Decision made for bike lane on Ballard Bridge

At the end of July the Department of Transportation met with a group of freight, bicycle and pedestrian advocates to come up with a plan for the south end of the Ballard Bridge, which is a challenge for bicyclists.

The bike path on the west side of the bridge currently curves along the exit at West Emerson making it difficult for bicyclists to merge onto 15th Ave. The 15-member group that met with SDOT came up with three options, including creating a new curb-cut (outlined in the above photo), reduce the size of the median at 15th & Emerson and add “turtles” (those little white bumps on the road) where stripes are painted, just to name a few ideas. They then asked for community feedback. It turns out that all of the proposed options were too expensive to implement. “An unplanned project of this magnitude with all of our fiscal constraints could not be implemented in 2010,” the director of SDOT, Grace Crudican, wrote in a letter to the Ad Hoc group. Instead, according to the letter, the following changes will be made:

  • Review sign placement for the southbound traffic to give motorists more advance notice that bicycles will be entering the road.
  • Trim trees in the area to improve visibility for traffic and bicyclists.
  • Paint the curb cut where bicyclists enter the road to help alert drivers.
  • Evaluate speeds of southbound traffic on 15th Avenue W. Depending on the results of the speed study additional measures may be taken including installing a radar speed sign, or lowering the speed limit.
  • You can read the full letter here (.pdf) (Copyright photo by Michael Snyder is republished with permission. More photos here.)

    Geeky Swedes

    The founders of My Ballard

    32 thoughts to “Decision made for bike lane on Ballard Bridge”

    1. No, we have to spend billions on making the Mercer Mess even worse for traffic, but don't seem to have a few thousand dollars to make a curb cut and add little ceramic turtle tiles? Maybe we need to re-name Interbay part of South Lake Union?

    2. Look, I understand keeping folks safe on a bicycle but you should NOT try to force a 4,000 lb car at 40mph to give “right of way” to a hard to see 20 pound bike that can easily float in a car's blind spot.

      I mean use some comon sense here, this is a MAJOR road and folks driving on it need to have the right of way.

    3. Why can't they put a stop/yield sign there for the cyclists? Stop and wait for a break.

      Oh that's right, you can never make cyclists wait.

    4. Anyone that drives over the bridge regularly wouldn't be in that lane if they want to go 40mph. People are always slowing to make that turn and it backs the lane up.

      That being said, if I were riding my bike I would not want to make that crossing.

    5. Maybe SDOT would have the money for a simple improvement here if they weren't forced to spend time and money defending themselves in a lawsuit brought by the Ballard Chamber of Commerce to stop the bike trail SDOT approved for the Burke.

      If this kind of thing angers you, think twice about which businesses you support in Ballard and whether they're working against the interests of safe biking for everyone or not.

    6. They can, and they will. Maybe you should do a better job watching for cyclists when you drive. And if you can't see them, maybe you shouldn't be driving.

      Cars and bikes both have rights to use the roads and bridges. Even “MAJOR” roads.

      It's legal for bikes to take the full lane, even on “MAJOR” roads like Emerson if we so choose. Drivers do not “need” to have the right of way.

      Sorry, but nobody appointed you traffic czar.

      Who sounds like the bigger jerk here? Bikers who want a simple crossing, or drivers like you who insist you “NEED” the right of way on “MAJOR” roads like Emerson or else…

    7. Freddie/Name: Get your fat asses out of you car and ride across the bridge once and you'll realize that is an extremely dangerous and difficult place to ride. I'm sorry that yielding to a cyclist, who would otherwise be in another car (creating more traffic, pollution, and taking up parking spaces, etc.), is so inconvenient that you can't spare five seconds of your commute … you must be very busy. Bikes improve your commute, not hinder it.

      “Name”: right of way laws are not written based on who is bigger, that's why you don't have to pull over every time a semi-truck wants to pass. You should try out your theory when you're on trial for vehicular manslaughter for running over a cyclist, “But Your Honor, my car is bigger than his bike, that's why I hit him.”

