Bicyclists, walkers, skateboarders, and other fans of non-motorized getting-around here in overly autocentric Salem, I've got some bad news and good news for you.
Bad news. There won't be a Salem Sunday Streets event in 2016. One happened in 2013, 2014, and 2015, but it has been cancelled this year.
Salem Sunday Streets is part of the burgeoning "open streets" movement.
Open streets initiatives temporarily close streets to automobile traffic, so that people may use them for walking, bicycling, dancing, playing, and socializing.
With more than 100 documented initiatives in North America, open streets are increasingly common in cities seeking innovative ways to achieve environmental, social, economic, and public health goals.
Good news. Salem Bike Boulevard Advocates -- a great group -- is urging people to email the Mayor, city councilors, and other officials at the City of Salem and tell them that you want Salem to be actively involved in next month's International Open Streets Summit in Portland.
Email City officials at [email protected] Tell them representatives of the City of Salem need to participate in the International Open Streets Summit so they can learn how to bring back Salem Sunday Streets bigger and better.
I don't know why the City of Salem's support for Salem Sunday Streets has slipped so much.
Being a citizen activist on various local issues, I'm concerned that the folks currently running City Hall are letting their lust for a billion dollar Third Bridge across the Willamette take precedence over much-needed improvements to Salem's cycling and pedestrian infrastructure.
The more people experience the joy of getting around town without a car, the less need there will be for an already unnecessary Third Bridge and other costly expansions of Salem's roads. Fred Kent, founder of the Project for Public Spaces, is quoted in a book I'm reading, "This Is Where You Belong."
If you plan cities for cars and traffic, you get cars and traffic. If you plan for people and places, you get people and places.
If you aren't familiar with Salem Sunday Streets and Portland's highly successful and much larger version, Sunday Parkways, check out the blog posts I've written about them. I've been to all three Salem Sunday Streets events and two Sunday Parkways.
A video of me doing my longboard land-paddling thing at the 2013 Salem Sunday Streets follows the links. I loved how great it felt to ride down the middle of State Street, going the "wrong" way. The street had a whole different feel without vehicles. However, in 2014 and 2015 the street closures that are the hallmark of open streets events were much reduced in Salem to just a few blocks.
In Portland, you can ride a bicycle for seven to nine miles on streets completely closed to traffic during the five Sunday Parkways events held each year. Now, in 2016, Salem has no Salem Sunday Street event of any length. That's why it's important to tell City officials, "bring back Salem Sunday Streets, bigger and better."
Again: email them at [email protected]
Here's the blog post links.
Video: senior citizen skateboarder rolls at Salem Sunday Streets
Living in Salem, I have Portland envy
2014 Salem Sunday Streets: different, yet probably better
What Salem Sunday Streets can learn from Portland Sunday Parkways
What I like most about cycling at a Portland Sunday Parkways event
Cycling in Salem got some good news, but we're a long ways from being pedal-friendly
Photos of 2015 Salem Sunday Streets event
WTF!? Email sent. How can they just cancel without any imput on why or how?
Posted by: JT | July 27, 2016 at 08:55 PM
Here is the very encouraging (not) response to my email.
"Greetings, I am out of the office and will return Monday, August 15th. If you need more immediate assistance, you may contact Lisa Anderson-Ogilvie, Planning Administrator, at 503-540-2381, or [email protected]"
Posted by: JT | July 27, 2016 at 09:45 PM
At the risk of seeming self-promotional, here are some thoughts that grace LOVESalem
Communities exist for the health and enjoyment of those who live in them,
not for the convenience of those who drive through them, fly over them, or exploit their real estate for profit.
-- Ted Roszak, "Where the Wasteland Ends"
"Because we don't think about future generations, they will never forget us." (Henrik Tikkanen)
"Forget the damned motor car and build the cities for lovers and friends." (Lewis Mumford)
Posted by: Walker | July 27, 2016 at 10:05 PM
I'm not sure I would waste an email on the current City Council. With one or two exceptions, they are pretty hopeless. I'd rather see one or more of our newly elected City Councilors attend the summit and have all three plan to use this issue to make their mark on the city next year. How about it Cara, Sally and Matt? Tom Andersen, who is an avid cyclist, might also want to attend.
Posted by: Jim Scheppke | July 28, 2016 at 01:28 PM
I got another reply.
Thanks for asking. The group putting it together decided not to do it this year. They had gotten a late start planning it. It's being planned for next year I understand.
Councilor, Ward 1
Posted by: JT | July 28, 2016 at 08:08 PM
JT, in Portland, the open streets events are a partnership between the Portland Bureau of Transportation, a public agency, and various sponsors -- notably Kaiser Permanente.
So when Councilor/Mayor-elect Bennett speaks of "the group putting it together," I'm assuming he means the City of Salem in conjunction with various sponsors. So the lack of a 2016 Salem Sunday Streets event has to be partly the responsibility of City officials.
After all, streets have to be closed for the event. In 2013, Salem police were stationed at various intersections. In Portland, I believe police officers are at every intersection that has a light. At least, that was my impression from the two Sunday Parkways rides I've been on.
Thus "open streets" has to be a partnership between public and private, the City of Salem and various sponsors.
Since the Salem Sunday Streets ball got dropped this year, it makes sense to cast an eye on both public officials and private organizers as the reason. If making Salem more bicycle and pedestrian-friendly was a priority at City Hall, you can bet we'd have a Salem Sunday Streets every year -- and ideally several times a year.
Posted by: Brian Hines | July 28, 2016 at 08:25 PM
The replies continue to come in. This one is crazy. Sounds like we should essentially have a block party which we have already. They don't want to shut down streets at all according to this reply.
"Thank you for sharing your enjoyment of Salem Sunday Streets event with us. By introducing Sunday Streets to Salem and sponsoring the event for three consecutive years, City staff had hoped that interested citizens would see the value of the event and reproduce it in one or more neighborhoods in town. I know that City staff will work with a group of neighbors that is willing to organize and sponsor an event in their area.
Deputy City Manager
City of Salem, Oregon
555 Liberty St. SE/Room 220
Salem, OR 97301
503-588-6255 x7267 "
Posted by: JT | July 29, 2016 at 07:44 PM