Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Maybe we need more Neon!

We used to have a lot more neon downtown. And apart from the issue of energy consumption, it's hard to say that downtown is more lively and pleasant without the lights.

Liberty Street looking south from Chemeketa Street
(via Vintagepaper1000)

Liberty Street looking north from Ferry Street
(via unknown flickr user)
Of course they're almost certainly a consequence of the liveliness rather than a cause of it - but still.

On Monday the Grand Theatre had a proposal at Council to permit a bigger sign. It was postponed for a variety of reasons that aren't important here.

But it will be interesting to read more about it as it goes before the various groups for approval. It seems like this should get strong consideration. Maybe there are problems with it, but on the surface it seems like it could be a nice decorative and advertising element.

With the transit mall and Courthouse Square as well as the Courthouse itself largely inactive in the evenings, the corner of Court and High could use another jolt of energy. In addition to whatever business goes in where Grand Vines was, a neon sign could be a real focus for it, drawing the eye as it is meant to do.

In mood, effect, and sidewalk context, it is also very different from the Ross Sign on the mall that generated criticism a couple years back. Even a big sign here could still be scaled for both walking and driving traffic. (See those postcards!) The large corner bulb-out also works in its favor.

What do you think about more neon downtown?


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Beer Wars, Bikes, and Boosterism

November 28th, 1910

October 24th, 1913
Old-time "yay Salem!" and "yay Oregon!" material is pretty funny:
Every Section of the State Sends Its Brainiest and Most Energetic Hustlers to Aid in the Great Work of Developing the Oregon Empire
About a century ago, you see the word "boost" enter the newspaper regularly. It seems to have participated in the new professional cultures of self-improvement, advertising, and public relations.

The pieces are amusing to read, naive and wildly optimistic, full of faith in the power of self-determination and hustle.

If you attend to beer at all in Salem, you'll have noticed the critique of Salem beer in Willamette Week earlier this month. It was not flattering.

 "Everyone was really nice, but I would not do this again,
nor would I recommend it to others"
Willamette Week, April 8th
Over the weekend the paper's food and beverage writer published his counter.

Friday, April 24, 2015

City Council, April 27th - Bikes, Bikes, Bikes

Though there is no new bike announcement or project on the agenda for Council on Monday, by our standards there is an extraordinary density of bike-related informational stuff on the agenda. It's nice to see!

But most important is the report on Marine Drive.

Marine Drive and proposed bike park
You may recall that Councilor Lewis had asked for more information on Marine Drive. Here's some good news!
Because of the similar alignments of the proposed Marine Drive NW and the SRX [Salem River Crossing OR-22 connector], the Marine Drive project is largely on hold until the SRX public process is completed and the Record of Decision is issued. This is because any work done on Marine Drive NW that could be construed as part of the SRX project, which is done prior to the Record of Decision, could open the SRX project to a federal lawsuit for violation of the National Environmental Policy Act process.
So, that's good to know.

Interestingly - but carefully kept separate - there is also a report on a grant application for the Wallace bike park. Council will also "apply for...the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department Local Government Grant for the purpose of constructing a bike park facility at Wallace Marine Park." The urban highway would skirt the park and affect access, and park advocates do themselves a disservice by omitting this fact from discussion.

There's also an intergovernmental agreement with Oregon Parks and Rec for maintenance on the Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway signs.

The scenic bikeway comes up again in the brief report on bike boulevards. Staff intend to apply for a TGM grant to plan in detail a pilot bike boulevard along the Winter/Maple alignment, and the fact that the Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway uses this alignment is adduced as a reason to start with this route. (But isn't the route going to get realigned after the Minto Bridge opens?) I wish the project were more comprehensive and entailed a city-wide commitment to bike boulevards rather than merely a pilot project. There's something bloodless and tentative about the report and TGM grant proposal. At this point, what is experimental about bike boulevards? Many communities have already piloted and implemented them. We should be going full speed ahead not just dipping our tippy-toes into the pool!

There's another intergovernmental agreement for the bike counters on the Union Street RR Bridge and Courtney Minto Bridge. They're packaged in a larger IT project with traffic signal controllers and ethernet switches. (See here and here for history on this.)

