Friday, January 29, 2010

NSC Update

Here's an update from the Washington State Department of Transportation on the North Spokane Corridor:

We’re still on track for a fall 2011 opening of the next portion of the NSC . This will be a four-lane segment from Farwell Road to the existing US 395 at Wandermere. When it opens, the drivable NSC will extend from Francis up to Wandermere— over 5 ½ miles of the NSC will be useable.

Right now we are seeing about 4,000 vehicles per day using the Francis to Farwell segment that opened last August. We expect those numbers to climb substantially next year when the Farwell to US 395 section and the NSC/US 2 interchange open next year. Another factor that could boost NSC use will be the completion of the railroad overpass on Freya Street between Sprague Avenue and Trent Avenue. Through traffic on Freya has been detoured over to Fancher since early August and that might be affecting vehicle volumes further north. That City of Spokane job should wrap up later in 2010.

I Bet The Sun Bouncing Off This Baby Would Blind Drivers

I lost my bike helmet in a little fire incident. But luckily the insurance company will pay for a new one. I can't have just any helmet though, so it being Friday and no sign of the boss in the office, I thought I'd look around for one on Ebay really quick before I started my other duties. Well, I found the holy grail of bike helmets for Hello Kitty lovers.

This beauty is covered in Swarovski crystals and can be purchased for only $345. The seller's description is almost as awesome as the actual helmet:

"Up for sale is this One of a Kind, Kitty Helmet, completely covered in Swarovski crystals. OMGosh, isn't it breathtaking?? Imagine how you'll be turning heads, stopping traffic or just being the complete diva. Make every moment an opportunity to shine! This is a helmet that is not for someone who doesn't want to be noticed. I've only done one other and I'm under contract not to divulge who I made it for. I can give you this much information, it is someone famous."

The Ebay posting has about 20 more pictures so I'm going to put a link to it in case you want to take a closer look or maybe purchase it for your favorite blogger since I doubt the insurance company will pay this much for a helmet.

Golf Carts- Possibly Coming Soon To A Road Near You

Earlier this week I posted this article about two bills currently being considered that would let people drive golf carts on streets or in bike lanes and on sidewalks in Washington state.

In respone, blogger 'Ventura' said that it's not a good idea to put a golf cart in the bike lane as it's a plain and simple safety issue. The Moscow-Pullman Daily News agrees and printed the editorial below yesterday. The newspaper requires a subscription to view their website, so that's why I didn't provide a link.

So much for budget concerns. Two Washington state legislators have taken time from trying to patch the holes in a $2.6 billion deficit to introduce bills that would permit the use of golf carts on city streets.

We would like to wake from this bad dream now, please. Unfortunately, it's all too true.

Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, D-Camano Island, authored a bill that would allow local jurisdictions to create golf-cart zones on low-speed streets. Rep. Tami Green, D-Lakewood, went much further when she introduced a measure that would allow the use of golf carts in bike lanes and on sidewalks throughout the state.

Golf carts are designed for use on golf courses by players who may have difficulty walking a 7,000-yard course, or those who want to play a faster round.

They have become popular transportation in some communities because they are easy and cheap to drive. The carts also can negotiate areas other vehicles shouldn't.

Police throughout the state are allowed to ticket those who drive golf carts on the street. That's how it should remain in areas used by the public.

Golf carts aren't designed with the same safety features as a 5,000-pound automobile. The two colliding could result in serious injuries to the cart's occupants - even at speeds of 25 mph or less. Factor in a heavier SUV or truck, and fatalities could result.

Green's idea to allow carts on sidewalks and bike lanes is absurd. There's a reason why sidewalks are usually restricted to pedestrian traffic. It's a safety issue. The same is true with carts sharing lanes with bicycles. Besides, most carts are wider than the lanes dedicated to bikes.

We'll admit the increased use of carts as an energy-saving transportation alternative makes sense. But little else does, including the potential for serious injury.

We suggest Haugen and Green go back to finding money to keep the state solvent rather than pandering to a small segment of the population who own golf carts on the west side.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

BTW Volunteers Needed

Spokane's Bike to Work Committee is still in need of a little help. Volunteers over the next four to six weeks will be contacting businesses to talk up the ways they can support and participate in Bike to Work Week and are looking for some people to help with outreach.

