Image courtesy of the city of Bainbridge Island
                                A map of the traffic revisions that will be in place in the Winslow area Saturday, Oct. 6 during the Open Streets Festival.

Image courtesy of the city of Bainbridge Island A map of the traffic revisions that will be in place in the Winslow area Saturday, Oct. 6 during the Open Streets Festival.

Open Streets Festival celebrates biking culture, alters island traffic

Major traffic revisions will be in place in the Winslow area Saturday, Oct. 6 during the Open Streets Festival, the local iteration of a free nationwide event designed to encourage communities to explore safe pedestrian infrastructure options and discuss bike lanes, trails and paths.

The traffic revisions, which include reducing several downtown streets to one-way traffic only, are expected to last most of the day, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Signs will be posted to let drivers know about the changes.

Specifically, the closures include:

• Winslow Way between Madison Avenue and Grow Avenue will be reduced to one lane, only eastbound traffic will be allowed in that area;

• Grow Avenue between NE High School Road and Winslow Way will also be reduced to one lane with one-way traffic and only southbound traffic will be allowed; and

• Lovell Avenue, between Wyatt Way and NE High School Road, will be reduced to one lane with one-way traffic and only northbound traffic will be allowed.

Drivers should also be aware there is a detour route that will be a one-way loop along Madison Avenue South, Parfitt Way SW, and Wood Avenue SW.

Event officials said that people who live in the area of the Open Streets Festival route will still be able to access their properties.

The event is primarily organized by the Bainbridge Mobility Alliance, a group “dedicated to improving conditions and opportunities for walking and biking on Bainbridge Island.”

“It’s made up of representatives from organizations with different focuses on biking and walking, however these organizations aren’t formally part of [the alliance], at least not yet,” said event organizer and alliance spokeswoman Susan Loftus.

“The idea is that we wanted to pull together folks with different views/focuses, and identify where our common ground is to pull together an alliance. These members act as a bridge and communicate with their organizations, but participate as private citizens,” she said.

Cosponsors include the city of Bainbridge Island, Cascade Bicycle Club and Squeaky Wheels, a bicycling advocacy organization.

People can walk, bike, and/or roll along a loop between Bainbridge High School and Waterfront Park Saturday. Self-guided tours are slated to take place along the event routes from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., in addition to a slew of other offerings, including a presentation by keynote speakers Fran Korten, Christian Ford and Naomi Spinak from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Bainbridge High School Commons that’s titled, “Building the Cycling City.”

Additional activities, held between 12:30 and 3:30 p.m., include:

• A kid’s bicycle rodeo at Waterfront Park, billed as a fun, interactive and non-competitive skills course designed for kids to improve their bike handling and traffic safety skills;

• A Bicycle Petting Zoo at Waterfront Park, which is designed to reintroduce people to cycling. On display will be a variety of cargo and electric bikes for you to take a spin on, as well as kittens and puppies to pet;

• The Family Bike Expo at Winslow Green. Try out a bunch of different family biking setups and see what you like, try things you haven’t seen before, or talk with family biking parents;

• Bike rentals at BHS. If you’d like to cycle for longer than the 10- to 15-minute spin at the Expo and Petting Zoo, get your rental here; and

• “Yoga for Bikers” at Winslow Green. Author, yogi and “car-free parent” Kelli Refer will share a short session of yoga

that you can do before or after any bike ride. Use your bike as a prop for your yoga practice. The outdoor yoga class will be from 1:30 to 2 p.m. at the Winslow Green.

Visit www.walkbikebainbridge.com for more information.

Safe biking and walking conditions are much more important than they may seem at first glance, Loftus said.

“The thing about biking and walking is that it hits all of these pieces,” Loftus said. “It’s not just about climate change, but it’s also health and wellness.

“We have all kinds of obesity issues and depression and social isolation, so when more people are out there biking and walking and not separated by their cars, there’s more of a kind of sense of connection and cohesion and community building.”

Loftus said the event is not technically affiliated with the imminent Safe Access for Everyone Mobility Levy, a seven-year, $15-million property tax increase proposal that will be put before voters next month, and used, if passed, for road shoulder improvements, trail construction and sidewalk repair/construction (www.bainbridgesafemobilitylevy.participate.online).

“The levy is supporting what we’re doing, not the other way around,” Loftus said.

“What we’re doing is supporting biking and walking and Open Streets is something that happens all over the world all the time,” she said. “The Bainbridge Mobility Alliance is going to be supporting biking and walking after the levy [vote] is over, so our mission is not the levy. Our mission is supporting biking and walking.”

Typical obstacles which may prevent islanders from biking and walking more — weather conditions, necessary cargo space, etc. — will be discussed by the event’s speakers, with specialty gear on display as well, but overall Loftus said Bainbridge is a city begging for more bikes.

“Bainbridge has, of anywhere in the nation, we’ve got the biggest potential of being really successful in supporting people because we’re a community that’s very intentional,” she said. “We’re more conscious about health and wellness issues, and with the ferry we’ve got people who are more aware of biking. So I think we’ve got better potential than most places to really make this work.”

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