Monday, November 30, 2015

David Bragdon's Reforms for ODOT and our Transportation System

In yesterday's post "Former government official blasts ODOT" it was probably a mistake to start with David Bragdon's observations about the defeat of the Cherriots measure.

As a localizing introduction for the SJ to materials first written for a statewide audience and first given in Portland, they were wrapper, throw-away wrapper even, and represented very minor details. They weren't important to the argument and they weren't worth considering in detail. They were meant to draw in Salem readers.

The Cherriots intro was misleading perhaps
But they did that too well and Cherriots, not ODOT, is what folks have responded to. The comments on the Cherriots measure stoked continuing outrage about our disinvestment in transit and about foes of transit who ran an icky campaign. And while Cherriots and the Chamber is much easier emotionally to connect to than drier reflections on administrative dysfunction at ODOT and the Legislature, our transit mess wasn't the main target of Bragdon's analysis.

So let's see if we can redirect conversation to the meat of the matter. Here's the bulk of his policy recommendations (read the article for full context and analysis, and if that goes away behind the paywall, Bragdon's previous blog post duplicates most of the material):
Put reform ahead of dollars

[Other, better managed] states did not put more dollars into existing governance structures. Reform came first, with several key elements:

•Devolution: Significant authority was devolved from the state to local governments, which are accountable and attuned to the needs of their communities.

•Investing in outcomes: Some states have developed criteria to prioritize investments that have economic and social impact, not claims of “traffic reduction.” Some use measures of technical merit to break the expensive habit of composing wish lists of big projects designed to win the votes of selected individual legislators rather than serve public needs.

•Re-defining need: Some places have also ended the practice of agencies estimating their own “needs” without meaningful fiduciary oversight. Such independent verification could have averted the forecasting “mistake” that Oregon managers belatedly confessed to in 2015, an episode echoing the same management’s discredited traffic and finance forecasts for their Columbia River Crossing plan. [And the Salem River Crossing!]...

•The muddled layers of government defy accountability. The state, counties and cities all own assorted highways, roads, streets and bridges in overlapping rather than adjoining geographies....

•The formula of allocating most revenue, consisting of gas tax and other sources, is totally arbitrary: roughly 50 percent state government, 30 percent county governments, 20 percent city governments....

•The state government is both a contestant and a judge in the distribution of funds, an untenable conflict of interest. A state agency can be a regulator of local government (like DEQ is relative to sewage treatment plants) or a state can be a funder of local government (as Oregon is with K-12) but it can’t legitimately be those things and simultaneously be a competitor with local government, for example in both seeking and distributing federal dollars....

Urban Growth Boundary Rulemaking Could Impact Third Bridge Effort

Third Bridge outside UGB
Over the weekend a reader sent in a note about a hearing on December 3rd regarding some changes to the ways Urban Grown Boundaries are set.

From the hearing notice:
The proposed new rules and rule amendments will establish an optional alternative, streamlined process for local governments outside of Metro to evaluate and amend urban growth boundaries (UGBs) and will implement related legislation enacted by the 2013 Oregon Legislature (HB 2254, codified as ORS 197A) which requires LCDC to adopt administrative rules establishing the new alternative UGB process by January 1, 2016. In addition, the new and amended rules will provide interpretive guidance to provisions at ORS 197A.320 that apply to both the existing UGB process described in OAR chapter 660, division 24 and the proposed new alternative process. The agency requests public comment on whether other options should be considered for achieving the rule's substantive goals while reducing the negative economic impact of the rule on business.
Maybe readers who follow UGB issues and LCDC matters can weigh in on what exactly this means. (From here this is opaque bureaucratic legalese, not at all intended for the general public to parse or have an opinion on.)

Probably it wouldn't merit a post here - except for one thing.

Schedule pushed out again another year
A chunk of the proposed Salem River Crossing is right now designated for an area outside our local Urban Growth Boundary. The City and ODOT are together pursuing an expansion to the UGB in order to accommodate this. The ever lengthening schedule of the process means that the SRC may be positioned to take advantage next year of a new "streamlined process" that would reduce "the negative economic impact...on business."

