Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Work Off That Turkey

Do you just lie on the couch all weekend after Thanksgiving is over? Not this year! Washington Bikes wants you to join them to work off the turkey, stuffing and gravy. 

After you burn some calories in the cold, ride organizers will refuel you with hot cider and swap tips and stories about cold-weather riding.

Date: Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014
Time: 1pm
Location: Meet at the Rotary Fountain, Riverfront Park
Cost: $20 in advance or at the ride (arrive by 12:45 if you aren't pre-registered; they can take cash, check, or credit card). Ride registration is a tax-deductible donation to Washington Bikes, your statewide voice for better bicycling.

Letter Writer Defends Traffic Circles For Pedestrian Safety

Spokesman-Review Letter to the Editor
Traffic Circle Vetted

To John Yates and others in Spokane who speak without knowledge regarding our neighborhood traffic circle:

The Lyons Avenue and Cincinnati Street traffic circle project began after my husband was struck by a car in 2011. He was a pedestrian crossing this intersection. As a resident, I went to my neighborhood council and received permission to use money from the red light fines to make our residential street a safer, less traffic-used area. The red light funds are not taxpayer money. They come from those who have failed to follow the law.

Next, the traffic circle was unanimously voted for by the people on this street and those nearby. We, the people on Lyons, are happy to see the changes made because this is not an arterial. We were disappointed the engineers created a less-aggressive traffic circle than what we expected. The circle could have been more similar to Seattle’s thousands of residential traffic circles, involving reflectors and a 45-degree-edge curb.

If you would like to travel down a street at speeds greater than 25 mph or avoid a traffic circle, I welcome you to use Francis Avenue, which is an arterial.

Alice Moon

Vodka Leftovers May De-Ice Our Roads

Vodka isn't just for drinking anymore- it could help to de-ice our roads soon! Because road salt is hard on our roads, vehicles and the environment, researchers at our own Washington State University are using barley residue from vodka distilleries to develop environment-friendly deicers to combat highway snow. Why not? It was just going to go to waste anyway.

Time has the details on this.

Bio-Bus Runs On Human Waste

The bus route between Bristol and Bath in the United Kingdom should be called the number 2. That's because it's the first "bio-bus" that runs on human waste.

With a full tank, the bus can travel up to 186 miles, while producing up to 30% fewer emissions compared to diesel-powered buses. And get this- one person's annual waste could power the bus for around 37 miles.

Want to know more? I'm not sure I do, but here's the story from KXLY News. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

AAA Predicts Travel To Be Down This Thanksgiving

Now THIS is my idea of holiday travel!
AAA is predicting a decline in travel this holiday week. The motor club says 43.4 million Americans are likely to travel 50 miles or more from home over the five-day period starting Wednesday.

That's a 1.5 percent decline from last year. The decrease is even greater for air travel, which is expected to be down by 3.7 percent to 3.14 million air travelers this year.

Automobiles will carry 38.9 million travelers, down from 39.5 million last year.

AAA said lower gasoline prices might entice travelers, but a lot of Americans are still uncertain about the direction of the economy and that is causing more of them to forgo travel this holiday.

Government Offices Closed, But Free Parking and Bus Rides

It's a short week for us government folks. Get your government business done by Wednesday, otherwise you have to wait until next Monday.

All area government offices will be closed this Thursday and Friday, November 27 and 28, for Thanksgiving.

If you're going to try to get some shopping action in after eating on Thursday, parking meters do NOT have to be plugged on Thursday. For the rest of the Thanksgiving weekend, normal meter use rules apply.

If you want to just skip parking at all, Friday is free ride day on Spokane Transit buses. Go wherever you want to go- all day- free. Info at www.spokanetransit.com.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Pay Your Parking Meter By Phone In Spokane

Drivers can now ‘plug’ certain City parking meters using their smartphones in Spokane. A test period for the pay by phone technology launched today.

The test includes 41 meters on the block adjacent to City Hall and Riverfront Park.

To use pay by phone parking, you must download the QuickPay App onto your smartphones. A link to the app can be found at SpokaneCity.org.  If the maximum time limit is purchased for a parking meter, smartphone users are allowed a one-time paid extension of 15 minutes on that meter. After the maximum limit including the extension expires, drivers must move their vehicle. Drivers who attempt to use the pay by phone feature after the maximum time limit allowed will receive a message that they have exceeded the stay allowance at that meter. When setting up QuickPay on a smartphone, users can choose to receive notice of payment and time expiration via text, email, or both.

When the test period is over, the pay by phone feature will be gradually extended to all 3, 000 meters in the City.

Board Votes To Move Ahead With Engineering On Central City Line

Spokane Transit got the okay last night to move ahead with engineering for the Central City Line, a plan to update and improve transit in our area.

Yesterday, STA's board voted to start preliminary engineering on the trolley line that would serve downtown, the university district, Gonzaga University and Spokane Community College. No move yet to put it the Central City Line on the ballot though for voters to decide if that's how they want to spend their tax dollars. And that has some local elected officials nervous about putting money into designing the line.

