Thursday, July 20, 2017

1980 Bridge Widening FEIS Overestimates Traffic Growth

A reader sent along a copy of the 1980 "Willamette River Bridges Final Environmental Impact Statement and Section 4(f) Statement."*

1980 FEIS on widening the bridges
As these things always are, it is fascinating to see what they got right, what they got wrong, and how our cultural norms have changed or remained the same.

One of the biggest things is that like with all the other traffic modeling done circa 1980, they significantly overestimated traffic volumes.

They overestimated by a little over 10% in year 2000
(inset color chart with actuals from
"New FHWA VMT Forecasts Implications for Local Planning")
Another fascinating admission was that it would take 27 years (and the reality was probably longer because the traffic didn't grow as fast) to "pay off" the additional energy used in construction. That's evidence that this kind of project is not sustainable. Additionally, once we subtract the energy inputs from on-going maintenance, like the paving this summer, it seems likely there is never a net energy advantage from projects like this. (And this doesn't touch greenhouse gas emissions at all.)

Monday, July 17, 2017

In the Neighborhoods: West Salem, Northeast Neighbors, and the Parks Board

The West Salem Neighborhood Association meets tonight, and several items on the agenda, which look to have formal presentations, look interesting:
  • Salem-Keizer School District's Citizens Facilities Task Force Report & Recommendations;
  • Capitol Manor Improvement & Expansion Report;
  • Edgewater Crossing Retail Center Proposed Project;
  • Riverbend Site Plan & Project Update;
  • Cherriot's Proposal to Change Bus Service in West Salem from Connector to a Fixed-Route System
Last month's minutes from the 19th have the summary of the epic contest over the Association's formal position on the Salem River Crossing:
Motion...that the West Salem Neighborhood Association vote to officially support the Salem River Crossing, completion of the Environmental Impact Study and encourage city council to act as soon as possible to complete a new bridge. 2nd....

[A]n amendment to direct the WSNA Land Use Committee to send a letter to City Council reporting the results of the motion and the response. 2nd....


Question was called for at 8:15 pm....Motion to stop discussion and vote CARRIES.

[A board member] explained voting qualifications for WSNA. Bylaws define voting members as residents of West Salem that live within the Urban Growth Boundary, full time West Salem workers, business or property owners of West Salem within the Urban Growth Boundary. Voters are on the honor system to determine their qualifications. Neighbors must have signed the sign in sheet to vote.

Vote on the amendment to the motion 16 Oppose, 8 Abstain, 330 SUPPORT. Amendment CARRIES.

Vote on the amended motion 49 Oppose, 3 Abstain, 302 SUPPORT. Motion CARRIES.

The West Salem Neighborhood Association vote on this decision was made only by those in attendance on June 19, 2017 without prior public agenda notification.
It seems likely that there will be something of a power struggle for positions on the board and policy positions it takes. Also on the agenda is an information update on the annual elections in October, which look to be rather more lively this year.

The Cherriots conversation could be especially interesting in light of the prospect of about $9 million in new funding annually as a result of the new transportation package the Legislature passed.

This is the leading concept for replacement -
but it's still very conceptual!
Back in May this was the leading concept, and maybe it will change in response to both the desires of those who live and work in West Salem as well as the new possibilities created by the new funding. (Here's the Cherriots project site.)

The West Salem Neighborhood Association meets Monday the 17th at 7:00 P.M. in Roth’s West, Mezzanine (1130 Wallace Rd NW).

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Bikes offer Best Mobility During Eclipse; and the Agentless Car

A couple of items in the paper yesterday express two different forms of autoist bias, both a kind of erasure.

Editorial today + ODOT Advice
Eclipse mania is heating up. The paper published an editorial on the eclipse, and this past week the City announced a website on the eclipse.

Both of them miss what at least ODOT hints at: Your bike will be the best mobility around! Super easy for short trips, and still excellent for medium-length trips. At a moderate pace of 12mph, or even a slow pace of 8mph, you can traverse the length or width of the whole urban area in less than an hour. Silverton is a little more than an hour.

People on bike whiz by and have way more fun!
in Halifax via Twitter
Bike mobility is your best bet!

The City should correct this. They've got a long bit on "Parking in Salem & the Surrounding Area During the Eclipse" and don't mention the advantages of bicycling at all.

This is just silly. Instead of erasing bike mobility, the City should be saying, "bikes, bikes, bikes, bikes," hammering away at their utility and advantages in exactly this kind of situation.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Don't Dump Fertilizer on the Weeds: Downtown Development Talk July 25th

Remember this?

Via Strongtowns and CNU Public Square
The value/acre in jobs and in taxes generated by a downtown mid-rise vastly outstrips the value/acre generated by big box development on the edges of the city.

In a terrific summer surprise, its author, Joe Minicozzi of Urban3 will be giving a talk at the Library on Tuesday, July 25th!

And in an equally wonderful win-win, the Oregon Association of Realtors is one of the sponsors: Urbanists, advocates for livability, advocates for fiscal prudence and efficiency, and Realtors should be able to find common ground here.

You might remember a memorable phrase:
Even low-rise, mixed-use buildings of two or three stories—the kind you see on an old-style, small-town main street—bring in ten times the revenue per acre as that of an average big-box development. What’s stunning is that, thanks to the relationship between energy and distance, large-footprint sprawl development patterns can actually cost cities more to service than they give back in taxes. The result? Growth that produces deficits that simply cannot be overcome with new growth revenue.

