It isn't everything that Salem Bike Vision proposed for a network of protected bike lanes in Salem, but it's a good start.
After all, politics is the art of the doable. Idealism is fine. In the end, though, getting part of what you want is a heck of a lot better than falling on a idealistic sword and not getting anything.
A protected bike lane
So even though I'd hoped for more protected bike lanes to be included in the $300 million community improvement bond measure Salem voters will be asked to approve this November, it was pleasing to watch a video of the June 27 City Council meeting and see that this project was added to the bond measure.
Union Street NE: Summer Street NE to 12th Street NE Buffered Bike Lanes. Extend bicycle facilites on Union Street NE between Summer Street NE and the 12th Street Pedestrian Promenade. This project will link with the currently funded CIP Project - Union Street Family Friendly Bikeway (Commercial Street NE - Summer Street NE).
Councilor Virginia Stapleton championed protected bike lanes on the City Council. She deserves a lot of credit for persevering through the ups and downs of what it took to get a protected bike lane all the way from Harritt Street NW in West Salem to 12th Street in NE Salem.
Here's a transcript I made of two sets of remarks Stapleton made during the council's discussion of this topic. Since she's pleased with how bike lanes fared in the bond measure, I am too.
I would like to move to restore $700,000 to the Peace Plaza improvement by reducing the State Street project by an additional $700,000, and that will then restore the Union Street family friendly bikeway project to its entirety, and also the Peace Plaza.
As many of you guys know, I ran for office, and one of the top priorities that I had was connecting our bike infrastructure.
And this motion here, coupled with the motion Councilor Hoy made at our steering committee task force meeting we had about two weeks ago now, and that really will complete the Union Street connection.
And this is really vital to the bike infrastructure we have here in the city of Salem. If we get this bond passed, and we have the completion of Marine Drive and the State Street project, we will then have a fully protected and connected bike infrastructure from Harritt Drive NW all the way to 17th Street NE.
This is really critical, I feel, especially for climate change, where in the next thirteen years is when we're going to meet our first benchmark for our climate action goal of a 50% reduction in emissions. Providing these options for alternative transportation is going to be key for us to reach that goal.
I also want to say thank you to all the people who wrote in and talked about how important bike infrastructure was to them and the goals they have for the future, sharing their personal stories. Some of them were horrific. Some of them were just delightful. It was wonderful to see the breadth and width of the folks who are writing about bikes here in Salem.
Thank you to all of those people. I know that this doesn't complete the task, but it does give us a really great start on what I hope will be a really great future of fully protected and connected bike lane infrastructure in the city of Salem.
So I hope you all will support me in this motion.
After Mayor Bennett and others offered remarks about the Union Street project, Stapleton said this.
I just want to say thanks to you for your kind words and for the work you have done in the past, and those who went before me on this Union Street project. I think it will be a critical piece of infrastructure for our city.
And thank you to all of the fellow councilors here tonight who are so supportive. For those of you who are excited about bike infrastructure in this bond, just remember that this project is over $5 million for bike infrastructure. Couple that with all the other projects that we're doing, the bicycle infrastructure within the bond is equalling $15 million in total.
So this is really a game changer for folks, and I can't wait to see it [the bond measure] hopefully pass, that we can see all this good work come to fruition.