Wednesday, May 5, 2021

MWACT Talks Biking; Also, New Bicycling Manual from ODOT

The Mid-Willamette Valley Area Commission on Transportation meets tomorrow, Thursday the 6th, and they will talk a little bit about bicycling; and the role of the Area Commissions in relation to the State walking and biking committee, OBPAC, and to the parent Oregon Transportation Commission.

Bicycling on the agenda

I don't have anything much substantive on this, so here are a couple of observations and some other related matters.

The ACTs are a creation of the State, advisory to the governing board of ODOT, the OTC. Ours has basically a tri-county structure, with representatives from Yamhill, Polk, and Marion counties. For whatever combination of reasons, this results in a decided rural and highway bias on the committee. (Even though the MPO is a creation of the Feds, because it corresponds much more closely to the urban area, it has seemed more relevant, and we follow it more closely here. But there is a great deal of overlap in membership between MWACT and SKATS, and the COG staffs both MWACT and SKATS. To an outsider, it's all very Byzantine.)

The Yamhill County representative, Commissioner Casey Kulla, has been vocal about the Yamhelas-Westsider trail and advocating for improved bicycling facilities.

You may recall also our representative from Cherriots, Board Chair Ian Davidson, has also been advocating for more consideration for walking and biking, in addition to his transit work.

These are all good moves, but they still may be paddling upstream against the rural and highway orientation of the commission as a whole.

In the packet, as they reported on a February meeting with interested ACT members from all over the state, they included a sticky note exercise from the meeting.

Sticky note brainstorming

The update on the OBPAC - ACT meeting will be nice, and it may plant seeds for later developments, but at the moment any new thought is tentative and preliminary, not yet close to the whole new mobility paradigm, which includes less driving in addition to more walking and biking and busing, we actually need.

MWACT zooms at 3:30pm on Thursday the 6th. (Agenda and meeting packet here.)

Meeting details

New Bicycling Manual

You may have seen the note at BikePortland about the new Bicycling Manual.

Note the gerund, "bicycling"

BikePortland focused on some new rhetoric from the State:

The title itself is new: It’s now a “bicycling” manual, not a “bicyclist” manual. This small change turns the focus toward the activity instead of a personality type. Bicycling and the people who do it already suffer enough from false narratives and irrational anger from many people. The more we can remind folks that bicycle users are people and not “those cyclists”, the better.

The language is echoed in the ODOT press release for Bike Safety Month.

Nice to see things for "driving" or "biking"

Mostly the new manual looks good, and it is worth reading more closely, but one illustration suggested they still have not fully thought through bicycling to family-friendly, all-ages-and-abilities standards.

Section on turning needs more attention

Here on a one-way, two lane road, certainly posted for 30mph, and probably more like 35mph, they show a left hand weave, merge, and turn. And if you are confident and skilled, you can do that. But it can be scary and intimidating, even dangerous, also.

Later they show a jug-handle, two-phase turn, but maybe we should turn our attention instead to slowing the cars? It's still an ODOT manual that fits bicycling into autoist patterns on roads and driving.

Jug-handle turn at #3

There might me more to say in another post about the new guide. The bike program seems to be headquartered in Portland now, no longer at one of the Salem offices, and that could be relevant also.


Anonymous said...

As a point of clarification, you write "... SKATS staffs MWACT also ..."

Actually, the staffing for both SKATS and MWACT is from the MWVCOG (although ODOT also provides staff for MWACT). SKATS is the Policy Committee which is composed of (for the most part) elected officials from the jurisdictions and agencies in the Salem-Keizer-Turner urbanized area.


Anonymous said...

Like they said, "it's all very Byzantine."

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

It rarely seems necessary to distinguish between the COG and MPO and because it is all so Byzantine, writing for non-specialists I often collapse the distinctions. There are already so many acronyms and policy arcana! Thanks for the clarification. Perhaps this is an instance to have been more careful. Will edit the post.