Monday, December 30, 2013

Government Offices Closed Wednesday

Don't forget- all government offices will be closed Wednesday for the New Year's holiday, including SRTC. Everything reopens on January 2. Posts on this blog won't resume until January 6 though as the boss has given me a couple days off. Have a great new year and check back next Monday!

How To Overhaul the Gas Tax?

With transportation infrastructure falling apart before our eyes and little money to fix it, there has been much talk recently about modernizing the gas tax. It's been at the same rate for two decades, at 18.4 cents a gallon for regular gasoline.

The big debate in recent years has been how to bring a tax increase into the 21st century. Lawmakers worry that just jacking it up would be extremely unpopular with taxpayers right now and are looking for a more equitable way to spread the cost, such as paying based on how much you drive.

The New York Times weighs in on the debate in an editorial, suggesting a system based on something called a "ton mile." Here's the article.

Computer Glitch Gives Fliers Incredible Deals

I'm never in the right place at the right time! A computer glitch on the Delta Air Lines site last Thursday gave some people crazy deals on flights. A roundtrip flight between Cincinnati and Minneapolis was sold for just $25 and a roundtrip between Cincinnati and Salt Lake City for $48. The correct price for both of those fares is more than $400. Here's the story.

Spokesman-Review Summarizes Our Horizon 2040 Plan

Since our Horizon 2040 plan was adopted by the SRTC Board in December, I've been pretty quiet on
the topic. The Spokesman-Review followed up though with a recap of it in today's paper.
I'll let someone else talk about the plan for a change.

New DUI Program Begins January 1

The Spokesman-Review is reporting that the Washington State Patrol is starting a new DUI enforcement program on New Year’s Day. The pilot program means tougher punishments for some intoxicated drivers in five areas of the state, including Spokane.

The new program goes into effect in Chelan, Spokane and Thurston counties, as well as in the cities of Kent and Centralia.
Drivers charged with their second DUI in these areas may be required to do daily monitoring of substance use. That means they will either report to jail twice a day to give a breath test or pay more for an ankle monitor.
Offenders pay for the tests and if they fail, they go to jail.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Worst Drivers By State

We all claim the people around us are the worst drivers ever. And you may not be wrong. The website recently came up with a list of worst drivers by state. And actually, Washington came out pretty good, so maybe we don't have as many red light runners and left lane campers as I always complain about.

The list of the top ten worst drivers by state is here. And if you scroll down, you can see how all 50 of the states rank, plus the methodology used to determine the rankings.

Snow On Super Bowl Sunday Won't Cause Traffic Issues At the Stadium

This year's Super Bowl is the first to be played outside in a cold-weather climate. On what is often the coldest and snowiest week of the year. A recipe for snarled traffic and paralyzed parking lots caused by snow at MetLife Stadium?

Not according to the Super Bowl Host Committee and the New Jersey Department of Transportation. They say bring on the snow, they're prepared with snow melters, wreckers to clear accidents quickly and brine to pretreat roads to keep ice from forming.

The Top Transportation Challenges For 2014

Last week I posted about the top transportation stories from 2013. This week, let's take a look at the challenges expected for 2014. And there are some big ones. According to the "Governing" website, safety and oversight are going to be key topics to tackle in the coming year.

Here are the top five transportation issues for 2014, according to Governing.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Top 13 Transportation Stories of 2013

A lot happened this year in the world of transportation. We got a new U.S. Transportation Secretary, a Washington State bridge collapsed, driverless vehicles and drones became new buzzwords, Bertha started tunneling under Seattle on a tunnel to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct, and much, much more.

But what were the top transportation stories of the year?

The website "Governing" counts down the top 13 transportation happenings of 2013.

Disabled Drivers May No Longer Get Free Parking

The state of Washington is considering ending free on-street parking for most disabled drivers because disabled parking passes are being abused.
A new report to the Legislature recommends people who can feed coins into a meter should pay.

More than 700,000 Washington drivers have disabled parking permits. The report also looked into whether disabled parking placards are too easy to get and the extent of abuse happening.

The Spokesman-Review has the story.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Area Government Offices Closed Wednesday

Here's your reminder that local government offices will be closed Wednesday for Christmas, and Spokane City Hall closes at noon on Tuesday (Christmas Eve).

