Tuesday, September 30, 2008

You Know What They Say About Karma

This video doesn't exactly address transportation, but I think the message could be applied to how we choose to get around too. I thought it was kind of fitting and maybe a friendly warning to those of us who spend a little too much time letting the car idle or driving to the store that's two blocks away, instead of walking or biking.

Photo Red Testing Could Cause Delays

Watch for slow downs and police directing traffic today at the Francis and Division, Mission and Hamilton, and Sprague and Bowdish intersections. Officers will be testing the new Photo Red cameras in those locations, which could cause some minor delays for drivers. Here's more info.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Man Flies 22 Miles Using Jet Pack. Incredible Video!

You thought they were just a gimmick used on 'The Jetsons,' but a Swiss man has become the first person to fly solo across the English Channel using a single jet-propelled wing.

That's right, the man ignited jets on a wing on his back, jumped out of the plane that had taken him up, and flew 22 miles in less than ten minutes! Here's the video, and it's amazing!

What Don't Drivers Understand About Pedestrians' Rights?

Spokane police officers wrote 52 citations in 1 1/2 hours during a sting operation near Gonzaga University last Tuesday! That's a LOT of tickets, and two-thirds of them were for failure to yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian in a crosswalk.

An editorial in the Spokesman today questions whether area drivers grasp the concept of pedestrians' rights.Here's a link.

Secure Heavy Objects While Driving

Unsecured objects in your car can kill you, the Downtown Clean Team goes green, and road closures for this week. Here's what's happening this week in transportation from the Spokesman's 'Getting There' column.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Monroe Street Closure

Beginning at 7 a.m. this Sunday, Sept. 28, until 6 p.m., Monroe Street will be completely closed to traffic between Mallon and Boone avenues. Traffic will be detoured to Lincoln St. The closure is needed so crews can install water and sewer service for the new YMCA building at 930 N. Monroe St.

October Is Walk Your Child To School Month

October starts next week, which means National Walk You Child To School Month is also coming right up. So instead of taking the easy way and driving your kid the few blocks it takes to get them to school, try walking instead. It's better for your health, your wallet, and the environment. And if you have any questions or need more information, here's a link to the International Walk Your Child To School website.

Letter To The Editor

Spokesman-Review Letters to the editor
City counts on camera cash cow

Let me get this straight. The city doesn't have enough income to pay present sky-high city salaries, so let's give them all pay raises.

Did all these administrators and salary commissioners go to the same school across the state? Obviously, they couldn't run a hot dog stand for a day without going broke. I guess that's why we don't want to lose these great employees. I think they need a vacation at Eastern State mental ward.

Could they be hiding a wild card in their income deck? Can you say photo-red cameras? With photo-red, the traffic warden and police are the modern-day bandits. Thousands of good people are fined by these cameras every day. If you think you're a good driver and will never get a ticket in Spokane, guess again. I just want to know when the cameras are coming down.

Robert Vincent

How do you feel about the Photo Red Cameras; just another way to hit you in the wallet or a legitimate method to cut down on red light running in a town known for it?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Walkers- Be Alert In The Logan Neighborhood

Spokane police say robbers are preying on pedestrians in Spokane’s Logan neighborhood. A $1,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest of anyone involved in this activity.

Three incidents have occurred this year – two just last month. In those cases, groups of male robbers carried guns.

Police encourage walkers to travel in groups, stay off their cell phones and be aware of their surroundings. Anonymous tips can be called in to Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-TIPS.

Pedestrian Bridge Back In Use

In case you hadn't heard, the pedestrian bridge at I-90 and Regal Street is now open again. An overheight truck struck it several weeks ago, leaving it out of commission until repairs could be done.

Doesn't seem like a big deal, but I heard there were issues for the neighborhoods on either side of the freeway who use the bridge for connectivity. Without the bridge, people who don't drive were stuck on either side of the freeway, unless they could find a way to get as far as the Altamont underpass or the Thor overpass.

Bike & Pedestrian 'Census'

Volunteers are needed to help count Washington state walkers and bikers in order to establish benchmarks and track progress toward the state’s goal of encouraging people to get out of their cars.

