Friday, February 26, 2021

USDOT Secretary Pedals with Humor; Bike Clinic at the Library on Saturday

via Twitter

There are limits to how much change the Secretary of Transportation can execute on his own. We will see how actual policy and decisions change. But for the moment, signs are promising. It would be terrific to have a Secretary of Transportation who actually bikes on the streets for non-recreational trips occasionally. (And who knows, maybe this will be a frequent thing!) 

Biking clinic at the Library

Tomorrow the 27th from 9am to 11am, as part of the Salem Reads project around Walking with Peety, NW Hub and the Oberys will be at the temporary Library with tips and resources, and to talk about adding biking to your transportation toolbox. (Full schedule here.)

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Ride Salem Public Bikes, Bike Bill, Cherriots, Celebrity Athlete and Crash Framing - Bits

Ride Salem in July 2019
at the downtown Transit Mall, NE corner

The Cherriots' Board meets tomorrow, and there might be a couple of items to note. (Full agenda and packet here.)

Statewide public bike rental management

In the TripChoice report there is news on movement with the public bike system, which went on hiatus a year ago after Zagster ceased operation.

Apparently a statewide firm, Cascadia Mobility, is planning to take over the Salem system as well as those in Eugene, Bend, Corvallis, and Ashland. (This would leave Portland's system independent, it appears.)

In a discussion that seems to be related, a Bend area proposal sought to leverage this coverage.

because Bend BikeShare will be interoperable with similar systems in Eugene, Corvallis, Salem and Ashland, it may even boost the usefulness and viability of ODOT’s inter-city transit system. For example, more people may be willing to ride the Eugene - Bend transit route or the Salem-Bend transit route if they know that they can access an interoperable bikeshare system at both ends of their trip.

By itself that is not a huge development, but it is interesting and something that could help lead to stronger growth for the programs in each city.

There does not seem to be a lot of published, public information out there on this, and it will be something to watch this spring and summer.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Driver Strikes and Kills Person Biking on Lancaster Drive

Sunday night, driving on Lancaster Drive in the Four Corners area Anthony Mankins struck and killed Blake Saville, who was biking.

Looking north in the 300 block of Lancaster Dr SE
(Inset, sign for 40mph in the 700 block SE)

From the Sheriff's release:

At approximately 8:17 p.m. on Sunday, February 21, 2021, Willamette Valley Communications Center received a 911 call from a driver reporting they struck a cyclist in the 300 block of Lancaster Drive SE. When first responders arrived at the scene they located a 25-year-old male cyclist who had sustained life-threatening injuries. The male was taken to a local hospital where he remains in critical condition. The driver was not injured in the crash and remained at the scene.

Investigators from the Marion County Sheriff’s Office Crash Team were called out to investigate. Based upon initial information, investigators believe the driver was traveling northbound on Lancaster Drive when the cyclist was struck while crossing the roadway. Neither driver impairment nor speed appears to have been contributing factors to the collision. Lancaster Drive SE was closed to traffic for several hours during the investigation.

And an update from the Sheriff (which appears to be written by a different person, as it uses the "hit by car" passive voice in contrast with the clearer language of "driver" in the first release):

Earlier today the Marion County Sheriff’s Office provided preliminary details about a serious injury crash involving a cyclist who was struck by a vehicle on Lancaster Drive SE on Sunday evening, February 21st, 2021. Following the crash, the cyclist was taken to an area hospital with critical injuries. The cyclist has since succumbed to their injuries and was pronounced deceased late Monday morning.

The cyclist has been identified as Blake Saville, 25, of Salem. The involved driver in the crash, Anthony Mankins, 29, of Salem was uninjured.

To say "speed appears [not] to have been [a] contributing factor" omits that even at lawful speed at 40mph, a crash with a person on foot or on bike is nearly certain to be fatal.

Even if speeding is not a factor, speed most certainly is.

There aren't a lot of signalized intersections here, and crossing can be difficult. It might not be well lit at night. The road is wide, and at 40mph any small error in judgement by either Saville or Mankins might result in catastrophe to the more vulnerable person on bike.

The road's design is inherently hostile to people on foot, on bike, or in wheelchair. 

This post may be updated.

