Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Loss of Eugene's Civic Stadium Recalls Fire at Waters Field

Well, if you have ever wondered what the fire at Waters Field was like in 1966, last night you might have found much of an answer.

Register-Guard, today's front page

Fire at Waters Field, November 12th, 1966
(Salem Library Historic Photos)

Unknown rally at Waters Field, 1945
(Salem Library Historic Photos)
Waters Field was located at 25th and Mission, in almost the same footprint as the main post office. You can read more about Waters Field here, here, and here with a map.

The 1970s era, and non-ADA compliant, footbridge in the RG photo is interesting. Even though Eugene is much better in a lot of ways than Salem for bicycling and walking, the bulk of their infrastructure dates from the 1970s and 80s, in the first flush of the Bicycle Bill. It is ageing, needs repair in some cases, and has also been superseded by new design types. They were ahead of things a generation ago, but in the 90s, 00s, and now teens haven't necessarily kept up. So that's a challenge for Eugene that sometimes gets lost in the fact that they are a Gold-level Bicycle Friendly Community. But they've got at least one new footbridge and three more in the pipeline.

For more on Eugene's WPA-era Civic Stadium, see this photo essay, wikipedia, and the preservation effort at Friends of Civic Stadium and Eugene Civic Alliance, who had put together a project to renovate it.)

Monday, June 29, 2015

West Salem Business District Action Plan Draft set for July Meetings

In anticipation of several meetings in July, the West Salem Business District Action Plan study has released an executive summary of the proposed projects.

An extension of Second Street along the abandoned railroad with a crossing under Wallace Road leads the recommendations.

West Salem Business District Action Plan
Executive Summary, June 26th
From the summary, keyed to the map numbers...
    Phase I Improvements and Actions (near-term):

  1. 2nd Street extension and grade-separated undercrossing of Wallace Road. Allows vehicles, bicycles, and pedestrians to cross Wallace Road without adding to or being stopped by the congestion on Wallace Road. Provides greater east-west connection throughout West Salem. Mitigates traffic impact for property as redevelopment occurs.
  2. Local street connections to Musgrave Avenue and Taggart Drive. Local street connections are needed on the east side of Wallace Road in conjunction with the 2nd Street undercrossing in order to provide better local connections to businesses and properties in the area.
  3. Extension of Murlark Avenue/Patterson Street to Glen Creek Road. Provides an alternate route into the West Salem Business District from the residential area west of Wallace Road, besides the intersection of Glen Creek Road. 
  4. Evaluate Supplemental Transportation SDC. This concept has been used in other communities. The financial feasibility has not been investigated and further evaluation is recommended. A supplemental transportation system development charge (SDC) would allow new development to pay a proportionate share of major infrastructure improvements based on their level of impact on the transportation system, allowing the City to collect funds while continuing to approve development and seek other funding sources. (not shown on map)

  5. Phase II Improvements (mid-term):

  6. Spot intersection improvements. In order to fully mitigate the traffic impacts of future development, the following spot intersection improvements will need to be addressed in the future, depending on the location of (re)development over time.
    - Edgewater/Wallace – Southbound Right-Turn Lane
    - Edgewater/Murlark – Traffic Signal (could be installed at Patterson Street if it is deemed the preferred location)
    - Edgewater/Rosemont – Westbound Right-Turn Lane (not shown on map)

  7. Phase II Improvements (long-term):

  8. Opportunistic local connections. Local street connections are needed to provide greater north-south access through the Employment District and the Town Center District. These could be initiated by the City to incentivize development or could be provided by developers when properties redevelop over the long-term.
The summary also discusses land use in three separate districts.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Three Reasons to Doubt the Costs of Congestion - updated

Here are three short reasons to doubt the autoist propaganda machine.

Number 1: There are bigger threats

with assist from CO2Now

Moreover, earthquakes will completely disrupt freight and the local economy, and that too is a much greater threat.

We're nowhere close to being ready in any real way
We should fix and maintain before we give any thought to auto capacity expansion.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Local Places show History's Arc

Two flags have dominated the news this week: The Confederate flag and the rainbow flag. Perhaps no landmark in Salem crystallizes their meanings better than the Buchner House on 14th and Court. In both direct and indirect ways history haunts us in several places around town, and as we pass by them especially on foot or on bike, we should be alert to their significance, however shadowy and lost, yet still relevant today.

Buchner House at 14th and Court, now lovingly restored
The Buchner house made the national news. From the New York Times back in 1992:
Although recent polls indicate that an anti-homosexual measure on the Oregon ballot is headed for defeat, the referendum has produced a sharp increase in recent weeks in harassment and violence, by both sides....

But the most highly publicized incident, a fire that led to the deaths last month of two people in the capital, Salem, may have had less to do with emotions generated by Ballot Measure 9 than with racial intolerance and a feud, say the police, prosecutors and others who have been investigating the crimes.

