There's a well-coordinated and supported effort to pave the Fish Lake Trail from Fish Lake to the Centennial Trail. Personally, I'm sort of in the middle on this one. One of my favorite quick runs is a ride through the unpaved portion of the Fish Lake Trail. I have it documented on Bikely.
I really enjoy riding Thorpe Road, which is a nice dirt county road, and hooking up to the trail at the top of the hill on Thorpe. The trail is some single-track, double-track, and contains all sorts of surfaces: sand, hard-pack, pebbles, "rail" rock. It's an interesting ride -- and fun. Right now the pavement starts about 2 miles out of Marshall and goes for about 3 miles, where you end up on a Burlington-Northern access road, cross two sets of live tracks, and then another mile to the Fish Lake Trail head parking lot, where the trail is paved to Curtis Road/Cheney. I enjoy taking a fattish-tired road bike or fixed gear on this route. So as I think about FLT being paved, it kind of bums me out, because today this is a quiet, under-used, no-traffic bike route.
Folks pushing for pavement here suggest that this will be an ideal commuter route for Cheney-Spokane commuters. Maybe so. The Cheney-Spokane Road is a good route for that too, although there are some pieces that are a bit tight.
The major cost of the project is not in paving, but in putting up overpasses over two live railroad tracks. I can't remember the numbers exactly, but what I seem to remember is that there is about a $6 million cost for this project; $4 million of which is for the overpasses. That's a good gob of money.
It's interesting what draws bike-related money -- people love the idea of multi-use paths with no traffic. I understand the draw, but if I had $6 million for bike-stuff in Spokane, I'd be pretty satisfied with the Centennial Trail. If you're a recreational cyclist; Spokane is great. You've got to be happy.
On the face of it, it sounds crazy, but, thinking about it, I'd blow most of that wad on education: teaching drivers and cyclists that it's ok and normal and lawful for cyclists to use the road. Like the "seat belt saves lives" campaign when I was a kid. There was a time no one wore seat belts. Then we were clobbered for years with TV, radio, print ads that told us to wear seat belts. In addition, there was a threat of fines if you didn't wear a seat belt.
What if we did the same for cyclist/driver-education? What if the message: "cyclists have the same rights to the road as a car; bikes are vehicles; cyclists have the same responsibility to follow the rules of the road as car drivers" was pounded into us everywhere we turned? What if we taught our kids, in school, how to safely ride in traffic? What if parents rode their kids to school, on bikes, while following traffic laws? What if the WSDOT manual and related driver training had more emphasis on bikes-as-traffic? What if your traffic violation doubled if cyclists were in the area, as we do for work zones? What if cops busted cyclists for traffic violations or riding on the sidewalk?
Eventually, I think we'd see a lot more folks riding their bikes in traffic and a lot less need for more multi-use trails.
Oh yeah, and if there was any money left over; I'd be painting some sharrows.