Parking meters don’t have to be plugged on Wednesdays but do have to be on Thursday.  All government offices will be back open Thursday to help you again.

A Little of This; A Little of That

An asphalt causeway in the middle of Country Homes Boulevard north of Five Mile Road is going to be removed and replaced in a major construction project next year. Buses will be on holiday schedule this Wednesday, and travel is expected to be up this holiday season from recent years.

The Spokesman-Review's "Getting There" columns rounds up everything happening in local transportation this week.

What Can Stop The World's Biggest Drilling Machine? Possibly Megatron?

Big Bertha has ground to a halt. Literally. The giant boring machine that is being used to drill a tunnel under Seattle for the SR 99 construction project has been stopped in it's tracks by an unidentified object.

No big deal, just dig out the rock that's jamming it right? Not so much. Big Bertha is designed to not be stopped by ANYTHING so there's a lot of speculation as to what brought the big drill to a stop.

Some people think the mystery object in question is a giant ice age boulder, buried train engines or other debris from when fill was used to make a solid base out of a wetlands to build the city on, or (my favorite speculation) that it's Megatron.

What do you think it is? Read the Gizmodo article here and let me know if you have any insights of your own.

Give Your Input on the Updated Spokane County Regional Trail Plan

Spokane County Parks and Recreation, working in collaboration with the Inland Northwest Trails Coalition (INTC), has updated the Spokane County Regional Trail Plan and wants your input on it.  The Plan identifies policies and specific projects that could further the development of an interconnected system of non-motorized trails that will serve commuters and recreationalists.

An open house is scheduled for Tuesday, January 7, 2014, at REI (1125 N. Monroe St.), from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on the plan. Staff will be available to answer questions and receive input.  In addition, a display for the Plan Update will be available for viewing at STA Plaza from December 20th through January 3, 2014. 

To read the Spokane County Regional Trail Plan Update and provide comment via email, go to and click on the “Regional Trail Plan” link. 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

WA First State DOT to Adopt Manual That Encourages Bike/Ped and Transit Innovations

This is pretty cool! The Washington state Department of Transportation is the first state DOT to endorse the Urban Street Design Guide put out by the National Association of City Transportation Officials’ (NACTO).

The manual provides instruction on creating treatments like protected bike lanes, transit-priority streets, and parklets, which aren’t included in standard American engineering guides.

 Lack of official recognition by state DOTs can make it difficult to install some amenities, especially on streets classified as state highways. But Washington cities and towns will have more flexibility to do so. Here's more from DC Streetsblog.

New Survey Has Some Disapointing Results When It Comes To Distracted Driving

A new survey by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety says has some disappointing results when it comes to using phones while driving. More than 40 percent of people between 19 and 39 years old said they text while driving, and more than half talk on the phone while behind the wheel.

In 2012, the number of roadway deaths linked to distracted driving was 3,328, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administratio.

State Transportation Package On Hold Until Next Session

If you follow transportation much, you've probably heard that negotiations have failed to produce a new state tax package for transportation projects this year.

In a statement released last night, Governor Jay Inslee and House and Senate transportation leaders said they’ll try again when lawmakers meet next month for the regular legislative session.

The legislature struggled all year to reach agreement on a transportation plan, even making it one of hte subjects of a special session in November.

Inslee had hoped to settle on a transportation package by the end of the year in order to better make a case that Boeing should build its new 777X line here, as the company has said it would like to see transportation infrastructure improvements.

Here's more from the Spokesman-Review.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

2014 WSDOT Project List and Map Available Online

The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) has their preliminary lineup of 2014 highway construction projects available now. Those projects and a locator map are posted on their website. 

There are three major projects continuing from 2013—the NSC/Francis Avenue Bridge replacement, NSC/Rail Realignment project, and the US 195/Cheney-Spokane Road Interchange work.

Three major paving jobs next year include Interstate 90, two sections of US 2, and resurfacing on SR 904.  The list includes chip-sealing on 127 miles of two lane highways, lighting upgrades on I-90, some rail crossing upgrades, and new traffic cameras on US 195.

The list and map can be viewed here.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Airports Are the Most Frequently Checked Into U.S. Places on Foursquare

Do you use Foursquare? If so, what is the most common place you check into? Restaurants? Your work? Coffee hosues? It turns out airports are the most frequently checked into places on Foursquare in America.

