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Route 12: East Sprague Loop

The East Sprague Loop is the kind of route that fascinates me. Tiny, short stretches of condensed, multi-use, inner- to mid-city roads are the perfect areas to throw transit infrastructure. It empties the users from the longer routes that travel to the suburbs and surrounding areas, allowing those vehicles to stop less often closer to their origin, fewer buses/streetcars are needed to fulfill the demand, and (most importantly) the streetcars appear more frequently and predictably, meaning that memorizing a schedule (ideally) isn’t necessary.

The East Sprague Loop turns around at Freya. I think it’s important to point out that this route (unlike the STA route) stops before it gets outside of Spokane’s city limits. The majority of Spokane Valley residents have made it very clear that they are unwilling to pay for public transit. This doesn’t mean those of us who live in Spokane shouldn’t be able to take a bus to Spokane Valley, but it does mean frequency and reliability for City of Spokane residents should be the priority.


Like Crestline, Sprague transitions from two lanes each way to one with a middle turn lane. The problem with Sprague’s implementation is that the road surface doesn’t make bicycling on the right edge of the lane very viable. From Altamont into downtown, ruts, potholes, and cracks are the bicyclist’s number one safety concern.


The Pedestrian Overpass, The Sherman Bridge, The Bridge to Hookerville. Whatever you call it, it will be a game-changer for East Sprague. I’m excited to see a couple hundred bicyclists a day crawling through this lot in a couple years and I’m jealous of the individual(s) who turn the building on the left side of this picture into a bicycle/coffee shop. I’m available as a barista/wrench man.


The Sherman Overpass will help alleviate the dangers of the narrowing of Sprague right as it crawls back to a four-lane road. However a bicyclist chooses to navigate this intersection, doubts can be made regarding their judgement, which really means doubts should be made regarding the intersection’s design.




Best non-downtown spot for a drink along the way: Sprague has a number of hidden treasures, even with Budge Bros. and Jones’ Radiator closing and The Iron Goat moving. Can’t recommend The Checkerboard and Bennidito’s enough, even if Sonnenberg’s is on the top of my list.
Next Sunday Monday: Trying to cram another thing into the weekend has been a little tough the last couple weeks. From now on, you can find new #1923streetcar posts every Monday! We checked out Route 14: Fort Wright > East Trent this weekend after riding Route 14. My description last week was spot on: “It’s a flat, straight shot on some of Spokane’s fastest roads.” Fun, too!
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Route 1: Hillyard > Manito

Route 1 should be advertised as the City Drive Lite. Glimpses of Beacon Hill through Hillyard’s old buildings make way for river views over Upriver Drive, dumping you onto post-warehouse Division, through Downtown and up the aptly named Grand Blvd to upper Manito. Spokane in a nutshell, no doubt.

Nora and Market reminds me of the 9th and Perry area about 15 years ago: one can see the vibrant past and the potential for the vibrant future. Just like Perry, Market’s complexion would change completely by lowering the speed limit to encourage alternative transportation as well as a walkable neighborhood.


Crestline is a perfect example of the positives and negatives of a road diet. On the one hand, riding roads with two lanes each way can be great: there is a left hand lane for vehicles to get around with plenty of room and a road with this capacity generally is an arterial that goes somewhere. Unfortunately, all it takes is one driver who is committed to going faster than the car in the left hand lane or one vehicle waiting to turn left to make…
…it very obvious as to why one extra large lane going each way is vastly superior.
To me, Illinois has always been that deep-cut, B-side banger of a road. Incredible views of the river, a clean road surface, bike lane, and connections to other roads (Upriver, Trent) that share similar characteristics.