Especially needed are people to be the lead point of contact for the northwest part of the City of Spokane; Airway Heights; Cheney; and Spokane Valley.

Meanwhile, the next BTW committee meeting is Tuesday, Feb. 2, 7:30-8:30 a.m. at Coffee Social, 113 W. Indiana. If you can't attend, you can email to be added to the volunteer list.

Here's A Classic- How A Bill Becomes A Law

Today is Transportation Advocacy Day in Olympia, when people from around the state gather to meet legislators and lobby for transportation policy. The House Transportation Committee will hold hearings today on two bills that relate to biking:

HB 2911: Creating Complete Streets Grant Program
HB 3001: Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Education in Traffic Schools

House Transportation Committee members include local legislators Alex Wood (3rd District), John Driscoll (6th District), and Matt Shea (4th District).

If you'd like to submit comments, contact your state representatives by clicking here. And if you'd like to brush up on how a bill becomes law, here's a piece straight out of my childhood: Schoolhouse Rock- How a Bill Becomes a Law.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Spokane Residents Drive Less Than West Siders

Thanks to Bike to Work Barb for sending me this info: Eastern Washington University's 'Community Indicators' newsletter says Spokane County residents drive fewer miles daily than our neighbors in Western Washington.

As of 2007, Spokane residents drove 18.2 miles a day while Seattle residents drove 18.7. Not a huge difference, but figure in the number of people driving on a daily basis and it adds up.

Here's a link to the article and a handy dandy graph of average total roadway daily vehicle miles traveled per capita.

Fog Causes Slick Road Accidents

I don't know about you, but in my neck of the woods it was foggy this morning. And that apparently caused some trouble on area roads.
Here's an article from the Spokesman-Review about accidents around the region this morning.

SRTC January Newsletter Available Now

As usual, I just barely got my January newsletter done in time to get it out while it's still January. If you're curious what we've been up to here at SRTC, here's a link to check the newsletter out.

If you want to get signed up for my email distribution list so that the newsletter comes directly to your inbox, send me your email address and a quick note saying to add you to the email list.

I wasn't able to use all the suggestions I was given as to what to include in the newsletter, but I'm working on writing seperate articles for various publications on a couple of those topics, such as transportation legislation and pedestrian safety.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Bill Proposes Reducing Red Light Camera Fines

I hate to even bring up the subject of red light cameras anymore because they get such a heated response, but they're back in the news again.

Q6 News reports that at least two legislators in Washington State want to reduce the amount of fines from automated traffic systems known as red light cameras. A House Bill aims to cut the fine from $124 down to just $25. Here's the Q6 article.

Do you think $25 is enough of a fine to teach a red-light runner a lesson? I know a lot of people say these are just a money maker for the city, but the money actually goes to be used only for traffic safety projects.

Savvy Animals Use Underpass Tunnels

When I heard that the Washington State Department of Transportation was going to install 'wildlife underpasses' under I-90 between Hyak and Keechelus Dam on Snoqualmie Pass, I wasn't convinced animals would use them to get from one side of the highway to the other. Call me skeptical, but how would they know to use the underpass versus crossing the road? Would the signs posted point them in the right direction?

So yesterday this story popped up: six underpasses in Wyoming are getting lots of users in the form of big game. Cameras installed in the tunnels show thousands of animals using them. Who would've thought it? I can't even convince my dog to stay off the couch, but apparently large animals know to use a tunnel versus the surface route.

Here's the story from the Billings Gazette.

Does it surprise you that this large a number of animals are using these underpasses? Did I just not give the animals enough credit?

Monday, January 25, 2010

CDOT Not Happy With Group That Adopts Road

The Colorado Department of Transportation is in a tight spot. The Nazi Party of Colorado wants to adopt a stretch of highway, and while the CDOT isn't interested in doing business with them, the law says they have to.

Here's the story from KDVR News.

What do you think; does anyone have the right to take part in programs like the adopt a road program? Or does it cause too many distractions?

Writer Hits 'Parking Jackpot'

Seems like everyone complains about paying for parking at the surface lots in downtown Spokane. But not one Spokesman-Review writer. In this article today, Jim Kershner claims that he won the 'parking jackpot'.

Has anything like this ever happened to you?

