Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Oof! Pringle Creek Path Application Misses Initial Cut on State Recommendations

Concept drawing January 2021

The Oregon Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee sent out the list of recommended projects for funding under the Oregon Community Paths Program, and the City's application to fund the path along Pringle Creek between Mirror Pond and Riverfront Park did not make the cut.

We are excited to share that the Oregon Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee recommends funding 18 projects totaling $11.3 million for ODOT’s Oregon Community Paths Program. The recommendation now goes to the Oregon Transportation Committee for final approval at its May meeting.

The Oregon Community Paths Program, or OCP, is a new program dedicated to help plan and build off-road walking and biking paths that connect communities and destinations....

The Oregon Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee and ODOT staff put in over 100 hours reviewing and evaluating potential projects using the scoring criteria and priorities determined by the committee in 2020....

In November 2020, ODOT received 81 letters of interest for the OCP program, totaling $105 million. Those letters determined to be eligible for the program were invited to apply for funding. In January 2021, ODOT received 57 applications from across the state for the OCP Grant Program, totaling $35 million....

In addition to whether they were actually eligible, OBPAC scored the projects on Equity, Safety, Public Support, and Project Readiness.

The Projects they recommended:

  • Ashland: Kestrel Park Bridge - Bear Creek Greenway Extension
  • Astoria: Riverwalk Trail Continuation of Lighting East
  • Chiloquin Community Safe and Healthy Connections
  • Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation: Tribal Services Center Access Path
  • Corvallis: Tunison Community Path
  • Eugene: Berkeley Park Path
  • Hermiston: Belt Park Greenway Trail
  • Independence: South Willamette River Trail Refinement
  • Joseph Branch Trail Consortium: Joseph Branch Rail with Trail
  • City of La Grande Critical Link Project Refinement
  • Juniper Hills to Madras East Trails Multiuse Connection Project
  • Medford: Larson Creek Path Repaving: Black Oak to Murphy Rd
  • Ontario North-South Connector
  • Tualatin: Westside Trail Segments 14-18 Master Plan (Preferred Alignment)
  • and Tualatin River Greenway Trail Extension
  • Warrenton: Tansy Point Connection NW 11th Path
  • Wasco County: Mill Creek Greenway
  • Washington County: Reedville Trail

Astoria-Warrenton and the Tualatin area picked up two project recommendations each.

It will be interesting to learn more about any comments and critique on the Salem proposal that are made public.

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Critiquing Photo Enforcement on Red Lights and Speed

Photo speed enforcement installation
on Commercial at Madrona (2020)

The City's got a weird rhythm going on the photo speed enforcement. Last summer they announced tickets would be issued in July, but apparently that went on hiatus, and they are starting up again.

Starting April 1, the City of Salem aims to reduce crashes and protect pedestrians with new traffic enforcement cameras at three high-traffic intersections/

I guess last summer's run was "testing."

Now, with the start again, some are trying to say we should remove the cameras. One person appeals to an ODOT report from a decade ago, "Red Light Running Camera Assessment: Final Report (2011)".

They cite the recommendation by ODOT to remove the cameras. 

Which, of course. You may recall the OR-22/Mission Street study completed in 2018. ODOT's primary interest is not urban safety, but is capacity and speed on OR-22. So it is not surprising they recommended against the cameras. This is of a piece with the SRC, also for OR-22. On these urban segments of OR-22, ODOT is likely to have a different perspective from the City.

But in the report itself, the evidence is much more ambiguous with real trade-offs, far from "clear and convincing."

Fewer angle, more rear end crashes

From the study:

The estimated average monthly crash costs increased from $16,296 before the cameras were installed to $27,738 after the cameras were installed. There was a higher percentage of injury crashes (including turn and angle) prior to the cameras being installed, but, despite the post-installation period containing primarily rear end crashes, the overall increase in crash rate led to an overall greater cost after installation....The average monthly reduction [in violations distinct from crashes] from March 2008 for the period from April 2008 through December 2009 was 23%.

