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February 26, 2014


Thanks for writing up your thoughts!

So how bad would it be to take out a bit of parking on one street in downtown so a bike lane could be put in? And why did Salem ever create the 'no bikes' on sidewalks so far out of the core? Last, the whole idea of the bikes sharing the car lane idea (sharod or something like that) is totally bogus. The whole lesson learned from Copenhagen is that you have to separate cars from bikes to get people to feel safe enough to use the lanes. If Paris can take cars off the streets at least on weekends, so can Salem.

"Paris Respire (literally "Paris breathe") is a car-free scheme where certain roads are closed to vehicular traffic on Sundays and public holidays between the hours of 9am and 5pm. The roads closed include those by the River Seine, in the Marais, the Canal Saint Martin, Montmartre as well as roads elsewhere in the city."

In defense of sharrows, the way Salem has used them on Commercial Street is non-standard and really pushes the envelope. Their use on Chemeketa is much closer to standard (though some things about Chemeketa could still be tweaked) and is helpful. Even the ones on Commercial are helpful for those who are willing to brave bicycling on Commercial. So to say they are "bogus" is, at least for people who bike, not true. What is true is that the way Salem is currently using them, they are useful to a much smaller slice of people who bike than the way they are used in some cities elsewhere.

Also, some people who bike are able to keep up with downtown traffic and would like to retain the ability to bike with cars. So it would be nice to have the option - to have wholly separated lanes for families and people who aren't comfortable mixing with cars, and to allow fast cyclists to mix with cars.

An important reason for using sharrows here is that people are exceedingly uncomfortable taking out parking. They were kindof a plan B. The attachment to parking is certainly is part of the sentiment behind the tremendous support for free, unlimited parking downtown, don't you think? People want lots of parking.

In any case, it would be great if we could look at the examples of other cities, as you say, and create some car-free times or car-free zones. I bet downtown merchants would be surprised at the additional kinds of foot traffic they'd experience.

Glad you're thinking about Paris and Copenhagen!

I believe that if Salem is to become an 8-80 city we are going to have to think not like someone who is currently a biker, but to the people who have the potential to become a biker...if only conditions would change a bit. Portland has had big success with closing streets at least once in a while to let families bike together. Recreation is the beginning of thinking about stopping to shop and then we can move on to the concept of commuting. Baby-steps for the novices, so that they become proponents of doing more.

When my in-laws lived in Utah they biked everywhere even in their late 60s. When they came to live in Salem they feared even biking in their neighborhood streets, let alone use their bikes for errands. Too bad, it was great exercise. Finally they moved to a gated community in Florida and returned to riding their bikes up into their late 70s. If other US cities can do this, what is wrong with Salem?

I say sharrow (thanks for the correct spelling) are bogus because the truth is that most people are intimidated by them and cars do not understand or respect them. They are an excuse for doing the right thing for bikers.

Ah. Totally agree. As you suggest, it's true that sharrows have been used here as a temporizing measure - an incremental measure, a stage hopefully preliminary to better things (but still better than nothing) - and as you say, they will not be effective for families, newbies, and casual cyclists. They really serve only a small fraction of people who bike, those who are already pretty confident.

To serve the larger proportion of people who are interested in more transportation choices, different kinds of street treatments will be necessary, usually involving separation from car traffic.

But until we get to that point, sharrows still have some value!

Here's a piece about funding that shows how Portland has used sharrows in a significantly different context than most of them in Salem -
I think it would be difficult to say the sharrows are "bogus" in the contexts shown in the photos.

(As a practical matter, right now it looks like Union street may be the closest to a pilot full-on family-friendly bikeway. Some other street could jump the queue if there was great support, but I'm not seeing that right now. Council and the Urban Renewal Agency look like they are working on the first segment, the intersection of Commercial and Union, and then will start working east up the street. Councilor Bednarz has business offices on Union at Church, and he was anxious about losing street parking on Union. So to get a full family-friendly street, it will be helpful to lobby both him and Councilor Bennett. Please consider sending them a note in support of an 8 - 80 treatment for Union and other streets in Salem!)

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