Saturday, February 20, 2021

City Council, February 22nd - Our Salem and Weasel Words on Climate

In the aftermath of the ice storm, Council meets on Monday to consider changes to the Comprehensive Plan.

The Staff Report for Our Salem on the Comprehensive Plan is sortof cheery, but it swerves a little from one of the central matters. In the details it makes little progress on our climate goals.

The details remain distant from "carbon neutral"

Here it discusses most recent revisions from the initial September draft, but does not say that the Plan projects to meet our climate goals but only that it "would help Salem move closer" to achieving the goals.

The revisions largely aim to help create more complete neighborhoods. Under the proposed Comprehensive Plan Map, there would be more opportunities for residents to live closer to and more easily access shops, services, and amenities without driving, and the revisions would allow more people to live and work in the same area or on the same property. This would help Salem move closer to its greenhouse gas emissions reductions goals.

Council should ask for more revision and a plan that has a realistic chance of actually meeting the emissions goals, not merely "help Salem move closer." (There are also significant questions about the way the City understands "complete neighborhood," and it is likely they are using a very loose and overbroad interpretation of that, which allows them to make overstated claims for the effectiveness of this draft plan. See link below on that.)

Those are totally weasel words!

Farther down in the Staff Report, in a detail discussion of climate, we see that the "preferred scenario" really doesn't even "help Salem move closer":

Specifically, the daily VMT per capita is projected to be 17.66 if Salem were to continuing growing under current policies (e.g., current trends) versus 17.56 under the revised preferred scenario. The GHG emissions from transportation similarly did not significantly change: 792,000 annual metric tons of CO2e under current trends to 777,000 under the revised preferred scenario.

No significant change is the real analysis! It hardly helps at all.

City Council, February 16th, Postponed to April 19th

With the ice storm, last Tuesday's formal Work Session on the Airport was postponed to April 19th. 

The url here on last weekend's post also had an extra character in it that rendered it null in some views, and it was all screwed up. So I have deleted that post, re-posted it here, and will revisit the topic in April.

Carbon Dioxide is missing in the Plan

Staff tee it up, saying

The City of Salem Strategic Plan, adopted by City Council in October 2017, identified a goal and an action item under the Priority Area of Economic Development section to create a strategic business plan (Attachment 1) and development strategy for the Salem Municipal Airport (Airport). The Salem Municipal Airport Strategic Business Plan (Business Plan) was completed in 2019. City Council discussion, followed by direction at future meetings, regarding future Airport infrastructure projects, economic development strategies, and current challenges and opportunities is needed to guide development of an Airport master plan update as early as 2022.

The materials here include the 20 page main part of the Business Plan, but the full thing with appendices was 626 pages!

More significantly, the word "carbon" appears only as "carbon dioxide," and there is no discussion of "carbon dioxide" nor any mention of greenhouse gas or climate.

Friday, February 19, 2021

Mural in Senate Chambers Shows Bennett House in 1859

In the ice storm, observing Oregon's Birthday was a little secondary, but maybe we can circle back a moment. I have sometimes wondered about the "historical" murals at the Capitol, how accurate they might be. Were they just historical confections, freely interpreted and embellished? Or were they closer to a real description of events?

They are also exemplars of the WPA era public art like those pieces discussed in the current show at Hallie Ford, "Forgotten Stories: Northwest Public Art in the 1930s." They are government investment in the arts. Completed almost a century ago, they were much closer to the people and actions depicted, and stand some kind of chance of preserving actual recollections.

Senate Chambers via Oregon Blue Book online
State Archives and Secretary of State

They are interesting in many ways!

One of the murals, the one in the Senate Chamber, purports to show the news of statehood being delivered.

From the Senate's official page:

The mural in the Senate Chamber is titled "Bringing the News to Salem March 17, 1859." The mural, painted by Frank H. Schwarz in 1938, shows the scene in Salem on March 17, 1859, when news of Oregon's statehood was first announced to the people of Oregon. The details in the mural capture the essence of early Oregonians.

As a Salem scene it is vague about the location of this town square, and the caption is not very helpful.

Does it have any correspondence to a plausible, actual scene in Salem? 

It does!

