Friday, December 30, 2016

Salemites Appeal Salem River Crossing Land Use Actions to LUBA

Announcement of appeal via N3B
The weekend is almost here (and the blog will go silent for a few days), but this "Friday news dump" is especially cheery and welcome!

From the release:
Salem, Oregon – On December 30th, a group of Salem area residents filed an appeal of the City of Salem's urban growth boundary (UGB) expansion to construct a third Willamette River bridge to the state Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA)....

The eight co-petitioners are asking LUBA to reverse or remand the Council's decision.

"We're appealing the City's decision to expand the UGB for a third bridge because its a bad idea for Salem and because it violates local plans and state planning rules," said Robert Cortright, the group's spokesperson. "It's a bad idea because it's an expensive, unaffordable project that won't reduce traffic congestion and will destroy homes and businesses"....

The LUBA appeal will contend that the City's actions violate state planning laws because they failed to consider all alternatives to address peak hour traffic congestion problems. To justify a UGB expansion, local and state planning rules require that the City show a new bridge is the only reasonable way to meet future transportation needs. But the City's own plans and studies show that widening the existing bridges in combination with other actions, like expanding transit service and staggering work hours for state employees, would work as well in reducing congestion — and at a cost that would be hundreds of millions of dollars less than a third bridge.
Maybe next week there will be more to say!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Portland Road and Northgate Food Survey Results, Thursday the 5th

The North Gateway Redevelopment Advisory Board meets next week on Thursday the 5th, and in the meeting packet are some results from the food survey that went out this fall.

There are several interesting details in them, and they might be worth your time. In some cases the details might complicate the urge to flatten things with over-simple narratives about need and meeting the need. (Humans are complicated!)

A couple of transportation things also stand out.

From the summary:
  • Census data shows that 18% of North Salem residents do not have access to a vehicle
  • The survey shows that 85% of respondents use their car get their groceries. However, 45% of respondents [also] use an alternative form of transportation, at least part of the time. About 18% walk.
Our nearly compulsory autoism creates real problems for people.

Making better conditions for walking and biking and busing isn't just about serving some car-skeptical elite. It's about serving a very large portion of our citizenry. It's about fairness.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

2016 in Review: Our Reactionary Moment

Maybe it is the pessimissm and worry about our reactionary moment, or the loss of cultural giants like Bowie and Prince, but it's hard to see much to praise or to see positive patterns in 2016.

(Maybe you see something more optimistically?)

And much more than policy and ideas, which seemed especially insignificant this time, the year was about people and politics.


Although there is little to say here, the most important transportation stories of 2016 arise out of the National election in November and the City Council elections settled in May. The further resignation of another Councilor in November and the subsequent March 2017 election could decisively shape Council. Things seem likely to change on both local and national levels. If the Legislature can manage, 2017 might also bring a new funding package.

Councilors-elect Cara Kaser, Matt Ausec, and Sally Cook
join Councilor Tom Andersen in May
(Tom Andersen's public Council Facebook)
Also in Elections, there was the defeat of the bloated ballot measure for a new over-sized Police Station.

Hopefully we can "right-size" things in 2017.

Missed Opportunities

City report on walking deaths
You may remember from back in January the City report on walking deaths (here and here). Since then drivers have struck and killed several more Salemites:
As with the SRC's part-whole problem, on walking safety while we mourn individual deaths, we do not look at the system and seek ways to curb our autoism and the deaths that result from it. We rationalize crashes as the result of bad actors or bad choices, but do not look at the ways our system increases the probability of catastrophe. The January City report was shelved, and did not create any policy reform.

Monday, December 26, 2016

More on Mereology - The SRCs Problem with Part-Whole Relations

It seems like the SRC has a real problem with part-whole relations, nearly always subordinating criticism of defective parts to overall assurances that the whole is wholesome and true.

Sometimes this might be warranted, but it also serves to insulate parts from any criticism at all. Looking at the entirely of the way this argument is deployed on several occasions, it seems clear it is a strategy to deflect reasonable criticism of the parts.

In a systematic way, too often on the SRC values don't scale, and the overall shape of the argument exploits discontinuities between the big picture and the details.

On Bicycling

This is a bike blog. So we give the bikey parts extra scrutiny!

