Saturday, May 30, 2015

Difficult Crossings near Safeway, Fred Meyer, Hospital Head List for State Funding

It might just be the random clustering of unequally distributed events, but I have a bit of that sinking, queasy feeling about this summer and safety. Another person on foot was killed here in Salem a few days ago, and Portland is having a rash of people on bike killed or seriously hurt. 

So it's a good time to contemplate improvements for safety.

This is old news, but back on March 23rd, Council and Staff advanced concepts for a suite of projects funded by ODOT's All Roads Transportation Safety Program. Prior to the meeting the proposed project list wasn't available, but here it is (the order has been altered slightly, the text is very lightly edited, and the photos are added).

You may recognize some projects from the Commercial-Vista Corridor Study. Other projects have been discussed in Bike and Walk Salem, the Sustainable Cities Initiative, and neighborhood association meetings. The projects are nearly all adjacent to important destinations - shopping, parks, the hospital, and schools. At least as far as the bike/ped stuff goes, it's a small but solid list.

The early word was that there would be about $1 million for ODOT Region 2 in bike/ped projects, and that would fund about 20 pedestrian medians. There are 10 counties and their cities in Region 2, and so it is hard to say how many of Salem's candidates are likely to be funded. The time-line calls for a 300% long list at this moment, so it could mean that Salemites should expect only 1/3 of these to get funded.

The relevant funding cycle would commence in 2017, it looks like, and construction wouldn't be likely to start any sooner. Most projects would formally be in the 2018-2021 STIP. Field evaluation is going on now and the final, funded project lists will be announced in March 2016. Then this final list of projects gets folded into the STIP process.

Staff is preparing applications to fund selected safety countermeasures at the locations listed below.

Marion and Center Streets NE (12th to 17th Streets NE)
  • Install Rapid Rectangular Flashing Beacon at intersection of 13th and Marion Streets NE [at Safeway, discussed at NEN]
  • Install pedestrian crossing median and crosswalk west of 17th Street NE, just westerly of Wyatt Court NE [serves bus stops near the Wilson House]
A flashing beacon and crosswalk right here
Fred Meyers on South Commercial at bus stops
Commercial Street SE (Oxford Street SE to Winding Way SE) [Commercial Vista Study]
  • Install pedestrian crossing medians with crosswalks and Rapid Rectangular Flashing Beacons in two locations:
    • Opposite Fred Meyers, near transit stops
    • Near intersection with Waldo Street SE
  • Infill street lighting and enhance lighting at pedestrian crossings
  • Narrow travel lanes to 11 feet (City standard) and add 1-2 foot “buffer” for bike lanes
School Safety Improvements
  • Install pedestrian crossing median on Sunnyview NE east of Lancaster Drive NE for improved pedestrian access to McKay High School
  • Extend curbs on Jones Road SE to enhance student safety at Judson Middle School
Mission Street SE at Winter Street SE [SCI and many other times!]
  • Modify approach to Bush Park to accommodate pedestrians and bicycles
  • Install bike signal for northbound bicyclists

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Wisconsin Ruling: Salem River Crossing's Traffic Projections also in Jeopardy? - Updated

A very interesting Federal case in Wisconsin has been making the rounds. A reader commented on the FHWA note yesterday and others have sent the news by email.

1000 Friends of Wisconsin filed a suit over outlandish traffic projections, and a Federal Judge agreed!

1000 Friends of Wisconsin v. USDOT et. al.

Vacate that approval!
From the Judge:
As noted, the plaintiff is skeptical that traffic volumes on Highway 23 will increase by as much as WisDOT has projected during the next 20 years. The plaintiff points out that traffic volumes peaked in about 2005 and have been declining ever since. The plaintiff contends that there are reasons to believe that this trend in declining traffic volumes will continue well into the future....

The plaintiff [also] contends that the defendants did not account for or address the environmental impacts of “induced travel.”....

[In conclusion] I identified two deficiencies in the defendants’ consideration of reasonable alternatives: (1) the defendants have not sufficiently disclosed how they applied their traffic-forecasting methodology to arrive at the traffic projections that they used in the impact statement, and thus neither the court nor members of the public are able to intelligently assess whether those projections are flawed; and (2) the defendants have not shown that they made a reasoned decision as to whether the updated population data from the Department of Administration required reconsideration of the traffic projections. These are significant deficiencies....

If it is true that the defendants’ projection of traffic volumes is flawed, then one of the key rationales for expanding the highway to four lanes will be undermined. If accurate projections are used, it may turn out that an alternative to full-blown expansion, such as installing passing lanes in certain areas and making other targeted improvements, would satisfy enough of the project’s purpose and need to be feasible. And because such an alternative would have fewer adverse environmental impacts than full-blown expansion, NEPA requires that it be fully explored before the defendants irrevocably commit themselves to expanding Highway 23 to four lanes.
It is not difficult to see how this might be relevant here.

