Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Bike Tax, Scorching at Minto, Lyons Retirement - Newsbits

You probably already know about the proposed expansion for the $15 bicycle excise tax. The Department of Revenue wants to "simplify" collection, and others see the need to correct the errant miscategorization of battery-assist ebikes. There are a few other elements that might seem to need a "fix."

Funny that it was front page news
BikePortland has a more focused story on it. They report there's a formal Work Session on it today at 5:30pm, in Hearing Room D.

(I haven't spent much time on it because while it is a very dumb tax, it is a small tax and not a catastrophic tax. It has seemed like there were much more important focuses for criticism, advocacy, and protest. Our bike shops, too, have mostly rolled with it. If they aren't fussing, maybe it's not such a big deal.)

Scorching at Minto Park

The January/February newsletter of the Salem Bicycle Club has a bit on the problem of scorching in Riverfront and Minto parks. Back in October at a club meeting, City staff talked a little about it. "The biggest cyclists going too fast." When I am on foot, that's certainly my experience. That's not to say that dog-walkers with too-long leashes or groups spread out all across the paths might not be annoying, but people on foot should the primary users, have the primary claim, and when we are on bike the rest of us should accommodate them, not the other way around.

(from the January/February Spokes)
New-ish "Pass with Care" signs all around Minto Park
Over the winter the City's installed new "Pass with Care" signs throughout the path system.

(More on the history of scorching here. It is unfortunately something of a perennial problem with people biking!)

Sheila Lyons

Sheila Lyons, manager of the Bicycle and Pedestrian program at ODOT, is retiring today.

So a tip of the cap and clink of pint to Lyons! She took over in 2007 from Michael Ronkin, and now it's time for another transition.

Sheila Lyons (L) talks with Rep. Susanne Bonamici in 2012
(read more about the trip to Washington, DC at BikePortland)
That's got to be a tough job in the ODOT structure, though. You might remember the creation back in 2011 of a new "Active Transportation Section" in ODOT. More recently, ODOT hired a bunch of "Active Transportation Liasons" for each region, including ours.

But from the outside, from here I see an agency moving at a glacial pace. I don't yet see a real commitment to Active Transportation as a central and fundamental form of mobility. I see an agency still in thrall to autoism and autoist levels of service, still captured by the auto-industrial complex. An agency whose priorities are still for highways, for widening, and for auto capacity. Change happens, but it is incremental, and not up to actual scale and urgency of problems like death on the roadways, public health, return on investment, and carbon pollution.

In the context of ODOT's continued insistence on removing bike lanes on 26th at Powell Boulevard, a Portland traffic engineer recently commented that he had not seen much evidence of any generational shift at ODOT:

via Twitter
More exactly, he lamented that the agency culture and inertia was so massive that it overwrote and powered over any impetus for reform.

In that context, it is not possible to ask one person to be responsible for change. (Except maybe at the top. We probably need a new agency director. A new director and multiple changes in management just below them might finally do the trick.)

So it will be great to see who the next person in that position managing things for walking and biking, but their power and influence will likely remain circumscribed.

Local Government Promo at Willamette

PBOT Director at Willamette talking about Vision Zero
via Twitter
Earlier this month at a career fair for Local Government jobs at Willamette, Portland Director of PBOT Leah Treat came to town and talked about Vision Zero.

By itself that might not be so interesting, but according to advance news about it, City of Salem staff were also at the event.

via Twitter
So what kind of cross-pollination happens at these things? Was there any chance for the Mayor and City Manager to learn more about Vision Zero? Do these things ever get leveraged for city-to-city transmission of ideas?

In the big scheme of things, of course, this is not at all important. But it's a small and interesting thing to note.

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