Wednesday, September 19, 2018

City Announces New Crosswalk Committee

Coming out of the Pedestrian Safety Study, the City's announced the formation of a new Committee to recommend crosswalks and sidewalk enhancement around Salem.

Crosswalk and Median on 17th at Mill in 2015
From the City:
​The City of Salem continues to focus on making it safer and easier to bike, walk or drive in Salem. In late September 2018, the City will seek community input and participation from Salem's 18 neighborhood associations in a Project Advisory Committee to help develop a Safer Crossings Program. The committee will consist of community members and City staff who will work together to provide final program recommendations to City Council by Spring 2020.

Once complete, the Safer Crossings Program will allow community members to:
  • Formally identify pedestrian safety needs;
  • Request projects to address those needs, such as installation or improvement of crosswalks, rapid-flashing beacons, or radar signs;
  • Easily see the criteria that are used to prioritize pedestrian safety projects and track project status.
The Safer Crossings Program is one of the recommendations from the Pedestrian Safety Study completed in March 2018. The study looked at a combination of crash data, police reports, and field observations to find ways to make it safer for everyone who drives, walks, or bikes in Salem. Other recommendations include upgrading certain traffic intersections and corridors, strategies for citywide application, and specific policy updates.
The new crosswalks and median on Union and Commercial in 2017
In addition to police enforcement, since January 2018, the City has also improved* pedestrian safety in multiple areas around the city, including:
  • Installing rapid-flashing beacons on Portland Road;
  • Installing stop signs and radar speed signs along Fisher Road NE;
  • Installing stop signs at the intersection of D Street NE and Winter Street NE, and at six intersections along Maple Avenue NE, completing the first phase of the Winter-Maple Neighborhood Greenway;
  • Building a new traffic signal, lighting, crosswalks, and median island at the intersection of Union Street NE at Commercial Street;
  • Making improvements to sidewalks and street lighting on 12th Street SE Southbound.
Those interested in learning more about the Safer Crossings Program, other transportation improvement projects, or the Pedestrian Safety Study can call 503-588-6211 or email All Salem residents automatically belong to a neighborhood association.
The Committee looks like it could be a valuable community-driven process, and lead to projects where demand is greatest.

And also, maybe there will be opportunity to press for additional measures like traffic calming, reductions in posted speeds, and other counter-measures for walking safety and comfort.

As they say at Strong Towns, signs might not be enough

* The list of projects "since January 2018"  with a past-tense verb is a little funny, maybe a little overdressed. The 12th Street SE project is far from complete, and the main project is road widening with relocated sidewalks, not greatly improved sidewalks. The Project at Union and Commercial was completed in 2017, and the median isn't a refuge on the busy road, but mainly works to channelize bikes and the right-turn only for cars on eastbound Union Street. It's more for the cars and bikes than for people on foot. (See image above.) I haven't been out to see Portland Road or Fisher Road yet, but it wouldn't be surprising if they were still in progress also. It is ticky-tacky to complain about this, but the City often seems to want extra credit!


Walker said...

I am of mixed mind with respect to reductions in posted speeds — I drive the posted speeds now and often end up in real fear that an aggressive driver behind me is going to slam into me for doing so. When you drive the posted speed on Market or 17th, when you turn, you will most often feel nervous as you hear the big truck/suv behind you stomp on the gas, and you worry about having your rear end clipped by an overenthused driver suddenly liberated from the torture of driving within the speed limits.

In other words, as we have long known, it’s the width, (lack of) curvature and smoothness of the road that are proportional to and set the actual speed; the posted speed is like a ritual incantation that we pretend has some power to change road speeds, kind of like people who imagine that hoisting US flags increases patriotism.

I would be all in favor of lowering speeds on roads if we would simultaneously narrow the roads or apply other treatments (speed humps, etc.) that would cause drivers to actually want to drive slower. If we demand that drivers drive well below the road design speed, we’re just setting ourselves up for hostility and really aggressive drivers acting badly.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

You are absolutely right that changes to posted speeds without changes to road design are ineffective. That's why "traffic calming" comes first! Whole systems need to change, and not merely signage.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

(Added the Strong Towns graphic for emphasis!)

Susann Kaltwasser said...

Every time I drive through the old part of Salem with the grid system, narrower streets and beautiful old trees, I know exactly what we need to do!