Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Nonmotorized Surveys Turning Up In Local Mailboxes

Let's go back to 2006. There was some heartburn with local bicycling and pedestrian advocates at that time when Spokane took part in a Federal Highway Administration (FHA) Nonmotorized Transportation Pilot Program (NTPP). Four other communities were also chosen to participate; Columbia, Missouri; Marin County, California; Minneapolis, Minnesota; and Sheboygan County, Wisconsin. Over the span of 4 years, each of those communities received $25 million to be used toward constructing a network of nonmotorized transportation infrastructure facilities, including sidewalks, bicycle lanes, and pedestrian and bicycle trails.

Spokane was chosen as a 'control community,' meaning we received no funds, which is why some people were upset.

It's now four years later and the FHA wants to know how giving, or not giving, money to the communities for nonmotorized projects affected each community. Several thousand surveys were mailed out last week asking local folks about their transportation habits. If you received one, PLEASE fill it out. It will help the federal folks gauge the need for nonmotorized facilties in our community. Plus they'll give you $5 to do it. Now we're talking.

If you'd like to see results from the initial survey and study, four years ago click here.

Cheap Parking Vs. Expensive Parking

There's a divergence of opinions in today's 'Opinion' section of the Spokesman-Review. First I found this letter from a man angry about having to pay for parking (and in his defense $40 IS pretty stiff for parking downtown):

Finding a place to park at the recent “Get Motivated” seminar was almost impossible. But if you were lucky enough to get a spot, the price could be steep.

At 9:30 a.m., it seemed every place was either filled or blocked off. I circled the Arena two or three times, and then out of the corner of my eye saw a space at the YMCA facility. The gate was down and Lady Luck was on my side.

I returned at 4 p.m., only to see a blocking exit bar. There must be a mistake. I pushed the “help” button and was told to read the screen. It was $40 for a six-hour period. I couldn’t believe it. The situation was akin to a predator setting a trap for its prey. I had an appointment to make so a credit card cleared the way. Would I go back to the Arena for a similar event? As Poe’s Raven said, “Never more.”

Bill Fitzgerald
Coeur d’Alene

Then I came on this Smart Bombs article about how free parking is bad for our country. The article talks about how the prospect of a cheap parking space compels many drivers to methodically circle downtown streets in search of a metered space. This increases congestion, wastes fuel and makes downtowns less inviting. Not to mention that high parking prices encourage many people to use public transit rather than pay the going price.

So what's your take? Cheap parking to encourage people to come downtown and shop, thus increasing tax dollars and improving the local economy or steeper parking prices to reduce congestion and encourage commuters to use public transit? I'm obviously playing devil's advocate here.

Monday, August 30, 2010

SRTC At Minnehaha Event

I spent Saturday at the Minnehaha Neighborhood Celebration at Minnehaha Park talking to people about SRTC's Transportation Vision Project.

The event included a car show, and this big old boat was my favorite.

It also had music, a lot of social service agency booths, food, face painting, and lots more.

I got lots of good feedback. A lot of people asked when the North Spokane Corridor would be done, others complained about unpaved alleys, one woman suggested a moratorium on including art in transportation projects until more funding is available and one young man asked for transit service on Rambo Road north of Airway Heights.

This was my favorite visitor to my booth. He asked for scratching posts on buses and bus passes that don't require opposable thumbs to use.

More Police Patrols On US 195

Law enforcement is putting more patrols on US 195 to try to prevent accidents and Idaho law enforcement agencies are looking for you if you drink and driver in Kootenai County this month.

Here's what's happening this week in transportation from the Spokesman-Review's 'Getting There' column.

Gas Prices Falling For Holiday Weekend

Good news for those of you planning to travel over the Labor Day weekend; gas prices have been falling recently due to a plunge in wholesale gasoline prices earlier this month.

The national average price is $2.68 for a gallon of unleaded according to AAA. That's about 6 cents a gallon less than a month ago and 7 cents less than on the Friday before the July Fourth weekend.

AAA also says West Coast drivers pay the most for gas - between $2.79 and $3.54 a gallon. The cheapest gas is in Texas, the Gulf Coast states and parts of the Midwest, where prices range from $2.43 to $2.52 a gallon.

Analysts believe prices will continue to drop in September, when the roads will be left mainly to commercial vehicles and commuters.

Licensing No Longer Doing Passports

This is a reminder that as a result of budget cuts and staff reductions, the Spokane County Motor Vehicle Licensing Office will no longer process passport applications – effective tomorrow, August 31.