Supplemental Findings, p36

Findings Report, p174
According to the Supplemental Findings, Section of the Findings Report
demonstrate[s] that the bicycle system improvements integrated in the Preferred Alternative will result in improvements to the overall bicycle element of the transportation system. This criterion is not intended to be used to judge the overall adequacy of the system in evaluating a single project.
But there is no such demonstration in Section of the Findings Report. It simply asserts
The TSP Amendments supporting the Preferred Alternative are consistent with the goal for the bicycle system element. The new bridge crossing will include bicycle facilities on the bridge and connections to bicycle facilities in the bridgehead areas on both sides of the river and will enhance the overall connectivity of the bicycle system in support of the goals listed above. Amendments to the Bicycle Network Maps (7.1, 7-2, and 7-5) will show bicycle facilities on the new bridge and on ramps connecting Marine Drive to Edgewater Street. These facilities will be identified as high priority associated with the Preferred Alternative. Map 7-10 will also be amended to change the priority for the multi-use path along Marine Drive from Tier 2 to Tier 1.
There's no argument developed here. It just a bald-faced assertion that these new facilities "will enhance the overall connectivity."

Friday, December 23, 2016

Flogging the Dead Horse: Notes on the SRC Supplemental Findings

Shall we flog the dead horse? It's hard to say what the next event may or may not be on the epic saga of the Salem River Crossing. Depending on what happens next, there might be more to say; or, also, any further thought right now might be utterly moot and irrelevant. But in the event there might be more to say, here are some thoughts.

Raven on a horse, Bestiary, early 13th century
(British Library, Royal 12 C XIX)
An Omission? 

In the "Findings report" of October 4th, 2016, Section 4.2.1 (pp.162 - 172), two relevant policies from the Salem Area Comprehensive Plan seem to be omitted, Policy 11 and Policy 18. The Findings discussion jumps from Policy 8 to 12 (pp. 166-167), and again from Policy 17 to 19 (p. 168).

Supplemental Findings, pp33-34, jumps a policy
This is repeated in the "Supplemental Findings/16-269-Exhibit 2," section 3.2.1 (pp. 30 - 36).

The Salem Area Comprehensive Plan Policy 11 says:
Local governments within the Salem Urban Area shall develop multimodal plans, services, and programs that decrease reliance on the SOV as the dominant means of travel. Progress toward this objective shall be monitored through benchmarks sets forth in Table #1
Policy 18 says:
The Salem Transportation System Plan shall identify methods that employers can use to better facilitate the commute of their employees, encourage employees to use alternative travel modes other than the SOV, and decrease their needs for off-street parking.
By themselves these aren't killers or anything, and the other adjacent policies are probably more important. Still, I would have expected the findings to reference them, and I find the silence odd and worth noting.

Maybe there are others we'll find. Maybe you have found some.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Fix Yer Bike and Other Stuff! Repair Fair January 14th

Here's a nice thing to keep in the back of your mind for next month. Especially if you don't bike much or have a friend who doesn't, and one of you has a bike that's just sitting in the garage because something's broken on it, here's an opportunity to fix it. (It looks like there will be beer, too!)

The next edition of Repair Fair and Share will be on January 14th, 4pm to 7pm. at the Northwest Hub on Market and Broadway. (They're also looking for handy-people and fixers, do note.)
Just in time for your New Year's Resolution....

The Repair Fair & Share event is bigger and better!

Got something broken? Bring it (along with any needed parts) to the Repair Fair, and we'll hook you up with a fixer!

-Small appliances (no microwaves or cd-players please)
-Garden Tool Sharpening
-Stringed Instruments

This is FREE and open to the public, however donations are appreciated.

We are looking for volunteers (fixers and reception folks). If you can help or if you'd like more information, please contact Jessica Ramey (503.365.3180)

These fine, local businesses will be on site as well!
Cherry City Sweet Spot (food truck)
Santiam Brewing Co.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

SJ's new Home - Exile from Downtown or New Opportunity?

You probably saw the news that the paper had signed a lease for new digs in a remodeled building on the rise overlooking the crazy intersection of Commercial, Vista, and Liberty Road.

New home of the Statesman Journal
at Vista and Commercial
They'll be moving from downtown to this cluster on "middle commercial." The forms here are suburban with big boxes, strip malls, and the big stroad. There's some legacy development from before that, but nothing left from the streetcar era. It's not very walkable.

There is in fact a key segment of missing sidewalk adjacent to their building on Commercial. And when the semi-couplet of Vista/Fairview were "improved" several years ago, the City striped no bike lanes. Biking and continuing south on Commercial through this area is challenging.

Proposed southbound continuation on Commercial at Liberty
Commercial-Vista Corridor Study
(the SJ's new home, pre-remodel, on left in distance)
So this is going to be an interesting transition. Reporters will be more distant from City Hall and from the Capitol, so will there be even less coverage of city and state politics? With development picking up downtown, it is also a move away from an important center of economic and cultural activity.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Our Lousy Track Record for 1980s Traffic Modeling

Now that we've been able to go through some of the traffic modeling from around 1980 that supported the Front Street Bypass, the Salem Parkway, and the Mission Street Overpass, it's clear that there some pretty big misses. That points towards a systemic problem with the modeling.

