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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Multi-modal consequences: Safety vs. Convenience

POST FALLS -- Bike and pedestrian improvements to 15th Avenue may be complete, but safety concerns still linger.

Residents along the stretch from Spokane to Idaho streets want parking to be allowed on one side of the street during non-school hours because the widening project consumed city right of way that was formerly used for parking in front of homes.

The City Council tonight will accept public comment as to whether or not the signage prohibiting parking within the bike lane should remain or be removed.

Post Falls School Superintendent Jerry Keane said the school district has concerns if parking is allowed.

"It appears to me that any person parking on either side of the street will actually have part of their vehicle parked in the designated driving lane," Keane wrote in letter to the city. "Having vehicles parked in the driving lane will cause a hardship for our buses, especially during the winter.

"While it would be difficult to quantify, there is little doubt that honoring the request to park on the street will reduce the positive impact that this project will have for citizen and student bikers as well."

Post Falls Middle School is just off 15th Avenue. Bike lanes have been added in both directions on the stretch.

The council in April decided to postpone the residents' request to park, then accept public comment after project completion. More than 50 residents signed a petition on the request.

City staff earlier opposed the request due to safety reasons and possibly jeopardizing a federal grant for the project. City officials say illegal parking in bike lanes -- and enforcement difficulties that come with it -- is already a citywide problem.

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Kootenai Metropolitan Planning Organization (KMPO) is the Metropolitan Planning Organization for Kootenai County, Idaho. Federal law requires urbanized areas with populations exceeding 50,000 people to have an MPO. KMPO was formed in 2003, to provide coordinated transportation planning within Kootenai county for the public, cities, small towns, the county, the state, transit providers, and the Coeur d'Alene tribe.

KMPO's Board of Directors oversees KMPO for Kootenai County, ID. KMPO's Executive Director and Staff are responsible for day-to-day operational and administrative needs.