Lincoln Street Closed

Lincoln Street from Spokane Falls Boulevard to College Avenue is temporarily closed to motorists. Traffic is detoured to Monroe Street because an unidentified briefcase was found on the Post St. Bridge. The Spokane Police Department is on scene.

Spokane County Targets Pedestrian Safety

The folks at Spokane County want to remind you to 'look again- it's that simple.' The Spokane County Target Zero Task Force received a pedestrian safety grant from Washington Traffic Safety Commission. The goal of this pedestrian safety grant is to reduce pedestrian fatalities and serious injuries in Spokane County through an education and enforcement campaign. Throughout August and September, law enforcement agencies in Spokane County will be increasing pedestrian and driver safety enforcement.

There were eleven pedestrian fatalities in Spokane County in 2009. There were 63 pedestrian fatalities in Washington State in 2008. More than 600 pedestrians have been killed on Washington State streets and roadways in the past eight years according to data released by the Washington Traffic Safety Commission.

The most common cause for vehicle/pedestrian collisions, according to the study, were people in the roadway where and when they didn’t belong there. More than 500 of the deaths occurred when the pedestrian was not safely out of the cars’ portion of the roadway.

Spokane County asks that you wear light-colored or reflective clothing when walking at night. Brightly colored clothing can help even in the daytime by helping walkers stand out from the background. Always walk facing traffic so you have time to recognize upcoming danger and get out of the way.

Where pedestrians cross the street can impact their safety. The best place is in a lighted intersection, using a marked crosswalk, with traffic signals to stop oncoming traffic. Several of the recent fatalities in Spokane were from pedestrian crossing busy roadways during the night time hours without using marked crosswalks.

On the other side, drivers can increase pedestrian safety by actively looking for walkers. Drivers must also, by law, yield to pedestrians in any intersection, whether marked with crosswalks or not, if the pedestrian is in their half of the roadway.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

SRTC At Minnehaha Neighborhood Celebration

With everything going on last week, I forgot to blog about the Minnehaha Neighborhood Celebration that SRTC is taking part in today. We'll be there with a table to talk about our Transportation Vision Project. It's from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today (Saturday) at Minnehaha Park, so come check it out. There are apparently all kinds of vendors and displays and I heard that last year's event was a huge success so show up again this year and make it even better.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Vehicular Manslaughter Hearing Delayed

A hearing was delayed to determine whether a woman who hit a runner and a bicyclist during a relay near Sandpoint should stand trial for felony vehicular manslaughter is set for Sept. 15.

Sui-lan Kahuhu was arrested after hitting a Spokane-to-Sandpoint relay contestant and her chaperone on Highway 41 on Aug. 14. Here's the latest from the Coeur d'Alene Press.

Two Car-Pedestrian Collisions In One Day

There were two cases of drivers hitting pedestrians in Spokane yesterday.

A 12-year-old girl suffered head and other injuries when she was struck at the corner of Colfax and Hawthorne roads. A driver said she was pulled into the crosswalk there as she checked for traffic and struck the girl with her Chevy Suburban, dragging her for about 10 feet, according to the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office. The girl's condition is not known this morning.

In a separate incident, a driver hit an 84-year-old woman in a crosswalk at Wilbur and Mission roads, according to a release from the Spokane Valley Police. The driver told police he thought the woman stopped to let him go, so he drove his Chevy van into the crosswalk. The woman suffered a cut on the back of her head and was transported to a local hospital to be checked.

The driver was cited for failure to yield to a pedestrian. The Sheriff’s Office said they expect the other driver will also be cited with the same infraction and fine.

City In Talks About Route Favored By Bicyclists

I struck up a conversation at the first Spokane Summer Parkways event earlier this summer with a gentleman who had some feedback on bicycling in Spokane. In particular, he was curious about the fate of a route he currently uses, but was hesitant to mention it, because it's not a 'sanctioned' route and has been barricaded to keep people out. He would like the barricades removed to make it safer for bicyclists but was afraid if he brought it up to anyone 'official' it might draw attention to the route and it would be shut down completely.

Well sir, it turns out the wheels were in motion before I ever talked to you. The route is an old barricaded bridge over the railroad tracks in the vicinity of Alki and Fiske streets between Sprague and Trent. I've been told that it saves some serious time for riders as there is nowhere else to cross the tracks in the area.

