Monday, April 29, 2024

Bicycle Week in 1924 and 2024

As with Bicycle Week in 1923, in 1924 it was limited. It had only a single day of promotion 100 years ago on April 29th.

April 29th, 1924

The morning paper offered a couple of brief advertorials for each to the two advertisers, Lloyd Ramsden and Harry Scott. The themes they hit, of course, are perennial: Modest exercise, much cheaper than a car (cheaper than a streetcar fare, also), freedom from a streetcar schedule.

(A much more dated theme is the preparatory manliness, the "man-making" element.)

Saturday, April 27, 2024

Surfacing a new Intersection Safety Study at the Budget Committee and More on the CIP

In the agenda packet for the next Budget Committee meeting on May 1st is reference to a new intersection safety study the City had not mentioned publicly before.

These are our busy streets

It's hard to see, however, what it accomplishes.

A new safety study

At a glance from here, it looks like a restatement of the obvious: Streets fast or busy (or both) are dangerous!

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

A new Project on Musgrave Ave? The Budget Committee Looks at the CIP

The Budget Committee meets tonight Wednesday the 24th, and this meeting will look at the list of capital projects. On the budget process itself others have much better things to say, but we've followed the CIP a little over the years. Here are some passing notes.

Musgrave Ave in West Salem (not part of CIP)

One project stands out as something new.

New crossing under Musgrave?

What exactly are "pathway improvements under Musgrave Ave NW to create a connection with the Union Street" bridge and path?

My best guess is something at No. 2 on the map above, but it's hard to see how going under Musgrave would work. $1 million also seems small for a real tunnel type undercrossing.

An undercrossing at No. 1 on the map has been discussed for several years, but it had seemed to be abandoned. It also involved Wallace Road and Second Street, not Musgrave. Its estimated cost was also much, much more than $1 million. 

This will be something to learn more about!

Other project did not seem new, but sometimes there were new details.

Vision Zero and Twenty is Plenty

It was nice to see the Vision Zero and Twenty is Plenty project formalized!

Monday, April 22, 2024

By a Divided Vote, SKATS Finds Path for Aumsville to Join: At the MPO

On Tuesday the 23rd, the Policy Committee for the Metropolitan Planning Organization meets. Last month they did what had seemed increasingly unlikely. They voted to add the City of Aumsville and to add an additional voting representative from the City of Salem.

A substitute motion

You will recall that Mayor Clark of Keizer and Chair of the MPO had introduced a motion to add Aumsville to the MPO without any changes to the voting structure.

The original motion

Councilor Phillips of Salem offered first a friendly amendment for Salem to have an additional seat and vote on the Committee, and after it was not seconded this became a substitute motion.

After a good bit of debate, Mayor Clark called for the vote and herself voted for it. It passed 4-3, with Marion and Polk Counties and the City of Turner opposed.

Calling the vote

It had not seemed likely that Mayor Clark would support Councilor Phillips and the City of Salem. So that was a nice surprise.

Still, there was some maneuvering. Commissioners Mordhorst and Cameron of Polk and Marion Counties respectively proposed to eliminate the School District from having a vote. If that happens, that might dilute the new vote from the City of Salem.

It should not happen. The School District has a vital interest in traffic safety and Safe Routes to Schools. And since SR2S staff are now employees of the COG/MPO, it is appropriate for the School District to sit on the Committee and to vote as part of it.

This is something to watch.

More than a bike rodeo!

In the miscellaneous updates for the current meeting it was great to read that a multi-week Bicycle Safety Education course would be returning to Salem schools after an absence of a few years, having been very incompletely replaced by bicycle rodeo concepts. (See "Bike Safety Education and the Hammond Bike Train" from 2010 for a brief hit on an earlier example of multi-day Bicycle Safety Education.)

The Policy Committee meets Tuesday the 23rd at noon. Meeting information, agenda, and packet is here.

Friday, April 19, 2024

City Council, April 22nd - MUHTIP for the old City Hall Site

At Council on Monday is an application for a MUHTIP property tax abatement on the project for the old City Hall site. On a site vacant for a half-century, this is an incentive for exactly the kind of project it is supposed to benefit.

Concept for the old City Hall site

In the application packet is an elevation view from the northeast corner of Chemeketa and High. Seeing something there will be so great, and even just the rendering itself is cheering. This corner has been such a hole in the urban fabric, a real void at what had been a genuine civic center. To see life there again, and right across from the Transit Center, will be wonderful.

via Postcard dealer Mary L. Martin

But also in the packet is a sobering analysis of the apartment market. I don't recall seeing one before, and the City might consider making them a requirement for public subsidy. It's good to know what the developer/investor side is thinking.

