Feedback request: Transportation Action Plan for Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation

I have been helping a community group develop an Action Plan for mitigating and adapting to climate change for Corvallis by developing the Transportation & Land-Use section.  There has already been a public forum to solicit community feedback and several emails and comments sent online, but I wanted to be sure to get suggestions from those most intimately involved in transportation advocacy.  So, please have a look at the latest draft — skip ahead to p3 for Objectives & Actions.  Feel free to leave comments below this post or by emailing me.  Feedback received by Thursday afternoon will have the greatest chance of being considered.  Thank you!

Please comment on CAMPO’s draft transportation improvement program

We have until October 4th to comment on the Corvallis Area Metropolitan Planning Organization’s draft Transportation Improvement Plan. Comments can be sent directly to Ali Bonakdar. If approved, this document will prioritize projects that have local funding commitments, making the projects eligible for matching grant funding from state and federal agencies.  The document isn’t very readable; the only section that seems to be open for comment starts on page 22.

12 “Surface Transportation Projects” are listed but only the roads in question are listed without what they are doing.  While some of these projects will likely include bicycle and pedestrian improvements (sidewalks, lanes), without more description it is difficult to comment on.

The “Transit and Alternative Mode Projects” appear to just list the budget for existing transit programs without added service; I am inferring this by comparing this draft plan over the three years and with the approved plan for the last three-year period.  In the last plan, the plan budgets for the purchase of a new bus in 2012 — no such purchases are budgeted for the remaining years or in the current draft plan.  The budget from 2012-2015 is roughly $2.25 million per year (with inflationary increases).  The budget for 2015 in the current draft (which overlaps with the last plan) is for $3 million — an increase for sure, but without explanation.  Since there are no new-bus purchases budgeted, I am guessing that this could be unexpected inflation.  It is possible that hours will be extended next year.  The budget for the remaining years has only inflationary increases.

There are two ODOT-sponsored projects which directly affect cyclist and pedestrians: modifications to the multi-use path along HWY34 and construction of a new multi-way path in South Corvallis (page 24). The latter is a new path connecting the 3rd Street South Corvallis pedestrian bridge to Chrystal Lake Blvd by a multi-use path that will bypass the sidewalk along 3rd.  I wholeheartedly support this project which is slated for 2016-2018.

The former project is mixed. As listed in this draft plan, it seems to simply replace the multi-use path on the north side of HWY34 from the lights to Peoria with a road.  A backwards step in my mind! However, if you look up the project by number on the ODOT website you find out more hopeful information.  While the project calls to add additional right-turn lanes for highway access, it also “extends the multi-use path on the north side of the highway from the OSU Crew Docks approach road west to the Susan Wilkins multi-use path and east from Wolcott Road to Riverside Drive”.  This would be an amazing improvement making a truly safe bike route between Corvallis and Albany by way of bike path and Riverside Drive (which, although narrow, has low traffic that seems used to bicycle traffic).  I will be commenting that I approve of this part of the project and disapprove of other parts and that if anything the project order should be to first improve the safety for vulnerable road users above all else

I will be commenting on this to Ali Bonakdar and will include comments that I don’t believe we should be spending resources on extending highway access.  I also noticed that in the evaluation of the projects, up to 10 points is given to improving the safety of motorists and only up to 9 points for improving the safety of transit users, bicyclists and pedestrians (page 27).  Many more points should be given for the latter.

Please take the time to comment on these projects.

Corvallis: State of Inter-City Mass Transit

Every now and then, I like to assess the state of inter-city mass transit for those of us living in Corvallis.  First my rules:

  • Only fixed-route, public transportation.  That is, vanpools are out.
  • Only methods that are cheaper than driving (using $0.75/mile as the true cost of driving not counting environmental and social costs).  Using the Valley Retriever to get to Philomath or Albany is out.
  • Only methods that take at most twice as long as driving; the time of people taking public transit should be as valuable as motorists — I will allow for slightly slower as riding the bus or train is not necessarily lost.  So, getting to Albany by transferring at LBCC is out (since connection time makes it 1.5 hours).
  • Use downtown transit centers as the destinations.  This drops the Hut Shuttle out of connection as it would take nearly 4 hours to get to downtown Portland after connecting to the MAX.
  • Biking and driving options are included for a point of comparison.
  • Prices vary according to how late you buy your ticket; I assumed buying a ticket last minute, and so used the most expensive price.

In summary, there are 11 trips daily to Philomath, 6 to Salem, 6 to Portland and 4 to Eugene.  If we discount Greyhound due to its extreme unreliability, the last three numbers go down by 3.  If you are willing to bike to Albany to connect to Amtrak or Bolt Bus, then there are 8 additional nice trips to Salem and Portland; I don’t really think this is reasonable since I don’t think we should ask the average person to bike 12 miles to connect to public transportation.  Note that 7 of the Philomath trips take the same amount of time as biking.  More details are in this spreadsheet:

Connecting in Albany to get to Eugene was not at all competitive with driving and almost comparable to biking.  In fact, I propose a race: biking to Eugene vs. public transportation.  How embarrassing.

Bikepacking along the rivers: Clackamas, Breitenbush & Santiam

Cascading Rivers Scenic Bikeway

We just came back from our most recent bikepacking trip.  We followed the newly designated Cascading Rivers Scenic Bikeway along the Clackamas and Breitenbush rivers, starting in Gresham, and finished by following the Santiam to Lyons and then along wonderful backroads into Corvallis.  Except for 15 miles of windy, winding, steeply downhill, two-lane highway (HWY 22 from Detroit to Gates), the roads were wonderful — low-traffic and scenic. Continue reading

Lessons from animal-rights activists

I attended an afternoon workshop organized by animal rights activists (and others) at PSU last weekend.  Part of the message was the need to work across activist groups (environmental, political, animal-rights, etc.) and ended with an incredible panel including the founder of the Portland Black Panther Party (Kent Ford), a lawyer with the Civil Liberties Defense Center (Lauren Reagan) and the editor of the International Middle East Media Center (Saed Banmoura).  The ideas of working across groups got me thinking of what I should be doing to help improve our transportation options in Corvallis … more on that soon.

This was also the first time I had spent any amount of time with animal-rights activists.  One thing that struck me was that veganism was a default (as I guiltily ate my cream-cheesed bagel) — that is, their activism started with personal responsibility. Continue reading

What could $4.2 million buy?

4 buses including operating costs for 12 years,
8 miles of multi-use paths or physically separated bikeways,
20 miles of bicycle boulevards,
25 apartments for low-income families,
80 street closures (to allow people through but not vehicles),
1500 Corvallisites covered by universal health care for one year, or
Continue reading