Yesterday I griped about how a nearby Oregon town, Silverton, is kicking Salem's butt when it comes to being bicycle and pedestrian friendly.
Today, here's a positive to-do list about how to change things, courtesy of the Salem Breakfast on Bikes blog -- whose blogger posted a great comment on my rant. It deserved to be elevated to a post of its own.
So here it is. I've added a few indented italicized notes of my own, along with a couple of additional links.
Come on, Salem: let's stop talking about the need for more bike lanes and safe pedestrian paths, and freaking do something about this.
From the Salem Breakfast on Bikes blogger:
If readers are interested in advocacy opportunities, here's a partial list:
1) At two meetings in February, City Council meets to set the new Council Goals, the high-level policy goals that will set Council and Staff action for the next two years. One of the goals that has not very passionately been followed is for better bike connectivity. It would be helpful for Councilors to hear a reminder (and also to hear that resources being spent on the Third Bridge would much better be spend on improving safety and comfort for people on foot and on bike).
Note: The first goal-setting City Council work session is Monday, February 2 at 5:30 pm in the Anderson Room on the ground floor of the Salem Public Library (enter from the Peace Plaza). No 3rd Bridge has an informative post about this. Currently it looks like the Council's big proposed "connectivity" goal is wasting a billion dollars on an unneeded Third Bridge, rather than making it easier to bike, walk, and use mass transit in Salem.
Tell the Mayor and City Council how you feel about this: [email protected]
2) South Commercial is awful for walking and biking, and there is a City Study to develop a list of improvements. The Commercial-Vista Corridor Plan just kicked off, and a surge of public comment in support of better walking and biking conditions will help push the study in bolder directions. It looks like it will be on the timid side right now.
3) Advocate for the Downtown Central Salem Mobility Study. This specifically is a place where the commitment to copious free parking interferes with putting in stronger sidewalks and bike lanes downtown. The City is beginning to plan for some changes on High and Church Streets, but only "phase I" of the recommendations. Let City Council know they should move more assertively on the recommendations.
Note: Salem Community Vision, a group I'm involved with, strongly supports Streetscape improvements to downtown. Read all about it. Give Salem Community Vision a Facebook like. Excerpt from the Steetscape description...
"The downtown streetscape project is designed to enhance the pedestrian and biking experience in the core area and eliminate blighted conditions. The project would remove one lane of automobile traffic and dedicate the space to protected bike lanes. It also would widen the existing sidewalks to provide more space to build a lineal park connecting Riverfront Park to the State Capitol Mall and Willamette University."
4) Bike and Walk Salem was adopted a few years ago now, and the City has been slow to move on it. Let your City Councilor know that implementing its recommendations is important.
Note: I paged through this impressive-looking report, which I hadn't known about before. So, four years ago City staff, consultants, and a large group of "stakeholders" put a lot of time and money into analyzing the generally crappy state of Salem's current bikability/walkability, recommending specific improvements, complete with price tags. And now the Mayor, City Manager, and City Council are ignoring the report, focusing on more of the same: hugely expensive auto-focused projects.
A group of neighbors in Highland and Grant are working on building support for a family-friendly bikeway on Maple and Winter Streets into downtown, ultimately to connect to the Kroc Center so kids could actually bike there and not rely on the mom-chauffeur.
The City has scheduled work on the connection to the Union Street Railroad Bridge at Commercial street (but way out in 2018!), which can be a remarkably treacherous crossing, but there is no plan yet to make the whole length of Union Street a family-friendly bikeway. With the opening of the Minto Bridge in a year or two, it would be great for kids and families from close-in neighborhoods to be able safely and comfortably to bike and walk on their own to Riverfront Park.
From the south, there's an opportunity to create a family-friendly bikeway along Church Street, which would connect Bush Park to downtown and Riverfront Park.
5) The West Salem Business District Action Plan is in progress and one of the things they are considering is a local street under Wallace Road that would connect to Second Street and to the Union Street Railroad Bridge. The biggest fail on the bridge project was not including a connection across Wallace Road. If you've been down it, the path just ends. It's dumb. The proposal in the action plan seems to be the most serious attempt to make a connection, and while it is not perfect, it is worth supporting. The way the Edgewater district is separated from Wallace Park and the Union St Bridge needs to be fixed.
These are official, actual City processes that will yield, or have yielded, plans eligible for local, state, and federal funding. (Wish lists by gung-ho advocates are rarely eligible for state and federal funding it is important to note.)
Supporting these projects with a range of perspectives - so it's not just the wacko fringe bikey people asking for them - showing that there's broad support among the public who understand that making it easier for people to walk and bike and bus also makes it easier for those who still need to drive, this is what will make stuff happen in Salem.