Update, May 2nd, 2016

From the decision, 1000 Friends of Wisconsin v. USDOT:
I cannot find that WisDOT, when deciding whether to update its traffic forecasts in light of the updated population data, “conducted a reasoned evaluation of the relevant information and reached a decision that, although perhaps disputable, was not ‘arbitrary or capricious.’” Marsh , 490 U.S. at 385.

III. CONCLUSION For the reasons stated, IT IS ORDERED that the defendants’ motion to reinstate the record of decision and enter judgment in their favor is DENIED . IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the defendants’ motion to strike is DENIED .
More at 1000 Friends:
Federal District Court Judge Lynn Adelman has rejected the Wisconsin DOT arguments that its traffic projections for increased traffic on Highway 23 are accurate. This means the project is not eligible for federal funding – effectively killing the project.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Cherriots Board Meets Thursday

The Cherriots Board meets Thursday the 28th, and there are several things of interest on the agenda.

Chamber's opposition to payroll tax
Probably at the top of the list are the responses to outreach, surveys, and other questions about how best to fund weekend and evening service.

In the packet is the January recommendation from the Chamber:
[I]t is clear that the Salem Chamber is strongly opposed to any payroll tax presented to voters as a revenue option to accomplish Phase 2 planning. The Chamber would most likely lead formal opposition to any payroll tax campaign presented to voters as we feel the costs of expanded service should be shared more broadly across the community as a whole.

In regards to the other funding option for Phase 2 planning, the Salem Chamber would not oppose a 5 year operating levy placed on the ballot for voter consideration. An expansion of evening and weekend service would benefit many in the community and we feel a strong campaign led by the Transit Board of Directors could result in success for your organizational goals. [italics added]
It is interesting that the Chamber does not see transit as a worthy investment for business and employee recruiting and retention.

No position appears to be taken, and the report is for information only and staff look to come back with a recommendation later.

There is also a relatively large quarterly report from Rideshare.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Drunk Driver Kills Person Walking Across Salem Parkway

The weekend did not start off well at all. One more person on foot was killed by a driver.

Friday night (technically very early Saturday) Travis Lane was killed while walking and attempting to cross the Salem Parkway at Cherry.

The initial story about Travis Lane didn't have much detail.
But the next day's story (clip above) has utterly desolating detail:
At 12:25 a.m., the Salem Police Department received a report that a pedestrian was hit on Salem Parkway at Cherry Avenue NE. Lane was found dead when officers arrived.

The initial investigation did not determine where Lane was when he was struck, but Tim Hammond said Lane wasn’t the kind of guy to jaywalk.

While Lane was hanging out at Stefanie Hammond’s, his two best friends — Chris Hammond and Travis Malm — were hanging out at his home.

At 3 a.m., police officers knocked on Chris Hammond’s home, saying Lane had been hit by a car.

Several hours after the crash, Malm’s sister, Kimberly Malm, was arrested in connection to the crash on charges of second-degree manslaughter, driving under the influence of intoxicants, reckless driving, reckless endangerment and failure to perform the duties of a driver. [italics added]
The hit-and-run compounds the error, but crossing the Parkway at night, even in a marked crosswalk, and even with sober drivers, is treacherous: There's no room for error.

For drivers at highway speeds, reaction time + stopping distance makes it nearly impossible to avoid other objects in the road. Add impairment to reaction time and there may have been no correction whatsoever.
For people on foot, highway speeds are certain to crush and kill you. (Remember, even at 40mph, a car is nearly certain kill a person on foot.)

They knew better
 in 1937
If an urban highway like the Parkway is engineered with gentle curves and some forgiveness for drivers who make steering or speeding or stopping errors, they have no engineered forgiveness at all for other users of the road.

That the driver was almost certainly not a stranger, and would likely know of Lane's walking habits, is a cruel, cruel irony.

But it underscores the dangers of speed and autoism. Cars kill. Full Stop. Traffic speeds in urban areas should not be highway speeds.

I think this is the fourth walking death this year. Drivers killed The Crosslands and David McGregor while they were out walking in January.

(Jeffrey Tumlin gave a talk in Salem two years ago, you may recall.)

Bad Crash near McNary

Additionally, McNary students apparently leaving school for the weekend crashed on Lockhaven. From the magnitude of the crash and resulting injuries, it seems difficult to conclude the kids were observing safe neighborhood speeds.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Our local MPO to hold Public Hearing on 20 year Regional Transportation System Plan

Our local Metropolitan Planning Organization, SKATS, will hold a Public Hearing on the draft Regional Transportation Systems Plan for 2015-2035 on Tuesday the 26th at noon.