This week, Foursquare released the most popular places to eat, party and do all kinds of other things, based on the numbers of people checking into locations. All ten of the top places checked into in the U.S. in 2013 were airports, and the 11th is also a transportation venue, New York's Penn Station. Hmmm.... interesting.

Monday, December 16, 2013

SRTC Board Says Goodbye To Several Members

SRTC's Board will have a new feel next year, because it will have several new members. Last Thursday's Board meeting was the last for five members who won't be returning because their terms are up. Those members include Spokane City Councilmember Nancy McLaughlin, Spokane Valley City Councilmember Gary Schimmels, Rockford Mayor Mickie Harnois (representing small towns and cities), Spokane City Engineer Inga Note (2013 Chair of the Transportation Technical Committee) and citizen Paul Kropp (2013 Chair of the Transportation Advisory Committee).

Each jurisdiction with a member coming off the Board will choose a new representative in January to sit on SRTC's Board. The area's many small cities and towns choose from whomever is interested in sitting on the Board. When there is more than one person interested, a vote is taken.

2013 Improvements to the Centennial Trail

Asphalt Repair
A volunteer helps repair the
trail in October.
Since 2011, the Friends of the Centennial Trail's Trail Builder's Fund has funded $59,950 in Centennial Trail improvements.  Here's what money went to in 2013:
  • - $12,500 for the purchase of an asphalt repair/crack seal machine, which will be used to repair asphalt along the entire Centennial Trail. The machine will be owned and maintained by Riverside State Park.
- $450 to Spokane County for 3 bike route, 3 directional and 2 stop signs at the newly completed Centennial Trail realignment at WA/ID state line Gateway Park.

Future Trail Builder's Fund gifts will be made for gap completion projects and Trail sustainability projects, but donations are relied upon to do so.  If you can help out, there are two ways to make a gift:

1. Online here or
2.  Mail in your donation (payable to Friends of the Centennial Trail) to Friends of the Centennial Trail, P.O. Box 351, Spokane, WA 99210

Local Road Construction Update

Westbound Mission just west of Thierman - Reduced to one lane from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. from Monday, December 16 through Friday, December 20 for utility work. 

Southbound Dishman, Mica just south of Appleway - Reduced to one lane on Monday, December 16 from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. 

Riverpark Square Lane Closure- One westbound lane of Spokane Falls Blvd. is closed during busy shopping times and flaggers are on site to direct vehicles leaving the Riverpark Square parking garage just west of Post St. This year's schedule is:  

§  Friday, Dec. 20, 2 – 7 p.m.
§  Saturday, Dec. 21, 2 – 7 p.m.
§  Monday, Dec. 23, 1 – 6 p.m.
§  Tuesday, Dec. 24, 1 – 7 p.m.
§  Thursday, Dec. 26, 2 – 7 p.m.

Greene St. Bridge Work- A project to increase the life of the Greene Street Bridge over the Spokane River is under way.  Motorists should anticipate lane restrictions on the bridge and on Greene Street between South Riverton Avenue and Upriver Drive. The work on the bridge will improve its load rating, allowing larger trucks and loads to use the bridge.  The project includes installing fiber-reinforced polymer to the bridge deck and floor beams. 

North Spokane Corridor/Francis Avenue Bridge and Intersection Improvements- Traffic is in the new winter traffic configuration which has Market Street as single lanes each direction through the Market/Francis intersection on the west half of Market Street.  Francis Avenue is operating as single lanes in each direction on the new bridge. No left turns are allowed at the intersection from Market Street to Francis Avenue, but are allowed from Francis Avenue to Market Street, and right turns are allowed on all approaches.  In addition, traffic on the east end of the project is running in the winter traffic configuration as well as at the Francis/Freya intersection. At and through that intersection, westbound traffic is shifted diagonally into a single westbound lane.

US 195/Cheney-Spokane Road Interchange- Bridge pier work in the median may require lane restrictions.  In general, northbound US 195 drivers need to be alert for slow traffic entering the highway left lane from Cheney-Spokane Road.  The dedicated northbound acceleration lane has been removed.  The northbound left turn lane remains closed and is signed for no left turns.   US 195 northbound drivers must use Qualchan Road to access Cheney-Spokane Road.  The southbound off ramp to Cheney-Spokane Road is open to traffic.  Vehicles must use this off ramp as no right turns are allowed from southbound US 195 to Cheney-Spokane Road.  This temporary configuration will be in place during the winter work.  Full construction will resume in the spring.

