I'm super-excited about the very real possibility that fairly soon Salem could have more than 55 miles of new protected bike lanes -- which now basically exist only in Minto Brown Park and a few blocks of downtown.
This photo showing a protected bike lane elsewhere comes from a must-see web site that describes the Salem Bike Vision. At least, you must see it if, like me, you enjoy riding a bicycle but aren't wild about riding your bike in Salem on paths that are either nonexistent or consist of painted lines on the edge of a busy road.
Here's a map of the proposed bike network.
Read the press release below to learn more about the interconnected bike network. "Interconnected" is a key word. It drives me nuts when I hear people say things like, Salem doesn't need protected bike paths because I hardly ever see anyone using the one downtown.
Well, that's because the one downtown is only on a few blocks (purple in the map above). So you can't safely get to those few blocks, and once there, you can't get anywhere else on a protected bike path. Build a network of protected bike paths and they'll be heavily used, for sure.
If you want to see the protected bike paths built, email city officials at [email protected] ASAP. As noted in the press release below, the City Council will be considering projects to include in an upcoming bond measure at meetings on April 4 and April 11.
Say you heartily support the proposal to use existing infrastructure to create the protected bike lanes, and want to see money for this in the bond measure.
Here's a copy of the March 24 press release.
Community Leaders Unveil Vision for Unified Bike System in Salem
The comprehensive system would provide more than 55 miles of new protected bike lanes and paths including a North-South and East-West bike routes with connections for all residents to safely travel throughout the city.
Salem, OR - Community leaders serving on the City Council, the Cherriots Board of Directors, and the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board have jointly released a new vision for an interconnected bike system for the future of Salem.
The comprehensive bike network would utilize existing infrastructure in a way that will provide unprecedented access and direct routes for residents traveling by bicycle. Most importantly, the vision would ensure protected bike lanes that allow riders of all ages and skill levels to feel safe and comfortable.
By 2035, estimates show as many as 60,000 new residents will move to Salem. Meanwhile, new housing developments are pivoting away from car infrastructure and encouraging residents to use bikes and public transportation. Community leaders say it is imperative that the City plan for this growth with a safe and efficient system for all residents to travel the city.
“I constantly hear from residents and Neighborhood Associations that they want more bike lanes in Salem,” says Salem City Councilor Virginia Stapleton, who represents Ward 1. “This plan provides a unified and safe way to connect the entire city.”
The City of Salem is currently exploring a $300 million Community Improvement Bond and building their list of projects, which presents a unique opportunity to place a down payment on the transportation system of the future.
This plan coincides with historic increases in gas prices, leaving many residents unable to affordably travel throughout the city. A comprehensive bike system would offer a safe, affordable, and carbon-free mode of transportation that is unaffected by fluctuating gas prices.
The plan would establish designated North-South and East-West bike routes throughout the city,with numerous connecting routes leading to businesses, neighborhoods, parks, and other landmarks. The new protected bike infrastructure could be built affordably by avoiding costly land acquisition needed to widen roads.
Instead, by right-sizing travel lanes the City will have room for protected bike lanes. The end result will be safer streets for all modes of travel,including car traffic.“Cherriots has many exciting projects in the works to increase public transit options in Salem,” said Ian Davidson, President of the Board of Directors for Cherriots. “But a truly integrated transportation system means we must also invest in bike infrastructure that both an 8-year-old and an 80-year-old are comfortable riding in. This plan achieves that.”
The City of Salem is also considering the Our Salem Plan and recently adopted a Climate Action Plan. Both of these strive to make Salem more livable and climate friendly in preparation for the future. Transportation remains the largest source of planet-warming pollution in Salem as well as the whole state of Oregon. Increasing residents' access to carbon free transportation options will help significantly reduce emissions.
“The past two years of the pandemic have shown us the importance of making long-term investments in our community,” said Dylan McDowell, Vice Chair of the Salem Parks and Recreation Advisory Board and a member of the city’s Climate Action Task Force. “Salem has an abundance of parks and green spaces, and a unified bike system will mean that residents can safely go from home to work to natural areas without worrying about traffic or parking.”
Salem residents are encouraged to visit Bit.ly/salembike for more information about the proposed bike system and to sign in support of this vision. City Council is expected to consider a list of bond projects at its April 4th work session and April 11th Council meeting. Residents can send written comments to [email protected] or sign up for verbal public comment at both meetings.
About the Authors
Virginia Stapleton is the City Councilor for Ward 1
Ian Davidson is the President of the Board of Directors for Cherriots
Dylan McDowell is the Vice Chair of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board