“Cities and counties have essentially been taking tax revenues from downtowns and using them to subsidize development and services in sprawl,” Minicozzi told me. “This is like a farmer going out and dumping all his fertilizer on the weeds rather than on the tomatoes.” [italics added]
More recently, Strong Towns discussed "The real reason your city has no money," which featured the city maps with bar graphs, and the underlying analysis, you see on the talk poster.

The talk is free, but it is in the morning on Tuesday. Strongly consider attending!

(SCV posted it as an event, and if the City also posts a web page - I didn't find one anyway - I'll update this post.)

Some previous related posts here:

Monday, July 10, 2017

At the MPO: Starting to Plan for the CMAQ Bonus Funds

The Technical Advisory Committee for our local Metropolitan Planning Organization meets tomorrow, Tuesday the 11th, and they will be talking about the schedule for project selection to be funded by the new "Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality" funding.

From "Narrowed List of Eligible CMAQ Projects"
In the minutes from last month, there was also an interesting note about complications on the project to move the Doaks Ferry/Highway 22 intersection farther east west! in the old townsite of Eola.
[ODOT member, Dan] Fricke announced that due to unanticipated concerns, ODOT intends to pause work on two construction projects related to Hwy. 22 and Doaks Ferry Rd. in order to monitor conditions in the area for another year. The additional data will help with the evaluation of slide conditions in that area. Financial considerations related to the projects were discussed. It is unknown at this point if there will be any financial issues, how they would be resolved if there are, or when. [italics added]
From the Options Map, Summer 2015
(comments in white added; this also is a little old,
and it might be superseded - but you get the idea)
Fricke is also one of the project leads for the Salem River Crossing. And that project too has a problem with unstable soils.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

City Council, July 10th - Minto Bridge Change Order No. 6

Council meets on Monday, and for our purposes here they've got a very light schedule. So just some items in passing.

Minto Bridge - via Facebook
In the administrative purchases report of the City, there's another change order, change order no. 6, on the Minto Bridge for $211,671.  Perhaps related to this, next week on the Downtown Advisory Board's agenda is an item, "Does the Downtown Advisory Board recommend Agency Board approval for increased funding for the Peter Courtney Pedestrian Bridge?"

Some will want to see in these overruns an argument against the bridge at all. That's not going to be the argument here of course.

Eugene's Greenway Bike Bridge, completed in 1978
It's true a side argument that emerged after the soft opening of the bridge is that a plainer, and somewhat less costly design would have better served the scenic qualities of the slough, river, and the wildlife while accomplishing the same connectivity. But this only became clear in retrospect, and the decision Council made for the "tied arch" design was defensible.

Commercial Street Bridge Replacement, March, 2013
Second Stage Demo, West-side Beams in place
But why the delays and overruns? It appears the Commercial Street Bridge replacement a few years ago was much more straight-forward, and was completed on-time and on-budget.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

A Century Ago: Speed Maniacs, Autoists, and the Fight over Road Space

Routinely we hear about how it is "common sense" for people on foot to "get out of the way," to wear bright clothing, to be constantly on the lookout for more powerful cars and their drivers. It is "common sense" that we must prioritize the free-flow of traffic, and manage for that flow around the effects of "pedestrian impedance."

It wasn't always this way, and this mid-century philosophy of autoism, we never tire of saying here, is something new, something culturally constructed, and not common sense at all.

100 years ago, common sense suggested that speed demons and autoists were trying to take over the roads.

July 5th, 1917:
About Speed Maniacs

Last Tuesday night a speed demon claimed another victim when Willie Ector was crushed beneath the wheels of a huge car driven by some speed crazed man - man is hardly the word - because had he been a man he would at least have stopped to learn whether or not his victim was killed, and to render assistance, instead of which he rode on leaving him maimed and bruised and he now lies in a hospital with small chance to live. This happened a few rods from my home.

Where are the laws of our state that these things are allowed to continue? The road north, called the river road is a very popular one for autoists and hundreds of them pass daily. Living on this road I have excellent opportunity to see the reckless driving and-speeding out here. Drivers are not content to drive decently but some of them race and those who don't happen to race drive all the way from twenty to fifty miles an hour. About one out of a dozen drives at a safe speed. If we don't need a traffic officer I don't know where one is needed, and the people of this district appeal to Sheriff Needham to protect us from these demons who think no one has a right to the road but an autoist.

Mrs. Pearl Cooper.
For an academic study of this, see Peter Norton's book Fighting Traffic:
Motorists arrived in American city streets as intruders, and had to fight to win a rightful place there. They and their allies fought their battles in legislatures, courtrooms, newspapers’ editorial pages, engineering offices, school classrooms, and the streets themselves. Motorists who ventured into city streets in the first quarter of the twentieth century were expected to conform to the street as it was: a place chiefly for pedestrians, horse-drawn vehicles, and streetcars. But in the 1920s, motorists threw off such constraints and fought for a new kind of city street—a place chiefly for motor vehicles. With their success came a new kind of city—a city that conforms to the needs of motorists. Though most city families still did not own a car, manufacturers were confident they could make room for motor traffic in cities. The car had already cleaned up its once bloody reputation in cities, less by killing fewer people than by enlisting others to share the responsibility for the carnage.
And previously here:

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

New Transportation Bill Includes Seismic Retrofit of Center St Bridge

A negotiated package of amendments to the proposed omnibus State transportation bill were released last week. Supposedly the votes are there for it to pass, although it has encountered some static from those who want to leverage their vote for other big legislation. (Update: It's passed both the House and Senate and is onto the Governor.)

