‘We are the Missing Link’ event Tuesday

Several organizations will hold a demonstration at the Missing Link of the Burke-Gilman this Tuesday evening to show their support for completing the stretch of the trail. At 5:30 p.m. at 17th Ave. and Shilshole Ave., supporters will hold blinking red lights in a show of solidarity. “We wanted to do something positive and inclusive to demonstrate support for the Missing Link, which has become so embattled,” says Vic Opperman, founding president of Sustainable Ballard and co-founder of SCALLOPS. “This is a grassroots effort.”

The completion of the trail is currently held up in litigation. A coalition of Ballard businesses and the Ballard Chamber of Commerce are challenging the city’s plans to complete the trail. “As businesses who work with heavy equipment, safety is our number one priority,” Eugene Wasserman of the North Seattle Industrial Association tells us, adding that he welcomes Tuesday’s event. “It should give people the opportunity to look at our growing businesses, which provide family wage jobs and are represented by many unions. It should be clear to everyone visiting our area how hard it is to mix trucks, cars, pedestrian, and bicycles safely.” Wasserman says the NSIA has recommended that the city build a viaduct over the industrial area for bicycle and pedestrian use. According to Wasserman, SDOT refused.

The Missing Link is a 1.5 mile stretch of the Burke-Gilman Trail without an actual trail. Bicyclists currently ride along Shilshole Ave, sharing the road with cars and large trucks while maneuvering over railroad tracks. Both bicyclists and the large Ballard industries who work along the waterfront believe something must be done to improve safety along the missing link.

Geeky Swedes

The founders of My Ballard

46 thoughts to “‘We are the Missing Link’ event Tuesday”

  1. Bike Viaduct! I'm in!

    5:30 is too early for people who work. At least for me. Of course I could just leave the kids overnight at daycare:)

  2. It goes until 6:30, and then continues at Dutch Bike Seattle, nearby. Bring the kids! I am.

    If it started later, it would start in the dark.

    And actually, point of fact, I think the NSIA businesses are now holding out for a low-orbit spaceship technology solution.

    Because they're all about our safety, just not right now.

  3. Yes, it will be dark later…all the better for blinking lights. I'm just thinking 5:30 is too early for most to get over there and do the ride, but I may show up at Dutch Bike.

    I won't bring the kids, I don't ride the streets with them. I'll take a risk for myself, but not for them.

  4. “As businesses who work with heavy equipment, safety is our number one priority,” Eugene Wasserman of the North Seattle Industrial Association tells us, adding that he welcomes Tuesday’s event.

    This is not true. I ride the missing link everyday. Sadly, not all the businesses care a lick about safety. I always obey the rules of the road, but time and time again Salmon Bay Gravel trucks have operated as if I wasn't there. They come up within inches next to me. They cut directly in front of me when I have the right-of-way. They don't care. It's so egregious that I know they have a problem with my mode of transportation and are exercising their frustration.

  5. Why can't the bicycle trail run along Ballard Avenue–one block away? Its much more 'bicycle friendly': its safer, with lower traffic volumes moving at slower speeds, and the businesses along that street cater to the consumer/bicyclist?

    And, the 'infrastructure' for such a trail is already there. All SDOT would need to do is add paint.


  6. Because that route was studied and didn't pass the criteria. End of story.
    Slow streets with lots of retail are where people open their doors into bikes, don't look for bikes while they're trying to find parking spots, etc. It's not nearly as safe as it might appear from a casual look.

  7. SPG. My question does not come from a 'casual look'. I have followed the issue quite closely over the past several years and disagree with your assertion that the Ballard route “didn't pass the criteria”.

    I don't know of any studies–publicly available–that demonstrate greater safety to bicyclists along Shilshole than along Ballard Ave.

    In fact, similar studies–and application–have demonstrated that bicycle paths are better suited to streets like Ballard Ave. The European countries that have effectively implemented bicycles into their urban environments routinely slot those routes along streets like Ballard Ave, not along industrial thoroughfares.

    I spent several years as a bicycle commuter living at Ballard's north end and commuting to Fremont. I felt much safer on Ballard Avenue.


  8. Plus, some of us are on our bikes to get from point A to point B, not a toodle thru town.

    Paint does not a bike trail make…

    I don't get the fuss either, those businesses do not own the right of way. Why pretend they do.

