Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Policy Ideas on Transportation Likely too Weak still in Our Salem

The Zoning Subcommittee for Our Salem met yesterday the 21st. Aside from a bare bones agenda, there was no presentation or meeting packet published. Later there may be more to say.

Separately the City has published several documents related to the policy meetings in May at the parent Our Salem page.

Only carrots, never sticks

One of them is the summary presentation on all the policy concepts. In it we see one of the central problems. On transportation it's all about making small, non-specific changes to make it easier for those who would like not to drive. It's about incentives and making it a little easier. It's all carrot.

There is nothing about making driving more difficult or more expensive. Nothing about sticks. Nothing about ending all the ways we subsidize driving to make it the preferred choice.

Until we face squarely that we have to make real decreases in our driving, and that means for nearly everybody, not just those who already would like to walk, bike, or bus, but even for those who would prefer still to drive, we aren't going to succeed in our emissions goals.

Scary, but intuitive and direct: Hide, then scamper
City Traffic Camera, Commercial at Fairview

(It's telling, too, that the photo of the bike lane icon in the Policy slide deck is at a zoomy place where there is a lot of fast traffic, the bike lane on Liberty just ends, and proceeding on Commercial is very difficult. This is a Potemkin instance of bicycle connectivity! If the icon is meant as an example of a deficiency, it should be captioned.)


Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Over on FB a person writes:
"There is nothing about making driving more difficult or more expensive".
Not sure how that would sound the least bit enticing to the majority of Salem residents.

This really is the problem:
What is popular is insufficient.
What is big enough to approach being sufficient is unpopular.

I don't have an answer for this.

Anonymous said...


The City applied for, and was awarded, funds through an Oregon Department of Transportation safety grant program to construct buffered bike lanes and install a pedestrian crossing, with construction scheduled for 2022. The buffered bike lanes will be constructed on Commercial Street SE. The pedestrian crossing will be constructed on Commercial Street SE near Triangle Drive SE. Included in the funding is a new bike signal to be installed at the Liberty Road S split from Commercial Street SE

This project will address the bicycle crossing across Liberty that is shown in your photos.

JA said...

I agree, your inability to provide a logical answer is totally understandable, and here's why:

We elect local politicians and officials to work for and serve us; not vice versa. All too often, entitled special interest groups hell-bent on reaching a single "sufficient" outcome (at the expense of many others) attempt to discredit the popular will of the majority. (Think, the extensive online survey which clearly demonstrated an overwhelming majority of respondents oppose new vehicle/gas/transport taxes and restrictions).

Yes, what is unpopular may be sufficient, to you. But we don't always get what we want.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

(The last link in the piece, "a zoomy place where there is a lot of fast traffic," is an extensive discussion of the bike signal from 2015. It is part of an ongoing series on the Commercial-Vista Corridor study. There are also posts about the enhanced crosswalks with medians in that series.)

Anonymous said...

ODOT officials have two statutory duties - to provide safe travel and to facilitate commerce. Salem officials follow the same guidelines, with less ability to withstand commercial pressures that compromise safety. Salem will continue to emphasize commercial needs at the expense of all else until there are too many casualties, too much congestion, or the political context changes drastically. Those who determine policy, whether conservative or progressive, will continue to protect the transportation status quo.