And a no-bid agreement with Union Pacific for two more crossings on Woodrow Street and Silverton Road for an extension of the "Quiet Zone." The crossing at Chemeketa has been less problematic than I thought it would be - but I detest the crossing at Mill Street (thoughts here and here). At many of the crossings, the addition of sharrows is helpful if you are confident in taking the lane, but if you are not a confident rider the lane narrowing seems perilous and probably pushes you onto the sidewalk. Overall, I think I am neutral on the crossings as they affect people on foot and on bike (apart from the auditory issue for neighbors). They are not as harmful as I feared, but they aren't actually all that helpful: They "help" the railroad with liability, not other road users with connectivity. More importantly, they might also represent a missed opportunity to rethink and radically reconfigure the crossings better to serve all users. In any case, they don't seem worth drilling into or dwelling on.

Looking to the future, on Tuesday, May 26th,  the Goodwill project will appear in a month for a Public Hearing: Petition to Vacate A Portion of First Street NW and Lincoln Avenue NW. (Details here and here.) On the same date before Council formally meets there will be a work session on the West Salem Business District Plan, and that will surely touch on the undercrossing proposed for Second Street at Wallace Road. (See here and here.) Together these projects could transform an area and create connections where things are currently a huge barrier for people on bike and on foot.

(How great is it to have a large section here devoted just to bikey things!)

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Earth Day at Waldo Park Shows Diminished Expectations and Autoism

Couple of interesting notes in the paper today...

One was the Earth Day celebration at Waldo Park. In no small part because of the number of vacancies on City of Salem commissions and advisory boards, and the dinky way the City chooses to use many of them, by itself a brand new Sustainability Commission has not seemed like the best way to address our "Sustainability Gap." Nonetheless, in light of the way "sustainability" was dismissed at the recent goal-setting session City Council held, it is perhaps wholly emblematic that our actual Earth Day celebration was at our smallest park.

Talk about diminished expectations!

EOA-HNA draft Report - Jan 2015
(graph added from CO2 Now)
There was of course the Earth 411 thing a couple of weeks ago, so we shouldn't try to wring too much symbolism out of the diminutive nature of this event.

But still.

Monster Cookie's this Weekend, Cherriots Bike Internship this Summer

Did you see the Sangster family quilt in the paper yesterday?!

Sangster Family Quilt from Monster Cookie T-Shirts
That's a great use for old t-shirts!

The Monster Cookie is this weekend, Sunday the 26th.

Day-of-ride registration ($30) opens at 8am on the Capitol Mall Fountain.

It's a metric century - 62 miles - through the rolling hills of French Prairie out to Champoeg and back.

Remember Governor Geer, who rode his bike out to Champoeg on May 1st, 1900, to set in motion the establishment of the historical marker and now park!

DMV and Bike History

In the paper there was also a reminiscence about the Legislature's adoption of bike laws in the 1970s.
Some wacky bike law history
Biking Job at Cherriots

Cherriots is looking for a summer/fall intern to promote bike/walk/bus trips. Even more, you'll get to deliver by bike and use bike transport regularly!

(see full job description here)
For more on the previous year's projects in Ashland and Corvallis, as well as preliminary thoughts on the Salem project, see discussion here.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Talks on Sweden and Commercial Vista Corridor Refinement Plan Show Contrast

Two transportation presentations on Thursday the 23rd will show a great contrast between innovation and catch-up.

Daniel Firth talk on Thursday morning
(Look at that protected bike lane!)
In the morning, Daniel Frith with talk about Swedish innovations.
Join Daniel Firth and Paul Casey for a presentation and professional exchange with Oregon planners on transportation innovations in Sweden and Oregon.

• Congestion pricing
• Parking management
• Stockholm Urban Mobility Plan
• Mileage fees

Daniel Firth is Chief Strategy Officer at the City of Stockholm Department of Transportation. He is responsible for the development and implementation of the Stockholm Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan, including implementation of a new Bus Rapid Transit network, major expansion of the metro and light rail networks, measures for walking, and a USD200 million investment in the cycle network. Daniel is also project manager for the implementation of new congestion pricing and parking measures.
$200 million for bicycling!!!! Stockholm's a good bit larger than Salem, of course, but even proportionately that would be $34 million in Salem, or fully one-third of our $100 million 2008 Keep Salem Moving road bond. Projects like the super-sized urban highway interchange at Wallace and Glen Creek would look very different.

Would you send your child to the park on this by bike?
Note two people on bike in the crosswalk!
(Looking down Glen Creek towards Wallace Park)
The talk is Thursday April 23, 2015 10:00 am - 11:30 am in the ODOT T-Building, 355 Capitol Street NE, Room 340.

