Saturday, November 30, 2019

City Council, December 2nd - Airport Subsidy and Carbon Pollution

Council meets on Monday and only one item seemed worth longer comment. The City (as Urban Renewal Agency) will decide whether to modify the Fairview Urban Renewal Zone in order to subsidize a new business associated with air travel.

From November's Work Session
From the Staff Report:
The amendment adds 70 acres of developable vacant land and the terminal at the Salem Airport. During the last year, the City has been negotiating with an aviation business interested in locating on approximately ten acres of the 70 acres. Incorporating this parcel into the URA boundary and constructing needed taxiway connections would facilitate development of this parcel....

With the construction of needed infrastructure and development on the vacant land, the Airport has the potential to generate more than $1,000,000 in new lease revenue. This is double what the Airport currently receives in lease revenue. The Airport is funded by revenues generated at the Airport. The Airport receives no operating assistance from the City’s General Fund.

Airport infrastructure projects totaling $2,000,000 include a taxiway connection, new hangars, and reconstructing the older section of the terminal building. The estimated cost for a taxiway connection to the vacant 10-acre site at the north of the Airport is $450,000 and could result in $148,100 in annual lease revenue. The Airport’s capital improvement plan includes four flex-space hangars at the south end of the Airport for a variety of industrial tenants. The estimated cost is $1,000,000. Assuming the Airport maintained ownership of the hangars and full occupancy, $275,000 in revenue per year could be generated for the Airport. The remaining $550,000 would help fund reconstruction of the older section of the terminal building.

Implementation of infrastructure improvements at the Airport is consistent with the primary goal in the Fairview URA Plan to create new job opportunities by eliminating conditions inhibiting private development. Objective 5 of the Plan states that the Agency may provide loans, grants, or other assistance to developers for rehabilitation or development of properties that meet the conditions of the Plan.
Yes, but is it consistent with any climate goals we might have?

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Thanksgiving in 1919 Showed National Advertising, Probable Decline of Corner Store

The advertising for Thanksgiving in 1919 is a little different from that in years past.

November 27th, 1919
In particular, there aren't the features for neighborhood grocery stores that we have seen previously, and I think this means that a number of corner stores had closed and that shopping patterns were shifting with the rise of the automobile. Clearly there were changes with the post-war economy and culture.
And just in 1919 several interesting transportation stories and the rise of autoism:
As deep background, the red scare and summer of race riots probably informed the way Thanksgiving was understood and celebrated, but I don't have a reading of that yet. (But see Rigdon's poem arguing for a purge.)

After World War I, the industrial capacity of the nation needed to switch back to peacetime production and to find the demand for all that production capacity. There's also emphasis on new electrification and driving demand for electricity, and on the objectivity of scientific management.

Electrically toasted, scientifically managed
November 26th, 1919
This ad for rolled oats is intensely up-to-date on these measures, so much so that it's a little laughable today.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

1919 State Rivalry Football Game Predated Ducks and Beavers, Silent on War - Updated

Thinking about any big games this weekend as part of your Thanksgiving traditions? In 1919 the "state championship" or "state classic" football game took place a little earlier in the month.

The "State Championship" football game in 1919
November 14th, 1919
Advertising for the football game between University of Oregon and Oregon Agricultural College was also silent on the "civil war."*

From a large spread on the game;
perhaps the first year the phrase was in use.
November 13th, 1929
According to an OSU alumni article, in turn citing the sports PR arm of the university, it took another decade to appear, first in 1929, and then a further decade to catch on:
According to OSU Sports Information, the first reference to the name "Civil War" appears to have been in a few newspaper articles preceding the 1929 game. For several years, the term continued to be used only sparingly in newspaper stories. By 1937, the term had come into fairly common use.
Without spending a lot of time digging, there was a 1926 reference to the Ohio State - Michigan game as an "annual civil war." So the metaphor was in the air.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Reductions on the Commercial-Vista Corridor Crosswalks: At the MPO

The Policy Committee for our Metropolitan Planning Organization meets on Tuesday the 26th, and the agenda is full of small disappointments. It's like the unThanksgiving.

A revised description of the reduction on the Union Street Bikeway makes more sense, but it's still a diminishment.