No evidence of our housing crisis from this angle

Reading it, you'd never know we have a housing crisis. From their standpoint we have a "market-wide occupancy rate [of] 94.5%, which is within the range of a well-balanced market." High rents and low vacancies are feature, not bug.

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Will it be Crickets for the Circuit Rider's 100th Anniversary on Friday the 19th?

100 years ago on April 19th, 1924, the city and state dedicated the Circuit Rider statue.

June 2023

It was a big deal, and got extensive front page coverage in the papers.

Afternoon: April 18th, 1924

Morning: April 20th, 1924

Today we might have more deeply mixed feelings about it.

Monday, April 15, 2024

New "Better Homes" Sunday Section Joins Automotive Section in 1924

Back in 1924 the morning paper started a Sunday section titled "Better Homes." It promoted home ownership and advertised real estate and real estate firms, construction trades, home appliances, and home furniture and decoration.

An automobile section had already been going for a few years. The ad placements for the car trade had been considerable and it was clearly an important revenue stream.

To see the two sections developed and published in close proximity really underscores the connection of land use and transportation in the new autoism.

February 24th, 1924

February 24th, 1924

On February 24th of 1924 the "Better Homes section" started. (The page below from the May "homes week" reproduces the graphic more clearly on a single page.)

Friday, April 12, 2024

Final Cordon-Kuebler Plan Finally Published

About a month ago the County finally published the final report on the Cordon-Kuebler Corridor Plan. (Find it under "Transportation Plans" here.) The project website hadn't been updated since November 2022, then it was deleted from the web. Meeting notes suggested the plan had been finished early last fall. But here it is, with a February date. Maybe it needed some last-minute edits.

To supersize Kuebler Blvd and Turner Road
(Remember, a big housing project is just south of here!)

Finally out

Broadly speaking it seeks enlarge the road, and in some places to supersize it.

Alarming warming in our ocean (NY Times)

New record

Not only in the introductory "goals and purpose" section, but throughout the whole of the summary report, there are zero instances of the words "climate" or "emissions." It is wholly disconnected from the Salem Climate Action Plan. Since this is primarily a County document, and they had already telegraphed their intentions, this is not surprising, though it is still disappointing.

Monday, April 8, 2024

Parks & Rec Board to talk Baseball and More

The Parks and Recreation Advisory Board meets on Thursday the 11th, and there's a lot of interesting items on the agenda and in meeting materials.

Before the stadium seating  (note cars, too)
(Willamette University Archives)

The main one is the prospect of a summer college wood bat league and associated improvements to John Lewis Field and Spec Keene Stadium, an information and discussion item, not any action item, "Proposal Regarding Renovations and Improvements to the Willamette University Baseball Stadium and Tokyo International University of America Softball Stadium." (The softball component has not generated the same level of interest and critique.)

But first a digression, which seems actually to be a little related.

Fairview Park: 2016 (top), 2024 (bottom)

One of the items also in the meeting packet is an update on the Fairview Park Master Plan "revisit."  Sentiment on the park seems to have shifted quite a bit, and the change is easily visible a side-by-side with the adopted 2016 plan and one of the new concepts.

People want accessible paths to walk on, passive recreational amenities, and flexible spaces that can support a range of activities. There was also some interest in active recreation and sports facilities, as well as interest in preserving the park's natural resources, especially the existing mature trees, as a retreat for reflection and rest.

The reduction to "some interest in active recreation and sports facilities" is striking. People now want the "retreat for reflection and rest." Maybe the Pandemic has prompted a shift.

A dwindling interest in "sports facilities" and associated numbers of spectators and participants also seems to characterize a lot of the debate over baseball improvements at Bush Park.

Sunday, April 7, 2024

Incoherence on Emissions, Congestion, and Safety: At the MPO

The technical committee for our Metropolitan Planning Organization meets on Tuesday the 9th, and they should, but likely will not, face the incoherence in our dominant autoist paradigm.

Frames for less driving vs more driving

Right now the policy conversations on greenhouse gas emissions and on congestion relief are disconnected. They each happen in a vacuum as if the other was not happening.

Our need to reduce emissions from driving means less driving and slower driving so that non-auto transportation is safer and more comfortable.

But our wish for congestion relief means faster driving and more driving from induced demand.

We need to connect the two discourses and make congestion relief secondary to greenhouse gas reduction and to safety.

How seriously will they take this?

I am not sure at the moment that the technical details of picking a particular target measure are all that critical.

New Bike Parking at Bush Park looks Nice, but not to Code

The other day SCAN posted a nice note about some new bike parking at Bush Park right by the Barn and playground. The old parking had been an old set of "toast" racks that were not very secure and prone to wheel-bending.