(Please RSVP by email to Laura Buhl)

Commercial Vista Corridor Study

By comparison here we are still playing catch-up, and the Commercial-Vista Corridor Refinement Plan will have an Open House later in the day.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Minto Master Plan Meeting Tonight

The last meeting on the Minto Brown Island Master Plan project is tonight, and they'll be looking at three distinct concept plans for the park.

One focuses on access (detail below), another on floodplain restoration, and a third on agriculture.

Minto proposal - Alternate 1 "Enhanced Access"
Even the one on "access" didn't seem to have that much on circulation. It adds a few new elevated boardwalks across swampy and low areas, some new trails, and a bridge - but mostly small changes concerning access to park features - boardwalks and boat launches and stuff like that - but not really on travel and circulation.

From the standpoint of "how do you get there?" and "how do you move around once you're there?" at least from here, none of the alternatives were clearly better than the others.

Instead, the alternatives seemed oriented around the question of, "once you're here, what do you want to see and do?"

And to that question you might have clear preferences over, for example, more natural conditions or more agricultural cultivation.

The meeting is today, Tuesday the 21st, at 7pm in Pringle Community Hall, 606 Church Street SE.

There is also a survey, which requires viewing the concept maps for the three alternatives first.

The prospect of investment at Minto contrasts with the state of investment in a lot of our other parks.

While out on an urban ramble over the weekend, we found a new park.  Maybe you know all about it, but I suspect it's essentially neighborhood secret lore. The City has very little published on it, and the even the new Parks Master Plan doesn't say much.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Council Meets Monday to Set Goals - Tell them to Fix it First!

On Monday Council assembles in a work session to discuss "Council Goals," the high level policy document that will guide staff and Council action for the next year or two.

The Final Fantasy: Funding Strategy for a Third Bridge
Councilor Andersen has made no secret of his intent to try to redirect Council towards a goal to "fix it first," of fixing our existing bridges and investing in a seismic retrofit adequate to the expected Cascadian Subduction Zone megaquake for which we are due.

Even the Road Builders Lobby says:
The Marion Street Bridge should be fixed first!
No Third Bridge expects to have a large audience out in silent support for the motion.

Given Councilor Lewis' interest in Marine Drive, it seems likely that he and his allies will try for an opposite gesture.

Five votes for "fix it first" will not be easy to get.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Our Troubles with Speed

Radar installation on Rural St, near South High
You probably saw the front page story today about Senator Prozanski's bill to increase the speed limit on the interstate.

Maybe we're not dumb?
From the piece:
At a Senate Committee on Business and Transportation public hearing Wednesday, the committee first heard supporting testimony for SB-459, which would raise the speed limit to help Oregonians who travel Interstate 5 stay consistent with speed laws on I-5 in Washington and California....

Sen. Floyd Prozanski, D-Eugene, told the committee that it didn't seem prudent to keep Oregon's speed limit at 65 mph when the "states to the north and south of us have speeds in excess of that limit." Some segments of the interstates in Idaho allow speeds of up to 80 mph.
Without going to far into this, a couple of things are interesting. As committed to hydraulic autoism as are ODOT folks, even ODOT says, "speed kills," saying "that states that have increased speed limits have typically experienced a 3 percent increase in fatalities."

Here we are dealing with a crude calculus of death: In death rates, what is an acceptable cost to using the road? And even though ODOT is saying we should want to lessen the rate, we are still plainly saying that there is an acceptable death rate. (Bear in mind we're also undertaking a large effort to install cable barriers on the interstate - why would we do this and increase the speed limit at the same time, eh?)

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Legislative Update, Week 10.5 - First Winnowing

The deadline for bills to have a work session was last week, and so we have our first round of bills that "died in committee." None of them seem critical, and some of them represent topics covered by other bills that remain alive or bills that seem likely to be subject to gutting and stuffing.

Undated early view of 1876 Oregon Capitol
(before Portico addition of 1888)
via State Capitol 75th Anniversary site
But first, just having gone through an orderly transition at our State Capitol, it seems like we should join everybody else in observing today what was surely the Country's most disorderly and tragic transition 150 years ago.

Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, April 22nd, 1865
Jacksonville Mourning
There aren't many local papers digitized from this period, so Jacksonville is the closest we can come, I think. The Oregon Sentinel started out with southern sympathies, but early in the war it was sold and became a Republican paper fully in support of the Union.