Four young people have been charged with aggravated murder, assault, arson and intimidation in the Sept. 26 firebombing of a basement apartment in Salem. The police say all are white supremacists with links to Oregon's highly visible "skinhead" community.

Hattie Mae Cohens, a 29-year-old black lesbian, and Brian H. Mock, 45, a white homosexual, were killed in the firebombing. Some witnesses have told the Salem police that the firebomb was thrown hours after a relative of one of the victims had a fight with skinheads.

Witnesses have also said that Ms. Cohens, along with several black youths who were staying with her, had been feuding with the skinheads for several weeks.

"This clearly was not a crime targeted at homosexuals," said Dale Penn, the District Attorney of Marion County, prosecutor of the case. "When all is said and done, the primary motive for the killings will likely not be race or sexual orientation, but both of them played a role."
Since then the house has been purchased, first by a group of neighbors, and then by a family, and over time lovingly restored. The Historic Landmarks Commission recognized the quality of the restoration with a citation a couple of years ago.

Salmon Brown's house in 1960
with columns from Capitol Fire
(Salem Library Historic Photos)
Another meaningful site is the ODOT Mill Creek building at 12th and Marion. It is built where Salmon Brown, John Brown's son, lived for a while in Salem. Brown later killed himself in Portland. While the ODOT building is itself not interesting, you can still see columns from the Capitol pushed into Mill Creek.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Transportation Package HB 2281 wasn't Very Good

I can think of all kinds of things for which it would be worth trading a repeal of the low-carbon "clean fuels" legislation.

House Bill 2281 with proposed amendments wasn't that at all. (See below for update; verb tenses have been edited throughout.)

The proposed "transportation package" in HB 2281 was mini-me to the DRIVE act at the Federal level, a mostly retrograde act focusing on highway expansion and hydraulic autoism rather than safety, mobility choice, and reduced carbon emissions.
Clean fuels grabs the headlines

The named projects to be funded with bonds in region 2 were all big highway expansion:

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Cherriots Board meets Thursday

The Cherriots Board meets tomorrow, Thursday the 25th, and though there's no big decision on the agenda, minutes and reports have three items interesting to note: Funding weekend and evening service, the South Salem Transit Station, and Cherriots' own branding.

The momentum for putting a payroll tax on the ballot continues to build, and at the May board meeting of Cherriots
Director Krebs moved that the General Manager prepare a payroll tax ballot measure for the November 2015 election based on . 21% of payroll, for review by the Board and other public officials having jurisdiction over the ballot measure prior to the deadline for placing on the ballot.
This is not surprising as the general public shows more interest in a payroll tax - which lots of other cities and regions use and is regarded as an important business investment in employee mobility, employee recruitment, and employee retention, not as a jobs-killing, anti-business tax - than in yet another property tax.

But somewhat surprising are notes on the South Salem Transit Center and a potential rebranding effort.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

State Bike Committee Meets Wednesday

The State bicycle advisory committee meets tomorrow, Wednesday the 24th, and on the agenda is an update on the State's 2018-2021 funding cycle.

Current OBPAC members include two Salemites:
Kenji Sugahara and Wayne Baum
Unfortunately OBPAC doesn't post meeting packets or presentation materials, but the meeting announcement says that in addition to discussions on ODOT’s STIP Enhance and Fix It funding policies, there will be information on the League of American Bicyclists survey, a recap of Federal Highway Administration’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Assessment for the state of Oregon, "and other items."

OBPAC meets June 24th at 8:45 a.m. at the Oregon Department of Transportation's Mill Creek building, 555 13th St. NE.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Proposed Maple-Winter Bikeway Leads Area TGM Grant Applications

You already knew about the Bike Boulevard project. But there are a couple more applications from area governmental agencies in the works for Oregon "Transportation and Growth Management" project grants. (Complete list here.)

From the Parkway to Court Street
 But first, the official summary on the City's $110,000 bike boulevard request:
The Winter-Maple Family-Friendly Bikeway is identified as a Tier 1, high priority project in the Salem TSP. While the general alignment for this Bikeway has been approved, specific operational and signage improvements are necessary to create a safe and convenient special route for riders of all ages and abilities. Design considerations will include managing traffic volumes and speeds, addressing specific bicycle and pedestrian safety issues, intersection treatments, neighborhood livability, and access to destinations. This project will result in proposed amendments to the Salem TSP which will make the recommended improvements eligible for funding and enable the City to advance projects to final engineering and construction
The application focuses on crossing treatments, and notes that there are 32 intersections, with 4 major arterials, 3 minor arterials, 6 collectors, and 19 local streets. The City of Keizer wrote a letter of support, but since "parkway" is not included in this list of 32, the intersection of Cherry and Salem Parkway may not be included.

