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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Getting There

Spokane candidates on bike lanes

City Council candidates Mike Fagan, left, and Randy Ramos, right, debate at the candidate debates held by the Chase Youth Commission Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2015 at North Central High School. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
City Council candidates Mike Fagan, left, and Randy Ramos, right, debate at the candidate debates held by the Chase Youth Commission Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2015 at North Central High School. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)

Hey guess what? It's election season, which means we get to ask candidates questions about random things that only a few people care about.

Like bike lanes. Haha.

A question I asked EVERYONE this year touched on bikeways and pedestrian infrastructure and how they intersected (RIMSHOT!) with street construction.

To wit, I asked them:

Last year, voters overwhelmingly approved a 20-year street levy. Under the city's integrated streets policy (also known as Complete Streets), part of that money will go toward pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure. Do you support that money, as well as other funding, going toward alternative transportation? Why or why not? Do you support the city's work on road diets?

And here are their responses. The italics are mine.

Mike Fagan, candidate in northeast Spokane's District 1:"It is painful to see that for the cost of a police officer or fireman, we are laying down a mile of bike lane ($63,350.00 per mile) to accommodate a very small part of the population (in Spokane 1-2%). We are a nation that loves our cars and will continue to be so for a long time. Complete streets is social engineering with justifications being used which cost the the tax payer alot of money and possibly their property. Take Portland for instance;  Build it and they will come they said. I refer to the bus and light rail lines there. They built it and no body came until the tax payers stepped up with another $800 million in business and residential incentives for the bus lines and at least $2 billion more on the rail lines, and it continues to fail in some regards. The justifications being used to the need for road diets is nothing but pulling the emotion strings in the name of safety and commerce when we are going to have to come back to it in the future due to rising population and better economy driving need. If there is a specific traffic and/or intersection safety issue, we should be concentrating on those specific issues and not addressing those kinds of problems by casting a wide net, wasting tax payer dollars." 

Randy Ramos, candidate in northeast Spokane's District 1: "I believe it’s important for commuters to have alternatives to single occupancy vehicles. Research has been quite clear in showing that when people choose to get around by walking, biking, and using public transportation, carbon emissions are reduced, resulting in a positive impact on the environment. I support building roads in a way that expands the number of choices that are available to Spokane’s citizens, and results in improved usability."

LaVerne Biel, candidate in southern Spokane's District 2: "I fully support enhancing our city’s bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. Like everything else, we need to be cost effective with our investments.  I also think we need to put more efforts into improving pedestrian safety in our community.  I do have concerns with road diets unless they make sense.  We need to do our due diligence by studying the traffic impacts to ensure there are no long term consequences."

Lori Kinnear, candidate in southern Spokane's District 2: "I support Complete Streets and worked on that legislation as a legislative aide to council. Complete Streets includes: bike lanes, sidewalks, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) ramps, traffic calming options, and accommodations for public transit. These alternative forms of transportation that Complete Streets accommodate, reduce the wear and tear on our streets, reduce traffic congestion, and attract younger workers who are not inclined to own cars.

"Road diets work well in most places, but can cause congestion in others. They also can impede emergency vehicles so they need to be examined closely in each suggested application.

"Complete Streets, combined with ‘smart growth’ land use, is integral to planning for our future. We need to grow our community in a thoughtful, economical, and efficient way with consideration to outcomes for our environment, and future generations." 

Karen Stratton, candidate in northwest Spokane's District 3: "I support using the street levy funding for alternative transportation.  There is a persistent notion that streets are just for automobiles, and we need to embrace a philosophy that encourages transportation of all kinds. That philosophy is embedded in Road Diets, and has worked well on Sprague Avenue.  However, we learned from the experience on Monroe Street that Road Diets are best implemented when local businesses are better educated about the program and have a meaningful opportunity to be a part of the design process and final result." 

Evan Verduin, candidate in northwest Spokane's District 3: "I applaud the 20-year street levy as a means to accomplish a significant amount of road maintenance projects without increasing taxes. It should be noted that complete streets is more than just sidewalks and bike lanes. It’s about utility work, storm water, and road pavement maintenance among other things. All these improvements, when warranted, can and should happen together as a more efficient means to address infrastructure improvements. If there are neighborhoods where sidewalks are missing, insufficient “safe routes” to schools then those pieces of infrastructure should be evaluated and included in improvements as necessary. At the end of the day, it’s about providing the greatest value of work while at the same time being the best stewards of tax payer dollars. Frustrations I hear as I talk to neighbors and knock on doors is the inability to get firm commitments as to when a specific and much needed project will commence. At the time of the previous 2004 bond, city leaders were very specific about what projects would be completed, when they would be completed, and how citizens could track construction progress. It is critical that the accountability and oversight of the new levy is executed as quickly as possible to ensure efficient use of tax payer dollars. I believe all of these projects should be tracked online with an interactive map, costs of each project, overruns, and deadlines should be clearly and easily accessible."

John Ahern, candidate for Spokane City Council president: Did not provide an answer.

Ben Stuckart, candidate for Spokane City Counccil president: Yes.  For every bicycle, pedestrian and person riding a bus we are decreasing the wear and tear on our streets.  If we look at successful business districts like Perry and Garland they are built for pedestrians.   If we want our young people to graduate from our local colleges and universities and stay in Spokane we will invest in these alternative transportation networks.  I support road diets if the neighborhoods and local business districts are in favor of them.  On Sprague, the decrease in lanes has increased business.  

Be sure to read our election coverage here for race profiles, Q&As, editorials, blurbs and more.

Nicholas Deshais
Joined The Spokesman-Review in 2013. He is the urban issues reporter, covering transportation, housing, development and other issues affecting the city. He also writes the Getting There transportation column and The Dirt, a roundup of construction projects, new businesses and expansions. He previously covered Spokane City Hall.

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