Locally in Jacksonville,
business houses were closed and the doors draped in mourning irrespective of party. All countenances appeared sad, dejected and mournful, except a few secession traitors. One drunken secessionist gave vent to the feelings of a wicked and depraved heart by expressing joy at our great national calamity. A good Union man who heard him knocked him off the sidewalk.
The Bills

The Chaff - Bills that died in committee, which we will no longer follow here:
  • SB 177 Bike licensing and repeal of Bike Bill
  • SB 551 Bike licensing and repeal of Bike Bill
  • SB 861 making it possible to use a bike beacon, like an RFID tag, as probable cause for a search warrant in recovering stolen bikes
  • HB 2256 Cleans up language about PIP in auto insurance (still not sure if it's a policy change or just housekeeping on language)
  • HB 2553 Creates task force on expanding WES (commuter rail) to Salem 
  • HB 3153 Prohibits State from funding municipal sidewalks 
  • HB 3302 on seismic retrofits for bridges  
  • SB 511 creates a study on DUI and recidivism (many DUI cases are repeat offenders)
  • HB 3176: Imposes fee on fossil fuel or fossil fuel-generated electricity to be paid by vendors (three carbon pricing bills remain active)
  • HB 2159: Imposes tax on each fuel supplier and utility based on amount of carbon in carbon-based fuel that is sold by fuel supplier to consumers in state or that is used to produce carbon-generated electricity supplied by utility to consumers in state.​
  • HB 2086: Imposes fee on fossil fuel or fossil fuel-generated electricity to be paid by vendors. 
  • HB 2082: Imposes tax on each fuel supplier and utility based on amount of carbon in carbon-based fuel that is sold by fuel supplier to consumers in state or that is used to produce carbon-generated electricity supplied by utility to consumers in state.​
  • HJR 10: Imposes taxes on carbon emissions for purpose of funding reductions in carbon emissions and carbon fuel use.
  • HB 2740 on ConnectOregon (two other bills remain active)
Other bills appear to remain alive.

New milestones and movements are highlighted in green. (As usual, see more relevant bills or movement? Drop a note in the comments.)

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

At the Library: Circulation Problems

This weekend you might have seen the new gateway at the staircase for the Children's section of the Library.

Children's Gateway - Kristin Kuhns concept drawing
via On the Way
It is interesting that the effort and thought given to this internal gateway and connection vastly exceeds that given to the external gateway and connection. (If only we treated our sidewalks and pathways so lovingly!)

As the need for a seismic reinforcement at the Library may be starting to get lost in the talk about the need for a new Police Station, we should be talking more about the Library. In fact, it seems like we are missing a big opportunity to talk about the Library as a foundational civic institution.

No driver observes unmarked crosswalks here, even with signs.
Even with improved connections to the sidewalks,
access across busy roads is difficult
If you're not in a car, external circulation and connections are lousy. There's no marked crosswalk in line with any of the Library's entrances, or even at Oak or Leslie. Marked crosswalks are a block or more away, at Mission and Bellevue. Since the Library is located on the center median of a busy six-lane urban highway, too often a person wanting to cross has to play Frogger and scamper. It is not friendly at all for local children to walk to. Bike access is also difficult. Bike lanes are on the right side of the road, and with the one-way grid, a left hand turn across three lanes of car traffic is always required to access the library.

How about a sidewalk so you don't have to push a stroller
through the driveway?  The lot design forgot people on foot.
At the sidewalk, there is only a place for cars. Families with young children have to walk in the driveway.

We multiply physical barriers to the Library.

Plainly, it was assumed that people would be driving to the Library. Can and should we assume this any more?

Saturday, April 11, 2015

City Council, April 13th - Goodwill and Marine Drive

Council meets on Monday, and I'm not sure there's anything super important on the agenda. Mostly it's things it seems worthwhile just to "register" and to see if they fall into larger patterns later.

Approximate location of Marine Drive in Red
Way down at the bottom of the agenda, the two "Councilor's Items" are most relevant here:

Councilor Lewis is impatient for progress on Marine Drive and moves
that City Council direct staff to bring back information related to the funding available for the design, right-of-way acquisition, and construction of Marine Drive NW....

I believe that it is important for the City Council to understand when the funds allocated [in the 2008 road bond] for Marine Drive NW will be expended and for what purpose.
Passenger Rail service is at risk
Councilor Andersen also asks for a formal City position for the Legislature supporting Amtrak Cascades service (remember, our MPO lined up voted against this in a split vote!).

