Thursday, July 22, 2021

City Council, July 26th - Opening Union and Winter Streets for Saturday Market

When for the new Police Station the City converted a segment of Liberty Street to two-way function, they did not stripe any crosswalks or make it easier to cross Liberty along Union Street.

Warning signs, but no striped crosswalks or signal

At Council on Monday they will consider opening Union and a part of Winter Street to people who might like to walk, bike, or otherwise roll on it while the Saturday Market is in session. 

Figuring out how to cross Liberty Street here will be an important part of any solution. A revised Informational Report does stress that as part of work on the Union Street bikeway, in 2022, "A traffic signal at Union Street and Liberty Street will also be constructed." (It's also referenced in the materials for an intergovernmental agreement with ODOT for right-of-way acquisitions, but those differ on the schedule, saying 2023 rather than 2022.)

New signal - ROW agenda item

Earlier this month some people said, "why can't they just ride on the sidewalk," but this is part of the autoist strategy, to get people on foot and on bike on opposite sides, struggling and even fighting over scarce sidewalk space.

RideSalem on the sidewalk on State Street at Front

Fundamentally we're on Team Bike here, but scorching is an actual problem, and when I am on foot and in the sidewalk, I do not like to contend with adults biking, who far too often crowd and speed. Even when they are proceeding at a leisurely pace, as were some RideSalem users recently downtown, they take up too much space on the sidewalk and force a person on foot into a defensive posture, even to take evasive action.

Scorching, May 3rd, 1903

It is the autoist who should be crowded and slowed! We need less driving, not less walking or biking.

Back to the agenda item more specifically, that revised Informational Report shows a preference for the "soft closure" option, which would be easier and quicker to implement, as well as less costly. There is no reason not to try that with a view to adjusting to harder barricade concepts if necessary because driver non-compliance or other problematic driving. But try out the least disruptive plan first.

Indeed, Councilor Stapleton proposes just this:

I move to direct staff to implement a soft closure of Union Street, NE and Winter Street, NE to discourage through-vehicle traffic, consistent with “Option 1” as set forth in the July 12, 2021 Information Report on this subject.

Essentially launching in August, this may not be enough time for the street opening to find its rhythm. But if we approach it as a pilot with a view towards next season for the full effect, along with any iterative improvements that seem necessary or useful, this will be a terrific experiment.

Previously see:

1 comment:

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

In Public Comment submitted to Council, a person who has a spouse at ODOT, and writes from a knowledgeable position, worries that the potential agreement with ODOT for right-of-way services is too general and could be used to smuggle in things like:
- more parking
- road widening
- tree removal
Things generally in tension with a bike boulevard and an environment conducive to more walking and biking.

So that is interesting criticism to register.

A couple of others write in more general terms about their fears of tree removal along Union.