Carbon is a huge void at the center of the plan
Draft RTSP, with chart from CO2Now
There's a pleasant ferment and amount of discussion going on with related matters, and if you would like to attend and offer comment, here are some themes to consider in your comments!

In an earlier note, we highlighted three things:
  • 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.
These remain true.

Here are some additional things to consider:
Look for the historic sign
next to the entry
The Public Hearing is Tuesday the 26th at noon. SKATS is at 100 High St. SE, Suite 200, above Bar Andaluz and Table Five 08.

And here's more history trivia for the weekend. What was on the corner before the current building, known as the new Bligh Building or Pacific Building, home of SKATS?

Cook's Hotel!

Cook's Hotel the Table Five08 Corner of State and High
Oregon State Library
And here's the corner and its immediate neighborhood from above, probably taken from the tower, now lost, of the Grand Theatre. Cook's was demolished in 1925 or perhaps 1926, prior to construction of the new Bligh Building.

Cook's Hotel on the corner of State and High
The big lawn belongs to the old County Courthouse
Oregon State Library

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Harry Scott's First Bike Shop was on State Street

Some time in the last year or two it looks like the State Library switched over to a new online catalogue, which includes their photography this time, and there are now better scans of photos that had been available only as dinky little things.

The first site of Scott's Cycle on State Street, circa 1914
Image detail, via Oregon State Library

The whole image:  Oregon State Library

September 9, 1916
One image it is especially nice to be able to see in an enlargement is a partial image of the very first location for Harry Scott's bicycle business, an enterprise that's still around and we know today as Scott's Cycle.

The single-story storefront was between the alley and the Griswold-Murphy building at the corner of State and Commercial, and you can just see the edges of it in the photo in the State Library's collection.

Here's a view of the Griswold block and the intersection of State Street and Commercial looking northwest about from above the Ladd & Bush parking lot (where there was a building, of course!).

Commercial Street at State Street, circa 1900
Griswold block in upper left; Pioneer Trust (1909) not yet built
Lots of people biking along!
Oregon State Library
The parade could very well be related to the Spanish-American War and the Oregon Volunteers.

Back to Scott's, if you missed the celebration last year, the business has been around for a century now! (You can read more about the history of Harry Scott's business here and here. Also, when you walk into South High, on the right is a bronze plaque commemorating its construction, and Harry Scott is named as one of the School Board members, about 10 years before he sold the business to Larry Lewis's group.)

For comparison, here's the site today, a gravel parking lot. The corner is slated to be redeveloped, and hopefully we won't see the empty lot much longer!

The site today: Sunday Streets in 2013

For other notes remembering Veterans, see the African-American 25th Infantry Bicycle Corps, bicycles at D-Day, our earliest Veterans from the War of 1812, and elsewhere some thoughts on Lt. Col. Leonidas Willis, CSA, who settled here in 1871 after the war and whose son built the downtown building that now houses the Book Bin.

Friday, May 22, 2015

City Council, May 26th - West Salem Goodwill

The final recommendations of the "Blue Ribbon" Task Force on the Police Station and Civic Center will lead at Council for most, but others will have much better things to say. (So do read and consider them!) As the City summarizes it in a separate press release:
While the entire civic center complex needs seismic improvements, the task force recommended that the police station should be the priority. Police occupy cramped quarters on the civic center's bottom floor.

The task force has recommended that the city only pursue a bond measure to construct a new public safety building, which would be between 75,000 and 106,000 square feet. It also recommended that the city consider locations outside of the civic center campus.
From our perspective here, the most interesting item on Council's Tuesday agenda - delayed a day because of the holiday - is the proposed street vacation for the Goodwill development at the corner of Edgewater and Wallace.

Proposed Goodwill with First Street alignment in red
First Street there would be vacated
The Staff Report urges approval, but with a few conditions. In the Report is also a bunch of emails with Councilors and the Mayor, disclosed in order to avoid any ex-parte contacts in this quasi-judicial hearing. It doesn't look like there's anything really interesting in them, nothing about why there was opposition in the first place. Mostly they are about the maneuvering between March 9th and March 23rd to get the matter reconsidered after the initial vote to deny. (Maybe you will spot a more relevant detail?)

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Salem Rivercrossing Traffic Modeling Discussed at Portland Talk Tomorrow

Let's go with the alternate title, shall we?

"Post-Apocalyptic Zombies Ate Oregon’s Post-Recession, ATR Regression."

