Friday, November 30, 2018

Check out Urban Trails near Sprague on Sunday

Most of the Salem Area Trail Alliance's activities are car-dependent and outside of the city. But in two places, they've got exciting things in the neighborhood. There's the new bike park at Geer Park and there's also a trail system near Sprague High School.

This Sunday the 2nd, they've got a kind of "open house" for the Skyline and Croisan Creek trails.

Explore the trail system near Sprague on Sunday - via FB
(be sure to rotate the map! And a higher-res version here)

From FB:
Join us for a no-drop MTB ride, hike or run on this little-known gem of (up to) a six mile trail adventure in your very own South Salem! Discover a new trail, meet some new friends! Meet at the first parking lot off of Kuebler.
It's worth getting acquainted with the trail, because it's a vestige of a previous beltline concept. In the "Year 2000" plan from 1984, Croisan Scenic Way is identified as a future "major four lane arterial" to connect with Kuebler Boulevard, South River Road, and a bridge over the Willamette River.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Why a Beltline Concept for the Bridges was Eliminated

With Councilor Andersen's proposal for a Work Session on the SRC adopted and in motion, in some quarters there is new talk of trying to build support for a beltline concept with bridges farther north and south.

River crossing at Lockhaven (1984, from below)
Such a plan has its own problems, and it's worth thinking a little about them. One set of problems arose through several planning processes and analyses, and accounts for why it did not appear in the draft Environmental Impact Statement among the vetted, formally recognized Alternatives. A different set of problems would not necessarily be recognized by any traffic study, and instead is more of a consideration about housing and land use, something that a Comprehensive Plan would address. Of course, they really are linked, not separate!

A Beltline doesn't Solve Traffic

You might have seen this "Salem Beltline" map recently. 

This concept may be from 1979 - via Facebook
It dates the concept back to a 1979 SATS Study (SATS being a predecessor of SKATS). The 1973 Comprehensive Plan does not show a beltline. It would be nice to find the earliest instance of it. It could date earlier than 1979. The relevant documents are mostly not archived publicly online, so here we will just sketch an outline. (And definitively establishing its origin isn't important just now.)

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Final Downtown Sidewalk Plan Buried by Accident or Design

On the 14th, the Downtown Sidewalk Study held a final Open House for its recommendations.

Hinessight recapped the meeting in "Downtown Streetscape plan suffers from Salem's parking space mania."
Tonight the team of consultants revealed what has been left out of the final design proposals I described in my web page. I wouldn't call these "refinements," but rather selling out to the above-mentioned parking space mania -- since I was told that concerns about losing on-street parking spaces led to the changes above.

They're delicately called "Longer-Term Projects."

What this really means is that the above-mentioned stakeholders, which I suspect includes some parking-space-crazed downtown businesses, put enough pressure on City officials to get the Mid-Block Landscape Pockets, Front Street Crossing, and Parklets Program shelved.
The postcard for the open house is posted, but nothing more
Now, a full half-month later, they still haven't posted the meeting boards or other presentation materials from the Open House.

That's a clear sign the project team and City are less proud of the proposals than they might be. Whether this is by design or by accident, the omission says something. With a stronger plan they'd be more assertive about sharing it publicly.

Until the City posts the proposals, it's hard to have more to say on them, but it seems pretty clear: Overall the project has been scaled-back.

Maybe they really are clearing space to reapproach some of the deferred or deleted elements. There were reasons beyond our free parking mania to question some of them. The mid-block pockets, for example, might have interfered with future bike lanes, and it might be helpful to reformulate them in ways to accommodate future lane reconfiguration.

Once the City publishes the proposals, along with any additional commentary or explanation, we'll come back to this. In the meantime, it looks like diminished expectations is the proper posture.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Council Delays Action on the SRC

It's hard to read the tea leaves on last night's Council action.

There's still too much emphasis placed on the problems with financing for the SRC, and not enough attention placed on the ways it's simply a bad idea.

Maybe Councilor Andersen's substitute motion and its January Work Session will flush out more of the ways it's a bad idea and ways that the SRC process has misrepresented or selectively represented things in order to suggest it's a better idea than it really is. Maybe if Council takes charge rather than leaving it to staff, there will be more opportunity for cross-examination and a more serious investigation than the rushed and fake process in late 2016 afforded.