Among transportation groups, the Street Trust is really plugging it for "record funding for cycling, walking, and public transit." Locally, it is also significant for an earmark on the Center Street Bridge.

A decade of support, via Street Trust
Transit dominates the non-auto numbers and seemingly the headlines.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Driver Struck and Killed Teenager on South Commercial Yesterday Afternoon

Late yesterday afternoon, a person driving south on Commercial Street struck and killed a teenager trying to cross Commercial in an area with very few signalized crossings.

From Salem PD:
Salem Police are on the scene of a serious injury crash involving a motor vehicle and a pedestrian on Commercial St SE near Royvonne Ave SE.

The investigation is currently underway, and the southbound lanes of Commercial St are closed from Keglers Ln SE to Boone Rd SE. Please avoid the area if possible. If you must travel south on Commercial, traffic is being detoured southbound on Sunnyside Rd SE, then back to Commercial St on Kuebler Blvd.

No further information on the crash is available at this time. Further information will be released as it becomes available.
Police investigate crash near Royvonne and Commercial SE
Shatamera Pruden later died from her injuries (Photo: Salem PD)
And late last night, the update with the saddest news:
Salem Police Officers were dispatched to Commercial St SE and Royvonne Ave SE at 5:55 pm this afternoon on a report of a vehicle/pedestrian crash.

Officers arrived to find that 14-year old Shatamera Pruden had been struck by a southbound vehicle as she was crossing the street. She was transported to Salem Health where she later died of her injuries.

The investigation has shown that Shatamera had been crossing Commercial St in an westerly direction when she was struck by a southbound FJ Cruiser. Shatamera had been crossing north of the intersection of Commercial St and Royvonne in an area without a crosswalk. The driver of the vehicle, 31-year old Zane Hilton, was not injured and remained at the scene and cooperated with the investigation.

There have been no arrests or citations and the investigation is continuing.
The area is near Winco, Goodwill, a pet store, and a bottle redemption center. Signalized crosswalks are not frequent here. There are also many ambiguous intersections where driveways look like a street but may not meet the legal definition of an unmarked crosswalk. The nearest signalized crosswalk north is at Kegler, and the nearest one south is at Kuebler, nearly a half-mile apart - so at the mid-point, that's nearly five minutes of walking on Commercial to reach a crosswalk with paint and a signal. This profoundly disadvantages people on foot.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Article on Downtown Restaurant Mixes Parking and DUI Strangely

In the paper yesterday there was an announcement about a new restaurant going into the space formerly occupied by McGrath's and Urban Alley. As what is probably a rewrite of a press release, it is not very remarkable.

But at the center of it is a very interesting incoherence.

It wouldn't do to make too much of this, but there's a semantic slide or elision of difference between parking and impaired driving in the piece. In the way it casually conflates the two, it actually opens up a lot of the nonsense in our attitudes about driving and the system of subsidy for it.

Is parking or impaired driving the number one concern?
From the piece, with quotes from a "written statement":
While deciding to move to the downtown location, Kunke chatted with his customers for feedback. Because many of his regulars live in South Salem, car trouble came up again and again.

"The number one biggest concern was parking downtown," Kunke said. "We serve high-end cocktails and have a sophisticated wine selection. I want to make sure our guests get home safe afterward. ... There's nothing worse than driving in circles looking for a parking spot."

Kunke plans to combat the parking problem with two alternatives: Valet service and driver service. Rudy's staff will make Uber reservations for diners, with the cost of travel added to the final dinner bill. Schedule a pickup while making your dinner reservation, and a car will arrive at your home 15 minutes before. After dinner (or a few cocktails), a car will take you home.
So was the number once concern about drunk driving? Or was it about finding a parking spot in the giant parking structure immediately above your restaurant - which makes it totally unnecessary to "drive in circles looking for a parking spot"? What is the real nature of this "car trouble"? The phrase usually means mechanical trouble, the kind of thing that requires a trip to see the mechanic. But it does not meant that here. Instead it means difficulties in driving safely and legally, and perceived difficulties in arranging temporary car storage.

How is "driving in circles looking for a parking spot" an issue?

Friday, June 30, 2017

A Century Before the Arta-Potty, a Comfort Station at the Court House

A few years back over at the Woolen Mill's blog there was some talk about the mystery of subterranean public restrooms at the corner of State and High. It was not clear how long they were there and when they were built.

It turns out, they're from almost exactly a century ago! They were bid out and constructed in the summer and then fall of 1917.

Public Restrooms on State and High:
the "kiosk" and iron railings around the stairs are clearly visible
Memorial Day parade, 1941 (Salem Library Historic Photos)
And they were apparently designed by George Post, who also was responsible for many of Salem's now-historic buildings, including our Carnegie Library, one of the Whitlock's buildings, McKinley School, and the McGilchrist building (more here and here.)

June 28th, 1917
From the paper on June 28th, 1917:
Plans have been completed for the comfort station to be erected jointly by the city and county on the southwest corner of the court house lawn, and in a recent interview, George M. Post, the architect, gave the salient features of the building. The station will be entirely underground, with only the stair way railings and the Kiosk visible.

There will be two rest rooms, one for the women, 14 by 18 feet in size, and one for the men 9 by 13 feet. The women's side of the station will be on High street, and the [...] room with the lavitory will extend 51 feet north and south. The State street side, where the men's waiting room and lavitory are situated, is 43 feet long. A drinking fountain will be a feature of each rest room.

