Mayoral candidates address the ‘Missing Link’

Updated: We recently asked My Ballard readers what questions you’d ask the mayoral candidates for the KING 5 and Seattle Times debate. We recorded three questions on camera, and tonight they aired one of them: “There have been a number of bicycle accidents along the unfinished portion of the Burke-Gilman trail, commonly referred to as the ‘Missing Link.’ How do you propose to address safety along this stretch?” (Thank you Elaine for the question!)

As many Ballard residents know, the city approved plans to bridge the “Missing Link” of the trail, but a coalition of Ballard businesses filed a lawsuit in July over concerns of the project’s impact on traffic safety, parking and the environment. In the debate, Joe Mallahan said he supports improving bicycle safety, but he declined to take a position because of the ongoing lawsuit. “To take a position would be bad policy,” he said, explaining he wished there was a place “up in the neighborhood to get around that stretch.”

Mike McGinn said he supports the plan to bridge the link, criticizing Mallahan for not backing the city. “I think we need to complete the trail as planned, as approved, as funded,” he said. “It’s just one of the real treasures of our city. It’s very unsafe as it currently stands.” Watch the video here.

78 comments on “Mayoral candidates address the ‘Missing Link’”

  1. Sorry, then, I misread you – things were sounding very VC in your tone …

    Sounds like we agree on most things here (including MADSEN's).

    But the alternate routes you suggest work as safer streets to ride on (I use them too), but the Missing Link is a designed and funded connection for a multi-use trail that should connect, IMHO, rather than dump people out on streets with lots of congested intersections to negotiate.

    As for the interim route, the 17th/Ballard/Vernon jog is too circuitous for most. The confident cyclists will stay on Shilshole, and the rest of will muddle along as we have been. Smart infrastructure makes it faster and more convenient to ride bikes, not less.

  2. Seriously? everyone using the trail can just ride down the sidewalk in a busy shopping district? I don't think so.

    The city needs to just win the lawsuit, and build the f'n trail along shilshole. After it is all said and done all the missing link opponents will just change their diapers, grab another cup o' joe, and go back to work. Hopefully the next Mayor can make this happen.

    BTW, did you know that every day every one of of SBS&G' s trucks crosses the trail down in Frelard where they park the trucks. The whole idea that trucks can't cross the trail without someone getting hurt is ridiculous.

  3. “Seriously? everyone using the trail can just ride down the sidewalk in a busy shopping district? I don't think so.”

    Seriously and you not thinking so doesn't make it right. I agree it's stupid but it's still the law whether you like it or not. I suggest you try reading section 11.44.120 of the Seattle Traffic Code (

    “The whole idea that trucks can't cross the trail without someone getting hurt is ridiculous.”

    I somewhat agree. I do think the danger is being overstated by some. However, I do think it would be safer to simply have the BG go down Ballard to make it a non-issue. I've ridden the stretch of the BG through Frelard and I've seen a few near misses involving bikes and trucks. Half the time it was because cyclists ran a stop sign but the other half were trucks running stop signs. Doesn't help that the signage along that stretch is inconsistent – some intersections it's the cyclists who have a stop sign, others it's the trucks.

  4. Those sidewalks can be pretty crowded. Suggesting that people on bikes use Ballard Ave sidewalks is a little ridiculous when the street is packed with pedestrians.

  5. I agree, it's not a solution but allow cyclists to make a left onto Market is. Having traffic signs which only apply to certain users is completely legal (for example signs that allow buses to travel straight in a designated right turn lane).

    You and I might know it's the law but most people don't. I do think it's a dumb law.

  6. Not everyone thinks of area as a “Missing Link”

    In the words of Peter Gibbons in Office Space “I wouldn't say I've been “missing'” it”

  7. Cyclists are quite crafty. They'll figure out a way to get from point A to point B while ignoring all cars and pedestrians. I'm sure they can manage this “missing link”.

  8. Voila!! This is what I've been waiting 10 yrs for – a sugar daddy to fund this — there are bucketloads of them in Seattle…

    lolajean – can you start investigating??

  9. A TV show? A webcast? Or is it one of those newfangled DVD things I've heard so much about……

  10. Best. Movie Ever. I dare you to watch it and not want to to buy a red swingline stapler.

    Bob Slydell “Peter, you've been missing a lot of work.”

    Peter Gibbons “I wouldn't say I've been 'missing' it”

  11. Hey you seem like a local Scando, so just a simple (and neutral — I'm just curious) question if you get back to to this.

    I read somewhere that Ballard was never populated by more than 25% people of Scanner descent, and today far fewer, yet it seems like the history is completely tied to Scandinavians.

    Why is this? (if it is true — the numbers could very well be wrong) Did the Scandos drive the culture and economy and other ethnicities just came along for the ride? Were other group more diffuse? Is there any significant history in Ballard that highlights non-Scando ethnicities? Do people just like to identify Scando? I've got a buddy who is 1/2 German and 1/4 Swedish, but he totally identifies as being of Swedish stock.

  12. Can't speak to the historical/racial aspect of your question, but Seattle's neighborhoods are always being stereotyped, especially when it's time for development. Take the Fremont example. When it was cheap to live there a lot of artists moved in and then when values spiked and forced the artists out they've continued to market it as “Funky Fremont” and talk about the artists who don't live there anymore. Outside of the Solstice Parade, I don't think there's very much of the old art scene surviving there, yet it will forever be marketed this way.

  13. Heavy wave of immigration from Nordic lands in the early-1900's coincided with the development of Ballard. It was a happy collision of immigration and development. The Scandinavians were attracted to Ballard for the timber-industry (shingles, lumber, etc…) and maritime industries. There is still a lot of that in Ballard as we Ballardites know, and it is tied a lot in part to working-class, egalitarian settlement of the area (where walking and being outside are very popular pedestrian activities, as they continue to be now, and have so little to do with yuppies!)

  14. Cycling in crosswalks is legal in many of the cities I have lived in so it's not just Seattle. It seems odd (and sometimes dangerous) when you are on two feet and not two wheels, but it makes sense in the case of looking at weaker road users (cyclists) versus cars – a right of way to the smallest and most vulnerable user. That said, v. important to look out for pedestrians!

  15. thanks — interesting how cultural tendencies can endure for so long.

    Those immigrants were Lutherans, right? Then they had a protestant ethic — making a lot of money is a sign of virtue, spending it is a sign of vice, doing it conspicuously is the sin of pride. I like how Seattle still works hard and has less conspicuous consumption than most other similar cities.

  16. That ethic you write of is also what is cheekily referred to as “janteloven”. Yes, it's the protestant ethic, but it is also quite scandinavian. Wikipedia has the ten rules listed here:
    Obviously not as harsh as it's written, but you get the idea!

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