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February 10, 2015


I used to bike in my 40s three times a week for 30 miles in Pendleton, Oregon. I used the freeway. I don't think I could find an insurance company who'd insure me for my life if they knew I was riding in Salem. The drivers for pedestrians are dangerous enough, not to mention for those who become invisible the moment they are on two wheels.

I've lived and rode 2-wheels in Salem for 30 years now is safer than it ever has been really. Lots more bike lanes and some sharrows here and there (remember when Lancaster didn't even have a bike lane?). If you drive a lot it always looks dangerous but Salems core downtown is so tiny it's easly avoided with the nice use of alleys. Traffic downtown is actually quite slow for a bicycle with moderate gearing, a few touchy spots but nothing compared to the drag strips in Portland or 1st street and other areas of Eugene. Corvallis is quite nice.

I don't where Lycra. I don't own a car and I'm sure you have seen me at some point in the last 30 yrs. I delivered food by bike for the 3 years at Cafe Today in 1995-98. Delivered by bike for 3 years at Dash Delivery 1998-2001

I am invisible I guess.

One reason for not leaving Salem might be: we can make it a lot better if we try. As the cover article in the Salem Weekly pointed out a few weeks ago, voters in Salem are not that more conservative than those in Portland, Corvallis and Eugene. Progressive folks in Salem have let the Chamber/Realtors/Homebuilders cabal take over for the past decade. Our bad. We have to undo that. It's very doable and it might even be fun. There is a new organization in town that is dedicated to this: http://progressivesalem.com Check them out.

Unfortunately, I think people in Salem just don't care. If you said, hey let's have this nice walkable area it's really cool, even if it didn't cost anything, they just wouldn't care. They have free parking downtown, wide streets, easy to get around in car, but they choose to go to the strip malls. I think most of Salem *likes* being a suburban, car-centered place. I think most Salemians (Salemites?) think people who bike are idiots and wouldn't be caught dead doing it. I think most of them actively hate cyclists. Salem has some really beautiful parks and cool common spaces, but they are often sparsely populated. I just don't think most of Salem cares. Look at the Kroc center, put in the middle of an industrial area where no one goes, no signs to get there (I've gotten lost trying to find it), financially struggles. It's a gorgeous facility, but very few people care to use it. The library struggles, the YMCA struggles, the pools struggle. Salem just doesn't care about community. (I lived in Salem as a child/teenager, and got out, but my family still lives there and I visit often).


Salem cares, just not in the way you think they should.

The issues with Salem cross over several bureaucracies. One is that Salem schools don't have the reputation that Corvallis, south Eugene, and parts of Portland metro do. As a result, highly educated mobile families tend to pick one of those cities over Salem. These are important families because they have disposable income and Salem has a wealth imbalance. We don't have enough wealthy/middle class people to offset our low income families. Many people consult and work from home nowadays. They can live anywhere, and chose places with better schools. Salem loses on that disposable income filtering into our city and local businesses.

I totally agree that Salem actively works hard to keep the city a car centered city. I don't think motorists think cyclists are idiots. They just aren't used to them because the city is designed in a way to discourage anything but cars.

The location of the Kroc center is a bit off, being set so far back, but it was a requirement of the donation dollars that it be in a low-income area. For the families that can afford the cost of membership/daily rates, the Courthouse Athletic Clubs offer a much closer option out west, south, and in Keizer. Other than going to the splash pad or rock wall, it doesn't really offer anything else that these families can't get closer to home. I don't think it is fair to say Salemites don't care about their community because they don't go there. It just isn't special enough to make the trek worth it for families that have other options. The problem is that the Kroc center needs these families memberships monies to offset the scholarships for low income families. Hence it struggles.

Every speaker I've been to at the library has been packed. When the parrot guy came they had to turn people away. Storytimes were always well attended. I think families use the library well. I think e-books is changing the dynamics of libraries everywhere. Not just in Salem.

Parking at the YMCA stinks. Why would anyone drive downtown for that? Again, they don't offer things that people can't get through the Courthouse clubs. Now as they add more housing downtown, the Y might be able to gain some members there, but I don't get how the Y struggling means that Salem doesn't care about its community. They just don't care for that facility.

I have lived in Salem for 40 of my 42 years and have always rode my bike, even to dallas and other surrounding areas and have never had a problem. The key is to be assertive and agressive in your riding and realize that you can't have everything given to you or assume that you have right of way. Common sense dictates to me that a confrontation between you on bike and someone in a car is going to draw you as the loser everytime, regardless of what any law says. Even if your in the right you can still be dead and right. I love this city. and as long as your not a whiner (no smooth concrete paths only asphalt?...please!!!) there is plenty to do and places to ride. Yah. It may not be for everyone but thats fine because we natives and long term residents don't want just any or everyone moving here. Thats what Eugene and Portland are for. In addition everyone always has the option to move or move on if considering habitation here.

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