Thursday, February 11, 2021

City and State Diverge on Complete Neighborhoods in Greenhouse Gas Assessment

After the Planning Commission's meeting earlier this week on the proposal to update the Comprehensive Plan, a reader pointed out a very interesting mismatch.

City and State with very different
counts of "complete neighborhoods"

A year ago, the Department of Land Conservation and Development presented an assessment of the extent of "complete neighborhoods" in each metro area. Salem was in the low teens, 11% in 2010 and projected for 13% in 2035. (The chart here, and a very brief discussion in the Staff Report.)

Three quarters of a year later, last fall the City published an analysis in Our Salem that 65% was the current extent.

That's a difference of a little over 50%. 

11% vs 65%!

Half the city is a huge gap in the assessment. 

There are some small differences in the areas under analysis as Our Salem does not embrace the full area of the MPO, but any difference should be more in line with a rounding error, nothing like the magnitude of 50%.

The City and consultant team should explain this difference in more detail. It is likely that the City has used a definition of "complete neighborhood" too generous and broad, and that it doesn't actually point to something we would agree is a walkable, bikable, complete neighborhood, one that doesn't require the use of a car for most errands and trips. Certainly 65% has not seemed like it actually reflects our lived reality in most parts of the Salem.

It is possible that the City should scrap their assessment and simply conform to the State's, as increasing numbers of administrative rules will employ the standards and definitions used by DLCD.

If they do not want to conform to this standard, they should hit pause and publish a more detailed analysis of their own scheme. 

Council should not adopt the current plan with the current analysis. Without more explanation it is nonsensical and insufficient for any big decision.

Sneckdown Alert: Look for Excess Road Space in the Snow!

The weather forecasts sound like the main part of the storm will go farther north, with Portland and parts of Washington getting more snow than the mid- and southern parts of the Valley.

Yesterday, via twitter

Still, with more people at home in the Pandemic, it's an opportunity to walk around your neighborhood and document places with slack in the road space. As we think about a lower-carbon future better for walking and biking, there will be opportunities to reallocate road space, and documenting sneckdowns can be evidence in an argument that cars don't need as much space.

Here are some from years past. (The forthcoming restriping on Commercial Street will in fact employ buffered bike lanes and the plan confirms the slack in the current road.)

From the City traffic cameras, here on 12th & State:
Lanes could be narrower, corner bulbs even larger

South Commercial just north of Madrona - SJ video clip

See here and here for a little more more on our occasional snow and sneckdowns.

Monday, February 8, 2021

Policing Racial Boundaries in 1920s: Herman Hayes, D. H. Brown, and Charlie Maxwell

Tonight Council will make a proclamation about Black History Month. There is positive history to retrieve and celebrate, of course, but a lot of the history here is downright ugly and often just wicked. The proclamation recognizes in general terms the legacy of "white supremacy."

A century ago we see some of it. In February of 1921 two highly racialized cases made front page news. Police here arrested Herman Hayes and D. H. Brown on flimsy charges, more about policing social boundaries and social status than about any actual crimes. The cases were about power.

February 4th, 1921

The first case of Herman Hayes trades on very deliberate slippage between "annoy" and "assault" as well as an implied white audience:

Warm remonstrances of Herman Hayes, a negro bootblack employed at the Salem shoe shining parlors, 315 State street, were hastily concluded yesterday when Constable Walter DeLong jerked the colored man into the street and took him before Judge G. E. Unruh on an assault and battery charge, preferred by Arthur Myers, 13, a Capital Journal newsboy. After a some what drawn out session in which Hayes repeatedly declared he was innocent and "knew his rights and privileges," he entered a plea of not guilty.

His trial by jury will be held Monday morning at 10:30 o'clock. He was released on $25 bond.

The alleged assault was precipitated by countless annoyances which, he claims, the local newsboys have undergone at the hands of certain colored men.

February 7th, 1921

The second case of D. H. Brown is more volatile and harder to parse. Could be an affair, could be prostitution, might not even be sex and just a pretext for "sending a message" to the "uppity." That they were employed at the same shoe shine business might be significant. Whatever is going on here, it can't be read in a straightforward way from the description in the paper; something else is going on.

A negro bootblack employed at the Salem shoe shining parlors, 315 Slate street, who gave his name as D. H. Brown, and a white woman about 26 years of age who says [her] name is Irene Bradley, of 245½ First street, Portland, were arrested yesterday by Chief of Police Moffitt in Brown's room at 185 South Commercial street.