Interestingly, traffic calming or traffic diverters are not discussed. It also says "the project will also include a slightly larger secondary project area to ensure that speed and volume management treatments do not result in higher volumes and speeds on neighboring streets." There's a little bit of have your cake and eat it too here perhaps. A recent study in Portland showed that significant speeding remains a problem on their bike boulevard network. Additionally, the City of Salem has shown a striking lack of interest in a 20mph speed limit on neighborhood streets, and the application makes no mention of using this tool, either. This stance on the car traffic side of the equation bears watching and may be a sign that the resulting bike boulevard design could still be on the timid side with bike traffic insufficiently prioritized and protected. Are we really going to make something on which parents will feel comfortable sending their kids on their own? Or is this going to be a design that ends up mainly just serving more experienced people on bike, the commuters and recreational cyclists who are already using this route?

The others?

Sunday, June 21, 2015

City Council, June 22nd

Council meets on Monday and it doesn't seem necessary to go very far into the agenda for our purposes.

Here's the City's press release, which captures most of the relevant items (links are added):
Salem City Council at its Monday, June 22 meeting will begin the process of filling two vacant seats on the planning commission.

Salem Planning Commission is a nine member advisory group to the city council, and it plays a pivotal role in growth and development issues. Seven candidates for the vacant positions have been recommended by the Council Board and Commission Committee.

The council on Monday will vote on moving forward with candidate interviews. If approved by the council, interviews would take place at the July 13 council meeting. Councilors would appoint the new planning commission members at that meeting.

Candidates recommended by the Council Board and Commission Committee include:
--Tyler Clark, a commercial real estate broker and contractor.
--Chane Griggs, regional director of the Oregon Community Foundation.
--Ian Levin, a licensed real estate agent and contractor.
--Nate Levin, a specialist in real estate property management, investment and redevelopment.
--Carol McCleeary, a retired person with a background in real estate, finance, management, title and escrow work.
--Kristi Neznanski, an associate project manager at Lenity Architecture.
--Reuben Worster, a business broker for a local property management and real estate company.
The Planning Commission matters seem to have been deferred from the May 11th meeting. (Salem Weekly has additional thoughts on the composition of the Planning Commission here and here.)
In other council business, smokers will have to wait a little longer to know if their habit will be banned from city parks.

At the request of Salem Mayor Anna Peterson, the second reading of an ordinance that would have prohibited smoking at city parks and natural areas has been delayed.

The mayor will be absent from Monday’s meeting. Peterson asked for the delay, which is allowed by council rules, so she may participate in council discussions at a future meeting.

On June 8, the council voted 5-4 to move the anti-smoking ordinance to a second reading. A second reading is required before an ordinance can be enacted.

Also on Monday, the council will hold a public hearing about proposed fee increases for land use related permits and applications.

Under a city proposal, fees charged by the city’s planning division would rise by 6.2 percent for fiscal year 2015-2016. The fee increase for a variety of permit applications, such as plan changes and design review, would help the planning division recover its cost.

In 2013, the city set the goal of recovering half the cost of processing permit applications through fee increases within five years. The planning division is currently recovering about 44 percent of the cost.

City staff has also recommended a 2.4 percent increase in fees for land use related actions handled by the city's public works department.
Other things...

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Legislative Update - Clean Fuels and the Sine Die Scamper

In the paper this morning is a piece touting a "clean fuels" program. The writer is from Vancouver, BC, and curiously doesn't mention their carbon tax.

But he is also "president of the Western Canada Biodiesel Association" and hardly a neutral observer.

Over at the Oregon Economics Blog last month, Willamette Professor and economist Fred Thompson says,
[T]he efficacy of Oregon’s Clean Fuels Program depends upon the aggressive deployment of biomass on the assumption that the use of biofuels is carbon-neutral, that plants pull CO2 back from the air when they grow, offsetting the carbon emitted from burning them as fuel, which is all true. But diverting a cornfield or a forest to produce energy means not using it to do something else, like make food or store carbon. Consequently, using biomass to produce energy could change land uses, food supply and ecosystems without actually affecting climate change....

Unfortunately, the scoring used by DEQ (which they wanted to change but were prevented from doing so) ignores the ecological opportunity cost of alternative fuels.

It is also the case that the local producers supporting this program are almost entirely in the biofuels/biomass business. Moreover, they strongly opposed the DEQ’s rescoring to better account for ecological opportunity costs. Consequently, most of the purported gains from the Clean Fuels Program come from substituting biofuels for fossil fuels. Scoring of electricity is equally biased since it ignores the fact that, at the margin, electricity is produced by burning fossil fuels. None of the other options available are currently competitive with gasoline/diesel fuel, which is a pity.

IMHO, Oregon, like BC, needs a carbon tax...
There are plenty of reasons to be wary of the Clean Fuels program!

