The Spokane University District Pedestrian/Bicycle Bridge Health Impact Assessment (HIA) was developed to help inform decision makers about potential health impacts that development of a pedestrian bridge in the University District will have on the current and projected population who will live, work, and recreate within a quarter-mile radius of the bridge. The bridge project is key to a targeted redevelopment area where a land use and transportation study is now underway. This HIA is a collaboration between the City of Spokane and the Spokane Regional Health District.
Six health impacts were chosen for analysis: physical safety, physical activity, perceived safety, social capital, economic development, and air quality. Indicators were developed to measure each impact. A combination of primary and secondary research was utilized. The HIA team developed a survey that was administered to residents and business owners within the study area. Data pertaining to air pollution, perceived safety, and social capital were collected via this survey. Peer-reviewed journal articles and local data sources were also used to develop recommendations.
Impacts and magnitude on the health of the study population were developed for each health impact. A review of physical activity literature suggests there would be a 13 percent increase in bicycle commuting for the students and employees who work at the Riverpoint campus. Based on the Spokane Regional Transit map and survey data pertaining to bicycle and pedestrian collisions with motorized vehicles in the past two years, collisions will likely increase by 18 percent once the bridge is built. Actual levels of various air pollution components were not assessed in the study area. Instead, survey data was used as a proxy to estimate the impact. Residents drive an average of 4.75 miles per week, which could be reduced by 0.86 miles per week once the bridge is built, resulting in an average reduction in CO2—between 0.62-0.69 lbs. per person per week, and a reduction in 2.3 kilos of particulate matter. Based on secondary economic development research, the pedestrian bridge will likely draw more residents, businesses and patrons to the study area, resulting in higher costs per square foot of real estate, reduced vacant space, and increased business revenue.
First and foremost, this bridge HIA concluded that the bridge will contribute positively to the health of the study area. Authors recommend that this bridge be constructed. Design research shows that the following additional recommendations will have positive impacts on current and future populations within the study area, and all users of the bridge. Recommendations were prioritized by considering cost, impact on health, and impact on reducing vehicle miles traveled. Please see Appendix 6 for detail on how these recommendations are prioritized. The top ten are listed below in descending order of priority.
Top ten recommendations:
1. Reduce the availability of on- and off-street parking to encourage alternate forms of transportation
2. Provide zoning that allows and provides incentives for mixed-use residential / retail / office
3. Ensure there are bike lanes to and from the bridge
4. Ensure regular bus service, and provide covered bus stops in the area to make bus transportation more appealing
5. Ensure that sidewalks are properly maintained and repaired
6. Provide bike lanes on the bridge
7. Provide maps and signs that direct bicycle and pedestrian commuters to shortest and safest routes to destinations
8. Provide alternative transportation incentives
9. Implement traffic calming strategies such as chokers or raised crosswalks, for pedestrian safety
10. Continue to “brand” the University District, especially the South University District Revitalization Area (SUDRA)
The project team concluded that if the recommendations made for each health impact are included within policy and project plans for the pedestrian/bicycle bridge that the health of people using the bridge and living and working within the study area will be improved beyond the initial benefits of the physical connection. The following report offers details supporting the inclusion of these recommendations into policy and plans for development of the pedestrian/bicycle bridge.
Read the full HIA