A Safe Path From Ferry To Park: Tell Us Your Story

A Safe Path From Ferry To Park

We need your inputs to help make this path a reality! East Side, West Side, North Beach, South Shore, or Holiday Hideaway - we all use Guemes Island Road and many of us have experienced safety challenges or actual mishaps on this stretch of the road.

Runners, bicyclists, walkers, drivers, and equestrians all share Guemes Island’s main road and, all too often, we find ourselves dodging traffic or being dodged.

Have you had a mishap or a close call? Please share these moments with us so we can get a better idea of the need for a “Safe Path from Ferry to Park.”

Maybe you were rushing to the ferry or leisurely walking and chatting with a friend.  Was an event at The Store, Church, Library, or Community Center your destination?  Maybe you were pushing a stroller to the Park or walking your dog.

Please use the form below to share your story. You may also email us at GuemesFerryTrail@gmail.com. This information will be shared with Skagit County and included where necessary in Guemes Ferry Trail grant applications.

Please also consider making a donation to the Guemes Ferry Trail Project

Thank you for your time in this very important safety issue.

The Guemes Ferry Trail Committee

Current Risks: No Shoulder, Open Ditches, Close Traffic

Lawrence D. Verbano: 10:11am - 8/31/16
Guemes Island Road Safety. Riley (“Fido”) and I are frequent walkers on Guemes Island Road between the ferry dock and the playground. While other Guemes roads are just as narrow-shouldered and deep-ditched (if not more so), my guess is that mile-and-a-half stretch has the most vehicular traffic of any island road and consequently safety becomes an issue of increased concern. Completion of the stage project will likely bring even more traffic to that stretch. I’d say nine of ten drivers seem very courteous and careful when encountering walkers or bicyclists. It’s the other one in ten that presents the risk of a tragic accident. Leaving the walker a foot of pavement is not enough for a comfortable encounter between flesh and a ton of metal. My guess is that city people may be reluctant to cross the center line even if there are no oncoming vehicles in sight and no blind spots. Unless or until a trail, entirely separate from the road, becomes the safest solution to this risk, it would go a long way toward being a safer situation if everyone – vehicles, bicyclists, pedestrians -- behaved sensibly, courteously, and predictably on the road. If you’re walking, it should be facing oncoming traffic so you can see what’s coming at you. When the walker sees an oncoming vehicle, a glance over the shoulder confirms whether a car is also approaching in the opposite lane meaning it’s about to get crowded with two vehicles and a pedestrian occupying the same space, so the walker should get off the narrow roadway, if possible, until the cars can pass. If not possible because of the condition of the shoulder, the vehicle sharing that lane should slow or even stop rather than crowd the pedestrian. If the shoulders are to be used as safety zones, then keeping them mowed and graded is necessary to encourage their use and prevent tripping into the ditch or onto the road. A bicycle or any other wheeled vehicle should travel in the same (right) lane as motorized vehicles. If a bicyclist is involved in the same crowded situation as above and can’t safely use the shoulder, the following vehicle sharing the lane should recognize this and slow down or even stop until the oncoming vehicle passes. In general, pedestrians and bicyclists have the right-of-way (for good reason!) Safety on this stretch of well-used island road will continue to be a real concern worth the effort of developing a way to keep pedestrians and bicyclists safely separate from vehicular traffic. Until we have the optimum solution, such as a separate trail, we can avoid an accident by paying careful attention when sharing the road.
Lorrie Steele: 2:37pm - 8/31/16
About 3 years ago, my beloved auto 'Justy' croaked and i was left with my bicycle to commute to and from my home and the ferry for three months. It was during one of those trips that I had an encounter with a truck that made a lasting and frightening impression on me. In spite of lights and reflectors on my bike, apparently the truck driver didn't see me or choose to give me a scare. I ended up in the ditch with my bike on top of me and the rest of the cars coming from the ferry line speeding by. I was not seriously hurt but spitting mad! I swore like a sailor and cursed that driver. After some reflection, I decided to see if this has happened to others and started asking around. And yes, it's more common than one wants to admit, either by embarrassment or guilt (not following the rules of the road). Whatever the circumstances, I began to realize this stretch of road just isn't safe for pedestrians or bicyclist. More times than not cars will stop and back up traffic to make room but there are times that drivers going to or from the ferry have only one thing on their mind; getting there fast. This road is a vital artery between our park, the hall, the church the store and the ferry. Why can't we travel along this road without fear for our lives? Yes, I am the one that started this 'trail project'. It is not my original idea, (it seems this has been a dangerous stretch of road for along time.) But isn't it time we take some action and get a pathway built before someone gets killed on our beautiful island road. Please log in your experiences to help let the county know how important this project is. Thanks, Lorrie Steele
Ian Woofenden: 7:49am - 9/1/16