All about post-apocalyptic zombies
(Mad Max, friends!)
Yeah, so what about that plateau in traffic counts and distance traveled?

via Washington State Ferries
Transportation Revenue Forecast, October 2014
(Sightline link broken)
Tomorrow at noon, Friday the 22nd, Andrew Mortensen of David Evans and Associates will talk at PSU about new Federal vehicle miles traveled forecasting and how this might impact local traffic planning.
A summary of FHWA’s new national traffic trends assessment will be presented, including discussion of varied factors influencing forward-thinking forecasts. Examples of Oregon statewide vehicle miles travelled (VMT) and historic traffic trends from ATR [automatic traffic recorder] stations in the Portland urban region and greater Willamette Valley will be highlighted. VMT, population and income data will be noted with implications on local transportation planning. [italics added]
Readers have suggested that we might read "greater Willamette Valley" as including "Center and Marion Street Bridges." (After the jump for updates!)

Grand Theatre, Starkey-McCully Block, Preservation Awards at Historic Landmarks Commission

Tonight the 21st the Historic Landmarks Commission meets, and mostly it's full of very nice things.

Proposed sign over the High Street entry
You may recall the matters of the Grand Theatre renovation and the Starkey-McCully block renovation.

The staff reports are out, they recommend approval, and truly it looks like there's nothing further to say further about these terrific developments downtown. (Grand here, Starkey-McCully here.)

So that's great to see.

Between renovations at the Salem Arts Building, the McGilchrist & Roth buildings, the Grey building with Amadeus, and now these two - we should pause a moment to appreciate the clustering and passion at this moment in time. There's some fabulous restoration and renovation work going on in downtown right now. Hopefully that can continue, and other buildings and storefronts in turn get the TLC they deserve. Our stock of downtown buildings is a wonderful resource and with adjustments to streets and sidewalks, our downtown can become the vibrant and more prosperous center we all want it to be.

Looking south on Commercial at Court, May 1913
Jaywalking hadn't been invented yet!
Annual Historic Preservation awards are also on the agenda.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

State Street Connections Could be Next with Minto Bridge Groundbreaking

Almost certainly you will have heard about the groundbreaking ceremony for the Minto Bridge.

(If not, it's at 3pm in the amphitheater at Riverfront Park on Thursday the 21st.)

The fencing has been up and actual digging already well underway, so strictly speaking this is an after-the-fact ceremony and not actual first spade of dirt.

But it's still nice.

So the next piece of the puzzle will be to create better walking and biking connections along State Street and crossing the busy urban highways of Front, Commercial, and Liberty.

The Downtown Strategic Action Plan
recognizes the importance of the natural
connection down State Street (in purple)
Fortunately the State Street entry to Riverfront Park is going to stay open, but after construction for the bridge is complete, the new "park parcel" looks sure to become at least in part an extension of the parking lot. That will mean more cars.

But families will want also to be able to walk and bike from close-in neighborhoods like Bush, Englewood, Grant, and Highland, through downtown, and into Minto Park.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Planning Commission to Consider Proposed School and Zoning Change

Zoning is on the agenda at the Planning Commission tonight, the 19th, and it's a fine example of our "exclusionary zoning" scheme.

Market and Commercial site, via streetview
The school district wants to consolidate some programming into a centrally located building. The proposed site's zoning, however, doesn't allow for "Basic Education" in a "Commercial Office Zone." That's an excluded use.

The site in question has been vacant for a bit and is on the southwest corner of Market and Commercial Streets NE. Nearby businesses include Truitt Bros. Cannery buildings and the Chamber of Commerce.

The School District proposes to consolidate Community Transition Programs, which serve "adult students with disabilities who have completed high school with a Modified or Extended Diploma or Certificate of Attainment," but who need additional skills or training; as well as the Literacy Center that is part of the Barbara Roberts High School.

The District says
[S]tudents [in the CTP program] arrive and leave school by school bus or on rare occasions are transported by a family member...students in [the] Roberts High School programs currently arrive at and leave the school by a variety of means. 40-50 are driven in private vehicles, and about 40-50 take public transit. Fewer than 10 students drive themselves, and a similar number use a bicycle.
Some additionally walk, but as the site locations are changed, they may not be able to walk and will use other means.

While the building site is centrally located, "centrally" in this context may have more meaning for cars than for non-auto travel. The immediate north-south streets, Front, Commercial, and Liberty aren't really very congenial for travel on bike or on foot: Front lacks sidewalks and bike lanes and has the treacherous railroad tracks; Commercial and Liberty are a one-way couplet, essentially an urban highway, and though they have bike lanes and sidewalks, they aren't very friendly, and are not rich with east-west crossings.

