Spokane’s newest community event debuts July 11 along a two-mile stretch of Howard Street from Riverfront Park to Corbin Park.
Summer Parkways will transform Howard Street into a thoroughfare for nonmotorized transportation from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Participants will be traveling under “any means of human-powered conveyance” such as bicycles and rollerblades, said Bill Bender, the lead organizer.
Along the way, they will get a chance to join in activities like aerobics, Zumba exercise dance, jump-rope, music and martial arts. Healthy snacks will be provided.
The free event will repeat itself on Aug. 22.
Organizers are hoping Summer Parkways will become a permanent part of the city’s tradition of health and fitness, and another focal point for encouraging alternate transportation.
“The dream would be to have it on as many Sundays as possible during the good months of the year,” Bender said.
Portland started its parkways event three years ago and has expanded it to six dates this year, Bender said.
Summer Parkways is patterned after the wildly popular Ciclovia in Bogota, Colombia.
Like other community events, Summer Parkways will rely on the cooperation of City Hall and the parks department and the work of about 120 volunteers.
Police officers will be stationed at the arterial cross streets of Buckeye, Indiana, Mission and Boone avenues to control traffic.
At residential intersections, volunteers will stand next to barricades to prevent motorists from crossing the parkways route. Local access for residents living on Howard Street will be allowed, however.
The organizers have been going door-to-door in the neighborhoods to give residents a heads-up that the event is coming.
Emerson-Garfield neighborhood leaders living near the route have been enthusiastic about the event, Bender said.
“Everyone who has heard about this thinks it’s a good idea,” he said.
Mayor Mary Verner and City Council members will be on hand to judge a special bicycle decorating contest from 11 a.m. to noon along the route. The winner will be announced near the Two Wheel Transit tent.
The event is being presented through SpokeFest Association, which coordinates Bike to Work Spokane in May and will be putting on the third annual SpokeFest ride on Sept. 12.
Volunteers are still being sought. To sign up, go to summerparkways.com/.
Busy holiday weekend
Highways are expected to be 17 percent busier this July 4 holiday weekend than for the same period a year ago, according to AAA.
A projected 34.9 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from July 1 through 5. Of those, 31.4 million will be going by automobile.
But they may be a little tight-fisted compared with last year. AAA predicts that average spending for travelers will be $644 per person, down $50 from a year ago.
Law officers in Spokane are in the midst of a weeklong effort to catch impaired drivers.
An X-52 DUI patrol started Thursday with extra officers out in the field from police departments in Spokane, Spokane Valley, Cheney, Liberty Lake, Airway Heights and Eastern Washington University. The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office and Washington State Patrol are also involved.
The effort, mainly during evening hours, is being financed through state and federal traffic safety grants.
It is part of the state’s strategic Target Zero effort to end all traffic fatalities and serious injuries by 2030.
Freeway taking shape
Drivers on U.S. Highway 2 near Farwell Road will notice a big change today.
The contractor working on a $55 million job to lower the highway and build a series of bridges for a new north Spokane freeway has routed traffic onto the new lowered lanes as of Sunday night.
The construction zone will continue to have one southbound lane and two northbound lanes while work on the job continues into next spring. A construction speed of 45 mph will continue as well.
•North A Street from Francis to Beacon avenues is now closed for reconstruction under a $754,000 job that is being financed with a 2004 voter-approved bond issue.
In addition to A Street, work is also planned on segments of Audubon Street, Beacon, Holyoke Avenue, Houston Avenue and Lindeke Street.
•The reconstruction closure of Nevada Street from North Foothills Drive to Providence Avenue was creating minor traffic backups on alternate routes last week, especially for drivers wanting to turn left on Empire Avenue and go southbound on Division Street.
•Sprague Avenue at Myrtle Street has reopened to one lane of travel in each direction. The restrictions have been due to sewer installation for the county’s new wastewater plant at the former stockyards site in east Spokane.
Poll: No to tolls
PEMCO Insurance found in a poll that 62 percent of respondents are less likely to use the Evergreen Point Floating Bridge in Seattle once tolls begin next spring, the insurance company said.
The tolls are needed to help fund a new bridge for state Highway 520.
Most people said they’d drive out of their way, but 11 percent said they would take advantage of car pools more often.
If tolls are enacted on the Interstate 90 floating bridges, motorists would be five times more likely to use public transit, the poll found.