The Washington State Department of Transportation and the Cascade Bicycle Club are enlisting volunteers to count the numbers of people bicycling and walking on paths, bike lanes, sidewalks, and other facilities on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 and 2.

Here's more info if you're interested.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Fall Means Falling Leaves, Not Falling Snow!

Let's not rush things! I know Monday was the first day of fall, but someone up above is trying to skip that season and go right to winter. A freak snow storm in the Cascades this week left several inches of snow on the pass.
Here's a look, from the WSDOT blog.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

We Warned You So Don't Blame Us If You Get A Ticket

Photo Red cameras are being installed today at Mission Avenue and North Hamilton Street. The rest of the cameras will be installed throughout the week at southbound Browne Street at Sprague Avenue and in both directions at Francis Avenue and Division Street.

Spokane Police are going to take it easy on you though, a 30-day warning period starts next week. After that time, citations with a non-negotiable fine of $124 will be mailed to red-light runners.

Get Your North Spokane Corridor Questions Answered

The Washington State Department of Transportation is hosting an open house this week to update folks on the progress of the North Spokane Corridor (AKA North South Freeway). The meeting is Thursday, September 25, from 5-8 p.m. at Northwood Middle School, 13120 N. Pittsburg.

Department staff will be ready to answer questions and Real Estate Services Representatives will also be available to talk with people who may own homes in the area that will eventually become the southern-most leg of the freeway. There will be no formal presentation at the Open House. You can drop by at any time during the meeting.

'Epic Rides' Await You

The Spokane Regional Convention Visitors Bureau yesterday sent me their 'Epic Rides' brochure of area bike trails. Jeanna at the CVB said she's personally 'tested' every one, so she can vouch for how fun they are. So here's a link to the brochure. Now you have something to do this weekend. When you report back on Monday, I don't want to hear that you laid on the couch for two days.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Downtown Alternative Transportation Trade Show

Save the date! If you get to work in a single occupant vehicle and have been considering alternatives, check out your options this week at the Downtown Alternative Transportation Trade Show. The show will tell you how to get around Spokane at a lower cost now, as well as showcasing altnerative transportation methods for the future.

When: Thursday, Sept. 25, Noon to 6 p.m.
Where: River Park Square Atrium, 808 W. Main

Report Says Cable Barriers Save Lives

A new report on cable median barrier (you know, the three cables you see in the middle of I90 in various spots) in Washington State shows cable barrier successfully restrained 95 percent of vehicles from crossing highway medians.

And, in areas where cable barrier has been installed, there's been a 73% reduction in serious injuries and fatalities from crossover collisions. Here are the stats on cable barriers from the WSDOT blog.

To The Guy Changing His Clothes In The Bus Shelter...

So, last week I'm sitting on the bus at the Liberty Lake park and ride, waiting for it to leave. One of the other bus riders points out that there's a guy in the bus shelter CHANGING HIS CLOTHES! That's right, he rode his bike up, put it in the bike locker, then proceeded to change out of his riding clothes into his work attire right there in the bus shelter. All the way down to his skivvies! So, here's my public service announcement: THE GLASS THOSE BUS SHELTERS IS MADE OUT OF IS NOT THE FANCY STUFF WHERE YOU CAN SEE OUT BUT NO ONE ELSE CAN SEE IN. Consider yourself educated.

Transportation Improvement Program Public Meeting

A reminder that you can attend a meeting tomorrow night at SRTC to voice your opinion on a draft of Spokane County’s 4-Year Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) 2009- 2012.

The TIP is a multi-year funding program document that lists federally and non-federally funded transportation improvements proposed by jurisdictions in Spokane County. It identifies specific programs or projects that jurisdictions or agencies propose to undertake during the upcoming years.

The meeting is from 4 to 6 p.m. at 221 W. First Ave., Suite 310, Spokane, WA.

