The Open Streets Classroom: a University-Community Partnership for the Public Good

Event Date: February 27, 12-4 pm

Location: Corvallis-Benton County Library Meeting Room
645 NW Monroe Ave, Corvallis

This is a free event where participants will identify ways to build inclusive, walkable, bikeable, and livable neighborhoods. Join us to create community-university collaborations in the context of Open Streets Corvallis. Everyone is welcome! Spanish interpretation and lunch provided. Registration required.

Dr. Adonia Lugo is the Interim Chair of MA in Urban Sustainability at Antioch University. She will discuss mobility justice, her time co-founding CicLAvia, and open streets work being done elsewhere.

We invite you to join us in addressing the following key issues:

  • Neighborhood Engagement – enhancing livability and resiliency by connecting neighbors and neighborhoods
  • Engineering/Design – designing and implementing construction-related demonstration projects
  • Health – designing and implementing physical activity and health initiatives on event day
  • Inclusion/Representation – enhancing participation of all ethnicities and minorities in Open Streets Corvallis 
  • Peace Literacy/Civil Discourse – understanding peace as a set of skills that need learning, practice, and discipline

Anyone interested in university-community partnerships, community-building, and active transportation should attend. This may be of special interest to neighborhoods where Open Streets events have been located in the past and/or will be hosted in the future. Tangible projects, actions, and volunteer/internship opportunities will come from this event.

Thank you to Linn Benton Health Equity AllianceDevNWCorvallis Sustainability CoalitionOregon Sea Grant, and OSU’s Office of Institutional DiversitySchool of Language Culture and Society, and Precollege Programs for making The Open Streets Classroom possible.

Better Bike Lanes

After 40+ years of adding bike lanes to busier roadways throughout Oregon, there’s a push to do more for the safety and comfort of people biking (or skateboarding, scootering, etc.). Two ways of accomplishing this include widening bike lanes and/or adding something to physically separate people rolling along relatively slowly from people in faster moving cars and trucks. 

While cities have been building planter strips next to sidewalks for over a hundred years to improve the safety and comfort of walking, something similar for people biking is relatively new in Oregon. Granted, multi-use paths outside the curb-to-curb roadway have a long history, but these can be less practical as driveway and intersection density increases along roadways within cities. 

But how does a city add better bike lanes? That depends on a host of factors including design standards, roadway characteristics, and funding. In Oregon, a city’s Transportation System Plan (TSP) can provide the framework for allowing these facilities. From there, cities look to organizations such as AASHTO (American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials) and NACTO (National Association of City Transportation Officials) for guidance on creating the design standards that best address the needs of their jurisdiction.

Image from People for Bikes.

In Corvallis, the recently completed TSP calls wider bike lanes “buffered bike lanes” and wider bike lanes with a physical barrier “protected bike lanes”. A buffered bike lane would typically be eight feet wide, rather than the current five or six foot width. Two parallel white stripes and other markings between the bike lane and vehicle lane may delineate this buffered space. The exact street markings of a buffered bike lane and characteristics of a protected bike lane will be determined in an upcoming design review process at the Public Works Department. 

While Corvallis is not a member of NACTO, this organization provides some of the most current and accessible guidance for urban bikeway design. Organizations such as The Street Trust and People for Bikes advocate for better bike facilities and laws with projects like the Green Lane Project. The People for Bikes reference guide entitled 14 Ways to Make Bike Lanes Better provides an overview of how other cities have approached the most prominent elements of buffered and protected bike lanes, also called cycle tracks and separated bike lanes. 

At Open Streets, we will demonstrate a center left turn bike lane on Alexander. It will help people on bikes to turn left comfortably and avoid conflicts with drivers. You will see temporary chalk paint on Alexander defining the bike lane, which will be in place from August 14-25. On event day, look for a potential protected bike lane design, too.

In the years ahead, keep an eye out for better bike lanes here in Corvallis and across the state. What’s your favorite better bike lane? 