Entrance will be gained by means of two stairways, one on High and the other on State street. These will have an iron railing around, to prevent accidents. Tho entire structure will be of re-inforced concrete. Sidewalk lights will help to dispell the gloom on sunny days, and a system of electric lighting will assist at all times. The plumbing will be of a sanitary type.

The heating and ventilating features are especially unique, as the rooms will be heated by a system of gas radiators. Hot water will be supplied by a Rudd automatic gas water heater. The clear height of the rooms will be 8 1-2 feet. The ventilating feature will perhaps be the most interesting feature of the building, including as it does the kiosk, an octagonal shaft 15 feet in height, of re-enforced concrete, rising on the very corner of the lawn. This shaft is hollow, and the foul air is forced up this, and out at the top. Fresh air enters through openings on the stairways, and after passing through the rest rooms is drawn into tho lavitories by an electric fan situated at the base of the kiosk. From the lavitories it passes through air ducts into a utility passage where it comes into the fan duct and is thrown out.

The Kiosk will be an ornament of very artistic design, and will be finished in white cement. Four lamps, of the bracket design will quarter the shaft near the top. The building will be equipped with all modern conveniences and comforts
There was some wrangling at Council and the County over design, funding, and on-going maintenance, but in December they were finally finished.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Tell the Federal Highway Administration the SRC is more "de Maximus" than de Minimis

If you weren't scanning the obituaries in the paper or electronic facsimile today, you might not know about a new "comment opportunity" on the Salem River Crossing.
Based on an evaluation of Project impacts, the Federal Highway Administration is proposing Section 4(f) de minimis findings for the impacts described in this notice at Wallace Marine Park, Wallace Natural Area, and the Willamette River Water Trail. ODOT, on behalf of FHWA, is seeking comment on these proposed Section 4(f) de minimis findings.

This notice is seeking comments explicitly related to the proposed Section 4(f) de minimis findings described herein, not to issues related to any other aspects of the Salem River Crossing Project. Comments on the Project itself can be provided following the publication of the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS). FHWA expects to publish the FEIS for the Salem River Crossing Project near the end of 2017. The Record of Decision will address all comments received within 30 days of the publication of the FEIS. Comments received before July 12, 2017 in response to this notice that are not relevant to the Section 4(f) de minimis findings presented in this notice will not be considered as part of FHWA's Section 4(f) decision-making process.

FHWA will consider all Section 4(f) related comments on the proposed Section 4(f) de minimis findings prior to making a Section 4(f) decision for each of these three resources. Please provide written comments regarding the proposed Section 4(f) de minimis findings for Wallace Marine Park, Wallace Natural Area, and the Willamette River Water Trail no later than July 12, 2017 by contacting Anna Henson, ODOT Region Environmental Project Manager, via US post mail or email at: 100 Antelope Road, White City, Oregon 97503 OR Please contact Anna Henson at 541.774.6376 if you have any questions.

State Street Advisory Committee to look at Road Design and Land Use Memos

The State Street Corridor Study is back! This afternoon the 28th, the Advisory Committee meets to review a couple of memos, one evaluating three road designs and another evaluating zoning, land use, and redevelopment.

Alternative 2, Road Diet overview
You may remember concern that the project team is using the soon-to-be obsolete analytical framework of hydraulic autoism in their analysis. Note all the "flow" language here. From Chapter 3 of the road design memo:

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

City Council, June 26th - Part 2, a Little More on the CIP

Last night The Capital Improvement Plan for 2018-2022 was at Council. It is worthwhile to look at the totality of its transportation projects, but in the face of the gloriously, swelteringly sunny weekend, nothing seemed important enough to rush a post before Council was meeting. Crucially, there was no compelling reason to argue that the current one should be changed.

But there are reasons to think we might want to modify our approach for future ones. So the walk-through and comments here are aimed not so much at this one, but at procedures for the next one.

First off, as we argue and debate about the Salem River Crossing and the extent to which Autos First should be our priority, here's a place where the City should communicate more directly about the subsidies for driving. Most of the funding for road projects in the CIP does not come from car user fees, and instead represents transfers from things like home and property value. Locally, we don't fund very much road work at all by means of the gas tax, licensing and registration fees, or other fees directly associated with car use and driving. Other things and other activities instead support road work, and it would be helpful for the City to talk about this more. Drivers don't pay their way and therefore it is especially appropriate to talk about why and how much to subsidize driving.

Lots of property tax related funding here,
URA and SDC funding
A subset of that worth highlighting is the amount of road work funded by new or old development. Previously we had the $100 million road bond funded by property taxes. That's essentially done, and now we are tapping a lot of Urban Renewal Funds and various flavors of System Development Charges, including those at Salem Renewable Energy and Technology Center. (SRETP on the chart.)

The gas tax contribution is very small
About specific projects maybe there are only things to say on two of them.

The TIGER program is still included as the primary source of funding for the big McGilchrist Street rebuild, and this seems doubtful still. It remains a wish and very hypothetical source of funding, especially as the current administration does not seem much inclined to support TIGER and its aims.

The $200,000 for two-way conversation of State Street downtown seems impossibly small, and its project description far too brief.

How are Projects Distributed?

Instead let's take a look at the way the totality of the projects break down.  Here's a chart compiled off of the CIP project list.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

City Council, June 26th - Part 1, Bike Share

Back in December, Council approved a $749,000 Opportunity Grant for the Park Front Building, a project that was already in progress, had tenants lined up, and did not necessarily need the funding.