Here's What's Happening

The first leg of the North Spokane Corridor will be open for use in approximately a year, I90 will have some lane closures this week, and some roads are closed due to the project to realign Broadway. Here's what's happening from the Spokesman's 'Getting There' column.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Monroe St. Bridge Lane Closures

The Monroe St. Bridge will be reduced to traffic by one lane for motorists from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. tomorrow, Friday, Sept. 19. Crews were unable to finish the inspection last Friday, and will complete their routine inspection tomorrow. They will inspect both sides of the bridge, but only one side at a time.

Metropolitan Transportation Plan Available For Review

We have just completed the annual update of the Spokane Area Metropolitan Transportation Plan (MTP) and you are invited to review and comment on it during a public comment period and public meeting.

The MTP is a multimodal “blueprint” for transportation systems aimed at addressing the mobility needs of the Spokane Metropolitan Area through the year 2030. The MTP is federally required to be updated every four years and was adopted in 2007. SRTC has prepared an update to reflect minor suggestions and recommendations made by area transportation agencies throughout the year regarding plan content.

Click here to see the MTP and submit comments on it, or attend a public meeting on October 7 from 4-6 pm at SRTC to submit your comments. All comments must be received by the close of business on October 20.

Here's Good News For Hikers & Bikers

The Spokane County Board of Commissioners has voted to purchase an eight-acre piece of land overlooking Latah Creek for $560,000. The money will come from the county’s Conservation Futures program and preserves the land for public use in perpetuity.
A few years ago, the popular hiking and mountain biking spot, located west of Maple Boulevard and Cedar Street between 17th and 21st Avenues, was slated to become Ashland Estates, a 20-home development. But neighboring residents fought the proposal and convinced developers that the land should remain undeveloped.

Sunday Drivers Will Slow Down Even More In Liberty Lake

This Sunday, September 21st, at approximately 6:00 a.m. (or first light, whichever comes first), the Washington State Patrol will use a “rolling slowdown” to control traffic while an aerial communications cable is placed over the freeway. Drivers should be alert for slow traffic and congestion during this short period.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Bike Lanes Gather Debris

Spokesman-Review Letters to the editor
Debris makes biking dangerous

While I commend Spokane's leaders and the biking community's efforts to encourage people to pedal more often than drive, many of our city's biking lanes are hazardous. I ride on the Assembly/Northwest Boulevard route multiple times a week, which has a great biking lane. However, I often am forced to dodge debris such as pieces of wood, weeds and shrubs that are overgrowing onto the lane, a lot of broken glass, and recently a real estate open-house sign.

The debris in bike lanes is equivalent to the potholes in car lanes. Debris forces cyclists to either ride in the lanes with cars (remember, cyclists do share the roads) or on the very outside edge of the bike lanes.

So, whose responsibility is it to keep bike lanes consistently clear of debris and thus safe? The cyclists? The home and business owners who have bike lanes in front of their properties? The city's road maintenance department? All of the above? If Spokane truly wants to become a bike-friendly city, then we not only need safe bike routes but clean and hazard-free bike lanes.

Debra Trujillo-Gilbert

You're Being Watched In School Zones

Slow down when driving through area school zones, more than 300 drivers have been ticketed for speeding in school zones in the Inland Northwest since Sept. 2, and officers are looking for more speeders. Here's your warning.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Washington Named Most 'Bicycle Friendly State'

The League of American Bicyclists has named Washington as the nation’s number one “Bicycle Friendly State.” The award was the first ever to be given to an entire state.Here are the details from the WSDOT website.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Reminder of Delays on I90

A reminder that guardrail painting starts tonight, and I90 between Coeur d'Alene and the Idaho-Washington line will be reduced to a single lane in both directions .

So as to minimize inconvenience to drivers, work will take place from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. through Wednesday (Sept. 17) at the following locations:

- Tonight (Monday): West- and eastbound lanes at the Huetter, Atlas and Union Pacific Railroad bridges
- Tuesday (Sept. 16): West- and eastbound lanes at Idaho 41 Interchange
- Wednesday (Sept. 17): Any additional cleanup work at these locations

The speed limit will be reduced to 55 mph.