Proposed Goodwill with First Street alignment in red
First Street there would be vacated
The other matter of real interest is the return of the Goodwill project. After initially denying it on March 9th, on the 23rd Council voted to reconsider and bring it back. Presumably they'll now set a date for a public hearing. The opposition to this is a little mysterious, though it may be helpful to read Council's action on this in tandem with Councilor Lewis' initiative on Marine Drive. Pro-Bridge forces don't want Good Will of any kind to interfere with a Third Bridge! (See here for more on the Goodwill project.)

Summary of Current Status
(proposed demolitions and park area added)
A report on the possibility of purchasing the northwest corner of the North Campus of the State Hospital for use as a park is both strongly positive and curiously non-committal:
Acquisition of a park parcel on the North Campus property would be contingent upon the scale and uses proposed for the site's redevelopment, and the ultimate need for a park on the parcel. Assuming a need is identified, two options for park development are possible on the property: a neighborhood park or a small community park. Both options would be eligible for Park System Development Charge·funding for acquisition, planning, and development....

If the property were to be developed with residential units, a neighborhood park would be needed. Acreage requirements for the park would be determined based on the residential density developed. If the property were to be developed into any use other than residential, the proposed property could serve the existing need for a community park, and would likely be developed as sports fields .[italics added]
I understood the request from Council as tentatively assuming a need has already been identified and as asking for confirmation and then further thoughts on how can we accomplish it. This report calls for more process and doesn't give an answer!

Friday, April 10, 2015

A Solution for the Commercial-Liberty Dysfunction Junction?

What to do about the split at Alice and Fairview where Commercial divides and dual turn lanes morph into southbound Liberty Road?

The Commercial Vista Corridor study might have an answer.

The two lanes of Liberty are treacherous to cross
The bike lane is striped here, and it looks like you should attempt a crossing of the two new lanes that turn across your path and become Liberty.

This is intuitive, and many people on bike attempt it. They hide in the bike lane, wait for a break in the traffic, and scamper. We'll call this the "hide and scamper" move.

Scary, but intuitive and direct: Hide, then scamper
City Traffic Camera, Commercial at Fairview
The preferred alternative has been a very lightly signed - probably invisibly signed! - and greatly enlarged jug-handle turn.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Education or Engineering: Signs for Debate

The other day I saw an ad and a blurb for a book that might be interesting, Seeing Green: The Use and Abuse of American Environmental Images.

From the University of Chicago Press:
Considering a wide array of images—including pictures in popular magazines, television news, advertisements, cartoons, films, and political posters—[Finis Dunaway] shows how popular environmentalism has been entwined with mass media spectacles of crisis....he focuses on key moments in which media images provoked environmental anxiety but also prescribed limited forms of action. Moreover, he shows how the media have blamed individual consumers for environmental degradation and thus deflected attention from corporate and government responsibility. Ultimately, Dunaway argues, iconic images have impeded efforts to realize—or even imagine—sustainable visions of the future. [italics added]
It seems to me that the imagery on the front page about David Fox's signs and the way the story is framed up participates at least a little in this deflection.

I wonder if the front-page placement and hints of heroic imagery might actually diminish the topic - and introduce an element of irony and sensationalism. (Certainly the TV coverage seems to go in this direction.)

Now the story is about a plucky individual and his quixotic quest instead of about a structural and systemic problem with a regulatory environment and the way we think about, fund, and construct transportation facilities. (We're not talking about the Engineering Guild and the MUTCD's prohibition on an otherwise reasonable sign, for example.)

You might say this personalizes the problem and makes it real. It tells a story. Some of the online comments to the story are appreciative along these lines.

But maybe this treatment tames the problem, too.

Even the Road Builders say: Fix the Bridge First!

The big road lobby, the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, even says we should fix the bridge!

Earlier this week a reader sent in news about their latest report on "deficient" bridges in the US by the biggest road builder trade and lobbying organization.

You'll never guess what it says...

ARTBA Oregon Bridge Profile

Yup, the Marion Street Bridge should be fixed first!
We need to fix our bridges before we build new ones!

Monday, April 6, 2015

You'll never Guess Which of these Signs isn't Legal!

Which sign looks more legal?

State Street - via Ashley Smith / Statesman Journal
Chemeketa Street
The one that cites ORS? or the one that doesn't?

