Road Warrior

Travis Baker blogs about the problems and idiosyncrasies of Kitsap highways and byways.
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City staff demonstrates the plight of pedestrians

November 10th, 2013 by travis baker

The in basket: When I gently questioned the wisdom of turning Bremerton’s Washington Avenue into a two-lane street between Sixth Street and the Manette Bridge in a recent column, the city public works department decided it would pay to try to convince me of the value of the project, set for 2015.

So Public Works Director Chal Martin, Managing Street Engineer Gunnar Fridriksson and Administrative Division Manager Milenka Hawkins-Bates of their office took me on a tour of city work sites, ending at Sixth and Washington.

The out basket: Chal evidently had been getting some questions about the capacity of Washington to handle rush hour traffic with only one lane in each direction, though that wasn’t what I had questioned. He spent a lot of time demonstrating how little the second lane northbound is needed even with a ferry arrival and shipyard closing time only minutes apart.

And it certainly looked that day that almost all northbound traffic on Washington in the afternoon uses the outside lane to reach the bridge. Only briefly did traffic back up in the inside lane.

Those are the people who will be impeded by having to wait while the signal at the bridge is red and would-be bridge users are in their way. But I’m sure those people will quickly learn that turning left onto Sixth Street, which will keep its left-turn lane, will shorten any delays.

What impressed me far more on our tour was the case Chal made for wider sidewalks, which will be created in the Washington project.

Our tour began at the northwest corner of 11th Street and Naval Avenue, where we stood as traffic zoomed past. The speed limit is only 30 there, but that close to it, it seems to be zooming.

I’d never walked it, so in my many trips along 11th in my car never noticed how frighteningly slender the sidewalks are there.

Chal said, “I think about all the people I see who walk here. I see women pushing double baby buggies walking here. I see moms and little kids and people in motorized wheelchairs.

“When you’re in your car,” he continued, “you’re surrounded by modern safety conveniences, you have a radio and a heater. You’re not exposed to the elements. So I ask, is it OK to delay someone two or three minutes in their normal commute in a trade-off to get more safety for pedestrians and bicyclists?

“My answer,” said Chal, “is a resounding yes.”

The Road Warrior’s argument has been that the focus on providing for the relatively few bikes and walkers by further frustrating the vastly larger number of drivers is ill-conceived. You might agree with that, as I might still, but we should test that belief by walking from Naval to Callow on the north side of 11th occasionally.

And, as Milenka added, “If the sidewalk is safer, would you have more people using it?”

As for 11th, it can’t be widened, so making it safer for non-motorists would require reducing it to two or three lanes, as they are doing with Pacific Avenue north of Sixth Street right now. Don’t be shocked if that’s not proposed in some future year.

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11 Responses to “City staff demonstrates the plight of pedestrians”

  1. Ron Mckiernan Says:

    While it may be easy to focus on streets that currently have sidewalks, do they care about the miles of non sidewalks (pine rd) that are in the city and the safety to those people along the sie of the road with no sidewalks? Why not put the money to install sidewalks in areas that don’t have them instead of tearing up sidewalks just to make them a little safer? And for the street work it seems that the city is going backwards with the street lane consolidation approach. Their marching orders seems to be to make the city streets work for the traffic volume of today and has no consideration for the future. And remember that with the current construction on Pacific and the detours for that project it is hard to determine what the real traffic flow will be. It’s time to plan for the future not just what will work for tomorrow.

  2. Alison Loris Says:

    Ron, I think you’ll find that Pine Road is not within the Bremerton city limits, which only include a fraction of what we think of as Bremerton. (I have friends in Manette, for example, who get a response from the County Sheriff if they call 911, not the Bremerton Police Department. Anyplace you see the speed limit on an arterial go up 5 to 10 MPH, you are probably leaving Bremerton city limits.) So this is a County issue.

  3. Alison Loris Says:

    Ron, as we plan for the future, let’s consider America’s political and financial path. As more and more of the nation’s wealth becomes concentrated in the hands of a few, widespread poverty will continue to increase and deepen, and you will see more, not fewer people walking and cycling because they cannot afford to drive.

  4. Ducttape01 Says:

    I’m thinking about the current traffic mess, with present construction. For instance, the KT #11 Crosstown is always FIFTEEN TO TWENTY MINUTES LATE Tuesdays through Thursdays, in the evening rush hour. And when these roads are permanently narrowed, it will be worse. BTW, yet another week has passed, with no action on a lighted crosswalk in the Seabeck area.

    It is simply amazing that it’s taken 3 1/2 years to get school crosswalks painted, and this project is a higher priority, than a crosswalk in Seabeck.