One person transcribed the motion, and it does appear to create room to investigate some areas the SRC process has minimized, elided, or erased:
I move that the Council hold a work session specifically to discuss all potential issues with the Environmental Impact Statement for the 3rd Bridge, including but not limited to it’s affect on neighborhoods, Edgewater Drive, Wallace Marine Park, the Rosemont exit, projected congested areas and travel times under build and no-build options and financing options.
That's a lot of material, though, for one Work Session and then an up-or-down vote on the LUBA remand.

Council could instead cut to the chase and straight-up recommend concluding the EIS process with a "no build" Record of Decision. (A friendly amendment might also be to appoint a new Council representative to SKATS, one who will more faithfully represent Council direction and City interests.)

On the question of finances, there is some uncertainty. As Ranking Member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Congressman Peter DeFazio of Eugene is poised to be the new Chair of the Committee.

Monday, November 26, 2018

More on the RTSP, 2019 Legislative Priorities: At the MPO

Our Metropolitan Planning Organization meets on Tuesday the 27th, and though it's not on the agenda formally, surely the biggest topic will be a review of what transpired at Salem City Council on Monday night as a result of Councilor Lewis's motion to restart the SRC process. (Here and here.) That's bound to occasion lots of comment.

Actually on the agenda are some things to note in passing, but I'm not sure there's a lot to say about them.

For the 2019 Regional Transportation System Plan, they have landed on a scoring matrix to evaluate and rank projects for funding. Significantly, there is nothing about greenhouse gas reduction in them, and the reference to environmental criteria is very glancing. (See criteria #5 in the table.)

Scoring criteria and relation to RTSP goals
The Oregon MPO Consortium adopted proposed (see comment) three priorities for the 2019 Legislature, and now SKATS will decide whether to sign onto them. It's nice to see interest in changes to the way we set speed limits! The current system is too much in thrall to 85th percentile speeds, and the process too cumbersome with ODOT. (See this discussion of speeding on Fisher Road for a brief note on the ways the our engineering doctrines on 85th percentile speed are utterly screwed up.)

It's nice to see more attention for Safe Routes to Schools also.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

City Council, November 26th - SRC and Airport

Monday Council meets, and they'll be talking about two big transportation ideas, what do do about the Salem River Crossing and whether to continue to work on renewing commercial passenger air service at the airport.

Separately, on Friday in a colossal news dump, the government released a report on Climate Disruption. The SJ was silent on that, but it made the front page in Eugene on Saturday.

Council can commission another study, and developing a Climate Action Plan is a reasonable and important thing to do.

But if commissioning that study is merely another substitute and deferral for real decisions, many of which will necessarily involve renunciations, then that's no substantive action and a charade only.

Council should lead by saying NO decisively to the Salem River Crossing and to subsidies for new Commercial Air Service. We need to start doing things now we are pretty sure will be necessary - even if we don't have a funded study that "proves" the wisdom of the action. We know the transportation sector is a huge source of greenhouse gas and is the one sector in Oregon that's not declining. How much more "proof" do we need?

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Distracted Driving Piece misses Main Factor

We are incoherent on cars and driving
The piece on distracted driving in the paper yesterday mostly missed the primary correlation.

There are more deaths because we are driving more. When we drive less, there are fewer deaths.

But because a broad range of industry and cultural practices demand that we insulate driving itself from fault, insist we celebrate cars and driving as paradigmatic of American Freedom, and instead must find humans and human error at fault, we deflect from the actual causes of roadway carnage and burrow into side matters.

So we get repeated articles, discussions, and hand-wringing over distracted driving.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Amid Work on Post-war Peace, President Wilson's Bicycling Recalled

November 22nd, 1918
100 Years ago, in the middle of all the headlines about diplomacy, demobilization and troop movements, Bolsheviks and plots, there's a funny note, at once pastoral and grandiose, about President Wilson's bicycling.
Wilson Toured England On Bicycle On Last Visit

Washington, Nov. 22. When President Wilson visits England this year, the central figure of the world and accorded all the homage of a king, he may reflect upon his last visit there, in 1908, when he toured the country on bicycle, unnoticed and unacclaimed.

At that time he pedalled over the country roads of northern England and Scotland, probably with never a thought of the day that will be his when he arrives next month.

The president also has visited France and other European countries.
On his Roads Were Not Built for Cars blog, Carlton Reid has a longer piece on President Wilson, his bicycling, and how that led to his "good roads" advocacy, "A cycle touring US President kickstarted the paving of America."

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Sparrow Furniture Recycles old Laundry Facility

Used to be a laundry
Though it's been online for a few days, in today's paper there's a very nice piece on Sparrow Furniture and the people, new arrivals to Salem, who are training and working there.