Mission and Hamilton Closure

Mission Avenue will be closed to traffic at its intersection with Hamilton St. from 6a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday, Sept. 16 and 17. Hamilton Street will also be reduced by one lane in each direction. Drivers traveling eastbound on Mission will be detoured to Perry St. and then to Indiana Ave. and westbound traffic will be detoured to Ruby St. and then to Indiana Ave. The closure is needed for grind and inlay repair work.

Roundup For the Week of September 15

Spokane International Airport is hoping for the best but preparing for the worst by buying a high capacity fire truck, traffic could be slowed for I90 storm drain cleaning, and you can expect delays in other areas due to street paving.Here's what's happening this week from the Spokesman-Review's 'Getting There' column.

Price To Check Additional Bags Goes Up On United

Once again citing volatile fuel prices, United Airlines has doubled its fee for a second checked bag to $50. United has several flights out of Spokane International Airport.

Here's the details.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Monroe St. Bridge Delays, May Want To Find Another Route

The Monroe St. Bridge will be reduced to one lane from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. tomorrow, (Friday). Street crews will be doing a routine bridge inspection.

This Just In

Big news from E. Susan Meyer (STA's CEO) who gave us this update at today's SRTC Board meeting: new numbers are out and STA's ridership growth is the highest among large urban transits in the state and more than triple the national average. In fact, ridership has increased 18% through August, compared to the same period in 2007. Way to go people, keep riding the bus!

I90 Slowdowns For Next Week

Starting next Monday and running through Thursday, from 9:00 a.m. until as late as 3:30 p.m. each day, there will be intermittent lane closures in the I-90 eastbound and westbound inside lanes between Latah Creek and Argonne. Drivers should be alert for possible slow traffic and congestion. Crews will be cleaning storm drains.

Bus Schedule Lacking On Weekends?

Spokesman-Review Letters to the editor
Bus schedule inconvenient

On Saturday, Aug. 30, my wife, daughter and myself decided to go to Pig Out in the Park. For a change we decided to take the bus and save some money, more to spend at Pig Out, and do our small part to save gas and help the environment. So I start up the computer to check on bus schedule for our area.

Lo and behold, the bus does not run in our area after 1:15 p.m. on a Saturday. We live in the Edgecliff area and this route 94 would be convenient, but not on a Saturday afternoon. They want us to ride the bus and do our part, but if it does not run at convenient times how can I ride it?

I feel that this is the biggest question facing our bus system: Do people not ride the bus because it is not convenient, or is the bus inconvenient because not enough people ride the bus all of the time to warrant more buses and more routes? Sure, I could walk 10 blocks instead of two blocks and catch the bus on Sprague, but once again that is not convenient for me.

Lee Hirschel

What do you think folks, is Mr. Hirschel right? Since I don't leave home on weekends (if I can help it), I have no idea what kind of service is offered. If you're a bus rider, let me know how weekend service stacks up on your route.

Don't Try These Stunts Yourself

Okay folks, you're starting to scare me. Yesterday I saw a small child riding his bike on the freeway (what the heck???) and now a wrong-way driver has caused a serious accident.

Here's the story on that accident. As for the kid, I don't know what happened to him. I called the
Spokane Regional Transportation Management Center to report it and they said they'd send the State Patrol to try to round him up.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Altamont Ramps Reopening

Beginning at 7 p.m. tonight, crews will be working on I-90 between Latah Creek and the Altamont exit to remove signs as they reopen the Altamont exit. This may cuase some delays for drivers.

The I-90 Altamont exit has been closed as part of a project to rehabilitate Third Avenue from Magnolia to Regal streets; Crestline Street from Third to Fifth avenues; and Magnolia to Regal streets from Third to Fifth avenues.

Work on Third Avenue between Magnolia and Ray is nearly complete, allowing the reopening of both Third Avenue and the I-90 on- and off-ramps at Altamont tonight. There will be intermittent lane restrictions along Third Avenue to complete minor work through the remainder of the project, which should be finished by early October.

One More Thing To Watch For When Riding Your Bike

Around here, you have to worry about inattentive drivers, dogs, and poor road conditions when you ride your bike to work. In Missoula, one man had to worry about hitting a bear.

