Cycletrack alternative proposed for missing link

One of the attorneys for the Ballard businesses fighting against the proposed missing link on the Burke Gilman Trail is serious about pushing for a European style alternative.  Moments after a judge ruled an environmental study must be done on a small section of the missing link before a decision on its fate is made, attorney Josh Brower told MyBallard that his clients were proposing a plan to build cycletracks along a different route.  Today, he reinforced his stand on the issue.

“We’re very serious about this alternative,” said Brower.  “It wouldn’t undermine the local maritime industry, it would be safer for cyclists, and it would benefit the entire community.”

Brower and his clients are proposing a route that would put cycletracks on 46th Street under the Ballard Bridge, up 17th Avenue, over to Leary Avenue, down Market Street, and ending at the Ballard Locks. 

Cycletracks are separated from vehicle travel lanes, parking lanes, and sidewalks.  They’re popular in Europe and you’ll also find a similar version on Seattle’s Alki Beach (photo above).  But those pushing to complete the current missing link route say it’s only adding more time to a process that’s already dragged out over two decades.

“This is the straw man.  It’s unfunded and unstudied,” said David Hiller with the Cascade Bicycle Club.  “It’s frustrating because every day is another day closer to someone being killed.”

Hiller says he’s in favor of making improvements on Market Street and other parts of downtown Ballard, but he says those need to happen in addition to completing the currently proposed route.

As for the environmental study on the section of the missing link in question, SDOT hopes to have it complete in the next few months.

Geeky Swedes

The founders of My Ballard

62 thoughts to “Cycletrack alternative proposed for missing link”

  1. Leary and Market. I can see why he felt the need to say “we're very serious about this alternative” — on the face of it, it sounds like a bad joke.

    Has this guy ever driven in Ballard? That five-way intersection is already a mess. At least one car runs the red light from Market westbound on every single cycle during rush hour. And it's a long intersection, it'll take bikes ages to clear it. This guy wants to route all the cycle traffic in the area through there? Why not just run a trail down the middle lane of I-5, while we're at it?

    That Hiller guy from Cascade has it right — they just want to restart the clock and push this off for another decade of study.

  2. “This is the straw man. It’s unfunded and unstudied,” Hiller is right, but its worse than that. To suggest this major change as some sort of soultion to a small peice of trail is an insult to the residents of Ballard. I mean, the link is much riper as a project, putting in Bike tracks in Ballard is a major change of the grid to a part of town that is very far removed from everything else as it is.

    “It’s frustrating because every day is another day closer to someone being killed.” Heck, their truck drivers are so wreckless, I fear for my life when I drive by SBSG in car.

  3. I am curious what the Chamber has to say about crippling traffic through the heart of Ballard with this idea. Maybe they will have second thoughts about supporting SBSG and crew.

  4. So true, Edog. I doubt that Brower vetted this with a single business on Market or Leary. Or SDOT, or Metro, for that matter. What about buses that need to pull to the curb along those streets? Would they drive in the cycletrack?

  5. check out the publicola updates. They spoke with SDOT. Lets just say they were not really supportive. Honestly, this proposal is a big insult.

    A real FU to Ballard.

    This makes about as much much sense as proposing an international airport at the current site of SBSG.

  6. I have a modest proposal. I propose that Salmon Bay Sand and Gravel relocate just a short distance to where there is plenty of sand and gravel readily available. My proposal goes into more detail, but the location would be in the middle of Puget Sound. Of course they may need to spend a bit more on scuba equipment and submarines, but think of all the sand available to them right there!
    Please write stories about this and spend countless hours discussing this instead of the actual construction of the long planned and approved missing link of the Burke Gilman Trail.

  7. We the undersigned respectfully demand that Salmon Bay Sand and Gravel be forcibly evicted and the site turned into an international airport.

    Win win! And just as likely to happen!

  8. Can we do an Environmental Study on SBSG and Ballard Oil please. I am leary about what they are putting into the canal. Um kay, Mr. Brower?

  9. Since we're moving ahead with this whole thing, I just started looking up available airport codes for the Ballard International Airport and BAL is taken by of all things…Batman Airport in Turkey.
    BIA, BRD, BUM, BFU, BFD, are taken. BGT is Bagdad.
    So we can be BZF or BZX if we want to have our code start with B.

