I spent the majority of today in a Complete Streets Policy Development Workshop hosted by the Spokane Regional Health District that was aimed at helping the City of Spokane develop a complete streets policy.

A complete street is one designed to enable safe and convenient access for all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, transit vehicles and people of all ages and abilities. A complete streets policy would direct planners and engineers to consistently design roadways with all users in mind. More information on complete streets can be found here.

While the workshop centered around the City of Spokane, staff and elected officials from all area jurisdictions were welcome. And a lot of them were interested too, because the workshop had over 50 participants!

Two national complete streets experts, Roger Henderson AICP, PE, PTOE and John LaPlante PE, PTOE facilitated discussions ranging from how our community could benefit from a complete streets policy (safer for kids to walk to school, the community would be healthier overall, we would be eligible to receive more grants, etc.), to how to get the public involved from early on (host charrettes, involve ALL groups that might be interested, approach neighborhood groups instead of waiting for them to approach you), and area streets that could use a ‘road diet’ (reducing the number of lanes and using that space for sidewalks, parking, buffer strips or bike lanes instead).

My group was made up of a planner from the City of Spokane Valley, a representative of the Neighborhood Alliance, two City of Spokane engineers and a planner from STA. We decided that Driscoll Boulevard would be a good candidate for a road diet, because, as one planner put it, it’s got ‘fat’ lanes. The joke after that became that if we put it on a diet and added bike lanes and other amenities, we’d have a ‘phat’ road that people would want to use instead of a ‘fat’ one. Just a little planning humor for you. You know us crazy government folks.

After 2:30, only City of Spokane staff stayed to work on crafting policy language so I’m not sure what they came up with but I’ll fill you in as soon as I hear.

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