Council member Leslie Schneider helped bring together city leaders for the special Council session on sustainable transportation. In this photo she and her partner Jason Omens are on the 2019 inauguration bike ride for the Seattle tunnel.

Can Bainbridge become a truly bikeable, walkable city? That possibility took a giant step toward becoming real at the March 16 City Council’s special study session.

What made the session special was that the panelists were not just the Council members. They included leaders from the Park District, the School District, the Land Trust, the Parks Foundation, City staff, and transportation consultant Jennifer Wieland.

The session featured world renowned sustainable transportation expert Gil Penalosa, who detailed the multiple benefits of biking and walking—for individual health, household finance, personal happiness, community relationships, social equity, and planetary climate.

Penalosa urged Bainbridge to be bold in its vision. Imagine Bainbridge as the healthiest small city in the country! It’s possible because most trips on the island are less than three miles—very walkable and bikeable. He stressed, however, that a bikeable, walkable city must have an integrated network of safe infrastructure—off-road trails, separated lanes along busy streets, and low traffic/low speed roads.

City leaders expressed a readiness to help, asking questions about how to achieve the vision rather than whether to try. Dawn Janow of the Park District commented she, like many parents, spends a lot of time driving her kids to their events. She would like them to be able to get there safely on their own. Jenny Lange said the Land Trust supports the goals of the Sustainable Transportation Plan and wants to be a resource for laying out trails to fit with wildlife needs. Barb Trafton of the Parks Foundation asked about achieving bikeable trail surfaces that fit the landscape. Council member Brenda Fantroy-Johnson asked whether roundabouts help or hinder biking and walking. Mayor Rasham Nassar asked about Winslow being the focus of trail connections.

Council member Leslie Schneider closed the session by urging action now. We don’t have to wait. We can achieve a lot of the vision within the next three years.

For details on Penalosa’s presentation, see Steven Powell’s article in the Bainbridge Review. Or click here to see the full Council session.