    All of this will be a moot point once that Hotel goes in yonder. The City of Seattle won't let a tourist get clocked by a gravel truck. Just watch, things will change…

  9. What happens on the north end of Ballard Ave, Peter? I think a separated bike route along Ballard Ave itself could work out pretty well, if you could somehow make the room. But what do you do when the cyclists get to the north end, at Market?

    Narrow Market for 3 blocks to allow for a separated cyclist lane on the southern end, going west?

    Make the cyclists cross over Market (again narrowed), and then back across somewhere to the west?

    I can't imagine a solution there that wouldn't make Market a nightmare. Well, except maybe an elevated viaduct. ;)

    Actually, the interim plan for the trail /does/ have cyclists using Ballard Ave for a short stretch at 17th, and then cutting back down to Shilshole. This was done to try to appease the business interests. Fat lot of good that did.

  10. Just to clarify – it's not a ride, so you can arrive at the rally anytime, by whatever mode of transportation you favor.

    As for driving the kids, that works too … but I don't know if it's safer. It feels safer, sure. But motor vehicle collisions are the leading cause of death for most pediatric age groups. We lack reliable numbers about the denominator (how many miles/hours driven versus biked), though, so it's hard to compare.

  11. I am not normally a fan of Dan Savage and Slog, but here's an excellent answer to NSIA's concerns about safety without shelling out gobs of cash for a viaduct (really?):

    “But there is a way for trucks and cyclists to share this segment of road. There's a bike trail in Holland, Michigan, that runs straight through an industrial area. I bike it every year during our annual visit to nearby Saugutuck, Michigan, for RFGL's gay family week. The bike trail runs along a road that cuts right through the middle of an absolutely enormous industrial recycling plant; cars, refrigerators, and scrap metal are all piled up five stories high on either side of the road. Exits and entryways to the plant cross over the bike trail every twenty yards or so; huge trucks regularly rumble back and forth across the trail. But entitled cyclists don't zip along this segment of Holland's trail at 25 milers-per-hour. They can't:

    (I don't know if I can put an image in this comment. Here it is:)

    All along this segment of Holland's bike trail cyclists are forced to slow down and weave through staggered black fences. Wherever trucks cross the path, there's a set of fences on either side. The fences force cyclists to slow down, be mindful of trucks, and—what's that expression again? Oh, right: they remind cyclists to share the road. These fences prevent cyclists from tearing along; you ride at a speed where you could stop if a truck suddenly pulled out. The fences also serve as a visual reminder to truck drivers to watch out for cyclists.

  12. i'm disappointed to learn it's not a ride. i was envisioning this mass of riding/walking/running/rollerblading/baby strolling group along the missing link.

    i completely agree with you that there is a skewed perspective of cycling being more dangerous than driving.

  13. I really like the fences idea. However, my path preference would be to run the path up 14th, across Market, up to 58th, then across 15th at 58th. The path would continue westbound on 58th/57th/similar all the way to 28th. There it would dogleg south, cross Market at the light, and continue the last stretch along the south side of Market to the Locks. This travels mostly through nice low-traffic residential areas.

  14. Viaduct? Sounds boss, but I do not see how the initial cost would ever pay off. That much construction work would pull a lot emissions forward, and not stop that many in the long run. The path is already horrible to ride on (commuting or training, family type stuff-okay). 10 mph, pedestrians, road crossing after road crossing. This is all bad for commuting.
    Put me on the road in Fremont and let’s go up Ballard. That works great now, and will cost us the least.

  15. “The fences force cyclists to slow down, be mindful of trucks, and—what's that expression again? Oh, right: they remind cyclists to share the road. “

    We can't have that in Seattle! Tricyclists are special people, they are better than the rest of us, after all, they are saving the planet.

  16. My preferred route for the trail is to install an elevator and then a gentle downhill roll straight to my house. I'm appalled that the city hasn't released a feasability and environmental impact study for all other routes to prove that my route is the single and greatest solution because I said so.

  17. My preferred route for the trail is to install an elevator and then a gentle downhill roll straight to my house. I'm appalled that the city hasn't released a feasability and environmental impact study for all other routes to prove that my route is the single and greatest solution because I said so.

  18. You would cross both Market (twice!) and 15th in order to avoid Shilshole? Both streets carry much higher vehicle volumes than Shilshole. Most crashes happen at intersections.

  19. Mayoral candidate Mike McGinn will be attending the event, and then holding another town hall in Ballard

    “We know a lot of Seattle voters are undecided and want more information before making their choice,” said McGinn. “Seattleites take voting seriously. We want to give everyone the ability to directly ask questions and this is an opportunity to do just that.”

