Friday, March 16, 2018

Active Transportation Summit, School Bond Measure - Newsbits

For a variety of reasons, the City of Salem hasn't had much of a presence at the annual Active Transportation Summits. Summit organizers usually have had a strong focus on Portland and its metro area, even when the summit took place in other cities, and the City of Salem itself has not been as committed to walking and biking as it might. There might be other reasons as well, and it's not important to try to identify them all.

Julie Warncke (center) on Panel at Active Transportation Summit
yesterday, via Twitter

This year, in addition to Salem-based ODOT and other State staffers who regularly attend, the City's own Julie Warncke was attending and sat on a panel discussion about funding.
Show Me The Money: Funding Walking and Biking Improvements

Panel: Wendy Johnson, League of Oregon Cities; Susan Peithman, Oregon Department of Transportation; Julie Warncke, City of Salem; Evan Manvel, Oregon Transportation and Growth Management Program

All too often, community visions for a better place to walk and bike get stuck behind a mantra: there’s no money. This shouldn’t end the conversation. There are over 30 sources of money, from the federal government to local measures, private foundations to ODOT funds.

This session features three people with experience finding funds to get things built. After panelists provide an overview of funds and experience of looking for funds at both the local and state/federal level, they will take questions. Attendees will be provided dot votes to choose the top five of the 30 sources to pursue in their community. The session will conclude with panelists providing suggestions on how best to get funds from those five sources.
It's true, the City has been pretty good about winning grants! Once the City puts together a project and works seriously on it, it has a very good rate of success.

The main problem in the last decade as been that the City hasn't pursued a greater proportion of walking and biking projects or gone after more ambitious ones, and has preferred instead to continue working on the SRC and to do major widening on Wallace, Kuebler and other big auto capacity projects.

It would be great if this new interest in the Active Transportation Summit represented a course-correction at the City.

So let's see more walking, biking, and busing projects, and fewer auto capacity projects!

School Bond

The District bond measure proposes to demolish Leslie pool
and to pave over it for more car parking (24J bond measure sheet)
Over on Facebook, there's a note about the prospect of demolishing the old Leslie Junior High School (also, see previous note here).

Included in the latest published concept plan is provision to demolish the old swimming pool and to replace it with car parking.

The development of the bond's projects isn't something we've followed here, and so now that the proposal is finally baked, it was interesting to see where else the District was proposing to add parking. (All the summary sheets are here)

The list isn't that long:
  • Hallman Elementary - more parking, reconfigured drop-off lanes
  • McNary HS - Parking expansion/new drop-off lane
  • South Salem HS - Parking expansion
But it's also interesting that even as the State is making rules for administering the new Safe Routes to School funding, the District appears to be making no effort to improve walking and biking on school grounds. There's no apparent intent to make sure efforts dovetail or are mutually leveraging.

(Meeting presentation and draft OAR)
No improvements for covered bike parking, bus shelters, or new sidewalks are called out in the bond materials. It's possible they are in the fine print and just aren't noteworthy in the summaries - but this seems unlikely.

HS Students should
walk, bike, or bus!
(Salem Weekly)
Mostly the project lists read like capitulation to driving.Whether it's the parental drop-off line, or high school students who want more parking, the District does not seem much inclined to push back and to encourage walking, biking, and Cherriots instead.

Especially at high schools, it seems very wrong for the school to take precious property tax dollars and transfer these in a subsidy for "free" parking for high school students.

If anything was going to be subsidized, it should be bus passes and high quality bike parking.

Not "free" car parking.

Overall the bond measure looks to miss an opportunity on transportation and trip-end facilities.

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