While I'm not _against_ the trail per se, I'm a bit concerned with some of the talk of getting bicycles off the road. We have exactly the same right to the roadway while on a bicycle as we have when driving a car, even when there is a parallel path. And staying on the roadway is oftentimes the safest, most convenient, most efficient, and least rough way to travel for bicyclists. To me, it's a bit more of a direct route (PI) to educate island drivers to pay attention and slow down than to build a trail on what is mostly a very quiet country road. (I say this in the context of someone who bicycles on every kind of road all over the country, from GI Rd. to interstate highways.) And it's educational work that is important to do anyway. Bikers, TAKE THE LANE when you see that it isn't safe for our friends in cars to pass. On a bike, you are much more aware of the situation (especially if you are equipped with mirror(s)) than folks going at high speed. Look and think ahead, and pull into the lane to let approaching drivers know it is not safe to pass. Pulling off to the edge to "get out of the way" allows and encourages car drivers to pass in dangerous situations, encouraging your death, and bad car driver habits. When we are driving cars and dump trucks, we can be ultra aware of slower, more fragile vehicles and people. We are all people; it's worth noticing how getting behind the wheel of a 2-ton vehicle has a tendency to bring out aggressive behavior, and a lack of awareness. We have the potential to kill if we don't pay attention and slow down. Getting to North Beach a minute earlier does not really seem worth the potential price of killing or maiming a neighbor, eh? How about an education campaign to go along with the trail project? I hope that if the trail happens, we don't end up with the same problem or worse for those of us who ride bikes, drive golf carts, or ride horses on the roadway we have the same right to as when we drive cars and trucks and buses...
john hopkins: 2:50pm - 9/1/16
aIdd your comment here I ride around the island on my bike a fair amount. It is fairly easy to predict traffic based on the ferry schedule. I plan my rides to avoid the ferry times. If I arrive on the island by ferry I just wait till all the vehicles on the ferry have unloaded before I start up Guemes Is.Road. Generally I have no traffic problems. Waiting a few minutes is not too big of a burden.
Aaron Holmes: 10:03am - 9/5/16
We live out near the west end of Edens, and frequently walk to Anderson's and back. A couple of summers ago, were had our niece with us on one of those walks, and had just pointed out to her that all of the passing drivers were smiling and waving when the driver of an approaching pickup truck decided to veer dramatically around us while angrily yelling, "Get out of the road!" This was just north of the Community Center. And although we didn't know his name, we recognized the man as an Island resident, which made the run-in all the more disturbing. Nobody who lives here should be oblivious to the challenges of walking the shoulderless roads. That said, with so many shoulderless roads to whine about, it's hard for me to look at a path between the ferry and the park as any kind of solution. It's like putting a Band-Aid on a gunshot wound. It would be a "nice-to-have", I guess, but while that stretch of road is definitely a speedway around ferry times, it's also a very straight, flat speedway with far better visibility than many other stretches of road out here. If I have to watch for cars everywhere else, I'm not going to feel too oppressed by having to do it while walking from the ferry to the park.
Barbara Schnabel: 9:24am - 9/8/16
I often walk Guemes Island Road from South Shore Drive to the Community Hall. As I walk north toward the Hall facing oncoming traffic, cars coming south to the ferry dock drive down the holding lane rather than the traffic lane. I walk in the space between the holding lane and the drainage ditch, but that feels a bit precarious as the space is narrow due to the slope to the drainage ditch. Also, the surface is uneven and there are weeds of different heights that make walking more difficult, especially at night. Heading south from the Community Hall facing oncoming traffic, there is a curb. On the east side of that curb there is some gravel, but it is becoming overgrown with weeds. A few blackberry brambles have escaped to the road. There is a place on the east side where shrubbery is so dense one has to walk in the road. There are many users of Guemes Island Road between the ferry dock and Schoolhouse Park. For those of us who are pedestrians, a safe path would be appreciated as the road edges are not designed for walking.. For these reasons, I urge approval and construction of the Guemes Ferry Trail.
Deb Strathman: 7:06pm - 9/12/16
My husband and I are avid walkers - we walk the 3 major island-road-loops, often with our dog. Each of these loops includes a segment of Guemes Island Road which, in our experience, is the most challenging segment from a traffic/safety perspective. We’ve seen pedestrians leading horses, families walking with multiple children, mothers pushing strollers, dogs walking their owners, jogging/walking/cycling groups, etc. – all trying to enjoy a healthy lifestyle while safely coexisting with vehicles on Guemes Island Road. There are very few, if any, roads on the island where pedestrians and bicyclists can safely share the road with vehicles. Guemes Island Road, however, is THE main corridor to/from the ferry and traffic increases the closer one gets to the ferry. As such, vehicles, pedestrians, and bicyclists have more chance encounters, making this stretch of the road especially risky, even more so during tourist season. When walking Guemes Island Road, we find ourselves crisscrossing the road multiple times – each time in advance of an oncoming car - to get to the other side and as far away from traffic as possible (for our own safety) and to avoid forcing approaching drivers to cross the center line to go around us (dangerous for cars in both directions). While this may seem absurd, it’s actually safer for all. Needless to say, this is not a pedestrian-friendly road – especially along the stretch between Schoolhouse Park and the ferry. Walking and bicycling are healthy modes of transportation that should be encouraged and supported to promote healthy living on Guemes Island. The ferry trail will do just that while enhancing safety for everyone along this particularly busy stretch of road.
Lorrie Steele: 9:19am - 11/11/16
Its a lot of steps but it does work. Thanks Deb.
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