This Week's Happenings

Three construction projects will start in Spokane Valley this spring that could cause some congestion, Bike To Work Week is coming right up, and the County puts weight restrictions on some local roads. Here's what's happening this week in the transportation world, from the Spokesman's 'Getting There' column.

DUI Enforcement Campaign Results Are In

I know you've been holding your breath, but you can let it out now. The results are in from the recent 'X-52 DUI Holiday Patrols enforcement campaign' (sounds fancy, huh?) conducted from November 19 through January 2, 2010.

The X-52 project is a strategy being used to reduce serious injuries and deaths on Washington's roadways due to impaired drivers and speeders.

In Spokane County, 11 motorists were stopped and arrested for driving under the influence (DUI), and 34 speed citations were written. The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office, the Spokane Police Department, the Spokane Valley Police Department, the Cheney Police Department, the EWU Police Department and the Washington State Patrol, participated in the extra emphasis patrols with the support of the Spokane County Target Zero Task Force.

In 2008, traffic crashes killed 522 people on Washington roadways. Impaired drivers accounted for 251 of those deaths. The State Strategic Highway Safety Plan also known as “Target Zero” identifies impaired driving as the top priority.

Fewer lives were lost on Washington’s highways in 2009. The preliminary number of 480 is the lowest number of traffic deaths since 1955, when the official count was 461.

WSDOT Implements Pass System To Get Goods Delivered

Remember last winter and the winter before when Snoqualmie Pass was shut down for hours at a time and there was concern that goods weren't getting delivered by truck because of the shutdown? Well, the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) has developed a new Commercial Vehicle (CV) Pass System intended to support freight movement by authorizing emergency goods delivery through affected areas during a highway disruption of two to seven days.

I'm not exactly sure how it will work, but according to an email alert sent out by WSDOT recently, the state will activate the Commercial Vehicle Pass System when major freight highways are closed or restricted, and a limited-capacity detour is available nearby. Apparently, trucking companies can apply for a CV pass online, based on the highway detour’s capacity and the priority of goods carried. That pass will then allow that truck or fleet of trucks to use a highway detour that they wouldn't be allowed to use otherwise.

I'll update you when I know more, but in the meantime if you're interested, more details about the CV Pass System, are available by clicking here.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Just A Heads Up...

Main Avenue from Lincoln to Post streets in downtown Spokane will be closed this Saturday, Jan. 23, for the U.S. Figure Skating’s FanFest activities.

Returning To Two-Way Streets- The Way Of The Future?

Here's a topic that comes up from time to time in Spokane: converting downtown Spokane streets from one way back to two ways. And the City of Spokane Valley is obviously dealing with that now as well on the Sprague/Appleway couplet.

This article on the 'Governing' website says that moving from one to two-way streets is the way of the future, because the streets aren't just easier for drivers to navigate, but oftentimes the switch brings economic vitality with it.

What's your opinion? Are you for changing downtown one-way streets back to two-way? What about the Sprague-Appleway couplet?

Would You Adopt A Bike Lane?

You've heard of the 'Adopt a Road' program. Well, how about adopting a bike lane? That's a program that Bike to Work Barb suggested over on the Cycling Spokane blog. The best part? A City of Spokane official commented on it, saying they've had similar programs with other types of right of way, so maybe it would be a possibility!

If this program were to become a reality, would you adopt a bike lane and keep it clean?

The Mayor Is On The Case

You can rest easy now, because Spokane Mayor Mary Verner is in Washington, D.C., this week advocating for a variety of important needs, including transportation. A news release just sent out from the City says Verner is attending the U.S. Conference of Mayors winter meeting and advocating for:

- Funding and policy to support public safety, including the Community Oriented Policing (COPS) program.

- Transportation priorities, including Surface Transportation Act reauthorization, providing transportation funding directly to cities, and providing flexibility for cities to use funds to create complete streets that accommodate motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians. Community Development Block Grant funding for neighborhoods.

- Ongoing support for Workforce Development, including summer youth employment programs.

-Support for insurance and lines of credit through the Small Business Administration (SBA) that would allow small business to support jobs.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

STA Public Hearing Tonight

This is VERY last minute I know, but if you don't have anything to do tonight, Spokane Transit Authority is holding a public hearing to gather input on their 2010 through 2015 Transit Development Plan (TDP). It starts at 5:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers, City of Spokane, 808 West Spokane Falls Blvd., Spokane, Washington, 99201.

