Friday, September 30, 2022

Driver Kills Person on Foot in Hit and Run on Sunnyview Road

On Wednesday the 28th, an unknown driver struck a person on foot and fled. Today police announced Cynthia Lynn Perry Rizzo died from the injuries.


The initial release from Salem Police on Wednesday:

The Salem Police Traffic Team needs the public’s help in locating the driver involved in a hit-and-run collision today in the 4000 block of Sunnyview RD NE. [near the intersection of Sunnyview and Lancaster]

Officers responded to the area just after 5:00 a.m. on the report of a pedestrian struck by a vehicle. The victim, a 66-year-old woman was found lying in the roadway with life-threatening injuries, and she was transported to Salem Health.

The unknown driver of the vehicle in the collision did not remain at the scene and likely fled eastbound on Sunnyview RD from Lancaster DR NE.

At the scene investigators collected pieces of a headlight assembly which point to the involved vehicle being a 1988 to 2000 full-size Chevrolet/GMC pick-up or sports utility vehicle.

Anyone with information concerning this traffic investigation is asked to call the Salem Police Traffic Team at 503-588-6171.

Today's update:

The victim is identified as Cynthia Lynn Perry Rizzo of Keizer. Rizzo, who sustained critical injuries in the collision, succumbed to those injuries on Thursday, September 29.

The Salem Police Traffic Team is still seeking assistance from the community to identify the driver who fled from this fatal traffic incident.


Also this week, a driver apparently blinded by sun, nonetheless proceeded forward, and struck two school children. Since there was no apparent crime, the headline uses the "hit by car" trope, though the body text is very clear: "a driver...struck two children."

And last weekend, a driver hit a person biking and also fled.

More on Origins of Waldo Park: American War Mothers, the Bush Family, and Formal Establishment in 1936

You may recall the note about the City's desire to cut down the sequoia tree in what is now Waldo Park in August of 1922.

The Waldo Park Tree at mid-century
via State Archives

August 12, 1922

The American War Mothers plaque

The tree was not cut down and the American War Mothers here proposed it as a war memorial. Within a few years that function was abandoned, and later the War Mothers reframed the tree as a landmark of local history. The tree and subsequent park express a number of interesting cultural tensions we'll touch on. Some of them might deserve more discussion in another post.

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Our Frame on Congestion Valorizes Speed

Another problem with the congestion frame is that it tends to a binary. We valorize its opposite, free-flow and unconstrained speed.

Front page story from Monday

You might remember this from very early in the Pandemic.

March 28th, 2020 - via FB

We have now something of a real world experiment.

Monday, September 26, 2022

The Incoherence of our Congestion Frame: At the MPO

The Policy Committee for our Metropolitan Planning Organization meets on Tuesday the 27th, and they'll consider the Congestion Management Process.

Oregonian, earlier this month

At last month's meeting, it appears they decided to ditch any evaluation of projects for climate impacts.

Bailing on scoring for GHG emissions

That is a real refusal and failure. It is also a consequence of the anti-urban, non-representative bias of the Policy Committee, which gives excessive weight to ruralish County and small town interests.

From an SR2S analysis of MPOs (2019)

If we apportioned votes by population, we would have a different governing structure. In our transportation planning, voting weights on the Policy Committee are a lesser example of the right-wing slogan, "we are a Republic, not a Democracy"! Our Metropolitan Planning Organization is structured specifically with anti-urban, non-democratic bias.

Proportions in the SKATS area

In the table each jurisdiction gets one vote, and the requirement in some cases, custom in all the other cases, for unanimous votes on the Policy Committee means small or non-urban jurisdictions have veto power. That was a feature, not a bug.

Saturday, September 24, 2022

New Round of Advocates Has Juice!

The latest group of bike advocates accomplished something earlier this week that in previous rounds of advocacy we have struggled to do.

New City Manager!

