Jeff Humphrey

Planning Efforts Protect Pedestrians

Jeff Humphrey, Media Manager, 509.625.6308

Monday, February 26, 2024 at 12:25 p.m.

The City of Spokane is always looking for new avenues to improve pedestrian safety. Everything from talking crosswalks to police writing tickets.

But, a lot of our traffic calming efforts get their start in the city’s Planning Department.

Our planners are redesigning Spokane’s roadways to make sure people on foot are more visible to the motoring public.

“This is called a curb extension. It makes the pedestrian more visible to cars coming down the street. Gets me out, past the parked cars, and shortens the crossing distance for people walking,” planner Colin Quinn-Hurst said as he made his way over a Garland Avenue crosswalk.

Unfortunately, even though the City of Spokane has installed better signage, signals, and medians, last year, the number of auto-pedestrian collisions went up for a variety of reasons.

“Distraction, speed, and DUI on the driver’s side and then, on the pedestrian’s side, it’s failing to obey traffic-signals as well as, suddenly entering the roadway when a driver is not expecting it,” outlined Spokane Police Sergeant Teresa Fuller.

Running red lights, and driving faster than the posted speed limit, can often lead to fatal auto-pedestrian collisions.

That’s why the fines paid by drivers who get photo enforcement citations are reinvested in neighborhood traffic-calming projects a new bike-pedestrian pathway along Illinois Avenue.

“And, the street was getting resurfaced anyway so, we took the opportunity to narrow the lanes a little bit and create this safe space for walking and biking. And this physical median, made out of concrete, is what people were looking for,” Quinn-Hurst said of the recent improvements.

The city’s Public Works Department is also improving the safety of our children by repainting crosswalks with more reflective materials in the hopes a preventing a deadly collision.

“They have a lot lower center of gravity, they’re more impulsive. So,that’s why we reduce the speeds around schools to 20, so we have a little bit more of that buffer,” Sergeant Fuller said of younger students.

And, there are more bike and pedestrian safety improvements coming to your neighborhood in the future.

The Spokane Regional Transportation Council analyzes the causes of collisions and then provides local cities the data they need to fix the problem.

“What sort of speeds are involved, what sort of impairment factors are involved, and understanding these problems, will help us develop solutions, specifically tailored to reverse those trends. And the idea is, to access those future federal funds, and state funds, that are all focused on improving pedestrian and cyclist safety,” explained Mike Ulrich, the SRTC’s Senior Transportation Planner.

And, the SRTC wants to hear from local residents about safety concerns in their neighborhood by completing their online survey.

“The more public input that we can get, the better our plans are going to be for it. So, yes, absolutely. We encourage everyone to go to that website and make your voice heard,” urged Ulrich.

Experts agree, pedestrian and cycling safety is a two way-street. And now,the City of Spokane is making it easier for all of us to share the roadway.

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