This makes more sense
There's also news on a new reduction, on the Commercial-Vista Corridor projects. Flashing beacons near Triangle Drive and Waldo Ave appear to be removed. I don't think that the City has publicly or formally addressed this reduction. It's not clear if the crosswalks remain, or if they are also deleted. Almost two years ago the Feds had issued a ruling on the flashing beacons saying they were no longer permitted. Since then they've allowed them again, and we saw them listed in a recommendation matrix for safety countermeasures and in fact installed at Royvonne on Commercial. So that doesn't seem to be in play. More likely is budget overruns. Still, it would be good for the City to give a public clarification, not merely bury it in a TIP adjustment.

Eliminating flashing beacons on Commercial Street
From the final recommendations - did we lose these?
(Not in the agenda packet)
In comments last month on the letter from Governor Brown about the STS and carbon pollution, committee members leaned into autoism and EV tech utopianism, rather than into policies for "driving less."

Sunday, November 24, 2019

City Council, November 25th - Camping, Vagrancy, and their Emblems

Council meets on Monday and they'll be considering a modern Vagrancy Law.

CANDO has the best notes and critical analysis, so be sure to read what they have to say, most recently a close reading of the Council Work Session last week, and a new piece on disability and the proposed law.

Saturday's front page
A bike at a camp - and the rhetoric of trash
January 2019, Marion St Bridge
I have nothing to add the debate, but I want to talk about optics and visual rhetoric. Bikes are neutral transportation technology. Rich people and poor people both use them. But they have advantages: They are cheaper than a car, portable, and easily obtained and repaired. They travel on roads, sidewalks, and paths. They can also stolen, chopped, and sold or bartered. They can be put to good ends and bad ends.

It is a little concerning that in the imagery around people who lack housing, we code bicycles as inherently juvenile, inherently sketchy, only something poor people or bad people use.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Responding to Centralia Riot, W. T. Rigdon Pens Poem urging Purge

As the demolition on the YMCA got started this week, and as the IKE Box continues to raise funds to purchase their site and building from the Y, 100 years ago, W. T. Rigdon, who built the funeral home the IKE Box now occupies, published a nativist and anti-immigrant poem in the paper, "Purge thy fair and sacred soil."

Drawing of the new Rigdon Mortuary - December 3rd, 1924
A few years before that, he'd lost his daughter to a reckless driver, who killed her as she was crossing Church Street, and he may have turned to poetry in his grief. Truth in Pleasant Rhymes was published in 1927.*

History's always more complicated than you think.

"Purge thy fair and sacred soil"
November 23rd, 1919
This poem from 1919 seems to be a direct response to the riot and deaths in Centralia, and more generally part of the "red scare." Since the riot, two men had been arrested as IWW agents after Salemites overheard a "suspicious" conversation in a barber shop, and it took a couple of days for them to establish their innocence. Veterans groups had also called mass meetings at the Armory pledging to drive out the reds. Given his position in Salem society and dependence on their business, Rigdon would not risk a public statement like this, published in the morning Statesman, unless he was sure it would be popular.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

State Transportation Strategy on Carbon Pollution and Climate at the OTC

Exactly 100 years ago, the headline was "Highway Commissioner Burgess Killed by Highwaymen at Claremont Tavern." About Jasper Newton Burgess there isn't much online, and this short biographical note in Carey's History of Oregon seems to be about it.

November 22nd 1919
On that cheery note, we observe that the Oregon Transportation Commission, the successor to the Highway Commission, meets at Spirit Mountain Casino in Grand Ronde today and tomorrow, the 21st and 22nd. They have a number of interesting items on the agenda.

Of greatest interest is the start of the formal response to Governor Brown's letter asking for more action on greenhouse gas and climate.

Presentation to OTC
I don't know what really is a realistic expectation for this update and the start of a response, but especially in light of the other topics on the agenda it is rather disappointing.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

New Holman Hotel at the Historic Landmarks Commission

The proposal for the Holman Riverfront Park Hotel - or the New Holman, as I think I will call it here - is at the Historic Landmarks Commission on Thursday the 21st.

Previously on the Koz Apartments/Nishioka Building at 260 State, I had thought there would be a separate review at the Planning Commission, but it turns out the review at the HLC is the only layer of review. Consequently, though, the Staff Report and level of analysis seems thinner than a corresponding site plan and design review rising up through the Planning Commission.

I am ambivalent about this. This is a big and important project for downtown, and the architecture isn't very exciting, and it seems like we could do better.

