Sunday, August 08, 2010
A heavy trip up a new street.
Took the Masi out for a 20 mile spin today to see how the new front rack set-up works with the saddle bag. Stuck 15 pounds in each. Hopefully, that's twice what I will be carrying for the next camping trip.
On the way out, I headed south on the newly paved Lincoln Street. All I could think about is what a difference a new mayor and a new city council made, since the repaving to the east.
I will never forget the day my family and I walked up the newly finished, but not yet open, Stevens, Ben Garnett, Grove and Bernard from Downtown to our home. We were anxious to see sidewalks where none existed before. We wondered about how much better this was now going to be for bikers, walkers and traffic. The answer came quickly. There were no changes. No sidewalks. No bike lanes until you got up to 14th where parking lanes could also be used by bikes if no one else was using them.
Best of all, many trees were removed. Studies showed that lesser-treed streets were streets that encouraged speeding. And that proved to be true. I remember the mayor at the time saying that there was nothing that could be done. The project had to go through without any changes to the street design. This was after they dug everything out - down to the dirt - the perfect, cheapest time to make changes. There was a lot of citizen input that was ignored or explained away. Everyone remembers the big save-the-trees controversy. In the end, laziness and arrogance carried the day.
Lincoln Street is a testament to what happens when you have a city government that listens to what people want and is unafraid to do work and to innovate. The swales in the parking strips will collect rainwater, filter it and send to Cannon Hill pond. In the picture you can see where these swales jut out to collect stormwater. This makes sense in a lot of ways, plus it looks really cool.
The street is still heavily treed. There are no bike lanes, but I think I will always prefer to travel on a street where cars go the speed limit, a street with some shade and one that at least looks interesting rather than travel on a standard Spokane street in a bike lane. I would wager that drivers on this street are going to feel happier than drivers on Bernard. I think I would rather have that too.
And speaking of feeling happy, I was very happy with the front rack. It did a great job of balancing the saddle bag. The bike climbed up many a hill and bombed down. It felt great!