Meanwhile, the Oregonian is reporting that they learned Thursday night
that eight lawmakers — named the Gang of Eight by Brown — had reached a tentative deal to swap Oregon's new clean fuels law for new carbon-reducing measures. The lawmakers, four Democrats and four Republicans, also agreed to raise the state's gasoline tax by 4 cents, to 34 cents a gallon, over two years to generate an estimated $200 million a year for transportation projects....

Environmental groups that pushed hardest for the clean fuels program railed anew at the threat of repeal, despite estimates showing the new carbon reduction measures would be slightly more effective. They worried that, unlike the existing plan, the new one would shift some of the burden to taxpayers.
And we don't have any idea on the project list the $200 million a year might fund. Would it be roadway expansion in the guise of "congestion relief"? Or would it devote meaningful funding to building out alternatives to drive-alone trips, to maintenance of existing roads and bridges, and to seismic retrofits of existing bridges.

It's hard to feel good about any of this.

The recitation of bills is also a bit tedious, and it hardly seems like any interesting legislation will emerge this session.

Friday, June 19, 2015

First it was Salemites, now it's Bridges: The Loss of Local Knowledge

Too much local knowledge is being lost at the paper - notwithstanding all the reprints of the headstones series.

First it was "Salemites," now it's bridge confusion.

Today's paper has a picture of the High Street Bridge over Pringle Creek from the 1890 flood. Only it's badly misidentified as a bridge over the Willamette.

This is from Fry Hill/Gaiety Hill looking north. Probably about where the driveway of the Woodland Chapel is today.

Here's a scan from the library correctly identified.

The thing is, just under a year ago they already ran a picture of the Center Street Bridge and the flood of 1890!

These are obviously not the same bridge! But if you have too many newbies or have outsourced too much page editing, you might not notice. This sure looks like a casualty of staff turnover and corporate economizing.

On February 3rd, 1890, the first Center Street Bridge washed out and collapsed in the big flood. Again, notice the flat land and the elevated support structure. Different bridge, wider river. Not ambiguous.

Ruins and Aftermath:  Center Street Bridge Collapsed
in Flood on February 3rd, 1890
Photo, Salem Public Library
And here are two citations for Salemite, one from a direct predecessor to the Statesman-Journal.

Pre-Statehood!  Oregon Argus, August 28, 1858

Front Page:  Capital Journal, April 5, 1907
We should be able to rely on our "paper of record" for a more secure recital of the facts and the historical record.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Salem PD on Bike Theft, Transportation Prospects at Leg, Vision Zero: Newsbits

Nice note from the Salem Police on bike theft!


Oh, and speaking of "Vision Zero"...

A moving story in today's paper about John Henry Maurice's recovery that is also an infuriating one about an impaired driver and a hit-and-run.

Update, Friday the 19th

The Oregonian is reporting a transportation package!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Multiple Demolition Permits at 15th and Trade Suggest Possible Redevelopment

There's an interesting cluster of demolition permit applications on file with the City for a quarter block at 15th and Trade, adjacent to the substation.

A quarter block of addresses with demolition permits
at 15th and Trade
There are four distinct addresses with permit applications, filed on the 8th, and it is not absolutely clear if those four addresses represent all the buildings on the quarter block. The aerial shot suggests more than four gables and an alley house or two. But it's hard to say, and the cluster looks like it's meant to be the whole quarter block.

The addresses in the City's permit database
As far as I can tell, it's all owned by PGE in a set of lots contiguous with the substation.

The land is zoned RM2, and this suggests that a modest apartment development is more likely than new detached homes - though I suppose it could be a tear-down for a single grander house. Because of the substation and proximity to Willamette, this seems unlikely, however.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

CAN-DO Meets Tonight, Walking and Biking Downtown on Agenda

More evidence that less parking can mean more customers and more sales!
The downtown neighborhood association, CAN-DO meets tonight the 16th, and one of the items in the agenda is a motion
To adopt as Annual Goals for 2015-16: 1) Support initiatives that increase bicyclist and pedestrian safety and access to downtown.
And calmer, safer streets for people on foot and on bike will also mean more people lingering downtown and shopping downtown.

The place to start will be the Downtown Mobility Study. (Additional commentary and notes here.) It has plenty of ideas on improving downtown streets. Sure, the concepts are in many cases less than ideal and represent a lot of compromise, but one great thing would be just to fund and implement our existing study instead of just talking about it or admiring it gathering dust on the shelf. Just do it!

10 year vision:  Sharrows on Union and Winter, bike lanes on
High and Church, two-way conversion on Cottage
The Urban Renewal Agency and Downtown Advisory Board are together leading on several of the projects, many clustered in 2018 or so, but things could be even faster.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Northwest Hub Now Open! Wednesday through Saturday on Market and Broadway

The fantastic weather this weekend and a nearby errand made for a great time to check in on the newly opened Hub.