Advocacy ebbs and flows. In the blog's lifetime here we've had the Mid-Willamette Valley Chapter of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance, the Vision 2020 Bike/Ped Working Group, the Salem Bike Boulevard Advocates. 

In modern advocacy, several groups and projects preceded these also, of course.

Plaque and bench dedicated to Lt. Ricky Alan Serex

You may recall the story of Ricky Serex, who biked as a teen from West Salem to school, and served in the early 70s on what is now the Oregon Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee.

SATS (now SKATS) had a BAC

A direct ancestor of what became our Metropolitan Planning Organization, SKATS, had a Bicycle Advisory Committee.

And there are members of the Salem Bicycle Club still riding who were active in advocacy during the 80s, 90s, and 00s.

A newer group, the Salem Area Trail Alliance, oriented to off-road recreation, has a different purpose, but also drew off advocates and energy from urban progress that was stalled.

Groups coalesce, sometimes with an official place in a local government project or process, sometimes more informally, and then dissolve. Equally, people engage and withdraw or even burn out. The lack of overall progress in two generations now makes it difficult to sustain work. People need to see results, to feel that their work has yielded meaningful change.

This past week the Salem Bike Vision project lured our new City Manager out for a ride. And though his gear was oriented more to mountain biking, he looked like someone who actually bikes! He definitely looks more interested in cycling than our former City Manager, and may be able to make it more of a priority across all City departments.

Friday, September 23, 2022

City Council, September 26th - Mushroom Plant Rebuke and Revision

You may recall a revision to the big mushroom plant redevelopment. Last spring the developers submitted a proposal for apartments and a gas station mini-mart type store in the southeast quadrant at the corner of State and Cordon

New proposal for Apartments
Gas station in lower left of 2022 inset

The Hearings Officer denied it and Council affirmed the denial on appeal.  

Reversed at LUBA

The developer appealed to LUBA, and LUBA issued a strong rebuke, reversing outright rather than remanding back to the City as they have seemed to prefer.

Part of the decision criticizes in very particular contexts notions of livability and compatibility that the City has used in approvals:

SRC 240.005(d)(3) requires evaluation of whether the proposed use is "reasonably compatible" or will have minimal impact on the "livability" and "appropriate development" of neighboring property. The CUP criteria are intended to balance or mitigate the impact of the proposed development on surrounding properties and require subjective, value-laden judgments. They are not objective and may not be applied to the application. Application of the criteria in SRC 240.005(d)(2) and (3) required the city to engage in a value-laden analysis regarding adverse impacts to surrounding properties.

At Council on Monday is the reversal, a new approval for the project.

It will be interesting to see if this has any broader implications for ways that arguments about livability and compatibility are often used to try to foil development.

At the Meyer Farm there have also been arguments about "clear and objective criteria" and we may see more on this.

Other Items

There is also an Intergovernmental Agreement with DLCD for a process to identify Climate Friendly Areas and separately to conduct Scenario Planning.

Thursday, September 22, 2022

ODOT, Dishonest and Deceptive Again; Unbalanced Appointment to the OTC

Two stories in the news this week show how messed up we still are at the ODOT/OTC transportation industrial complex.

Willamette Week yesterday published a story about a suit filed against ODOT to be heard here in Salem, concerning a deceptive and dishonest public disclosure.

More ODOT Dishonesty in WWeek

From the piece:

A long-running disagreement over public information concerning a proposed $1 billion highway project is set for trial in Marion County Circuit Court next week....[Appellant] Kessler says the agency’s resistance to transparency should be a concern to everybody who has a stake in the project—that is, all Oregonians. “What appears to be happening is that the many millions ODOT has spent on public outreach has been on theater rather than public engagement,” Kessler says. “That’s millions on a show so that they can continue with failed urban renewal policies and the destruction of minority communities.”

Sounds familiar.