So quick, read this 35 page document (which I've been told has been pared down significantly from past Transit Development Plans) before you go so you know what you're talking about.

Is Transportation Going Down The Tubes While We Wait For Congress?

Everyone (well at least those of us in the transportation industry and those who follow it) knows the federal transportation program expired last September. And we keep hearing that it's the healthcare debate that is slowing down getting another one passed. But is that really the reason for the delay in addressing the state of transportation in this country? This article by Neal Pierce on the Citiwire blog says that the state of our infrastructure is much worse than anyone is letting on and Congress is afraid to make any major moves or reforms during this time of recession. Plus, members may be uncomfortable with passing a multi-billion dollar authorization measure just before the midterm elections.

The article also says MPO's (like SRTC)need to shake up their model for transportation choices. Read the article and the comments and let me know; is this just Mr. Pierce crying wolf to try to scare us into changing our ways or is it legitimate?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Got An Opinion On Area Transportation? Join Our New TAC

So say you're one of those 'transportation groupies' that I refer to once in a while. Or maybe you're not even that hardcore, you just have some ideas and concerns about transportation in our area. And maybe you read all the transportation plans that come out of area jurisdictions and submit comments. Well, you're doing the work already, so you might as well apply to be on SRTC's new Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC).

The TAC is being formed in order to promote transparency and give members of the public an opportunity to be involved in SRTC's work. The TAC will be made up of 13 members that meet quarterly to make recommendations to the SRTC Board regarding plans, programs, and activities conducted by SRTC. Members must understand the fundamentals of land use and transportation planning as established in the Revised Code of Washington.

For more information on the TAC, and how to apply,go to the SRTC website. The deadline to submit TAC applications is February 19, 2010. Any questions?

Board & TTC Meetings This Week

The next couple days could be busy here at SRTC. Due to the holidays throwing our scheduling out of whack, we have both our Board and Transportation Technical Committee (TTC) meetings this week.

TTC falls on Wednesday (tomorrow) at 1:30 p.m. Here's the agenda.

And the SRTC Board meeting is Thursday at 1 p.m. Here's the agenda for it.

Both meetings are held in the SRTC conference room at 221 W. First Ave., Suite 310 and both are open to the public so feel free to attend.

Maybe I'm A Pesimist But It Just Seems Too Early

It's January right? I ask because when I left work last night at 5:00 (so it was dark), I saw a woman in a convertible WITH THE TOP DOWN.

What do you think? Did she just curse us to a really bad rest of the winter?

New Bills Would Get Tougher On Those Who Talk & Drive

Can you believe it's been three years since Washington State approved a law to fine drivers caught talking on cell phones not using a handsfree device if they're pulled over for another infraction?

Neither can I. And what's worse, I can't believe how no one pays attention to the law. That could change though, under some proposed bills that are going before Senate and House committees today.Here's the story from The Olympian.

Neighborhood Leadership Seminar

This isn't specifically transportation-related but it has the potential to be. If you live within the City of Spokane and have a transportation concern, you need to learn how to address it, and this could help.

The City of Spokane’s Office of Neighborhood Services & Code Enforcement will host a neighborhood leadership seminar on Saturday, Jan. 23, from 9 to 11 a.m. in the Road to Utopia Room at the Crosby Center at Gonzaga University.

The seminar is designed to provide neighborhood volunteers and other interested citizens with information on how they can get involved with their community. Participants will receive information on the City’s Community Assembly, which includes representatives from all of the City’s 27 identified neighborhoods and enables citizens to be part of the City’s decision-making process.

If you're interested in attending, please RSVP by emailing Sandy Scott in the Neighborhood Services office.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Vulnerable Users Bill Would Help Hit-&-Run Victims

In a response to a post from last week, Bike To Work Barb mentioned a 'Vulnerable Users Bill' being worked on by the Cascade Bicycle Club of Seattle. I looked it up to find that Mike Hope, a legislator representing Lake Stevens in Western Washington, is introducing legislation that would help victims of hit-and-runs, and their families.