New wave racks at Bush Park - via FB

But somehow, despite SCAN having a transportation subcommittee, and the City having new bike parking standards, a highly visible location where the nearby sculpture had been installed improperly, and various levels of review in the grant process, the installation used wave racks, which are not to code!

Wave racks not to code. SRC 806.060

The new wave racks are unambiguously an improvement on the older toast racks. It might seem unreasonable to complain about them. But we have a real problem with not following code on bike parking installations, and this was a public place where a model installation ought to have been attainable. Big sigh.

Friday, April 5, 2024

Housing Production Strategy is Chance to Think Deeper about Our Salem and Climate Friendly Areas

The City's announced the start of the Housing Production Strategy project.

Salem needs more housing. To help meet that need, the City is creating a Housing Production Strategy (HPS) to outline how Salem plans to encourage housing development. The HPS is expected to include tools, policies, and actions that promote the production of a variety of housing types.

The published information is mostly prelude and throat-clearing rather than anything substantive.

They did publish a schedule, however.

The schedule (notes on step 2 added)

And one of the elements for this summer, ranging from spring to fall, is to "evaluate feasibility of developing housing in mixed-use areas."

Here, an ongoing criticism of Our Salem has been that the new mixed-use zoning, MU-I, MU-II, and MU-III was deployed in unrealistic ways, mostly along the biggest of our arterial corridors.

Much of the proposed change was
for arterial corridors
Our Salem map (2021)

So I hope the project truly grapples with the realistic prospects for housing in the new areas zoned for mixed-uses.

Are the big box stores, strip malls large and small, and parking lots going to convert to housing any time soon? 

What will the market be for warehoused housing right on top of our traffic sewers? If built to the concept in Our Salem, will people really want to live there?

And what is a realistic rate of change to housing for the downtown areas proposed for Climate-Friendly Areas/Walkable Mixed-use Areas?

Catalogue plans for apartments! - former twitter

More generally, we've already eliminated parking mandates, and there will be other ways to reduce costs of building housing. Hopefully the project will also support faster implementation of single-access apartment blocks (without the long corridors with two exits), which offer greater flexibility on lots and maximize housing. There's real potential here.

I hope this planning study asks real questions and generates real answers, not hype and puffery, but sober analysis and realistic forecasts.


Wednesday, April 3, 2024

History Talk and Book on Hop Lee Lead Qingming Events

This year's Qingming ritual has an impressive density of associated events.

via FB

The Mill will have a talk Thursday the 4th on Hop Lee, who was a prominent Salemite.

This year we have the privilege of hosting Dr. Russell Low, the grandson of former Salem-Keizer resident Low Sun Fook, also known as Hop Lee, the name of the laundry business he operated. Dr. Low has published several books about his family’s history.

His newest release: A Willow Tree Becomes a Forest: The Story of Hop Lee looks at the life of his grandfather and the family’s experiences living in the Salem-Keizer area, from operating a laundry to turtle wrangling to hop farming and brokering. Two book presentations are scheduled in Salem and Keizer which will talk about the book and the unique experiences the family had in both places. Dr. Low will be bringing signed books with all proceeds dedicated to supporting scholarships for nursing students at California State University San Marcos. Guests are encouraged to bring checks or cash, and the books will be available for a $20 donation.

Other events, via FB

Salem Reporter has more, including some strong claims about tolerance in Salem.

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Cherriots' new Crosstown Route, US Traffic Deaths in 2023, April Foolery - Bits

In what looks like the first real prelude to a future South Salem Transit Center, Cherriots is launching a new crosstown route from Walmart to the Amazon warehouse, with stops in between at Costco and other warehouses in the new Mill Creek center area.

New crosstown route 22

Yesterday Salem Reporter had the news in their update on the Cherriots Board meeting last week. The agenda item published before the meeting was very understated, "Service Change Briefing for May 2024," and it looks like we all missed it. The meeting packet was over 300pp, and this item was at the end. But it deserved more attention! Salem Reporter added it rightly to their update.

The route will start boarding in May. It seems an obvious assumption that when the South Salem Transit Center is opened, the route would shift to originate from there.

Autoism in the Headlines

Does the headline best describe things?

Separately, on an interior supplement page, the paper trumpets a slight reduction in road carnage, but it's really more mixed news, and centers too much on those inside of cars at the expense of those outside of cars.

April Foolery

via Instagram

Readers shared some April Foolery highlights, and this one from Bikepretty, a blog and merchant of cute bike accessories, landed nicely. It's a literal instantiation of the "traffic cone theory of walking and biking."