Front page for Thanksgiving
Almost certainly the history of immigrant labor here at this site is much longer and richer, and the building itself might have interesting stories. Across multiple ownership groups and multiple eras, there's a nexus of site, building, and immigrant history.

For before it was the furniture factory, it had a long history as a laundry.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

As Books are Culled, the Library Deletes the Reference Desk Also

On a visit this past week to the Library, it was a shock to see a faded carpet ring where the Reference Desk used to be.

The "on duty" Reference Librarian turned out to be at the check-out desk, mainly handling that part of the business. They maintained a neutral perspective and affect when asked about the change, and it was not possible to get meaningful information. It seemed likely there was a staffing change involved, either less staff time for Reference activities or a downskilling of Reference positions to be more clerical and therefore less expensive.

The shelves also seemed barer.

Last month an entire run of a periodical I had consulted at the Library before had disappeared, and the Librarians could not find a record of it. They thought I was mistaken to ask for it. This was very strange and unsettling.

So it was very interesting to read the post over at Hinessight, "Salem Public Library removing 30% of print book collection. Resistance is mounting."

Asking the Library mainly for business-style efficiency will lead us to harm our cultural knowledge. From the new head Librarian's response to questions about the book cull:
We also use a product called CollectionHQ, which gives us use metrics, turnover rates, and identifies under- and over-stocked subject areas. With these outlined methods and derived data, we can identify items that no longer circulate, items in poor condition, and outdated information in areas of rapid change such as medicine. We also look for superseded editions, excess copies of previous bestsellers, and worn copies that need to be mended or replaced.
This is an application of Big Data and Taylorism that could easily get out of hand.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

City Council, November 19th - Policy Agenda and Priorities

Council meets on Monday for a Work Session on the Policy Agenda. They're scheduled to formulate the 2019 Policy Agenda in January, so this really is just a progress report and time for rumination.

Are the Crosswalk and Transit Committees really
this far in front of the Congestion Task Force?
In the transportation areas of the progress report, staff identify the Crosswalk Committee and Public Transportation Committee as "on target," much further along than the Congestion Relief Task Force, which is merely in "planning." (The four steps, from most done to least, are "completed," "on target," "underway," and "planning.")

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Airport Stories Continue Silence on Greenhouse Gases

There was a recent side conversation on twitter involving a reporter and a climate scientist about climate disruption.* Maybe there is a robust internal debate and conversation that we do not see at each media shop. They might be keeping it in house, and maybe it's not fair to comment on this. But it's really important. Reporters still overestimate the amount of coverage they give to climate disruption. It is mostly siloed in specialist topics, and not woven into the fabric of everyday coverage. There are features on climate disruption, but it does not yet constitute a basic ground for regular coverage. It is not foundational enough.

The Keeling Curve is the wrong kind of take-off!
The coverage of the proposals to expand airport service is a good example of this.

It continues to be framed up as an economic development story, but looks past what might be the single most important fact about it. It is assumed that passenger service is an unambiguous good, but the cost is in carbon and fossil fuel is elided.

Friday, November 16, 2018

New Bike Parking Standards Could be Improved and Strengthened

On Tuesday the 20th the Planning Commission will hold a Work Session on bike parking (agenda here). There are some good things in the proposal, but it's still weaker and less comprehensive than what was recommended in 2011 as part of Bike and Walk Salem.

Racks to Avoid - via a common industry guide
Too often it's a struggle to get basic bike parking at Salem buildings and businesses. It's an afterthought.

There's no bike parking at the main entry for the CCBI
At the Chemeketa Center for Business and Industry, despite being a school facility, they installed bike parking off the back car storage lot and by a secondary entry. It clearly violates code, but was allowed anyway.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

City Council, November 13th - Public Bike System and the Airport

Council meets on Tuesday following the observance of Veterans Day on Monday. They've got transportation projects great and small to consider.

Most interesting here is the small one, "bike share," a public bike rental system. (As with "ride share," there's not really much sharing going on, and it's a ride rental. It is interesting that ride-hailing and ride-booking have become standard for the TNCs, but "bike share" is hanging around. The term also seems inaccurate.)

After word came out in the Bicycling Magazine rating from 2016, and then the SJ wrote a feature later in the year, it's been a winding road. But here we are finally.

Three park sites, one at the transit center
They've been talking about six or seven total stations for launch, but right now at Council there are four only, all in public areas.