  10. Crippling traffic? Hey, if it cripples traffic, the mayor and most locals should probably immediately hop on the bandwagon. Making life as miserable as possible for anyone who dares to own a car is a high priority for the city.

    Actually, if these guys really want their proposal to be taken seriously, they should amend it to make *all* the lanes on Leary and Market St. bike-only. Then wipe out all the existing parking on the street, and you would have something the “visionaries” would immediately line up behind.

  11. Going down Leary and Market is a bad idea. Leary has bus lines and Market is too narrow as it is. A better option is 46th-17th-Ballard-Market. I ride that route daily and it's way better than Shilshole. Only bad spot is the one block of Market between Ballard and 24th***. That stretch could in theory be made safe by eliminating the 10-12 parallel parking spots and turning that space into a bike lane/right turn lane onto 24th. Of course I'm sure the businesses on Market would claim that eliminating 10-12 parking spaces would drive them out of business.

    However, he's totally correct about using 46th. I'm tired of hearing Seattle cyclists whine about the “dangerous” tracks. First, it ignores the reality that people in lots of other cities ride over tracks just as bad (or worse!) on a regular basis without crashing. Second, if you're so worried about the tracks why not ride over to 46th and avoid them entirely? That's the route I take and it's far better than 45th (not only do you avoid the tracks there's also less traffic). Heaven forbid you have to go one whole whopping block out of your way! No, far better that we spend millions of dollars instead. I just don't get the absolute insistence by some on routing bicycle traffic down 45th. I've written to Cascade about why they can't move the route one block over to 46th and they never responded. Makes me think they're more about making some sort of political statement than actually making cycling safer and more accessible. No wonder I stopped being a member and volunteering with them.

    *** To those about to say “making a left from Ballard onto Market is illegal, you're wrong. In Seattle it's legal for a cyclist to cross in a crosswalk (admittedly not the best idea but since when is Seattle about doing things the best way?) I cross in the cross walk and then enter Market. The two SPD cops I mentioned this to said it's completely legal.

  12. Does this proposal even have to be offiicially considered?

    “As for the environmental study on the section of the missing link in question, SDOT hopes to have it complete in the next few months.”

    Can't the (court required) study be completed and the project move ahead after that? Unless the enviornmental study shows some reason not to?

  13. Two different things being studied here. Nobody is seriously studying the businesssman's straw man diversion plan.
    The study that SDOT is doing is to cover the real plan for completing the missing link. When they did their studies they skipped a section of Shilshole in front of SBSG because it was only considered a future route after they agreed to appease the business with a detour. The judge says they have to study it now, which will actually leave that section open to being the current route instead of the future route.

  14. Why not follow the 'BallardRail', since it's only used at night anyway, with traffic signals… yes signals like Amsterdam (but will cyclists heed? doubtful). Yes, another study. The trunk can connect efficiently with the trail as it picks up at 32nd.
    Another person has died on a 'trail' recently only this time it was a pedestrian hit by a bike.
    The only way for safe and efficient bicycle movement is dedicated infrastructure. Sharrows and painted lines shared with trucks and cars is lunacy.

  15. The Burke Gilman Trail is a multi-purpose path to include pedestrians, bicyclists, children, pets, skaters, etc. That seems to be forgotten as we focus only on where we can put bicyclists.

  16. Seaspider
    The reason NOT to go down NW 46th…?
    more driveway crossings
    heavier, faster traffic, overall

    the reason TO go down NW 46th
    cross the tracks at right angle (which problem is solved in the funded design, which uses NW 45th)

    That's the nut of it….

  17. Well, that was the original and best idea after BNSF abandoned it, but SBSG's owner bought it for a dollar and runs his toy train back and forth to his business at a great annual loss just to keep it from reverting back to public use and being turned into a multi use path.

  18. Geeky Swedes

    any other info…how did you come about this story? Did you speak with Mr. Brower? In person? Did he provide you with any other materials? Publicola had a map… Was that his? Any cross-sections showing what this would look like on Market and Leary? What can we expect?