Both are held in the city jail on statutory charges...

D. H. Brown might have been prosperous or had access to a network of emergency funds. He paid a substantial fine very quickly.

Saturday, February 6, 2021

City Council, February 8th - Transportation and Climate

There's not a lot on Council agenda for Monday, but a couple of items show that we remain misaligned in our climate talk and our climate walk.

Front page, summer 2019

The Mayor announced the Council appointments to various regional bodies, and in that list is a renewal of Councilor Lewis on our regional transportation planning and coordination group, the Metropolitan Planning Organization. Over on FB last month there was some criticism of Councilor Lewis' 20th century autoism, skepticism on climate, and discussion of making a different appointment to the MPO.

If the City of Salem is serious about climate and making the necessary changes to our transportation system, Councilor Lewis may not be not best suited to represent Salem. On previous debates over the Salem River Crossing and on a Goal 7 in the RTSP, Councilor Lewis has had difficulty representing the formal City position and has free-lanced a little, undermining the formal City stance. There is reason to think he will not advocate very forcefully for new climate initiatives or for projects that better align with our climate goals. Council should consider overriding the Mayor and making a different appointment (and to MWACT also), someone who is more passionate about climate and about transportation for the 21st century.

But there are formal, institutional problems also.

Summary of Cordon Kuebler Study
in draft MPO Work Plan
(not in the Council agenda)

Also on the agenda is an intergovernmental agreement for the Cordon Kuebler Corridor Study.

The ultimate cross section for this corridor is intended to include four travel lanes, a landscaped median with turn pockets, and a multi-use path. This planning study will help prioritize future investments in this corridor and identify management strategies to promote safe and efficient operation for all modes of transportation.

But there is nothing about climate here, and there are very real questions whether any expansion to "four travel lanes" will induce more travel, induce more carbon pollution, and be inconsistent with our climate goals. It's all premised on assumptions for more driving. Any "multimodal analysis" is very much a side matter. The basic frame for the study is wrong, inadequate to our 21st century needs.

Our most recent GHG assessment:
It's still the cars

We say we are engaged in a Climate Action Plan, but our policy actions yet are often misaligned. 

This is not to say that the City should not engage the Cordon Keubler plan, but it is to say that our engagement should be more critical and steer it to include greater consideration for climate. Right now this is not coming from the MPO, which remains resistant to thinking about climate, and the City should lead on this. It is important also for the City to align policy actions like this more strongly with our more general words on climate. We need to start doing what we say we are going to do.

Friday, February 5, 2021

Expansion of Proposed R4 Live-Work Zoning Tucked into New Draft: A Footnote

The summary map on the latest Our Salem draft was a little confusing with all the yellow. The color really turned out to signify something a little different and somewhat more interesting.

More R4 live-work proposed

It seems that the main change signified by the yellow expanse is not really about single detached housing, but is expansion of the new proposed R4 designation. By subsuming it under "single family" in yellow on the summary map, this change was largely concealed, and I drew an errant inference from the yellow, not grasping that it signified the R4.

Map changes summary Feb 2021
More new single family zones in yellow

This post is a footnote to that first impression on the revised draft plan. This is about the proposed expansion of that R4, about the insufficiency of the draft plan still even with that expansion, and about the overly complicated, even baffling, design of our zoning scheme.

Kingwood in West Salem really illustrates this. Look at all the yellow for "single family residential."

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Our Salem Draft Plan v2.0 Still Fumbles on Climate

The City's published a new draft vision and proposed map for the update to the Comprehensive Plan, Our Salem.

They plan on presenting it to the Planning Commission on the 9th and Council on the 22nd.

But the Climate Action Plan is still very much in the early phases, and since that will feed back into the Comprehensive Plan, increasingly it seems premature to finish the Comprehensive Plan update right now. Why are we rushing it?

As for the revisions since September, the City says

We have used your input since the fall to update the draft vision. For example, we have added more mixed-use areas as well as more neighborhood hubs and live-work opportunities across Salem.