Market Street Upgrade Coming In 2014

Market Street in the Mead area will be rebuilt from Farwell Road to Parksmith Drive next year. The Federal Aviation Administration has released a study saying the Spokane Tribe’s proposed casino in Airway Heights does not pose a danger to air traffic. And there's a bunch of other stuff happening in transportation this week. The Spokesman-Review's "Getting There" column rounds up the latest.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

It's Official- SRTC Board Approves Horizon 2040 Plan

That sound you heard a little while ago was the sigh of relief staff let out when our Board approved our Horizon 2040 plan after almost two years of developing it.

This is a BIG day for us. Our Transportation Planner Ryan, the one with the crazy look in his eye to the left, put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into this plan. Actually that may have been my tears but I know Ryan invested a lot. And all he got was this lousy cake. And a lot of satisfaction.

So we celebrate tonight, Ryan takes an extended vacation, then we get back on the horse on January 1 putting the plan into action. So stay tuned, Horizon 2040 won't just go on a shelf now.

Bicycle Alliance Asks For City To Address Concerns About Eliminating Bike/Ped Coordinator Position

As part of the 2014 budget, the City of Spokane has eliminated the Bike/Pedestrian Coordinator position. I've been hearing from a lot of people who consider this a step backward in making our community a safe and pleasant one for people to ride in.

The Bicycle Alliance of Washington is calling for more discussion on this topic with a petition they're asking people to sign. The petition says:

"We the undersigned ask for a constructive public discussion about our multimodal future and for a public commitment to specific, measurable goals, progress reports, and process improvements that move us–together–beyond a cars-first approach."

Interested in signing the petition or learning more? Here's the Bicycle Alliance website.

New Signs Indicate When Ice Is Present

Sometimes you're just not sure if the pavement is just wet, or if there's ice on it. The Asotin County Public Works Department is trying something new to get drivers to slow down. They've recently installed reflectors that turn blue when the area gets below freezing. A few have been installed around steep grades.

TSA Disarms Potentially Dangerous Sock Monkey Doll

Good work TSA, you've disarmed a potentially dangerous sock monkey!

The Transportation Security Administration seized a tiny tony pistol from a cowboy themed sock monkey at the St. Louis Airport recently. The woman transporting the monkey makes them and says she was "appalled and shocked and embarrassed" by the incident.

The TSA issued a statement this week saying under "longstanding aircraft security policy, and out of an abundance of caution, realistic replicas of firearms are prohibited in carry-on bags."

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Are Billionaires The New Driving Force In Improvements To Tranpsortation?

Crazy or inspired?
So we all realize by now that getting major projects done in the world of transportation is a slim chance at best. Look at the North Spokane Corridor. Even now that it's underway, it's not clear where the funding will come from to ever finish it. And installing light rail or high speed transit systems? Considering the economic and political climate, it's not looking good.

So, knowing that the government isn't going to foot the bill and public-private partnerships are drying up because businesses are being hit hard, who is going to build all this stuff?

Bring in the billionaires. More and more celebrities are now championing the transportation cause. Jeff Bezos of Amazon wants to use drones. PayPal lead-man Elon Musk has proposed the "Hyperloop" and Richard Branson has his own airline and wants to take people to the moon.

Are they crazy or the new force in getting things done? Politico looks at the reality of the situation and how feasible each billionaire's ideas are.

Transportation Technical Committee Meeting Next Week

How does the month go this fast? It's already time for the monthly meeting of the Transportation Technical Committee again. The TTC meets next Wednesday, Dec. 18 here at SRTC. Here's the link. come visit if you would like. We LOVE visitors!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

What says "Holiday Joy" More Than Cabbies?

What do you get that hard-to-buy for loved one who has everything? How about the gift that keeps on giving, the 2014 NYC Taxi Driver Pinup Calendar?

Each month features one of New York’s cabbies in a different pose, from taking a selfie to reading a trashy erotic novel. This work of art will cost you a well-worth-it $14.99 and 100% of the net proceeds go to a social services organization.

Here are more of the pictures, if cabbies are your thing.