    8. I ride this route everyday and definitely stop and wait for a car to let me into traffic. It works fine and, yes, as a biker I can handle stopping (though it is an inconvenience when you have your feet attached to your pedals as many of us do). I would imagine, though, that both bikers and cars would prefer a solution that would allow bikers to merge into traffic safely so that they wouldn't have to come to a complete stop to let me in. The proposed solutions didn't really do that so its probably for the best that they aren't spending the money but something really should be done – this is a very dangerous intersection for bikers. Trimming the trees is a joke and the issue isn't really the speed of the vehicles, its the awkwardness of the existing curb cut that forces a biker to enter perpindicular to traffic. What about allowing bikers to merge into traffic well before traffic goes to turn right?

    9. I ride my bike all the time and I agree with @CE, I wouldn't want to cross there. Traffic already backs up at that right turn, I'd hate to make it worse. There must be a better way.

      I haven't looked that closely, but would it be possible to create a bike path under that road? As you approach from the North it could veer right down the hill under the road and merge on the next onramp-like street. That's a win-win solution.

    10. Ha, I went back and actually “read the full letter” and they already thought of going under Emerson street, and will get to it when budget allows. Excellent work people!

    11. Realistically you'd probably be better off with a half-block detour there so bikes could cross after cars have made that turn… which means a stop sign after the turn.

      Take out the cut – widen the corner a hair (cycle side) – go to stop sign – cross at your turn (car or bike) – ride half block back to 15th/Elliott and proceed.

      (I have a picture but don't know how to post it)

    12. Look, Mayor 5-Pennies and his posse will be hitting the door soon enough. I'm sure princess snowstorm will be following close behind.

    13. This is a STUPID idea. Someone is going to die one rainy winter night and we traffic on 15th is going to be worse. This is a idiotic city decision and a waste of time and money. 15th is not a safe place for cyclists. Lowering the speed limit over the Ballard bridge and adding stopped traffic that can potentially lead to a backup blocking the bridge idiotic.

      Maybe the silver lining is that if enough people die and we have some good wrecks or the bridge can't open due to cars we might have large ship crash into the bridge and we could get a new Ballard bridge that actually fixes some of these issues.

    14. I'm getting worried about myself – this is the second time recently that I'm agreeing with BM! From what I remember, mike, there is no sidewalk on the S side of W Emerson for the return leg from stop sign back to 15th. Were you thinking of bikes just riding in the traffic lane for that short segment?

    15. Everybody take a chill pill. Some of us choose to ride bikes, and it's scary, but mostly we just want to get some exercise and enjoy our commute for once. If we could stay away from cars and ride exclusively on trails, almost all of us would.

      After living several in several other cities, I find Seattle to be a very bike-friendly place. I appreciate the room that most people give me on the road. Those of you in cars and trucks, the fact is you've chosen to share the road with people you could kill very easily by not paying attention for just a second. This is scary to me whether I'm driving or riding, to be honest. Just remember that my road bike weighs 180 pounds with me on it; your Mercedes S-Class weighs just shy of 2200 pounds without you inside. Just please be careful and we'll do the same, okay?

    16. I've driven this route for many years and take the right turn to go toward Fishermen's Terminal. It has only been in the past 5 years that I've noticed how bicycles have become a regular concern there. Obviously this route was not designed for bicycles!
      There have been times when I see bicycles waiting for the break in traffic and I would've slowed or stopped to allow them to enter the traffic lane, however, I've got a line of fast moving cars behind me that are not paying attention and will likely rear-end me if I slow or stop to let the bikes go. Sorry, but I'm not going to risk getting hit – if I was hit, the waiting bike rider would probably suffer injury from flying debris or worse, flying vehicle.
      I know it is inconvenient, but isn't there a stairway right there that takes you down to the southbound on ramp? Couldn't go down those stairs and then merge back onto 15th past the bus stop? That is what I would do if I were brave enough to ride my bike on the streets – which I'm not.

      Also, there should be some kind of signage on southbound 15th before the bridge deck. I saw a man on a bike ride right up along with the cars and not drop down to get on the pedestrian/bike lane. I still wonder if/how he made it across the grating… scary!

