Thursday, April 29, 2010

Complete Streets Workshop Has Large Attendance

I spent the majority of today in a Complete Streets Policy Development Workshop hosted by the Spokane Regional Health District that was aimed at helping the City of Spokane develop a complete streets policy.

A complete street is one designed to enable safe and convenient access for all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, transit vehicles and people of all ages and abilities. A complete streets policy would direct planners and engineers to consistently design roadways with all users in mind. More information on complete streets can be found here.

While the workshop centered around the City of Spokane, staff and elected officials from all area jurisdictions were welcome. And a lot of them were interested too, because the workshop had over 50 participants!

Two national complete streets experts, Roger Henderson AICP, PE, PTOE and John LaPlante PE, PTOE facilitated discussions ranging from how our community could benefit from a complete streets policy (safer for kids to walk to school, the community would be healthier overall, we would be eligible to receive more grants, etc.), to how to get the public involved from early on (host charrettes, involve ALL groups that might be interested, approach neighborhood groups instead of waiting for them to approach you), and area streets that could use a 'road diet' (reducing the number of lanes and using that space for sidewalks, parking, buffer strips or bike lanes instead).

My group was made up of a planner from the City of Spokane Valley, a representative of the Neighborhood Alliance, two City of Spokane engineers and a planner from STA. We decided that Driscoll Boulevard would be a good candidate for a road diet, because, as one planner put it, it's got 'fat' lanes. The joke after that became that if we put it on a diet and added bike lanes and other amenities, we'd have a 'phat' road that people would want to use instead of a 'fat' one. Just a little planning humor for you. You know us crazy government folks.

After 2:30, only City of Spokane staff stayed to work on crafting policy language so I'm not sure what they came up with but I'll fill you in as soon as I hear.


Not said...

When Driscoll Boulevard was repaved a couple years ago, the pavement markings were completely updated. There are now bike lanes and marked parking spaces.
Of course, with our complete lack of parking enforcement, in the early months of 2009 when there was a lot of snow piled up on the road near the curb, there were many, many cars parked in the bike lane on Driscoll between Olympic and Queen.
Striping without enforcement is a waste of money.
- Ventura

SRTC Staff said...

Huh- it's odd that the City engineers in my group didn't say anything about the re-striping of Driscoll. Did they narrow or eliminate lanes to make room for the bike lanes and parking? Because that was the focus of the exercise, to identify roads that could use a 'diet.'

Enforcement and education was another issue that was brought up regarding bike lanes. It was discussed that local law enforcement needs to be brought on board for the complete streets discussion.

Not said...

No, prior to the repaving Driscoll had a yellow stripe down the middle, dividing it into two very wide lanes, and street parking was legal. I prefer this arrangement for most streets, since I believe that motorists expect bicycles to stay within the bike lane where one is present.
- Ventura

SRTC Staff said...

I think you're right. Drivers see a bike lane and just expect that bikes would stay in it, so I've seen a few get a little squirrely if someone tries to ride in traffic with them.

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.