    Thanks Geeky Swedes…..

  19. Thank you Dweezil,
    That is what is being missed in this whole debate. The BGT is a multi use trail And as such will have walkers, skaters, joggers and bicyclists. We can’t just suddenly turn a trail that runs from Bothell to 11th Ave NW and NW 45th Street and then turn it into a “cycletracks” until it reaches the Locks. This is a very bad idea and a waste of time at this point in the negotiations.

  20. I find it most interesting that Josh Brower, who represents Salmon Bay Sand and Gravel in the suit is, or was, the Commission Chair on the Seattle Planning Commission. Seems like a conflict of interests to me.
    Strange how someone who supports “comprehensive planning and renewable energy. Community activities include ElderHealth Northwest, Seward Park Environmental & Audubon Center and Leadership Tomorrow” also works for a company that appears to be against environmental change. Anyone who has looked at the artists impressions of the proposed trail along Shilshole Ave. should be able to see that a trail would be an environmental enhancement of this current eyesore .

  21. thanks michaelsnyder. coming from the dissenters, this seems like even more of an encroachment. parking, cycletrack and THEN a bike path?

  22. SPG-you keep writing that the short line runs at a loss, but never seem to post any links or data to support that. Do you have any data/refs to back up your guess?

  23. If David Hiller thinks this alternative is “unfunded and unstudied,” then the bicycle community & the business community should do what ever they can to study and fund it. I think Mr. Hiller is being disingenuous and would shoot down any reasonable alternatives offered. At least this seems like a viable option that has worked well else where.

  24. Agreed. Keep this business running.

    The current trail plan, being litigated against by this company and others , does NOT GO in front of this business – that was the point of the compromise in 2003 by the City Council. And the council, in Resolution 30583, makes it pretty clear how much they value Ballard's industrial businesses.

    Those of us Ballardites advocating for this trail from the beginning have always done so on the principle that the roadway changes needed to make a trail should not negatively impact those businesses. And the City has accomplished this goal with the current designed and funded plan.

    So, this 11th hr 'compromise' to build cycle tracks for bicyclists, as if that is the point of this trail, is dishonest — Mr Brower knows this will not work, given the number of driveway crossings and loss of parking that will result. And it will do nothing for all the other trail users.

    We have a plan – it's safe, improves business access, avoids some of the busiest business areas, was discussed, vetted, and reviewed ad nauseum with affected businesses, and it's funded and ready to build. It needs, now, one more bit of environmental analysis, AND it needs Mr Brower and his clients to stop suing to halt it. It is as simple as that.

  25. While I do not always agree with David Hiller or the Cascade Bicycle Club, I think David is spot on here. This proposed design is a train wreck. The attorney represents the self interests of a few businesses with money, nothing more and nothing less. The attorney is obviously not a planner or engineer.
    Hopefully this proposed bad does not get in the way of completing the trail as planned before someone is killed due to the dangerous situation that currently exists.

  26. Agreed.

    I use 46th everyday coming home from work, but I wouldn't recommend that route to anyone who wasn't fairly fast and confident riding in heavy traffic. I've had far less problems with that route than I did on 45th, where the weird intersection with Shilshole and cars trying to pass me on the right as I crossed the tracks gave me many, many close calls, but 46th has it's own set of issues. You pretty much have to take the lane most of the way, and that means holding a 20 – 25 mph pace all the way to Shilshole or pissing off drivers. Even taking the lane, I'd had a few close calls with people pulling out of TJs or 14th, and one really bad confrontation with a driver who didn't like me holding the lane.

    When I first started riding, 46th would have been terrifying. That is not a good way to go if you're anything less than a well seasoned urban rider. And 45th isn't much better.

  27. Well said LiltingMissive.
    Extra caution required even driving 46th – people frequenting the businesses at Ballard Blocks seem more confused and stupid than your average stupid Seattle driver. Dangerous combo – fast drivers using it as a route to Fremont and slow confused drivers using it to get to the businesses there.

  28. Seriously? Viable? Are you willing to give up lanes of traffic and parking spaces for this proposal? On roads that are already over-crowded? Wow – interesting what some people think if viable!