House Bill 2728 would expand eligibility for pedestrians, bicyclists or motorcyclists who have been injured or killed by a hit-and-run driver to receive compensation. House Bill 2730 would expand hit-and-run provisions to differentiate between hitting and leaving the scene of a collision involving a pedestrian, bicyclists or motorcyclist versus a collision with vehicles only.

Hope told the Lake Stevens Journal, “...This legislation recognizes that hitting a pedestrian [or bicyclist] with a vehicle is much more dangerous than hitting a person inside a vehicle. It would provide compensation for victims of a hit and run, whether they are driving victims or walking victims. These provisions are simple, but will mean a lot to future victims and parents.”

What do you think- is this valid legislation because a lot of hit-and-runs are the result of carelessness or do you believe that it's a case of 'accidents happen?'

Hey Hillyard Residents- The NSC Is On This Week's Neighborhood Council Agenda

The Hillyard Neighborhood Council meets this Wednesday, Jan. 20 at 6:30pm at the Northeast Community Center. On the agenda- the Washington State Department of Transportation's North Spokane Corridor and it's effect on Hillyard.

It's Looking Like It Could Be A Crazy Week In Transportation

Lawmakers want to toughen laws on two types of driving: speeding through school zones and talking on cell phone without a hands-free device.

Political maneuvering over transportation board appointments (specifically SRTC) by the Spokane City Council have some people up in arms, namely Nancy McLaughlin, pictured above.

And the City of Spokane Valley want to hear your input on improvements to the Sullivan Road corridor.

It's Monday and the circus that is transportation is officially open. Here's a roundup on all of the above from the Spokesman-Review's 'Getting There' column.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Bad News For Olympia Trip Participants

Here's some depressing news; a Spokane-area delegation on its annual pilgrimage to Olympia got a consistently downbeat message this week: Don’t expect money for new programs or projects.

Here's an article about it from the Spokesman-Review.

SRTC's Transportation Manager Glenn Miles is on that trip. I haven't heard anything from him yet specifically about the trip. Anyone got two cents to put in about this?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

LaHood Lifting Restrictions On Transit Spending

I just realized I've been neglecting my campaign lately to get Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to visit our part of the country. Well here's a LaHood piece for you; he says he's rescinding Bush administration restrictions on federal transit spending so that a wider range of projects will be eligible for funds. You go Ray! We need a wider choice of transit options! Here's the article from the Las Vegas Sun.

Someone Do My Job For Me Please

I need ideas for my upcoming quarterly newsletter. Anyone have anything in particular transportation-wise that they want to know about or think should be publicized? I can't promise I'll use all suggestions as this newsletter is supposed to be about SRTC events and happenings for the most part, but I'm curious to see what's on everyone's minds.

Complete Streets Meeting Had Lots Of Interested Attendees

I wasn't able to attend the Complete Streets public meeting at the YMCA last night, but my 'sources' say that it had pretty good turnout for a public meeting with around 50 people attending.

I'm told that there appeared to be a lot of interest from attendees in the possibility of implementing a complete streets policy in our area. For those of you not familiar with complete streets, its a movement to get planners and engineers to consistently design roadways with all users in mind. That would mean pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit users would be considered just as important as drivers. To show that they're important, street designs would include amenities such as crosswalks, sidewalks, street lighting, median islands, bike lanes, dedicated bus lanes, and bus pullouts.

Not EVERY street would have every option though; each street would be evaluated to see who uses it and which of the above items would make their travels safer. For more information on complete streets, here's a link to the national complete streets website. And for those of you who want to get involved in the local complete streets movement, here's a link to a local complete streets Facebook page where you can get more info and join to get updates.

Holiday Closures On Monday

Monday is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, so you won't be able to get much done if you need to deal with the government. While SRTC will be open, most other government offices won't.

At Spokane County, the Courthouse, Public Safety Building, and Veterans Services will be closed, but the Engineering and Roads, Utilties, and Building and Planning Divisions will be open.

Spokane City Hall will also be closed, as will most other City services. Parking meters don't have to be plugged on Monday. The City Council meeting will be held on Tuesday.

Spokane Valley City offices will be closed Monday.

Liberty Lake City offices will be closed.

Watch Out For Water And Elk On Roadway

If you drive in rural areas, you may encounter a new obstacle while driving; standing water. A flood advisory remains in effect across much of the Inland Northwest after rain left pools of water in fields and along low-lying roads. Here's my legal disclaimer: that picture isn't of an actual event in our area, it was taken off the internet for the purpose of humor.