The Spokesman-Review has a wrap-up of yesterday's board meeting.

Former Transportation Secretary Says Hundreds of Bridges are "Dangerous"

I hope he's wrong but former U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is talking to 60 Minutes this Sunday, Nov. 23 at 7p.m. on channel 2 about how hundreds of bridges across the country are "dangerous"- his word. One of the bridges in the story even has a structure built beneath it to catch the chunks of concrete that fall off! Scary. Here's a preview.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Local Road Construction Update

Holiday Travel Alert- WSDOT construction work in the Eastern Region will not affect traffic from noon, Wednesday November 26th, through Sunday, November 30th, in anticipation of increased Thanksgiving holiday traffic. Be prepared for winter driving conditions, especially if you plan to travel across mountain passes or in higher elevation areas such as the Palouse or the mountains of northeast Washington. 

I-90/Vicinity of Downtown Spokane & Sunset Hill- Tonight, Thursday, Nov. 20 to possibly Friday morning, Nov 21, from 8 p.m. to as late as 6 a.m., I-90 will be reduced to one lane.  Work will start on the westbound slide for two nights, then move to the eastbound side. Be alert for slow traffic, congestion, and delays. BNSF crews will be repairing the bridge that crosses I-90 at the west edge of downtown Spokane.

Broadway lane and sidewalk closure-  The northbound right lane and sidewalks on Broadway and Monroe will be closed until Nov. 25 to paint the upper portion of a building.

4th Avenue between Blake and McDonald- Closed through Wednesday, November 26 for utility work. Signs redirect traffic via 5th Avenue.

Sprague Avenue from Bowdish to Pines)- A portion of the roadway will be blocked from Monday, November 24 to Wednesday, November 26 due to manhole work done by CenturyLink.

Sullivan Rd Bridge Project area:
·         Sullivan Road northbound curb lane remains closed between I-90 and Flora Pit Road. One northbound lane will remain open at all times on the bridge. 
·         Northbound turns from Indiana Avenue onto Sullivan Road will be reduced to one lane.
·         The Centennial Trail below the Sullivan Bridges will be closed from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday (Nov. 24) and Tuesday (Nov 25) as well as 7 a.m. to noon Wednesday (Nov. 26) to complete construction of the Centennial Trail protective covering.  Signs will redirect Trail users along Indiana Avenue when the Trail closure is in effect.

Puget Sound MPO Suggests Taxing Themselves To Pay For Transportation Improvements

The Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC) is preparing a new transportation plan separate from a statewide road package in case Olympia lawmakers fail to pass a new transportation plan of their own. PSRC is the Puget Sound equivalent of SRTC.

While it is still months from containing any specifics, the plan would allow the four counties encompassed by PSRC (King, Pierce, Snohomish and Kitsap) to tax themselves to fill the need for transportation improvements.

The story, from KING5 News, is below. So what do you think? Is it time we do the same to finish the North Spokane Corridor and other projects?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

What Message Would Grab Your Attention?

Here's something fun! The Spokane Regional Health District is looking for input on messaging for a program they have coming up that will encourage people to get where they're going using forms of transportation other than driving.

They've got some themes, logos and branding they'd like you to take a look at and let them know which you like best. It's in a survey format and will only take ten minutes. Some of the ideas are kind of funny, so this isn't a hard assignment.

So if you've got a few minutes, please check them out and weigh in with what you think people will respond to.

Upscale L.A. Neighborhoods Go To War With The Waze App

Some people in Los Angeles neighborhoods are declaring war on the Waze app that helps drivers find shortcuts that avoid congestion.

The 405 freeway is legendary for it's traffic jams through L.A. Well, now some of the upscale neighborhoods around it have become as gridlocked as the 405 itself as thousands of people try to find ways around getting stuck on the freeway.

Some neighborhood meetings have come up with an interesting way to fight back against the app. TMZ tells us what they're planning.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Spokane City Named Bicycle Friendly Community

Congratulations to the City of Spokane! It was just recognized today with a Bronze level Bicycle Friendly Community award by the League of American Bicyclists. 

The award recognizes the City’s commitment to improving conditions for bicycling through investment in bicycling promotion, education programs, infrastructure and pro-bicycling policies. Specifically, Spokane was awarded in part for its public outreach education, bike month and bike to work events, bike plan implementation and bicycle-friendly laws and ordinances.

Spokane joins a group of 326 Bicycle Friendly Communities (BFC) in all 50 states.

Currently, the City is working to expand Spokane’s on and off street bike network, to increase network connectivity, and to complete the trail gaps of the "Centennial Trail.” There are also plans to adopt and implement the bike plan update being prepared and to create a City web page dedicated to bicycle education, city projects, and more.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Transportation Technical Committee Meeting This Week

The November meeting of the Transportation Technical Committee (TTC) is this Wednesday, November 19 at 1:30 p.m. The meeting agenda can be found here. One interesting item on it you may wish to check out is a presentation on the new "Walk.Bike.Bus." program that will target the Perry and Garland districts starting in 2015. Walk. Bike. Bus. is an individualized marketing campaign to get people to do their errand-running and other trips a different way than driving alone. A representative from the Spokane Regional Health District (one of the partners in the program) will be at the meeting to talk about it.