Open for Business!
They're open Wednesday through Saturday, 10am - 6pm, on the corner of Market and Broadway, kitty-corner from Salem Cinema.

Recycle Bicycles
You already know they're all about reselling used bikes, and more generally about recycling old bikes and bike parts.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Laudato Si: Pope's Encyclical on Environment to Come out Next Week

Here's a pleasant Sunday thought: The National Catholic Reporter says the forthcoming encyclical on climate change and ecology has a title and will be out next week:
"Laudato Si,' " the title Pope Francis chose for his encyclical on the environment, comes from a hymn of praise by St. Francis of Assisi that emphasizes being in harmony with God, with other creatures and with other human beings, said the head of the Franciscan order....

The hymn praises God and the reflection of God's glory in "Brother Sun" and "Sister Moon," "Brother Fire" and "Sister Water," and "our sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruits with colored flowers and herbs."...

By praising nature's harmony with God, St. Francis' canticle helps people understand what kinds of relationships they must have in order to live in peace and to give glory to God, he said. Stories about St. Francis, such as the one about him taming a wolf who was attacking the people of Gubbio, could really be stories about how "the population was really terrorizing itself" with family feuds, neighbors fighting and towns battling each other for control of territory and wealth, the Franciscan said.

As with the people of 13th-century Gubbio, so today with climate change and drought and more violent storms,... "nature is barking, nature is chasing after us, telling us we have got to wake up. It's disturbing us; it is not disturbing in order to threaten our lives. It is telling us we are already a threat to ourselves. We're a threat to the world. Nature is telling us, 'Step back from the brink before it's too late.'"
But hold on! Not so fast. Via MSN and from a British perspective, the Guardian says,
Leading figures on the American right are launching a series of pre-emptive attacks on the pope before this week’s encyclical, hoping to prevent a mass conversion of the climate change deniers who have powered the corps of the conservative movement for more than a decade.

The prospect that the pope, from his perch at the pinnacle of the Catholic church, will exhort humanity to act on climate change as a moral imperative is a direct threat to a core belief of US conservatives. And conservatives – anxious to hang on to their flock – are lashing out.
Could the debate and conversation around the encyclical be this generation's Silent Spring moment?

It seems like even if you don't accept the cosmological, soteriological, or theological claims entailed by the encyclical's Catholic background, the fundamental act of framing climate change as one of the great moral quandaries of our time represents an advance and potentially decisive moment in our history. Even the atheists should take it very seriously as a valuable contribution to the debate and a bridging document in conversation.

You might, for example, have gone to a talk by Kathleen Moore, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at OSU, on environmental ethics. She's given a couple of talks here in the last few years. But they might reach 100 people and tens of thousands across the country.

The Pope, and the ripples outward from him, represents a reach and a moral authority orders of magnitude greater - much greater even than Al Gore and his "inconvenient truth" or Bill McKibben and 350.org.

Truly, the encyclical's a big deal and almost certainly is something to rally behind and celebrate in a great ecumenical way, no matter what are your personal spiritual beliefs.

This is a little awkward, perhaps, to jam in here, but it is striking that Justice Kennedy, a Catholic, is deploying in his opinions a notion of "human dignity" that doesn't seem far at all in essentials from the notion of "human dignity" in more traditional Catholic teaching and which appears many times in Laudato Si - though it departs, of course, quite dramatically, in the particulars on gay marriage. But it is interesting to wonder if this represents a larger moment in doctrines of human personhood.

From the encyclical:
43. Human beings too are creatures of this world, enjoying a right to life and happiness, and endowed with unique dignity. So we cannot fail to consider the effects on people’s lives of environmental deterioration, current models of development and the throwaway culture....

[65....]The Bible teaches that every man and woman is created out of love and made in God’s image and likeness (cf. Gen 1:26). This shows us the immense dignity of each person, “who is not just something, but someone. He is capable of self-knowledge, of self-possession and of freely giving himself and entering into communion with other persons”. Saint John Paul II stated that the special love of the Creator for each human being “confers upon him or her an infinite dignity”. [etc - the word "dignity" appears 23 times in a text search]

Update, August 24th

A review from Bill McKibben...
More, Sept 21st
From the piece:
Putting a low price on valuable environmental resources is a phenomenon that pervades modern society. Agricultural water is not scarce in California; it is underpriced. Flights are stacked up on runways because takeoffs and landings are underpriced. People wait for hours in traffic jams because road use is unpriced. People die premature deaths from small sulfur particles in the air because air pollution is underpriced. And the most perilous of all environmental problems, climate change, is taking place because virtually every country puts a price of zero on carbon dioxide emissions.

Friday, June 12, 2015

"Live on the Porch More" says Ad from 1915

June 19th, 1915
Here's a great ad for porch life!

It's a reminder that in the streetcar era, the front porch and "intertidal zone" between a home's front door and street was much more active than it is today in the suburban autoist era.

