Spokane’s streets are incomplete. This doesn’t just mean we need to fill the potholes. It means we need to finish the sidewalk system, redesign old streets, and make sure we design new streets to take into account safety and freedom of choice for every type of user--pedestrian, cyclist, person with mobility problems, single-occupancy vehicle, bus, or freight. When we do this, we’ll have Complete Streets.
Right across the state line, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, became the first city in Idaho to adopt a Complete Streets policy back in May. CompleteStreets.org has an atlas of the places considering and adopting such policies. There isn’t a balloon icon for Spokane, yet—but there may be soon.
In the City of Spokane, we now have pro-bike City Council members Jon Snyder and Amber Waldref, who have spoken out in favor of a Complete Streets policy, joining bike advocate Richard Rush on the council.
When a street is designed only for cars, only some of us are getting our money’s worth as taxpayers, since we’re all paying for streets.
It hits us another way as taxpayers, too--mobility, cost and transportation barriers may keep people from getting and keeping a job. in the SmartRoutes Spokane study (PDF here), they found that one in every four people in Spokane County living below 100% of the federal poverty level does not have a vehicle for transportation. These people are using transit, walking, or riding a bike, but without the full infrastructure that makes these safe, accessible choices.
We’d be healthier with Complete Streets, too. A report prepared by the National Conference of State Legislators found that the most effective policy avenue for encouraging bicycling and walking is incorporating sidewalks and bike lanes into community design – essentially, creating Complete Streets. The continuous network of safe sidewalks and bikeways provided by a Complete Streets policy is important for encouraging active travel and helping combat our country’s spreading obesity epidemic.
Want to do something about it? You’re invited to an organizing meeting to discuss the campaign to create Complete Streets policies in Spokane: Wednesday, January 13, 5:30-7pm, at the Central YMCA, 930 N. Monroe. Save the date & spread the word.