I checked with a contact at the City of Spokane who told me that Burlington Northern Santa Fe owns the bridge. It turns out that the City has been in talks with BNSF for quite a while about this route. BNSF says the bridge is unsafe and plans to leave the barricades up until they can tear the whole bridge down, which they have only said will happen 'soon.'

The City would like to retain access over the railway for a potential future
crossing, as they recognize that there are a limited number of safe bike/ped crossings of the railroad tracks in the area. My contact believes that City legal staff is in conversation with BNSF about this issue. This route is also a bike route according to the City's Master Bike Plan.

The Bicycle Advisory Board was informed of this earlier this week and agree that it is important to retain crossing rights for a possible future bridge. So the good news is that the City recognizes the need for a crossing in this location and is working to maintain it. The bad news is it's probably going to take a while and there's no guarantee that BNSF will agree to it. Hang in there folks.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Bicycling Bus Drivers- Sounds Like A Band Name

So take a guess what this is. Obviously it's a picture of a bunch of bikes. But where at? That's the King County Metro employee parking area in western Washington.

The photographer — an unidentified Metro bus driver- had this to say:

"No, not all bus drivers hate cyclists. Some of us actually bike to work. This picture was actually taken on a fairly light day. Also, it was taken later in the afternoon after some drivers from the morning had already left. On the clearest days, the bike racks are pretty full. There are plenty of us who bike year round too."

Bike to Work Barb had sent me this picture, and expressed curiosity about how many STA drivers ride to work. I contacted STA but they said it's not something they are able to track. I know from talking to the drivers on the routes that I ride that at least a handful bicycle.

Summer Parkways & SRTC's Upcoming Community Workshop

I know I'm three days late and at least a couple dollars short, but I just realized I never posted anything about last Sunday's Summer Parkway event. Due to prior commitments, I couldn't attend the entire event, but I was there toward the end, and even right at 1:00, when the event was over for the day, there were still a lot of people walking, bicycling, and skateboarding on the course.

SRTC was there to tell people about our Transportation Vision Project, and our consultant team member Laurie was kind enough to staff our table in my absence. She said the road was pretty packed in the late morning and there were lots of bicycles decorated with some pretty cool themes. So congratulations to the organizers, great job this year!

We've got an event of our own coming up. SRTC is hosting a community workshop on Tuesday, Sept. 14 from 6-9 p.m. at the Moran Prairie Library at 6004 S. Regal St. on the south hill.

This workshop will include a game that lets participants try their hand at being a transportation planner for the day. The game asks players to determine their transportation project priorities, then try to arrange funding for their projects while taking into consideration outside elements such as the impact to the economy, environment and quality of life. While fun, this game will also help us to determine your priorities when it comes to developing a transportation system for our community that works for everyone.

Here's a flyer for the workshop. Please pass it along to anyone you think may be interested. And mark you calendar for the 14th.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Website Lets You Vote On Opinion You Agree With

So here's a cool website
that Bike to Work Barb sent me. It's NationalJournal.com where a panel of 'insiders' discuss issues and you are allowed to vote on who's opinion you agree with. Today's article asks if it's still possible to promote new bicycling and walking options in harmony with vehicular traffic. There are ten 'answers' to the question in ten essays that express varying opinions by experts in the field. Take a look and cast your vote for the opinion you most closely agree with.

KXLY Asks, 'Do Those Crosswalk Signal Buttons Actually Work?'

KXLY TV has a fairly new weekly segment they're calling 'Good Question' where they take questions submitted by viewers and answer them. Yesterday's question was 'Do those crosswalk signal buttons actually work?' and the answer comes from former SRTC employee Val Melvin who is now the Signal Operations Engineer for the City of Spokane.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Traffic Jam Is 60+ Miles Long

Some friends that drove home from my house to western Washington complained about getting stuck on Snoqualmie Pass for several hours yesterday. All I had to say was, at least you weren't stuck in a traffic jam for NINE days. Because that's how long a bunch of drivers in China have been stuck, and they say it will be a couple more days before the mess is cleaned up too!

The jam stretches for more than sixty miles, is caused by construction, and has 400 police officers patroling the situation 24 hours a day. Here's the story from MSN.com, but I have to warn you, my blood pressure went up just reading this article.

Leaders Study New Transportation Funding Source

Area government agencies are teaming up to try to create a new source for funding construction projects countywide, there's a meeting to discuss safety on SR 195 this week, and installation of over a hundred countdown timers at Spokane City crosswalks is now complete. Here's what's happening this week in transportation from the Spokesman-Review's 'Getting There' column.

