Bainbridge’s Valley Road challenges pedestrians

The in basket: Merry Mcallister of Bainbridge Island writes, “Can you help me with the walking pattern on North Valley Road, between North Madison and Sunrise Drive?

“Pedestrian access is almost none — maybe 5 inches beyond the white line, then you’re in the ditch.  Cross the road, and you can’t see oncoming traffic, so what’s a walker to do?

“If I walk on the white line, should I take out more life insurance?  I wear reflective gear from head to toe, but the cars go WAY beyond the speed limit, and many only pretend to defer to pedestrians. I’ve lived here 40 years and it’s become a scary problem.

“My preference would be a wider shoulder, especially on the north side,” she said,  “like maybe three feet wide.  No pavement. It just gives the cars license to speed.

“Pedestrians should at least be able to walk outside the white line without getting into the ditch.  Occasionally the grass is mowed there, but not often, so it’s really spongy on the ditch side.”

The out basket: Chris Hammer, Bainbridge’s engineering manager in public works, says, “The city developed a shoulder widening program back in 2007 that is known as the Core 40 program.

“The idea is to develop a 40-mile network of walkable and bike-able shoulders throughout the secondary arterial street network. A project has been identified for Valley Road that would likely consist of a paved uphill climbing lane for cyclists and could also include a wider gravel shoulder on the other side of the roadway for pedestrians.

“Typically 6-foot-wide shoulders are provided, as that provides a safe facility for pedestrians walking into traffic and can accommodate a 5-foot paved area for cyclists.

“(But) the C40 Valley project is lower on the list of priorities for C40 projects and it is not currently included in the city’s six-year Transportation Improvement Plan,” he said.

There is a project already underway on Valley, begun Sept. 11, but it’s on the other side of Sunrise, where shoulders are even narrower.

“Sound Excavation has been working on drainage improvements that will provide for better roadway drainage and better accommodate private drainage off the hill from several lots above Gertie Johnson Road,” Chris said. “The embankments above Gertie Johnson have experienced two significant slides over the past decade that I am aware of.

“The project will also provide for landings and crosswalk markings at the intersection of Valley and Sunrise.

“Some in the community have advocated for wider shoulders on this section of the roadway. The project includes graveling the shoulders but we are not able to make them much wider with this project. The costs would be substantially higher than afforded with the planned surfacing reconstruction project due to challenging topography. Widening would also necessitate removing significant trees and landscaping restoration requiring easements.”

One islander I talked to in my visit said the situation sounds like many others all over the island. I suppose the small business center where Valley and Sunrise intersect may be more of a draw for both drivers and pedestrians that on other roads.

 

One thought on “Bainbridge’s Valley Road challenges pedestrians

  1. You know Merry Mcallister of Bainbridge Island, it is not the fact that drivers are already driving to fast, it is the fact that most drivers are so will actually speed up just as the approach a pedestrian or even a bike because they are so annoyed at the fact that they may have to slow down because someone may be sharing the same road. And I am sure that this has probably happened while you have been walking, you get one of the trucks that think the big pipes sticking out of their bed, just stomp the gas to make the loud sound and pump black smoke out because they think its funny.

    I do know how you feel because I do alot of road work at night and we have to close a lane and while we have to walk on the road to pick up cones or even barrels the drivers do the same thing. They wait till they get close and stomp the gas. The drivers in their little fake race cars do the same thing.

    I wish you luck as you do your walking and stay safe. Maybe you could have a small camera with you and film the drivers that drive stupid around you and maybe contact authorities and show them what drivers are doing and how unsafe it is for you to walk so close to the road….

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