Capitol City Cycleshare using the Bend system
On Monday, Council will consider a $3,000 grant, about 0.5% of the Park Front subsidy, for six bike share stations in downtown.

Capitol City Cycleshare* says they have raised about half of the $80,000 they want right now, and leveraging a bit of City seed money could help finish things. (They are crowd-funding a $10,000 chunk as well.) The grant is intended to cover five years. So the investment then is $600 a year.

This gleaming chunk of sheetmetal cost $25,000+
Another comparison to make is our investment in public art. The first art pedestal with "The Cube" cost at least $25,000. I think it's an inert failure. Two murals are going up this summer. "Waldo Stewards" looks like a win, but "Mirror Maze" looks like a candidate to be a backdrop for more interesting graffiti. In the public art program we are spending much more per installation, and yet we tolerate some risk and some duds. Heck, we're even paying the Willamette Queen $250,000 a year for not contesting the Minto Bridge. By these standards a $3,000 investment in bike share is very paltry. (Should we just call bike share "public art" and fund it that way? It's certainly more interactive!)

Relative to an office building that was already a sure thing, to our new public art program, and to paying off the river boat, bike share is a far more worthy risk! In broad terms, this small investment should be a no-brainer.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Traffic Jam Anger Tempts with Wrong Solution

This week over on Facebook, a commenter linked to a recent Transportation Research Board meta-analysis, "Closing the Induced Vehicle Travel Gap Between Research and Practice."
Several studies have rigorously documented the induced travel effect, in which added highway capacity leads to added vehicle travel. Despite the evidence, transportation planning practice does not fully account for this phenomenon, with the result that estimates of the potential congestion-reducing benefits of added highway capacity may be overstated and estimates of potential environmental impacts understated. [italics added]
Here we are. "Despite the evidence..."

The bibliography, that list of evidence, is not slender:
Duranton, G., and M. Turner. The Fundamental Law of Road Congestion: Evidence from US Cities. American Economic Review, Vol. 101, No. 6, 2011, pp. 2616–2652.

Litman, T. Generated Traffic and Induced Travel: Implications for Transport Planning. ITE Journal, Vol. 71, No. 4, 2001, pp. 38–47.

Cervero, R. Road Expansion, Urban Growth, and Induced Travel: A Path Analysis. Journal of the American Planning Association, Vol. 69, No. 2, 2003, pp. 145–163.

Keenan, K. M. Highway to the Danger Zone: Utahns for Better Transportation v. United States Department of Transportation and Problems Associated with Highway Expansion. Villanova Environmental Law Journal, Vol. 16, No. 1, 2005, pp. 61–87.

Handy, S., and M. G. Boarnet. Impact of Highway Capacity and Induced Travel on Passenger Vehicle Use and Greenhouse Gas Emissions. Policy Brief. Air Resources Board, California Environmental Protection Agency, Sacramento, 2014.

Schiffer, R. G., M. W. Steinvorth, and R. T. Milam. Comparative Evaluations on the Elasticity of Travel Demand. Presented at 84th Annual Meeting of the Transportation Research Board, Washington, D.C., 2005.

Cervero, R. Are Induced-Travel Studies Inducing Bad Investments? Access, Transportation Research at the University of California. No. 22, Spring 2003, pp. 22–27.

Noland, R. B., and L. L. Lem. A Review of the Evidence for Induced Travel and Changes in Transportation and Environmental Policy in the US and the UK. Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment, Vol. 7, No. 1, 2002, pp. 1–26.

Naess, P. A., M. S. Nicolaisen, and A. Strand. Traffic Forecasts Ignoring Induced Demand: A Shaky Foundation for Cost-Benefit Analysis. European Journal of Transport and Infrastructure Research, Vol. 12, No. 3, 2012, pp. 291–309.

Hansen, M., and Y. Huang. Road Supply and Traffic in California Urban Areas. Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Vol. 31, No. 3, 1997, pp. 205–218.
You may remember this post from 2011 about one of the principal works, maybe the principal work, the one at the very top of the bibliography.

The American Economic Review publishes peer-reviewed papers and is one of the most highly regarded economics journals. It's no publisher of hippie bike kumbaya. It comes at the question from a professional discipline other than traffic engineering and planning. It's a purveyor of cool dollars-and-cents analysis.

Two University of Toronto economists found evidence for induced demand (an effect that had sometimes seemed more anecdotal - or skeptics insisted it was anecdotal as a way to dismiss the effect - than statistically verified) and that we had plenty of roads. As economists, if they thought that road expansion was economically useful, they would say so!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Equivocating on the word Implement: Our Double-Standard

One of the things that has been striking about national politics is how important norms and institutional culture have proven to be in the interpretation of what otherwise had seemed to be unambiguous traditions and laws, even with regard to the Constitution.

Here, it has been striking how our norms in favor of autoism allow us routinely to ignore what otherwise would be the plain meaning of policy to curb that autoism.

A few nights ago N3B and others reported that the West Salem Neighborhood Association voted 302 to 49 to support a new resolution in favor of the Salem River Crossing.

This should not be surprising. For even if tolls are unpopular, tolling is a second-order assessment of the Third Bridge, and the first order assessment "golly, I hate being stuck in traffic and we really need a new bridge" is widely popular. Hydraulic autoism is not merely the engineering and planning paradigm, it is popular culture and norm. Even the City of Portland, with its bike culture, Trimet, and Climate Change Plan, is behind the Legislature's highway expansion projects.