Two would be in Riverfront Park, near the playground and Carousel as well as at the Union Street Bridge. A third would be in Bush Park near the Winter Street parking lot, and a fourth at the downtown Transit Center.

Exclusive franchise for Riverfront Park
Most interesting is that the proposed contract includes an exclusive franchise for operating in Riverfront Park.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Hardball at the MPO? SKATS to Request new Hearings on SRC

Revanchist forces at the MPO are poised to raise the pressure on the City of Salem about the SRC.

Is this a "request" or a demand?
They've called a "special meeting" for the Policy Committee on the 13th - two weeks early, and piggy-backing a little on the Technical Advisory Committee meeting later that day - to call for finishing the SRC final Environmental Impact Statement. It's unclear what the timing element is that requires the special meeting and why this cannot wait until the next regular meeting on the 27th, but that apparent urgency is worth noting.
At the October 23, 2018 SKATS Policy Committee meeting, the Policy Committee directed staff to draft a letter from SKATS to the Salem City Council related to Salem River Crossing. The purpose of the letter is to request that the council respond to the LUBA remand and support completion of the Salem River Crossing Final EIS.
Of course the current Council has responded. By action or inaction they have said they don't believe the UGB expansion is warranted. And there is increasing sentiment that the FEIS can be completed for a "no build" alternative and satisfy all the Federal requirements.

But this letter would be written clearly to talk past all that.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Kludgy Details on 12th Street at Fairview

With changes to the Oregon Legislature, the path to a Clean Energy Jobs/Carbon Cap and Trade bill sure looks smoother. Nationally, Congressman DeFazio will likely have more say on any transportation legislation. But there's still a lot of uncertainty, and it's not like there was one single, unambiguous gesture made by the Electorate.

There are surely other things to note, but others will note them better.

So let's focus on local detail instead.

On the 12th Street project between Hoyt and Fairview, more of the striping has been done, and yet more of the design is coming into focus. But some details sure seem kludgy. (Some previous notes here.)

Looking south - two driveways (near, and at blue sign)
make dashed bike lane transition tricky and stressful
I don't like the way the bike lane transitions from the right hand margin to the left of the turn lane. There are two driveways right in the mixing zone of the dashed bike lane, so that makes three right-hook opportunities from drivers turning into the driveways or preparing to turn on Fairview.

There was talk about adding green paint to the bike lane here with ARTS funding, and that may help. But it might have been better not to make the transition in front of two driveways.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Cranking Marine Drive Back Up at WSRAB, 260 State at DAB

Two Urban Renewal Advisory Boards meet this week, and they'll be talking about a couple of important projects.

Tomorrow the 7th in West Salem, WSRAB will discuss renewing the push for Marine Drive, which the Congestion Relief Task Force lists among their recommendations.

Congestion Relief Task Force on Marine Drive

The agenda with Marine Drive
What that means exactly is not clear. There is still some $3.5M allotted to a project between Glen Creek and Cameo Streets, which is inside the Urban Growth Boundary, but the West Salem Neighborhood Association wanted a more northerly section, which is outside of the UGB.

The scope and sequencing here is still a little murky, but perhaps more will be clear after the meeting.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Drivers Strike and Kill Alexandria Tereshka on OR-22 in West Salem

Two people driving on Highway 22 in West Salem struck and killed Alexandria Tereshka on the roadway on Saturday evening. (Updated with names and drivers in the plural.)

As too often happens, the news erases the driver and makes the the dead person into an abstraction: "A female pedestrian died Saturday after being struck by a vehicle..."

via Twitter

Columbia Journalism Review
The crash may be similar to ones on Highway 22 in 2013 and in 2016. Little follow-up was published on these deaths, and it seemed likely the dead had been camping along the river. Even I-5 in East Salem has more crossings than OR-22 here, and the highway in West Salem is a huge barrier to the river. Lacking a house or apartment, the dead also lacked story, presence, and importance in our world, and they were made nameless in accounts of their demise.

So there may be two erasures here: The erasure of drivers, responsible for the safe operation of a vehicle, even on a highway; and the erasure of an unhoused person with their own history and story.

Friday, November 2, 2018

NW Hub Recognized, Trick or Treat at a Crossroad, Pilgrimage to Mt Angel - Newsbits

This year at the City's Volunteer Recognition, Northwest Hub won a Mayor's Merit Award.

It's nice to see a bike-related enterprise recognized again. Congratulations to the Hub!