Related, Governor Brown's nomination to the Oregon Transportation Commission is very disappointing.

via Twitter

From the piece, especially noting "balance" and EV mania:

[Outgoing Senator Lee] Beyer spent 20 years as a Democratic legislator representing the Eugene/Springfield area. During his time as an Oregon Senator, he served on several transportation and environment committees and helped shepherd the major 2017 transportation package through the legislature, which increased the gas tax and vehicle registration fee to fund various transportation projects, including public transit investments and adding additional lanes to Interstate 5 through the Portland Rose Quarter. Beyer says the package was “well-balanced” and responsive to local leaders’ input on regional priorities....

Over 30 transportation and environmental advocacy groups, including Oregon Environmental Council, Street Trust, and Coalition of Communities of Color, are calling on Brown to rescind or pause the nomination because Beyer does not represent advocates' calls for more climate-conscious and diverse leadership on the commission....

Beyer also diverges from Portland’s transportation advocates’ positions in other ways, noting that he believes the OTC’s only role in combating transportation emissions is investing in electric vehicle charging infrastructure....Beyer also said Portland advocacy groups’ opposition to additional lanes being added to the I-5 Rose Quarter is “baffling,” and noted he is “not a complete believer” in induced demand....

It's time the OTC and ODOT leadership accepted induced demand, and was no longer stuck in Eisenhower mid-century autoism.

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

City Response on Mildred Lane focuses on Signal, not enough on Speed

It was helpful to see this morning's article on Mildred Lane.

Zooming correctly ID'd as problem

But while the piece correctly identified excessive speed as the problem, the City seemed to sidetrack instead on the possibility of a traffic signal there. The City could hide then behind the MUTCD and its standards for a new signal.

Doesn't meet "the standard"

Mildred Lane is overbuilt and too wide. The problem is speed the road design induces and seems to "forgive." Liberty too is built too much for near highway speed. At safe urban speeds, a new signal may not be necessary. Traffic calming and slower speed is an important part of any solution. Specifically here, and generally throughout the city, we need to talk more about speed and less about new signals.

Previously here:

And elsewhere:

Vintage Cars were also "Death Cars": Autoist Erasure in History

"The Modern Juggernaut" (NYT 1924, detail)

Our autoism has really accomplished the erasure of the dangers of cars and car use. In stories this year about car museums, the lethality of cars and the history of it are totally elided.

from the Sunday paper

"high-performance" or just dangerous?
(from January)

You may recall from The Great Gatsby (1925):

The "death car" as the newspapers called it, didn't stop; it came out of the gathering darkness, wavered tragically for a moment and then disappeared around the next bend. Michaelis wasn't even sure of its color--he told the first policeman that it was light green. The other car, the one going toward New York, came to rest a hundred yards beyond, and its driver hurried back to where Myrtle Wilson, her life violently extinguished, knelt in the road and mingled her thick, dark blood with the dust.

A NY Times article about Herbert Hoover and a traffic safety conference showed a terrible car driven by a Grim Reaper figure, "The Modern Juggernaut," with the dead scattered underneath. Note the climbing chart of deaths in the lower right.

Saturday, September 17, 2022

New Ramps on Wallace Road Lead to Nowhere

With the crosswalk education and enforcement action by the police this week, it was a good time to check out the new work on Wallace Road. ODOT had this summer installed a bunch of ramps, new beg buttons and countdown signals with restriped crosswalks, some enhanced crosswalks with flashing beacons, and new overhead signals with more reflective backgrounds.

The project is weird, even incoherent, and broadly fails to improve crossing in key ways. 

Apart from upgrading the signal hardware, basically they just added a bunch of ramps! They just sprinkled them everywhere. The ramps are mainly at unmarked crosswalks, but the speed of traffic, volume of traffic, and width of the road makes these crosswalks very tricky business, especially for someone blind or using a mobility device. While the ramps and other elements might meet the letter of ADA compliance, they don't meet the spirit and intent at all. ODOT didn't really improve conditions for non-auto travel here.