There appears to be a trade-off: Even though there was a slight increase in crash rate, more importantly there was a decrease in crash severity. More fender-benders, fewer people hurt. Also fewer violations, which improves comfort for other road users, both those in cars and outside of cars on foot or on bike.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

December Fatality on Market Street may have Passed in Silence

It has seemed like the Police always announced when in a crash a driver killed a vulnerable person outside of a car, but a recent fatality may have gone by without public statement.

Apparently a person died - via Twitter

A reader writes:

Our neighborhood also had a reported pedestrian death on Market St. @ Baker St NE on Dec. 4. The woman was on a scooter, so not sure if she would be considered a pedestrian. I called the SPD to ask why it wasn't reported. They said once there is an investigation, they cannot release any information.

She was a long term resident of the neighborhood.

Baker Street runs north-south along Barrack Field and is very near Garnet and the RR as it crosses Market. This is a tricky place to cross. There are signalized crosswalks only at the major intersections of Capitol and 17th, more than five blocks apart, and there is a striped crosswalk at 15th. All other corners have only the theoretical variety of unmarked crosswalk, which drivers find very convenient to ignore. Market Street is signed for 30mph here, but it is four lanes and zoomy, and the 50th and 85th percentile speeds are certain to be higher.

As you can see from the tweet, the Salem Police did not announce any death or that a vulnerable user of the road was involved. It did not occasion any articles in the news, either. It had seemed to be a lesser kind of crash, all too ordinary.

But it may have been a major crash with a death instead.

(If more details can be confirmed, this post may be updated, or even deleted, revised, and reposted entirely. There might also be more to say about police reporting standards, as it seems strange for a death to pass by without further remark or announcement. For the moment, this is a placeholder.)

Friday, March 26, 2021

Nursing Home at the Boise Project Revives, at Planning Commission April 6th

The proposed Nursing Home at the former Boise Cascade site is moving again. The project has been delayed, in some ways helpfully to provide staging for other projects, and it is nice to see it moving forward again.

The City's published a Hearing Notice for Tuesday, April 6th.

New revised elevation looking southwest
at corner plaza and retail section

The old concept from 2016 (see this note also)

Thursday, March 25, 2021

On the Edge of Piety Hill: Redevelopment of Holman Row on Court Street

You may recall the succession in urban development at the site of the new Police Station. First wood-framed buildings, including an early hotel; then the car dealerships; and now the municipal office building. So far, as best as I can tell, three distinct phases is the most any site in Salem has undergone. No place in Salem has had four distinct phases. We just aren't old enough.

The site for the new Veterans housing across the street from the YMCA will have had only two phases, a residential phase, and now this apartment block. And since they are both residential, maybe they don't really count as distinct, and perhaps only the part of the block with First Presbyterian itself has had two fully distinct phases. 

Still, within that residential phase there is a succession that might be a little interesting to consider. This will be only a postcard level sketch, as there are many missing or uncertain details.

Holman Row

Joseph Holman house, corner of Court and Cottage
circa 1870s or 80s (Salem Library Historic Photos)

At the moment, the first known building on the corner is the large house built by Joseph Holman. With the New Holman Hotel possibly breaking ground some time this year, on the site of the first Holman building and the Marion Car Park, the Holman name will be in the news. He had heard Jason Lee and came to Oregon in the Peoria Party of 1839. He was also involved in the Chemeketa Hotel and other civic and government initiatives. Holman probably deserves more attention.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

City Council, March 22nd - Library Parking and Mildred Lane

Council convenes on Monday and while there no big action items of interest, a couple of smaller items deserve notice. Of the most interest here is the thinking behind the resolution for free parking at the Library.

Poverty and carfree heatmaps
(2017 Cherriots Needs Assessment)

Pedestrian Injury and Social Equity in Oregon
(ODOT, January 2021)

The move is supposedly for "equity" and the Library Advisory Board, as well as some Councilors, appeal to poverty:

Why is free parking so important? Poverty rates in Salem were rising even before COVID-19 - and have surged....For impoverished households, many times there is no discretionary money. If there is no money to pay the meter and a fine is imposed then again there is no money to pay the ticket, fines, and the household could risk car impoundment. These are households without credit cards and other advantages that many take for granted.