Give 'Em The Boot! City Council Agrees To Get Tough With Repeat Parking Offenders

This is no fashion boot
Did you know that the City of Spokane has about 85,000 unpaid parking tickets, worth about $4 million in fines? That's a lot of money! Well they're aiming to get that money back, with an update to the parking code the City Council approved last night.

That update includes using "the boot" on the cars of parkers who have multiple unpaid parking tickets.

Another proposed update to the code that would require parkers to pay on holidays such as Martin Luther King Jr., Presidents, Columbus and Veterans days was voted down.

The Spokesman-Review has a summary of all the changes to the code that were passed last night.

Spokane Valley Top In Nation Among Women Bicyclists!

Congratulations to the City of Spokane Valley for being ranked as a "Top City for Women Bicyclists" by The League of American Bicyclists (TLAB)!  According to a news release from Spokane Valley, the ranking is based on Spokane Valley's higher than average bicycle commuter rate of 1.1 percent, which is almost twice the national average of .6 percent.   

Spokane Valley's top ranking was cited in TLAB's report "Where We Ride:  An Analysis of Bicycling in American Cities."  Data for the report was gleaned from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey for 2012, which includes statistics on commuting habits.

Spokane Valley has a Bike and Pedestrian Master Program (BPMP) aimed at increasing bicycling that includes an inventory of the city's existing bicycle network and recommendations for future enhancements.  Right now, there are about 76 miles of bike lanes and recommended bike friendly routes as well as 9 miles of pedestrian/bicyclist shared use pathways. 

 The City is also working on a bicycle tourism map of Spokane Valley to be released around the end of the year. More information about Spokane Valley's Bike and Pedestrian Master Program is available at

Monday, December 9, 2013

Transportation Advisory Committee Meeting One Week Early In December

Normally the Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC) meets the fourth Monday of every month, but with that Monday falling the week of Christmas this year, we're moving it up a week. That means the TAC meeting is next Monday, December 16 at 3 p.m. here at SRTC.  The agenda is here.

Everyone is welcome at these meetings so if you see something that grabs your interest on the agenda, feel free to attend.

Sight Impaired Europeans Ask For Noisier Cars

Car makers in Europe may soon start building a special alert system into hybrid and other quiet cars, as a safety measure for people with sight impairments and other vulnerable populations.

Research shows that hybrid and electric cars have higher collision rates due to their quiet engines. People with sight impairments can't hear them coming and often think there's not traffic and it's safe to cross the street. has the story.

Cargo Bikes Gaining Popularity In U.S.

While cargo bikes have been popular for years in other countries, the use of them is finally picking up in the U.S. An article in today's Spokesman-Review says fishermen in Seattle use them to haul fish, families are carrying kids on them to school and daycare and Portland breweries are using the bikes to deliver beer.

Cargo bikes can refer to any bike that hauls heavy loads. Many models out now are built to handle multiple people or loads up to about 400 pounds on a single frame. The article, and more on cargo bikes, is here.

U.S. 195 Work Won't Be Finished This Year

Work on a new interchange at U.S. Highway 195 and Cheney-Spokane Road won’t be completed this year as originally anticipated, the city of Spokane is eliminating the position of bike and pedestrian coordinator and there's an item up for grabs that would make for unique Christmas presents.

The Spokesman-Review's "Getting There" column has all the news in local transportation.

University District Bridge Open House

The City of Spokane wants your input on the proposed University District Bridge. They're hosting an open house tomorrow to provide anyone interested with an update on the project and to take questions and input.

The open house is from 4:30-6:30 p.m. at the WSU Spokane South Campus Facility, Room 100, 412 E. Spokane Falls Boulevard.

The City would like to see the southern area of the district developed into a vibrant mixed use area that includes housing and services for the college campuses to the north and for the Medical District on the south.

The U-District Bridge would connect the the two areas (the southern commercial area and the northern institutional area) of the U-District bisected by the BNSF railroad tracks.

For more information on the project, come to the open house or visit

Friday, December 6, 2013

New Cell Phone Shuts Down If you Try To Text While Walking

Want to text while walking? Denied! A new Japanese cell phone has a "safety mode" that locks the device if you try to use it when walking. Once you stop walking, it can be used again. So will people buy that? Hard to say.

Here are the details on it from CNet.

Policy Board Will Be Asked to Approve Horizon 2040 Next Week

Hard to believe but it's already time for another monthly meeting of the SRTC Board. And the final one of the year. Where did 2013 go?? The December meeting is next Thursday, Dec. 12 at 1 p.m. here at SRTC.