Especially for Grant and Highland neighbors, connectivity isn't awful, but for those who must come farther, perhaps a site nearer the transit mall would be even better.

But that's not really that important of a detail, especially since the numbers of students aren't that great, and presumably the District has other good reasons to consolidate program locations. (There are lots of other factors in play here.)

The interesting part here is the rigamarole the District has to go through because of our zoning system.

Seriously, why wouldn't you allow an alternative school to use a commercial office building that has languished for a while? Is there any serious case to be made against this?

(The Staff Recommendation is for approval and to advance the ordinance change to a first reading at full Council.)

This situation is an excellent argument on the surface for so-called "form-based codes," which specify building type and form rather than use of a building. They focus on what the thing looks like rather than what you can or cannot do inside of it.

In this case, a low-rise office/warehouse building - a box - that has been vacant for a while seems like a reasonable thing for an alternative school. They won't pollute, they won't create industrial noises, they won't hold parties at midnight. Seems like a very low-intensity use.

And making the School District apply for a regulatory change seems like a dumb level of red tape and city ordinance.

Part of our problem with creating walkable and bikable neighborhoods and commercial districts is our "sort and separate" exlusionary zoning, which tends to inhibit useful adjacencies and creative reuse of existing buildings.

The Planning Commission meets tonight, Tuesday the 19th, 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM at City Hall in Council Chambers.

(There is also the extension of the "Unified Development Code" clean-up project, which identified 52 additional issues that were not "policy neutral" and need further debate and possible change. These have been dormant for a bit, and I guess we will see something from staff perhaps later this year.)

Friday, May 15, 2015

Two Bike Rides Sunday! Research Focus or Family-Friendly

You probably already know about the field trip to Portland for research on bike boulevards, but if you're in town on Sunday, there's another option!

Location of Portland Bike Boulevards:
Concord, Holman, Going, Klickitat
via Metro Bike There map
The Keizer Iris Festival is offering a short bike ride to Spong's Landing Park at 1pm on Sunday the 17th.
The course is flat on a low-traffic route. The ride starts and ends at the parking lot at Cummings Elementary School on Cummings Lane in Keizer. Coordinator: Hersch Sangster 503-390-8024
Spong's Landing is an historic ferry site, dueling with Lincoln across the river! So there's also the legacy of 19th century river transportation, something we don't much think about today.

Bike Boulevard Field Trip

Car-free section of NE Klickitat in Portland
Photo: Scott Batson/PBOT - via BikePortland
If you're feeling more adventurous, don't forget about the trip to visit Portland's network of bike boulevards.

Woodlawn neighborhood, 1894 Portland Paving Map
(The yellow indicates graded, but not yet graveled, sections;
everthing else is dirt/mud. Note also the streetcar line!)
The trip is also on the afternoon of Sunday, May 17th. The trip assembles at Upcycles on 909 NE Dekum St., in the Woodlawn neighborhood, at 1:30pm.
We'll tour the Concord, Holman, Going, and Klickitat Neighborhood Greenways with a Traffic Safety Specialist who can tell us about the design elements used in the creation of bike boulevards.
Woodlawn and Upcycles location today
City of Portland neighborhood greenway map

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Northwest Hub Moves into Old Safeway on Broadway and Market

The news has been embargoed for a bit now, but they're finally going public!

New Home of NW Hub
An old Safeway at 1230 N Broadway
Salem's home for recycling bicycles, Northwest Hub, has moved from the Evergreen Church site on D Street to the old Safeway on Broadway and Market.

This will give them a lot more warehouse and work space as well as possibilities for a retail storefront!

For more on the history of Safeways in Salem, see here.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Rough Roads for the Robots, Amtrak Train Day - Newsbits

Not quite there yet
In some media or another you probably saw the news that the self-driving cars are not yet able to avoid 100% of crashes.

Things are still early, of course, but the lack of reporting and candor about the failures, however small, is concerning.

Things are certain to get better - but how much better? It seems impossible that a perfect condition of 100% crash avoidance will be attainable. But it does seem possible that the robot overlords will offer a significant improvement over humans - whom as we have noted before, aren't wired even to avoid tripping on sidewalks, let alone wired to avoid making the occasional error in judgement or attention on the road behind the much more powerful automobile.

Will the robot cars obey prudent speeds (which may be slower than currently posted speeds) or will they take advantage of the enhanced software and analysis and get hotwired to zoom and speed?

The fundamental problem of the car, and its equation of mass x acceleration = force, itself remains.

More broadly, even apart from crash-level safety, there are good reasons to remain skeptical about the value of the self-driving car and about the autoist paradigm of mobility.