As we get ready for the annual "Tour of Homes," the contrast is striking.

Exterior shots of the houses focus on the garage and its implied autoist mobility, with activity quickly moving to the interior, private space. Outdoor activities then center on the back deck or patio, not the front porch.

Exemplifying this, the Home Builders Association leads with an interior shot, a sliding door, and blank stone wall off a short patio.

Home  Builders Association Splash
By contrast, Olsen Development, the folks doing a project at Fairview, leads with a front porch and furniture, and the street life sociality that implies. It's a back-to-the-future revival. It may have some roots in nostalgia for "simpler times" - the day before the Tour kicks off is a Juneteenth celebration at Riverfront Park and that alone is reminder enough the past in socializing and in real estate was plenty complicated - but there are also important bits of useable past to retrieve, not the least of which is a focus on walking as a foundational, and enduringly pleasant, kind of mobility.

Eric Olsen Splash


Samuel Barber's "Knoxville, Summer of 1915" is perfect, and I don't know why I didn't think of it immediately:
It has become that time of evening, when people sit on their porches, rocking gently and talking gently...

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Bicycling Bob, a Doomed Oak, Bridge Neglect: Newsbits

Did you see the profile of "Bicycling" Bob H. Reinhardt, the recently appointed Director at Mission Mill?!

There are many reasons to find it interesting, not least the conversation about future programming at the Heritage Center.

But it's also remarkable that the bike commute is a significant detail worth comment - but mainly in passing, and not as a freak show, outlier, or grand or heroic gesture unavailable to ordinary folks.

It's a small and sensible commute decision, one based on "fun" and proximity to home -  and even a little banal.

That's a moment to cheer in the mainstreaming of bicycling and the way it's handled in the press.

Thanks, Bob and Tom!

However...at another Salem institution, there is sad and unsurprising news. The giant parking lot at the former Blind School property has claimed another loss.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

What's Realistic for the Second Street and Undercrossing Project?

Yup, that's 1968!
A friend of the blog recently shared some vintage labels from Oregon Fruit products. A couple of years ago, shortly after the sale of the cannery to a group associated with beer distributors, it was not at all surprising to see a product line extension aimed at brewers.

Not sure if this was actually a beer for sale,
but it doesn't matter
The kinship is unmistakable!

It's neat, actually, to see the continuity in branding on a product that is central to our identity as a city in the Willamette Valley and as an agricultural producer.

The labels and future of the cannery were top of mind when I saw the City had posted an update on the student project for the Second Street undercrossing, part of the West Salem Business District Action Plan:

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Another Crash on Parkway at Cherry Underscores Urban Highway''s Dangers

Fortunately no child was injured in the school bus crash on Salem Parkway near Cherry Avenue this morning.
But it is a foreboding coincidence that it happened the same day the paper published a piece on the burial of Travis Lane, killed in a hit and run on Salem Parkway at Cherry last month.

Travis Lane, buried yesterday

Proposed bike park with bridge and highway for comparison
Our urban highways are dangerous. Speed kills.

And this is why the combination of the Marine Drive/Highway 22 connector and a new bike park is worrisome.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Keizer Planning Commission Looks at Development Standards and Transportation

Live in Keizer?

The Keizer Planning Commission meets on Wednesday, and it looks like they've been working through some updates on their development code.

On the agenda for this Wednesday are things like standards for mixed use, streets, infill and other land-use items that might be of interest.

The next meeting, in July on the 8th, has things of definite interest: news on a TSP update and off-street parking requirements, including bike parking.

The meeting packet is here, and if you live in Keizer it might be worth checking out. (There is also a reference to a TGM grant application - so we'll be on the lookout for more information on that.)

Topics run the gamut, some more interesting, some less. We don't follow the City of Keizer closely here, so maybe readers who know more can chime in on the key matters or contested issues.

One item in the debate over the code update is wrangling over "snout houses." (The Home Builders Association has been a key partner is dialog and debate.)
This provision requires that garage doors and carport opening be no more that 40% of the fa├žade facing the street. The question is whether the 40% limitation on garage doors be increased to 50%? This adjustment could have a positive impact on entry level homes given that these are often on the narrower lots to begin with. The Planning Commission should give direction on the appropriate size limitation for garages.
Snout houses are an auto-centric pox on walkable neighborhoods!

The City and the Commission may not be hearing enough from Keizer residents who value walkable and bikeable neighborhoods.

If you cannot attend a meeting, but wish to comment, you can email Planning Director Nate Brown.

The Keizer Planning Commission meets at 6pm on Wednesday, June 10th, in Council Chambers at the Civic Center, 930 Chemawa Road NE.

Other Keizer Bits

Here's a few more things...

