By Fran Korten

What is the best strategy to build public support for the City’s Sustainable Transportation Plan? That question was on the table at the January 14 meeting of the Sustainable Transportation Task Force (STTF).

At an STTF meeting last October, the City presented plans for the next 6 to 10 years that spread repairs and upgrades throughout the island. They assumed that to get funds from a voter-approved bond, people in most parts of the island needed to see some direct benefit for themselves. Yet, with so many projects in the plan, many were not designed as Level of Traffic Stress 1, so were not suitable for children, most women, and elders.

At Bainbridge GreenWays, we objected to those plans. We wanted the City to prioritize spines and links that would safely connect significant numbers of people to key places they want to go and help children bike and walk to school. We put our priorities into a petition that 232 of you signed (thank you), which we submitted to the city.

At the meeting on January 14, City Engineer Chris Wierzbicki unveiled a new option, much more in line with our goals. Under this option the program would be kickstarted with routes that enable people from three neighborhoods (Lynwood, Rolling Bay, and Island Center) to safely bike into town. That option won positive comments from Task Force members and others who tuned into the meeting.

The new strategy relies on the City to provide the extra initial funding, such as through councilmanic bonds. Once Islanders see people of all ages using truly safe biking and walking trails, the hope is that they will want to do more, which would be the time to seek a voter-approved bond to expand the network.

At Bainbridge GreenWays we enthusiastically support the City’s new option. As you might expect, we want several tweaks to the City’s plan, one of which is a safe path from SR 305 along High School Road to Madison to enable bikers to reach the Island Village shopping center and schools.

The City will present its options to the City Council at the February 15 study session. The Council will discuss the options at a business meeting on February 22, where the public can voice comments.