Current norms enable flouting these
In that context, norms and even statutory interpretation flouting the plain English meaning of policies like "decrease reliance on the SOV" (single-occupant vehicle) and "implementation of transportation system and demand management measures, enhanced transit service, and provision for bicycle and pedestrian facilities shall be pursued as a first choice for accommodating travel demand and relieving congestion" have been banal and customary for a long time. We wink and nod at them, but make sure our actions are only token gestures, enough to give a legal fig leaf for compliance and give the illusion of actually doing something. Our efforts are at best piece-meal, and never systemic. Other mobility is dismissed as "not realistic."

Our prevailing interpretation is as if we wanted to "decrease reliance on eating meat" and primarily sought to accomplish this by adding extra parsley to decorate our plate of prime rib. Parsley! Green! We treat other mobility like garnishes on the main dish of autoism. We are not interested in doing the actual recipe development and cooking for tasty and satisfying meals that don't involve meat or have meat at the center, meals that would be appetizing to people who don't already identify as "vegetarian." (Marinated tofu only gets you so far.)

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

100 Years Ago: Debate over Curbside Parking

Here's a moment 100 years ago when public space we call a "street" was a still a multi-modal jumble and our current mode of temporary car storage, as well as its direct and indirect subsidy, had not yet become convention and norm. Public space was being contested, and one of the elements in that contest appears to be a might-makes-right take-over of curb-side space by autos and their owners.

Note the requirement for back-in parking, as well as the fact that there are still horses and carts being used. Though bikes have largely passed out of the news at this time, almost wholly surpassed by the scale of money and the number of technological advances in the car trade, they are still important transport for many.

June 20th, 1917
Level Headed Farmer Asks Pertinent Question - Have Bikes Any Rights?

Complaints have been made to Chief of Police Cooper about automobiles, when being parked, backing into bicycles standing at the curb. Who is to blame? he asks.
Back-in parking at the Reed Opera House,
a few years later in 1920s
(Salem Library Historic Photos)
The city ordinance, he points out, requires automobile owners to back their machines against the curbing when they wish to park them, and when they do that and strike a bicycle are they liable for damages?

The bicycle owner is prohibited by ordinance from leaning his bicycle against a building, so should his wheel not have the protection of the law when it is left standing at the curbing?

These are questions which are agitating the chief of police.

On the other hand a farmer, who has not advanced to the automobile class yet, asked Chief Cooper what would the police do if he came to town with his team and wagon before the automobiles had occupied all the available room along tho street, and backed his wagon to the curb, unhitched, and left his wagon standing there all day.

"I couldn't arrest him," said the chief, "but it might open the eyes of some of the automobile owners who leave their machines standing in front of business houses all day.

"Personally, I am in favor of passing on ordinance requiring the parking of automobiles in the middle of the street. That would leave room for farmers and others who have business at the stores to get in and out. I would also like to see an ordinance passed defining the rights of a man with a bicycle."
For context, Marion County had 2,873 and Polk County had 895 cars registered at the end of May 1917. Multnomah County had the bulk of them, and the statewide total was 38, 230.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Film about Walking to School Shows Tuesday, CANDO on Union and Commercial

September 2013
Tuesday night at Salem Cinema there's a screening of a film about walking to school. While it's a benefit for local Safe Routes to School programming, it might also be a way to open space for some conversation with skeptics about ways our car-centric development and mobility paradigm exacts other costs.

From the Press Release:
Marion County Health Department and Salem Cinema present a Reel Change For Our Community documentary screening of THE SLOW WAY HOME to benefit local biking and walking efforts in our region! The screening is being held in partnership with The Northwest Hub, Cherriots Trip Choice, OSU Extension Service, Salem Bicycle Club, Safe Routes To School and Oregon Department of Transportation.

Tuesday, June 20th at 7:30PM

All seats $12 in advance or $15 the day of the event
Tickets available now at the Salem Cinema box office or online at

About the Film: The way children travel to school structures daily life for families around the world-- but the means differs dramatically. In Japan 98 percent of children walk to school every day, unaccompanied by a parent. In the United States just 13 percent of children walk or bike to school, and most are driven to school by a parent. The Slow Way Home explores this divergence, examining how American families have largely given up on keeping our streets and public spaces safe enough for children, while Japanese communities have mobilized to keep their streets safe and walkable, not only for children but for everyone in society. Seen through both a historical and contemporary framing, The Slow Way Home is an uplifting examination of differences in culture that provides both insight into a distressing trend in American society and simultaneously offers hope for change.
You can view the trailer here (it can't be embedded).

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Change at WSNA on the SRC Likely

The West Salem Neighborhood Association meets on Monday night, and it looks like its meetings are going to become the most active public site of contest on the Salem River Crossing for the moment.

On the agenda for Monday are two directly related items:
  • Update on Marine Drive and next steps
  • Neighborhood Workgroup—Update/Revise/Align West Salem Neighborhood Plan starting with Traffic & Transportation
Other items touch on the SRC less directly:
  • Update on West Salem Business District Zoning Code Clean-Up Project
  • Update on the Over-Crossing Study (2nd Street)
Approximate attendance counts probably tell a story of an important shift in the works:

Friday, June 16, 2017

Then and Now: 15mph vs 60mph Head-on Collisions on Silverton Road

Today's news about the sentencing of a driver in a fatal crash on Silverton Road should remind us of the role of speed.

