Bicyclists, walkers, skateboarders, and other fans of non-motorized getting-around here in overly autocentric Salem, I've got some bad news and good news for you.
Bad news. There won't be a Salem Sunday Streets event in 2016. One happened in 2013, 2014, and 2015, but it has been cancelled this year.
Salem Sunday Streets is part of the burgeoning "open streets" movement.
Open streets initiatives temporarily close streets to automobile traffic, so that people may use them for walking, bicycling, dancing, playing, and socializing.
With more than 100 documented initiatives in North America, open streets are increasingly common in cities seeking innovative ways to achieve environmental, social, economic, and public health goals.
Good news. Salem Bike Boulevard Advocates -- a great group -- is urging people to email the Mayor, city councilors, and other officials at the City of Salem and tell them that you want Salem to be actively involved in next month's International Open Streets Summit in Portland.
Email City officials at CityCouncil@cityofsalem.net Tell them representatives of the City of Salem need to participate in the International Open Streets Summit so they can learn how to bring back Salem Sunday Streets bigger and better.
I don't know why the City of Salem's support for Salem Sunday Streets has slipped so much.
Being a citizen activist on various local issues, I'm concerned that the folks currently running City Hall are letting their lust for a billion dollar Third Bridge across the Willamette take precedence over much-needed improvements to Salem's cycling and pedestrian infrastructure.
The more people experience the joy of getting around town without a car, the less need there will be for an already unnecessary Third Bridge and other costly expansions of Salem's roads. Fred Kent, founder of the Project for Public Spaces, is quoted in a book I'm reading, "This Is Where You Belong."
If you plan cities for cars and traffic, you get cars and traffic. If you plan for people and places, you get people and places.
If you aren't familiar with Salem Sunday Streets and Portland's highly successful and much larger version, Sunday Parkways, check out the blog posts I've written about them. I've been to all three Salem Sunday Streets events and two Sunday Parkways.
A video of me doing my longboard land-paddling thing at the 2013 Salem Sunday Streets follows the links. I loved how great it felt to ride down the middle of State Street, going the "wrong" way. The street had a whole different feel without vehicles. However, in 2014 and 2015 the street closures that are the hallmark of open streets events were much reduced in Salem to just a few blocks.
In Portland, you can ride a bicycle for seven to nine miles on streets completely closed to traffic during the five Sunday Parkways events held each year. Now, in 2016, Salem has no Salem Sunday Street event of any length. That's why it's important to tell City officials, "bring back Salem Sunday Streets, bigger and better."
Again: email them at CityCouncil@cityofsalem.net
Here's the blog post links.
Video: senior citizen skateboarder rolls at Salem Sunday Streets
Living in Salem, I have Portland envy
2014 Salem Sunday Streets: different, yet probably better
What Salem Sunday Streets can learn from Portland Sunday Parkways
What I like most about cycling at a Portland Sunday Parkways event
Cycling in Salem got some good news, but we're a long ways from being pedal-friendly
Photos of 2015 Salem Sunday Streets event