November 5, 2007 in City

Fasten your seat belts for cell-phone turbulence

By The Spokesman-Review

Most people don’t want to listen to endless chatter about how cute Billy is or Aunt Mabel’s goiter while strapped into a cramped airline seat.

You may soon have no choice on some overseas flights.

Efforts to allow cell phone use on U.S. flights have effectively stalled, but in other countries it’s a different story.

The FCC declined earlier this year to proceed with rulemaking to allow in-flight cell phone use, citing inadequate data on the safety of using them during flights.

In other parts of the world, it’s a different story.

Australian airline Qantas is testing cell phone use during flights for text messaging and e-mail. Passengers can access systems because the plane uses technology to act as a mobile phone tower, connecting to satellites. The airline is not looking into allowing talking on the phones, however.

In the United Kingdom, studies are also under way to allow some kind of mobile phone use during flights. All European Union countries might soon follow suit with proposals being crafted to cover all European airspace.

The question is: Where is the push coming from? It’s certainly not coming from passengers.

According to a recent survey conducted by the International Airline Passengers Association, 88 percent of respondents said in-flight mobile phone use would be “annoying.”

“That would drive me crazy,” said Seattle travel consultant Laurel Kiichli when asked last week at Spokane International Airport.

Kiichli said the tone of voice people use while talking on a mobile phone is different than the tone they use while talking to someone sitting right there.

And that difference isn’t good.

“I’ve never believed it really impacts the radar system,” she added. Still, Kiichli can do without in-flight phone use.

For Todd Doty, time on the plane offers a welcome respite.

“I kind of like the idea of getting on a plane and not having to worry about the phone ringing,” Doty said.

Maybe e-mail and text messaging wouldn’t be so bad. Fifty-seven percent of IAPA survey respondents said that allowing these services would be all right.

Just keep the tapping down.

Leaves are falling

Leaf pickup begins in Spokane this week, with city crews sweeping streets before the snow falls.

Do not rake leaves from your yard into the street. Do move your vehicle out of the way of leaf pickup crews.

Here’s the schedule for this week:

Today: Audubon area, which is bounded by Garland Avenue, Northwest Boulevard on the south and west and Monroe Street; Pacific Park area, bounded by Barnes Road, Sutherlin Road, Farmdale Street and Forest Boulevard; Shadle Park area, bounded by Wellesley Avenue, Garland Avenue, Wall Street and Belt Street.

Tuesday: Indian Trail area, bounded by Johansen Road, Francis Avenue, Cedar and Nine Mile Road; Downriver area, bounded by Northwest Boulevard, Riverview Drive, T.J. Meenach Drive and Columbia Circle; Clark Park area, bounded by Wellesley, Garland, Division and Wall.

Wednesday: Indian Trail area; Hillyard area, bounded by Francis, Wellesley, Greene and Perry; Northwest Boulevard area, bounded by Northwest Boulevard, Maxwell Avenue, Petit Drive and Monroe.

Thursday: Hillyard area; Northwest Boulevard area; Northwest Terrace area, bounded by the northern city limits, Wellesley, Assembly/Nine Mile Road and the Spokane River.

Friday: Northwest Terrace area; West Central area, bounded by Maxwell, Bridge, Washington and the Spokane River; Indian Canyon area, bounded by Greenwood Road, Sunset Boulevard, Government Way and Assembly Street.

Saturday: West Central area; Indian Canyon area; Westview area, bounded by Francis, Wellesley, A Street and Assembly.

The leaf pickup schedule is also available by calling (509) 456-2666.

Winter driving prep

Idaho and Washington state police are encouraging drivers in these late fall weeks to get ready for snow.

The Washington State Patrol recommends checking windshield washer and coolant levels, checking all-season tires or putting on winter tires, making sure the car battery is in good shape and stocking up on winter gear.

That gear should include a scraper and brush, a small shovel, chains, sand or kitty litter for emergency traction, a blanket and warm clothing.

The Idaho State Police have added two Road Safe classes on winter driving: 9 a.m. on Nov. 17 and 1 p.m. on Dec. 1. The classes are free, but advance registration is required. Call (208) 772-6055.

Chief motorcyclist

When U.S. Secretary of Transportation Mary E. Peters talks about wearing the proper helmet and other gear while riding, she speaks from experience.

Peters just released a new public service announcement describing a 2005 motorcycle crash that left her with a broken collarbone, but alive.

The U.S. Department of Transportation is launching a new initiative to improve motorcycle training and safety standards.

Slow going

Hayford Road is closed south of Highway 2.

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