|Consensus on zoning, but not on the street|
- Preferred alternative should focus on excluding low-income, transient populations and ensuring a better class of shoppers, tenants, and homeowners
On more substantive details, let's talk about the street first. The summary notes "there does not appear to be broad consensus on the preferred street design alternative, the Hybrid alternative...many meeting participants prefer the Road Diet alternative."
Recently a report out of Austin on road diets has been making the rounds again, and it might have some useful data - though of course the opposition to road diets might be more affective than fact-based. The report is careful to say "right-sizing" not "road diet," it is worth noting.
As demonstrated by local data, right-sizings in the City of Austin have resulted in improved safety for all users with minimal or no impact to motor vehicle level of service.This is consistent with the Federal Highway Administration "myth buster" on road diets.
There's nothing outrageous or anything in them, but they do seem a little biased. The main frame seems to be how to handle the bogeyman of cut-through traffic and traffic diversion rather than looking at how to improve the street for all users and owners.
The boards at the Open House presented the three main options for reconfiguring the street. The "improved" four-lane version seems unlikely to move forward, so that doesn't seem worth a comment. Few people like it.
The other two were listed in order of preference: The "Road Diet," and then the preferred "Hybrid."
|Road Diet: Pros and Cons|
|Hybrid: Pros and Cons|
That seems like it rather deliberately stokes and plays to NIMBY fears of cut-through traffic! Of all the things they could really underscore, this is the one thing? That really seems like a leading question.
On the Hybrid option, "partial bike lanes" hides the fact that this proposal completes no gaps; instead, it maintains gaps in the system. It calls this a "toss-up," when it should be labeled instead negative - it fails to fix the problem of connectivity.
Even worse, it blithely labels a negative the "potential safety issues when bike lanes end." As if that was just something to note in passing, a minor detail.
When the bike lanes end.
How is it we are still in a place where it's acceptable to rebuild a major street without complete bike lanes?
So here we have a clear statement of City priorities.
Why is the City not pushing back against sentiments like these in favor of bicycle displacement systems:
- Pedestrians and cars are more important than bicycles, which can ride on sidewalks
- Why make State Street a bike area when it is much safer to bike on Chemeketa Street? Any bicyclist would prefer to bike on a residential street over a business street, and then the sidewalks on State Street could be wider
Historically, North American cities have placed their bike routes on side streets rather than main streets, forcing a problematic choice between comfort and convenience. This places an unintended emphasis on longer, faster commutes to work; when – with cycle tracks on corridors people want to visit – many more could be convinced to make the slow, short jaunt to the supermarket, cafe, or doctor’s office. In The Netherlands, cycling acts as an extension of walking rather than driving, with the vast majority of bike trips less than two miles or 20 minutes.For people biking, the value of State Street isn't just that it is a direct route to downtown from east Salem. It is that, but we also hope it will be redeveloped with mixed uses and ground floor businesses that people in NEN and SENSA will want to visit on foot and on bike instead of getting into a car.
For auto traffic, the idea shouldn't be that a road redesign will shift car traffic from one route to another, as if it were a fixed quantity of fluid that needed to empty out somehow, but that a good redesign will induce shifts from short drive-alone trips to walking, biking, and busing trips.
A good redesign creates substitutes, and doesn't merely shuffle things around.
The point of all this should be to reduce total auto traffic - to make it easier not to drive, especially for short trips.
The project still seems hampered by 20th century mobility standards and is not sufficiently forward thinking.
Land Use and Zoning
|Pioneer Trust Bank: Mid-rise perfectly scaled here|
- Height from 12th to 17th Street is too high and would be detrimental to the historic district; owe it to one of the nicest neighborhoods in town to lower the height to a maximum of four stories
- Too high even with setbacks; protect our historic district; three stories is enough
- Two new mixed-use zones should only allow up to three to four stories; need to protect the historic district
|1:2 and 1:3 building-to-street enclosure ratios|
(Institute of Transportation Engineers)
|Preferred Land Use Option, Memo# 6|
The meeting summary is rather open-ended and indecisive, lacking a ringing conclusion or momentum for the proverbial "next steps." So it will be interesting to see what in fact are the next steps for the project.
(For all notes on the State Street Study see here. Previous notes on the Open House materials and recommendations here and here.)