Way to go, Salem Bike Boulevard Advocates!
Without you pushing for Family Friendly Bikeways in this town, of which we currently have exactly none, there wouldn't have been this good news that you shared today on your Facebook page.
We have great news to share with you this morning. The City of Salem has been awarded an ODOT TGM grant to begin the planning stages of the Winter-Maple Family Friendly Bikeway! What does this mean? It means that Salem will receive $110,000 from ODOT along with a $30,000 match from the City to plan a safe and convenient route.
TGM grants help "local communities plan for streets and land use in a way that leads to more livable, economically vital, and sustainable communities and that increases opportunities for transit, walking and bicycling" - a perfect description for what SBBA is trying to encourage in Salem.
A big THANK YOU to those employees at the City of Salem who worked hard to submit a grant winning application.
It was only last February that I heard about what Angela Obery, the energetic woman who is out to make Salem safer for her children and all other bicycling beings, was up to with Salem Bike Boulevard Advocates.
Since, she and her merry band of cyclists have been making presentations to neighborhood associations and talking up family friendly bikeways (a.k.a. neighborhood greenways) to the Mayor, City Council members, and city staff.
Must have worked.
It's doubtful that the normally autocentric City of Salem would have applied for funds to plan the Winter-Maple bikeway without the advocacy of Salem Bike Boulevard Advocates. So let's say yay! for that.
And also keep in mind how far Salem has to go before it becomes a truly bike-friendly town.
The Salem Breakfast on Bikes blog, a must-read for anyone concerned with alternative transportation and land use issues in Salem, does a great job of pointing out where we fall short in this regard. For example, in "Running stores lap the bike shops in retail growth and participation."
Here in town, we see the walking/running approach clearly in the relative successes of events like "On Your Feet Fridays," "Just Walk," "High Street Hustle," and "Salem Sunday Streets," each of which are essentially (or exclusively) oriented towards Salemites on foot, most of whom arrive and leave by car.
Bike events almost all remain oriented towards, speed, training, or distance.
Even something meant as a crossover event like Salem Sunday Streets has a much smaller route and set of street closures than the run/walk-only High Street Hustle. The idea of closing several miles of street for a free, wholly non-competitive and car-free event for longer walking or for biking hasn't got traction here yet.
One important institutional driver of this is that nationwide the running stores are doing a lot better at general marketing and community advocacy than the bike shops!
Yes, good point about Salem Sunday Streets, an annual event that is coming up this year on August 30. After the first Sunday Streets three years ago, the length of the street closures have shrunk so it is barely recognizable as a car-free "open streets" event.
Breakfast on Bikes spoke about this in "Does Sunday Streets need a new name?"
...If folks are only "hoping" for active transportation, and that hoped-for transportation isn't on meaningful stretches of car-free streets, and the main goals themselves don't have anything to do with streets or transportation, and instead are community, downtown living, and the local economy, it's a street fair, isn't it?
l agree. Yes, it is basically a street fair.
Still, all hail to the Salem Sunday Streets organizers.
They're doing as good a job as they can in a town with political leaders at City Hall who are mostly stuck in a 1950's sprawl-based mentality of building more streets to accommodate more cars and trucks -- failing to recognize that the wave of the future is alternative transportation and denser close-in mixed use areas, which have a much smaller carbon footprint.
Let's not be content with our paltry current open streets event. Here's the maps of the August 30 Salem Sunday Streets event and tomorrow's Portland Sunday Parkways event (which I'm planning to go to),
In Salem cyclists can ride in about a 12-block circle. In Portland, hundreds of blocks, 7 miles. I really like how Portland's event is focused on people doing something active, while in Salem the focus is much more on passively watching entertainers and other activities.
(See the post I wrote after going to a July Portland Sunday Parkways event.)
It wouldn't take much to make Salem streets much more cycling-friendly. Our current freeway'ish three-lane one-way downtown streets would especially benefit from being reduced to two-lane, two-way streets with a dedicated bike lane.
In two minutes you can see how this can be done.