Ramp to nowhere at Bassett St

If ODOT is going to put in ramps on very busy streets, they should also stripe crosswalks and make clear to drivers they should expect to stop. Ramps should signal "this is a good place to cross." The installation here instead reinforces the power asymmetry with default conditions in favor of drivers and continuous flow. Many of them are not at all good places to cross. "Knock yourself out. Good luck with that."

The other side of the street at Bassett

At Moyer Lane and Walgreens the crosswalks are closed, but people cross anyway. There is demand here.

Friday, September 16, 2022

City Council, September 19th - Joint Work Session with Cherriots

Earlier this summer the Board President of Cherriots tweeted out a whimsical inquiry, "Which streets in Oregon's capital city should get the red carpet treatment," with red lanes dedicated to bus rapid transit.

via Twitter

With the focus on Salem Bike Vision, it's not clear how serious he might be. There might be some streets on which both dedicated bus lanes and protected bike lanes might not be possible. The two projects, still very much at a conceptual level, do not yet seem well integrated.

A leading candidate - via Twitter

Still, a stroad-to-boulevard conversion with better bike lanes and dedicated transit lanes might be possible.  Here's a big one, but similar approaches are possible on narrower right-of-ways.

Nordstrom Returns away from Downtown. Will new School Funding Support Active Transport?

On Wednesday a former SJ reporter now working in Portland broke news that Nordstrom was kinda, sorta returning to Salem.

via Twitter

Nordstrom HQ decided that Salem might still be a useful market, but only for the discount version, the Rack. The new store would be at the old Lancaster Mall in the former Sears site.

Some might like to interpret the shift as a story about downward mobility and its demographics in Salem.

Here, it is another data point to support the thesis that the main emphasis downtown should be for more housing, not for retail and business recruitment. 

When there are more people living downtown, businesses will follow.

But for our attempt to fashion downtown as a drive-to destination like a mall, drawing customers in from the edges by car, we now have 40 years to show that strategy is a bust. The particular vision for free parking with garages and for one giant quasi-mall with skybridges has not made downtown boom.

1980s vision for skybridges and parking garages

Rather than focusing on provisions for cars and their drivers, we need to focus on housing for people.

More parking lot expansion, too?

On the front page today was news about more funding for bond projects at the School District. Absent was any discussion of provision for walking and rolling to school. Will there be instead more parking lot expansion? The bond projects package has seemed very oriented to more driving and parking, and insufficiently attentive to making it easier for kids and parents not to drive to school.

(See brief bits on new parking lots at McNary and South High. I have not followed the school bond projects closely, and there are likely others. Generally the District has not seen any great opportunity to reduce driving and to improve facilities for families who might like not to drive. Looking back in a decade, this will almost certainly count as a huge missed opportunity.)

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Mixed-Use Apartment Block Proposed for Wiltsey and Commercial

Though the Conditional Use permit was first applied for in 2016, only now is the developer formally asking for a "Class 3 Site Plan Review for a proposed mixed-use development including 71 multi-family residential units and approximately 11,998 square feet of retail commercial floor area" at the corner of South Commercial and Wiltsey Road.

3 floors of apartments, ground floor storefronts

In the intervening time, this project has got a lot more interesting.

Broadly speaking, it is the kind of development envisioned by the rezoning in Our Salem. It's also across the street from the site proposed for the forthcoming South Salem Transit Center.

It could be a direct model for future projects, a model to iterate and improve on, or a kind of dead-end.

Project site at Commercial and Wiltsey
(click to enlarge)

It's a long and narrow building oriented on a north-south axis, separated from Commercial Street by large parking lots and chain restaurants. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Losing Crosswalks in Cost Escalation, Pushing the SRC: At the MPO

The technical committee for our Metropolitan Planning Organization meets today, Tuesday the 13th, and in the packet there are some City of Salem plans and intentions that have not been publicly discussed in City of Salem materials.

Last week

Rs and Ds, avoiding the conclusion:
We must drive much less

In last month's discussion of the "Needs and Gaps" draft chapter of the long-range 2023 Metropolitan Transportation Plan, the City indicated they wanted the SRC to be retained formally as a "need and gap."