Last month in the Sunday magazine, the New York Times noted that
Most city planners now see the era of the car’s urban supremacy as a brief, misguided phase in city culture. Rather than competing with suburbs, cities are capitalizing on their own traditional strengths, recognizing pedestrians as arguably their most economically invigorating (not to mention energy-efficient) form of traffic.
That is one of the central claims of the blog here. That hydraulic autoism is a limited and misguided phase, and that the sooner we ditch it, the healthier our cities will be, not just big ones like New York, but also much smaller ones like Salem.

Also! Train Day with Amtrak - postponed

From Amtrak:
All Aboard Salem! On Saturday, May 16th, celebrate Amtrak Train Days at the Riverfront Park from 10am-4pm. During the event, explore the Amtrak Exhibit Train, engaging guests about the company’s past, present and future. Amtrak will also be showcasing the Amtrak Experience, a dynamic exhibit that allows attendees to see, hear, and feel the benefits of train travel through interactive elements and informative graphics. For the youngest rail fans, stop off at Chuggington Kids Depot, featuring toy train and coloring tables. All Amtrak activities are free! There’s something that’s bound to strike a chord for everyone! Join us on this very special day to experience why Trains Matter.

For additional details on the Exhibit Train Tour, please visit the Exhibit Train page.
The Exhibit Train must be on a truck rather than conveyed by the rails. For it seems unlikely the Oregon Electric/Portland & Western tracks would be tied up for so many hours. That's too bad, because it would have been neat to see a passenger train on those tracks! Still, while we struggle to fund passenger rail adequately as a meaningful alternative to driving I-5 for commuting or for pleasure, this could be a good kind of public relations and lobbying.

Oregon Falls to No.6 in National Rankings

Here are the recommendations for Oregon from the LAB:
  • Repeal the state’s mandatory bike lane law. These types of laws ignore the quality and safety of available bike lanes.
  • Adopt performance measures, such as mode shift or a low percentage of exempted projects, to better track and support Complete Streets/Bike Accommodation Policy compliance.
  • Publicly disclose compliance with Oregon’s landmark Bicycle Bill, ORS 366.514, on every highway, road or street being constructed, reconstructed or relocated.
  • Update your state bicycle master plan. The plan update should evaluate and build on the previous bicycle master plan, and reflect changes in bicycle user needs.
  • Adopt a comprehensive Vision Zero policy to help Oregon reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities.
  • Increase the amount of state funding dedicated to bicycle and pedestrian projects from 1% of state transportation trust funds to at least 2%.
  • Adopt a mode share goal for biking to encourage the integration of bicycle transportation needs into all transportation and land use policy and project decisions.
  • Officially endorse the NACTO Urban Streets and Bikeway Design Guide, incorporate its designs into state engineering and design manuals, and encourage its use on the state highway network in urban areas, including collector and arterial roadways.
  • Adopt performance measures to decrease bicycle fatalities.
  • Consider ways to promote strategic sidewalk and bikeway infill priorities through planning activities grant programs, or funding programs.
Lots of good stuff here. (I think there is already a project to update the State bike plan, it should be noted.)

The Oregonian: "Tragic Accident"
If you wanted a snapshot for why Oregon is languishing and places like Utah are rising, well, the Oregonian recently editorialized about a crash:
The light was red, but the 68-year-old former commercial truck driver said he thought it was green and didn't stop. Seconds later, his pickup, traveling at 40 miles per hour, barreled into a woman and her three children on their way home from getting ice cream. They were crossing the street in a crosswalk.
The deaths of three children on an urban highway optimized for lawful 40mph auto travel is "just a tragic accident":
But ultimately, you can't prosecute away risk or engineer safety in a way that overcomes the inevitable boneheaded mistakes that people make, even when their full attention should be on the deadly weapon they are piloting down the street. And that brings up the problem at the heart of this: There is no judgment or punishment that makes up for the brutal deaths of three kids walking home with their ice cream. [italics added]
By contrast, here's what a city in Utah is doing to "engineer safety":

Monday, May 11, 2015

Legislative update, Week 13

Middling weather at the
Not much to report here.

