biker at Bainbridge Gateway

Photo credit: Don Willott

By Fran Korten

“What is your big idea for sustainable transportation on Bainbridge?”

That’s a question that Jennifer Wieland, a Nelson\Nygaard consultant, posed to members of the Bainbridge Island Sustainable Transportation Task Force at its meeting on Friday, July 17. The Zoom meeting signaled the restart of the Sustainable Transportation planning process, after a four-month, pandemic-induced lull.

For the discussion of their big ideas, the 18 (of 20) Task Force members present, plus City Council members Leslie Schneider and Christy Carr, were divided into small groups.

In report-outs, a common theme, articulated by Emily Reardon, was to make sure that the car is not the primary vehicle for travel on the island. Robert Wechsler, reporting for his group, suggested an entire network of separated bikeways, not just shoulders for bikes, plus shuttle buses to keep cars off the island. Kirk Robinson put forward making the Sound to Olympic trail a central element of a network of trails and designating the downtown area as a pedestrian core. Schneider relayed the ideas of an electric circulator bus and way-finding signs so routes are clear. Carter Woolf’s report included building lots of solar to charge vehicles of all kinds and electric bikes for everyone.

Participants also brainstormed ways to engage the public, including kids, businesses, and marginalized communities. Susan Loftus noted the need for educational pieces so the public is aware of options and their implications.

Next steps

Wieland told Task Force members they are welcome to meet in small groups of less than 10 (to avoid a quorum). She asked members to discuss what needs to change to meet the Sustainable Transportation Plan’s four big goals: Climate mitigation; Safety; Equity; and Shift in the modes of transportation.

Wieland announced there will be a public, live-streamed open house on August 20. And she projected that the entire planning process would end in Spring 2021.