Sunday, May 14, 2017

In the Neighborhoods: Bike Share and Art Downtown, Lead in West Salem

Lead abatement in West Salem and updates on Bike Share and Public Art in Downtown are at the neighborhood associations this week.


On the agenda for the downtown neighborhood association on Tuesday the 16th are a couple of interesting items:
[3] Presentations
  • Proposed Murals under consideration by Salem Art Commission, Courtney Knox-Busch;
  • Capitol City Cycleshare, Evan Osborne;
The Murals

You may recall that two downtown murals are proposed and in process.

Penny's Plaza and the alleyway is charmless and desolate
The Downtown Advisory Board and Public Art Commission have proposed two murals on the alley between Liberty and Commercial on Chemeketa Street. One would be on the north side of the elevator shaft in the plaza between the Parkade and Penney's, the other behind the former Urban Alley Restaurant.

The last public information is from December, and the project might have evolved since then, so it will be nice to get an update. The Public Art Commission was in process of vetting artists, and one or more may have been selected.

Bike Share

The prospect for bike share here has not seemed altogether certain or clear. In theory it sounds great, but it has seemed like the actual, practical details of a sustainable business enterprise, even as a non-profit, remained difficult here. It has seemed more ornamental than functional.

Capitol City Cycleshare has posted a note about an expansion in the Corvallis system, which has seemed to be the primary model. Here's a bit from the OSU press release on the expansion:
Oregon State University (OSU), in partnership with the Oregon Cascades West Council of Governments (OCWCOG), will be bringing the Pedal Corvallis bikeshare program to campus, by installing two bikeshare stations and locating eight bikes in late April. The stations will be located on Jefferson Avenue near the Kerr Administration Building, and on Monroe Avenue at Weniger Hall, thanks to sponsorship from OSU Transportation Services and the OSU Sustainability Office....

The OSU stations are the first expansion of Pedal Corvallis since the system was launched last June. A total of 221 Corvallis residents and visitors have taken over 1,200 bikeshare trips so far. Pedal Corvallis, in partnership with local Medicaid provider InterCommunity Health Network Coordinated Care Organization (INH-CCO), is a pilot bikeshare program of OCWCOG. All bike and station maintenance is performed by Zagster, a bikeshare vendor with operations throughout the U.S.
The system relies on subsidy from the Council of Governments and health care providers. In raw numbers, 221 riders seems small, still a rounding error in the total transportation mix. But it will be interesting to see if the stations on campus boost ridership to another level.

At BikePortland, in "Beyond vandalism, Biketown faces ridership test ahead of summer season," Michael Andersen had a detailed look at Portland's system, and worried about its future.
Portland’s bike sharing system could have a bumpy road ahead even if political vandals decide to leave it be.

Biketown launched nine months ago next week with 1000 bikes and 100 stations. Thanks to title sponsorship from Nike, it was one of the country’s largest bike-share launches — double the station and bike count of Seattle’s Pronto system when it launched in 2014.

Pronto, which like Biketown was operated by New York-based Motivate Inc., turned into the country’s highest-profile bike-share failure to date. Plagued by low ridership and a series of financial missteps and miscommunications, it shut down at the end of last month.

And though Portland’s Biketown is a very different system with a different price structure, its annual membership numbers for year one are on a very similar trajectory to Pronto’s.

In Pronto’s month nine, June 2015, that system had 2,878 annual members. As of Monday, the city says, Biketown has 2,837.

Washington D.C.’s Capital Bikeshare, by contrast, had almost 16,000 annual members by the end of its first year, in 2010.

But it’s not time for Biketown’s fans to panic. Though the system faces challenges and definitely couldn’t be described as a roaring success, it also has an unusual amount of time to pick up its growth pace — and some clear steps that might help it do so.
The piece is worth reading in full. Even though it discusses systems for big cities, at least two orders of magnitude larger than what we might have here, many of the problems and challenges are cognate. One of the obvious ones here is that we lack a system of protected bike lanes that would attract new riders. If a big part of bike share is aimed at people who don't already consider themselves "cyclists," there is virtually no support structure here on the roads. Downtown, where it would be logical to have stations, is totally inhospitable still.

Another interesting recent piece of news is a preliminary finding that New York's bike share has contributed to about a 2% decline in transit. So, much as ride-booking has eaten into transit, so has bike share in a smaller way. Bikes and buses, though, are both more sustainable than the quasi-taxi services, and should complement each other. So that finding is not so much a criticism of bike share as a pointer to further refinement. Still, it is something to watch.


Last month CANDO also got an update on the downtown streetscape project for which $3 million has been budgeted:
The neighborhood then heard a presentation by Kristin Retherford, Urban Development Department Director, on projects in the Downtown Urban Renewal Area and the priority areas identified last fall through a series of focus groups (a three-way tie between: streets and streetscape improvements, opportunity purchases and housing [which might dovetail with future opportunity purchases], and continued funding of the grant program).

A working group on the streets and streetscapes was formed this spring. The scope of work will be completed in June, and a consultant should come on board in the fall. At that point, the public will be invited to participate in the design phase, and funds should come available in 2018. She said the project might involve traffic calming/safety measures (e.g. bulb-outs, landscaping, depending on whether the public are willing to forego some street parking) and making Court and/or State Streets two-way, but will not involve any thing that requires changes to the Transportation System Plan.
CAN-DO meets Tuesday the 16th, at 6:00 p.m. at First Christian Church on 685 Marion Street NE.

West Salem

If you live in West Salem, you probably already know about Monday's update on the Lead Abatement for the Patterson Street building. The Department of Environmental Quality, Oregon Health Authority, and Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration will be there.

The West Salem Neighborhood Association meets Monday the 15th at 7:00 P.M. in Roth’s West, Mezzanine (1130 Wallace Rd NW).

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