On a comfortable majority of road segments, the projected year 2000 traffic volumes were meaningfully larger than actual traffic volumes measured mostly in the 2010s. Even when you look 30 years out instead of 20, the actual traffic still hasn't caught up to the projected numbers. (On a few segments actual traffic is higher, but these are the exception.)

Let's look at the biggest misses.

Wild overestimates:
  • Front Street bypass
  • High/Church in downtown
  • Cherry Street 
  • Portland Road/Fairgrounds Road
  • Pine Street
  • 17th Street
  • Center Street near 17th
  • 12th Street
  • The Mission Street overpass itself
Big undercounts:
  • Liberty/Commercial in downtown
  • Front Street at River Road 
  • 25th Street north of Mission
Many of the other estimates are "in the ballpark" but slightly under actual counts; considering the actual counts here mostly are from the 2010s, not from year 2000, however, the general drift in nearly every case is that there was a system bias for overestimating traffic volumes for year 2000.

Year 2000 projected traffic counts
for Front Street Bypass
(actuals from City)

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Early 1980s Traffic Modeling for 17th Street Wildly Off

17th Street has been an interest here for a while. It originally was not continuous, and stopped at both Mill Creek and Shelton Ditch.

17th Street dead-ended at Shelton Ditch, 1969 USGS
Over the course of the 20th century, it grew from a small neighborhood, local street to be a minor arterial currently serving between 11,000 and 12,000 car trips per day.

But circa 1980, they were projecting over 20,000 trips per day for year 2000 traffic volumes!

There's a whole lot we got wrong about 17th Street.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Autoism on the Front Page Yesterday

The paper yesterday morning had an interesting juxtaposition on traffic: Distracted driving and snowstorm congestion.

Though they're not intentionally linked, and might not look like they are linked, of course they are complementary: Together they shine a light on our pervasive hydraulic autoism.

BikePortland has covered the big picture already on the storm. The problem is not snow and ice, not lack of sanding and plowing, not lack of additional road widening or new bridges, not lack of skill among local drivers.

The main problem is our overreliance on cars and drive-alone trips.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Early Fred Meyer Storefront Restoration; Notes on Depot Addition

On Thursday the 15th the Historic Landmarks Commission will be looking at another downtown storefront facade restoration. (Update: Rescheduled for January 19th.)

This time it's for the building that has housed Engelberg Antiks.

Fred Meyer at 148 Liberty St NE, undated but 1930s or 40s
(Salem Library Historic Photos)
Documentation is scarce, but the Downtown Historic District materials claim the building was constructed circa 1915 and underwent extensive modification in the 60s. Formally it is classified a "historic, non-contributing" building.

The application for the project straight-up says it wants to emulate the appearance of the Fred Meyer storefront from the 1930s, and the Staff Report recommends approval.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

1981 Salem Parkway FEIS Omits River Crossing Discussion

The 1981 FEIS for the Salem Parkway is less interesting than the one for the Front Street Bypass.

One reason is that I was trawling for things about the Salem River Crossing, and it appears to be almost wholly silent on that. (That seems like a significant omission, though.)

So instead, there are lesser things only to note.

1957 map shows impacts between Cherry and Verda
(USGS historic maps, not in FEIS)
The map of discarded alternatives is a little interesting. Some of them would have had much more impact on already developed areas. The route they chose, the "Railroad West," west of the railroad lines, probably did minimize impacts to existing development. But we forget the losses, especially the individual stories of people and families affected, down the memory hole. And now, in currently paused Kroc Center Study, we have contemplated millions for a bridge or other facilities to mend the gap we created.

Vestiges of a neighborhood at Pleasant View Drive,
looking towards Hyacinth/Verda - via streetview

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Mystery of Woodburn Photo Albums has Bike Mystery

Since they are lost photo albums, it seems all too likely that there is some element of tragedy behind an otherwise pleasant mystery in the paper today.

Capi Lynn writes:
Val Springer rediscovered the box in her garage not long ago. Inside were five large photo albums.

She intended to track down the family whose lives are chronicled on the pages, but didn’t know where to begin and never got around to it.

So she asked for my help.

I’ve had success reuniting people with family keepsakes — some 1930s letters between a father and daughter, a World War II service flag with the names of three brothers handwritten on it, and a World War II veteran’s wallet with precious family snapshots inside.

These albums deserve a home, too.
You can find more images and clues in the article. What is most interesting here are the bikes.

Two of the images they reproduce show bikes identified as circa 1897. They both show a woman, and even though she has a skirt, she appears to have a bike with a top tube, not a step-through. In one of them a man on her left does have a step-through.

Is this evidence of a moment before frame geometry was gendered? Is this evidence that the family or group didn't ride the bikes and instead were using them as props to show a kind of up-to-dateness? Bikes were expensive at this time, and still represented advanced transportation technology.

(click to enlarge for detail)
Are two of these in the photo below?

(detail of a photo of a photo on an angle in an album)
If these are the same two people, they've switched bikes
The bikes and seats also look rather tall. So what is going on?

Saturday, December 10, 2016

1979 Front Street Bypass FEIS Shows Errant Assumptions

Just when the Luddite mood was waxing to nearly overwhelming proportions, the google nearly randomly turns up an easter egg during a completely unrelated search.

Front Street Bypass FEIS, 1979
It looks like some NEPA collection at Northwestern University has been digitized, and in it is the Final Environmental Impact Statement from 1979 for our Front Street Bypass.

Read in light of the Salem River Crossing process, there are some interesting ironies.

Adverse Impacts

More of them
It is no great insight to note that Front Street cuts off downtown proper from the Riverfront - but they knew this would happen!!!

At the same time, in several places, not just this section on "adverse impacts," they predict the buildings along Front Street would gentrify and increase in tax value.

As we have seen this has been quite a struggle.

Friday, December 9, 2016

City Council, December 12th - Park Front Subsidy

This version of City Council meets for the last time this year on Monday.

In their last hurrah, they'll presumably confirm the $3/4 million subsidy for the new Park Front "flatiron" building at the Boise Redevelopment.

New view: Looking west from midblock
In Governing magazine a few months back was a piece about subsidies:
Urban real estate developers always ask for subsidies whether they need them or not, and cities often provide them even when they’re not needed. Why else would cities subsidize billion-dollar sports stadiums to house teams that are worth billions and that are owned by sports tycoons worth billions?

That’s why cities need to know a lot about the economics of private real estate development deals, specifically when and why projects pencil out or don’t. It’s something that, amazingly, cities know little about. If you’re going to subsidize a developer, for example, you should only do it when you know you can’t get the project you want done any other way. Alternatively, if you’re going to soak a developer for impact fees or other community benefits, you should do so only when you know it won’t kill a project you otherwise want. That’s why cities should have a lot of financial analysis capacity -- not just to balance their own budgets, but to understand whether developers are balancing their own budgets on the backs of the taxpayers. [italics added]
Criticism of the proposed Park Front subsidy has focused on it as an instance of "crony capitalism," a boodle favor for a former member of City Council and current executive with the Chamber of Commerce.

Commenting on the criticism, another person asked
Would another, outside developer, receive this same treatment? The project does seem to deserve some incentive, since that seems the norm for development that promises increased tax revenue and an improved downtown....[would] a project like this would receive similar treatment if an outside group were building it?
And the answer is probably yes, the same subsidy would be extended to any other developer who asked for it.

The issue here is almost certainly not that a former member of City Council is extracting special favors, but rather that we lack ways, and have not structured urban renewal incentives, to discriminate between valuable projects that truly need help to get off the ground, and projects that would happen anyway and just want the extra slush funding. Our application of urban renewal subsidies, as with enterprise zones and other tax incentives, is too crude and unnecessarily subsidizes too many projects that are already positioned for or have reasonable chances of success.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Don't Forget, Take Sneckdown Pictures in the Snow!

Never let a good snow storm go to waste!

As you're out and about, or if you have a view from above, look for intersections and lanes with intact zones of snow. Those are "sneckdowns," temporary curb extensions and lane narrowings caused by the snow, and evidence of surplus width or other area in the roadway.

The zones with snow could become bike lanes, wider sidewalks, pedestrian medians or other road space reallocated for users other than those in cars. They are evidence for ways we have overengineered and overdesigned roadways for car travel and too-high speeds.

Here are a couple this morning from the City traffic cameras.

Broadway at Market (see The Hub!)

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

State Bike Committee Meets Thursday, Other Bits

The State Advisory Committee for bicycling meets tomorrow, Thursday the 8th, and several items are of some interest, though mostly they appear to be updates and informational only.

From ODOT:
SALEM – The Oregon Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee will meet at 9 a.m. on Dec. 8 at ODOT’s Mill Creek Building, Mt. McLoughlin Room, 555 13th St. NE in Salem. Agenda items include a presentation about the Statewide Trails Coalition, discussion about the Safe Routes to School program and more.

The meeting is open to the public. Those who wish to provide comments are encouraged to sign up on the public comment sheet provided at the meeting. General guidelines: provide written summaries when possible and limit comments to three minutes. If you bring written summaries or other materials to the meeting, please provide the chairperson with a copy prior to your testimony.
Here's the interesting bits from the agenda (along with links to relevant notes here and elsewhere):
9:15 AM Statewide Trails Coalition – Stephanie Noll

9: 45 AM Modal Work Plan, OTC Meeting and Workshop – Jenna Marmon, Susan Peithman

10: 15 AM Break

10: 30 AM STIP ’15 -’18 and ’18 -’21 – Mary Beth Olson

11: 15 AM Lunch

1:00 PM Safe Routes To School – LeeAnne Fergason, Lynne Mutrie

1:30 PM Chip Seal Policy Revisions - Luci Moore - State Maintenance & Operations Engineer

2: 15 PM ADA Settlement Agreement and Transition Plan - Bob Pappe – State Traffic and Roadway Engineer
Most of these items appear to be retrospective, reviews of past decisions and projects and planning, and it's not clear that OBPAC is in a position really to alter or improve them. Instead it looks like they are just getting updates. One of them, though, is more forward looking.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The SRC: Just Throwing Money into the River

Last night at Council, Councilor Andersen explained his vote in some detail.

The package for a UGB expansion and TSP amendments passed 5-2. (More commentary at Hinessight.)


The lede in the paper's story about the Council meeting:
The financial damage of former Salem councilor Daniel Benjamin's resignation could cost the city as much as $17,000.
It seems like a better one might be something more like:
The yearly cost to service the proposed Salem River Crossing, which accomplished a major milestone Monday night, is estimated to take $45 million a year out of the local economy.
Even if you disagree with the deleterious nature of the SRC, isn't it obvious that the proposed $430 million project is much vaster and more costly than a $17,000 special election to right a set of wrongs? (Especially if the SRC is also a mistake, as so many of us believe.)

Instead that story, with fewer details, was buried at the bottom.

The proportionality in coverage is all screwed up!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Salemite Dead from Hit and Run in Silverton on Friday

Friday morning in Silverton, one Salemite struck and killed another and then compounded his troubles by fleeing.

From the paper:
A North Salem man was arrested after a fatal hit-and-run crash near Silverton High School on Friday morning.

Dillon Van Diviner, 22, was driving on the 400 block of Grant Street when he hit a construction worker who was working on a driveway project of a new home, according to a statement released by Silverton Police Chief Jeff Fossholm. Van Diviner continued driving after hitting the construction worker, identified as Bradley Goad, 45, of West Salem. Goad was pronounced dead at the scene.
(It should be noted the paper's rhetoric is correct, that the human has agency here: None of this "the car left the road and hit the pedestrian" evasiveness. Humans are driving and required to maintain control. Even when it is not done with murderous intent, in the awful catastrophe a human remains the agent.)

Update, December 5th

Wow. Apparently "murderous intent" is in fact an issue here. From an update in the paper:
Moments before he struck and killed a West Salem man with his car, the suspect in Friday's fatal hit-and-run in Silverton allegedly smoked marijuana in his car and then intentionally sped toward the victim, officials said.

Dillon Van Diviner, 22, of Salem, was arrested on charges of murder, hit-and-run and DUI after he told police he purposely hit Bradley Goad in Silverton on Friday morning.

Van Diviner told police he ran over Goad because he feared Goad, a 45-year-old construction worker from West Salem, posed a danger to others. Van Diviner did not give any reason for this fear, other than an "intense overwhelming feeling," according to a probable cause statement filed in Marion County.
Wow. Just wow.

Since it appears to be a murder with a car as weapon and also probably a mental health matter, it is not so much a road safety matter. It's hard to say there is any amount of better road engineering or other safety changes that could prevent this. Vision Zero and other safety programming almost certainly has nothing further to offer.

Heartfelt condolences to the friends and family of Bradly Goad.

December 2016
Also over the weekend, you might have seen the piece about a driving school and failing a driving test while using a calculator for some basic math with the off-hand.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

City Council, December 5th - SRC and UGB, pt. 2

On rereading the summary document of responses to public comment, there are still quite a number of items it seems possible to contest and on which more public debate, even a kind of adversarial and more robust litigation style of back-and-forth argument at Council, would be worthwhile. Matters are far from conclusively settled, and there has not been enough time to present and sift the evidence to make determinations possible about "a preponderance" on one side or the other of many sides of the issue.

Deciding on the UGB matters is totally premature at this moment.

And that is more evidence that Goal 1 for "citizen involvement" is not at all being met on this part of the SRC process.

One claim may be genuinely new, however, and is very much worth a little more investigation here.

I'm not sure I can prove this, but it has seemed that in the draft Environmental Impact Statement, and in the subsequent talk about funding that occurred in 2013-2014, there was an assumption that the bridge structure would be engineered to a mid-level quake standard, something like a 7.0 event. The DEIS on Geology is quite vague, and there is little or no explicit mention of these standards. A text search on the full chapter 2 on Alternatives doesn't turn up any instances of the word "seismic" or "earthquake."

Seismic evaded in March 6th, 2015 funding memo
Further and briefly, this level of seismic reinforcement, or any detail at all, is not mentioned in:
It has seemed like the level of seismic reinforcement was a deliberate fudge factor, sometimes used to allow for a lower cost estimate, other times used to say that the bridge will be reinforced adequately.

It's hard to prove a negative, but you would think that the level of reinforcement, especially to a 9.0 standard, would have appeared somewhere, in one of these documents. That would be a thing to shout about, in fact. But it was never spelled out that that meant exactly. The omission is telling.

Now, finally, they have spelled it out.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Is Salem ready for Bikeshare? Corvallis could be Template

A few days ago the paper ran a brief photo gallery of the new Corvallis bikeshare system, and gave the name of a Salem couple working to bring bikeshare here.

The Corvallis system launched last summer, and it's worth a little discussion.

Here are some excerpts from an ODOT summary of it:
Before BikeTown launched in Portland in July, Corvallis became the second community in Oregon to launch a public bikeshare system. Jackson County started its program in 2015.

Corvallis’ bikeshare program, Pedal Corvallis, rolled into town on June 30 thanks to a collaboration between several community partners, including the region’s Medicaid provider – the InterCommunity Health Network Coordinated Care Organization (IHN-CCO) – and the Oregon Cascades West Council of Governments (OCWCOG), a regional planning and service-delivery agency that covers Benton, Lincoln, and Linn Counties.
The close involvement of healthcare and the local MPO is remarkable. It would be interesting if Salem Health and SKATS/MWVCOG, or a similar group, emerged in Salem. (The Lund Report has more on it as a health initiative aimed at Medicaid clients.)

Station at Good Sam in Corvallis - via OCWCOG
(But is that convenient location?)
There are 6 stations and 35 bikes throughout town. Station locations are:
  • Downtown Transit Center, 5th Street and Monroe Avenue • Oregon State Credit Union, 1980 NW 9th Street
  • Lincoln Health Center, 121 SE Viewmont Avenue
  • Benton County Health Department, 530 NW 27th St.
  • Osborn Aquatic Center, 1940 NW Highland Drive
  • SamFit / Samaritan Square, 777 NW 9th Street #310
The bikes are equipped with front and rear lights, a basket, and a U -lock. Helmets are being provided free to a limited number of IHN-CCO members. The system also includes 2 trikes, to accommodate loads such as groceries or laundry, as well as for the benefit of participants who may have balance challenges. All Pedal Corvallis stations are located within two blocks of a Corvallis Transit System stop or closer.

An annual Pedal Corvallis membership costs $25, a month pass costs $10, and a 3-day pass costs $5. Trips up to 2 hours are free at all membership levels. The program is open to anyone age 18 and older, and membership is free for IHN-CCO members.
Corvallis of course has fareless transit and a very large population of college students. But the six stations are not very closely spaced, and really appear oriented towards the CCO members. It's not obvious that the stations are really very convenient for the general public. Do you go to a clinic first, traveling by bus or something, and then get on the bikeshare? The stations seem to be located at trip end or trip middle rather than trip start. As a system, distinct from it as any emblem of bikeyness or urbane cool, it doesn't appear all that functional. Maybe the integration with transit is key and better than it appears on the surface, even with stations not more than two blocks from a transit stop. But it just looks like it requires too much trip planning to use in an easy, convenient, frictionless way.

So what are the real prospects for Salem?

Read Dark Age Ahead?

You might remember the buzz around the review in the New York Times of Hitler: Ascent 1889-1939. Many read it as a review-length instance and tour-de-force of subtweet and shade.

A little over a decade ago, the very same reviewer discussed what turned out to be the last book completed by Jane Jacobs, Dark Age Ahead:
''The purpose of this book,'' [Jacobs] writes, ''is to help our culture avoid sliding into a dead end, by understanding how such a tragedy comes about, and thereby what can be done to ward it off and thus retain and further develop our living, functioning culture which contains so much of value, so hard won by our forebears. We need this awareness because, as I plan to explain, we show signs of rushing headlong into a Dark Age.''

In the course of this extremely sloppy book, Ms. Jacobs identifies ''five pillars of our culture'' that she says show ''ominous signs'' of decay...

Unfortunately Ms. Jacobs does not manage to make a plausible case for this thesis in her haphazard book. She does not convince the reader that North America is in danger of entering a Dark Age: either a big one like that following the collapse of the Roman Empire, or a smaller, slower decline. Nor does she persuade the reader that her ''five pillars'' incorporate all today's most pressing problems.
It was not uncommon at the time to say that Jacobs was at the end of her powers - she was nearing 90, somewhat infirm, perhaps all the praise had gone to her head. She had become a crank.

What a difference a little over a decade makes. Dark Age Ahead is poised at this exact moment for something of a critical reappraisal. It's not hard to see why.

Friday, December 2, 2016

DAB saw Plans for Union at Commercial Yesterday - and More

Shoot. Here's another meeting of interest that got lost in the events of the past week or so.

The Downtown Advisory Board met yesterday the 1st, and there are several things to note from the agenda. Several are pleasant, even exciting. (Agenda and meeting packet here.)

At the top of the list is a current rendering finally of the project for a safe crossing on Commercial at Union Street.

From December 1st DAB meeting

A much earlier concept from 2013 or so
For comparison, here's an earlier concept from a few years back, and it is interesting to note the edits, which are mostly deletions:
  • No southbound bike lane on Commercial Street, either north or south of Union
  • Sharrows only on east side of Union Street, angle parking remains
  • A standard bike lane westbound on Union, west of Commercial 
  • The corners on the west side of the intersection are more rounded and less squared off, which will make zoomy turns easier for those in cars
For east-west travel, the current design does not meet a standard for a "family-friendly" bikeway on Union Street. Kids and adults who bike infrequently will not likely feel comfortable on Union Street yet.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

City Council, December 5th - The SRC and UGB

On Monday Council meets and the lead item, on which there will be no opportunity for public comment, is the adoption of the amendments package for the Salem River Crossing.

Especially because there is no further opportunity for public comment, I'm not sure how useful it is to respond to the latest batch of documents - all 359 or so pages of them.

But the summary response to public comment (only 15pp!) might be interesting to note briefly.

On one quick pass over it, a couple of things stood out. These mainly centered on why the haste and short time-line matters. (Maybe on subsequent passes other things will seem more important, but this was the first impression from scanning it.)

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Tonight! Open House on Granny Flats

Whoops! In the excitement of the past week, missed the Open House tonight on "granny flats."

From the City:
Join us for an open house Tuesday, November 29 at the Salem Public Library to talk about accessory dwelling units (ADUs), commonly known as mother-in-law apartments. The City of Salem is considering allowing these smaller housing units in the city as a way to expand housing choices in Salem.

We want to know how you think ADUs should be regulated in Salem. Your input will be used to help develop a recommendation for allowing ADUs in the community.

Public Open House
Date: Tuesday, November 29, 2016
Time: 5:30 - 7:30 p.m.
Place: Salem Public Library, Anderson Rooms
585 Liberty Street SE, Salem, OR
Here's the presentation from the meeting earlier in November and the notes from that meeting.

(Maybe there will be more to say later.)

Update, December 2nd

Notes on Parking from Open House
The meeting notes are now posted, and as a reader points out below, there was meaningful sentiment against requiring additional off-street parking.

Cheer Yourself Up, Read about Emily's X-Country Trip!

Though it hasn't hit the print edition yet, there's a very nice piece online on Emily Loberg's trip across the continent.
In June, Emily Loberg readied her 1985 rebuilt touring bike and set out on a 5,350-mile solo journey.

Her months-long adventure would take her over the Cascades, near two oceans, across the Great Plains, up the Continental Divide and through 15 states.

"This has always been a life-long dream of mine — to bike across the country," said Loberg, who was 24 when her journey started. "I bike everywhere I go. My dad taught me how to ride a bike when I was 5 ... It's always been a big part of my life, and I love to travel."
Go read it!

Boodle deserves Revival! Grifter Too

You might remember a few years back that Portland Brewing/MacTarnahans had a summer beer oddly named "Grifter."

Grifter IPA
It wasn't a great image, the brand didn't stick, and the beer was retired after not too long.

But it turns out they were way ahead of the curve.

Doggerel posted at the Bank against
the publisher of the Capital Journal
(February 13, 1904)
The whole constellation of words around the "confidence man" and the "spoils system" is ready for a revival, and a favorite here is "boodle."

"Two souls with but a single thought"
Bosses Thomas C. Platt and Richard Croker eyeing the spoils
Cartooning at the end of the Gilded Age, Homer Davenport and his work remain relevant, sadly enough.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Ride-Booking Companies as the Number One Mayoral Priority?

A little while back, a video with Mayor-elect Bennett was making the rounds.

The video's supposed to be light-hearted, and so we shouldn't place too much stress on it. At the same time, it ostensibly offers a statement of Mayoral priorities, and so it's not something to ignore completely.

The council-related events of last week overtook it, though. Maybe now we can revisit it a little.

Food is a distraction also: At the drive-thru coffee shack
Just overall, this thing about conducting interviews in cars is a little disturbing. As a pop culture phenomenon, carpool karaoke and its successors is amusing - but let's be clear that it's also a formal instance of distracted driving, no matter how careful is the driver.

Again, it's meant to be light-hearted, but this style and form reinforces our propensity for dangerous driving, and suggests driving is no big deal, that drivers can conduct any number of other activities while driving. There's nothing outrageous here, it's important to say, but it very nicely expresses our current norms and cultural expectations for a certain inattentiveness on the road. This is normal, banal, perfectly acceptable autoism. But it's actually dangerous.