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

Specific bike things:
Other Bike-relevant and transportation bills:
  • A pod of bills about speed bumps: HB 2283 HB 2730, HB 2736 (these speed bump bills remain nulls, ready for gut-n-stuff action; see below for three that are getting stuffed)
  • HB 2552 fees for studded tires (public hearing held, but no work session - it's looking pretty dead)
  • HB 2620 would require ODOT to inventory ODOT land and determine if it is really needed transportation (public hearing held, but no work session - also looks dead)
  • HB 2621 for expanded photo speed enforcement pilot project in Portland. It got a systematic set of amendments to shift from "photo radar unit" to "fixed photo radar system." Looks technical rather than substantive. Still in committee, maybe languishing.
  • HB 2819 to require drivers over the age of 75 to take annual license exams (public hearing held, but no work session - looking very dormant)
  • HB 2281, HB 2282 - Former speed bump bills. 2281 on road usage charges passed the House and is in the Senate, and had a hearing last week. 2282 on electronic signatures passed the House and referred to Senate committee.
  • HB 2274 Changes name of "Connect Oregon Fund"; also HB 2275. Both are in a holding pattern, looking inactive right now.
  • HB 5040 ODOT Biennial Budget. Lots of hearings, but no recent action.
  • SJR 16 broadens the list of projects eligible for the gas tax, "for infrastructure that reduces traffic burden of, or pollution from, motor vehicles on public roads." Looking dead. No recent action.
A few land use things of note (all of these have had hearings and look too be live bills and active, at least for the moment):
  • SB 565 - Tax credit for rehab of historic properties. Shoot, this looks stuck in committee, all too dormant!
  • HB 2293, formerly one of the speed bump bills, has been gutted and stuffed: now it would "expand scope of long-range transportation plan. Requires [Oregon Transportation] commission to review and update plan at least once every six years."
  • HB 2564 on inclusionary zoning. Passed the House, Senate committee Public Hearing next week. BikePortland has more on it.
  • HB 2633 on improving planning for disasters. Looks like it got a major watering down in amendments, from "adopting administrative rules" to "providing guidance." It's in committee now.
  • SB 5502 concerning North State Hospital Campus  (Still lots of hearings)
  • 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. Passed Senate and House committee work session this week.
Carbon taxes had looked like they were going nowhere, but three of them were scheduled and kept alive in April. The first two look dormant now, though, but the third has action.
  • HB 3250: Requires Environmental Quality Commission to adopt carbon cap-and-dividend program.
  • HB 3252: 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 this state or that is used to produce carbon-generated electricity supplied by utility to consumers in this state.
  • HB 3470: Requires Environmental Quality Commission to adopt by rule statewide greenhouse gas emissions limits for years 2020 and 2050 and to adopt interim statewide greenhouse gas emissions limits consistent with 2050 limit every five years.​ This was amended and referred to committee for more work. (Interestingly, the google doesn't quickly turn up good analysis of the bill or commentary on its amendments - maybe you know more about it?)

For all notes on the 2015 session, see here.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

City Council, May 11th

It's beautiful out!

Too nice to spend time on a Council agenda that really doesn't have anything of great moment here.

So a few bullets and excerpts from the City's own summary.

There are two rounds of committee appointments.
  • The Mayor gets to appoint folks to the Historic Landmarks Commission and Human Rights Advisory Commission. The new HLC Commissioner is from the giant construction company, Hoffman Construction, and they've done neat things like the rehab of the 1889 Portland Armory that transformed it into a LEED Platinum theater. That's an interesting appointment, and could bring realistic expertise on adaptive reuse. (Think north campus, State Hospital!)
  • By contrast in procedure, a full Council vote is required on appointments to Community Police Review Board, Downtown Advisory Board, Housing & Urban Development Advisory Commission, Salem Planning Commission and Salem Cultural & Tourism Promotion Advisory Board. The only thing that maybe is a little interesting is a potential conflict-of-interest with the employer of the new Planning Commissioner: "I would need to recuse myself from any decisions for which a party is represented by Saalfeld Griggs." Saalfield Griggs is the home of probably Salem's pre-eminent land use attorney, and it seems like there could be a relatively high number of cases at the Planning Commission that involve Saalfield Griggs. That might be something to watch.
An expansion of no-smoking policy. From the City:
Councilors will vote on scheduling a public hearing on May 26 to take testimony on a proposed anti-smoking ordinance.

The ordinance, which will have its first reading at Monday’s meeting, would ban smoking from most city-owned properties. Those properties include parks and open spaces, city-owned parking garages, fire stations and the Vern Miller Civic Center campus to name a few examples. Conventional tobacco products, as well as electronic cigarettes and soon-to-be legal marijuana, would all be prohibited.

In fall 2014, Salem City Councilor Diana Dickey introduced a proposal to make city-owned properties smoke free. The council directed city staff to prepare a draft ordinance based on her proposal.

Several years ago, the city council rejected a plan to ban smoking in city parks.
Back to the proposed Grand Theatre Sign. I misunderstood the proposed location: It would be on High Street over the main entry to the theater and not on the corner as I had supposed. No matter. It would be a handsome marquee, and it looks like multiple downtown-related advisory boards are all endorsing it. (See here for previous discussion.)

On the High Street entry, rather than the corner
There's a proposal for a grant at Minto for the "restoration of native floodplain forest in areas that are currently Douglas fir and hybrid poplar plantations."