The best part?

The idea that confusion over a sign's authenticity would be more dangerous than the routine ignorance and disregard for the sign's message itself!
But according to officials with the city of Salem, the signs will have to be taken down for public safety reasons.

“We follow what is called a manual of uniform traffic control devices,” said Robert Chandler, assistant public works director with the city. “The intention of the manual and the reason we follow it is so there’s standardized signage across the country. So whatever he has put up ... it really cannot resemble a regular traffic control sign because that would confuse drivers. We would either remove it or ask him to remove it...."

Chandler said city crews were planning to take a look at the signs in the coming days.

“Our big picture is safety,” he said. “For the gentleman who had the problem, drivers should understand the rules and should follow them and be respectful for other users of the roadway. But we discourage people putting up their own traffic signs.” [italics added]
Hydraulic Autoism and the MUTCD for the win!

Next time - copy one of the existing signs?
(If you haven't been on Chemeketa, the "illegal" sign is the one on State Street with the ORS. Maybe there will be more to say in the morning after the piece hits print and there is more reaction. I have some fear it will be used as clickbait to stoke the "war on cars" narrative.)

Update, Midday Tuesday

Front page news!

Lord and Schryver Museum also Shows Mission St in Transition

Mission Street near downtown is in transition.

While the Hospital's actions at the Blind School and then across the street on the corner house have been in the news, more quietly the work on the museum proposed for Gaiety Hollow, the home and garden of Elizabeth Lord and Edith Schryver, is also evidence for the change.

Garden Conservancy News, summer 2014 clip
Later this month on the 22nd there will be a hearing on some of the zoning and parking matters for the museum.

Hearing on April 22nd
By formulas in code, this small museum requires five off-street parking stalls for cars. While two of them can be supplied by the driveway, the other three will be supplied by the Derby/Bush House parking lot across the street. The museum will have to execute a formal lease with the City for these three stalls, it looks like.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Legislative Update, Week 9 - The Safety Vests

The Legislature is chugging along, and for bikes so far it's mostly been small details and theater.
You may recall that our MPO has limited appetite to support Amtrak, and sure enough funding is at risk. The service doesn't move that many people by raw count, but it looms large as a symbol of alternatives to autoism in the I-5 corridor. Here's the Oregon Environmental Council on the prospect.

There doesn't seem to be any big headline transport news yet, so fair warning mostly blather here...

Milestones and movements are highlighted in green. (As usual, see more relevant bills or movement? Drop a note in the comments.)

Here's an interesting bill that got neutered with study churn, it looks like:
  • SB 120 as introduced expanded the definition of ways to meet "mobility standards" and included "reducing congestion in other modes of travel" - which seems ambiguous, but could as the language was adjusted have meant something like "reduce auto congestion by means of improvements in bike lanes and transit (etc)." The relevant language has been deleted in the first round of amendments, and now it looks like it maintains the usual "highway mobility targets established for a highway corridor by the Department of Transportation’s Oregon Highway Plan" and calls for a new study on the possibility of change. As amended the bill is heading to the Senate floor with a "do pass" recommendation.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Buffered Bike Lanes and Flashing Beacons Lead Commercial Vista Corridor Recommendations

The initial set of recommendations are out on the Commercial Vista Corridor Study, and my first impression is that they do significantly more for travel on foot than on bike. (summary pamphlet also)

Existing above, proposed below: Note buffer,
wider sidewalk, narrower auto travel lanes
Some quick hits:

Commercial Street and Buffered Bike Lanes - Alternative 1

Commercial Street by Fred Meyer
  • Reduces most auto travel lanes from 14 feet to 11 feet. Thumbs up!
  • Expands sidewalk width and adds room for street trees. Thumbs up!
  • Add buffer to bike lane, total width from 7 to 9 feet. A little meh, actually.
The buffer isn't continued the length of Commercial in all the views, so a non-continuous buffer seems like it's of limited utility. Additionally, the travel lane width isn't consistently reduced to 11 feet - but there's no need for 12 foot travel lanes! (Why not make them all 10 feet, anyway?)

More than this, though, because of the vastness of Commercial here, I'm not sure that buffers without barriers will help infrequent, young, or inexperienced people on bike. The buffers will help those of us who already bike on Commercial, but I don't think the treatment will be strong enough to attract "interested and concerned" people on bike. This would be a marginal, incremental improvement, not a game-changer.