I was out in the Newman Lake area this morning and there are places where water is starting to creep over the road, and more rain is expected this weekend. Another thing I saw in that area this morning was a huge herd of elk standing on the railroad tracks trying to cross Trent. Semis and other cars were barreling by in both directions at 60 miles an hour and I was scared a train would come along and scare the elk into entering traffic. I called the Spokane Regional Transportation Management Center, who reported it to the State Patrol, whom I saw headed that way just a few minutes later, but I don't know what happened after that. I tried to take a picture but was afraid that would also cause a traffic 'incident.'

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Don't Forget The Complete Streets Meeting Tonight

I almost forgot to remind you to attend the Complete Streets meeting tonight. Complete streets are those that are designed to enable safe access for all users.

If a complete street policy were implemented in Spokane, it would direct planners and
engineers to consistently design roadways with all users in mind, meaning pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit users would be considered just as important
as motorists.

Complete streets help provide safe access for people who use wheelchairs, have vision
impairments, and for older people and children. Some items considered to help to complete a street include crosswalks, sidewalks, street lighting, median islands, pedestrian signals, street trees, bike lanes, traffi calming measures, dedicated bus lanes, transit stops, accessible transit stops, well-placed crossing opportunities, and bus pullouts.

Every street will NOT have all of these amenities under a complete streets policy, but every street will eventually be evaluated to see which of the above amenities should be added.

Tonight's meeting will be to teach members of the public about the 'complete streets' concept, hear what they have to say about the current condition of Spokane streets, and talk about what it would take to get complete streets policies implemented here. The meeting is from 5:30- 7 p.m. at the Central YMCA, 930 N. Monroe St.

Changes To SRTC Board Spark Council Discord

SRTC's Board is going through a lot of changes, as I mentioned here a while back. To start with, Diana Wilhite from the City of Spokane Valley lost her bid for re-election in November, meaning she can no longer be on our Board as she is no longer an elected official. Gary Schimmels will replace her as the representative for Spokane Valley. Schimmels served three years on the SRTC Board previously, if I remember correctly.

The lineup of City of Spokane representatives is changing as well. Joe Shogan forfeited his seat so that Mayor Mary Verner can sit on the Board, and while Council member Nancy McLaughlin won her re-election campaign in November, she didn't get reappointed to our Board. New Council member Jon Snyder will take her place.

Judging by an editorial that ran in today's Spokesman-Review, it sounds like Nancy didn't give up easy, as her interest in transportation is well known.

I watched Monday nights City Council meeting and it was somewhat contentious, with Nancy trying to defend her spot on both the SRTC and STA Boards.Here's a link to watch it and a couple of items of interest:

At 21 minutes and 35 seconds into it, Joe Shogan thanks Nancy McLaughlin for 'providing that rendition of something I already knew.'

At 23:59 McLaughlin makes a comment about following the Council rules and Shogan hastily calls a recess, then changes his mind after an uncomfortable pause.

At 127:11 the subject of who will serve on the SRTC and STA Boards come up for discussion and continue on for about 25 minutes.

ANOTHER Area Pedestrian Killed By Car

Police have identified a pedestrian hit by a car and killed while trying to cross U.S. 395 last Friday. 60-year-old Edgar G. Trantum was trying to cross the highway at Westview Court in an unmarked crosswalk about 7 p.m. when he was struck by a southbound vehicle. No charges have been filed against the driver in the crash, although police say the investigation is still ongoing.

Here's a Transportation-Related Joke I Heard

Q. Why don't penguins and ostriches fly?

A. Because they can't get through airport security.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Pantless In Seattle

Those crazy Seattlites! They take their clothes off at the drop of a hat. Here's one reason to get light rail in Spokane; we could have a 'No Pants! Light Rail Ride' like they did in Seattle over the weekend. Here's the video and don't worry, I previewed it to make sure there's no gratuitous nudity that will make your eyes bleed.

Freya Street Closure

Freya Street is closed from Wellesley to Olympic avenues. City Water Department crews are repairing water service in the area today from 9 a.m. to noon. A detour and signs are in place but you can expect delays.

