Sunday, February 24, 2008

An Important Route

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In this month's issue of Out There Monthly, I wrote a column about the Iron Bridge. The bridge is a hugely important connection to hook up East Central to downtown for bike/ped traffic. In the map above, I've traced out a route that I think is probably one of the most important bike routes the city could attempt as we build the Master Bike Plan.

The neighborhoods of East Central and Chief Gary can be difficult neighborhoods to traverse by bike. The river, active rail lines, Trent, Sprague, and Mission avenues are just a few of the giant obstacles that make this part of town difficult to get through by bike. Putting in the Iron Bridge is a huge first step to transforming this area, but it's not the only thing that needs to get done. The city needs to capitalize on all of the core pieces of infrastructure that it already owns, and hook them together with the route above.

Moving counter clockwise from the Iron Bridge, go south on Helena. This stretch of road is huge and pretty light traffic. It would be easy to fit bike lanes here and preserve parking and still have room for car traffic. There's a light at Trent, so crossing there is pretty straight forward.

Then east on Riverside: shared/signed roadway to Altamont, where you go north a block to the Playfair site. The Playfair site is so cool. Last I heard, the city is thinking of a prison here. That is so awful and is the last thing that this already-struggling neighborhood needs. Anyway, the city owns this. There should be a big fat multi-use trail through here to the east end where the route would cross Fiske over the tracks.

The Fiske street foot bridge is another hidden gem: a safe/existing way over the huge gash that is the otherwise uncrossable live railroad. This is a hugely valuable piece of bike/ped infrastructure that is already used by commuters today.

Now, the piece from the Fiske bridge to Riverton/SCC is still murky to me. I've ridden around out here and I need to ride the piece that I show here. Crossing Trent here is no picnic and would cost some money to do right, but there are no other lights for at least 1/4 mile in each direction, so there would not be any issue with back ups if you put a ped/bike-friendly signal here.

Once you get to SCC, you can follow the trail that parallels Riverton Ave (amazingly, once again: a critical and valuable piece of infrastructure owned by the city; this is a river front trail we're talking about here -- the city has an easement). Follow the trail back to the city core, where you hit Mission and another live railroad trestle before you connect back with the Iron Bridge.

Aside from the Iron Bridge, going under the Mission street bridge and the other live trestle, are surely the most expensive infrastructure pieces in this route. But doing so makes a clean shot to SCC: from downtown to SCC all on multi-use (no traffic) trails.

This route would open up the East Central, Chief Gary, and Logan neighborhoods to bike and ped through traffic. I think this route would also improve the property values and private investment along the route. Today, traversing east/west through the core of our city by bike is not something new cyclists are likely to try.


Anonymous said...

I didn't know about the Fiske bridge--thanks for pointing it out!
I ride from the Riverpoint Campus to SCC occasionally on Mission. It would certainly be great to have a quieter option, as Mission is pretty narrow and the traffic is frequently hostile.
The Iron Bridge is absolutely a gem and would be a one-of-a-kind ride. Incorporating more of our old railroad infrastructure, in whatever ways we can do it, will make our bike connections a nice reflection of some of the region's history.

Anonymous said...

I had the pleasure of riding this route with John last week. If you have a couple hours to explore, I would recommend riding this route so you can experience the potential John's talking about. The Iron Bridge can become a safer, quicker option for commuters and offer new routes for riders just looking to cruise thru some cool neighborhoods. Parts east of downtown tend to be ignored because of it's industrial areas, but it's a part of Spokane I love to see, especially on my bike.

Bob G said...

it took a minute for me to visualize the route. i'll heed patrick's advice and ride it soon. i do love the fiske bridge. riding from the valley to downtown via sprague/university places it a little off track. yet what a terrific option to jump off sprague at altamont, down to riverside and follow the route to the iron bridge onto the trail.

Anonymous said...

Hey - the picture of the school is correct - it is actually a public district called Great Northern School District. It's a K-6 district and I've had the pleasure to work with some of the teachers there. It's really a special place! BTW some of by buddies and I made a great ride this fall that incorporates some of the area's you've described. The ride we did was from my buddies house near Marshall. We were able to do most of the ride on trails - started in Marshall rode the bluffs to the FLT until we reached Government Way, headed up to Palasides rode some great trails there connected with RSSP rode the river trail to 7 mi then rode the other side of the river, made a trip through the Bluffs back to the FLT to Marshall. We'd like to make this an annual event if anyone is interested.

John Speare said...

Hey Anon:

I assume you're commenting on the the Euclid post -- I'd be down for checking out your route. I love the idea of a long off road route that covers so much ground. Contact me or join on to -- i can think of a couple guys on that forum that would enjoy that ride.

Anonymous said...

Are people allowed to bike/walk across the Fiske footbridge that crosses the railroad tracks? I thought I saw a sign that said "No Trespassing". I assumed that the railroad doesn't want to be liable if someone got hurt.