As always, all TTC meetings are open to the public so feel free to attend.

Local Road Construction Update

I-90/Vicinity of Downtown Spokane & Sunset Hill- Beginning Monday, Nov. 17, to possibly
Friday morning, Nov 21, from 8 p.m. to as late as 6 a.m., I-90 will be reduced to one lane for repairs to the train bridge that crosses I-90 at the west edge of downtown Spokane. Work will start on the westbound side for two nights, then move to the eastbound side. Be alert for slow traffic.

Northside Decant Facility- Facility under construction near Ruby and Farwell, Flaggers may direct traffic through the area.

4th Avenue between Blake and McDonald - Closed from Wednesday, October 22 through Wednesday, November 26 for utility work.  Signs redirect traffic via 5th Avenue.

Southbound Adams (from Wellesley to Trent) - If weather permits, expect reductions to a single lane Wednesday, November 19 through Tuesday, November 25 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. for storm drainage improvements.

Sprague between University and Vista - If weather permits, expect single lane closures from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. through early November for resurfacing, stormwater drainage improvements and sidewalk work.

Sullivan Rd Bridge Project area:

  • Sullivan northbound curb lane remains closed between I-90 and Flora Pit Road. One northbound lane will remain open at all times on the bridge. 
  • Northbound turns from Indiana onto Sullivan will be reduced to one lane.
  • East Flora Pit Road at N. Sullivan Road will be closed for utility work.
  • The Centennial Trail below the Sullivan Bridges may be closed from 7:00 AM to 3:30 PM Monday, November 17 through Friday, November 21 if necessary to complete construction of the protective Trail covering.  Signs will redirect Trail users along Indiana Avenue when the Trail closure is in effect.
Westbound Wellesley (from Moore to Sullivan) - If weather permits, expect narrowed lanes at times Tuesday, November 18 through Tuesday, November 25 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. for stormwater drainage improvements.

Washington Street Lane Closures- 
 Two eastbound lanes of Washington north of 2nd will be closed from November 17 – 19 for water line work.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Gender Equality Called For In German Traffic Lights

I've never been to Germany so I didn't know what a big deal their "traffic-light men" are. In the east of the country, pedestrian lights show little men, some with hats or walking sticks, when it's safe for pedestrians to cross the road. These lights are even tourist attractions in many towns.

The tradition of showing the little men started more than 50 years ago, but may come to an end soon. There is an effort underway to introduce gender equality by using "traffic light women" as well. Not everyone agrees and even a major newspaper isn't sold on the idea, instead offering a compromise of using "traffic light couples." The lights will have to be huge to accommodate that.

Here's the link to the Washington Post article on this. There's also a picture of the traffic light woman there that's kind of funny. She looks a little bulky but hey, I guess it's a start.

I90 To Close on Snoqualmie Pass Saturday and Sunday Mornings

If you're headed to the west side of the state this weekend, be prepared for a closure on Snoqualmie Pass. Weather permitting, the Washington State Department of Transportation will close I90 at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 15 and Sunday, Nov. 16 for about an hour to remove trees near the Cabin Creek area. Eastbound traffic will be stopped at milepost 56 near Hyak and westbound traffic will be stopped at milepost 70 near Easton.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

First Solar Road Opening Today- For Bicycles

The first solar road in the world is opening today and it's not for cars. The road, made with solar cells
to generate power, is opening in the Netherlands. It will be for bikes. In fact, 2,000 bicyclists are expected on the road every day. That's a lot of bike traffic!

If solar roads sound familiar, it's because a Sandpoint, ID couple has a similar product, and aims to replace traditional asphalt with solar panels encased in glass. 

Meeting Agenda Item To Discuss 44th Ave. Project

No plans tonight and you live, work or travel through the Southgate neighborhood? Then you'll probably want to stop by the neighborhood council meeting. One item on the agenda is a discussion of a project at east 44th Avenue scheduled for the 2015 construction season.

The discussion will address the installation of a water main at 44th Avenue between Freya and Myrtle Streets. Also up for discussion is how access to water will be provided to residents during construction. Several pine trees in the area must be removed in order to set up the water access. After construction is finished, the neighborhood will have the opportunity to get trees replanted in the area.

Meeting attendees can also learn more about plans to install a 12-foot wide paved pedestrian bike trail from Freya Street to Havana Street as proposed in the Southgate Neighborhood Plan.

The meeting is tonight, 7-8 p.m. at the Education Service District 101 building, 4202 S. Regal Street.

About SRTC

SRTC is the federally designated Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for Spokane County. Urbanized areas with populations exceeding 50,000 people are required to have an MPO. SRTC was formed to address the county's transportation planning needs. It provides coordination in planning between the public, cities, small towns, the county, the state, transit providers, and tribes.

SRTC offers services including transportation monitoring, transportation modeling, census information analysis, travel demand forecasting, historical traffic count analysis, geographic information systems, and trip generation rates.