But free parking doesn't help those who do not drive or do not own a car

Saturday, March 20, 2021

New City Survey on Climate Action Plan may Vitiate rather than Boost

 The City just pushed out a new survey for the Climate Action Plan.

It may be too oriented to popularity

It's soliciting comment on whether to include concepts for further action in the plan. It's gauging popularity and acceptance, "community priorities."

But this may be the wrong approach. We already have set a community priority, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50% in 2035.

Shouldn't this be the way we evaluate ideas?

Asking the question again could be a way to delay or obfuscate. "Are you sure about that?"

Friday, March 19, 2021

DAR Stood for Reaction not Revolution in 1921

Exactly 100 years ago, the State Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution met in Salem at the Capitol. They were all about white supremacy.

Oregonian, March 27th, 1921

This is not wholly news. The story of Marian Anderson, denied a performance by the Daughters in 1939, is well known, especially with her nephew having been an important musician and cultural leader in Portland.

But it's still a little surprising to see the unalloyed and unvarnished interest in white supremacy here at the DAR conference. They didn't dog whistle, didn't whisper, didn't pretend. It was all out in the open.

March 19th, 1921

One keynote speaker deplored the "failure of Legislature to pass anti-Oriental laws." Another keynote speaker argued for "a white America...lest the dark clouds of Asiatic usurpation...become a whirlwind." They also supported eugenics laws. The morning paper seemed to approve, and their coverage was very uncritical. The headline was about standing "for [a] white nation."

With the mass shooting in Atlanta and what appears to be a rise in anti-Asian bigotry and assault nationwide, fueled in part by disinformation and lies about the origin of the Pandemic, it is helpful but also dispiriting to remember that the bias has not been marginal, but was often popular and at the center of self-understandings about patriotism. DAR's vision was white nationalism and it was hardly the theory of cranks.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

City Publishes new Policy Concepts and Meeting Schedule for Our Salem

Following Council's acceptance of the Vision for the Comprehensive Plan sketched out so far in Our Salem, the City and project team have published a list of draft policy concepts and a public meeting schedule to discuss them.

There will be more to say in greater detail later, but at a glance they continue to be underwhelming. 

The language on transportation is an easy ecumenicalism that doesn't grapple with the urgent need to transition away from drive-alone car trips. We want to promote "safe, efficient travel for every user." The default remains the car trip and so we need to insist on including "non-automobile modes of transportation, including bicycling, walking and public transportation, in all transportation planning and projects."

We already have language for this, and it's not working well enough. We should have stronger language about the pernicious effects of cars and the resolve to make them the transportation choice of last resort. The language here continues with the assumption that it is the default travel choice of first resort.

On Transportation

In the meeting schedule and packet, there is also a grid of policy ideas.

The transportation meeting is for April 21st.

On transportation, they lead with the airport, greenwashing it as a "sustainable airport." This is nonsense.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Person in Large Pickup Strikes Christian Kennedy Crossing Silverton Road; Injuries prove Fatal

On Monday, a person driving a large pickup truck struck Christian Kennedy, who died today from the injuries, as he attempted to cross Silverton Road, a five-lane arterial.

The Sheriff's photo from Monday is of the street closure at Brown Road, not the crash site.

"struck by a vehicle," closure at Brown Road
via Twitter

The crash site, Silverton Road, is a zoomy stroad, signed for 40mph. It is known to be a problem area, and several years ago nearer to 47th the County installed an enhanced crosswalk with flashing beacon and center refuge.

This is hostile for people on foot

From the paper's first story on Monday, which helpfully avoided the hit by car trope and used a grammatical subject (they do not seem to have published an update):

A section of Silverton Road NE is closed between 45th and 47th Avenue NE after a driver struck a pedestrian.

Emergency crews were called to the scene at about 2:13 p.m., according to dispatch logs.

Officials say the closure may last for "an extended period of time" while the incident is investigated.

The condition of the pedestrian was not yet released.

