« Tell the Salem City Council you want protected bike lanes | Main | Why are progressives on Salem City Council so uninterested in protected bike lanes? »

May 24, 2022


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When Director Fernandez was speaking about climate action, he was referring to the effect of having no center turn lane in a section of Pringle. He emphasized the importance of this transit route and mentioned how, with a center lane, drivers could go around stopped buses. While those waiting to turn left would add to the problem, it is the overall picture that should not be ignored. Also, in fairness, he stated that a couple feet of right of way could easily be acquired for the purpose of creating protected bike lanes. There was no response to that point, although it seems that a little more than that would be necessary in order to do it right. I would like to see more protected bike lanes and safe pedestrian paths, but the negative implications of various proposals should not be ignored. The city has been negligent in fulfilling its transportation responsibilities since 2003 but if those with incomplete understanding of design principles, public needs, and elements that make travel safe or dangerous are able to control the discussions without sufficient consideration for the effects of their proposals, then costs will outweigh benefits. Open discussion is the way to go. Let's be honest, the survey is about political protection. It is negligent to support major changes which could endanger the public or cripple traffic flow because it feels right or because more e-mails are received for one thing or another. Public Works is populated by experienced professionals and I expect them to continue to act in a professional manner, while respecting the fact that it is the elected officials that will determine our fate, for better or worse.

Kurt, here's my take on your comment. Our planet faces a grave threat from global warming caused by human greenhouse gas emissions. The City Council has approved both a Strategic Plan and a Climate Action Plan aimed at reducing those emissions in Salem. The transportation sector, vehicles driving around town, is the biggest contributor to carbon pollution.

Public Works in general, and Peter Fernandez in particular, haven't demonstrated any sort of serious commitment to changing Salem's transportation network of roads and bridges in accord with the greenhouse gas reduction policies established by the City Council. As the Breakfast on Bikes blogger likes to put it, Public Works is wedded to "hydraulic autoism," getting cars and trucks moving around Salem as quickly as possible without concern for the environmental consequences.

That's at odds with City Council policies. So when Fernandez starts talking about left turn lanes and complying with road construction standards, the council should politely tell him to, basically, shut up and figure out how to make Salem into a 21st century Green city, not a 1950s-style city when gas was cheap and no one worried about global warming.

So I strongly agree with your last statement. City staff shouldn't decide the fate of protected bike lanes, which ARE very much in line with the Strategic Plan and Climate Action Plan. The City Council has to tell city staff what their marching orders are. Meaning, say, the council wants to spend $15 million on protected bike lanes. You, Public Works, need to figure out how to fund that within the bond measure budget for transportation improvements -- assuming the council isn't willing to simply add $15 million to the $300 million bond measure.

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