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Opinion >  Column

Doug Clark: How to rid the STA Plaza of those pesky people

There’s a rumble in our concrete jungle.

Yes, fight fans, the battle’s over pedestrian turf rights outside the bus plaza.

In the red corner are the Stuffed Shirts represented by former Republican County Commissioner Mark Richard, who has descended to the presidency of the Downtown Spokane Partnership.

In the blue corner we have the Poor Schlubs who clog the plaza sidewalks while either waiting for buses or loafing around, depending on who’s telling the tale.

Either way, rampant sidewalk clogging is bad for “bidness” as they say in reruns of “The Sopranos.”

That conclusion was obvious in the loaded question that was recently emailed to the Spokane Transit Authority from Richard and those aforementioned bidness interests.

Question: “How does security enforce the pedestrian interference law, or do they, given its conflict with loading buses?”

Reading our news coverage about this left me with two questions of my own.

1. We have a pedestrian interference law?

2. I mean, really?

I hope it’s true. Some rowdy running kids jostled me awhile back while I was riding the escalator up to a movie at River Park Square.

Had I known about this law I would have screamed at the top of my lungs …


Who’d come running to help me is the next question.

Are actual overworked SPD officers supposed to handle crimes of pedestrian interference?

Or does pedestrian interference fall under the jurisdiction of those downtown security ambassadors who look to me like a cross between grade school crosswalk guards and Mormon missionaries?

Of course, none of this really matters because of the response beamed back to Richard by Susan Meyer, Spokane Transit Authority’s chief executive officer.

“The answer,” she was quoted in our story, “is there is no pedestrian interference.”

Boom goes the dynamite!

Sadly, until this fight’s finished, pedestrians will have to be on their own when it comes to getting through the constipated sidewalks that surround the bus plaza.

Lucky for them, I’ve come up with a few simple ways to stop pedestrian interference in its tracks.


With a little preparation, this idea will yield surefire results.

You’ll need a few religious pamphlets of any ecclesiastical persuasion and a bottle of extra-thick hair gel.

Then …

Apply the gel to your hair until you achieve the slimy gloss of a TV preacher.

Put the religious pamphlets in an easily accessible pocket.

As you approach the Plaza, start waving the pamphlets and, in a loud voice, ask the crowd if they’d like to hear about the Gospel of Carl.

The sidewalk should be interference-free within seconds.

Drawback: There’s always a chance that you will attract a few followers who actually do want to hear about the Gospel of Carl.


This is a variation of a practical joke that I pulled several times while attending college.

Here’s all you need to do:

Just before reaching the bus plaza clog, fall suddenly to your hands and knees and yell, “Oh, no! I’ve lost my contact.”

Immediately, the crowd will drop to the sidewalk to help you find your missing lens.

Then, while everyone is preoccupied, slowly stand up and creep away. You should be long gone by the time anyone notices your absence.

Or pounded to a pulp if your acting isn’t good enough.


On the other hand, there’s nothing so terrible about hanging around the bus plaza all day.

So why not join ’em?

It actually sounds sort of fun, catching buses and interfering with pedestrians.

There are worse ways to spend your time. Like running the Downtown Spokane Partnership, say.

Who needs that stress?

Doug Clark is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review. He can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or by email at

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