    17. Ah yes, the silver lining that is bicyclists and people dying. That is really the most ignorant thing I have read at MyBallard and the bar is set very high. Do you have kids or relatives that ride bikes, scooters or motorcycles?

    18. Still no argument FOR mandatory license plates for ALL riders? Why not? Seems to me a few more $$'s aren't going to hurt anybody. Ballard residents have given “leaders” the message long ago “we'll spend others money for things we care about”. AKA: liberalism. So it's now time to spend THEIR money. For themselves, and the children, and the rest of us that foot the bill. And don't give me the crap bikes pay too. Not enough. It's time for an overpass at that spot. And what better way to pay for it? A license fee. How else to ID these fine folks when they too break laws? Got arrogance? Next on the list: higher license fees on dogs. We're talkin luxury here people. Hatorade drinkers?

    19. Why can't the cars wait? If anything a car having to wait makes more sense since they can more easily make up the lost time since they have no problem cruising at 30MPH+. Why is a cyclist's time less valuable than a motorists? Not everyone on a bike is out there for a fun ride. A lot of people use their bikes for commuting. Why is their commute less important than yours? Seriously, how selfish and arrogant are you?

    20. Why not? Well the biggest reason is that cyclists don't create anywhere near the amount of expenses as cars. Bikes don't tear up the asphalt the way cars do. Bikes don't kill 40,000 people a year the way cars do. Bikes don't cause air pollution the way cars do. Bikes don't require the hiring of additional law enforcement officers the way cars do. Sorry pal but the sales tax I paid on my bicycle more than covers my costs of using the road.

      Also hate to burst your bubble but almost all cyclists own cars and have driver's licenses. Also since you're so big on people paying their way does that mean I have more of a right to the road than you do because I pay more in taxes than you do? I guarantee I pay more taxes than you do so why don't you get your big, fat lazy butt the off MY road!

      Cyclists are required to carry an ID with them if they're on the road.

      You really seem to be suffering from a terrible case of cranial-inversion syndrome.

    21. Makes sense to me. Personally, I wouldn't use the proposed crossing even if it were built. Makes more sense to simply turn right and head down to Gilman and then hop on the bike trail. Not only do you not have to deal with moronic motorists but it's also often a faster route because once you're past Dravus you don't have to deal with any traffic lights (and only 1 stop sign) all the way to downtown.

      Like the sharrows on 24th and Stone Way (instead of going down the much quieter and faster side streets of 28th and Wallingford) this seems to be another example of the bike politicos trying to make a point for the sake of making a point. There seems to be a certain contingent who think cyclists should be everywhere cars are even when safer, faster alternatives exist. Of course it doesn't help when many cyclists ride the way they drive.

    22. Sorry, Sea, but bicyclists have much higher death rates per mile or per journey than do car occupants:

      Air pollution isn't a significant issue any more with modern emissions equipment on cars, and I'm not sure what you mean about the law enforcement officers.

      Thus, looks like bicycles could very well end up with bigger costs than cars, mainly because of the injury/death rates for cyclists.

    23. “bicyclists have much higher death rates per mile”

      Yes, and most of those are the fault of motorists.

      “Air pollution isn't a significant issue any”

      Really? Been to LA or Phoenix lately? Seriously, did Exxon and GM pay you to make that statement?

      “I'm not sure what you mean about the law enforcement officers.”

      Ever heard of the Washington State Patrol? Or the California Highway Patrol? Or any of the other law enforcement agencies that exist almost solely due to cars?

    24. However, if the bike does not travel at or near the posted rate of speed, couldn't they be cited for slowing down traffic? I know that cars can.

    25. I can just imagine that if we did away with cars, Ponch would have ridden a bicycle all over Southern California in CBiPs.

      That'd be California Bicycle Patrol.

    26. It wouldn't be that expensive to make another whole in that curb. All they need is a days work out of a guy with a sledge hammer. That's about 80 bucks.

    Leave a Reply