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Bainbridge shares the road on North Madison Avenue
Celebration ride March 27 on North Madison Avenue
Joel Levin and Squeaky Wheels invite the community to a commemorative family-friendly ride beginning at 1 p.m. March 27 at First Baptist Church, Madison Avenue and SR-305.
The event is to celebrate the widening of North Madison Avenue for non-motorized vehicles. The ride ends at Fay Bainbridge Park for a celebration and picnic.
For more information, visit www.squeakywheels.org.
Cole Pugliano likes to ride his bike to school, but he had to go out of his way to avoid using North Madison Avenue.
“It used to be a small, little grass path and cars would fly by,” he said. “Now cars will at least recognize that it’s a bike lane. It’s nice to have a bigger shoulder.”
His father, Perry Pugliano, said he and his family would intentionally avoid using the dangerous route where the speed limit varies from 25 to 35 mph.
Cole, a seventh grader at Woodward Middle School, feels safer now that the road has been widened.
“It’s easier to ride. You don’t have to worry so much,” he said.
“It’s good for everybody,” his dad said. “It’s good to get kids outside, riding their bikes to school or to the store. It’s not perfect, but it’s much better than it was.”
That assessment seems to be the consensus.
Joel Levin, who kickstarted the effort to get the road widened to accommodate non-motorized vehicles after former attempts had stalled, calls it progress.
“I had a long talk with Dana Berg [president of the nonprofit bicycle advocacy group Squeaky Wheels] and I think we’re of the same mind: You can’t use the term safe, but you can say it’s safer.”
The long road to progress
Levin, an avid and experienced bicyclist, has logged “about 10,000 miles on this island.”
“I moved here basically because I love to ride,” he said.
He heard a lot of talk among the bicycling community about the issue of shoulders, the Core 40, but nothing seemed to be getting done.
“There was a traction problem,” he said, not with the roads, but with the political process of working with the city.
Levin considered how to get the attention of then mayor Darlene Kordonowy.
“I thought, Darlene’s probably seen Power Points, and maybe some maps, but I’ll bet she’s never been on these roads,” he recalled.
“To my surprise, she accepted my invitation to ride on North Madison,” he said. “Darlene’s taken a lot of hits, but she did some good things, too.”
Roll with it
Now that the new bike lane is in, Levin thought it would be good to celebrate the accomplishment.
“There’s that saying, ‘death by a thousand cuts,’ but the opposite is true, too. Little actions by a lot of people add up to make a difference,” he said.
He’s aware of how many people were involved to make the bike lane a reality. Along with Kordonowy, Levin said the citizen Non-Motorized Transportation Committee (NMTC), including Don Willott, Dennis Voigt, John Grintner and Kirk Robinson, worked tirelessly to make the non-motorized lane improvements happen. The Kitsap Regional Coordinating Council and Puget Sound Regional Council help fund and enhance non-motorized access and safety.
He noted that Council members Kim Brackett and Debbi Lester spent many hours representing Bainbridge Island with these groups. COBI Engineering and the Public Works Department offered much pragmatic help during the process.
To commemorate the accomplishment, Levin and Squeaky Wheels are inviting the public for a commemorative group ride Sunday.
The festivities will begin at 1 p.m. at the First Baptist Church, at Madison Ave. and SR-305. The group will head north on North Madison and then proceed to Fay Bainbridge Park for a picnic celebration.
Port Madison Farm will donate hand-made goat cheese for the event. The Stephen’s House is donating donut holes. The community is invited to take part in the group ride and to learn more about Bainbridge Island’s non-motorized transportation.
For more information, visit www.squeakywheels.org or email Jeff Groman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Squeaky Wheels is a bicycle advocacy organization based on Bainbridge Island. The organization was founded in 1994 by a group of bicyclists concerned about bicycle safety and access on the island.
Monthly meeting is at 7 p.m. every third Thursday at Marge Williams Center, 221 Winslow Way W. #307.
City of Bainbridge
The Non-Motorized Transportation Committee section includes a link to the Non-Motorized Transportation Plan.