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Comments

Jim

I haven't started to commute by bike, but I will start biking to the grocery store and closer errands. Taking the bus to work feels preety good and is cheaper too. By the way, notice the gas price signage? Short, unobtrusive and not soaring into the sky to clutter the streetscape. They've done this in California and we should tighten up our sign regulations too. We all know where to fill up and do we need to be reminded of the price?! It is in our power to legislate stricter controls on the size and locations of commercials signs and billboards. Envision our city without them. Does anyone else have a pulse about this issue?

Brian A. Sayrs

Too bad there isn't a "changed habits a decade ago" choice. Between transit use, carpooling, telecommuting and combining trips, I have reduced my average car use to 5000 miles per year. As a consequence, I only fueled my vehicle 11 times last year.

I understand that I'm lucky in this respect; not everyone can do this. But, I can, so I do.

I'd use transit more often if the system were more robust. We're in an era when we need more transit, not less. With appropriate and predictable level of funding and an engaged leadership, STA could become a real asset in our region's attempt to become more energy efficient and financially secure. Hopefully we'll get to that day soon.

Barb

I voted "slight" although that doesn't really capture my situation.

I had already made the shift to bike commuting, with STA as the alternative when it was too snowy (my road bike can't take studded snow tires). So the gas prices didn't have a "significant" effect on my own habits. I use the bike to get groceries when it's not a major-major run with lots of bulk, and for lots of errands.

However, the prices created what probably feels like a "significant" shift for my children! I was letting my 17-year-old drive her 13-year-old sister to school every day and have the car for her own transportation (since I wasn't using it).

Now they both take STA. This not only saves on gas--it adds in a bit of walking, which for my older daughter is a fair amount because she has to walk from LCHS to her after-school job at Bernard and Main, then back to the plaza, plus they both get the 3 or 4 blocks to/from the bus stop in our neighborhood. So it's active transportation, which is good for their health, plus it cuts down the gas tab.

This fall, for the first time, I will not purchase a parking pass for the Riverpoint Campus where I work. I bike/bus enough that I don't need one; I can get a day pass for those rare days when I absolutely must have my personal vehicle for some reason.

Remember to register for Bike to Work Week, May 12-16, 2008: cool T-shirt, chance to win prizes, free stuff, free food, and no gas cost.

www.biketoworkspokane.org

Brian A. Sayrs

Regarding signage standards:

Jim, I'm on board 100%. With the exception of the properties immediately adjacent to the freeway (and then, only a great distance from an interchange), Liberty Lake banned "trash on a stick" years ago. Now, we only permit so-called monument signage.

Not every community is with you on that, though. Witness Steve Taylor of the Spokane Home Builders Association and Spokane Valley City Council who says (in effect) that commercial areas without the trashy look appear abandoned and sad.

It's similar to an arms race. Everyone builds big signs to compete with the other big signs. Later, they demand even bigger signs because theirs can't be seen in all the clutter. It's mutually assured economic destruction.

Monument signs, while smaller, are actually easier to see because they don't have the gaudy competition of their neighbors.

Each neighborhood needs to make a purposeful decision about this and stick with it (big signs are expensive and can last for decades). I encourage you to make your voice heard.

Kitty Klitzke

I can't answer the poll since I gave up driving 5 years ago, but one thing that did change for me this year is that the snow convinced me to forgo walking and biking and ride the bus a lot more than I ever have. We do need a better mass transit system, but I am grateful buses are there, and pretty full whenever I use them. (Vote Yes buses May 20th or they won't all be!)

I also ride the bus in Seattle 4-12 times a month. They are always packed. The other weekend so much so that, standing by the door I had to get off to let people out before my stop. I can't wait for the light rail to speed up my airport commute from Seatac.
I am convinced that with higher gas prices our buses would be packed too if our routes were as tight and frequent as Seattle's. And if we create appropriate densities in town we could bring back our rail system with no worries about having enough ridership.

katherine

I caught a bit on one of the local new stations pointing out the less expensive ethanol option and interviewing a driver at the pump who said he would consider getting a flex-fuel vehicle if gasoline prices go higher.