At that time there did not seem to be a release from from the Sheriff. Since then, today they have issued an updated release with the saddest of news:

On Monday, March 15th, 2021, at 2:13 p.m., deputies responded to Silverton Road NE at Brown Road NE where a pedestrian was reported to have been struck by a vehicle. As first responders arrived on scene, the 50 year-old pedestrian was found in the roadway with serious injuries. Medics from the Marion County Fire District transported the pedestrian to a local hospital.

Investigators from the Marion County Multi-Agency Crash Team responded to the scene to investigate. Preliminary information leads investigators to believe the pedestrian was crossing Silverton Road when they were struck by a 2005 Chevrolet Silverado which was turning west onto Silverton Road from Brown Road NE.

The pedestrian has been identified as Christian Kennedy, a 50-year-old man from Salem...Tragically, the pedestrian did not survive the incident, succumbing to their injuries earlier today, on March 17th, 2021.

The driver of the 2005 Chevrolet Silverado remained at the scene and was not injured during the collision. The investigation into the crash is ongoing at this time, no further information is available for release.

It's a little weird to say "the pedestrian did not survive" rather than "Kennedy did not survive." When we turn a named victim into an abstraction, "the pedestrian," and compound it by erasing the driver with the hit by car trope, it is easier to avoid facing the horror and cost of our traffic violence.

Salem Reporter uses the hit by car trope, saying, "A Salem man died Wednesday afternoon after being struck by a car March 15, the Marion County Sheriff's Office said."

This post may be updated.

Monday, March 15, 2021

CANDO got Preview of Y's Veterans Housing Project

Tomorrow night, Tuesday the 16th, the downtown neighborhood association, CANDO, gathers and they'll be talking about the list of capital projects downtown in the CIP.

34 apartments for Veterans (Homes First)

Last month, they got an update on the apartments for Veterans proposed for the corner across the street from the YMCA, currently an empty gravel lot on the northeast corner of Cottage and Court. This was Plan B after the initial concept was for demolishing the IKE Box and building housing on that lot. The former funeral home was saved and sold to the IKE Box, and the new lot purchased from First Presbyterian.

Cottage and Court

(Something that has not been reported, I don't think, is that the YMCA purchased the lot in 1995 from the Chamber of Commerce. In 2004 the Y sold the lot to First Presbyterian. Last year the Y bought it back from First Pres! The circularity is a little humorous. But perhaps it also helped strike a deal.)

I assume there will be a design and site plan review at some point, and I don't think a formal Notice for that has been announced, so details might change. The public completion is slated for 2022, but that might be a pinch optimistic. We'll see!

Churn at the Paper and an Appreciation

The churn at the paper is never ending. It is a way station for young, ambitious reporters, who quickly move on, or an endpoint, with buyouts and layoffs and plain resignations, for many careers as the industry struggles and changes. The paper hasn't had a person on the City Hall beat for a little over a year now and seems to be in no rush to hire one.

In January

In the midst of that, it has been particularly nice to read Emily Teel's reporting on food. She  spent less time on the entertainment and lifestyle and review elements of restaurant reporting than she might have. Though the restaurant scene here just isn't that big anyway, her approach also seemed more newsy and demotic, and it was welcome.

October 2020

But she's leaving now.

Saturday, March 13, 2021

City Council, March 15th - Police Audit

Council convenes on Monday to consider the Performance Audit on the Police, and it will be very interesting to read what others have to say. Policing isn't at all a central matter here, and others will have much more informed opinion and analysis. Still, the audit seems like something of a missed opportunity to think more critically about policing, even if some solutions require state- or federal-level action.

The audit doesn't seem fully responsive
to the magnitude of problems
(Headlines in the SJ over the last year)

Today's front page in Minneapolis

When I look at the headlines from last summer, and indeed at today's headline from Minneapolis, the very things that prompted Council to ask for this audit, I don't see an audit that fully responds to the magnitude of the problem. Maybe this misunderstands the intent and level of generality in the audit, but there seems to be a mismatch in tone and urgency. If there has seemed to be a crisis in policing, the audit mainly sees opportunities for refinement in current policing modes.