    WHERE: Ballard Community Center, 6020 28th Ave. NW
    WHEN: 7:30pm, Tuesday, October 27th

  20. Truckers who work for Salmon Bay make money per load. They are in a hurry because, obviously, the more loads they make the more money they take home.

  21. “Seattleites take voting seriously” Yes! That's why they vote over and over on the same issue and never do a thing. A;l voting no action!

    This guy is the preferct Seattlite.

  22. I don't think Ballard Ave is the solution, although I do use it instead of Shilshole (ironically only when going Northbound).

    The cobblestones on Ballard Ave. don't make for the smoothest ride, and there's actually quite a bit of industrial traffic there also (I've almost been hit by forklifts buzzing around ballard sheet metal a few times).

    There's no problem at the north end. I just wait for the light then make my illegal left turn. No worries.

    Pretty funny that the stock photo of the 'missing link' that accompanies this article shows two bicylcists on course to slam into one another. NEVER ride your bike against traffic folks, unless you've got a deathwish.

  23. So? That's not an excuse and not even a justifiable reason.

    I've had Salmon Bay trucks, and many other commercial vehicles on Shilshole, buzz me, passing way, way too close to be safe, and then TURN off Shilshole 100 – 200 feet later.

    Being in a hurry isn't a reason to even be inconsiderate to other roadway users, let alone put their lives in danger.

  24. I used to ride on Ballard Ave. The only upside to Ballard compared to Shilshole is that you don't have as many close passes and buzzings.

    In the morning the downside is that Ballard Ave is full of trucks making deliveries and forklifts picking up all sorts of ungainly cargo and whipping it around in the middle of the street.

    In the evening it's even worse. The street is full of people trying to find parking, making illegal U-turns, pulling through stop signs without stopping or looking (I almost got nailed many, many times by motorists just blowing right through a stop sign), drifting along aimlessly, turning without signaling, and of course, talking on their cells. If you're riding into Ballard you get to top all that off with the Ballard/22nd intersection which confuses a great many people.

    Shilshole takes a little more guts, but it's actually much safer.

  25. My helicopter has very nice blinking lights, but every time I take it out people seem to get upset. I guess I'll just ride my bike over there tonight. Save me a T-shirt?

  26. You don't need a path to do that!

    It's similar to what I do on my commute now (although I ride up 8th) and across 58th/60th). While that's what I do for my ride, I don't think it makes sense for a this mixed use trail. Like Ballardwatch said, crossing major streets multiple times doesn't make much sense.

  27. Seriously! Until you've walked or biked that narrow stretch and had to navigate the tracks, you're not really feeling the pain (of everyone involved.)

  28. I abide by the rule the more lug nuts the more careful I need to be. Salmon Bay's trucks have more lug nuts than my Specialized road bike.

    Also, I tend to think the industries along that street are the last survivors of a vibrant sustainable community. Condo development with tons of nail salons and chi-chi boutiques which go out of business every quarter are not sustainable (as we now all know). But having things “made in Ballard,” is sustainable. Would you want those businesses out of Seattle then have to truck their goods in, increasing their and out carbon footprint? Much less those living wage jobs? Where is the support for blue collar jobs which make good wages?

    If I have a choice between honoring those businesses or drawing a line in the sand about where the so-called missing link is placed, I go with the businesses. There is no reason putting a designated trail through Old Ballard would not work or even along Leary. But this, like so many other issues, has become a line in the sand for the true believers on either side. Not a lot of voices in the middle are getting heard.

  29. “If I have a choice between honoring those businesses or drawing a line in the sand about where the so-called missing link is placed”

    Uh, there is no either or choice here. They both can co-exist just fine. Nice speech and sorry you wasted so much time building that straw man for nothing.

  30. At LEAST just smooth out that deadly asphalt lip, just waiting to take in tires and flip one into traffic. Each time I travel that route I know the drivers are wondering why I don't use the area on the other side of the white line. I want to say, “I know it SEEMS there is room for m slow ass outaide of the car lne, but I want to LIVE. Look! Look at the shitty way someone paved this!”

    And move that damn “Yield to bikes” sign on the bridge -which appears AFTER it is too safely stop and yield. There's a big timber pole blocking it anyway. While we wait for the glacier of action from a underfunded city, can't this sign just be pryed off by some sensible guerrilla bikers and nailed to that pole??

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