Sidewalk obstructing signs on River Road
via Keizer Times
From the Keizer Times, a Keizer business owner is pushing for changes to the sign code to allow for signs that block the sidewalk:
[Moles Appliance owner Nigel] Guisinger said the widening of River Road in the 1980s encroached on parking lots for businesses up and down the main thoroughfare, severely limiting space for buildings like his, one of the oldest business buildings in Keizer.

“I had the sign on the sidewalk,” Guisinger said. “It’s an old building. There’s no way to not block traffic and still be within code. The only spot was on the sidewalk.”
An expansion to the Urban Growth Boundary might be in the works.

Know of other things? Chime in!

Saturday, June 6, 2015

City Council, June 8th - TGM Grant for Bike Boulevards - updated

The City website is down this morning, and so it is not possible to see the full meeting agenda. (This post will be updated.)

In the meantime, there are a few important transportation items Council will visit on Monday.

From the City's own press release (the order of items is edited here):
Here's a breakdown of the council's Monday, June 8 meeting:

--The council will...take up the topic of bicycle transportation. Bicycle advocates have urged the city to develop low-traffic volume, low-speed bike routes known as bicycle boulevards.
(This is nice and all, but it's framed up as a perk for special interests and not as something that benefits the city generally. The framing here is disappointing.)

A state grant on the council's agenda might advance plans for the city's first bicycle boulevard. City councilors will discuss a proposal to apply for the state's 2015 Transportation and Growth Management Program.

Funds provided through the state program would be used to create a refinement plan for the proposed Winter-Maple Bikeway. The bike route would connect the Capitol Mall and downtown to the Grant and Highland neighborhoods.

The Transportation and Growth Management Program would provide about $140,000 for planning, including $110,000 in state funds plus $30,000 in city matching funds. It is a competitive application process and there are no guarantees that the city will get the funding.

Salem currently doesn't have funding to construct the Winter-Maple Bikeway, or any the 60 miles of bicycle boulevards outlined in its long-term plans. Completing a refinement plan, however, could be a step towards public outreach and seeking funding opportunities.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Bridge Closure on Winter St at Shelton Ditch - Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway

Wednesday the City announced details on the bridge closure, replacement, and detour on Winter Street at Shelton Ditch. (Update January 2016 - the bridge is open again!)

Winter St Bridge Closure and Detour at Shelton Ditch
Sections especially difficult for people on bike in yellow
(map from City of Salem)
The first thing that you might notice is that bike traffic, both internal to Salem and external on the Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway, isn't accommodated very well. People on foot aren't well accommodated either. The detour plan is totally about cars and car logic.

In the plan, the south-bound leg on Mission Street totally lacks bike lanes, and the left-hand turn on the north-bound section from the parkway back onto Winter Street is perilous and really requires a jug-handle turn. (The north-bound leg on Mission can totally be avoided by moving through Bush Park and using the crosswalk at Church Street.)

A better plan for bikes would be to use Church Street north-bound all the way to Chemeketa, where after a right-hand turn people can rejoin Winter Street. The south-bound plan is not obvious: Church Street is one-way north-bound at the Parkway and if you go to High Street, then getting back to the route in Bush Park requires lots of meanders. Maybe instead you use 12th street all the way to Cross Street. (I don't see a clear set of low-traffic segments - do you?)

(A query into the City about a bike-specific detour plan hasn't elicited a response yet, but when one comes this post will be updated.)

Here are the rest of the details from the City.
Winter Street SE will be closed to all traffic between Bellevue Street SE (State Highway 22) and the northerly parking lot at Salem Hospital from June 8, 2015, to November 30, 2015, for a bridge replacement project. A detour route will direct southbound motorists to 12th Street SE, and northbound motorists to Church Street SE [map above].

This project will replace the existing bridge that was constructed in 1928 and has structural deficiencies. The project is funded with a combination of Federal Highway Administration funds and savings from the Keep Salem Moving! Streets and Bridges Bond, passed by Salem voters in November 2008.
Update, Saturday

There is a suggestion that the detour might use the path and footbridge to the west of the street bridge.

Probably the best detour for people on foot
This is a great idea for people on foot and works well. But the path, particularly on the north side, has one blind corner and isn't very wide, and is not well suited for people on bike. To use it requires slow speed and extra caution.

If this is formally signed, the post will be updated again.

Update 2

The signed bike detour avoids that blind corner and uses a slightly longer route with better sight lines.

The bike detour arrows are different!
Rather than using the footbridge, the detour uses Bellvue and Church Streets. The bike signs sometimes come after the auto detour signs, and they may point in a different direction. So that's something to attend to. Southbound on Winter, for example, the first and larger detour sign points east/left, and you might merge into the left-turn pocket to make the left-hand turn. But then on the south side of the intersection is a smaller sign pointing right/west onto the sidewalk and path connection to Bellvue, so you have to know to stay in the bike lane.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Impaired Driver Kills Road Construction Worker

You're much more likely to be killed by an urban car driver than by an urban bear.