Good Job On Wearing Your Seatbelt!

Here's some positive news about transportation in Washington- our state continues to have the second highest rates of seat-belt use in the country. According to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, 96.4% of drivers in Washington buckle up.

Here's more on this story from the Seattle Times.

Fernwell Building Teams Up With Garage To Provide Bike Parking

Thanks to the people behind the Fernwell Building in downtown Spokane who have taken it upon themselves to provide indoor bicycle parking.

As part of its participation in Spokane’s Commute Trip Reduction (CTR) program, the Fernwell Building was researching secured bicycle parking for its tenants. The solution they came up with was to join forces with the City Ramp Garage to create indoor bicycle parking. The City Ramp Garage is providing a ride-in, secured bicycle storage room in the basement of its Building, for around $1 per day. And the best part- it's not just for Fernwell Building tenants, but also the public at large.

For more information, stop by the City Ramp Garage at 430 W. 1st Ave. And for more information on the CTR program click here.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Busy Week For STA

Spokane Transit is busy with ice skating shuttles, their transit development plan, and the possible revision of Browne's Addition bus routes. Here's what's happening in transportation this week from the Spokesman-Review's 'Getting There' column.

Meeting To Discuss Complete Streets With Public

So how do you feel about bike lanes, street trees, street lights, raised medians, curb extentions, etc.? If you like them and feel that Spokane streets need more of them, there's a meeting you should attend this week. On Wednesday, a coalition of area agencies and interest groups will host a meeting to teach members of the public about the 'complete streets' concept, hear what they have to say about the current condition of Spokane streets, and talk about what it would take to get complete streets policies implemented in Spokane. The meeting is from 5:30- 7 p.m. on January 13 at the Central YMCA, 930 N. Monroe St.

Here's an article the Spokesman-Review ran on Complete streets.

Rising Gas Prices Slow Improvement Of Economy

I noticed on my way to work this morning that gas prices are on the rise again. Then I saw this article from the Washington Post when I got here. It talks about how gas prices are headed back toward $3 per gallon, which is up 67% from this time last year. The article also says demand is down- so why the rise in prices? Take a look at the article then let me know if you've been feeling the pinch from increased gas prices.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Locals Team Up For 'Cash For (Bike) Clunkers' Program

Here's something cool. I just got a press releas that says a couple local non-profits and an area bike shop are teaming up to put unused bikes back on the road with a 'Bike Cash for Clunkers' program.

People are asked to turn their unwanted bikes into The Two Wheel Transit at 1405 W. First Ave. Shop staff will assess bikes for safety and serviceability and give the donator credit (in the amount of $25-$100)toward a new bike. The bike shop will then turn the used bikes over to either Union Gospel Mission or Pedals2People.

Some differences in this program than the real 'Cash for Clunkers' program: it only pertains to bicycles, it is not funded by the government and bikes that are mechanically sound will not be destroyed, but reused by the two non-profit organizations. The program ends on February 15.

Victim Blogs About Being Hit By Car

So I learned a couple new things today. One is that the Spokane business 'Rings & Things' has a blog, and another is that one of their employees was hit by a car recently. And he blogged about it. Here's the story from the victim's perspective.

Anyone else out there ever been hit by a car? My dad was when he was a kid but he said he was reading a book at the time and not paying attention so I don't have a lot of sympathy :)

You Asked About Bike Lanes On Crestline- Here's The City's Answer

An update on bike lanes on Crestline. Below is what the City's new Bike Plan says should or will eventually be on Crestline:

Crestline runs the length of the City and has several different bike facilities;

- Crestline from Magnesium to Francis is designated as bike lanes
- Francis to Empire is designated as Marked/Shared Roadway
- Empire to Illinois is designated Bike Lane
- Crestline between 37th and 57th is designated Shared Roadway.

Currently, the only bike lane actually in place on Crestline is between Magnesium and Francis. The rest are waiting for funding. And the City is actively seeking funding- both for on Crestline and many other streets within the City. It's usually based on a project-by-project basis though, so even if money does become available, it doesn't mean Crestline will be first up to receive its' bike lane.

For any follow up questions regarding bike lanes in the City of Spokane, contact Bike and Pedestrian Coordinator Grant Wencel through email by clicking here.