City keeps pushing the SRC as a "need"

ODOT was clearer about the "no build" Record of Decision requiring a whole new process, and seemed to suggest that placement in "Outstanding Issues" might be more appropriate.

In light of our climate needs, it is very disappointing to see the City continue to push for more auto capacity.

Monday, September 12, 2022

Climate Action Plan Committee, Listening more than Doing

For the second year in a row, a wildfire threatened the city limits right here in Salem.

Level 3 (red) and Level 2 (yellow) evacuation notice

There is the bigger fire near Oakridge.

And there was a new fire at Milo McIver State Park.

As California goes, so goes Oregon

If we don't get a handle on our emissions, things will just get worse and worse, and runaway catastrophe a real risk. Some bad things are already baked in, but we do have choices between bad, badder, and catastrophic badness.

In this context, the City's current approach to climate is too passive.

Updates from other agencies

The Climate Action Plan Committee for implementation meets today, Monday the 12th, and they will be listening to what other agencies are doing.

Friday, September 9, 2022

City Council, September 12th - A Plan for Twenty is Plenty and Speed Humps

When the City wants some change, but not too much change, an order for "mild, not too spicy" from the transportation planning menu, DKS has seemed to be the consultant of choice.

Pedestrian Safety Study

Recommendation: Reconsider jaywalking laws

You may recall when in 2017 DKS authored the Pedestrian Safety Study and recommended a revival of jaywalking laws. 

They have not seemed like the most progressive consulting firm out there, not always very passionate about non-auto travel. In that passage on jaywalking, you'll note the false equivalence: "illegal and aggressive behavior by both drivers and pedestrians."

Council meets on Monday, and they will hear about the hiring of DKS to write an update to the Neighborhood Traffic Management Plan, responding to Councilor Stapleton's motion for a "Twenty is Plenty" plan and to Councilor Gonzalez' motion for a speed hump and traffic calming plan.

This has seemed to be a pattern by the City. When they could hire a stronger and more progressive firm for walking and rolling, a real move to induce and support fewer drive-alone trips, they have chosen a more conservative and more autoist firm for a more modest and more incremental approach.

The resulting plan won't be awful, but it is nearly certain to be not as bold and strong as it could be.

Earlier this month

This pattern was most starkly visible in a different area, in the choice of consultant for the Climate Action Plan. As it happens, for our new City Manager's first meeting he'll hear an update on that plan. He has seemed to be more interested in action on climate than our previous City Manager, so it will be interesting to see how he engages the process now.

Thursday, September 8, 2022

Back to School Messaging still Slights Unmarked Crosswalks

For back-to-school the Police have published a suite of images on crosswalks. The graphics are clean, uncluttered, and represent an advance on what we have too often previously seen!

Part of a suite of images

But as you see from the top image here, "Remember: every intersection has a crosswalk," all the images show zebra-striped crosswalks. None of them show an unmarked crosswalk. The images are a little at odds with the text and implicitly reinforce the idea that it's only marked crosswalks you really have to worry about. 

Some of the images should show unmarked crosswalks and underscore that drivers are still required to yield to people on foot at and in them.

Also the campaigns should spend more time on the asymmetry of power: Cars and their drivers employ lethal force. People on foot are far more vulnerable. One of the first comments on the post is "is the focus of responsible safety only on drivers?" and the City and Police should be quick to say, "Yes, drivers have a much greater responsibility for safety." And "kids are kids, elderly have reduced sensory awareness, and driving adults must look out for all people on foot." We need to get away from notions of false balance and symmetry.

Police also are advertising the annual crosswalk education and enforcement project:

[The] Traffic Team is working with Oregon Impact to conduct a pedestrian safety campaign on Thursday, September 8 and again on Monday, September 12.

The team will be out in the area of Court and Waverly STS NE on Thursday. Then, next Monday they will be in the 2200 block of Center ST NE and in the 1500 block of Edgewater ST NW.