Illinois to Indiana means (once the construction on Indiana is completed) , a bicyclist has miles of good sight lines, safe distances, and few right-of-way issues. Basically, this phenomenal stretch of road should be the minimum expectation for the city to call a stretch of road a recommended bicycle route.
Division’s bicycle prohibition is silly. Division is busy because it is a functional route: it travels from north to downtown with a very managable grade, it crosses the river (which is a bit more difficult anywhere to the east), and there are four or five lanes going each way. In’s a bummer the city has decided there’s no way to squeeze in any infrastructure to help bicycles.
I love the old-school streetcar/trolly aesthetic, mainly because with either cable or electric power, they’re natural mountain goats. Route 1 goes up the steepest options in the Cliff-Cannon neighborhood. #legday


Seventh at Bernard is no joke. Real #eurovibes with the gradient here.
Grand south of Sacred Heart is a lot like Crestline: the two lanes each way make it a relatively comfortable way to get the South Hill’s elevation out of the way, presuming you aren’t ascending during rush hour. Knowing that once you crest, Manito’s 20mph zone is close to the top is quite comforting as well.
Much like its beginning, Route 1’s conclusion leaves you in a perfect spot for jumping to any number of great riding roads. 38th and Grand leaves you with High Drive, Hatch Rd, and the great roads off 37th to the east to play around on.
Best non-downtown spot for a drink along the way: When in doubt, pick the Park Inn.
Next Sunday: I’m excited to ride Route 14: Fort Wright > East Trent. It’s a flat, straight shot on some of Spokane’s fastest roads.


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Route 13: East Nora > Garden Springs

Many of these routes follow Spokane’s best rides, which is not surprising. Generally, people in a city want to live in an enjoyably comfortable neighborhood with easy access to downtown, entertainment, and/or nightlife (the politics around who is capable of living in such an area is for another post (or book)).  Route 13, with only a couple of revisions, is a stretch of road I bicycled nearly every day last summer. Its edges are accessible from downtown, the areas at its fringes are picturesque and have smooth roads, and Route 13 actually passes meaningful, practical areas of Spokane. So much so that Spokane’s proposed Central City Line follows many of the same roads. Beginning on the river at Spokane’s eastern edge, Route 13 ducks through downtown, climbing up Sunset Blvd’s first major ramp.

I’m always debating which direction to do these routes. East to west won on this day because #sunsetchasing is my favorite bicycle discipline.
One of the more interesting aspects of the #1923streetcar project is how aware you become of the road surface. Many of these streets still have brick and/or tracks underneath the asphalt, which means there is a lot of quilt-like patchwork going on.


The University District highlights the importance and difference of infrastructure built as a Complete Street instead of forced into one. Bicycle lanes are wide, cleared of debris, smooth, and feature clear sight lines for both drivers and bicyclists. Buy your property on East Sprague now, because the Sherman Street Pedestrian Bridge is going to be a #gamechanger for both sides of the tracks.
Chasing sunsets on Main is just as nice as chasing sunrises on Main.


Of all the colossal oversights in Spokane’s bicycling infrastructure, I’d put Cedar and Sprague’s right-lane-bike-lane easily in the top-3. How does a bicycle lane benefit anyone if bicycles are placed in a position to jockey with vehicles itching to get up to 50mph on the Maple St Bridge? If traffic calming on this intersection isn’t a priority for the city, just throw the bike lane on the left side so bicyclists aren’t crossing the on ramp. (Also, this is a major bicycling intersection; those two bicyclists are organic. The oversight on this infrastructure is embarrassing, considering its use.)
I’ve given up on hoping for meaningful changes to the Sunset Bridge. Why do I normally never ride to the right of the cones in the shoulder on this bridge? Because of the cones, the street cleaners can’t pick up all the glass, garbage, and debris littering the far side of the road. Riding to the left of the cones means you’re dealing with drivers excited for the change from Sunset Blvd to Sunset Highway. Despite being a literal bridge to two otherwise isolated parts of town, as well as having some of the best views in Spokane, there really is no safe way to traverse the span. My recommendation? Save the wide shoulders, ditch the cones, throw a speed bump on either end. Sunset shouldn’t be a highway through the city.
From the Fish Lake Trail to Garden Springs Road, a bicyclist can cross over I-90 four times. This bicyclist does regularly.
My camera doesn't take blurry pictures, it's just giving a hyper-realistic visual of what it's like to ride up W Rosamond Ave. Do yourself a favor and have a blast crushing up and then bombing down West Drive instead (take a right at the Yield sign).
My camera doesn’t take blurry pictures, it’s just giving a hyper-realistic visual of what it’s like to ride up W Rosamond Ave. Do yourself a favor and have a blast crushing up and then bombing down West Drive instead (take a right at the Yield sign).
Rosamond’s current dead end does nothing to showcase Route 13’s original genius. The terminus was directly across Sunset on Garden Springs. To have a stop on either side of what was then a major highway seems like a no-brainer, yet modern examples of routes that go out of their way to bridge obvious pedestrian gaps are few.
Best non-downtown spot for a drink along the way: Stop by Rosauer’s in Browne’s Addition on the way down Rosamond for a sixer on the way down to the river under Sandifur Bridge. #simplepleasures
Next Sunday: Route 1: Hillyard > Manito will definitely be a highlight of the #1923streetcar project. If you want to see what Spokane has to offer, you’ll want to r(ead/ide) this installment.
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Route 4: Northwest Blvd > Altamont

