Thursday, January 23, 2014

Ben Burr Trail

From: Travis Nichols
Sent: Thursday, January 23, 2014 9:55 AM
To: John Speare
Subject: Ben Burr Trail




I don't know if you have been following or know about the proposed improvements to the Ben Burr Trail.  I am really excited about the proposal and what it means for connectivity on the South Hill.  You can find my comments on why here.

We are in the final days of public comments and from what I am told the project's future is is a numbers game and the more people we get to submit comments the more likely the city is to move forward. would you consider submitting comments or perhaps solliciting you long list of cohorts to do the same?

 For your reference and consideration here are some resources: 

·  The PDF of the 10/22/13 presentation at the East Central Neighborhood Council.

·  City of Spokane Engineering Blog with opportunity to post public comment there

·  11/14/13 - Spokesman Review

·  11/8/13 - Out There Monthly

·  11/7/13 - Inlander

·  11/21/13 - Spokesman Review

·  1/23/14 - Out There Monthly - Locking Horns

Comments are now being accepted by the city via email submission to Julie Happy, City Communications Manager, I would suggest you also CC council members Ben Stuckart ( Mike Allen ( and Jon Snyder (   If possible CC Dan Buller ( the engineer assigned to the project.



Thank you for your consideration!







Anonymous said...

What say you, Professor Speare? Are you in favor of paving the whole damned trail or do you think they should go back to the drawing board, heed the wishes of the overwhelming majority of the neighborhood, and pursue a new funding source with the goal of only paving from Pittsburg west?

John Speare said...

I think they should pave it. For a bunch of reasons. But my main reason is that I think that paving it as planned serves the greater good.

-- soapbox warning --

I empathize with those in the neighborhood that don't want to see it changed. I didn't want the FLT paved. I've ridden that trail for nearly 10 years and loved it as a dirt path.

And all the organized activity on the bluff trails freaks me out for similar reasons.

But making the FLT and the HD trails more accessible makes the overall community better -- even if it makes my personal experience on those trails different. I don't really like the FLT now, but I use it, and I'm always amazed by how many people I see on it in "normal" cycling months. Same with the HD trails. More and more people are learning about them and using them. It's frustrating at times to be on the trails, especially as I remember using them and never seeing people. But I want to live in a community where policy and infrastructure encourages walking, cycling, hiking, etc...

As a volunteer for the Bicycle Advisory Board, I helped build the Master Bike Plan -- one of the most important lessons to me was that to build a network (and the Ben Burr trail is part of a broader cycling network -- with a critical link into downtown and SE south hill), you have to see the whole system. If each neighborhood dictated the implementation of cycling infrastructure in the myopic bounds of their own neighborhood, system connectivity would be impossible. I pitched the plan to many neighborhood councils -- and this particular point, I know, is a bitter pill to swallow.

Another thing I learned about was the arbitrary, capricious, and ephemeral nature of funding for these kinds of projects. To propose a solution that hands the funding back to fix what is about an (admittedly) 80% good project, is analogous to setting this on the shelf for another decade. One in the hand is worth two in the bush... or how about another tired cliche: the perfect is the enemy of the good.

Anonymous said...

Crusher fines may work better than asphalt for both FLT and Ben Burr.

I should hope asphalt is ruled out for High Drive trails at least. Not a convincing argument to pave Ben Burr, actually much the opposite.

The accessibilty of Ben Burr presently strikes me as better than FLT prior to renovation.

John Speare said...

so as far as "convincing arguments" go, I"m not trying to convince you or anyone of anything. But you asked me what I favored, so it makes sense to rationalize my thinking in that context.

i'll say this to clarify my explanation, and then i'd rather not carry on further: my point in bringing up HD was not to suggest that anyone would pave it, but rather in empathizing with the idea of an outside authority claiming ownership of a trail that has been traditionally user-maintained and organically managed.

Twa said...

Anon Deux bids me to share that Anon the First is someone else. Neither Deux or I live in the Burrhood.

Deux and I are actually slightly in favor of the project, asphalt and all (Deux more than me, actually).

But, we also think that the dismissal of neighborhood comments as nimbyism has not been very helpful. Some of the interrelated objections regarding environmental impact, the surfacing choice, and the speed of bicycles on asphalt appear substantive and not simply argumentative or "myopic."

Some of these issues are problems we have noticed biking on not just the FLT, but also the CT (particularly through Riverside) and, especially, the federal penitentiary-styled Children of the Sun.

We have seen much of the "whole system," and we can see the Ben Burr's place within that system. However, we also think the trail will primarily benefit bicyclists and other users in that neighborhood--it's not exactly the missing link into Valley that we all need.

Peace, and thanks for your advocacy.