Without going full-on paranoid, this does at least make you pause a moment to go "hmm..."

It's possible that insiders think the new streamlined process would be advantageous for the Third Bridge effort. (It's also possible this is wholly a red herring.)

Here's the project site on the "streamlining" for more information and staff reports and proposed rule language.

The hearing is Thursday the 3rd, in the LCDC Basement Hearing Room, 635 Capitol St. at 8am.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Former Government Official Blasts ODOT in Today's Paper

You might recall the talk that David Bragdon gave at the Portland City Club a month ago.

In it he launched a pretty detailed critique of ODOT's management and current processes.

It looks like a wall of text - but read it!
In today's paper he's got an extension of the analysis with some specific commentary on Salem:
On Nov. 3, voters in the Cherriots district rejected a tax increase to improve transit. That same election day, 13 out of 16 transit referenda across the nation from Maine to Washington state passed, with a wide variety of places like Fraser, Colorado, Flint, Michigan, and Snohomish County, Washington, saying yes to taxes for transit.

Salem-Keizer joined only Box Elder County and Utah County, suburbs of Salt Lake City, in saying “no.”

Are Oregonians and Salem-Keizer residents hostile to better transportation, when conservative jurisdictions in suburban Atlanta and the legislature in Wyoming are not? No. But here’s one difference: Salem-Keizer residents cast their ballots amid low confidence in government’s competence, partly due to a loss of credibility that had happened in Salem months before.
That loss of credibility? He talks about the collapse of the "transportation package" at the Legislature as a partial result of unreliable estimates and modeling from ODOT. That seemed to him an ingredient in the Chamber's ability to sow discord and misinformation.

(I'm less sure this was that much of a component in the Chamber's campaign and its reception by the citizenry, but it's certainly background noise. In any case it's remarkable how many other transit measures passed around the country, and how retrograde Salem's refusal seems.)

And he has more:
The good citizens who have been appointed to ODOT’s board [the Oregon Transportation Commission] also have limited means to create change. The last time a board memberasked a meaningful question of staff was when chair Catherine Mater, a Corvallis civil engineer, questioned the prioritization of a coal project which evidently did not meet technical criteria. For doing the job of commissioner and asking tough questions, Mater’s reward was to be removed by Gov. John Kitzhaber.

The chilling message to remaining commissioners endures: Your role is to rubber stamp whatever staff puts in front of you. [link added]
He concludes:
While other states move ahead, Oregon has stuck with a balkanized and irrational transportation governance model. Glowing danger signals like chronically flawed forecasts, under-maintenance of core assets and increasing debt should alarm anyone concerned with Oregon’s competitiveness.
If you missed the critique the first time around, it's important reading. Check it out.

The problems Bragdon identifies contribute to the insanity of the Third Bridge effort, contribute to our difficulties with stable funding for transit, contribute to our begging ways for basic sidewalks and bike lanes, and underlay our commitment to hydraulic autoism and all the carbon emissions that implies.

He's right: We need a thorough-going transportation reform.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

The River Used to Freeze Over! Rally Sunday on Climate Change

Can you imagine ice skating on the Willamette River?

The historic photo record is clear that the river iced up a whole lot more, and more often, than it does today. We used to experience more intense and more extended periods of real cold.

Ice skating and play on the Willamette River in Salem
late 19th century, via Oregon State Library
But our winters are warmer now, and they're getting even warmer still. We see it in changes in vegetation on mountain meadows, we see it in the recession of glaciers, we see it in snowpack depth.

Even ski operators also say
"climate change is real"
In support of the Paris UN climate meetings the local group is having a rally tomorrow on Sunday. From Salem Weekly:
In Salem please join 350 Salem OR on Sunday November 29 at 1:00 pm at High and Court Streets downtown to walk to Riverfront Park for a short rally at 1:30 pm with speakers, music and art.
It's time for a tax on carbon, really.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

This 1899 Handcycle Testifies to the Usefulness of Bikes

I didn't find the ingredients for a satisfying Thanksgiving post this year, but maybe this will do. Even though this isn't charity per se, as a man could fill a small closet with suits for $100 in 1899, it seemed like a sweet note that testified to local ingenuity and the enduring usefulness of human-powered mobility for independence and pleasure.