When thinking about The City as a concept, I generally picture a circle with a lightening gradient towards the edges, as a map of the daytime population density, dedicated parking spots, or lawyer’s offices would likely show. So, to simplify, imagine a pizza.

If you were to cut the pizza into sections to represent, say, ways to get from periphery to periphery, how would every person who has ever seen a round pizza cut it? Most likely, some variation of:

  1. North to south
  2. East to west
  3. Bisect those cuts with another (NW to SE, SW to NE)

Route 4: Northwest Blvd > Altamont is a cut from the lower northwest part of town to the upper southeast part of town.  This route is nearly directly east to west, only deviating to cross the river. A practical and necessary route that is totally unrepresented/unfulfilled in any functional way with our current public transportation options.

Route 4 starts with the prototypical 21st century road-dieted arterial. Riding on three lane roads like this is the pinnacle of relaxed urban bicycling, with or without bicycle lanes.
Even when Northwest turns to a four-lane arterial with no bicycle lanes, Audabon Park and the sidewalk-fronted business district keeps traffic relatively calm and predictable.
My biggest gripe with an urban planning model that focuses heavily on adding bicycle amenities to existing infrastructure instead of traffic calming is the most dangerous places for bicyclists are generally the most difficult, both practically and politically to affect change. The only real bicycle infrastructure that has been added to this very dangerous section of road is a sign (center) letting road users know this is the designated bicycle route. It’s understandable that selling a road diet for this section of Northwest Blvd might be a little difficult to those who use it everyday. Here’s to hoping the political weight necessary doesn’t come in the form of a dead bicyclist.
I love riding this stretch of Maple. With so many lanes, I would love to see one dedicated to buses and bicycles only from at least Northwest Blvd to Broadway. A perfect potential corridor onto the Kendall Yards extension of the Centennial Trail.
Serendipitous #sibliminaladvertising for Route 6: North Monroe > Cannon Hill.
So far, my favorite part of #1923streetcar project is the views one gets while traveling the wrong way on long-ago converted two-way streets. Washington is much more appealing heading south.
This is the last picture I took for awhile. Why? Because we ran into Jamal on his bicycle and we cat-and-mouse raced/smashed it up to Perry. Almost 30 years later, “if you build it, they will come” rings true. Coincidence and chance only partially explain why we ran into Jamal. Infrastructure and the safety that comes with drivers used to seeing bicyclists on these roads explain the rest.
From Perry, 10th to Pittsburgh, down 11th, and around the Altamont Loop is a stretch worthy of the #thumbsupemoji.
Who wants to help stage a criterium around the Altamont Loop? This is a no brainer, right?
Since STA’s route restructuring about five years ago, the nearest bus stop to the end of Route 4 is approximately three-quarters of a mile from here. Majorly disappointing.