Map changes summary Feb 2021
More new single family zones in yellow

I guess there's a few changes here, but in a zoomed-out view they don't alter the tonal shape and weight of the map. They added a few more mixed use areas and hubs.

The changes mostly appear minor and incremental.

Story on New Keizer Drive-Thru Shows Autoist Subsidy and Omits Climate

Today's note about a new chain restaurant at Keizer Station gives direct evidence for ways our land use and planning induce demand and incentivize driving.

Maximizing "stacking" in the drive-thru

The proposal and changes with the City of Keizer's blessing include maximum "stacking in the drive-through line" and "increasing the amount of parking."

There apparently will also be "a pedestrian plaza" but that may be a euphemism, something really meant for outdoor dining and to accommodate people who have driven, not primarily to accommodate people who might walk, bike, or bus.

Altogether the site configuration and planning changes are designed to make it easier to drive. They induce driving and are an indirect subsidy for driving. We should be clear about how we are making driving the preferred transportation choice and are disadvantaging other transportation choices.

More than this, all stories now are climate stories. At this point food and restaurant stories should always be examined with a climate lens, especially stories about a drive-thru or drive-in component. We need to stop thinking about new auto-oriented drive-thru restaurants as if they were some wholly neutral thing, just background noise in development, small insignificant things, innocent of any implications for climate.

Front page, summer 2019

See "Burger Mania Looks Past Induced Travel and Emissions" from 2019 for more.

Blind spot: Remember this from last September?

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

350 Salem Signs Letter on Selection and Appointment for new OTC Member

In a sign that the Oregon Transportation Commission and ODOT management are getting new attention from advocates, our local chapter, 350 Salem, has signed a letter to Governor Brown calling for a new appointment to the Oregon Transportation Commission to give much greater attention to climate and safety.

Request to Governor February 2021

350 Salem one of the signers

The full letter and discussion of the new vacancy on the Commission is published at BikePortland, "USDOT move leaves open spot on influential Oregon Transportation Commission."

ODOT needs to change. The Oregon Global Warming Commission published a new biannual report to the Legislature, and it's pretty dismal. See "Again, it’s Groundhog’s Day, again" at City Observatory for commentary.

Lausanne Hall and Valley Meat Packing Formally Open a Century Ago

The first week of February in 1921 brought two grand opening events and a third big reopening.

Though it has been running in a soft opening mode for a year, the Valley Packing Company formally opened on the third.

February 2nd, 1921

It was first announced January of 1919, and held a soft opening in January in 1920.

November 4th, 1919

During the first year of operation they constructed an expansion, and its completion seems to be the peg for this "grand opening."

Monday, February 1, 2021

Crosswalks on Wallace Road Finally Coming to Fruition

An ODOT announcement for the commencement of construction of new crosswalks on a zoomy state highway should be a very pleasant thing to note.

via Twitter

They say:

A project that adds a number of safety improvements and paves Wallace Road (OR 221) in West Salem will begin later this month.

The project area extends from Edgewater Street on the south to Michigan City Lane on the north. In addition to a series of safety improvements, a large portion of Wallace Road will be repaved. Over 35,000 motorists use the highway each day, combined with a large number of bicyclists and pedestrians.

The project includes:

  • Repaving the roadway.
  • Upgrading curb ramps to meet American with Disabilities (ADA) standards.
  • Upgrading traffic signals with yellow reflective back plates to improve driver visibility.
  • Crosswalks receiving countdown pedestrian signals.
  • Installing pedestrian activated rapid flashing beacons and other improvements at 5 crosswalks: Narcissus Court, Lynda Lane, Orchard View Avenue, the Park and Ride north of Brush College Road and Vick Avenue.

During construction there will be no full road closures. Travelers can expect single lane closures with flaggers controlling traffic and delays. Construction is not planned during peak travel times and on weekends. Travelers can expect daytime and nighttime delays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. Night work on Sundays begin at 9 p.m.

The $9.9 million project is expected to be completed by October 31, 2022.

But we've been talking about the crosswalk project for nearly a decade, and as a formalized project for over six years. The cycle even just for crosswalks is so long.

The crosswalks way back in 2014

The crosswalks will be a real improvement, but if we want to make progress on our climate goals, to meet that 50% reduction by 2035, we will need to figure out how to shorten up the cycle.