On the other hand, this site has been vacant or underutilized for so long that we should just be happy something that isn't awful is going in.  Asking for "exciting" architecture might not be helpful. We just simply need a quantity of "ordinary" building downtown. Many of the buildings we celebrate now in the Historic District were never "exciting" in style. They were ordinary and we value them still. And maybe we don't need so much regulatory review anyway. (It will be interesting to learn if there is any substantive criticism of the review at the HLC.)

Finally, this corner on Ferry and Commercial (and we have to remember that Ferry is part of the OR-22 couplet in downtown) is just simply more autoist than even just State and Commercial on the other side of the very same block. State Street is walkable in a way Ferry is no longer, and it's not clear that it's at all plausible to suggest a better project is realistic here. Kitty corner from the Conference Center another hotel makes sense, and maybe we should just be glad to have something instead of the empty lot or dead old parking structure.

Evolution of the building facade, late 2018 and late 2019
Here's a comparison of the concept at the application to demolish the Marion Car Park, and the current iteration. In the new iteration, I like the street level better, like not having that big glazed corner element extending to the roof cornice, and like the mid-facade demise lines (yes, that word!). It seems like a modest improvement that shifts the basic vocabulary a little from suburban office to streetcar-era downtown. The Staff Report calls it a "contemporary, post-modern commercial style," but thankfully it lacks the frippery of many postmodern exemplars.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Easing Missing Middle Housing: At the Planning Commission

Tonight, Tuesday the 19th, the Planning Commission will hold a formal Public Hearing on some new code for multi-family housing, especially for modest Missing Middle triplexes and fourplexes, and larger Missing Middle forms up to 12 homes. At nine pages the Staff Report is manageable, as is a two page summary, but the proposed code itself is over 400 pages of material. The devil's in the details and without specialist knowledge, you have to trust the City's summary.

Alas, in too many cases the City has shaded truth or misrepresented things, and it's not always easy to trust them. So, it's hard to say really how good is the proposed package of changes.

Preview and summary for proposed code amendments
on missing middle housing.
On the surface, the changes seem good, if timid. HB 2001 (see below) will almost certainly call for another round of adjustment and change.

Small plexes that fit into the neighborhood fabric easily will conform to more of the standards for existing single detached homes. This is a move for continuity and for historic norms.

There's also a modest reduction in off-street parking requirements, which drive up the cost of building.

Details on lot coverage, lot size, and setbacks could still plug up the works, however. I haven't seen any informed comment on those details, and maybe there will be more to say after the Hearing.

It would be helpful for the City to provide more concrete detail in pictures and case histories. That preview image above shows three Salem projects, but does not have any discussion of ways they exemplify problems, solutions, or illustrate any part of the proposed new code.

On HB 2001
As framing, the Staff Report buries HB 2001 a little under "additional considerations," perhaps since the code changes were initiated before HB 2001 was passed. But now that it will be law, the City should consider leading with HB 2001 and making that more centrally part of the framework for analysis and debate.

Fourplexes are going to be legal, no matter what! The City should be clearer that this is coming down the pipeline and we should want to start preparing for it.

Over at LUN, people involved with the neighborhood associations have talked a little about the proposal, and I want to argue with a number of their claims and observations.

Monday, November 18, 2019

City Council, November 18th - On the Hobo Element, Purity, and Danger

"rid the city of the hobo element"
September 15th, 1903
A year ago there was a history piece in the paper about ways that the old City Hall was used as a homeless shelter, the "hotel de Minto," during the Great Depression.

In the piece the phrase, "hotel de Minto," seemed to be an ironic, but not hostile or mean, way of referring to a basement and its very basic level of accommodation. It was a joke for desperate times, black humor perhaps, but still a bantering joke.

In a previous generation, however, with a different Chief of Police, the locution seems rather more pointed, a mean dig at those unfortunate enough to experience the "hotel," and also having a different referent, the jail rather than basement.
Ten names appeared upon the registration at Hotel de Gibson yesterday morning...Chief of Police Gibson is determined to rid the city of the hobo element...and all loafers will be promptly arrested and placed behind bars.
So I wonder if the later, Depression-era meaning of "hotel de Minto" is actually a little less generous.

The language we use today is often not very generous in clear ways.

