A rubber mat that was intended to keep bicycle tires from getting stuck in the railroad tracks is being removed to make the trail safer for cyclists. After hearing complaints from bicyclists that the crossing is dangerous, the Seattle Department of Transportation is working with the Ballard Terminal Railroad to make some changes.
Photo courtesy Michael Snyder
“The Burke-Gilman Trail intersects railroad tracks belonging to the Ballard Terminal Railroad at a crossing to the north and east of 6th Avenue NW and NW 40th Street. The trail bends towards 6th Avenue NW at this point and meets the train tracks at a 45 degree angle,” according to the SDOT blog.
Bicyclist Michael Snyder says that removing the mat and changing the crossing is a good idea. “The rubber on this crossing is pretty slick when there is any moisture,” he says, “The current angle of the crossing encourages cyclists to cross the railroad tracks at an acute angle instead of the 90 degree angle that is normally recommended when bicycles are ridden across railroad tracks. The SDOT reconfiguration looks like it will encourage cyclists to cross at a 90 degree angle.”
Red flags indicate crashes, yellow flag indicates hazard.
Snyder says that Bikewise.org has been collecting hazard and crash reports from the public for the last year and this area shows a distinct cluster of crashes.
Charles Bookman, Director of Traffic Management for the SDOT says,“The Ballard Terminal Railroad (BTRR) operates under a City of Seattle franchise agreement, which holds them responsible for maintenance within their franchise area, which includes trail crossings of their track. In realigning this crossing, the BTRR will remove the rubber mats and will reimburse SDOT for replacing the crossing in asphalt. SDOT is covering the remainder of the work, which includes project design and coordination, traffic control, realigning portions of the trail outside the immediate crossing area, and moving some signs.”
Work is expected to be completed next month.