    Chal said, “I think about all the people I see who walk here. I see women pushing double baby buggies walking here. I see moms and little kids and people in motorized wheelchairs.
    “When you’re in your car,” he continued, “you’re surrounded by modern safety conveniences, you have a radio and a heater. You’re not exposed to the elements. So I ask, is it OK to delay someone two or three minutes in their normal commute in a trade-off to get more safety for pedestrians and bicyclists?” “.

    And what about the people PAYING the annual car tab fee?

  5. Colleen Smidt Says:

    Alison, here is the link to the city website where the map of the Bremerton City Limits is included. Please note that a significant portion of Pine Road is located WITHIN the city limits. Maintenance and improvements to that portion of Pine Road that resides within the city would be a city issue and not a county issue.

    As far as your reference to Manette residents and who they call, the map will be able to assist you in viewing the boundaries in that area that do not travel as far north as the areas in the Pine Road neighborhoods.

    http://cobgis.ci.bremerton.wa.us/flexviewers/CityLimits9_20_12/

    http://webdb.ci.bremerton.wa.us/

    There are many areas of the city that do no have sidewalks at all. One of those areas looking to be targeted by the upcoming Safe Routes to Schools application for 2014 is around Crown Hill Elementary. Crown Hill Elementary also resides very close to the county boarder, yet the portion within the city limits still needs sidewalk improvements for students and pedestrians.

    Thank you for your response Ron. I agree with your premise.

  6. Jane Rebelowski Says:

    There are lots of pedestrians already using Washington from the bridge south, in places it is only three feet wide due to the ill placed utility poles (Thanks PSE!). As long as the remaining travel lanes are kept wide enough for commercial vehicles I think widening the sidewalks on both sides is a good idea. I am no a fan of some of the restrictive traffic calming that has been installed in the downtown, between the tunnel, the poorly designed median on Warren Ave and traffic calming on Pacific the downtown has become a fortress.

    As for Naval Ave let the shipyard workers leave home 10 minutes earlier, they use that road as a speedway with no thought at all to our elementary school children trying to make it safely to school. One lane each direction with buffered sidewalks would be my preference.

  7. Ducttape01 Says:

    Alison, here is the link to the city website where the map of the Bremerton City Limits is included. Please note that a significant portion of Pine Road is located WITHIN the city limits. Maintenance and improvements to that portion of Pine Road that resides within the city would be a city issue and not a county issue.

    Colleen, remember you’re talking to a bona fide Bremerton Grant Writer . There’s the interest, of getting paid, if this goes through……

  8. ednbgst Says:

    As someone who rides a bike daily on Kitsap up to NAD anything you do to make it more safe is welcome. I don’t see how less lanes will help with the congestion we have now. I drive from Bainbridge to Anacortes for work and the other side is HELL. And yes I support paying my way as a biker.

  9. SharonOHara Says:

    Alison Loris Says:
    “November 10th, 2013 at 5:51 pm
    Ron, as we plan for the future, let’s consider America’s political and financial path. As more and more of the nation’s wealth becomes concentrated in the hands of a few, widespread poverty will continue to increase and deepen, and you will see more, not fewer people walking and cycling because they cannot afford to drive.”

    So the wealthy people drive and the poor people walk or cycle?
    The smart people walk and cycle for good physical and mental health. Period.
    Sharon

  10. Ducttape01 Says:

    ….And last night, a pedestrian was struck in a high traffic area, nowhere near this area . Snortin’ Orton, could we please get some crosswalks in Seabeck and other areas besides the Lipstick On the Pig Area of downtown Bremerton?

    NEW RULE: All Public Works/Street Department officials are banned from Starbuck’s………

  11. Dave Ely Says:

    I would argue the right answer for Washington Ave. between the Manette Bridge and 6th St. is to go to one lane southbound, but keep two lanes northbound. When a ferry comes in, and in the afternoon when the shipyard traffic peaks, those two northbound lanes are full, and even with two lanes, the traffic sometimes is backed up nearly to Burwell. One lane southbound will always handle the load, and considering it’s already one lane south of 6th street, the second southbound lane from the bridge to 6th only serves to cause aggression between drivers as they jockey for position trying to get ahead or cut in south of 6th. I think there is plenty of room to move the bulkhead west half a lane, leaving one lane southbound AND a wider west-side sidewalk. Moving the bulkhead would then permit keeping two north-bound lanes and still leave room to widen the east-side sidewalk. Everybody wins that way.

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You can reach Travis Baker at tvisb@wavecable.com

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