It has become an interesting trend at community workshops held to discuss Spokane Valley’s bike and pedestrian master plan:
A good turnout of people, but fewer cars.
While the parking lot at City Hall may not indicate it, the first two public meetings regarding the document – one in June and another in September – have averaged over 50 people. It seems a number of those providing feedback about better routes for cyclists and walkers are leaving their vehicles at home.
“I cycle to City Hall and some others do too,” said Marc Mims, a Spokane Valley resident who helped organize the inaugural “Pedal with Politicians” event in September, a trek that included Mayor Tom Towey, Council Member Bill Gothmann and dozens of local cyclists in an informal survey of city bike facilities.
Mims said the tour of Valley streets provided a good overview of the current pluses and minuses in the municipal infrastructure for non-motorized travel.
“It was a good starting point,” he said. “I think it raised some awareness and got some people involved.”
Towey called the event “well-organized and very informative.”
“I learned a great deal about bike routes,” he said.
Deficiencies on Sprague Avenue, which lacks bike lanes, have been pointed out by attendees at the two workshops and participants in September’s road inventory. Mimms said the east/west corridor is one of several “key points where the city needs some infrastructure changes.” A shortage of safe north/south routes across the Spokane River has also been mentioned.
Mike Basinger of Spokane Valley’s community development department is in charge of coordinating the bike/ped plan. He said the first two workshops have gathered feedback on the route priorities of local cyclists with an emphasis on “connectivity.”
Basinger said there is room for improvement as the city works to create a safer environment for those traveling with or without a vehicle.
“It really makes a difference when you have those types of facilities, not only for cyclists but for motorists,” he said.
The city has issued a request for qualifications regarding the engineering component of the plan, Basinger added. The eventual report will include information such as safety and cost assessments as well as preliminary design work. Spokane Valley has until August of next year to wrap up the master plan based on federal grant requirements.
“I think this will put us in a position to leverage (additional) funding,” Basinger said.
Towey said he has been encouraged about the level of public participation and added that city leaders now “have a better understanding as to what we can do to help cyclists.”
“We’re making progress,” Towey said.