Spokane’s biking and running “heat map”

Spokane's biking infrastructure apparently lags somewhat, with obvious deficiencies on the  north side. (PHOTO: Strava Labs/Google Maps)
Spokane’s biking infrastructure apparently lags somewhat in some critical areas, with obvious deficiencies on the north side and in the City of Spokane Valley. (PHOTO: Strava Labs/Google Maps)

 

Strava is a GPS tracking system that’s become quite popular amongst runners and cyclists. The app allows users to track their rides or runs and save them for record-keeping. Not content with merely providing a great service to end users, however, the company also anonymizes its data and compiles it in order to create a global “heat map” of its users’  biking and running paths. These paths can tell a surprising story, especially for Spokane.

Above, see the biking heat map for Spokane. Notice the areas where bikers are concentrated; namely, around Riverside State Park, the High Drive Bluff, and Beacon Hill. Notably, downtown seems to attract bikers as well; this could indicate that infrastructure is improving. That said, it’s clear that some critical deficiencies exist in the overall biking system. The north side between the Spokane River, Monroe, Havana, and the Mead area is almost a complete desert. Is this because people just don’t bike in that area, or is it because there is no infrastructure there? Would adding bike lanes in this area increase biking? A similar situation appears to be unfolding in the South Valley area. What could be done to improve utilization to the rates seen on the South Hill and elsewhere? Are there equity issues at play?

See more on running after the break.

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The running/jogging “heat map” from Strava Labs for Spokane tells a similar scenario. A lot of running and jogging on the South Hill; not so much elsewhere. (PHOTO: Strava Labs/Google Maps)

The running “heat map” tells a similar story, only here, the difference is even more stark. Where is the running and jogging around Hillyard? Garland? Shadle? Indian Trail? The entire north side is a sea of nothingness where no one runs or jogs. Meanwhile, the South Hill prospers, and South Valley does surprisingly well. (This would seem to indicate that the bike lanes are an infrastructure problem, not an equity issue.) But in the rest of the city, the story is not pleasant. Is it time for bike/pedestrian paths around the north side? Do we need better education about healthy lifestyles? What do you think? How does this map shock you, as it does us?

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