Best non-Downtown spot for a drink along the way: The Flying Goat. A real place to lock your bike up! A chill patio! A safe way to turn left into the establishment!

Next Sunday: Read about Route 13: East Nora > Garden Springs.

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Earn Yr Labor Day

Gonna head this off at the pass: yes, this route goes straight up Grand.

Yes, you can make it up.

This Sunday! Meet at Coeur at 11:30, we roll to Hillyard at noon for:

Route 1: Hillyard > Manito

We’ll cool down/chill out by snagging a drink at RocketMarket and heading to the High Drive Cliff overlook just west of Luna.

What are we celebrating? Earning our Labor Day.

See y’all Sunday!

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Introducing #1923streetcar

Today, CityLab published one of those articles that makes any transportation nerd say, “Well, duh,” but almost everyone else say, “What’s CityLab?”

In it, author Linda Poon promotes the #straighterisgreater hashtag, highlighting circuitious, meandering bus routes bad enough to keep people from using public transportation.

This connects to a project I’ve been working on for most of the summer. I’m calling it #1923streetcar.

Each week, I’ll be bicycling and photographing a different route from Spokane’s 1923 Streetcar system. The first route is Route 4: Northwest Boulevard to Altamont (orange in the map above), a 7 mile route that took about 45 minutes to casually bicycle.

Part of this project will be focusing on how thoughtful many of these routes are, especially when compared to the STA’s service today. Transportation needs are always changing and will vary for every user, but if you wanted to travel Route 4 on Spokane’s current bus service, the trip would take over an hour via either 29th or Market and Wellesely along with walking over a mile. For a simple, nearly-straight line full of arterials traveling through Downtown, using STA seems to lack the straight-ness and greatness Poon and #straighterisgreater is advocating.

Be on the lookout for #1923streetcar and related ephemera every Sunday starting September 4th!

Want to ride along? Keep an eye out here and on Instagram for announcements!


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Bike Share, Do Care

I was pretty proud that there has been a bit of to-and-fro on the viability of a bike share program in The Spokesman-Review’s Letters to the Editor lately.

The “failure” of “bike share” the second letter refers to was a community driven effort to spray paint a bunch of down-on-their-luck bicycles lilac and leave them around town for folks to ride and leave where they pleased. Predictably, most ended up in garages or the river. Perhaps you may be able to imagine a subtle difference or two to the bike share programs that Paris, London, and New York currently enjoy. Sorry, Cheryl.

Despite the success of bike sharing elsewhere, perhaps Spokane should eschew the idea of a Bike Share simply because  20 years ago the rag-tag version of modern bike sharing didn’t become a permanent part of our modern landscape. Very similar to the way we have eschewed:

Netflix (because Blockbuster isn’t around anymore)

Mobile phones (they were so inconvenient when they were tied to the console of one’s Lincoln)

Downloading music (because 28.8k modems are way too slow for that sort of thing)

Consistency is key, after all.



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Stage Three


Ronde van Spokane Stage 3: Spokane ➡ Spokane, 20k.
Race report: Ceremonial appreciation for this mean machine’s 7th birthday.

Love you, bro.



Planning is already underway for next year’s #secondannual #rondevanspokane !

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Stage Two

Ronde van Spokane Stage 2: City ➡ River ➡ City, approx 30k; many beers.
Race report:
Calm conditions until some nervousness overtook the peleton.


Beers and tacos calmed everything right down.


Today’s Stage 3 preview: a ceremonial finish along Spokane’s chillest roads.

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Stage One

Ronde van Spokane Stage 1: Felts Field ➡ GEG, 53k.
Race report:


Rough roads and large trucks on the way to SFF.


Fifteen minute race neutralization at Coeur.


Smooth roads, heavy headwinds to GEG; smooth roads, heavy tailwinds back from GEG.

Tomorrow’s stage 2 preview: beer, burritos, river, chance of BBQ.

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