Monday, January 6, 2014

Bush Park Carriageway: on the wish list for next Christmas...

Now that Christmas is over (happy Epiphany, everyone!), I thought it appropriate to begin my "Salem Cycling Wish List" for the New Year. The first item on this list is an improvement to cycling in Bush Park: namely, the leg from Mission Street to the path through the west side of the park--a well-used but under-developed part of this route.

Bush House was once accessed from Mission by a carriageway. The contours of it are still visible in the grass to the left of the house, as its ghostly form climes up the hill, between the trees.

It once exited the property by the wider of the two openings in the old stone wall. Right now, both cyclists through the park and pedestrians must use the narrow cement pathway heading up the hill from Mission to Bush House.

This path is not only narrow (too narrow to be shared), but steep. 
Many average people would not attempt to cycle up it, even in low gear--and especially 
if anyone else were in sight, for fear of hitting them.

Once one rounds Bush House on this path (going around a blind corner), 
one is confronted by various plants and trees, some of them reaching into the pathway. 
They are lovely…but not conducive to much use of the path by more than
the occasional passer-by. This is tricky cycling.

Meanwhile, the old carriageway makes its way at a more leisurely grade up the hill.

It rounds the east side of the Bush House site in a pleasant, sylvan setting.

Eventually, it meets up with an existing gravel path connected to
the gardens and greenhouse there.

This gravel path quickly becomes a paved path, going behind the parking lot
for Bush House and the Bush Barn Art Center/playground.

The path is pleasantly wide, and essentially ready for much higher volume of use
than it currently has.

+ + +

Of course, there are some issues that would need to be dealt with…there is an amazing mini roller-coaster caused by some roots under the part of the path making the turn towards the playground (some simple re-paving might help; signs warning cyclists about the playground would be necessary, too). But it seems--at least on the surface (no pun intended)--like this is a project worth looking into.

With this leg of the path put in place, the connection between the Bush Park neighborhood and points south with Church Street and the downtown core would be much improved. The pedestrian crossing at Mission really has made this a much safer place to cross a dangerous and cycle-unfriendly street. It begs for better connection with the rest of the path network in Bush Park.

The other part of this notion that has some attraction (at least to me) is that putting a cycling path along the old carriageway wouldn't be a radical innovation, but re-purposing something that was historically always there. Some small re-routing would need to take the path from its original course, but I don't think that would detract from the path's viability.

I hope that, somehow, this idea might rise to the level of a priority. It could very much help connect (at fairly low cost) parts of an already-existing pathway system, much to the benefit of an area of Salem with many current (and potential future) users of active transportation to get downtown and back on a daily basis.

So, Santa, would you consider this item for Salem's collective "cycling stocking" next year?


  1. Yes, indeed!

    Talk to the folks in SCAN - the neighborhood association. The concept was mooted a bit a couple of years ago, and the Lord & Schryver/Bush Park Garden Foundation folks needed to sign off. I don't know where that ended exactly, but the idea is a fine one, exactly as you say!

    Here's a few historic images that show the carriage way:
    Here, and

    There are tons more in the library collection...

    1. Count on you, SBOB, to have the pictorial goods--as well as the information about recent efforts in this matter. Thanks! I'll make the effort to chat with SCAN about this. Even if the path were made of fine rock, well-compacted (in order to appear more "authentic" to its original form), it would be a better option than what is currently there. Did you get any sense of what scotched the proposal the last time around?

    2. Enjoyed the post on improving the connection from Bush House to Mission. I cross Mission St. frequently via Bush Park (by bike), and there isn't a good connection to be found. I've mentioned it to City staff around the time the mobility study was released, but going through SCAN might be more effective. And nice work on linking the photos! Those are great.

    3. Great, Jeff. I am glad (after a long down-time since my last post in October) that someone still visits these pages. Perhaps the SCAN route would be the better one. Maybe we could both do something about this together. In any event, thanks for the comment.