Some City Of Spokane Road Closures

- The intersection of Perry St. and Ninth Ave. is closed to motorists until about mid-week. Also, Ninth Ave. from Perry to Julia streets remains closed. Signs will be in place and motorists may want to use Ray/Thor Streets as an alternate route.

The closures are needed as part of the Hartson Ave. Water Transmission Main project. That project, funded by the 10-Year Street Bond and City Water Department, will replace a water transmission main in Hartson and 11th avenues from Havana to Sherman streets. The project will also repair the following streets: 11th Ave. from Altamont Blvd. to Julia St. and N. Altamont Blvd. from 11th to Ninth avenues; and Ninth Ave. from Perry to Julia streets.

- The intersection of South Riverton Ave. and Altamont St. will be closed to motorists starting today and will continue for about a month. Also, S. Riverton Ave. from Cook to Stone streets; and Altamont St. from Marshall Ave. to the alley will have local access only. Signs will be in place and motorists may want to use Marshall Ave. as an alternate route. The closures are needed to modify the existing Combined Sewer Overflow facility to prevent multiple discharges to the river.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Two City Of Spokane Projects Start Monday

- A project to rehabilitate Wellesley Avenue from the east side of Assembly Street through Driscoll Boulevard is set to begin on Monday, Aug. 30. Traffic will be detoured at Garland Ave. to Assembly St. onto Rowan Ave. and then Alberta St.

- A project on Madison Street from Fourth to Sprague Avenues starts next week. The project will be a grind and overlay on Madison, Adams, and Jefferson Streets from Fourth to Sprague avenues. Additionally, the historic brick gutter will be maintained and repaired from First to Second avenues. The $1.1 million project is funded by the 10-Year Street Bond.

Some Items From WSDOT

- There will be intermittent eastbound and westbound left lane restrications on I-90from Division Street to Argonne Road between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., of Monday through Thursday of next week. Crews will be cleaning drains in the median.

- There will be some evening or overnight lane restrictions on Broadway Avenue in the area of the I90 interchange and some short-term traffic signal outages as crews rehabilitate the existing traffic signal system.

Complete Streets Video On City Cable 5

I sit on a 'Complete Streets Education Coalition' group that is working with the City of Spokane toward passing a complete streets policy. Earlier this summer, I got together with a couple complete streets advocates and a photographer from City Cable 5 to shoot this video. It's now airing on Channel 5. Take a look and let me know if you have any more questions about complete streets after watching it.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Fido Doesn't Belong In The Driver Seat

I love my dog and all and she definetely goes in the car with me, but on my lap?? Never! Besides the fact that she's too big to be a lapdog, that would get in the way of texting, smoking, and playing with the radio. Just kidding, I don't do any of that while driving, but a new survey conducted by AAA says a LOT of dog owners drive with their dogs in their laps, and do some even more risky things.

Here's the article from the Coeur d'Alene Press. Take a look and let me know if you partake in any of these dangerous behaviors. I think the worst I've done is try to drive into a pole and kill us all one time when my emotionally unbalanced cat Bob mysteriously got out of his carrier during a car trip.

Hillyard Submits Strategic Plan

Last week, the Greater Hillyard Northeast Planning Alliance submitted their 'Greater Hillyard Strategic Plan' to the City of Spokane.

Strategy six is what I'm interested in here, as it details the neighborhoods' ideas about desirable transportation alternatives. In particular, they reference the importance of completing the North Spokane Corridor, implementing complete streets, and expanding public transportation, particularly through street cars or light rail.

Here's a link to the plan if you'd like to check it out. If you want the Reader's Digest version though, aPowerPoint presentation that was delivered to City department heads regarding the plan can be viewed here.

Check it out and let me know what you think. And if you have furthere interest in this plan, there is a meeting tonight at 6:30 p.m. at the Northeast Community Center on the Going to have a meeting on the plan and how to implement it this Thursday 6:30 pm at the NE Community Center on the Greater Hillyard Strategic Plan and how to implement it.

SRTC At Unity In The Community

Forgot to mention that if you can't make it to Spokane Summer Parkways on Sunday, you still have a chance to catch us out and about this weekend at Unity in the Community on Saturday. Unity in the Community is aimed at promoting unity through showcasing diversity. Here's a link to the Unity in the Community website so that you can see what time the event is, etc.