Here's a counter-example from a century ago. In large part because slow speeds were involved, everyone survived.
Autos Meet Head On
On Silverton Road
No Serious Injuries
June 15th, 1917
Blinded by the glare from their own headlights, two automobiles crashed together last night about 10 o'clock on the Salem-Silverton road just the other side of the state fair grounds with the result that Crystal Yates, daughter of Bert Yates, of this city, received cuts on the face from flying glass and others of the party were severely shaken up and bruised. The cars were badly shattered.

S. Krapps, of Salem, was driving his Maxwell home from Silverton and Peter Herr, of Silverton, was driving a Chevrolet toward Silverton when the accident occurred. It is stated that the cars were both going at a rate of from 12 to 15 miles an hour.

In the car with Peter Herr were Mrs. Elvin Herr, Mrs. George Cusiter, Crystal Yates and Mrs. Peter Herr. In the car with Mr. Krapps were Miss Ethel Jones, Miss Merle Tracy, teachers in the Salem high school, and Miss Marjorie Cave and Miss Esther Gremmels.

Crystal Yates was taken to the Willamette Sanatorium where her wounds were dressed by Dr. E. E. Fisher. Miss Cave was severely but not seriously shaken up.
In a much higher speed crash crash last year, everybody did not survive.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Belluschi Legacy in Danger: YWCA Building Deserves Attention

Just a periodic reminder that our stock of buildings designed by Oregon's leading modernist architect, Pietro Belluschi, and probably Oregon's greatest and most important architect period, is very seriously dwindling.

Front page today: Beginning the Demolition on
First National Bank (1947)

Medical Office on Center Street (1948)

Breitenbush Hall at the State Hospital (1950)
Entry in the HLC "This Place Matters" Contest
Here's the list of buildings recently standing and their status:

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

State Bike Committee to Focus Thursday on Salem; More on Legislature at SKATS

In addition to the talk at SCAN on Asahel Bush and the Salem Clique (that's a band name for sure!), there are a couple of other meetings this week. But really, they can't compete! Here's another blurb on the "Oregon Style":
The 1850s and 1860s were tumultuous decades for Oregon politics, with rival newspapers indulging in unrestrained attacks on their competitors and opponents. The most notorious practitioners of what became known as Oregon-style journalism were Asahel Bush of the Salem Statesman, Thomas Jefferson Dryer of the Portland Oregonian, and William Lysander Adams of the Oregon Argus (Oregon City). Bush, the “Ass of Hell” to his enemies, served the interests of the Democratic Party; Dryer spoke for the Whig/Republican Party; and Adams spoke for the fading Whigs.

In the midst of their incessant and noisome editorial invective, the three newspapers battled over many issues, including the location of the territorial and state capitals, political appointments, statehood, and slavery. In an age without libel laws and few restraints on journalist haranguing, Oregon newspapers indulged in a series of “take no prisoners” colloquies, with Bush indicting Dryer for engaging in “the grossest personal abuse, the most foul mouthed slander, grovelling, scurrility, falsehood and ribald blackguardism.” Such exchanges moderated in the 1870s with the adoption of a libel law and the formation of a state press association with a professional code of ethics.
What is both more entertaining and more relevant locally than this "incessant and noisome editorial invective" and "foulmouthed slander" at the moment of origin for our state and city? As much as we sometimes lament the intemperate tone of current debates and partisanship, they pale in the shadow of that past invective!

So hit up that SCAN meeting tomorrow night.

Oregon Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee

Back to more pedestrian matters, the official State advisory committee for walking and biking, OBPAC, has a two-day extravaganza scheduled for Salem on the 14th and 15th.

The agenda for Thursday
On day 2, Thursday the 15th, they'll have a special Salem focus, including a ride of the proposed Winter-Maple Family-friendly Bikeway route.

City of Salem Staff as well as Salem Bike Boulevard Advocates will talk as well.

Monday, June 12, 2017

In the Neighborhoods: Ass-a-Hell Bush and the Salem Clique!

Have you seen the newish signs at Bush Park?

One of the newish historical and interpretive signs at Bush Park
History's in the air.

This week at SCAN, Barbara Mahoney, author of the forthcoming The Salem Clique: Oregon’s Founding Brothers, and probably our greatest current expert on Asahel Bush, will talk about Bush and his political gang.

About the Clique, advance press for her book says,
Led by Asahel Bush, editor of the Oregon Statesman, the Salem Clique was accused of dictatorship, corruption, and the intention of imposing slavery on the Territory. The Clique, critics maintained, even conspired to establish a government separate from the United States, conceivably a “bigamous Mormon republic"....many historians have concluded that its members were vicious and unscrupulous men who were able, because of their command of the Democratic Party, to impose their hegemony on the Oregon Territory’s inhabitants.
Bush is the most significant influence on Salem, right? Who else has a greater claim to shaping the city and its culture? He's got to be it. Even though we might look to others during the pre-statehood settlement era, Bush's influence lasted through the second half of the 19th century and into the 20th. He scores major points on longevity.

But it's not an unambiguously positive influence, and we should be talking about it more! One of his nicknames was "Ass-a-Hell," after all.*

So this presentation could be an opportunity to learn more and to think more critically about the ways Bush was great for Salem - legacy things like Bush's Pasture Park - and maybe ways he and his legacy weren't so great.

South Central Association of Neighbors meets Wednesday, August June 14th at 6:30 p.m. in the Pringle Community Hall, 606 Church St SE.

* See Mahoney's Oregon Encyclopedia article and her "Asahel Bush, Slavery, and the Statehood Debate," in Oregon Historical Quarterly for more. The Oregonian just published a review of the book, though it's more of an overview and summary than a critical appraisal.