  29. Similar routes were studied in 2002 in the Ballard Corridor Study. The findings make it apparent that this route is neither viable nor reasonable. First, vehicle speeds are highest on 46th and on Market. Vehicle volumes are also much higher on Brower's route than on the route that has been painstakingly studied and designed. Also, there are more intersections and driveways by an order of magnitude. Since driveway crossings are the primary concern of the appellants, Brower's proposal can be dismissed out of had as unserious and disingenuous.

  30. Please call the Dept of planning and development to complain about the conflict of interest in having Brower be the Commission Chair on the Seattle Planning Commission. I spoke with them last year about it. More complaints might induce them to make more neutral decisions in the future. Ha.

  31. Of course not. It's laughable. Impractical. Childish. Stupid. It would be a disaster.

    So I expect the mayor will line up behind it.

  32. I expect the city will do something to make this route unusable for cars soon enough. It's actually a very high-traffic (important) way to go east-west north of the ship canal. We can't allow that to continue much longer – surely somebody will come up with a reason why that'll have to be stopped.

  33. I don't have it in front of me, but there was a quote on some RR site that did a puff piece on the Ballard RR where they used it as a point of pride that they were losing money on it every year but would still keep it going.
    I posted that link before, but I'm mobile and busy at the moment so…

  34. I've been watching your posts, and don't remember any link. Just so we have facts rather than guesses to work with, it would be great if you could post it when you have a chance.

  35. k – if bike traffic is separated from car traffic (e.g. by these bikeways), vehicle speeds don't really matter, do they? Driveway crossing are important insofar as the amount of use they get. The industrial ones get used every 2-4 minutes, much of that by big trucks, so a few industrial ones might be more dangerous than a few dozen residential or low-traffic business ones.
    I agree that I don't see much room for a bikeway on Leary. Personally, I think something like NW 57th St would be much safer and better.

  36. It might look nicer, but not necessarily be better for the environment. Current gravel and dirt are probably more permeable than whatever the trail surface will be.

  37. I can see it already… They build the path following the interim route with two new street lights at Vernon and 17 th where they intersect with Shilshole. That will certainly help to slow things down a bit. But SPG, Motormouth, and the rest of the obstinate crackups won't be satisfied. They won't want to wait at two additional lights. They wont' want to turn left (going South) to make the jump over to Ballard Ave and they won't want to wait on a signal to cross Shilshole (going North) to enter 17 th. What's going to happen is that only the weekend tourists will follow the path, and the rest of obstinate crowd will ride straight down Shilshole, ignoring the path, and I bet my right arm there will be a way for them to ignore the new traffic signals. Give it a week and they'll be right back to whinging about how unsafe and unfair it is that they have to pass by SBSG. You say the interim route was meant to APPEASE the good folks at SBSG. If they aren't appeased, I'm not surprised. The interim route is a joke and everybody knows it. But I say build it. Atleast then if one of you idiots get run over by a cement truck you won't be able to sue the city for not building a path for you to ignore. I think it is sad, to say the least, that you even joke about trying to put SBSG out of business.

  38. From what I have read on SDOT's page, what you say is not true. Only the interim trail jumps over to Ballard Ave and the future “permanent trail” will continue to be studied. And none of the commuter bicyclists are going to follow the trail over to Ballard Ave. The plan doesn't even adress the issue and everybody knows it.

    What it needs is for Mr. Brower to do his job ( “growth management”) and represent SBSG to the fullest of his abilities. What it needs to is to balance the needs of long established businesses with the new growing desires of a small segment of commuters.

    What it needs is to be scrapped, becuase the interim path is nothing more than the city doing some CYA so they can avoid liability.

  39. dang, cdpenne – anger much? you're usually so measured and calm in your comments. why the intense anger here?
    cyclists have as much right to ride in traffic as motorcyclists and cars can drive in traffic. Multi-use paths are for all kinds of users, and sometimes it is safer for a fast cyclist to act like a car. I, for one, follow the rules of the road whether on my bike or in my gas guzzler. Calm down, dear sir. This is not just about bicycles.