Though the actions are funded by a third-party, not the City, as others have pointed out greater installation of speed and red-light cameras rather than very few and tiny education and enforcement actions would have a stronger systemic effect on safety citywide. These limited actions are more symbolic than effective.

As Salem saw it when King George VI Died

February 6th, 1952

February 7th 1952

Publisher Charles Sprague in the morning paper:

Once again it is Queen Elizabeth of Great Britain. The sudden death of King George VI cut short the tour of his daughter and propelled her to the throne of the kingdom....

Since the days of the Stuarts the power of the reigning monarch in England has been greatly curtailed. Rule by divine right is a mere historic shibboleth now. Britain is fully self-governing, with power lodged in the elected representatives (the Commons) completely since the last Labor government wiped out the last vestige of veto power retained by the House of Lords....

The change in sovereigns will have a sobering effect in Britain for a time. The acerbities of party and faction will moderate briefly. The funeral for King George will call out the fading remnant of European royalty and the sequent coronation of Queen Elizabeth will give the British a pageant whose color will moderate the current austerity of living. And if she is as wise as the first Queen Elizabeth she may help lead Britain into new seasons of strength. The King is dead; long live the Queen!

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

Focusing on Donut Calamity, Media Erase the Driver in Crash

Here's another entry in "erasing the driver."

Where's the driver?

In a story today about a jaydriver crashing into a building, there is no driver. Instead, the story is about donut disruption, caused by the mystery of "a car [that] crashed into the building." 

It just fell from the sky! Who knows where it came from?!

The real problem in this framing is not the violence of cars and their drivers, even when not operated with malignant intent, but is the interruption to donut production.

Salem Reporter echoed this frame.

At Salem Reporter

But Keizer Times has the most accurate headline and summary.

At Keizer Times

Even when a car is used with intent as a weapon for murder, as happened last month in a Salem park, journalists sometimes mystify and protect the agency of the driver by use of the "hit by car" trope.

"hit by car" trope last month

But drivers are responsible for the safe operation of a motor vehicle, and we need language to reflect this responsibility; even if they did not intend to crash or to harm, they were steering and operating the motor vehicle, a machine with lethal speed and power. And when they did intend harm, they are definitely steering and operating a motor vehicle.

On erasing the driver - Columbia Journalism Review

Previously here, too many notes on erasing the driver. See also this old thread on drivers crashing into buildings. Buildings are generally well off the roadway! We should not blame people on foot and on bike, who are in the road right-of-way, for wanting more protection. Equally, that drivers can't seem to avoid buildings suggests we really understate the dangerousness of driving.

Eugene City Councilor Heading to Recall over Transit Expansion

Eugene's a funny, funny town. While the City of Eugene is moving towards eliminating new methane gas hook-ups for cooking and heat, they also have this NIMBY revolt against middle housing. The ostensible hippie progressivism has this real conservative streak.

Last night early returns on a recall effort that was specifically centered on planning for a bus rapid transit system expansion suggest the incumbent, who supported transit expansion, will be turned out of office.

Recall Petition centers transit and congestion
(Lane County Elections)

Climate advocates supported the incumbent
via Twitter

No growthers wanted her out
via Eugene Weekly

Syrett was broadly favored by climate advocates, but an old-guard no-growther, whom Salemites have sometimes cited with approval, echoed classic NIMBY arguments, hitting protecting trees, open space, and livability, and linked her to those evil developers, "a strident cabal." 

There are still votes to be counted, and further process in the courts. Former Secretary of State Bill Bradbury thinks there are problems with the petition's truthfulness and there is litigation to cancel the petition and annul the election. So this is far from concluded. 

Ordinarily we wouldn't comment here on a non-Salem election, but the themes of autoism and congestion and of anti-transit look like something people might shop in other communities, and are central interests here. We will likely check back in on this. Salem can learn from Eugene's missteps and difficulties, as well as their successes.

Previously, on an earlier stage in the disputed transit plan: