Sunday, July 31, 2016

SRC no help for People on Foot and on Bike

It's a highway bridge, for highway speeds and dust
not for pleasant walking
Over on Facebook, in a reply to a citizen comment, Councilor Bennett says
A new crossing also would connect east Salem residents as bicyclists and walkers to over 26 miles of new trails, parklands and walk ways. That would be a good thing.
This is dubious and almost certainly false. Unfortunately, it is a common misapprehension in no small part created by the SRC team themselves in a deeply faulty analysis, "Bridge Alternatives and Assessment of Connectivity to Existing and Proposed Bicycle Facilities within the Study Area." It's sugar to make the medicine go down, and the "sugar" it turns out is saccharine, bitter and not so very sweet after all.

First, it will be a highway bridge built for highway speeds. To say that it will "connect east Salem residents as bicyclists and walkers to over 26 miles of new trails, parklands and walk ways" is to elide the brutality and ugliness of it. It is also much longer than the existing spans (Union, Marion, Center). Take a moment to think about a walk 3x, maybe 4x (maybe more!) the length of the Center Street Bridge - not merely across the span, but from access point to access point, the actual joins to neighborhood sidewalks. Think about the actual walk, with dust and with cars zooming by at highway speed, and not just lines on a map. There is nothing attractive about it and it will not offer any aesthetic lure or add any pleasant dimension to the experience of walking and biking.

A new bridge is a "solution" to no actual problems
for people who bike; instead, it creates
a bunch of new problems and exacerbates yet more.
Second, the fact that there is a highway attached to the bridge multiplies barriers to internal city circulation for those on foot and on bike. Crossing Wallace, the Parkway, Marine Drive, and all the associated access streets will become more, not less, difficult. Apart from the aesthetic dimension, functionally it will degrade total system and neighborhood connectivity for those who walk and bike.

East Salem residents who would like improved access to Minto, Riverfront, and Wallace Parks will be better served by a robust system of bike boulevards on existing streets. This will also cost much less than a new bridge and highway. (Remember, in 2010, the city of Portland said their whole existing system could be built for $60 million, the cost of one mile of urban highway.)

A dead-end and blank wall created by Mission St overpass
also - no sidewalks because of disinvestment

Shelter, garbage sack, lack of visibility:
A void under the bridge on the bikeway
Third, the ramp spaghetti creates dead-ends with blank walls, and pockets of dead space between and under ramps, that are unpleasant and sometimes unsafe for people on foot and on bike.

Finally, at a billion dollars or more in total, the SRC would suck up so much discretionary funding that it will seriously hamper our abilities to fund bike/ped projects elsewhere. If we fund and construct it, we will have a Potemkin set of "connections" that took resources from funding and constructing smaller and more useful projects for people who walk and bike.

Greenwash - via
Portland Mercury
The Salem River Crossing is totally autoist. It's a car project and benefits car users only.

Even when the argument for improved walking and biking via the SRC is made in good faith, it is an unfounded argument. Its function is to try to greenwash the Salem River Crossing by an appeal to benefits for people who walk and bike. These benefits do not exist. The SRC harms conditions for people who wish to walk and bike.

Here are five previous posts that develop the bulk of this argument in more detail:

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