Unfortunately they failed to mention the growing global food crises, even as they zoomed in on the giant ear of corn on the ethanol sign. Hopefully that trade-off - turning over food-producing land for biofuel production - doesn't get lost as people look for any option to maintain their personal vehicle habits.

joshua

Work pays for my bus pass, and with the cost of parking downtown Seattle [where I work] I can't afford not to take public transportation. :)

Alberto Sed

They haven't really affected my habits. I've always used a bike or bus. Also I live downtown, so my work and needs are all within walking distance. So I really don't need a car, but please bare in mind that I also don't know how to drive.

Dazzeetrader

Bikes are great to conserve energy and to promote health in some instances. In the warmer climates, I'd guess the under 40 crowd would like biking to and from work. Sounds good so far. When the work force is older, has a cold season, commutes for great distances (defined as what is "great" and it'll vary quite a bit) or might have a disabled population, or needs to get to work quicker because of multiple reasons, etc....biking to and from isn't so practical. It varies by community and each community must define it's own needs.

In Spokane, with its prolonged Winter and cold on either side of the Winter, biking might no be so practical or desirable. Truth be told, biking might even be dangerous for many.

I've seen some towns with higher traffic flows convert alleys to be mini highways for biking. Those people who demand some alternative form of transportation seem to like it.

2 or more lanes for cars/buses/trolleys/people movers usually are preferred in larger cities. I don't think this will change...even though for some, biking might be their preference. If a full lane of auto traffic in a standard street might be lost to bike travel/bikepaths, the result might fly in the face of reason.

It'll be interesting to follow this to see if some accomodation can be implemented.

Contrarian

Spokane should build as "robust" a transit system as its users are willing to pay for --- at the farebox, not via subsidies extracted by force from non-users.

Contrarian

Katherine is right re: ethanol, especially that made from corn. The impacts on food prices and the environment are approaching disastrous. Another unintended consequence of yet another ill-conceived gummint subsidy program.

Kate

$ 3.45?! I used to whine and complain when gas was over, like, 2.20.

Glad I walk and ride the U-Bahn everywhere round here.

DaveRockwood

My wife and I got down to one car when I was in grad school in Spokaloo, and I rode the bike or the bus mostly. We still have only one car four years later, but now have a preschooler. We moved to a neighborhood near town, on a busline. Transportation figured largely into that housing choice. I can also ride my bike 3 miles to work in fair weather (I'm in that "older" bunch but can still pedal, as can most folks up into their 60s). Gas prices have me wanting to get a high efficiency vehicle but we can't afford a car payment. My hope is that when the plug-in hybrids are in their second or third year we'll be able to buy one. I'd like to give a shout out to everyone who subsidizes my bus fares - you rock! I'm subsidizing the NAFTA superhighway (I-69) and a whole lot of other questionable and legitimate projects that are intended to benefit society at large, so back off of transit subsidies!

Jim

Thanks for your refreshing comments Dave. I agree, there is a lot to be said for contributing to the greater good. If we subscribe to the notion voiced by Mr. C. above, we would see lot of smoke spewing chivy pickups belching along the roads of Spokaloo posing as a transit system. It would be challenging to access such a system that would be our only alternative in a crisis. By supporting local transit i.e buses, light rail, and bike lanes we suddenly have options. I like options. Again well stated!

Contrarian

Er, Dave, there is no "NAFTA superhighway," (that is an urban myth) and if there were, you would not likely be subsidizing it. The interstate highways are funded primarily via fuel taxes and some tolls, i.e., by users. Those fuel taxes also subsidize transit systems.

Alas, since the early 90s, "earmarks" (pork) has assumed a larger role in highway projects, contrary to the design of the program. You should talk to your congresscritter about that.

Transit systems are not public goods (in the economists' sense) and do not "benefit society at large." They benefit the people who use them, and no one else. Hence those are the people who should be paying for them.

Jim

How shortsighted Contro. You even benefit when someone decides to not fire up the hemi and ride the public transit system. Don't you enjoy cleaner air?

Contrarian

Actually, Jim, I don't enjoy cleaner air when I can't tell the difference, and I doubt you do either. The contribution of transit systems to air quality is negligible, especially in cities like Spokane, where transit load factors run around 7%. If the buses were eliminated and those few people drove their cars instead, the only way you could detect a difference in air quality is with sensitive laboratory instruments. Indeed, if a couple of those 4-5 average riders walked, rode bikes or drove Priuses instead of riding the bus, air quality might actually improve!

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