Ditches consume possible room for bicycles and pedestrians, reader says

The in basket: Chris Olmsted thinks the city of Port Orchard could make things easier for pedestrians and bicyclists between Westbay and Retsil by filling in some ditches.

“Improvements to this scenic ride will bring in tourists, improve property values and give runners, walkers and cyclists a place to improve their fitness levels,” he said, adding, “I ride this route asking myself why are we holding on to 19th Century technology –  ditches.

“Why doesn’t the city of Port Orchard use new technology to deal with water runoff? New technology would widen the road, making it safer for all users while creating additional width for walkers.

“The current road is not safe for cyclists,” Chris said. “There is absolutely no shoulder along Bay Street to Retsil and lane widths are also narrow.  Why is right of way land on one side of the road being wasted by ditches while on the other side lifestyles are being destroyed?”

That a last was referring to the struggle the city council is going through about how to extend the existing waterfront bike and pedestrian trail from Westbay, which might involve condemning some homes.

The out basket: City Public Works Director Mark Dorsey replies, “Within the city limits, we have both roadside ditch storm water conveyance and closed system storm water conveyance (catch basins and pipe.)  Both are viable conveyance system alternatives, used where applicable.

“It is unreasonable to think that the city would initiate a program to install closed conveyance systems throughout the city for numerous reasons (tremendous cost to storm utility rate payers, unintended consequences associated with closed conveyance installation, potential outfall upgrades, water quality reduction associated with loss of vegetation, etc.)

“Roadway and shoulder widths also vary within the city,” Mark continued, “as do designated bike routes, and I concur that there are areas of the city that are very pedestrian friendly and areas that are not and choosing a route in which you are comfortable based on your level of experience is at your discretion. But I do not agree that closing in roadside ditches is the simple solution.

“With respect to your specific route, Bay Street to Retsil, the city is working diligently to complete a state-approved multi-modal pathway from downtown to Annapolis and I hope you will be pleased with the improvement once completed.

“Finally, I can say that most cyclists that I do speak to understand that it is their legal right to ride within the traveled way when needed and to follow the same rules of the road as a motorist.”

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