Kids should be focus of N. Madison widening | Guest Column | July 30

I attended the COBI community meeting on July 15 at The Grange on North Madison where folks from the city discussed the latest iteration of a shoulder improvement project for North Madison.

I’d like to thank Chris Hammer, Chris Wierzbicki and Cathie Currie, who presented the information to the community. All three have a deep desire and commitment for improving the roadway system on the island.

I have to say that I walked away from the meeting somewhat perplexed as to what the community currently wantw with respect to the Core-40 roads in general, and North Madison in particular.

Has there been a change in perspective?

In the past there has been a lot of community involvement and discussions as to needs and desires with respect to roadway safety and how that relates to non-motorized activities on the island.

During the past couple of years the community’s wishes were extremely clear in terms of their wish and need list from the city.

There were two major community survey’s done by the city about the Core-40 roads on the island. Results from both showed that the community wanted safer roads for all non-motorized uses, especially for the safety of kids.

It’s always been my understanding that a lot of the community was interested in making the roadways much safer for their kids.

I don’t know many parents who would allow their kids to ride their bikes, roller skates, skateboards, or walk and commute to school along some of the city’s more dangerous roadways – including North Madison.

What benefits kids, with respect to non-motorized safety, will benefit all users of non-motorized improvements.

It has always been my own personal feeling that someone who is experienced even on dangerous roadways will generally be safe.

I have ridden bikes many thousands of miles around Bainbridge and have never been in any danger.

The single motivation I have always had, and continue to have, is from the point of view of a kid’s inexperience on a bicycle while using the same roads.

I believe the current iteration of the shoulder project is a lot better than nothing. This project will help all experienced riders and other commuters and make them safer while on the road.

But is this good enough? Having the shoulder on the east side of the roadway will not provide a significant safety barrier for kids.

Having nothing provided on the west side (downhill side of the roadway) will have no effect whatsoever on kids’ safety.

I understand that it’s all about money. I also understand that a lot of money has been wasted in the past on North Madison on repeated consultants’ studies and reports, as well as multiple land surveys done for various other iterations of the North Madison project.

Nobody knows how much, and that is extremely frustrating. I simply think that before we actually spend more money on this project, that we verify who it is for and how best to design a solution for those stakeholders.

The fact of the matter is I don’t have any kids and I personally would be satisfied with the current design of the North Madison project. It would suit my needs. But if I had kids, I wouldn’t let them ride on it.

I have created an e-mail address for comments on this letter, and a way to discuss the subject.

I have also created an online survey to see what the community’s current views are on this very important issue.

If there has been a fundamental change in the way folks are looking at non-motorized use and safety, I think that it is best that everyone be clear on that.

Here are some questions concerning the project:

1. What is the budget allocation for the current project?

2. What is the aggregate amount spent in past five years on consultants for it?

3. How many times did COBI do a land survey in anticipation of a version of the North Madison non-motorized improvement project?

4. Will the city be moving the centerline (striping) to adjust width of roadway to accommodate changes necessary when adding wider sections?

5. The area scoped out for shoulders and divided pathways are all on city right-of-way. Will the city do a better job communicating this fact to the property owners to avoid the problems occurred in the past?

6. In 2007, the city engineer and public works director agreed to have North Madison (as well as other Core-40) projects on the city website for project management cycle so that everybody could see the progress. Is there any thought to doing this now?

7. The 2007 COBI budget did not include the paving of private property curb-cuts on the (then) North Madison project. Has this been thought through and evaluated for the current iteration?

8. Public Works stated at non-motorized meeting to the final North Madison workshop (2008) that state law indicated that all roadway improvements (such as non motorized shoulder improvements) meant the improvements needed to benefit all users including cars. This meant in their opinion that cars should be allowed to park in the improved shoulder areas. When pressed on this issue, he indicated that he would install "no parking" signs covering 100-foot sections of the newly improved roadway. What is the city’s position on this now?

9. The non-motorized committee found that Kitsap County had a machine, which can widen shoulders for a fraction of the cost of typical design and construction. The then public Works director said that the County would not let us use the machine. Has anyone checked with them again to see if this is still true—and perhaps to press them a bit harder on this issue? If the project scope and limitations is purely governed by money, then shouldn’t we try and economize where possible to be able to make the project the very best we can?

10. It would be nice to create a citizens coalition to walk the entire roadway with users and stakeholders.

A community survey involving the new iteration of the North Madison shoulder project is at: http://www.zoomerang.com/Survey/WEB22AY78TFX57

Joel Levin


Bainbridge Island

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