City Council Lowers Island-Wide Speed Limits In Name Of Safety, Standardization

Slow down, you’re on island time: Bainbridge speed limits are to drop immediately.

What is happening?

At the Jan. 24 city council meeting, officials unanimously voted to adopt lower and more uniform speed limits island-wide.

Phased in over the next few months, speed limits on many of our secondary arterial and side-roads will change.

  • Affected roadways that are at 35 mph will drop to 30 mph
  • Affected side-roads and local access
  • All non-posted roadways (ie neighborhood streets without a speed limit sign at all) will drop from 25 mph to 20 mph

The large arterial roads that will see the biggest speed limit changes are:

  • Madison Avenue
  • Miller Road
  • Koura Road
  • Sportsman Club Road
  • Fletcher Bay Road

Bainbridge Island Speed Limits arterial roads map 2023Bainbridge Island Speed Limits neighborhood roads map 2023

Full maps of speed limit changes for large and small island roadways

Why Are We Talking About This?

The adoption comes after a year of research conducted by Transpo Group of Kirkland (commissioned by the city to evaluate the issue) (see their full presentation).

According to the city, in 2021 there were at least 334 traffic calming requests made by residents on the island across its dizzying patchwork of speed limits on its 92 miles of roadway.

That report was backed loudly at every public opportunity by local advocates of lower speed limits, predominantly with improving safety for cyclists and pedestrians in mind.

Bainbridge Island’s roadways are notoriously rudimentary in most places at best. They’re often twisting, dark, and narrow without much shoulder to speak of. This, even as modalities of transportation – biking, e-biking, skateboarding, scooters, and walking/jogging – have steadily become more popular on the roadways for both community and recreation.

For its part, the city and members of this community have struggled for decades in how best to address this – making progress in areas like the downtown core, knitting together the Sound To Olympics trail, and by adding a patchwork of beautiful trails that crisscross the island.

Enter the Connecting Centers option adopted from the Sustainable Transportation Plan by City Council last March, which will finally starts to holistically tackle these concerns. That plan directs the city to spend $31 million over 6 years with a combination of grant cycle funding and potential voter-supported initiatives.

The problem is that many of the projects will take multiple years to create and increasing safety is an identified community need right now.

Ultimately,  decision was made that reducing variability and maximum speed limits can help add a layer of safety now by addressing current use and existing engineering.

It should be noted that very little formal opposition to reducing speed limits was recorded across months of COBI focus groups, open houses, public hearings, and council meetings.

What’s Next?

  • Now:
    • City officials will begin using newsletters, social media, direct mailings, and handouts by officers to let residents know about the changes.
  • Winter/Spring:
    • Police will be conducting speed emphasis patrols two weeks prior to speed changes.
    • Officers will use traffic stops to enforce current speed limits and educate about upcoming changes.
    • Public Works will install new speed limit signs with flags and mobile speed limit trailers.
    • Additional speed emphasis patrols will occur for 30 days post-installation.
    • Speeders will be issued primarily warnings during the 30 days (plus educational information).
  • Spring/Summer:
    • Data collected during patrols will be used to identify roadways with higher levels of non-compliance.
    • Roadways with higher rates of speeding will be prioritized for active enforcement.

What can you do?

  1. Be aware that the BIPD is also about to put an emphasis on speeding.
  2. Get ready to… Slow. Down.

Learn More:

Speed Limit Ordinance Presentation 01-24-23 – COBI Public Works Dept

Ordinance Number 2023-o3 – City of Bainbridge Island

Speed limits on Bainbridge Island streets set to drop this year – Kitsap Sun

BI cuts speed limits, works on housing plan – Bainbridge Island Review