In several front-page pieces involving bridges over the last couple of years, it's always about dirt and disorder, about cleaning and clearing. Even if there is what reasonable people consider an inordinate amount of real trash, some of the things as personal belongings are not actually trash, and the attributes of trash also get transferred to the people, as if they were trash themselves. The people, then, are dirt that need to be cleaned up.

January 2018

Friday, November 15, 2019

Revisiting Marine Drive and West Salem Loop Concept After the SRC

While the SRC remained active, Marine Drive seemed like a dangerous Trojan Horse, a way to smuggle in just enough of the bridge package to make that bridge and highway inevitable.

Now that the Record of Decision is for no-build, and the MPO is reverting Marine Drive from some kind of arterial back to a collector-rated street in their plans, it may be time for a reassessment.

I'm not sure I am at all very enthusiastic about Marine Drive, and I think its helpful qualities are still being oversold, but it may be more reasonable to be neutral on it rather than strongly opposed. And there are still questions about how it fits the edges of Wallace Marine Park. But it could also helpfully connect missing middle houing, or bigger apartment blocks, in a configuration that works well with the Union Street Bridge and walking, biking, or busing in low-car lifestyles.

At the same time, proponents of a trail system in West Salem are making the rounds, and that idea, which piggybacks on the Marine Drive right-of-way, may deserve reassessment too.

Marine Drive, power line ROW, Edgewater
(via Facebook)
Still, for all the reasons in "The Prospect of more Biking on Paths in Salem" I remain doubtful about too much emphasis on paths.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Beaverton Climate Plan has too much EV Tech Utopianism

Over at they remarked on Beaverton's new draft Climate Action Plan. On the cover Beaverton centers notions of a path for 1.5 degree increase. That's ambitious!

Eh...just looking at transportation, it doesn't look like it grapples seriously with the changes necessary. It looks reassuring and soothing, maybe a little aspirational, but not really digging into the scope of, and response proper to, our actual climate emergency.

It's interesting they say only 28% from transportation;
Salem says 53%; they're also big on electrification
(The Active Transportation Plan is sufficient, it seems)

Beaverton leads with EV tech-utopianism;
and instead of "driving less"
say "reduce congestion"; active transport is secondary
Maybe there will be more to say later, but I'm not sure this should be a model for Salem. They place too much faith in the tech-utopianism of EVs and do not develop enough policy for the structural change of driving less. These plans look like the authors go through existing plans, say "look, see what great things they are doing already!" and see a messaging and PR problem. We've seen a little of this in Salem also.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Rollover Crash by the Transit Center, Value Village Parking Lot - Newsbits

Though it seems no one was seriously injured in Monday's crash on Church Street near the transit center, the story in yesterday's paper illustrates so much about our autoism and what is wrong with it.

The story's main frame is on a kind of congestion: "Police reopened Church Street...after a rollover crash closed the street in the heart of downtown..."

While the story includes details that "the vehicle flipped, shattered its windows and deployed its airbags," there is no mention of speed. "Information about what led to the crash was not released." But it is highly unlikely that lawful travel at the posted speed led to this, and the ostensibly scrupulous sticking to facts spoken or verified in the police statement leads to a silence that contributes to our normalization of jaydriving and speeding.

There's also no driver. An "anthropologist from Mars" might reasonably suppose this was one of them new-fangled robot cars without a driver.

While it may not be possible to prove that driver error was involved, silence on that is exculpatory and works against an objective reporting of truth. Altogether this is another place in public discourse where our current notions of "balance" and "neutrality" lead to untruth or misapprehension.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Driver Kills Josephine Watkins in Crosswalk on Portland Road at Wayside Terrace

A driving 19 year old has struck and killed Josephine Watkins crossing Portland Road on foot in a marked crosswalk this evening.

The initial release from Salem PD:
The Salem Police Department is currently investigating a fatal crash on Portland Rd NE at Wayside Terrace NE, which has Portland Rd closed in both directions between Hyacinth Rd and Northgate Rd NE....

On November 11th, 2019 at 6:18pm officers responded to the report of a pedestrian struck while attempting to cross Portland Rd, near Wayside Terrace Ave NE. Witnesses stated that the female pedestrian was crossing Portland Rd in a marked crosswalk when a vehicle travelling northbound on Portland Road struck the pedestrian. Witnesses to the crash stopped and attempted life saving measures on the pedestrian, who was later prounced deceased at the scene. The driver of the vehicle stopped and remained on scene and is cooperating with investigators. There were no injuries to anyone in the involved vehicle.