This meeting is a big one for us because the Board will be asked to approve the Horizon 2040 plan. I'm hoping confetti and a disco ball will descend from the ceiling when this happens because staff has been working on this plan for almost two years now and are eager to see it "officially" approved.

Here is the meeting agenda. As always, everyone is welcome at our Board meetings, so if you want to see a bunch of transportation planners high 5 each other, feel free to attend.

Local Construction Update- Work Winding Down

North Spokane Corridor/Francis Avenue Bridge and Intersection Improvements- Traffic is running in the new winter traffic configuration which has Market Street as single lanes in each direction through the Market/Francis intersection on the west half of Market Street.  Francis Avenue is operating as single lanes in each direction on the new bridge. No left turns are allowed at the intersection from Market Street to Francis Avenue, but are allowed from Francis Avenue to Market Street, and right turns are allowed on all approaches.  In addition, traffic on the east end of the project is running in the winter traffic configuration as well as at the Francis/Freya intersection. At and through that intersection, the westbound traffic is shifted into a single westbound lane.
US 195/Cheney-Spokane Road Interchange- Northbound US 195 drivers need to be alert for slow traffic entering the highway left lane from Cheney-Spokane Road.  The dedicated northbound acceleration lane has been removed.  The northbound left turn lane remains closed and is signed for no left turns. US 195 northbound drivers must use Qualchan Road to access Cheney-Spokane Road.  The southbound off ramp to Cheney-Spokane Road is open to traffic.  Vehicles must use this off ramp as no right turns are allowed from southbound US 195 to Cheney-Spokane Road.  This temporary configuration will be in place during the winter work. 
Mission from Bradley to Thierman - Reduced to one lane from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. from Monday, December 9 through Friday, December 13 for utility work. 
Riverpark Square Holiday Lane Closures- Every Holiday season River Park Square closes one westbound lane and provides flagging operation to allow vehicles to leave the parking garage just west of Post Street.  Below find this year’s schedule:

§  Friday, December 13, 2013 (2 p.m. – 7 p.m.)
§  Saturday, December 14, 2013 (2 p.m. – 7 p.m.)
§  Friday, December 20, 2013 (2 p.m. – 7 p.m.)
§  Saturday, December 21, 2013 (2 p.m. – 7 p.m.)
§  Monday, December 23, 2013 (1 p.m. – 6 p.m.)
§  Tuesday, December 24, 2013 (1 p.m. – 7 p.m.) – Christmas Eve
§  Thursday, December 26, 2013 (2 p.m. – 7 p.m.)
Greene Street Bridge Work- A project to increase the life of the Greene Street Bridge over the Spokane River continues.  There are lane restrictions on the bridge and on Greene Street between South Riverton Avenue and Upriver Drive. The work on the bridge will improve its load rating, allowing larger trucks and loads to use the bridge.  The project includes installing fiber-reinforced polymer to the bridge deck and floor beams.
Liberty Street Construction Complete- Construction to rehabilitate Liberty from Oak Street to Ash Place and Ash Place from Liberty to Dalton complete.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Baltimore Rolls Out New Artist-Designed Crosswalks

Downtown Baltimore is getting cerrraaazzzyyy with it's crosswalks. The city is replacing it's traditional white lines with clever graphics created by area artists in order to improve the pedestrian experience.

One is even a hopscotch board that takes you across the street! Hopefully not to be confused with the game Frogger that many people play trying to run across the street and dodge cars.

FastCompany has a look at some of the cool designs.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Nashville Getting Alternative To Taxis

Lyft drivers adorn their vehicles with pink mustaches.If you do any travelling to Nashville and notice cars with big, pink, furry mustaches on them, it's not just because the owners have a sense of humor. The 'staches are to identify the cars as Lyft cars, part of a new carsharing program that lets car owners make a little extra money with their spare time or give people rides to destinations they're already headed to.

NashvilleBizBlog has the story of Lyft.

New Report Says More Kids Are Walking To School

When I was a kid, I walked to school everyday. It wasn't far but I have some really good memories of the fun we used to have in those six blocks with my brother and the other neighborhood kids. It was just far enough to run our energy out but not enough time to get in trouble because we were unsupervised.

