I’ve spent the past two days with pedestrian advocate Mark Fenton and I’m tired. The man is like a hummingbird; always moving. But he’s got a lot of experience, great ideas on making our area more walkable and bikeable on a limited budget, and is very entertaining.

After walking, driving, and running around the area for two days, Mark was impressed with what we have, but says there are 8 things we need to do to start the process towards making Spokane more bike and pedestrian friendly.

Those 8 things are:
1. Creating a team across the disciplines to get things moving. For example, have representatives from not just transportation, but also the Health District, Spokane Transit, the YMCA/YWCA, social service groups, environmental groups, local schools, and more.

2. Take baseline measurements. We already know how many people bike and walk and ride the bus, but the schools may not know how many children walk or bike to school and what routes they use. Fill in statistics we don’t currently have.

3. Implement a ‘Complete Streets’ policy. You can find out more about Complete Streets here.

4. Make a priority list of connectors to link existing trails and bike lanes.

5. Revisit growth management policies.

6. Revitalize public transit by changing the image. Perhaps a new campaign to make transit more attractive to professionals, such as by adding cup holders to buses, offering countdown clocks at bus stops to let riders know when the next bus will arrive, and providing wifi on buses that don’t currently have it.

7. Implement a local Safe Routes to School program, but brand it as something else so as not to imply that current routes aren’t safe.

8. Possibly combine our governing bodies (City, City of Spokane Valley, County, etc.) into one governing body or create regionwide zoning and roadway standards so that everyone is working off the same set of rules.

Mr. Fenton said we also need to look at our current parking situation and discourage more parking lots and structures in downtown Spokane. In addition, he talked about dismissal time at local schools (we observed dismissal at Garry Junior High) and how to make them flow smoother, and discussed area streets that could be put on ‘road diets’ (reducing them from four lanes to two with a center turn lane and bike lanes on both sides).

So now the hard part starts, we’re processing what we learned and discussing how to implement it. You’ll be hearing more about this in the near future, I’m sure. Although I’m pretty sure Mark’s ‘P.A.P.P.I.’ project isn’t going to go far. That stands for ‘Phsycial Activity Promotion through Predator Introduction’ and involves wild animals chasing you from outlying areas into the core areas to work.

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