Monday, July 11, 2022

Reviewing Chapter 4 of the draft 2023 MTP, and a Digression on TDM: At the MPO

The technical committee for our Metropolitan Planning Organization meets in Tuesday the 12th, and they are reviewing an early draft of chapter 4 on existing conditions for the 2023 Metropolitan Transportation Plan (formerly RTSP). Here's some incidental notes in passing with a longer discussion of Transportation Demand Management.

Start of Chapter 4 in the early draft 2023 MTP

There's a map with "critical urban freight corridors," and it shows the SRC.

This map of freight routes shows the SRC

The chapter is very much a draft, again, and that's the kind of detail that might be an accidental vestige of the 2019 RTSP/MTP carried forward, but it's also a detail worth keeping an eye on.

In a section discussing bicycling and the "regional bike system" they mention a barrier as "community consensus on the validity of implementation." This is too anodyne. It ratifies the idea that bike lanes are optional, not that they are a fundamental baseline. It might be more accurate to talk about "community resistance" rather than the false balance of "consensus."

Apparently bike lanes do not yet enjoy
a baseline of validity

The section on Transportation Demand Management is interesting and worth more comment.

Disruption as opportunity for positive change
Seattle Times last Tuesday

The only real TDM program in the Salem area is Cherriots' Transportation Options group. We let the mere existence of this program do a lot of heavy lifting. "The programs are designed to reduce congestion..." But at the moment they are very small and function only on the thin, incremental margins, and do not make a real dent in congestion or mode shift.

on Cherriots TDM program

At the moment the program is positioned at a transition, and could be strengthened!

Just this spring they cycled in a new coordinator after the long-time coordinator left to shift her focus to the City of Monmouth, where she lived.

Cherriots video: A drive-alone car trip in Monmouth

Hopefully the new person in charge of commute options will actually live in the Salem area and walk, bike, or bus. The program had for over a decade seemed hampered by a lack of personal investment in walking, biking, and busing. The recent "share the road" video featured staff in a drive-alone car trip in Monmouth. This seemed emblematic.

Granular focus on small programming

The job description, though, really focused on managing the vanpool program and handing out passes. It is not so much focused on making aggregate shifts in the Salem area - actually reducing congestion - as focused the small, internal management of the van pool and bus pass programs Cherriots operates. (The rental "bike share" program, as we have noted, rounds to zero, is a parks amenity, and is struggling right now.)

From the 2015 plan, much is still true

We really need a TDM program that is funded and staffed to have greater ambitions. You may recall the Strategic Plan from 2015. It highlighted staff capacity.

Rideshare TDM Strategic Plan (2015)

The program has not seemed positioned to take advantage of high gas prices with strategic intervention. There is a large body of research now that moments of change and disruption are the best times to tackle mode shift. So new jobs, new houses or homes, high gas prices, the pandemic. All of these are opportunities that Cherriots may have not seized effectively.

Portland Bureau of Transportation TDM Plan (2021)

By contrast, a new Portland TDM plan has a much more expansive scope. It is a product of PBOT, not Trimet, but still it suggests a direction SKATS, the City of Salem, and Cherriots could go in collaborating on a more ambitious TDM program that aims to make larger-scale change in Salem area transportation and reductions in emissions from transportation.

It's not just about reducing congestion, it's about reducing emissions. It's essential climate action now.

All that is outside the scope of writing the 2023 MTP, but it is worth thinking about more.

Separately from the draft MTP chapter, in the minutes to the June meeting were some items to note.

Change at the Safe Routes program

There will be a change with the Safe Routes to Schools program.

Look for more value engineering on Union St.

And even as the City trumpets the restored funding for the east half of the Union Street bikeway project in the proposed bond, the current west half will go out to bid some time this year, and cost escalation seems a certainty. So we may very well go through multiple cycles of cost-cutting/value-engineering and restoration with new funding.

The Technical Advisory Committee meets Tuesday the 12th at 1:30pm. The agenda and meeting packet can be downloaded here.


Ken said...

A neighbor, Susan G., did a bike survey for the 17th & Chemeketa street intersection a few years ago. She sent me a copy of a blank form and I would like to do an updated survey. So as not to mix apples and oranges I need to know what days/times to do the survey. One thing I have noticed is that there is an increasing number of ebikes using Chemeketa including cargo ebikes. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Ken

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Here are the official count instructions!

Instructions for Using the Bicycle Count Form

Arrive at count location at least 10 minutes before count time (6:50 am or 3:50 pm to prepare the count form (both sides), as follows:
1) Fill in information that best describes location where you will be counting (typically names of intersecting streets). Because you will be recording one hour’s information per side, clearly label the time period represented by each side of the sheet. Weather information is general. Note if it’s cool, cold, warm, or hot, sunny, raining, overcast… Note anything unusual you observe. For example, nearby construction that might be affect cyclists using the count streets, lots of wrong-way riding by cyclists on the streets, or many cyclists on the sidewalks instead of the streets.

2) Establish the North arrow on the sheet.

3) Label the streets on the intersection drawing. Modify the drawing as necessary for T-Intersections or non-standard intersections.

4) Draw in arrows representing each legal move that can be made by a cyclist approaching from each leg of the intersection (i.e., straight-through, right-turn, left-turn, etc)

5) COUNT each cyclist passing through the intersection by making tick-marks in two locations: on the line in the intersection diagram that describes their movement through the intersection, and above in the tally boxes for helmet-use and gender. Begin counts precisely at the beginning of the hour and end promptly at the end of the hour. After the end of the first hour, flip the form (remember: you set up the other side before the count!) and count the second hour’s cyclists.

6) After counting for two hours, tally your counts. Record in small boxes the number of cyclists who made each movement, as shown on the sheet. Record the number of cyclists with / without helmets by gender in the areas provided.

7) Write the total number of cyclists for each hour in a box in the lower right-hand corner of the sheet.

8) As an added piece of information, tally all cyclists seen within view of the counted intersection. These are cyclists that were seen but did not actually pass through the intersection.

Counting Tips:

Make tally marks on the sheet only after cyclists have passed through the intersection, i.e., do not mark them in advance anticipating the movement they will make. You might pick a point at each intersection that cyclists must pass before you’ll record their information.

If working in teams, and especially at busy intersections, one person can record the directional information and another the gender and helmet information on a separate sheet. Transfer the gender/helmet information to the count sheet after the 2-hour count.

Do not try to tally count information after the first hour. Do it following the complete count.
In the case of discrepancies between the directional count and the gender / helmet count; the directional count is to be taken as accurate. Tally those totals in the lower-right hand corner (step 7).

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

The times are 7am - 9am or 4pm - 6pm. A two hour window during morning or evening commute.

Without strong interest from the City of Salem in actually doing something with the counts and leveraging them for expanded bike facilities, it was difficult to sustain interest and a volunteer force. Perhaps it is time to crank them up again. It is too late this year, but maybe next year.

It's great, therefore, to hear of your interest!

Here is a set of bike count posts, and the hand counts from 2008-2012 are at the bottom.

Additionally, your reference to ebikes suggests the whole form needs to be updated, and perhaps helmet use and gender are no longer so useful.

But for the moment, that's the standard.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Oh, yeah, counts usually were taken on Tues/Weds/Thurs rather than M/F or the weekend.