This crash remains under investigation and further details regarding the cause of the crash will be released as they become available. Investigators are currently working to identify the pedestrian and notify her next of kin.
The enhanced crosswalk at Wayside Terrace
with center refuge island and flashing beacons
I have not been out there lately, but this intersection was one of the sites selected for an enhanced crosswalk treatment as part of a larger Portland Road project. It appears to have been finished (see comment below), and it will be important to learn about ways it failed to protect the person on foot.

The Portland Road project has
an enhanced crosswalk at Wayside
Just a few weeks ago, a driver killed Jason Libel as he was biking on Portland Road.

Update, mid-afternoon Tuesday: An update from the Salem PD still erases the driver (see below for notes on this), and focuses on the fact that the beacon may not have been flashing:
Salem Investigators have identified the victim of yesterday's fatal crash as 60 yr old Salem resident Josephine Watkins. The victim was struck by a vehicle driven by a 19 yr old driver as she was attempting to cross Portland Rd near Wayside Terrace in a marked crosswalk. The crosswalk is equipped with functioning warning lights but witnesses stated the lights were not activated at the time of the crash.

The cause of the crash is still under investigation. No arrests or citations have been issued at this time.
(This post will be updated.)

Breyman Fountain Lost Between World War II and Proposed Vietnam War Memorials

Breyman Fountain and two Capitols - early 20th century and 2013
(Salem Library Historic Photos - twice, here and here)
The purpose of the Breyman Bros. Fountain has been a little mysterious. The Library's photo captions are variations on "The statue is believed to be a memorial to the Spanish-American War and was a separate piece from the fountain originally." I don't know where this interpretation originated, but most everyone seems to follow it.

Just a tiny, unmarked square
for the Breyman Fountain
(See also Abbate Designs for more)
Taken as a war memorial, it would be increasingly lost between the existing World War II Memorial and the new proposed Vietnam War Memorial. Significantly, the site plan for the proposal omits any label or awareness of the fountain. It's indicated by a square outline and nothing more. This seems like a substantial omission and oversight.

In the end this may not in fact be a big problem, though it is something of a small problem.

A while back State Archives published an image of the photo illustrating its primary use. They repeated the war memorial interpretation, however: "A bronze statue of a Spanish-American War soldier topped the metal sculpture."

A horse drinking at the fountain - State Archives
But during 1904 as there were various squabbles over funding and ultimately accepting the fountain, the news seems clear that it was not a memorial to the Spanish-American War. Instead, the statue is labeled as a "Pioneer" and the purpose as "fountain" for "public drinking for man and beast."

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Today's Story about Lake Labish Derailment Suggests a Detour on Celery

There's a long piece in the Sunday paper today on Lake Labish and a tragic train derailment there.

On the "Lake Labish Horror": In the Sunday paper today
Even though there might be specialized or academic histories of the area, in our popular imagination, Lake Labish does not get enough attention as a distinct place. But it is bounded enough to have a particular environmental, economic, and ethnic history, and deserves more specific treatment.

You might recall the obituary for Henry Yoshikai that mentioned growing up in Lake Labish, the forced removal and detention during World War II, and subsequent return. Now there is a school here with the family name memorialized, specifically named for his wife, Alyce, an important educator.
Henry Yoshikai's obituary from last April
Last year around Pearl Harbor observations, there was another piece from the perspective of local clergymen who intervened to stave off threats of mob violence against a Japanese church and its members in Lake Labish.

Front page in December of last year

October 22, 1919
Though Roy Fukuda and the celery industry of Lake Labish has been written about before, the topic does not yet seem to be a tired one and is worth revisiting.*

The first big mention of the Japanese celery farmers I've run across was 100 years ago this fall. In a piece that centers on Quinaby rather than Lake Labish, Roy Fukuda is a supporting character, mentioned way down in the piece.

In just a few months, by January of 1920, he is center stage.
The pioneer celery grower on a commercial scale in the Salem district is Roy K. Fukuda.
Interestingly, the "Golden Plume" variety is not mentioned.
Mr. Fukuda raises only the Golden Heart variety. It is the same as Prof. Bouquet calls the Golden Self Bleaching in his article printed in this issue.

