The compromise route.
Councilmember Mike O’Brien, a longtime trail supporter, and Warren Aakervik, the owner of Ballard Oil and a trail appellant, shook hands during a February press conference.
The smile on Councilmember Mike O’Brien’s face somehow grew even bigger than usual while listening to longtime trail opponents and advocacy staff at Cascade Bicycle Club praise each other for finally hammering out a Ballard Missing Link compromise after decades of arguments, expensive court battles and painful bike crash hospital visits.
“I’m kinda all smiles,” said O’Brien during the February press conference. O’Brien is a longtime trail supporter and the councilmember representing the district containing the missing 1.4 miles of trail near Ballard’s Salmon Bay waterfront.
“When designed properly, [the city] will create a safe facility next to a major truck street,” said Warren Aakervik, the owner of Ballard Oil and one of the longtime trail opponents who sued to delay the project to this point. “Hopefully we can move forward and make something safe.”
In addition to announcing a compromise route that includes parts of the South Shilshole Ave route trail advocates preferred and parts of the industry-preferred Market/Leary Way route, Mayor Ed Murray also announced the creation of a design advisory group much like the group that guided the Westlake Bikeway. This group includes business owners, bicycle advocates and neighborhood representatives who are sitting down together to go detail-by-detail to hash out details to make sure the trail design works as best as it can for everyone.
“Today’s major announcement ends 20 years of lawsuits, studies and counter studies,” Murray said.
So it was somewhat bewildering (though sadly expected) to read a Seattle Times editorial recently saying, “The city has stuck for too long with a route loved by Seattle’s biking lobby but potentially disastrous for its historic maritime sector. It is well past time to compromise and finally build the missing link on the alternative path.”
It’s pretty embarrassing that the Times didn’t even look at the city’s preferred route long enough to notice that it is practically the definition of “compromise.” About a third of the route follows Market Street, skipping the tight section between Shilshole and the Locks where the trail planners and businesses would have the hardest time working out solutions. That section would not have been impossible to solve, but Market is likely much easier to build. Moving the trail over to Market will make it slightly longer and includes a small extra hill to climb, but these changes are workable. And it is the key change that finally got parties together at the table.
This is what compromise looks like. Continue reading