Friday, October 12, 2007

If only every year could be an election year...

It's been a banner year for the city of Spokane with regard to cycling. SE Blvd got striped. The Bicycle Advisory Board finally got the City to give us some city time/heads to help develop a Master Bike Plan. BAW is now beginning to pay a lot more attention to local politics and is even talking about putting a PT head in Spokane to help us push bicycle-friendly policy through the local government.

I'd like to think this is the result of the work we've been doing on the newly-refreshed Bicycle Advisory Board over the last year. The entire board has been updated and there's a bunch of passionate and hard-working folks doing a lot of extra-curricular work to make things happen. No doubt that has had something to do with these changes.

But there's also a subtle shift going on in Spokane. Spokane is growing up as a city. It's finally beginning to see itself as a city that is cool by its own rights. That it's not simply, the "second biggest city in Washington," or the "biggest city between Seattle and Chicago." Folks seem to be realizing that being a big city is not that great and that is what's so attractive about Spokane. We're seeing a huge increase in folks from bigger cities moving to Spokane for the quality of life and because it's not a big city and as cheesy as it sounds, we really are near nature. Now we just need to work on the "near perfect" part. I think most of these newcomers and the folks that have grown up here are seeing a very real potential to shape Spokane into a great city. Dare I say "world class?"

I think that's the reason we're seeing seeing all of this stuff happen in an election year. There's a general awakening and realization that quality of life matters a lot. That investing in stuff like public pools, parks, bike and pedestrian facilities actually may pay off economically by attracting smart people and companies to relocate here.

Oh yeah. And we're likely to see $4+/gallon by this time next year. It's no secret. Smart folks are looking ahead to a time when driving a mile to the store is even more of a silly financial decision than it is now. Walking and riding a bike will begin to make more and more sense financially in the years that come, regardless of what the big pols would like us to think.


The latest BIG NEWS: it looks like the city is going to push through bike blvd "proofs of concept" BEFORE the election. That's two weeks away by the way. We're talking about getting the signs and stripes laid down in the next two weeks. Yow.

The word on the street is that North Post from Francis to Garland will become a Bike Blvd and Hatch on the South Hill from 17th to 29th. I think Post is a great candidate. This will nearly make a continuous route from downtown that is pretty ridable for most. The Hatch decision -- I could think of a couple other candidates if you wanted to test effectiveness that would be much better (especially E-W route across 33rd-34th: from High Drive, passing by Comstock, Sac, Library, All Saints, and into SE) -- but that's just my opinion.

The bottom line: it would be so flippin cool if we got some Bike Blvds out of the election year. The Post route will be used heavily by many folks for sure. Let's hope the design is solid; it doesn't sound like there will be much in the way of input solicitation.


nathan said...

Twice All American...

Jason said...

Hatch between 29 and 17th is actually a fairly good north south bike blvd candidate in my opinion. That section of Hatch is part of the low traffic winter route down the South Hill that I've been figuring out lately. Rockwood can be brutal on slick snowy mornings with it's typical commuter traffic so I'm hoping that Upper Terrace (a block east from Hatch on 17th or 18th) will be a safer way to descend the steepest part of the hill in that situation.

I agree that 33rd would be a logical east west candidate, but the section between Grand and Bernard is pretty heavily utilized by cars and buses because of Sac so I would be shocked if it ever got approved. 34th from Grand to Crestline or Altamont seems like a more promising option though since it's pretty residential.

At any rate, I'm just happy to see some trial bike blvds at this point.

GIGOwiz said...

North Post between Francis and Garland? Do you mean North Wall? I take that route southbound to work in the morning. Traffic is not bad but the road between Francis and Wellesley is is in very poor condition. Northbound Post and Wall at 5:20 pm has way too much traffic. Howard->Buckeye->
Liberty->Addison->Standard->Colton is a much more comfortable bike route during the afternoon rush hour.

spokanarama said...

So cool. I hope you're right! I was just thinking of Portland and its Bike Blvd program today whilst pedaling on 37th!

bleckb said...

That would be, biggest city between Seattle and Minneapolis.:-)

Here's crossed fingers hoping the boulevards are done well. X (is there an icon for crossed fingers, or did I just invent it?)