Open Houses discuss traffic calming in BI

Pedestrian and bicycle safety, along with traffic calming devices, were key themes at an online Open House regarding some busy streets on Bainbridge Island last week.

A similar Open House will take place at 4 p.m. June 16, also on Zoom, for Miller Road at Grand Forest and Finch between Wyatt Way and High School Road.

Almost 60 people signed in for the first session as Public Works director Chris Wierzbicki explained how the City Council wanted community input on what should be done on Grow Avenue between Winslow Way and High School Road. The second hour Point White Drive’s Schel Chelb crossing was discussed.

If anyone has another project idea go to the city website, he said. Locations will be prioritized in mid-July. The goal is to get feedback on things residents like and don’t like about the locations when it comes to traffic.

It was explained that the right tool is needed to control speed and volume. Some of the options include speed bumps or tables; traffic circles or mini roundabouts; pinch points; advisory shoulders; and one-way couplets. Each can have their own issues, such as with speed bumps they can deter cyclists, limit pedestrians, make noise, cause wear and tear on vehicles, etc.

After the overview, participants were placed in breakout rooms.

In Room 7, John Grincher said he’s thrilled that the city is improving traffic calming. Sal DeRosilia said traffic calming devices are often run over. Ross Hathaway said frustration began when the stop sign was put in on Wyatt. Steve Walker said the cones helped for a day or two, but then people went right over them.

City engineer Peter Corelis said those cones are only temporary, and resident Rick Gould said they may be more effective if they were concrete. Steven Hjerrild said neighbors always have to go out and put the plastic ones back up. “It’s kind of a nuisance,” he said.

Gould was against allowing parking on the street, which would slow traffic but also hurt walkers and cyclists.

Hjerrild, who has been a resident for 35 years, said, “Traffic has always been a little bit zippy” on Grow and that he would favor a speed table because they don’t deter bicyclists. “I’m open to any solution to calm it down and make it more pleasant to walk on.”

In ending the breakout session, Grincher said speed tables are good but inconsistent in town, with some being more like speed bumps.

All of the breakout groups then reported back.

Representing Room 1, David and Terri Starkland said traffic circles take up a lot of room, and that they don’t want Grow to become an obstacle course.

Brett Shock said his group liked the idea of making Grow one-way going north.

Helaine Honig asked if Grow needs to be all things for all people, adding there may be better roads to bicycle on.

Representing Room 4, Wierzbicki said they wanted to temporarily try the one-way street idea to see how that worked. They said more space is needed for pedestrians.

Kim Leatham said having a one-way street would give walkers more space. They also called for wider sidewalks and speed bumps.

In Room 6 they said experiments have been done in Poulsbo on this very issue, speed tables vs. one-way streets, so it would be good to contact them for information.

At the end of that session, a survey was taken. The top solution picked was improved sidewalks, with speed bumps and a one-way street tied for second.

“There may be a way to combine those options that would work,” Wierzbicki said.

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