So why is SRTC taking part in an event to promote unity? Because we want to hear from people like you on our Transportation Vision Project. So if you're at the event, stop by and talk to our consultant team member Laurie. She's at booth number G18. Don't forget that number.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Come See SRTC At This Weekend's Spokane Summer Parkways Event

If you missed the first Spokane Summer Parkways, you've got one more chance to check it out this summer. There will be another of the events held this Sunday, August 22 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The focus at Spokane Summer Parkways is on recreation, fitness, and community. Threee miles of Howard Street will be closed to automobile traffic and opened to bicyclists, pedestrians, skaters, and other human-powered transportation. There will also be other activities like yoga, zumba, hula hooping, tai chi, pilates, music, giveaways, food, a bike decorating contest and much more.

I attended the last event and it was a blast. And there were tons of people there, so the people watching was fabulous.
Here's a link to more info and a video from the last event.

SRTC will be there also this Sunday, talking to people about our Transportation Vision Project. The boss man gave me a break, so it won't be me down there this weekend, but be sure to stop by our table and speak to our great consultant team member Laurie about your transportation 'vision' for the future.

TAC Meeting Agenda Available

The August Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC) is scheduled for next Monday, August 23 at 3 p.m. in the SRTC conference room at 221 W. First Ave., Suite 310. The TAC is responsible for advising Board members on recommendations regarding plans, programs, and activities conducted by SRTC.

Here's the link to Monday's meeting agenda. Feel free to attend the meeting.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Bicyclist Hit Yesterday Dies

A bicyclist struck on Sunday evening in Spokane, at Second Avenue and Scott Street, has died, according to police.

The accident occurred about 6 p.m. involving the bicyclist and a truck. The name of the cyclist was not released, pending notification of relatives. There is very little other information available, except that early reports indicate that the bicyclist was hit after failing to stop at the intersection. No word yet if charges will be filed against the driver.

Lunchtime Bicycle Tuneup Class

Want to get away from the workplace at lunch? Need a bike tuneup too? The new downtown Spokane bike shop, Breaking Away Bicycle Company, is hosting 3 days of lunchtime fun this week, teaching you to do your own bike tuneups.

The class is Tuesday, August 17th through Thursday, August 19th from 12:15pm-12:45pm. The $25 fee to participate qualifies you for a drawing for a free bike.

Here's the link to Breaking Away's Facebook page where you can find more info.

New Site Estimates What You're Paying For Transportation Monthly

Holy cow, I'm bleeding from my eyes! I just used the new
Abogo website that gives you an estimate on what you pay in transportation costs per month, based on the neighborhood you live in. My estimate was $1045, hence the bleeding from the eyes. It said the regional average is $826 though, which still is a lot of money.

The site takes into consideration factors such as car ownership, car use, and transit use. The site draws on nine data sets, mostly from the U.S. census, that include density, average commute time, commuters per household, and a transit connectivity index. It also calculates greenhouse-gas emissions from transportation.

All you have to do is get on the site and type in your address and the magic number pops up. Here's the site again. Check it out and let me know how much it says you're paying for transportation.

New Program Targets Students Who Drive Alone

Are you a college student? Do you have a child who is a student? Well, listen up, because the City of Spokane and the Spokane County Commute Trip Reduction (CTR) Office have launched two new social media sites as a way to market to students alternatives to commuting to school alone.

'UCommute' promotes using alternative transportation for students in the Spokane University District. The program is currently working specifically with the student base at the Riverpoint campus, which represents programs from Eastern Washington University, Washington State University, Whitworth University, and the University of Washington. Students will be able to win prizes and compete for incentives by logging their reduced single occupancy vehicle (SOV) trips.

UCommute has just launched both a Facebook and Twitter page, so check them out to see if you are eligible to participate. Here is a link to the Facebook page.

And here is a link to the Twitter page.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Spokane to Sandpoint runner hit on HWY 2

COLBERT, WA -- A woman running the Spokane to Sandpoint relay race Friday morning was hit by a car on the Newport Highway near Colbert, according the KXLY News web site.

KXLY repported the accident happened around 8:15 a.m. at the intersection of Newport Highway, also known as Highway 2, and East Colbert Road.

Officers say the woman was attempting to cross the highway when she was hit by a 17-year-old driver.

A MedStar helicopter was called to the scene and airlifted the woman to Sacred Heart with serious injuries.

