Slow down traffic: put up more lights

As holiday gripes go – our own list

might include the irksome coincidence of

endless queues and “This Window Closed” signs at the post office – some complaints are

becoming sadly predictable.

Witness the annual grousing of a few cross-island

commuters at the spectacle of holiday lights around the Callaham/Borgen family compound on the highway up near Seabold. As certain as a Bainbridge Christmas will bring more rain than snow, we received a letter a few days ago from a Poulsbo woman (a former island denizen, she claimed) annoyed with the display’s deleterious effect on efficient traffic flow after the work day ends. Turn the lights off, she implored, until the rush hour is past and drivers are home and snug – a refrain, alas, as seasonally certain as “Jingle Bells.”

We are, we must confess, of two minds regarding this suggestion. While not an inhospitable lot by nature, many Bainbridge folks are nonetheless quite glad to have our North Kitsap neighbors back on the far side of the bridge as quickly as possible each evening. This we can say with confidence: no one will ever knowingly throw up a roadblock to people leaving the island.

But are the Borgen/Callaham holiday lights – said to inspire much tapping of brakes and gawking of drivers – really an impediment to the free-flow of automobiles? We queried Bainbridge Police on this very issue when it came up a few years ago. “The only light that slows down traffic up there,” one patrol officer replied wryly, “is the one at Suquamish.”

That tended to jibe with our experiences, namely, that the nightmarishness of a trip north on 305 during the early evening hours knows no season. But let us say for argument’s sake that our North Kitsap correspondent’s complaint has some merit, and that motorists routinely slow to take in the holiday display some 10,000 bulbs strong. How might we apply this observation constructively?

Simple: put up more lights.

Truly, with most folks concerned by the speed of drivers on local roadways, what better strategy to slow things down (if only in the evening hours, one month out of the year)? We can envision whole streets, entire neighborhoods taking up the cause, with yard after yard ablaze in the festive glitter of the season. True, such an outbreak might bring with it a corollary complaint – not that automobiles are too fast, but rather too many in number. As with the “Candycane Lanes” of many towns, many folks would surely be moved to pack up Grandma and the kids and drive to remote neighborhoods to appraise the luminescent handiwork of their island kin.

We don’t think that’s such a bad notion. Perhaps it’s a project for a community group to take on – promoting holiday displays, and posting a seasonal list of the most elaborately lighted yards, to steer young and old alike to exhibitions they wouldn’t ordinarily see. There is right now a splendid yard display at a home on Blakely Avenue, right across the street from the IslandWood gate. Who knows that, unless you live in West Blakely or Fort Ward and happen to pass it regularly to and from home? No doubt there are many others worthy of recognition and enjoyment.

So we’ll propose a new bumper sticker:

“Slow island traffic: Put up some holiday lights.”

Maybe it’ll catch on.

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