He says the White Plume variety is easier to grow, and it is the only variety wanted in the Seattle market; but in all other markets reached from here the Golden Heart (or Golden Self Bleaching) is preferred. So ti is the kind for our growers to plan.
At the very least, there is a history of the name that is interesting, and perhaps there is more to the origin story of the Golden Plume cultivar. "Golden Plume" keeps getting repeated in stories about Fukuda, and maybe there's a misunderstanding or even some myth-making here. It is striking that this first big story in 1920 doesn't mention it.

Friday, November 8, 2019

A Wobbly Lynched, Marchers Shot: Centralia Riot Mars Armistice Day in 1919

A year after the war, Armistice Day, November 11th, 1919, seemed relatively quiet here in Salem. Schools and businesses were closed, the American Legion was having a dance, but it did not seem to occasion much that registered in the newspaper.

Border control, nativism, and the Red Scare
November 9th, 1919
This may not be representative. Percolating all along was the Red Scare, and in Centralia, the IWW and American Legion clashed on Armistice Day. News of the violence, deaths, and further reaction to it may have sidelined more coverage of local celebrations.

"Reds fire on paraders" November 12th, 1919
The University of Washington blurbed Tom Copeland's 1993 history, The Centralia Tragedy of 1919 like this:
On November 11, 1919, the citizens of Centralia, Washington, gathered to watch former servicemen, local Boy Scouts, and other community groups march in the Armstice Day parade. When the marchers swung past the meeting hall of the Industrial Workers of the World, a group of veterans broke ranks, charged the hall, and were met by gunshots. Before the day was over, four of the marchers were dead and one of the Wobblies had been lynched by the mob.
The history of it is not clear and seems to be highly contested, so I can't tell you "what really happened." Neither side seems innocent of aggression and overreaction.

City Proposes to Reduce Union Street Bikeway: At the MPO

The City will explain the current proposal to reduce the Union Street Family-friendly Greenway and Bikeway at the MPO on Tuesday.

On the agenda: Use Summer St bike lanes

(map and commentary not part of agenda)
I don't even understand it.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Hit and Run Sentencing Shows our Autoism and Disregard for Jaydriving

Today's front page has long piece about the sentencing in a hit and run and the grief still for the survivors.

The piece also shows so much that is wrong with our autoism. The sentence itself, a plea bargain down from manslaughter to criminally negligent homicide and hit-and-run, seems light.

But it's also interesting the way our culture of autoism regards careless driving as no big deal. The driver Coons had at least two documented instances of serious jaydriving, but the court would not see them as relevant:
[A] woman told police a driver speeding and driving halfway in an oncoming lane almost hit her as she picked her child up from their school bus stop. Concerned because of the other children in the area and because the driver looked like a teen, she posted on a Facebook group for the Dallas community and asked people to help her contact the teen’s parents.

Coons allegedly sent her a message saying he was the teen and asking her take the post down. He said he was normally a safe driver, but he was late for school....

[Separately in another instance] Coons was cited for reckless driving after he crashed his car while “cutting cookies” around a light pole in a parking lot....

[Judge] Caso ruled that the prior incidents were not relevant to whether Coons knew of the dangers of being tired or falling asleep while driving. But he said the incidents would be admissable if Coons made statements about never being in trouble or having driving complaints.
Maybe a legal analyst will be able to say that the judge was more constrained here on admitting the other instances of jaydriving, but it looks like evidence instead that we regard these as juvenile hi-jinks and as no big deal, not worth considering as evidence of a pattern of dangerous driving. They are normal. As such they were not anything that merited intervention to prevent a greater harm, as it turned out Coons's jaydriving later inflicted.

It may be also that the lack of robust transit made it difficult or impossible for Coons to go places if he had trouble with drowsiness from sleep apnea. By not having a good transportation system with many options, we give people few alternatives to driving when they should not be driving. We make it hard for people to make good decisions sometimes.

There are multiple ways that our autoism aggravates the cascading chain of bad choices and makes catastrophe more likely. And one reason why the sentence here seems light is because of the way we make light of other, non-lethal, instances of jaydriving. Cars are dangerous, and we don't consider this sufficiently.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

"Sub-National Actors" in Concert Can be Effective on Climate

One persistent complaint about the prospects here for a City Climate Action Plan is that it's too small. These complainers note that any action by Salemites is a mere drop not just in a bucket, but in a swimming pool. It will take coordinated Federal action on climate to make a real difference, they are fond of pointing out, and until that happens they think doing anything locally is dumb and possibly even disadvantaging.