Passenger Causes Airliner To Turn Around

I'm going to preface this next article by saying that had I been on this flight, this man would have been beaten to death. A disruptive passenger yesterday caused a commercial jetliner bound for Hawaii to return to the Portland airport- 90 minutes into the flight.

The man refused to store his carry-on bags and made some suspicious remarks. Okay, it's understandable that the pilot was concerned about possible terrorism issues, but if I was a passenger on that plane and was THAT close to Hawaii when the plane turned around, they would have had bigger problems. Here's the story.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Just To Give You A Mid-Week Laugh

Two Random Things

- I had a near death experience this morning, caused by one of the people who is supposed to protect us. A police officer in an unmarked car swerved into my lane, almost hitting me, then continued to cross two other lanes of traffic narrowly missing a couple cars. I was pretty angry until I realized his tire had blown and he was out of control! He managed to get onto the shoulder on the right hand side and finally stop but it was scary for a minute there.

- I was at the Spokane Teachers Credit Union in Liberty Lake recently when I noticed that, not only do they have a disabled parking spot right in front of the building, but also one marked something like 'Reserved for alternative fuel burning vehicles.' Hey cool- the people driving electric cars get a head start on their banking!

Red Light Cameras- How Are They Doing?

Intersections around Spokane where red light cameras were installed do not appear to have had an effect on drivers' behavior. In fact, the number of accidents at those intersections are up. Here's the story from the Spokesman-Review.

I know this is opening a can of worms, but what is your opinion on the cameras? They are admittedly catching a lot of red light runners, so they're doing their job there. But do you think they will eventually help to make intersections safer?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Would You Prefer A Tax Based On How Much You Drive?

Don't like paying a gas tax? Would you prefer a tax based on the number of miles you drive per year?

That's what the Texas Transportation Commission is considering, and the idea has come up around here in recent years too. The tax would be a way to fund transportation projects in a time when a lot of funding options are going away.

Here's more on the proposed Texas tax. What's your opinion on a tax based on how much you drive each year? Good idea or bad and why?

Bike To Work Week Prep Underway

Bike to Work Week isn't until May, but preparations for it are already starting. The Bike To Work Spokane Committee will meet weekly to organize this year's events, from 7:30-8:30 a.m. every Tuesday morning (I know- I'm late getting this out there so yes, you missed today's meeting).

Everyone is welcome to attend. The meetings will be at Coffee Social, at 113 W. Indiana Ave. The committee is looking to fill a couple key roles still, so if you have the skills required for these jobs, they need you: PR/Publicity Chair, Fundraising Chair, Commute Challenge Picnic Chair.

Liaisons (serve as lead contact in your town and recruit local helpers to distribute posters, find an Energizer Station spot or two, and get Bicycle Benefits info packets out to businesses that may participate)are also needed for the following cities: Airway Heights, Cheney, Spokane Valley, Mead, any of the smaller towns outside metro Spokane; Liberty Lake has a liaison

City of Spokane neighborhood liaisons are needed to do the same thing. One liaison is desirable in each Neighborhood Council area.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Complete Streets Public Meeting

A group of several area agencies and individuals has formed to push for the creation of 'Complete Streets' policies in Spokane. If you're not familiar with complete streets, they are roadways designed and operated to enable safe, attractive, and comfortable access and travel for all users. Pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and public transportation users of all ages and abilities are able to safely and comfortably use a complete street. Amenities that may make up a complete street include sidewalks, bike lanes, bus lanes, accessible transit stops, frequent crossing opportunities, median islands, pedestrian signals, curb extensions, and more.

The group behind this movement is working with local politicians and policy makers to reach their goal, but also need the support of the public behind them as well. In an effort to gather that support, Kitty Klitzke of Future is hosting a Complete Streets Spokane organizing meeting this month.

It will be held at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, January 13 at the Central YMCA, located at 930 N. Monroe. Everyone is welcome to attend. And by the way, Kitty has started up a Complete Streets Spokane Facebook page. Check it out here.

WSDOT Improves Website

It's Monday, which means the Spokesman-Review is running its 'Getting There' column today.. So what are today's subjects? The Washington State Department of Transportation is working to speed up its web site, due to its high demand and the Sheriff's Department is warning people to be careful getting off buses, as there have been a couple departure injuries recently. Check it out.

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.