Tag Archives: Valley Road

How about speed bumps on Valley Road?

The in basket: Merry McAllister of Valley Road on Bainbridge Island has renewed her campaign to make the road safer for pedestrians with a proposal for speed bumps. She learned via a previous Road Warrior column in November that there’s no likelihood of the road’s narrow to non-existent shoulders being widened for six years or longer.

“Could we get two or three LOW profile speed bumps on Valley, especially going downhill?” she asked in a new e-mail. “One could be at Parkhill, one at Kallgren, and another at Hyla.  Any of these would be appreciated. Maybe just start with one at Hyla, so folks get used to it and don’t start aeroplaning going down the hill.

“A sign saying ‘speed bump ahead’ always gets some attention, too,” she said. “Shouldn’t be too expensive.”

The out basket: I told Merry that most jurisdictions won’t approve speed bumps for arterials, and Valley looks like it would fall within that prohibition. But I asked the city about the idea.

K. Chris Hammer, the city’s engineering manager, replied, “Valley Road is classified as a secondary arterial street. (It) is traveled by nearly 3,000 vehicles each day, serving the Rolling Bay Town Center and connecting to many neighborhoods.

“The city has not placed speed bumps on secondary arterials and collector streets,” he said. “There are reasons for this. The primary one is that speed bumps themselves can present a hazard to the traveling public. Another issue is that emergency responders may have a good reason to travel at or higher than the posted speed limit. Maintaining response times to under 5 minutes for paramedics can be the difference between life and death and the severity of a fire can double every two minutes. Ambulances transporting the injured/ critically ill must slow to a crawl over speed bumps.”

Valley Road comes closer than many others to meeting a key measure of how appropriate the posted speed limit is, the so-called 85th percentile, according to the most recent speed study there.

“Designers must consider what speeds most drivers are comfortable driving on a segment of roadway and design the roadway to safely accommodate that speed,” Chris said. “This speed is known as the 85% speed (15% traveling faster, 85% at or lower) which in this location is 35mph, coincidentally the same as the posted speed.”

The 85th percentile is often slightly higher than the posted speed on other roads and highways.

“The city is looking to scoping a speed limit study of its 35mph streets and both Valley and Sunrise (the cross street in Rolling Bay) may be good candidates,” he said. “In 2013 we studied the 40-mph-posted speed streets and the speed zones approaching the Island’s town centers. One result was extending the speed controlled zone (lower speed) for the Rolling Bay Town Center further north on Sunrise.”

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.