We're going to gigantify it even more, and optimize the firehose of cars. This remains the prevailing policy and philosophy for the RTSP.

Major widening project on Kuebler
The other day there I had occasion to walk part of it. I had planned to walk along Boone Road, but I couldn't figure out how to get there, so Kuebler was the only effective east-west connection.

Ornamental Highway Sidewalk Tree - and ADA swerve?
A branch also encroaches on the bike lane
Somebody thought that we could make this "parkway," this stretch of urban highway, more attractive with some highway trees. (I don't think we can really call them "street trees" here.) Only instead of setting them back away from customary sidewalk travel path, they decided to interrupt things. Why couldn't the street tree be recessed leaving the sidewalk path straight? While this works for wheelchairs, what about blind people?

At any rate, it's at least a little symbolic for the ways we pile up barriers for people on foot and on bike.

At another tree, friends and family created a monument to a person who died in traffic here.

At another tree, a memorial to carnage on the urban highway
A little further down the road on Kuebler, at an unmarked crosswalk, there is a median with a wheelchair-friendly gap. But this is an urban highway. Who is going to try to cross the street here? That's to play Frogger for real!

Kuebler "crosswalk"
with "helpful" gap in median
On paper it looks like you can walk or bike along Kuebler, but that is mostly absurd. It works for the "strong and fearless" but not for 8 or 80 year olds, or for most everybody else. Its design is inimical to people on foot and on bike - and probably speeds are too fast for those in cars, too.

Even on Boone Road, when I finally reached it, there were stretches without sidewalk.

This area is very poor in east-west connections.

(But again, all this is really a problem with the City of Salem's policies and priorities, not so much with SKATS.)

In the RTSP it's great that we have unfunded bike/ped projects like the Second Street one (though it will be a local street, maybe even a collector if it connects to Marine Drive, and so it's not primarily a bike/ped play) and funded projects like the Minto Bridge, but fundamentally we're still all about hydraulic autoism. It's all about through-put for cars.

For all notes on SKATS see here. Additional events and information on the RTSP can be found on a temporary blog here.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the post.

For more information on the RTSP, and to be informed of the latest outreach events check out either:





Anonymous said...

Follow-up: The Open House Wednesday will be held in the first floor foyer/entrance to the MWVCOG offices. This was done to get more exposure to people walking past and to cut out the ride in slowest elevator in Salem.


Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Thanks for clarifying the location! That it's street-level is helpful, and has been updated.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the trees along Kuebler that are shown in the post: there are underground stormwater remediation vaults, that include filtration media that-- along with the tree -- capture and volatilize pollutants from stormwater runoff. Do a search of "Filterra Tree Box" for more info. A good diagram can be seen here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mocobio/8816807652/