Key finding 11:
The language is a little bland and understated

Salem Reporter writes "Independent audit finds Salem police need to better use data, create a community policing plan." They also focus on the recommendation to increase staffing and number of officers.

In addition to the recommendation for more staff, two areas stood out here on a quick read.

Friday, March 12, 2021

Latest Dangerous by Design Report is Good Context on 17th and 45th Street Speeds

The newest edition of Dangerous by Design on walking safety and the dangerous autoism in our road design doctrine is out, and its news is not good.

The number of people struck and killed each year has grown by 45 percent between 2010 and 2019, and 2018 and 2019 saw the highest numbers of pedestrian deaths since 1990.

We don't yet prioritize walking enough

Locally, Oregon and Salem do better with sidewalks and bike lanes. The report ranks Oregon in the middle of the states. We mostly avoid the worst practices illustrated in the report, large, zoomy stroads missing sidewalks and crosswalks. For years our design standards have met a minimum for people walking. Still, we have annexed streets built to unincorporated county standards that lack sidewalks and bike lanes. And even with the sidewalks and bike lanes, they are generally built to legacy standards from the 1970s and 80s, are often posted for speeds inappropriate for an urban context, and still do not do enough to protect vulnerable users of the road.

Crashes on 17th and elsewhere, injury and fatal
In cars = grey, on bikes = purple, on foot = blue
(SKATS, yellow added)

Monday, March 8, 2021

Rep. Mary Kinney Changed Juries in 1921 so Women can Serve

Even though women had won the vote here in Oregon in 1912, they did not serve on juries. In 1921 Rep. Mary Strong Kinney introduced and shepherded successfully a bill to secure representation on juries in Oregon.

February 6th, 1921

Kinney had been born in Salem, a great-grandaughter of Tabitha Moffat Brown, graduated from Willamette in 1878, and married William Kinney in 1881. William ran the Salem Flouring Mill, and with a detour to Dayton shortly after the marriage they moved to Astoria and operated a sawmill.

Nov. 7th, 1898

She was widowed in 1898 (see also the Astorian for November 8th and William's record in the IOOF Pioneer Cemetery here) and ran the family mill thereafter.

January 26th, 1921

Saturday, March 6, 2021

City Council, March 8th - Speed Zones and our Autoism

Also on Council's agenda for Monday are a couple of transportation items that deserve some notice.

Two Speed Studies

Though the details are pretty wonky, the two speed studies and adjustments to posted speeds are very interesting.

And we should read them in light of the fact, as Salem Reporter noted, in West Salem on Doaks Ferry Road, a person was apparently driving lawfully at 40mph, or close enough, that after they struck and killed Selma Pierce, the "the Polk County District Attorney’s review...found there was no evidence to justify criminal charges." 

Speed kills even when there is no obvious carelessness or unlawful driving. (Previous notes here.)

At Nebraska on 17th,
70% of drivers exceed "limit."
The limit is 30mph, the average is 32,
and 85th percentile speed is 36.

I think this is the first time that we have seen a speed zone evaluated by the 50th percentile rather than 85th percentile speed. Last year ODOT changed the rules around evaluations like these, and here is what might be the first fruit of that in Salem. This is actually a remarkable moment!

Friday, March 5, 2021

City Council, March 8th - Our Salem, again, Soft on Climate

Council convenes on Monday and, after it was postponed last month in the ice storm aftermath, they'll take up the draft vision for Our Salem.

The central claim here is that Our Salem isn't fully ripe. Most importantly, it does not yet represent a considered and determined approach on climate; it remains too partial and half-hearted.

(Other items on the agenda will be in a separate post later. In particular there is a proposal for a signed bikeway between Bush and Clark Creek Parks, as well as proposals on adjustments to posted speeds on 17th and 45th Streets NE.)

Not Enough on Climate

On Wednesday the City published a blurb about the Climate Action Plan, and the tone is a little diffident, echoing ways Our Salem is not yet mature.

A "Merchants of Doubt" approach?
(Red comments added)

The City had earlier adopted emissions targets and the planning process should have been to manage to those targets, to figure out a way to reach them in a determined way.