That's right, the man rode his bike right into a bear, travelling at about 25 miles per hour! Here's the story.

Spokesman Spokefest Slideshow

If you didn't make it to Spokefest this past weekend in downtown Spokane, or if you did and would like to see pictures of the event, the Spokesman-Review website has a cool slideshow of photos from the event.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

More Bikes On The Road For Several Reasons

If you haven't noticed an influx of bikes on area roads lately, you've had your head in the sand. The Inlander has noticed the increase of riders too, and devoted their cover story from last week's edition to investigating what, besides high gas prices, is behind the move to this particular form of alternative transportation.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Give STA Your Thoughts And Opinions

Want to get involved in STA’s planning process? Your chance is this Wednesday, Sept. 10 when Spokane Transit Authority hosts a Community Forum to teach you more about transit system planning, the budget process and the use of tax and grant monies to fund your local transportation system.

STA officials will be on hand to answer questions and listen to recommendations.
Click here for 'where, when, and why' info.

Buses Causing Bad Road Conditions?

Spokesman-Review Letters to the editor
Cars emptier than buses

I pondered my response to Harley Frank's rant about empty STA buses ("Empty buses cruise bad streets," Sept. 4) as I rode the standing-room-only 27-Crestline yesterday morning.

He posited that roads are in poor condition due to spending on buses and suggested slashing service by half. Looking from the bus window, I noticed all the commuters traveling single-occupancy along crowded streets.

I realized if we slashed spending on roads, there would be more money available for buses! Then, bus service could be expanded and routes scheduled at 15-minute intervals. Ridership would increase, reducing dependence on foreign oil and the need to constantly expand highway capacity. Funds spent on public transport pale in comparison to the massive subsidies facilitating automobile travel.

I submit that the problem isn't empty buses; it's nearly-empty cars.

Mr. Frank, if you care to know how the bus system works, try riding a bus. Nearly all routes operate at 30-minute intervals. The buses are often full as they leave the Plaza and park-and-ride depots. They empty as they progress along their routes. Traveling against traffic, they might be empty. For example, that empty Liberty Lake Express returning downtown in the evening was packed when it left the Plaza.

Doreen Fox Kelsey

From your experience, how full are the STA buses the majority of the time? The route I ride is packed in the morning and evening, to the point where I often have to stand, but pretty light on riders during the day.

Roundup For the Week of September 8

Statistics show that motorcyclists are increasingly at fault in the case of fatal collisions. And an informal poll of law enforcement officers shows that most people are abiding by the law that requires them to use hands-free devices if talking on the phone in the car. Here's what's happening this week from the Spokesman's 'Getting There' column.

Here's my own informal poll: have you switched to hands-free? I've personally seen a surprising number of people talking on their phones while driving.

'Spokefest' A Huge Success

The first annual 'Spokefest' this weekend was a huge success and 'beyond all expectations,' according to organizers.

About 1,200 bicyclists showed up Sunday morning for the event. That's over 500 more than had pre-registered in advance of the bike ride. Here are the numbers

Maple Street Bridge Traffic Moving Again

The Maple Street Bridge is open again and photo-red camera installation begins today (you know, the cameras that take a picture of your license plate if you run a red light). Here's the details.

Friday, September 5, 2008

I90 Pedestrian Bridge Closed

The Washington State Department of Transportation has closed the pedestrian bridge over I-90 near Regal Street as a precaution after it was struck by an overheight load last night (Thursday, September 4).

Engineers from the WSDOT bridge Preservation office in Olympia will inspect the structure on Monday to determine if it can safely be reopened to the public and what repairs may be needed.

New Car Prices Plummetting

New vehicle prices are falling at the fastest rate recorded, according to a team of analysts that includes auto and economic researchers.

A research report released this week says the average price of a new vehicle fell 2.3% from a year earlier to $25,632. That's the steepest drop recorded since new car sales tracking began 41 years ago.

The price decline expected to lead to better affordability and could translate into a big recovery for auto sales by the second half of 2009.

Maple & Ash Street To Reopen Sunday

It's been a long time, but Maple and Ash Streets will reopen to traffic this Sunday, Sept. 7!