November 24th, 1899
In the present time, both the Assistance League and the Northwest Hub will be wanting donated bikes, and possibly other items as well. The Bike Peddler's also got a project going with the local Boys and Girls Clubs. There may be others that we don't know about, too. Ask your favorite bike shop if they have holiday charity drive going or are helping others in more discreet ways they don't necessary advertise or otherwise make public.

via the Statesman's Catalog of Giving
Consider one of these in your holiday donation plans, pay it forward, and return the thanks as you are able.

Be safe out there and have a lovely holiday.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Design, not Density, Should be Debate at State Hospital North Campus

The Rams Head Pub and The Campbell Hotel building
via McMenamins at NW Hoyt and 23rd
Elsewhere a skeptic about the redevelopment at the North Campus of the State Hospital summed up the case for the infill to be more single-family housing. It's worth considering in detail (words are quotes, but the order of some paragraphs has been altered). The feelings are sincere, though at least from here several of the claims seem unfounded or dubious. More than anything, they attest to the feeling of not being listened to and not having a project that is any kind of meaningful collaboration. But they also suggest that the conversation is at least partially rat-holed on density when it should instead be about design.
Try seeing this from the perspective of the people who already live here. We have been fighting to be heard through NESCA and other means for over two years. Some minor accomplishments have been made, but the City, during visits to NESCA meetings, has steadfastly denied plans for 450+ units of low income housing at North campus.

Not many people believed them.

[E]veryone in official positions has denied the North Campus was under attack from the City on the housing front. Such a development would render our remaining neighborhood of decent single family homes a new "crime central" requiring it own substation!

I've always wanted single family homes of a design compatible with the surroundings. There would be room for a range of such housing, including duplexes & lower income. What I'm afraid of is the whole slum landlord thing.

Putting aside characterization a of tenants, just the numbers are horrific: at the low mark of 3 humans per unit, that's 1,350 new bodies in the neighborhood. The local schools gave NO capacity for even one more child. It also means 840 vehicles or more coming and going 24/7.

Park & D will need widening, so the will take all our front yards (alá 17th) and our homes will be worth nothing!

Widened streets, more traffic and no green space is still very disappointing. I tend to think of "space" as what we have now. I'm not considering the typical postage stamp lawns or cookie cutter deciduous trees that seem to be favored in similar developments. I would prefer set backs, meandering bike & walking paths, maybe a water feature or two. There should be a children's play area in the middle, not at the margins. It would be nice if most of the existing trees were built around, and saved. Surely the population deserves such grace notes.

It's scary to lose 30 years of effort.
Nobody wants Cookie-Cutter Apartment Blocks

The cost of the land as well as the need for lower-carbon and lower-car lifestyles means that it is highly unlikely the parcel(s) can or will be developed simply as more single-family housing on the same template and spacing as the surrounding neighborhood. It doesn't seem possible at all to fight that battle. It's nearly certain that's not even on the table. So we need to give that up.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

City of the Future and Cranksgiving - Sunday Newsbits

Two pleasant notes in the paper are worth mention this morning.

Though it's all USA-Todayified, there's a graphic and article that summarizes some of the likely or possible changes in urban transport that are coming in not so very distant future.

Of course there is uncertainty, and of course different folks will emphasize somewhat different features or directions, but it seems overall like a decent enough summary of a significantly less autoist and more multi-modal future that is not an outlandish and unlikely fantasy. In many cases these are features to leverage, not bugs to resist.Though it was interesting to see them filtered through the panopticon of the smartphone - the tech angle, not the lenses of urban planning and infrastructure, increases in the marketplace of transportation choices, greenhouse gas emissions, or the transportation toolbox and best tool for the job. It was framed up in the flavor a la mode of smartphone tech, and walking was a conspicuous omission.

There was also a terrific feature on Cranksgiving!

Cranksgiving happens all over the country. And scanning twitter yesterday, it seemed like the SJ might have been the first major media outlet to report on it. So that early online notice and this print version is nice to see!

A little Postscript

November 20th, 1915
Newspaper from another era. Here's a Thanksgiving ad from a century ago. The vision of Uncle Sam sharpening the axe for one of the turkeys is a little grim, but the number and density of small neighborhood grocers is notable. Maybe the most interesting item is the Sunnybrook Dairy on Center Street. That's where the Wilson House is today, I'm pretty sure. According to their history, the Methodist Church bought the site in 1923.

Friday, November 20, 2015

City Council, November 23rd - Update on Council Goals

Yesterday in comments about the "pass" the City has taken on the latest round of ConnectOregon lottery funding for any biking and walking projects, it seemed like an important factor in this was the lack of a larger Citywide strategy for improving non-auto travel.

At Council on Monday is an update on Council Goals, and the grounds for this assertion is pretty much all right there!

Here's the one goal in italics and the corresponding "update" on walking and biking:
  • Pursue opportunities to improve overall bicycle and pedestrian connectivity, and plan for and develop bicycle boulevards or other bikeways.

    The Central Salem Mobility Study (2013) and Bike/Walk Salem (2014) plan identified potential bicycle and bicycle and pedestrian improvement projects throughout Salem. Currently several of these projects are underway including: construction of improvements at the Union Street at Commercial intersection, designating a bike lane on Church Street (Trade to Union) and High Street (Trade to Marion); and planning work for the Winter Street Maple bike-friendly corridor.
This is far from "nothing," of course, but it is more tactical and local than strategic and citywide. It's not a vision or mission, it's a small cluster of discrete projects, all framed up more as amenities than as integral pieces in core mobility. You might say that Council Goals is not the place for a big vision, and you would probably be right. But it still expresses our prevailing "small game" rather than a "big game." As long as this kind of thinking characterizes our approach to walking and biking, we will continue to have a short pipeline of projects developed for grant opportunities and as well as for internal City funding opportunities, and we will continue to have multiple gaps at the joins of discrete projects. It guarantees we will struggle for complete corridors and networks.

So that's where we are.

Other items in the Council Goals document are also interesting and are worth reading, but there wasn't much new in them. There was one other item of continuing interest, though:
  • Council and Staff are still seeking grant funding for "bridge-head studies and plans for third bridge landings to ensure these areas benefit from redevelopment opportunities."
The State's Transportation and Growth Management grant team decisively rejected an application a year ago, you will recall. The City's hope is Orwellian doubletalk, as the bridge landings ipso facto necessarily will degrade the neighborhoods. There's no benefit, only second-class attempts at mitigation.

Other Topics

If urban trees are a concern, there are two notices about administrative rule-making that follow from the new tree ordinances, including one on street trees (here and here).

Thursday, November 19, 2015

City Passes on this Round of Lottery Funding: No ConnectOregon VI Application

The other day you might have seen the post on BikePortland about Portland's suite of proposals for the Non-Highway Enhance and ConnectOregon VI programs.
BikePortland was reporting on them together because ODOT structured the application deadlines at the same time as a way of trying to synchronize and mutually leverage the programs.

Tomorrow is the application deadline for both.

The City of Salem is applying for the crossing safety projects with the Non-Highway Enhance program, but is not applying this cycle for any lottery funding through ConnectOregon VI.

There are a number of factors in this.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

New Push for Carbon Cap? Also More on Fred Meyer Gas Station - Bits

Some interesting news coming out of this weeks Interim Committee meetings.
New Director of Urban Development
Is Wilsonville really what we should be trumpeting about her? Will she live in Salem or will she, like some other significant folks at the City, commute from Wilsonville? Wilsonville does some things better than Salem, but it doesn't have a downtown, and it bailed on Trimet. Not sure Wilsonville should be our model for an imaginary shift to a Department of Suburban Development! Urban, think urban!

Anyway, with the new City Manager, Steve Powers, there's some meaningful change at upper City management, and maybe some new directions to take. Fresh eyes aren't always a bad thing.

Presumably Mark Becktel, who had been Interim Director, will revert to his regular post at Public Works.

Just something to register and watch.

Fred Meyer Gas Station

So back in February this year, the Planning Commission heard "a consolidated Comprehensive Plan Map Amendment and Zone Change" on four contiguous lots very near the corner of Madrona and South Commercial.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Unpopular Road Useage Fee Hits Roadblock of Asphalt Socialism

OreGo, the attempt to shift from the gas tax model to a tax on VMT, is not having a very successful pilot.

The Portland Tribune reports that the program
has roughly 900 participants, mostly in the Portland metropolitan area.

Officials had hoped to enroll up to 5,000 people in the pay-by-the-mile program, the first of its kind in the nation. Participants sign up with one of three private vendors, then install an electronic device that enables the company to track mileage and collect fees.
Interestingly, the guy who built out the program is leaving.
[Jim] Whitty has announced he plans to resign from the agency at the end of this year. “I’m an innovator and there comes a point where the program becomes more governmental,” Whitty said. “We’ve reached that point. My services are not as needed at this stage going forward.”
There are lots of moving parts here. Some of the slow adoption could be problems with management at ODOT, but other parts are an understandable discomfort with the potential self-surveillance implied by "installing an electronic track mileage."

But more than anything, people want free car use and free road use. People don't want to pay more gas tax, people don't want to pay for parking, people don't want to consider tolls or congestion pricing, people don't to "divert" money to support transit, and people aren't interested really in any alternative to the gas tax.

OreGo task force agenda
The Road User Fee Task Force, chaired by our own former Rep. Vicki Berger, meets tomorrow, and it will be interesting to see how they go forward in the face of what so far has been a disappointing pilot project.

More Bridges and Highways for Endless Prosperity
International Institute of Social History Collection
Over at The American Conservative, Portlander Joe Cortright has a note on our prevailing commitment to "asphalt socialism," and reminds us that road use is an excellent candidate for some free market discipline.
And another note today on Adam Smith and free markets.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Droopy Draft Statewide Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan out for Comment

At their retreat-slash-meeting at the Oregon Garden last week, the Oregon Transportation Commission formally authorized for public comment the draft statewide Oregon Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan (project site here).

2015 draft Oregon Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan
(link does go to updated Nov draft)
Portland advocates aren't necessarily all that excited by it, and they share some of the reservations we've expressed here about it not being very assertive or very effective. It's all too aspirational, hopeful, advisory, full of droopy recommendation and little firm policy or resolve. Still bounded by the limits of hydraulic autoism, it's not structured as a real agent of change.

From the BTA's letter
From the letter signed by the representatives from the BTA, Oregon Walks, Safe Routes to School, and several others:
Equivocation in the language [about safety] throughout the plan’s policies and strategies dramatically undermine s its intent. Creating safe streets for people walking and biking requires narrower travel lanes, slower vehicle speeds, more physical protection, more sidewalks and bike lanes, and savvy and comprehensive public education. Nowhere in the plan language is this direct and well-­understood approach to safety made into policy. This omission will not serve Oregonians of all ages walking and biking now or in the future.

Performance Measures
We strongly urge the Commission to request inclusion of an explicit commitment to including true Multimodal Level of Service performance measures in the context of the Oregon Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan. It is arguable whether or not such a measure is ready to direct projects today, but it is essential that Oregon commit t o applying a new multimodal standard within the plan period. Merely identifying it as a potential new tool is insufficient; this plan must make commit resources to developing this approach and include policy ensuring its adoption.
You can submit comments here by email. If nothing else, simply echoing the comments in the letter can be useful as a show of quantitative support. If you read the plan, you might find other things to say as well. The urgency of climate change is another area in which the plan falls short, for example.

There will be one or more open houses in December, apparently, as well as an online open house. So these will also be opportunities for comment, and may offer easier ways to digest the draft plan.

For previous notes on the plan and process, see here.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Water Waste, West Salem Infill, Our Typology of People on Bike - Newsbits

Kindof a funny front pager today. It's not useless or wrong, but it's also a little off target perhaps.

The first criticism of it when the story was posted online a couple of days ago was - Why start water-shaming residents now? It's raining hard today. The time for the story was earlier in the year.

More important is the problem of scale. Commercial water users almost certainly waste more water than residential users, so why not start with an analysis of Salem's biggest commercial users? And as a total proportion of water use, is it even useful to start shaming residents?

The lack of scale and proportion is a significant hole in context and analysis.

(Conspiracy-minded folks might think of starting with residents as another way to shelter the Chamber of Commerce. That seems unlikely, but it sure doesn't look very good.)

But that's not the most interesting angle here.

A different "culture of waste"
We have a much different culture of waste.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Reuse Notes: Ice Cream Factory and Le Breton Hall at new Fairview Park

Two moments in the prospects for reuse of older buildings seemed worth some notes this week.

Earlier this week the news that Mountain West was going to purchase the Deluxe Ice Cream plant and donate it to Family Building Blocks was big.

That vacancy was a serious hole in the fabric of State Street, and the social service and educational mission of Family Building Blocks much more congenial to the neighborhood than a renewal of some kind of light industrial ever would have been. And it's great that a substantial part of the existing buildings will be reused rather than all demolished.

So that seems like a solid win in a lot of ways.

What's in it for Mountain West as a self-interested, profit-seeking development firm is harder to read. There's got to be some angle in addition to altruism that makes the move pencil out for the firm.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Hearings Officer to Deliberate on Blind School Remand and Revised Site Plan

Over at SCV, or maybe in another place, you probably saw the news that the Hospital has submitted a new site plan in order to comply with the LUBA ruling on the number of parking stalls at the Blind School. The tone has been mostly jubilant.

New site plan with changes clouded

Previous site plan rejected at LUBA
From here, though, things seem much more bittersweet, much more than a little elegiac.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

West Salem Study Continues to Recommend Undercrossing at Second Street

After a little bit of delay, the draft West Salem Business District Action Plan is out. At least some of the delay was caused by a new analysis of an at-grade crossing of Wallace along Second Street and the rail alignment. But that turned out to be a bit of a dead end.

draft West Salem Business District Action Plan (Nov 2015)
Most of the recommendations remain intact. The recent conversation did lead to a couple of other changes from the first concepts. But the most important concept for our purposes here, that of the undercrossing, is fortunately retained, however.

Plan Map, November 2015 (comments added in red)
There's a new plan map. The changes at numbers 1 and 2, and a couple of other notes:

Monday, November 9, 2015

Cranksgiving, Wallace Bike Park, Historic Preservation - Newsbits

Northwest Hub has news about this year's Cranksgiving.
Each year Cranksgiving is held on the Saturday before Thanksgiving as a way for messengers and other urban cyclists to socialize, compete, and enjoy themselves while also raising food for local soup kitchens or food pantries in time for the Thanksgiving holiday. It is one of the only alleycats focused on raising donations for good causes.

Where: 1230 Broadway St. NE Salem OR
When: Saturday Nov. 21st
Time: 10:00 am show up, 10:30 am roll out

Bring a bike, a bag, a lock, and about $15-$20 to buy food. All of the food collected at grocery stores will benefit Marion Polk food share.

PS There will also be Coffee provided by Steel Bridge and Pan Dulce (Sweet Bread) provided by Azteca bakery.
(This is the second consecutive one, but you may recall its appearance in 2010!)

Funding for the bike park nearly done
The Salem Area Trail Alliance and Rotary Club of Salem announced last week that SATA has been awarded the 2016 Goodworks Grant.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Harry Scott goes off to War; Closes in 1918, Reopens around the Corner in 1919

Veterans Day is coming up, and there's always something new to learn.

One local chapter of the story concerns Harry Scott, founder of Scott's Cycle, and the way World War I affected him.

Back in the 19-teens and 20s, it seems, National Bicycle Week was a thing, and the principal Salem bike shops together advertised for it.

National Bicycle Week, May 4th, 1918
The benefits seem nearly timeless:
  • For Health and Pleasure 
  • Miles of Joy
  • Save Time
  • Save Gasoline
  • Limber up
  • Beat the bus or streetcar
Sound familiar?

But of course a major part of this was war and the prospect of rationing, especially of gasoline and its affect on automobility.

