By Fran Korten, Bainbridge GreenWays
As the City neared the end of its nearly two-year sustainable transportation planning process, it asked for citizen feedback on its draft 10-year plan.
The draft plan, which was unveiled at the October 29 Sustainable Transportation Task Force meeting, is Public Works’ attempt to balance plan goals with feasibility. Their 10-year plan includes biking and walking projects only on existing roads, some of which create protected lanes safe for children, while others would work only for confident bikers. Projects were not prioritized within the 10-year period.
At Bainbridge GreenWays, we consulted various groups, especially parents of school kids, and recommended a project list with clear priorities, based on the City’s overall goals for the plan. Some projects were for protected pathways on roads, while others were off road. We listed 8 projects to be done first and 9 subsequent projects. The projects are ones that can most quickly create safe routes to school for many of our youth and serve the largest number of Islanders. Some could take somewhat more time or money than the City’s plan but would significantly increase the number of Islanders served.
On November 10, we invited citizens to sign on to our recommendations letter, which Jen Wilson posted on the Sustainable Bainbridge website. The letter opened by saying “We, the undersigned, are determined….to give [our children] a network of biking and walking infrastructure across Bainbridge Island, allowing them agency over their lives, health and wellness, as well as establishing life-long habits that will benefit them wherever they go.”
In just two days, 151 Islanders had signed. To meet the City’s feedback deadline, we submitted the letter to City staff on November 12. We then left the letter open for 5 more days, which raised the total signatories to 231.
Susan Loftus sent the letter with all 231 signatories to the City Council and City staff, noting that the enthusiastic response indicates a potential groundswell of support for implementing a biking and walking network that will work for Islanders of all ages and ability, particularly our youth.
City staff continues to finalize the plan to submit for approval to the City Council on January 18.