This is terrible. Late Monday night an impaired driver killed another person on foot in or near an urban highway. Travis Lane you may recall was killed two weeks ago on a different urban highway.

Just past midnight, very early on Tuesday morning, William Hatch III was killed while working in a construction zone on Mission Street.
Roberto Lopez-DeJesus, 20, of Aumsville was arraigned Wednesday on charges of first-degree manslaughter, driving under the influence of intoxicants and refusal to take a breath test.

Lopez-DeJesus appeared before Judge Janet Klapstein who ordered that no bail be set according to court documents.

Lt. Steve Birr of the Salem Police Department said in a press release that the crash occurred just after midnight on Mission Street SE near the street's Interstate 5 overpass when an eastbound 1992 Lexus struck the worker.
Urban highway speeds compound driver errors into near-fatal certainty:

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Real Estate and Economic Analysis of Commercial Vista Corridor seems Thin

The Commercial-Vista Corridor Study has a new memo out on land use, real estate, and development, and its conclusions seem hampered by autoist assumptions. At the same time, it points to how difficult it will be to make changes that are not merely cosmetic.

At the center of it is the analysis of ratio of building value to land value.

The parcels in blue have the highest ratio of 2.0 or greater - that is the buildings are assessed with values at least two times the assessed value of the land by itself.

The parcels in red and orange, on the other hand, have buildings valued at half of the land's value - or less.

(St. Barbara's Cemetery is the largest red parcel, and it is odd that they didn't simply leave it "blank," since this ratio of building:land value is a wholly irrelevant metric for that parcel.)

So what about those parking lots?

Instead of building/land value, would property tax/acre be a better metric?

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

NW Hub fund-raising, Cherriots West Salem Service, State Hospital: Newsbits

If you're on the Facebook this is all old news, but lots of exciting things going on at the NW Hub in the old Safeway at the corner of Market and Broadway.

New Sign - via NW Hub

Racks recycled from old pallets - via NW Hub
A local business has donated a year's worth of rent and utilities, and they're working on raising funds for other tools, supplies, and operational expenses.

Check it out. The project will recycle old, surplus, or unwanted bikes and bike parts, provide regular bike shop services for those who can pay, a coop membership for DIY projects, as well as free bikes and services for those who can't pay.

Totally a worthwhile project.

Cherriots in West Salem

Service in West Salem remains a problem, and hopefully the new appointment-based mini-bus service will be temporary or will otherwise grow into something more substantial. In the meantime, the new "Connector" service launched yesterday.

Salem Police to Conduct Crosswalk Safety Actions this Summer

If you're reading this blog, you don't need reminding, but most drivers don't seem to know or choose to ignore that "Oregon Law also states that every intersection should be considered to have a crosswalk, whether marked or not."

Hydraulic autoism considers this pedestrian impedance, unwanted delay and turbulence in the system of unimpeded traffic flow. But people on foot are legitimate road users, and have a claim to the public space and the use of the roadway.

What was true in May 2014, is even more true this year:
The Crosslands, David McGregor, and Travis Lane
From the Salem PD:
Salem Police To Conduct Pedestrian Crosswalk Safety Campaign - 06/01/15

As the weather becomes warmer and days become longer, we typically see more pedestrians out and about at various times of the day and night, and pedestrian safety issues become even more important. As a result, the Salem Police Department traffic unit will be conducting pedestrian safety enforcement and education campaigns throughout the City during the summer months.
Police conducting crosswalk safety enforcement
at 17th and Nebraska a couple of years ago
The campaigns will utilize plain clothes officers who will be crossing streets at crosswalk locations throughout the City, and video cameras will be used to record violations. Those who are contacted will be able to view the violation on video.

Oregon law requires all drivers to stop prior to entering a crosswalk for pedestrians who are crossing the street in a marked or unmarked crosswalk. Drivers are required to stop if a pedestrian is either in the lane in which the driver's vehicle is traveling or in a lane adjacent to the lane in which the driver's vehicle is traveling.

Marked crosswalks may be located at or between intersections and are recognized by solid or dashed white lines. Oregon Law also states that every intersection should be considered to have a crosswalk, whether marked or not. Additionally, a vehicle may not legally pass another vehicle that is stopped at a marked or unmarked crosswalk for a pedestrian. Failing to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk and for passing a stopped vehicle at a crosswalk are class B violations and carry a fine of up to $260.00.

This safety campaign is in partnership with Oregon Impact in order to address pedestrian and crosswalk safety through education and enforcement.

Geez. The implied editorial stance and optics in the paper is a little odd. More along the lines of the "jaywalk empire" stance...and for a while online it was explicitly about the scourge of the jaywalker - though fortunately that headline didn't last very long.

Will there be any nighttime actions?

The word "jaywalk" never appears; it's about "drivers"!