Officers say the driver was not at fault because there was no crosswalk.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Take the Lincoln street tour today

Lincoln Street is nearing completion! Join Spokane Mayor Mary Verner for a tour and celebration at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, Aug. 12, of the project. The tour will start at Lincoln Street and 19th Avenue, then walk to the park, and end at the Cannon Hill Park pond.

The street remains closed to traffic today as final work is completed. Information on when the street will open will be shared as soon as it’s available.

“This project has become a site of innovation in Spokane,” says Mayor Mary Verner, “Working with the neighborhood, we were able to come up with a design to not only repair the street but also install beautiful storm garden planters.”

Work on Lincoln Street, a $1.7 million project funded by the 10-Year Street Bond and City of Spokane Wastewater Department, began in April and will wrapped up in the coming days. The project rehabilitated Lincoln Street from 17th to 29th avenues and installed curb extensions that contain plant-based storm gardens to naturally treat stormwater runoff. Additionally, the treated stormwater will drain into the Cannon Hill Park pond saving thousands of gallons of drinking water each year.

The other Street Bond projects that will be constructed this year include:
• Second Avenue from Sunset Highway to Howard Street;
• Addison and Standard streets from Francis Avenue to Colton Street;
• 37th Avenue from Grand Boulevard to Perry Street;
• Northwest Boulevard from Alberta to Maple Streets;
• Nevada Street from North Foothills Drive to Broad Avenue;
• Thurston Avenue from Arthur to Crestline Streets;
• Wellesley Avenue from Maple to Division Streets;
• Hartson and 11th Avenues from Havana to Sherman Street;
• Nelson Street from Mission to Marshall Avenues and surrounding streets;
• A Street from Francis to Beacon Avenues and surrounding streets;
• Madison, Adams, and Jefferson Streets from Sprague to Fourth Avenues; and
• A number of Local Improvement Districts (LIDs) that will pave dirt streets in the City.

About the 10-Year Street Bond
Approved by voters on November 2, 2004, with an overwhelming 61.3 percent “yes” vote, this $117 million bond is funding the repair of 110 miles of deteriorating streets throughout the City of Spokane. For more information, please go to www.spokanestreets.org.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Hey, Who Approved This?

Having just wrapped up another round of Transportation Vision Project meetings, I think it's a good time to take a vacation. Yeah, I know I just got back, but I need another. I'm not sure how I talked the boss into another one so soon. Maybe it was that full body tremor I developed over the past couple months.

Anyway, I'm out of here at close of business tonight, so Jeff Selle in our office will be your fill-in blogger. He has to blog on top of his other duties though, so won't crank out as much content as me most likely. He loves comments though, so oblige him and give lots of comments. And enjoy your week.

Vision Roundtable Meetings Wrapped Up

I was in meetings for the Transportation Vision Project pretty much ALL day yesterday so didn't have much time to blog. We hosted three roundtable meetings on three separate topics. Here's an overview of each:

This meeting was fairly well-attended with several staffers from Spokane Transit, a retired transit planner from another community, members of STA's Citizens Advisory Committee, a local engineer, a representative from the Inland Empire Rail Transit Association and many others in attendance. Here are some of the points they expressed:

- More transit service is going to be needed soon as the baby boomers age and find alternatives to driving alone.
- We need to look into public/private partnerships to find ways to provide more public transit, such as to the outlying communities that STA doesn't service and can't afford to.
- A lot of the aging folks can't walk 1/2 mile to get to a bus stop so using the bus system isn't an option for them.
- Spokane can possibly bring in manufacturing businesses in the future because it's much easier and quicker to move goods here than a place like Seattle where they have to contend with lots of congestion.
- There is a lot of unused right of way and capacity on area roadways, which means room to build things like sidewalks, bike lanes, etc. in the future if money is available.
- The bus system is hard to navigate on weekends because some routes don't run and others are severely modified for weekend use.
- Our local transit system doesn't support night life in Spokane, especially the downtown area.
- While some people liked the idea of light rail, others said we should hold out for new technology that may be on the horizon. I haven't had time yet to look into what this 'new technology' could be.

