Saturday, August 14, 2021

Learn about Neighborhood Greenways and Traffic Calming on Saturday the 21st

The Bike Boulevard Advocates are hosting a mobile seminar on the greenway and the greenway toolbox for traffic calming and safety, treating it as a set of interventions portable to other neighborhoods and other routes.

via FB

This looks like something that could be very helpful, especially if you have not yet traveled on the Winter-Maple Greenway.

Here are some extended notes on each of the stops.

The staple racks on Winter St at Union St. (2019)

They'll start at Union and Winter, the site of the Saturday Market. In the off-season of 2018-2019 the City installed a pod of staple racks. Up to that point, biking to the market had been a little inconvenient, and lots of bikes were chained to trees, street signs, and other places. For a while there was even bike valet parking, which went on hiatus in 2011.

The City has seemed disinclined to finish the greenway south of D Street, finishing the connection into downtown and the Capitol Mall. Maybe this will be an opportunity to build support for that.

D and Winter now four-way stop

A couple of years ago the City installed some new stop signs and turned some others. One of the most important ones was at D and Winter, where they added stops to D Street so the intersection is now a four-way stop.

Are we sure about Market and Winter?
(from an earlier installation)

Stop number three, at Winter and Market is perhaps not quite a "safe crossing." You may recall that the "in street pedestrian sign" has sustained quite a lot of damage, and replaced at least once, perhaps twice. It's also been moved at least twice. The photo here shows a beat-up sign on the west side of the intersection; it was moved farther west; and it's now on the east side of the intersection. 

It would be helpful for the City to acknowledge publicly the problems with this treatment at Market, discuss the iterations, and discuss whether further intervention on Market Street, which is pretty busy, is in fact necessary.

The greenway plan, as adopted, in fact asserts more will be necessary, but also uses the autoist engineering doctrine of "warrants," which makes people use bad facilities, even get injured, before improving them, rather than inviting people to use facilities because they are excellent:

A pedestrian signal should be installed once the volume of vehicles and pedestrians meets warrants. Prior to a pedestrian signal being warranted, additional pedestrian warning signs such as in-street crosswalk warning signs (paddles) should be considered as short-term solutions.

Mini traffic circle  at Winter and Hold

An old-school instance of traffic calming from a generation ago are the mini traffic circles we see in a few places. There is one in the intersection of Winter and Hood. (Another one that comes to mind is on Saginaw at Bush.) Maybe we need to revive these, as they are also opportunities for an urban tree, and can help meet more than one planning goal. We should consider talking more about their cost, their actual effectiveness, and whether we should emphasize them more in our road design toolkit.

Union and Winter

There are in fact two recommended to be built, a small one at E Street, the other, a larger roundabout, at Union. With planning underway for the Union Street greenway, the City's most recent concept plans for Union Street omit the roundabout, and advocates questioned this on the recent teleconference. The City replied there was not funding for it, but the omission also seems like a real evasion of coordination and preparation. This moment in planning deserves more attention and even critique.

Looking east on Norway at Fairgrounds Road

Finally, we should talk in more detail about "traffic diversion." Focusing on it at stop number five, Norway and Fairgrounds Road, may be overselling a bit. The existing conditions report from 2017 showed very little traffic on nearby Maple and Shipping, though they did not count directly on Norway.

Traffic counts from
the 2017 Existing Conditions memo

In fact, nearly all of the Winter-Maple greenway car traffic volumes fall well below Portland's standard (PBOT Traffic Design Manual):

PBOT’s guidelines for neighborhood greenways...aim to limit vehicle traffic to 1,000 ADT (ideal), 1,500 ADT (acceptable) or 2,000 ADT (maximum).

So even though it's signed for diversion, the median refuge on Fairgrounds Road at Norway is not primarily to divert traffic off of Norway. It is primarily a refuge so that people can cross Fairgrounds in two phases, one for each direction of car travel. The diversion is a very secondary, minor benefit.

More significantly, there isn't really any new traffic diversion on the whole route. Maybe the crossing at Pine and Maple has a little stronger diversion function, but those traffic volumes aren't very high either.

We don't have a good recent example of a place where car volumes were a problem and diversion was installed for people on foot and on bike. There are older ones, like on 14th and Chemeketa, but not a recent one.

High Street Bypass says it's for "local traffic only"

We should leverage this instance at Norway and Fairgrounds into more of a focus on the higher traffic places where diversion would be much more useful. Since Bush Park has been in the news with the new management plan, and there is on High Street even a sign that says through traffic should use Commercial/Liberty, High Street is definitely a place we should focus analytical and political attention in support of a traffic diverter. We should insist on "local traffic only" and make it more attractive for biking. SCAN has been talking some about this, and there is opportunity to build momentum and support behind that.

There are many other places where we should talk more about diversion.

The mobile seminar convenes at the corner of Union and Winter, Saturday August 21st, at 10:30am. You can attend all of it, or join it at the stops most of interest to you.

1 comment:

Salem Bike Boulevard Advocates said...

Thanks for spreading the word about this event. As always, it’s great to hear your preliminary analysis. We hope you can join us for the in-person presentations, as we’ll be providing more in-depth information that will be helpful.

You are right that the City has replaced the original in-street pedestrian signs at Winter & Market. I’m hoping they’ll will do so again before school starts. Some may see the sustained damage to the signs as a problem – but we view it as a success. Drivers moving too quickly through the intersection received a bit of memorable feedback when they struck the signs with their cars. The effectiveness of a treatments isn’t lessened by the need for repair/upkeep. The city can replace the damaged signs twice a year for the next 150+ years before reaching the initial cost of installing of a pedestrian signal. In addition, the Grant neighborhood is a gem of a place to live and the small signs are more compatible with neighborhood culture than the industrialization of the space through the installation of more steel poles and flashing beacons.

Thanks for pointing out the dissonance between the Winter-Maple Plan and the Union Street Plan for Winter/Union intersection. It deserves far more attention than it has received – as the north/south and east/west connection is worthy of care. Paying two different consultants to make two plans for the same intersection in such a short amount of time makes it seem as if analysis and map drawing is taking precedence over actually building facilities for active transportation.

Lastly, the SBBA program on the 21st doesn’t travel the full length of the Neighborhood Greenway. There’s much to see beyond the Fairgrounds/Norway intersection and we hope folks will continue on their own. At this last presentation stop, we hope to talk about what good ideas are still on the Salem of City shelf, waiting for implementation. The approved Winter-Maple plan does provide for traffic diversion on Norway (west of Fairground Rd). Currently unfinished and augmented by illegal parking in front of the local business, this location demonstrates the significant improvements that are very much within the City’s grasp.

Hope to see you and many others along the Maple Winter bikeway next Saturday. We always look forward to discussing the active transportation options for Salemites of all ages and abilities.