Work on Maple and Ash streets, a $4.2 million project funded by the 10-Year Street Bond, federal sources and Spokane Transit Authority, began in April. This project rehabilitated Maple and Ash streets from Broadway Ave. to Northwest Blvd. and paved the intersections of Maple and Ash streets at Northwest Blvd. and Boone Ave. with concrete. The project also included the installation of a fiber optic communications system (ITS), including new cables for traffic signals and cameras.

There will be a grand opening celebration next Tuesday, Sept. 9 at 1 p.m. in the parking lot located on the corner of Ash St. and Boone Ave. Join Spokane Mayor Mary Verner to recognize the completion of the largest 10-Year Street Bond project in 2008.

Don't Say We Didn't Warn You

Watch out while driving next week folks, traffic obstructions and possible lane closures will take place while Photo Red Light (a camera system that takes photographs of license plates of motorists running red lights) will be installed at:

o Division St. & Francis Ave.
o Browne St. & Sprague Ave.
o Nevada St. & Mission Ave.

And watch out after next week so you don't get caught running reds at those locations.

Another One Down...

The City of Spokane's Belt Street residential construction project is complete. The project was a full-depth rehabilitation of Belt St. northbound from the alley at Augusta/Nora to Montgomery avenues, and Cannon St. southbound from Nora to Montgomery avenues; a grind and overlay of Belt St. southbound and Cannon St. northbound as well as the remaining streets; and included replacing a 12-inch water line.

The $1.2 million project was funded with money from the 10-Year Street Bond.

Wheelchairs ARE Available At The Fair

In answer to a blog reader's great question- yes, wheelchairs are available at the Spokane Interstate Fair, but you have to rent them.

Wheelchairs are available for rent at the Main Gate for $5 per day for non-electric chairs. Small electric scooters (250 lb weight capacity) rental rates are $10.00 for the first two hours and $5.00 per hour after the first two hours (or $35.00 per day).

Large electric scooter (250+ lb weight capacity) rental rates are $15.00 for the first two hours and $5.00 per hour after the first two hours (or $40.00 per day). All rentals are subject to availability and reservations are not accepted.

Have fun at the Fair folks!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Check Out 'SpokeFest' This Weekend For Something To Do

This could be one of our last weekends to enjoy the nice weather, so if you don't already have plans for Sunday, grab your bike and join 'Spokefest.'

The fun ride (like a fun run only on bikes) will take riders through some of the area's most scenic riding, and includes music, a pancake feed (can't get a good day of riding in without a good breakfast first), a cycling expo, and health fair.

This non-competitive event encourages kids to participate too. Here's more info on Spokefest and how to register.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Visit SRTC At Spokane County Interstate Fair

Start the countdown: only two days until the Spokane County Interstate Fair kicks off on Friday, and SRTC will be there.

We'll have a table, along with some other government agencies, in the 'Go Green' area of the plaza, which is between the main building and the annex. And since 'Green' is our theme, bike and pedestrian info will be our focus.

Altamont Ramp Closures

Starting tomorrow morning, the eastbound Altamont on and off freeway ramps will be closed for approximately a week for paving work on Third Avenue. You will have to use alternate ramps to exit or enter eastbound I-90 in this area.

The Roads Have Eyes

It's not exactly big brother who's watching when you speed through some areas of Washington's highways, it's the actually roadway.

The WSDOT has installed nearly 150 electrical circuits underneath some stretches of highways to measure the speed of every car that goes by. Here's what they do with that info, and don't worry, it's not used to give you a speeding ticket.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Slow Down Around Schools, Class is Back In Session

Speed limits go back up around area parks this week, but down around schools.

Here's what it will cost you if you if you're caught speeding in a school zone.

Road Closure Alert

Starting tomorrow morning (Wednesday) morning, through Wednesday, September 17, Strong Road, from Five Mile Rd. east to Maple St., will be closed to traffic for water and sewer work.

Motorists will be detoured to Maple St. and then onto Johansen Rd. to Five Mile Rd.

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.