(Not so nice is the lack of captions and a press release with each citation in the City's own posting, which is all too meagre for something ostensibly oriented for "recognition.")

With Michael Wolfe retiring and closing South Salem Cycleworks, and with the untimely passing of Joe Dobson at Bike Peddler, 2018 is shaping up to be a real transitional year in our bike shop ecosystem. Scott Cycle also is in the middle of a generational transition, and our bike shops will all be led by an entirely new cohort in very short order.

I don't know if there is any meaning to extract from this. We all age, we all must pass away, and when businesses endure from generation to generation they have successions. It's no great insight to observe the bare fact of change. But it's still something to register.

The bike shop owners who gained maturity in the 1970s bike boom are now yielding to those whose main experiences are from no earlier than the 90s, and often from the early 21st century.

Changing Halloween Practices

There was a funny piece in the USA TODAY section about tailgating in a parking lot for Halloween.

Apparently this is a thing now.

Strong Towns posted a lengthy critique of it recently.
While activities like Trunk-or-Treat, or even other alternatives such as the increasingly popular “mall trick-or-treat,” offer children the opportunity to have guaranteed fun in a safeguarded environment, the holistic benefits of trick-or-treating which result from neighborhood communities rallying together to create a fun, safe, and memorable experience are being lost. The sad part is that these holistic benefits would continue long beyond the Halloween holiday.
via Twitter
BikePortland today went the opposite direction, arguing that we should extend the "Block Party" or "Open Streets" concept to a new event on Halloween, the "Trick or Treat Street." Going car-free shouldn't require the autoist move with pedestrian displacement systems that shunt activity to the parking lot or retirement home or high school!

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Bike Peddler Founder, Joe Dobson has Passed Away

For some this is now old news, but if you don't follow the bike shops and bike clubs, you might not have heard that earlier this week Bike Peddler reported that their founder, and a pillar of Salem bicycling, Joe Dobson, had died.

Joe working on a bike
at a Pringle Creek Community event
in the early 2010s
A few days ago from the Peddler:
Joe Dobson, the founder of Bike Peddler, passed away in the morning surrounded by his family and friends.

A celebration of life ceremony will take place in the coming weeks. Details to follow. In the meantime, we find ourselves swapping stories, laughing at tall tales of mischief, and reflecting on all the ways Joe touched our lives and this community at large. Since opening the shop in 1974, Joe’s love for cycling and getting people out on adventures has been infectious and unwavering. Help us honor his memory by grabbing your bike and getting out there today with friends, loved ones...heck, perhaps even strangers...because nothing unites us like the revolution of a pedal and wheel.
The Salem Bicycle Club adds
He had been in the hospital for about a week due to a fall from a ladder where he broke all ribs on one side and about 1/2 on the other side. As you probably know, he had been in poor health for several years due to stomach cancer.
In 2014 Salem Weekly had a nice feature on him.
A college job in a bike shop told Joe Dobson it was a line of work he would enjoy. His first impression of the city of Salem was favorable. Dobson joined the two together, and it has resulted in 40 years of owning one of our premier bicycle and cycling accessory stores, the Bike Peddler on Commercial Street NE, and influencing the town for the better.
So as we observe the Days of the Dead, tip your cap, say a prayer, have a drink and offer a toast, best of all, as the Peddler suggested, grab your bike and take a ride, however you honor the departed, take a moment to recognize Joe and the shop he created, the Bike Peddler.

Studded Tires, Tree Removal Appeal, Our Salem Background - Newsbits

Yesterday ODOT sent out the annual press release on the season for studded tires.

Studded tires damage roads
Studded tires harm roads and we don't recover that cost. We should have a tax on studded tires. This is one of the ways we subsidize road use. The ODOT number of $8.5 million per year does not include city road systems, and I don't think the City of Salem has ever estimated what studded tires cost us in road maintenance on city streets.

According to a story from 2011, the Oregon Department of Transportation said
studded tires cause close to $50 million damage each year on city streets, county roads and state highways, according to the department. About $11 million is spent each year repairing studded tire damage.
Studded tires contribute to our maintenance deficit.

We also tax the wrong things, like taxing bikes, but not studded tires.

This is a clear instance of the ways our incentives are misaligned with outcomes.

Oak Tree Removal at Bush Park

Appeal of Tree removals
This is very interesting. A group of tree advocates have appealed the Planning Adminstrator's decision to approve the City's request to remove four trees at Bush Park earlier this summer.