Mind-opening. Intuitively persuasive while being counter-intuitive. An appealing vision for what downtown Salem (Oregon) could be, but isn't now.
A walkable streetscape where it is tougher to get around by car than at present.
I'd never thought about car transportation in this way before.
The Traffic Engineer v. Economist
One favorite idea was to underscore in a table the difference between the way an economist looks at the value captured by a congested roadway full of people on foot, on bike, in bus, and moving slowly in cars, and the way a traffic engineer sees the same congested road. Tumlin's big on shifting the conversation from engineering analysis and metaphors to economic ones.
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A traffic engineer sees rapid, free-moving traffic as an "A." But an economist sees only through-traffic and empty space on the road, with no people stopping and spending money. A traffic engineer sees congestion as a failed roadway, as an "F," but an economist sees a vibrant streetscape full of people lingering and spending.
Their perspectives are really reciprocals of each other. But it shouldn't be so difficult: When people slow down and want to linger, they spend more!
And a city whose congestion problems are solved is like Detroit - depopulated and desolate. Only by ruining your city, he said, can you solve congestion.
Remember, we'll not talking about long range freeway travel here, where people are moving by car with a distinct purpose to get from Point A to Point B. That's why we have bypasses and such, like Front Street in Salem, for people who don't want to have anything to do with downtown.
But then there's the great example of Sisters in central Oregon, a place my wife and I visit frequently. You're zipping along in your car at 60 mph or so, then you hit Sisters. Two lanes. Lots of stop signs. You crawl for a mile or two through downtown.
Enjoyably. Because Sisters is a charming town, a blend of cowboy/artist chic (with an emphasis on quilting, an art form that I've come to appreciate more after spending so much time in Sisters).
Driving slowly through downtown, you see places that make you want to park and get out of your car. Once you're walking, you feel comfortable crossing the two lane Main Street and walking along the sidewalks, because cars are going less than 25 mph.
Downtown Salem, on the other hand, has a much carcentric frantic feel, with all of the one-way three-lane streets.
Today I wanted to stop at the Court Street Beanery coffeehouse after getting a haircut in Keizer. I couldn't drive directly to the Beanery. It takes some figuring how to navigate the one-ways even for someone like me who is familiar with downtown. A first-time visitor would be much more confused.
If downtown Salem was like downtown Sisters, I'd be happy to find a parking place several blocks away, then have a pleasant relaxed walk down narrow streets with a pedestrian-friendly feel. Instead, Salem encourages the Point A to Point B approach; by and large visitors aren't drawn to an entire enticing area, but particular destinations.
More car congestion means a more vibrant downtown. Jeffries made that clear.
Tumlin used a slide from New York City to show how removing curb lanes and/or parking stalls to create more walking space - and tighter carspace - can dramatically increase retail activity.
Read the entire post. This is the vision for downtown Salem that citizens need to expect City officials to start embracing. To re-vitalize downtown, walkers have to be given more respect than cars.