Our first auto show of February 1919
We have to remember, though, that talk about autos at this time maps more closely to talk about Teslas than talk of Fords or Toyotas today. Automobiles in 1918 remained aspirational and expensive, and they were not yet common. It is a mistake to read the historical rhetoric with contemporary autoist assumptions as if autos were widespread already. Think about all the press coverage for Tesla in proportion to how many are actually manufactured and owned. The same disproportion characterizes press through the 1920s at least.

Still, thrift could be patriotic. The United States had entered the war formally in April of 1917 and a draft followed shortly thereafter.

And it was not difficult to frame bikes as a patriotic and prudent thing to use.

Army of Bicycle Riders, May 25th, 1918
Harry Scott, co-owner of Scott & Piper, himself was drafted, and in 1918 he was ordered to report June 30th for Vancouver Barracks.

He and Charles Piper closed out the inventory and closed the store.

Friday, November 6, 2015

City Council, November 9th - Bike Boulevard Crossings

At Council on Monday is the decision to submit formally an application to construct five crossing safety projects, including two at key Winter-Maple Bike Boulevard crossings, on Pine at Maple, and on Fairground Road near Cottage.

There are a couple of other minor transportation items as well.

Five Crossing Safety Projects
Project estimate is now at $380,000
If you've been following the Non-Highway Enhance process, you'll already know about this.

If not, there's a pool of State/Federal money explicitly for non-auto-centric projects in the 2018-2021 cycle statewide. The City initially considered a bunch of project applications, including:
  1. Finishing up the east portion of the Union Street Bikeway
  2. The Hyacinth-Kroc Center Path
  3. Planning for a new riverfront path north of the Union Street Railroad Bridge on the east bank and north to Keizer
  4. The Second Street crossing under Wallace Road in West Salem
  5. Sidewalk infill on South Commercial
  6. New sidewalks and bike lanes on McGilchrist St SE between 12th and 25th.
Numbers four through six were judged not ripe enough, and one through three (plus the safety crossings) were advanced as concepts to our Metropolitan Planning Organization and Area Commission on Transportation.

The package of five safety crossings scored highest, and it alone of the four was recommended for advancement with a full application to ODOT.

The matter at Council authorizes the full application.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Map of US Traffic Deaths from 2004-2013 Highlights Dangerous Stroads

A neat, but unfortunate, graphic and interactive map is making the rounds. It's a compilation of 10 years of US traffic death. 2004-2013.

All 373,377 of the dead.

Here's 10 years of traffic death in Salem
(But "Crash" not "Accident"!)
The deaths are coded by age, gender, and mode of travel. It is also possible to filter for alcohol, speeding, or distracted driving.

The data isn't new, but this is a more useful and legible form. It is also sickening and depressing. You might know some of the people who died, or at least know their names.

Lancaster, Mission, Wallace, Silverton Road, Portland Road - it's those stroads. Too wide, too fast, too many turning movements and local access points.

What other meaningful patterns do you see in it?

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Some Afterthoughts on Cherriots

Thoughts in no particular order...

Too much of this (via the publisher)
Tax Transparency

Even though the City formally has to take a "hands-off" position to any advocacy, the City really ought to publish a neutral list of tax abatements and other public subsidies as an aid to assessing claims about unfair taxation.

New disclosure standards
There was a lot of anxious and animated hand-waving by opponents of the transit measure, but not a lot of fact.

A factual statement of which companies benefit from tax abatements and other public subsidy wouldn't necessarily address the emotional side and prior commitments of folks and their arguments, but at least it would assist in a factual assessment of things.

More Robust Advocacy

As push-back and advocacy, the Yes for Cherriots campaign wasn't very strong. It seemed like it was fundamentally a reaction to the Chamber campaign, and even as a reaction it wasn't much of a riposte.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Cherriots Evening and Weekend Service Decisively Defeated

The first results are out from Marion County, and things aren't looking so hot.

At 8pm:

42% Yes
58% No

It doesn't look like there's a lot yet to count. So it would be surprising to see the results reverse.

Polk County has some votes as well, but it's also hard to see them bucking the trend.

We'll see how quickly the media call it.

Update 1 

Polk County at 8pm:

39% Yes
61% No

It looks like they're reporting 100% votes counted.

