Study projects Salem's greenhouse gas emissions could grow by 2035The headline changed over a couple of days, and perhaps this is merely SEO and click-traffic maneuvering. (Get those hate-clicks about bikes?) But its evolution points to a problematic framing away from reporting on emissions and towards opinion about mobility. The whole thing is just a little odd.
The analysis suggests the city likely won’t convince people to trade cars for bikes or sidewalks any time soon. And it arrives at a time when councilors are debating measures to study and reduce the city’s carbon footprint.
|Headline on the 11th|
|New headline on the 12th, more defeatist|
Julie Warncke, the city’s transportation manager, concurred biking and walking aren’t currently popular ways to get around the city.The piece does not pursue more detail on why the City's "investment" has not paid off, however, and veers away instead, petering out in vague generalities.
“We’re trying to provide opportunities, but we do have a hard time measuring,” she said.
The city has invested in bike and pedestrian infrastructure in recent years, she noted. In the last five years, 20 city projects added bike lanes, fixed crosswalks, improved sidewalks and more, she said.
“There’s a few areas where it seems we’re heading in the right direction, and there are many areas where it’s not clear if we’re heading in the right direction,” she said in an email. “And that’s where (the next phase) comes in.”So what is the purpose of the piece?
Other areas in the analysis include the economy and housing market. The city is poised to offer good job opportunities, wages and overall affordability for residents, the analysis found. It will also add housing using infill development, a city goal.
The revised posting on social media about the persistence and inevitability of cars "driving planning for streets" suggests a strong autoist bias, even pro-car apologetics.
If somehow the purpose is instead to dig into why Salemites aren't bicycling, and what we need to do to reduce driving emissions, it's too shallow a dive, it uncritically accepts the City's explanation, and it promotes more driving as an inevitability.
It doesn't add up as reporting. Even if it is not intended as such, it looks rather more like autoist propaganda!
|Not so good (full scorecard)|
Despite the City's posture that "We’re trying to provide opportunities," the City is not in fact trying very hard.
|We're not here yet;|
drive-alone trips remain at top
For every small segment of new bike lane the City builds, it adds more car capacity in new lanes, signal timing, and other "congestion relief." The City consistently still advantages cars, not walking, biking, or busing. The City fits non-auto transportation into the margins and hopes drivers won't complain too much. The priority remains for cars. This is a policy choice.
Reporting could look at the interlocking subsidies and incentives for our autoism, including the oversupply of and expectation for free parking, parking minimums in code, employee commuter benefits, and road funding that is no longer self-financed by user fees like the gas tax and licensing/registration and requires subsidy from other non-auto revenue streams.
It could look at our expanses of single-family zoning that space things out at car-dependent distances - an indirect subsidy and mandate for cars! - and make transit inefficient. The zoning forces useful destinations onto zoomy stroads with large parking lots that are hostile to walking and biking and optimized instead for cars.
It could look at speed, road design, and traffic deaths, and ask why people too often don't feel safe walking and biking.
It could look at the history of our underfinanced transit district and the reasons for that. (And look at Portland's just announced move for bus-only lanes!)
There's lots of reporting that might be done. Over decades we have made policy choices that incentivize drive-alone trips and their carbon pollution. The current difficulty in improving walk/bike/bus rates is not a "natural" outcome we are helpless to change, but is the product of a suite of policy choices, choices that can be redirected and changed.
|"Breaking the Cycle of Automobile Dependency"|