Placemaking in Southtown

On Sunday July 28th, after months of planning and design, a community street mural was painted at the intersection of Lilly Ave. and Bethel St. in south Corvallis. The work was completed by over 40 volunteers from the community. This mural is only the second street mural painted in Corvallis and the first to go through the brand new City process for Intersection Paintings. A small team of neighbors led by local teaching artist Diana Ryan and Living South Town Community Organizer Rebecka Weinsteiger worked together with the City as well as the neighborhood at large to make this project happen. The project was inspired by the JANA Street Mural of 2017 (on 11th and Taylor St). This placemaking mural project will be featured at Open Streets, a free street festival on August 18th, 2019 that encourages active transportation and engages the community to create spaces where people want to walk, bike and play. In its third year, Open Streets will happen between two parks in high-density, low-income and working class neighborhoods: Lilly Park and Tunison Park.

Finished Street Mural designed by Diana Ryan, local teaching artist and South Town resident. “After being involved with the street mural of 2017, I was inspired and excited to have the opportunity to design and organize a mural on my street. I use the route to bike my kids to and from school every day.”

Our project goals when proposing the Lilly and Bethel Street Mural were neighborhood engagement, beautification and placemaking. The street mural is titled “Lily and Bluebirds” and was designed by local teaching artist Diana Ryan who runs an art studio adjacent to her home just down the street from the mural on Bethel St.

In planning the design for the street mural, I used natural imagery in a colorful and playful way to celebrate place and diversity.  

The project goals were achieved with a fantastic turn out of volunteers of all ages that helped with the painting as well as passers-by that stopped to engage and watch the painting process. The new street mural enhances the neighborhood and beautifies the commute for many walkers, bikers, buses and drivers. After the painting was completed, neighbors celebrated by having a neighborhood potluck in Lilly Park as they waited for the paint to dry.

The painting team was super grateful to be fueled by donations from Tried & True Coffee Co.First Alternative Natural Foods Co-op and New Morning Bakery and the project would not have been possible with out the support of the City of Corvallis Neighborhood Empowerment Grants program which funded the materials!

The Open Streets event on August 18th will be another great opportunity for people to view the new street art while celebrating community.

The most rewarding aspects of the project were hearing people’s enthusiasm and support for the project and getting the community involved in the painting itself. One neighbor remarked at how lucky he is to have the street mural going on so close to his house and how his daily life will be uplifted by it, like it was painted just for him. That’s the beauty of this neighborhood street mural; it is for everyone. I enjoyed getting people of all ages involved and reinforcing the fact that this art is about community and everyone can be a part of the painting. The project was very successful and rewarding and I look forward to being reminded of my own pride in place each time I see it!  – Diana Ryan 

South to North Corvallis in Just Two Traffic Lights

Did you know that you can get from one end of Corvallis to the other with just two traffic lights or less? In this writeup we’ll take you from the Willamette Landing neighborhood in south Corvallis all the way to the Timberhill neighborhood up north.

Being led by someone makes it less stressful and is a great way to actually experience how easy it can be to get across town (by bike) from different spots.

Let’s check out the traffic lights we’ll come across. The first is at Crystal Lake Dr and Hwy 99 (or 3rd St). This only really counts going southbound, because going northbound is a right-hand turn onto the multi-use path and there’s really no stop needed to get on the path. There’s also a bike lane along Hwy 99.

The second traffic light is at 29th & Walnut. You don’t have to cross Walnut at a traffic light, but it’s a hassle because of how many lanes and how fast cars travel on it. It’s a major arterial for cars and is SEVEN LANES in some spots (4 car lanes, 1 turn lane, 2 bike lanes). And it’s 35mph speed limit along most of Walnut with actual speeds faster due to the way the road is designed (nice wide and smooth lanes). The signal at 29th typically gets triggered with the sensors in the bike lane, so this is one of the easiest ways to cross Walnut.

You can actually go south-to-north (or north-to-south) with zero traffic lights if you are adventurous. It’s very easy to get across most of Corvallis and minimize the number of traffic lights you hit but sometimes traffic signals make it much easier to cross certain streets that have a lot of fast car traffic.

