A path for all is in the making | Letter to the editor

We have been reading and discussing the Sound to Olympics Trail and the “bridge” for months/years now.

Seeing the clearance of trees along highway 305 just off Winslow Way was stunning at first. But this is a strip next to Highway 305 in our densest development, not a forest.

Driving to Winslow or off the ferry I’ve seen riders struggle, or been fearful as I wonder what the bike(s) next to me will do. It seemed like a worthwhile tradeoff.

Whenever I come home, I remember what drew me to the Island were the trees. But we live on land that was once forested, but which someone cut to build homes. Thanks to the land trust and the parks department we have saved many stretches of wild forest. The cut on 305 already looks less severe.

Unlike many Islanders, I’m deeply aware of what it is to try to get around in nature when you have physical limitations. Spending early summers in Glacier Park with family hiking and fishing became quite challenging when at age 7 I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. It was almost impossible to control. I struggled and panted up mountain trails and couldn’t go on some hikes. As much as I loved the forest, athletic cousins left me behind not understanding why I couldn’t make it.

My 40 years as a clinical social worker have also given me perspective on being limited — by MS, Parkinson’s, paraplegia or other mobility limiting conditions. Those of us who can still hike or ride our bicycles are lucky to be able to get into nature easily. Should we deprive those who can’t of this precious restorative opportunity? Returning to Glacier in recent years, I’ve found paths that are accessible to people with wheelchairs, strollers and walkers. The path and experience is slightly changed, but the tradeoff is rewarding.

I think the bridge could be wonderful. People — able or limited — can get a higher view of the trees, and not be constrained by stoplights or turning cars. Those who say it will be ugly I think aren’t using their imaginations.

GLORIA SAYLER

Bainbridge Island

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