In recent decades, walking or bicycling to school has dramatically declined. This has been linked to the childhood obesity epidemic, a big share of morning rush hour traffic, and even kids’ lack of attention in class. Good news though, a new report by the National Cetner for Safe Routes to School shows that more kids are starting to walk to school again. Bicycling seems to be staying flat however.

So why the change? Are more parents working and not able to drive their kids to school? Are parents not as worried about safety issues in the past? Are buses less available due to economic issues?
The DC Streetsblog looks at the data.

Bill Proposes to Raise Federal Gas Tax By 15 Cents Per Gallon

A House bill produced yesterday by Rep. Earl Blumenaur (D-Ore.) would raise the federal gas tax by 15 cents per gallon. That would raise the federal tax on gas to 33.4 cents per gallon and on diesel to 42.8 cents. The increased amount of money raised by the tax would go toward maintaining transportation infrastructure. The Washington Post has the details.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Youth Facing Transportation Barriers Need Help

Over the past two years of working on the Horizon 2040 plan, we found out first-hand how transportation can be a major barrier for young adults trying to make it in the world. Without a car, it is hard for many to maintain a job, but without a job they can't afford a car! I talked to a young man over the summer who had to quit his job when his car broke down.

A member of our Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC) works for the Next Generation Zone, a subsidiary of Goodwill Industries that helps young, at-risk people between the ages of 16 and 21 with employment and education. She has told us over and over that her "kids" struggle with transportation issues and many of them show up at her office on skateboards as their main form of transportation.

With the end of the year coming, I know that many of you work for companies that have to donate a certain amount each year in order to get tax writeoffs. If you are looking for something to donate to that helps youth and the economy, please consider donating toward 2 hour bus passes that help these young people get to jobs, and in turn, reach their goals. You can either make donations directly to Goodwill and designate them as being for the Next Generation Zone or contact Jessica at for more information on how to help.

Thanks for any help you can provide.

What Gains 50,000 Pounds in 15 Minutes?

You're going to fit all this WHERE?
So, say you can fit about 200 people on a Boeing 737. And each of those people brings about a 40 pound bag onboard (since 50 pounds is the limit). How much weight does that add to a plane that already weighs around 80,000 pounds? That's about an additional 50,000 pounds in 15 minutes! Holy cow, can a plane handle that?

The Core77 blog takes a look at how this quick weight gain works, and what keeps it from getting overloaded.

Household Vehicle Ownership By County

This is pretty cool. The folks over at the "Vizual Statistix" blog mapped vehicle ownership across the country and found some pretty interesting stuff. They looked at the average number of vehicles per household, the number of households with more vehicles than people and the percentage of households without a vehicle.

The most vehicles per household are around the Northern Rockies and Great Plains, as well as northern Virginia. The nine counties with the highest averages are in North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, and Nebraska. The nine counties with the lowest averages are in New York and Alaska. And there are lots more cool statistics on the blog page here.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Work Resumes On State Transportation Package

Legislators resume negotiations today on a state transportation package after the long weekend. Governor Inslee is hoping legislators will be able to reach a deal in time to pass a bill before Christmas or soon after the new year. This would require a special session of the Legislature.

Transportation Issues Daily looks at the compomises that have been made to date by the House and Senate in an effort to reach an agreement.

Public Open House For Transportation Improvement Program Update

One of the mandates of the federal government is that our Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) has to be consistent with our long-range transportation program, which makes sense. We recently updated our long-range plan, known as Horizon 2040, which means we had to update our TIP as well, to make sure they reflect each other.

The TIP is a four-year funding program document that lists transportation improvements proposed by jurisdictions within Spokane County. It identifies specific programs or projects they plan to build or undertake during the upcoming four years.

Another government requirement is that whenever you make substantial changes to either document, they have to go through a public comment period, including a meeting to give members of the public a chance to review and comment on the documents.

The TIP is out to a public comment period right now, and an
 open house is scheduled for tomorrow, Tuesday, December 3 from 3:30-5:30 p.m. It will be held at SRTC's office,  221 W. First Ave., Suite 310, Spokane, WA 99201. 
The TIP can be viewed at If you'd like to submit comments but cannot attend the open house, the public comment period goes through 4 p.m. on December 11, 2013. Comments may be emailed to, mailed to SRTC at the address above, or phoned in to (509) 343-6370.

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.