Friday, September 15, 2017

Bike commuting Flat in 2016

There are some new census numbers on commuting coming out, and in our era of cheap gas, they are not good.

At 1.3%, Salem's at the top of p.2
Several cities actually show declines. As far as I can tell, Salem's rate remains unchanged, fluttering historically around that 1% to 1.5% level, within the error bars for any assessment.

For bigger cities there is more hand-wringing:
Here the lesson surely is that if we want to see fewer drive-alone trips, we are going to have to dig in more and make more of an effort. Mostly we're adding doilies and trinkets and bikey bric-a-brac on the margins, not making determined structural and systemic efforts to make walking, biking, and busing more convenient and more attractive and less costly than drive-alone trips, especially for short trips.

Our Metropolitan Planning Organization has said
The SKATS MPO -- along with our local jurisdictions and ODOT -- invests in a balance of travel modes: auto, transit, bicycle and pedestrian projects.
And 1.3% is the resulting "balance."

That's not balance. That's tokenism.

Our Comprehensive Plan clearly says a goal is to "decrease reliance on the SOV."
The City could embrace these standards more passionately
The measures we take supposedly to enact this are very half-hearted and don't do anything to disturb the supremacy and attractiveness of drive-alone trips. We act in fact as if there is some ambiguity about what it means to "decrease reliance on the SOV."

On "implementing alternatives" from LUBA
This is not a fanciful complaint. LUBA has said that the legal standard for "alternatives" to widening and road expansion is "you don't have to try very hard": "not as absolute as petitioners argue." This careless and dilatory approach is formalized in our legal standards. We have undercut our goals with a very weak set "benchmarks," emptying out the policy to a hollow shell.

Adopted benchmarks - Comprehensive Plan
If we actually view the primary purpose of a transportation system to facilitate and subsidize hydraulic autoism, to prioritize drive-alone trips and the free-flow of auto traffic, let's ditch this greenwash and garnish about the "decreasing reliance on the SOV."

If we actually want a transportation system based on current demand only, let's acknowledge that demand for biking is still a rounding error to zero, that demand for drive-alone trips swamps everything, and that we cannot reduce reliance on the SOV.

If we want to dig in on 20th century standards and models, let's clearly state it's "highways for everybody" and the "Salem River Crossing now."

Let's be clear that we are not actually interested in making walking, biking, and busing attractive and comfortable, a realistic enough option that large numbers of citizens actually make the choice, relish the choice. Let's stop with the doilies, the garnishes, the tokens.

If on the other hand we want a city in which people actually have freedom to make real choices about the ways we move around, if we want a city that actually contributes to a reduction in the greenhouse gas burden on the world, then what we are currently doing isn't "balanced" and it's not working.

It's not what we say, it's what we do.


Here's what I think is an apples-to-apples comparison from census data, excerpted from the 2007 SKATS Regional Transportation System Plan:

We should have seen more growth by now
A Second Postscript

Here is data from the ACS, and it doesn't exactly line up with the report from People for Bikes. There is broad agreement, but not exact. (I'm not sure this is very important, however.) In general it shows a lack of meaningful growth for bike commuting. That's the important thing to note.

Here's a clip from the ACS

The historic ACS rates are clustered
around the margin of error

Here's the data itself

1 comment:

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Postscripts - Added a few more charts!