And more on parking fines from the City:
Tickets for overtime parking violations in downtown Salem could rise from $15 to $25. The council will consider amending city code to increase fines for all types of parking tickets, including overtime violations and improper parking methods.

If approved by council on Monday, the ordinance would go to a second reading for enactment at the May 26 council meeting.

Parking citations in fiscal 2014-15 are projected to bring in about $547,200 in revenue. If parking fines were increased and a similar number of citations were issued, about $100,000 more in annual revenue could be generated for the general fund.

Parking citation revenue doesn’t cover the cost of parking enforcement, and the proposed fine increases would only narrow the gap. The city has allocated about $931,590 to pay for parking enforcement in the 2014-15 budget.

The city based the parking fine increases by comparing Salem’s fines with Eugene, Corvallis, Medford, Beaverton and Portland. In many cases, Salem’s fines were below those charged by other cities. [italics added]
(City of Salem quotes mainly from the City FB.)

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

MWACT meets Thursday - also NGRAB

The Mid-Willamette Valley Area Commission on Transportation skipped April, but you may recall the discussion of bikes at the March meeting. MWACT resumes with a meeting tomorrow, Thursday the 7th, and they'll be talking about the State 2018-2021 funding cycle.

The minutes from the March meeting are interesting (minutes, agenda, and meeting packet here).

Lots of skepticism and complaint about bikes:
Commissioner Sam Brentano expressed skepticism related to reported statistics particularly for economic benefits attributed to bicyclists. The commissioner would like to know the actual percentage of people that commute in comparison with the revenue spent on bicycle infrastructure. He doesn't believe that the amount spent is justified....

Mitch Teal expressed concern regarding the lack of financial contribution from bicyclists....

Val Adamson commented that often bicyclists don't follow the rules....

Commissioner Craig Pope commented that he also doesn't believe the data [that Bicycle tourism contributes $400 million to Oregon's economy each year etc] is accurate....
Shifting to the May agenda, there's a map with a proposed "150%" list of projects (the expectation is a third of them don't get funding) for the "fix-it" portion of the 2018-2021 funding cycle.

The two projects actually in Salem, on Wallace Road (OR-221) and on the Marion Street Bridge, look more like extensions of existing projects rather than new, unfunded projects seeking funding.

Unfortunately there's not enough information in the summary report to parse this out.

The bridge project in particular deserves more detail, as it is has a $12 million estimate and includes work to "upgrade seismic features." The dollar amount looks too small to be a full "cascadian mega-quake" retrofit, so the superficial reading here is that it would be a partial reinforcement to a medium-sized quake standard.

It's not clear how actually useful that would be.

And in more pleasant trivia, here's something about one of the MWACT commissioners from Saturday's paper:

MWACT meets at 3:30pm on Thursday the 7th at 100 High St. SE, Suite 200 above Bar Andaluz and Table Five08.

North Gateway Redevelopment Advisory Board

NGRAB also meets on Thursday, and on the agenda is a visit from the Salem Bike Boulevard Advocates. The main proposal for a Winter/Maple Street bike boulevard alignment is intended to connect with Salem Industrial Drive and the Kroc Center, so NGRAB should be interested.

Also on the agenda is a more detailed look at the RTSP and projects in or near the neighborhood.

Finally there is an update on community response to the Portland Road project. I don't think there's anything really surprising in it - though it's interesting to note that residents rank sidewalks and bike lanes a little higher than do employees or employers, who most likely drive to their destinations.

The North Gateway Redevelopment Advisory Board meets Thursday the 7th at 8:00 AM in the Center 50+, Classroom A, 2615 Portland Road NE.  

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

SK Education Foundation Shares Details on Starkey-McCully Block Renovation

You might recall the debate over some Urban Renewal funding for the historic Starkey-McCully block that the Salem Keizer Education Foundation recently purchased.

Though the Foundation withdrew the request for Urban Renewal funding, the project is moving ahead.

And here is what looks like some unambiguously terrific news.

Unclog the storefront!
Key removals and restored details in yellow
Later this month the Historic Landmarks Commission will deliberate on a proposal to restore the windows and storefront system that had been partially boarded and bricked up.

Starkey-McCully block, detail, 1964
University of Oregon (Elizabeth Walton Potter)
I sure hope this is as uncomplicated and straight-forward as it looks!

The Public Hearing will be on Thursday, May 21st.

Maybe there will be more to say when the Staff Report comes out, but I hope it's a slam-dunk and that there is nothing more to say.

Also on that Hearing agenda will be the proposed sign for the Grand Theatre.

(See here for a brief discussion.)