This workshop had a strong turnout by people in the social services industry, such as paratransit, Spokane Regional Health District, Aging and Long Term Care of Eastern Washington, and Holy Family Hospital, to name a few. They coined a new phrase: instead of '65 and older,' we're now calling seniors '65 and better.' Here are their other thoughts:

- The 'hub and spoke' system that Spokane Transit doesn't work well for everyone. Not everyone needs to go downtown to get where they're need to go, but because of the way the system is set up, they have to.
- Allocate smaller buses, such as shuttle buses, to STA routes that have lower ridership numbers, or for during the day when ridership drops.
- Designate more 'pedestrian mall' areas like Main Street in downtown Spokane.
- Spokane doesn't have a 'rush hour,' it has a 'rush minute.'
- There are too many traffic islands and barriers that aren't marked with reflective tape or paint.
- The majority of the meeting participants said they love the countdown crosswalk timers in the downtown area.
- Real estate agents should tell older or disabled clients if they are within the paratransit service area.
- Extend STA's service area to cover the area north of Wandermere as it is a huge growth area.

This meeting had small attendance numbers but lots of good ideas. Here are some things I heard:

- Maybe the money that could be collected from possibly requiring bicyclists to register their bikes could be used to pay for bicycle education.
- The gas mileage for a school bus is between 7 and 10 miles per hour.
- Some residents of the East Central neighborhood are hesitant to participate in beautification projects because they are afraid it will bring their property value up, along with their taxes, and price them out of one of the last low income areas in the area.
- Schools should contract with public transit to get children to school.
- There should be storage racks on buses for things like strollers and car seats.

While I was in these meetings, a member of our consultant team was busy posting materials from past meetings on the Vision Project website. Take a look and see what you missed at past meetings if you couldn't go.

Writer Complains About Bicyclists' Lack Of Visibility

Spokesman-Review Letter to the Editor
Bicylists should be seen

Though I haven’t for many years been on a bicycle, I applaud those who choose to do so for commuting, exercise and recreation, particularly when they obey the “laws of the road.” I do have one suggestion, however: That cyclists wear colorful clothing.

Recently, at dusk, mine was the first car at a local stop sign, about to turn right. On that particular corner, there are several political posters, a light standard and a utility pole. Just as I pulled out, a cyclist darted from the curb, amongst all that, and in front of me, wearing a helmet (that’s good!) and gray sweats. Fortunately, I saw him just in time.

City utility and private company construction workers are required to wear some neon reflective colors for their own visibility and safety. Cyclists should take the hint, whether it’s “cool” or not, and do likewise.

Janet Orr

I think I'd of been more mad about the bicyclist jumping out in front of her from the curb, but I guess you have to choose your battles.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Interesting little twist on the bicycle agenda... hmmm

Bike agenda spins cities toward U.N. control, candidate warns

Republican gubernatorial candidate Dan Maes is warning voters that Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper's policies, particularly his efforts to boost bike riding, are "converting Denver into a United Nations community."

"This is all very well-disguised, but it will be exposed," Maes told about 50 supporters who showed up at a campaign rally last week in Centennial.

Maes said in a later interview that he once thought the mayor's efforts to promote cycling and other environmental initiatives were harmless and well-meaning. Now he realizes "that's exactly the attitude they want you to have." Read more here

Washington State Transportation Plan Draft Available

The Washington State Transportation Commission has released the draft Washington Transportation Plan (WTP 2030) for public review and comment.

WTP 2030 is a 20-year plan Washington State’s transportation system. It identifies long-term funding shortfalls, service needs, and system wide challenges along with suggested solutions and approaches aimed at moving our transportation network into the future. Once finalized, the plan will be submitted to the Governor and the 2011 Legislature.

Public input is an important part of developing WTP 2030. In September, the Commission will hold five “listening sessions,” including one here in Spokane the afternoon of September 23. I'll provide more info on that as we get closer to the date.

If you don't want to wait to get a look at the WTP 2030, you can view it here. You can also submit public input there. The plan is expected to be finalized and approved in December.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Bridge Lane Closures

City of Spokane crews will be doing maintenance work on the Stevens and Maple Street Bridges. Crews will have one lane closed to traffic on the Stevens Street Bridge until Wednesday evening, August 4.

Once work on the Stevens Street Bridge is completed, crews will move to Maple Street Bridge. While crews are working on the Maple Street Bridge, between 7:30 a.m. and 3 p.m., there will be one lane closed to traffic.

Hit & Run Driver Turns Self In

A driver that struck and injured a bicyclist in Spokane Valley early Sunday morning has turned himself in to police. This article from the Spokesman-Review about the incident says it started with a disparaging remark about the driver's girlfriend.

New Bike Shop Downtown

Has anyone visited the new bicycle shop downtown yet? It's called Breaking Away Bicycle Company at 335 W. Sprague. I'm heading down there in a little while to drop off bike maps but thought I'd ask if anyone is familiar with it yet.