As for substance, the Mayor's number one priority? Uber.

Frankly, that's a little bizarre. Of all the things to say as number one, that's it???

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Pseudo-Science vs. Real Science at the MPO: Greenhouse Gas Workshop

If we haven't killed ourselves off in some slow-developing or sudden extinction event, historians from the future looking back on our era will write about our enthusiasm for cars and the way we embraced the pseudo-science and social engineering in hydraulic autoism. They will be impressed with the pseudo-scientific metrics of volume/capacity ratios and levels of service, as well as our tolerance for long and sedentary commutes, and equally amazed with our repudiation of actual science in rising greenhouse gas emissions, their effects, and our careless response.

The Policy Committee for our Metropolitan Planning Organization meets on Tuesday the 29th, and there are several meaty matters on the agenda. At the top of the list is a two hour work session after the meeting proper to discuss greenhouse gases and what the State and MPOs should do.

From the agenda:
The Advisory Committee on Metropolitan Transportation Planning and Greenhouse Gas Reduction Targets has held five meetings between May and November 2016. Commissioner Brentano and Mike Jaffe have represented SKATS on the committee and provided updates to the SKATS Policy Committee. The Advisory Committee has consensus on several of the initial target issues and is having its final meeting in December....

Because of the complexity of this GHG target setting issue, the Policy Committee requested a 2-hour workshop to review the work and consensus recommendations of the Advisory Committee. SKATS staff will provide a presentation about the target setting process assisted by staff from the Department of Land Conservation and Development. After the Policy Committee has asked questions and discussed the issue, they are requested to provide Commissioner Brentano and staff with any direction they believe is appropriate for the final meeting of the Advisory Committee in December and/or LCLD’s meeting in January 26-27 to adopt targets.

Friday, November 25, 2016

City Council, November 28th - A Right-sized Undercrossing Again?

Council meets on Monday, and in order to accommodate overflow capacity, the meeting was moved to Loucks Auditorium at the Library. Subsequent developments have rendered the matter moot, and since we will be left mainly with the denouement on that civic drama now, important it is, it does not seem useful to have further comment here.*

Other things on the agenda really had not been important in that context, but now that they are bumped up, from here the principal matter now at Council is the set of proposed amendments to the West Salem Urban Renewal Area for the Second Street-Marine Drive extension and undercrossing.

A smaller, scaled-down undercrossing plan?
The actual text of Exhibit 1 is very interesting.

Marine Drive in the TSP is a mid-sized "collector street" and in the Salem River Crossing it has tended to grow even more and to become something of an expressway - though in order to secure assent, the SRC has in many ways exploited some ambiguity and traded on vagueness, sometimes acting like Marine Drive was just a collector, other times like it was an urban highway.

In these proposed URA amendments, Second Street is twice labeled a "local street," a smaller classification for neighborhood streets.

That seems like an important definitional switch.

Secondly, the amendments discuss an extension of Second Street to Patterson only, and not a continuation east of Patterson into Wallace Park and then turning north to Glen Creek.

Thirdly, this avoids the troublesome matter of any demolition on the Union Street Railroad Bridge and trestle.

If there is no chicanery here, this could be a right-sized project worth supporting again. In important ways it seems to revert to an earlier concept and phase. (See here, here, and here.)

It will be interesting to see more discussion on this latest concept, but with these changes, it now seems like it merits support more than opposition or doubt.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

1916 Thanksgiving Grocery Ad Shows Frequent Corner Stores

The Thanksgiving ad from 1916 shows part of the network of old neighborhood grocery stores. I don't think there's any great lesson here, but it is interesting to think about how they were spaced more for walking distances than driving distances.

November 27th, 1916
Here are the businesses and addresses keyed to the current map of Salem.
Hardly any of the storefronts remain, and most of the lots have been redeveloped, either with newer houses or with larger commercial development. While it's not possible at the moment to dive very deeply into any of these, as corner grocery stores in the context of pre-autoist neighborhoods a few are immediately interesting.

Ward Richardson's cabbagery is located on Hickory and Front, right in the footprint of the Salem Alternative. It would have been ruralish in 1916. Melwood's would have been in the old Hollywood neighborhood before urban "renewal," and Harlan's near the train depot before the Hospital razed everything in that neighborhood. The Highland Grocery is right by the old Herbert Hoover house. Schmid's is on the old Geer line. Streetcar routes are nearby many of them, too.

The ad, with its gauzy, swirling pilgrim figure, I read as influenced by art nouveau. If you love design and art history, maybe you'll be able to characterize it better. It's a striking contrast from the more conventional, and somewhat grim, iconography of 1915.

November 20th, 1915
Maybe with war on the horizon, the chopping block wasn't so funny any more.