Thursday, June 3, 2021

City to Hold Teleconference on Union Street Plans

The City just published a notice for a zoom meeting on designing the Union Street bikeway:

The City of Salem is seeking public comment on the Union Street Family Friendly Bikeway Project that seeks to add bike lanes to Union Street between Commercial Street NE and Summer Street NE.

The proposed project improvements will enhance the overall pedestrian, bike riding, and vehicular safety of this street. The project will provide separated bike lanes, road striping, improved crosswalks, and parking as required. When all segment pieces are complete this project will connect with the 134-mile Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway. Additionally, the intersection of Union Street NE and Liberty Street NE will be improved to include a traffic signal and bulb out corners to improve safety for both bicycles and pedestrians. Your input on design features including parking, landscaping, and bicycle lane configuration is necessary to a successful project.

Once complete, the bikepath will be an integral link in the bicycle system will be provided in downtown Salem. The project will connect directly to Wallace Marine Park, Riverfront Park, Minto-Brown Island Park, and the Capital Mall. The City of Salem is in the preliminary design phase of the project and construction is scheduled to begin in 2022.

Join us on June 8th, 2021 from 7:00 P.M. to 8:00 P.M. for a virtual open house to learn more about this project. Your input into this project will help designers build a bike path that will serve Salem residents for years to come.

Zoom link for virtual open house

This is a departure for "virtual open houses," which had been conducted with maps and survey components available in a standard web browser, and now will be in a video conference form.

The lack of information, without any maps or "design alternatives" to consider, the prospect they may be accessible only from the zoom meeting, as well as the tone of the release, which makes the bikeway itself sound more tentative than it had seemed to be over the last decade, might suggest the City is making every effort to protect on-street car parking at the expense of truly family-friendly standards for bicycling. I am a little suspicious.

At the same time, the project has undergone many changes in the last decade, including deleting a large section, and maybe it really does need a fresh round of assessment and public comment.

When the City put in the median and light at Commercial Street, the concept was for sharrows only and to retain the angle parking east of Commercial.

From 2016 or 2017:
Sharrows only between Commercial and High (right side)

But a much earlier version showed that landscaped median, parallel parking, and buffered bike lanes east of Commercial:

From 2013 or so:
Landscaped median and buffered bike lane (right side again)

So I guess we'll see what is the current intent of the City. Our Climate Action Plan calls for prioritizing people on foot, on bike, and on other wheels, rather than prioritizing those in cars. There is an opportunity here. Will the City seize it?

Cherriots Board Chair approves
13th Avenue bikeway in Eugene
via Twitter

Most recently on Union Street and one older note:

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