This is making the most of your transit system...

Photo by: ZUMApress.com
Hindu devotees travel on the roof of a train after participating in Guru Purnima Festival in Mathura, India. Guru Purnima Festival is celebrated by paying tribute to teachers by disciples or students.

Man this photo was so good... I had to share it.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Police Search For Hit & Run Driver

Spokane Valley police are searching for a hit-and-run driver who struck a bicyclist early Sunday near Sprague Avenue and Dearborn Street.

The bicyclist, a 42-year-old man who hasn't been publicly identified yet, appeared to have been run over or possibly dragged along the street. He is in critical condition, according to the Spokesman-Review.

Witnesses say the driver was in a small red car.

Odds and Ends

Work starts on the new runway at Spokane International Airport, legislation under consideration by the Senate would provide $1 million for new STA paratransit vehicles, and the latest contract for the North Spokane Corridor has been awarded. Here's a roundup of transportation happenings in Spokane from the Spokesman's 'Getting There' column.

Why Not Electric Planes?

Electric cars are very common these days- so why not electric planes? That's what Boeing thought, and now they're working on a concept airplane that is propelled by turbine engines and electric motors.

Here's the story from the Spokesman-Review.

Vision Roundtable Meetings This Week

Here's your reminder that we've got a full slate of meetings for our Transportation Vision Project this week. Here's what's coming up:

• Tuesday, Aug. 3- Roundtable Meeting: Transit, 6-8 p.m., West Central Community Center, 1603 N. Belt, Spokane

• Wednesday, Aug. 4- Roundtable Meeting: Seniors, 9-11 a.m., Corbin Senior Center, 827 W. Cleveland, Spokane

• Wednesday, Aug. 4- Roundtable Meeting: Families/Children, 6-8 p.m., Corbin Senior Center, 827 W. Cleveland, Spokane

So get out and attend a meeting! Tell your friends! We can't make your 'vision' happen if we don't know what it is.

US 395 Lane Restrictions

Southbound US 395 will be reduced to one lane in the vicinity of the Hatch Road Interchange to provide for slow moving trucks entering the roadway. This lane restriction will be intermittent over the next few weeks. In general, US 395, between Wandermere Road and the north end of the Little Spokane River Bridge is reduced to one lane in each direction. Drivers should expect delays.

This is a long-term lane restriction to allow room for the contractor to continue construction of the NSC/US 395 interchange bridges. In addition, detours for wide loads over 10 feet on US 395 between Wandermere Road and the Hatch Road interchange, is in place.

Lots Of City Projects Starting Today

The City of Spokane has a plethora of construction projects starting this week. Here's what's on tap:

- The project to rehabilitate Second Avenue from Sunset Highway to Howard Street starts today. Secondwill be reduced to one lane of traffic.

The $2.1 million project is being funded by the 10-Year Street Bond and City of Spokane Water Department and Wastewater.

- The project to rehabilitate Addison and Standard streets from Francis Avenue to Colton Place and Beacon Avenue from Dakota Street to Nevada Street also starts today. The project includes upgrading stormwater drains and installing ADA curb ramps. A detour is in place.

The $1.7 million project is being funded by the 10-Year Street Bond and City of Spokane Wastewater Department.

- A project to replace water mains in Hartson and 11th Avenues starts today, from Havana Street to Sherman Street. The project will also repair the following streets: 11th Avenue from Altamont Blvd. to Julia Street and N. Altamont Boulevard from 11th to Ninth avenues; and Ninth Avenue from Perry to Julia streets. Ninth Ave. from Hatch Rd. to Crestline Street is closed to motorists. Detours are in place, and local access is being maintained.

The $3.5 million project is funded by the City of Spokane Water Department and 10-Year Street Bond.

- A project to rehabilitate Northwest Blvd. from Alberta to Maple streets gets underway this week. It includes a concrete intersection at Northwest Blvd. and Cochran St., and installing ADA curb ramps where necessary. Northwest Blvd. from Ash to Alberta streets is reduced to one lane in each direction. Additionally, Alberta St. is closed at Northwest Blvd., and Cochran St./T.J. Meenach Bridge is closed to southbound motorists at its intersection with Northwest Blvd. The detour is Wellesley or Garland avenues to Ash St. then to Maxwell Ave., onto Pettit Dr. and vice-versa.

The $1.9 million project is being funded by the 10-Year Street Bond and Spokane Transit Authority.

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.