Legislative Victory Follows Energetic Campaign in Spokane

First issue of the Complete Streets zine.
First issue of the Complete Streets zine.

A few months ago I was delighted when a colleague handed me a tiny little booklet: “Complete Streets: The Bike Issue.” This little ‘zine was just a hint of a very big effort to bring Complete Streets to Spokane, Washington.

The three-year campaign, headed up by the state smart-growth group Futurewise, is holding a celebration this Thursday, January 19, to mark an enormous victory: passage of a Complete Streets ordinance at a City Council meeting just before Christmas.

Council member Jon Snyder championed the effort and described the dramatic meeting on his blog the next day:

“But a lot of the testimony last night focused on the health and safety aspects of Complete Streets (.pdf). We heard from disabled veterans, folks from Lighthouse for the Blind, grade school teachers, physicians, neighborhood representatives, and small business owners imploring us to help make our streets safer for all users and to address the epidemics of obesity and diabetes that result from inactivity. In all, more than forty people testified and Futurewise turned in a petition with an additional 500 names in support.”

The ordinance (.pdf) calls for creation of Complete Streets in accordance with existing planning documents; Futurewise’s Kitty Klitzke notes that Complete Streets-type language has been in the city’s comprehensive plan for 20 years – but was widely ignored, leaving more than 650 miles of missing sidewalks.

Valentine messages in support of Complete Streets.
Valentine messages in support of Complete Streets.

In addition to the huge list of supportive organizations, the campaign benefitted from an active Facebook group, innovative advocacy ideas such as sending Complete Streets Valentines to City Council, and the decidedly low-tech ‘zines — spread across the city by hand. You can follow the entire story at the Futurewise website. The effort was also buoyed by a supportive state legislature, and even by U.S. Senator Cantwell’s vote just days earlier for a bi-partisan Complete Streets measure in a Senate committee.

The advocates in Spokane are not resting on their laurels, already preparing to ensure that the ordinance is applied to the city’s next transportation bond measure. They don’t expect smooth sailing: a new, less receptive Council is being seated and the Spokesman-Review has questioned the value of the investment.

But we’re confident that after this massive Coalition celebrates on Thursday, they’ll be in a great position to bring the ordinance to the city’s streets.

Complete Streets