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Ballard Locks to open an hour later

My Ballard reports that the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks will open at 6:30 a.m. instead of 5:30 as they have been in the past year. They will still open before the posted hours.

From My Ballard:

“For the past four years, we have been opening the gates at 5:30 a.m. for the Muckleshoot Tribe to conduct fish counts and other research,” Andrea Takash with the Army Corps of Engineers tells us. “The Locks’ staff recently conducted a security review. As a result, we are opening the gates closer to the posted hours. The Locks’ staff will now open the gates at 6:30 a.m.”

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For cyclists, the Locks can be a double-edged sword. It’s nice to be able to dismount and cross the canal at the Locks instead of dealing with the Ballard Bridge, which is often out of the way and is among the worst bridges for cyclists in the city. However, depending on the Locks as a transportation corridor is problematic, and I’m sure there are at least a couple early morning riders whose commutes just got a little longer.

One problem the Locks pose is that they make bike route maps more confusing. Should Google Maps take people across the Locks for their biking and walking directions? The city’s bike map has a note telling riders they will need to dismount, but it does not have the hours.

I have found myself staring at the closed gates at least twice. My mistake for not paying attention to the time, I know. But I’m sure my case is not rare. It’s kind of a bummer sometimes to realize you now have to ride miles out of your way to the Fremont Bridge (or face a very unfriendly Ballard Bridge).

On the other hand, it is a unique urban route that adds flavor to the sometimes oddball Seattle bike network.

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3 responses to “Ballard Locks to open an hour later”

  1. Mike

    I guess the better question is: what can we do to make the Ballard bridge better for cyclists. Because man, it sucks now.

  2. Sean

    A great article. Few folks know that there isn’t a good bike or metro bus route between Ballard and Magnolia–so if you want to “get there from here” without a car, you walk across the locks with your bike. If you’re cycling and carrying kids and cargo (kegs, groceries, or whatever) as I often do, you know that aside from being bike unfriendly, you just don’t fit on the narrow sidewalk of the Ballard bridge by yourself, let alone if someone is coming the other way.

    One important aspect the article didn’t touch on which could use additional USACE personnel assistance is that there is little recognition by the tourists that use the locks that the facilities represent the only viable bridge for miles (short of the Fremont if you are trailering as I do). Often during later morning or afternoon sunny day commutes, (despite my best efforts at polite “please move, this is a bridge” requests) I’ve gotten into altercations with tourists that refuse to give way to my bike (single or tandem), tag along, and trailer (which I cannot back up once on the lock door/bridges). I wait and wait, and finally go, only to be challenged by someone in a stroller who thinks that I should have waited another 5 minutes for a chance to cross the large lock. Alternately, there is the “photo vista” altercation where some tourists believe it is their right to set up a tripod and get the perfect photo of a sunset from the large or small lock doors, or hang out for a while admiring the swirling water below the doors. USACE staff could do A LOT more for cyclists in this corridor moving “campers” off the lock doors and giving priority to cyclists [at least] until a Ballard bridge solution can be achieved. This could be achieved in something as simple as a sign on each side of each lock door “Please do not stop while on the lock door.” USACE needs to start to recognize that their transportation mission is not just for those on the water, but for the bikes (and pedestrians) crossing the water too.

  3. Katy

    I think you bicyclists are making a wayyyy-too big deal about this. Geeze!!!

    I live by the Locks. I walk across them all the time. I see tourists there all summer. I have NEVER seen anyone EVER impede a person with a bicycle.


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