Update 2

As of 9:28, the Statesman is calling it as well. From the piece:
Dan Clem, Salem Area Chamber of Commerce CEO, expressed gratitude to voters for rejecting the proposed tax.

“We want to thank everyone who voted to protect small businesses… the results validate the position that future support of Cherriots’ needs should come from a different source than a payroll tax,” Clem said.
Validation? The only validation is that the election results validated the Chamber's effectiveness - not the Chamber's truthfulness or accuracy.

But there were other factors, surely:
  • Residual suspicion of Cherriots over the Courthouse fiasco. 
  • Proximity to the September route and schedule overhaul, which at best was "change" and at worst a disruption for some users of transit.
  • A short ballot in an off-year, with few issues to attract a broad range of folks.
We'll see if the Chamber and its minions truly intend in good faith to formulate a better funding solution. If it's just raiding the lottery, it's hard to see that happening. That's a pose more than a real solution.

Ugh. This is why we can't have nice things....

Feds Fund a Bicycle Visitor Center in Detroit; More on Passenger Rail

Dang. The Stayton Mail's reporting that the Cascading Rivers Scenic Bikeway between Estacada and Detroit won a $2 million grant from the Federal Highway Administration for a bicycle visitors center in Detroit.

The route runs along the Clackamas River and Breitenbush
With the way drought has diminished boating recreation, it wouldn't be surprising to see bicycling picking up some of the slack.

Sure looks pretty. (via RideOregon and the Path Less Pedaled)
(Update - The project's formal name is "Detroit Area Visitor Portal, Bikeway and Day Use Enhancements" and it's part of the Oregon Federal Lands Access Program. Here's the short list of programs funded in this cycle. Interestingly, it says "Funding for these projects is not guaranteed" and notes that Congress has to reauthorize funding for the program. So maybe this isn't exactly a done deal yet.)

Passenger Rail

The Passenger Rail project has identified a draft preferred alternative, and they're going out with an online "open house" about it.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Around the Neighborhoods: State Street Walking Tour, Grant, and Blind School Appeal

The State Street Study today kicks off with a walk. In Grant, parking is a problem, and at the Blind School there's another appeal. In some of the neighborhoods this week...

I guess it doesn't count as a public meeting, as it is not on the City or project calendar, but the NEN minutes last month had news of the first semi-public meeting for the State Street Corridor Study. Today the Advisory Committee will be taking walking tour of State Street to see the existing conditions by foot.

One of the Columns from the 1935 Capitol Fire on State Street
There's all kinds of interesting stuff along State Street - both fine-grained detail, and coarser structural things.

This will be an exciting study to watch. (See all notes here.)

Parking in Grant

In the Grant Neighborhood the Charlie Foxtrot of parents driving kids to school requires an impressive amount of non-educational staff time and effort.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

At the NACTO Conference - Other Weekend Newsbits

Hey, look, it's Gary Obery at the NACTO conference in Austin!
Some of you will know Gary from his work with the Salem Bike Boulevard Advocates - but he's also an ODOT traffic engineer focused on walking and biking.

NACTO is the National Association of City Transportation Officials and last week folks were assembled at the Designing Cities Conference in Austin Texas. Peter Koonce, who tweeted the photo, manages the traffic signals for the City of Portland. (NACTO's focus is on bigger cities, and Salem would be too small for full membership. So it's not surprising that while ODOT might be represented, the City of Salem did not send anyone, as far as I know.)

NACTO has also put together the Urban Bikeway Design Guide and the Urban Street Design Guide, both of which are out in front of more traditional design standards like those from AASHTO, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, who have been and remain a primary cheerleader for hydraulic autoism. By contrast, NACTO is pushing towards notions of mobility that focus on people, not just cars.

As part of their recommendations for Oregon, after rating Oregon #5 for bike-friendliness, the League of American Bicyclists said ODOT should "adopt" the design guides. ODOT has "endorsed" it as something useful, but not incorporated it as part of standards in formal plans and policies. The lack of harder standards can be seen in some of the wateriness of the State's new biking and walking plan.

In Austin folks got to see things like a simple curb-separated bikeway.