Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Must read: Why Recovery Isn't In the Cards

If you only read one thing LOVESalem links to, read this.

The conundrum of transit funding

Nice story on Spokane using federal stimulus money to bus buses, including some diesel-electric hybrids.

The problem with this in, say, Salem, is that we're not short of buses, we're short of operations dollars --- which you have to have to put a driver in the seat of the bus. In countless areas, the strings that the feds tie to federal funding make it worse than useless: you can buy a bus with federal dollars, but you can't use any federal dollars to make the investment pay off. Likewise, you can't use buses bought with federal dollars to start charter bus runs to staunch the flow of red ink in your transit system.

Right now the Legislature is debating letting districts like Cherriots impose a payroll tax to raise more operating funds. It's hard to know if this is the right idea -- transit is melting down, making all the money spent on the buses wasted. And, when gas prices shoot up again, people are going to be very angry when there's only a skeleton bus system waiting for them. On the other hand, there is a fundamental problem with paying for a basic service that should be on a par with sewers, police and fire protection, street lights, and garbage pickup through a payroll tax. Oregon, and Salem in particular, is already way too dependent on income taxes --- adding another dependency on income taxes just worsens the whipsaw we experience when jobs are declining.

Your Salem Early-Spring Bicycling Calendar

The tireless . . . um, no, wait, he's definitely not tireless . . . the energetic and early rising Eric Lundgren of Breakfast on Bikes sends along this calendar of tasty Salem bike-related activities:
Spring is here and bicycling activities are picking up!

Friday, March 27
Got friends and colleagues shut out of the "two-hour shuffle"? Introduce them to bike commuting with a tasty treat at Breakfast on Bikes! B on B will be at 12th & Chemeketa between 7am and 9am. Thanks to Cascade Baking Co., Coffee House Cafe, and LifeSource Natural Foods. For more see -

Tuesday, March 31
Downtown Vision 2020 will hold an Open House. The bike/ped work group
is one of the most active, and they will have much to report on. The MWVBTA will present a draft version of their Top 12 List of projects for better bicycling. Another big draw will be the 3-D model of proposed restriping plans for Commercial street downtown. These plans will use bike lanes and sharrows to make Commercial street safer for bicyclists. Come check it out! For more information see -

Saturday, April 18
The Union Street Railroad Bridge opens to bicycles and pedestrians!
The gala ribbon-cutting starts at 10am. Bike on down and check out the beautiful views off this historic bridge. The bridge also received over $3.5 million in stimulus funds to plan a path from the bridge to Glen Creek road and to encapsulate the paint in a lead abatement project. Additionally, on the 23rd, City Council voted to move forward on the proposed bridge to Minto Island. See Friends of Two Bridges for more -

Tuesday - Wednesday, April 21-22
For its fourth year the Oregon Bike Summit comes to Salem. The special focus will be on the legislative agenda. For more information and for registration see -

Sunday, April 26
The Salem Bicycle Club presents the first major ride of the season, the Monster Cookie! Enjoy the gentle rolling hills of French Prairie from Salem to Champoeg and back on this metric century. And in this Sesquicentennial year, remember: Oregon starts at Champoeg! For more see -

Both the Salvation Army and St. Vincent de Paul are starting bicycle repair and recycling programs. We'll have more on them as they grow. See the breakfast blog for a story about the Salvation Army -

The City of Salem is applying for three Transportation and Growth
Management grants
. These applications are to create a district-wide Safe Routes to School program, to create a Downtown Vision 2020 Bike/Ped circulation plan, and to update thoroughly the Bicycle and Pedestrian Elements of the Transportation System Plan. For more see -

The legislature is in its 11th week now, and there's lots of activity that involves bicycles. To learn more see the weekly legislative update -

Mayor Taylor and the City of Salem won an Alice Award from the BTA for Salem's bicycling progress, especially for the Union Street Railroad Bridge project. There were five winners from a pool of 34 nominations. Well done, Salem! For more see -