First Draft of Lansing-NESCA Plan at Tuesday Open House

The first complete draft of the Lansing-NESCA Neighborhood Plan is out, and they'll be having an Open House on it tomorrow the 13th.

Draft Lansing-NESCA Plan
The first thing that comes to mind, though, is Why? Why do we write them?

The introduction says in part:
This Plan is intended to be used by all those who have interest in the character, livability and future development of NESCA and Lansing, including local officials, neighborhood and community groups, developers, property owners, public agencies and others. Specifically, the Plan will serve as a basis for NESCA and Lansing’s recommendations to any City board, commission or agency. Likewise, City boards, commissions and agencies will consider this neighborhood plan when making decisions or recommendations that would affect the neighborhoods. The City Council may also consider this neighborhood plan before making any final decision about the acquisition, construction or improvement of public facilities in the two neighborhoods....

Goals and policies contained in this Plan are consistent with the Comprehensive Plan and statewide land use planning goals. They, along with the goals, shall be the basis for NESCA and Lansing’s recommendations to any City board, commission or agency. Likewise, they shall be considered by City boards, commissions and agency staff in making any decision or recommendation which would affect the neighborhoods of NESCA and Lansing....

Recommended actions are adopted as support documents to the Comprehensive Plan and serve as policy guides. They are not consistent with the Comprehensive Plan. The listing of recommended actions in this Plan does not obligate the City to accomplish them. The City, property owners and applicants for development, however, are encouraged to consider and incorporate recommended actions into projects in or adjacent to NESCA and Lansing. Some recommended actions call for changes citywide.
All of the language here is couched in advisory terms: "recommendations," "consider," "may consider," "encouraged to consider." "The listing of recommended actions in this Plan does not obligate the City to accomplish them."

There is nothing binding or very strong in all this.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

City Council, June 12th - Parks and ADUs

Council meets on Monday, and mostly they look to be things to note in passing.

Maybe the most interesting thing is news on parks.

Proposed park parcel at the State Hospital Site
in magenta (serifed comments added)
After quite a bit of discussion and negotiation, the City looks to finalize the swap with the School District on some ambiguous park lots on school sites as well as arrange for the purchase of the northwest corner of the North Campus at the State Hospital for a park. Unless somebody comes up with a real shocker, it seems like these have been fully vetted now. It's nice to see the resolution.

Accessory Dwelling Units

There's a Public Hearing on granny flats and other Accessory Dwelling Units. Over on Facebook folks linked to a study of ADUs and parking, and found that ADUs did not create parking problems on neighborhood streets. The site collects other data, studies, and observations about ADUs and looks like a good resource! As others have pointed out several times, ADUs by themselves will not create a large new supply of housing. But as a very gentle, incremental action, they are useful and should be embraced.

There is some resistance to this on other grounds also. One neighborhood in the older streetcar era grid, and interested in exuding them from our historic districts, writes in formal comment,
If the intent is to encourage ADUs as a housing choice, they should be allowed only in new residential developments where all buyers know what they are buying into.
But this is ahistorical nonsense.

245 15th NE (Ashby Coach House of 1892) - via Zillow and MLS
The Clara Patterson Durbin House at 245 15th Street NE smack dab in the Court-Chemeketa Historic District is a "garage conversion"! About it the District Nomination says:

Friday, June 9, 2017

Autoism Frames the Problem at Scott Elementary the Wrong Way

Ian Lockwood

It was great to see multiple discussions of the problem of safety for kids walking to and from school. Since it involves multiple cities, the school district, cherriots, and even the State of Oregon, effective solutions require coordination by multiple agencies.

At the same time, because we are so hung up on our autoist monoculture of driving as the mobility solution of first and only resort, and on allocating dollars for auto capacity expansion at the great expense of other forms of mobility and of safety, we land on feeble conclusions like "there is no funding available."

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Places for Bikes Network Analysis Shows Salem in a Bad Place

Places for Bikes (formerly People for Bikes) just rolled out their Bike Network Analysis, and even the Platinum don't always do very well!

This is something of a competing rating for the League of American Bicyclists Bicycle-Friendly Community assessment. As I understand it, a major industry funder of advocacy, Trek Bicycles, pulled funding from the LAB and instead allocated it to Places for Bikes. So there are industry politics in play here also. Finally, obviously it is a work in progress, a first iteration, and will certainly grow and be modified. There will be useful criticisms of it and refinements for it.

Still, the analysis is very interesting. And as it competes with, or is complementary to, the LAB's rating, it could shed light on important new factors in making for inviting and comfortable city bicycling.

Here's a brief note on method:
The Bike Network Analysis (BNA) score is an evolving project to measure how well bike networks connect people with the places they want to go. Because most people are interested in biking only when it's a low-stress option, our maps recognize only low-stress biking connections.

We compute the score over four steps: data collection, traffic stress, destination access, and score aggregation
So things to note about it:
  1. Focus is on inviting future or infrequent bicyclists, not serving those who are confident and already bike regularly. Historically the LAB has had a bias for "vehicular cycling," a philosophy that bike should act like cars and be in the regular flow of traffic with cars. This approach skews towards confident men and has shown to be of very limited appeal.
  2. Land use, short trips, and meaningful adjacencies count. Can you run your errands and commute easily by bike?
Because Salem's network is almost totally through bike lanes on busy streets, and we lack a low-stress network, we score very poorly. But so does Eugene, and Portland's low-stress network isn't as big as you might expect.