While it was not hot here, it was hot elsewhere - via twitter

Front page of Oregonian today
Today's Oregonian has a piece from the LA Times that addresses the doubt and concern-trolling fairly directly:
More than 400 city leaders have joined the Climate Mayors association, and 17 states and territories have joined the U.S. Climate Alliance. Both organizations have vowed to uphold the country's Paris pledge.

Many city, county, state and tribal governments have also signed the "We're Still In" declaration, which reiterates support for the accord. So have 2,200 businesses and investors, 350 universities and 200 faith groups.

Together, these players account for almost 60% of the U.S. economy, half the country's population, and 37% of its greenhouse gas emissions, according to an assessment by America's Pledge, an initiative focused on sub-national climate actions led by former California Gov. Jerry Brown and ex-New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

If this collection of governments and organizations were their own country, they would be the world's third-largest emitter....

[A 2018 analysis] found that existing commitments by sub-national actors could achieve two-thirds of the emissions reductions called for in the U.S.'s Paris pledge. Broader participation and additional measures, like rapid retirement of coal-fired power plants, could bring that number close to 90%.
Any action by the City of Salem and by Salemites collectively is small relative to global goals. But as part of a collection of "sub-national climate actions," it has great value and should not be dismissed as trivial or pointless. The structure here is both/and: We need action at the level of household, city, state, and nation. All the above. Small actions can prompt larger actions, and larger actions coordinate smaller actions.

Monday, November 4, 2019

City PSA on Time Change and Safety Needs Paradigm Change Itself

With the time change, the City published a PSA on safety, "Time Change Means Added Risk for Cyclists and Walkers, so Play it Safe."

While it is mostly well-meaning, it is also basically (or perhaps wholly) copy-and-paste from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an autoist organization. The phrase "added risk for" can mean added risk to, with cyclists and walkers the objects of elevated risks from people driving, but the rhetoric really focuses on seemingly risky behavior, with cyclists and walkers the subjects who might make apparently bad decisions. It's victim-blamey.

Rather than less driving and slower driving, we propose
requirements for Pedestrian Safety Equipment via Twitter
The PSA really operates to make people who might walk and bike anxious they are doing it the wrong way, and then functions to reassure drivers they are innocent and can proceed with business as usual.

The PSA is not about change; it's about maintaining the autoist status quo.

We need to apply the emission and climate lens
to all other areas of city activity and decision
Now that we have completed our initial greenhouse gas assessment, and see the great majority of emissions come from our driving, this understanding needs to inform our other analyses and actions.

In this light, the PSA is oblivious and autoist.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Ride Salem Numbers from Summer Seem Small

When you were out and about this summer, did you see many of the Bike Salem rental bikes? It wasn't until September that I saw them in the wild, and from this limited personal and anecdotal data, it did not seem they were terribly popular.

It wasn't until the second week of September
I saw the first rental bikes in the wild.
Cherriots has sent out a blurb on the bike rental program with actual data:
The program has been active for about three months since launching in June and the initial results are in. More than 400 people have become members. There have been more than 800 rides...
But behind the numbers things may not be very rosy.

Let's look at the numbers in round figures for an estimate of use. The bikes launched towards the end of June, so that gives us in about 120 days. Four months, not three. 800/120 = 7 rides per day. There are twenty-some bikes in the system, so let's say 21 are in working order every day.

That'll give us a nice round estimate that is close enough:

If Eugene had 3 rides per bike per day, which was very good; and Portland had about 1 ride per bike per day, which seems to be industry standard right now; Salem had 0.33 rides per bike per day.

So on the one hand, one-third ride per day leaves lots of room for growth. Upside! Cherriots is not wrong to hype the system and try to recruit more users.

But the flip side of the positivity is that it may hamper us from taking seriously the ways there are serious problems with infrastructure that cap the prospects for success of the rental system.

As we consider these first reports about the bike rental system, we should also be talking about how the downtown streets do not support a bike rental system very well. In the background should be a call for better infrastructure and other facilities. As it is, Salem is not positioning a bike rental system for maximum success.