But instead the City has repeatedly retreated from them as "aspirational," like they were some kind of luxury good and status symbol. Here they say only the city "could" reach the 2035 target. Strictly speaking that is factually true, but as a matter of rhetoric it plants the seed of doubt. It disparages the goal and makes it seem very optional.

At every turn the planning process has seemed designed to undermine strong action.

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Tell Rep. Evans to Support Safe Routes for All, SB 395

Support more bike bill! The Bike Bill expansion finally has a hearing, tomorrow, March 4th.

via the Street Trust

Last month BikePortland had a conversation with Senator Prozanski from the Eugene area. He's sponsoring the proposal to expand the Bike Bill, SB 395, and it's been stalled in the Joint Transportation Committee. They finally shook it loose for a hearing tomorrow.

Rep. Paul Evans' District

If you live in South Salem or West Salem in Representative Evans' district, he's the lone Salem-area legislator on the committee. 

Tell Rep. Evans you'd like to see more money devoted to low-carbon transportation, including walking and biking, and better safety!

For more see:


Look at this beautiful support from Cherriots!

It's great to see support from transit

Monday, March 1, 2021

More on the Pioneer Myth: The State Song as Problematic Panegyric

In the Sunday paper was a piece from OPB on the problematic lyrics of our State Song, "Oregon, my Oregon."

Land of the Empire Builders, Land of the Golden West;
Conquered and held by free men, Fairest and the best.
On-ward and upward ever, Forward and on, and on;
Hail to thee, Land of the Heroes, My Oregon.
Land of the rose and sunshine, Land of the summer's breeze;
Laden with health and vigor, Fresh from the western seas.
Blest by the blood of martyrs, Land of the setting sun;
Hail to thee, Land of Promise, My Oregon.

It was unusually frank, referencing "white supremacist undertones" and "Oregon’s racist, imperialistic beginnings."

Recent pieces have echoed this assessment, sometimes even more strongly. At Portland Monthly last year they wrote "Oregon’s 1920s-Era State Song Is Nakedly Racist."

Others have been less strong, seeing undertones again rather than naked intent. The Oregon Encyclopedia is more irenic and less definite, but still recognizes that it takes work to read in an innocent way.

In recent years, some of its phrases have been criticized as denigrating Oregon Indians and being disproportionately laudatory of the state’s white male citizenry. The lyrics include references to “empire builders,” which suggests colonial rule; to lands “conquered and held,” which emphasizes colonial usurpation; to “free men, fairest and the best,” which can be read as light-haired and racially superior in a state notorious for excluding Black residents, but may also be a reference to fairness and an easy rhyme with West; and “blest by the blood of martyrs,” a phrase that does indeed call to mind whites killed in violent conflicts with Native people.

Creating and solidifying an identity for Oregon and Oregonians distinct from other states and their residents was an important civic project. The writers mined mythic imagery and tropes as they sought to elevate place and resident. Since they were settlers, and not in fact natives, there might be an underlying anxiety about creating legitimacy.

I'm sure there's an academic paper, or even a book-length study, out there that goes into much greater detail and offers more sophisticated readings. Just casually googling "panegyric" turns up studies like Dryden and the Tradition of Panegyric and Urban Panegyric and the Transformation of the Medieval City, 1100-1300. There must be a study of poems and hymns for American states that place them in the context of panegyric for nations and cities, especially Latin forms of the Roman Republic which would be likely models.

One of the earlier, different versions of song
Oregon Teachers Monthly, Vol. 8, June 1904

As a meme the phrase is older, in fact, than the 1920s, and our version seems to be patterned on songs and poems for other states. The phrase appears to have had a place in oral traditions and conversation before, leading to its repeated use in poetry. The versions of "Oregon, my Oregon" could alone be a monograph!

Since we are interested here in the 1920s and our myths of origin, the composition and adoption of the song is of some interest. It goes right along with images of Jason Lee and the iconography of our Pioneer statuary. And in a general way, the imagery that is objectionable today was not as strongly present in the first instances of the panegyric. There is a pattern of development here, leading to the themes in the final version from 1920.