  40. Mr. Brower should do his job. But which one? He represents SBSG, but is also head of the city's planning commission?
    Doesn't take a lawyer to see the conflicts of interest there!

  41. Just did a quick search and can't find it. So let's just assume then that they're actually making money hand over fist. Raking in seriously huge amounts of cash, millions in fact, coming from SBSG and going into the pockets of the owners of that railroad who are…

  42. No, but cars have to be slowed down. Thank god for the new 4-way stop. The reason people are “confused” is they can't understand why people see fit to drive 40 when any second someone could pull out of that drieway. There is low visibility around parked cars.

  43. cdpenne you haven't used a single fact in your assertion that a trail threatens business. There are plenty of family-owned businesses along the trail that actually welcomed it. SBSG and Warren should just live with it.

  44. Not true. Fred Meyer's driveway gets 100 times more traffic, and it already crosses the trail. Other routes would go past oblivious people pulling out of residential and commercial driveways.

  45. And vehicle speeds do matter- that's why intersections are more worrisome than driveways. The currently proposed, planned, designed, and funded route has the least intersections possible.

  46. Sorry, I don't understand. If vehicles are stopped at a light, why would intersections be more worrisome? I also still don't understand why vehicle speed matters if there is some sort of barrier/fence/curb between the bikeway and the traffic lanes.

  47. The north-facing one one at the NE corner of Fred Meyer is the only driveway that crosses the trail directly — the other entrances have their trail crossings at public road intersections. I don't see very many cars using that driveway, and certainly almost no trucks.

  48. cd

    no serious trail advocates want SBSG to go out of business. Though posters here may say that, none who care about Ballard would say so.

    And as you say, there will always be people who disobey traffic laws, lights, stop signs, etc.

    What shall we do? Ignore the last decade or more of work that got us to the point where we are now – interim and permanent sections of trail designed and funded? Scrap the whole plan? (sounds like that's what you think)

    And I don't know if SPG or Motormouth are 'obstinate crackups' or not, but we are all trying to make our point of view known.

    There are elements of this plan that improve access for businesses along the route – and all of them currently face cars, trucks, cyclists, and some brave pedestrians, walking in front of, and crossing the driveways of their businesses. That won't change. A business or two will lose a loading dock, currently in the right or way, so that is a change. What will change as well is we will have a more organized and thoughtful roadway, safer for EVERYONE who uses it. And yes, more people will be on that roadway/trail, but isn't that a good thing? More people using their feet or two wheels to get from point A to point B?

  49. Mondoman
    In fact delivery trucks to Fred Meyer enter their parking lot to the east and exit through this NE intersection. So every 'big' (i.e., eighteen wheeler) exits through here.

    A let me count for you the number of times I've almost been nailed while passing this intersection, mostly by incoming vehicles . People aren't paying attention some times……

  50. Yep, trucks go in there, and the auto drivers are about 50% clueless. I've seen one cyclist down, which is actually surprisingly good, considering.

    FM should be required to install speed bumps so the cars going in and out at least have their brakes on already. Drivers along Leary and 46th got screwed with 2 new lights to accommodate FM; the least FM could do is NOT foster an express lane across the BGT.

  51. Mondoman, if you think that all those cars dripping oil and brake residue on the gravel as it is now, is better than a planting strip with plants and a storm drain, well so be it. I for one would like either a sidewalk or a planting strip along ShilShole Avenue. And the BGT!

  52. Name, you don't seem to realize that the law suite just “shot down” the temporary “reasonable alternative”! That was along Ballard Avenue.
    Now the only logical is to comlpete the BGT along the origional route. And it appears that that is what will happen, like it or not.

  53. Hi Everyone!

    I’ve been biking past Salmon Bay Sand and Gravel for years. I love seeing the the silos rising against the setting sun, as I return to the home I adore, Ballard. It saddens me that this lawyer douche wants to take that away from me.

    C’mon lawyer douche. I know you don’t mean to take away the austere beauty that is SBSG from someone who appreciates their contribution. Without their quality products, the concrete on which I ride would not be nearly so homey.

    Just give us the trail, so you can move on to much more lawyerly pursuits, like who should be allowed to ride brakeless.

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