The route shown below (~8 miles) goes from the Willamette Landing neighborhood in south Corvallis to Chip Ross Park trailhead at the north end of NW 29th St. Here’s a link to the route that allows you to zoom in and see some street view images that have been added:

You could actually continue further north through McDonald-Dunn Forest or go further south and get to Block 15 taproom or 4 Spirits Distillery without any other traffic lights. 

One of the best parts about this route is that it goes across the smoothest railroad crossing that won’t knock your teeth out. Scooters and skaters rejoice! This crossing is along Adams Ave at 6th St.

For Open Streets 2019, there are several routes to lead people to the event in south Corvallis. Being led by someone makes it less stressful and is a great way to actually experience how easy it can be to get across town from different spots. All are encouraged to meet at any of the route starting points starting just after 11 am for each route.

Corvallis is a great city for riding a bike (or skateboard/scooter) compared to many other places in the US. Imagine having more dedicated car-free “open streets” without a bunch of traffic lights or even stop signs. Convenience is a big factor for people to choose their travel mode, and it sure would be nice if Corvallis made it more convenient to travel by bike or something other than a car.

Jeff Hallman owns Corvallis Electric Bicycles and is part of the volunteer team that designed the neighborhood group bike rides to Open Streets this year. Jeff loves the cycling community in Corvallis and wants to help get more people on bikes any way that he can.

Centered on Health

The Community Health Centers of Benton and Linn Counties (CHC) includes six primary care clinics and a dental location at the Corvallis Boys & Girls Club. Of our locations, two are School Based Health Centers. One, the Lincoln Health Center, will be featured in the demonstration area for Corvallis Open Streets 2019. This clinic, located on the grounds of Lincoln Elementary School, serves students, families, and all ages of community residents.

School Based Health Centers (SBHCs) exist because of the evidence that healthy kids learn better. Their proximity to kids at school, families who interact with the school, or who live in the neighborhood or South Corvallis more broadly, ensures that people get the care they need, kids miss less class time, and services are delivered in a way that is convenient for families and community residents.

SBHCs are a unique health care model for comprehensive physical, mental and preventive health services provided to youth and adolescents either within a school or on school property. They have existed in Oregon since 1986 and use a funding model that includes public-private partnership between the Oregon Public Health Division, school districts, county public health departments, public and private practitioners, tribes, parents, students, and community members. With the upcoming remodel of Lincoln Elementary, the CHC is working with the facilities planning process to create a space that is integrated, accessible, and comprehensive from multiple points of view and stakeholders.

As a result of school based location, and focus on accessible and meaningful care for students and community, SBHCs reduce barriers such as cost, transportation, and caregivers time away from work. SBHCs provide a full range of physical, mental and preventative health services to all students, regardless of their ability to pay.

School Based Health Centers (SBHCs) exist because of the evidence that healthy kids learn better.

Open Streets is an opportunity to share the purpose and focus of the Lincoln Health Center – in large part understanding its central location for the community while considering the impact and possible solutions that surround a location on a busy stretch of road like Highway 99, which runs in front of the clinic. As the new school is built, consideration about traffic flow to the school and safe paths from the school to the clinic have been discussed. Access includes getting to the doctor, having high quality care, as well as doing so safely by foot, bike, or car.

With the chance to impact traffic flow and demonstrate walk/ride solutions during Open Streets, we can see the how changes in transportation patterns and modes could alter and work together with the mission of the event and with the well-being of the community and those we serve.

We are honored to participate in 2019 Open Streets, looking forward to talking about the possibility to integrated primary care for South Corvallis, and thinking about it all along a continuum from what happens inside our walls to how people get to the clinic, and around town, on a daily basis.

Christine Mosbaugh has a Master’s degree in Public Health. She has been the Engagement and Communications Coordinator for 3.5 years and is currently working on Population Health Management in the primary care home. Christine grew up in Corvallis, moved to Seattle and Eugene for college, and then lived in Cincinnati for 10 years after that. Her experience in health care includes women’s health, academic medicine, environmental health research, and now community-based primary care. She is very happy to be back in the Willamette Valley – raising her family and enjoying the diversity of experiences with the coast, valley, and mountains nearby.

Details about SBHCs were adapted from the Oregon School Based Health Alliance webpage.