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King County releases official Burke-Gilman detour

Just five days before the trail is set to close for the summer, King County has released the officially-approved and signed detour route. It is even longer and more out circuitous than the original detour plan and involves 20 steps before joining again with the trail.

The county can only sign a detour approved by the City of Lake Forest Park, and LFP had been stalling and debating the planned route until Friday, when this route was approved. Permits to put up signs will be issued June 13, two days before the closure. The state and county are still urging people who ride bicycles to use other means of transportation for the next six months and caution against riding on Hwy 522, though it is legal.

It is irresponsible of our state to refuse accommodations on 522, especially in light of the lack of an alternate route for people riding bicycles. Commuting by bus will cost each bicycle commuter about $500 over the summer. Driving costs even more and will increase congestion on 522. For the state to simply assume that everyone riding the trail can afford this massive increase in cost is irresponsible. People in our region depend on their bicycles for transportation. Many people use bicycles as a way to live within tight (or nearly nonexistent) budgets.

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People are going to keep riding, whether the trail is closed or not. Hopefully this detour or another safe option will work for them. Otherwise, you will find them on the completely accommodation-free 522, fending for themselves without any help from the state, which chose not to make this road safe for all legal road users.

From King County:

King County Parks has worked collaboratively with the City of Lake Forest Park, the City of Seattle, the City of Shoreline, the City of Kenmore, the Cascade Bicycle Club and many other stakeholders over the last year to identify a safe, temporary detour route to be used during construction of the Burke Gilman Trial. The City of Lake Forest Park just today committed to an issuance of permits on June 13 for the detour (attached) around the Burke Gilman Trail construction area. The County also received permission to begin installing detour signage. Only when we had the City’s commitment could we publish the detour on the project, which you can now find on the project webpage www.kingcounty.gov/burkegilmantrail. Construction updates will be posted to this web site weekly, and to receive notification of those updates, you can also subscribe to King County Parks’ construction alerts at www.kingcounty.gov/parksalerts or like King County Parks on Facebook  at www.facebook.com/iheartkcparks.

The County has been working with stakeholders for nine months to identify and gain permit approval for a detour. Users should know the detour is significantly longer, circuitous and hilly. For many riders and commuters, the best option will be to avoid cycling and ride the bus or carpool until construction is complete. King County is encouraging commuter cyclists to first consider using Sound Transit and King County Metro buses equipped with bike racks during commute hours or carpooling as a temporary alternative during the trail closure. Additionally there are bike lockers available at the Kenmore Park & Ride lot and at Lake Forest Park Towne Center.

King County, Lake Forest Park and the Washington State Department of Transportation are strongly encouraging commuter cyclists not to ride on SR522 during the trail closure. Safety is the County’s top priority, especially considering that there will be increased traffic on SR522 in the Lake Forest Park area as a result of the upcoming tolling on SR520.

We understand this construction project presents a significant, temporary inconvenience, but we believe that the safety improvements we’re making to this section of the Burke-Gilman Trail will benefit trail users for many decades to come.

Here are the step-by-step directions for the detour, which will be signed next week:

Turn‐by‐Turn Directions (subject to permit approval)

Heading southbound from Kenmore
• Divert from trail at west end of Logboom Park.
• Travel SW on Beach Drive NE.
• Turn right on Ballinger Way NE and cross SR
• Use sidewalk on west side of Ballinger Way NE.
• Turn left onto NE 178th St.
• Turn left onto 37th Ave NE.
• Turn right onto NE 156th St.
• Turn left onto 33rd Ave NE.
• Turn right onto NE 155th St.
• Turn left onto 27th Ave NE.
• Turn left onto NE 150th St.
• Turn right onto 28th Ave NE.
• Turn left onto LDS private road.
• Turn right onto 30th Ave NE.
• Turn left onto NE 145th St.
• Turn right onto 35th Ave NE.
• Turn left onto NE 105th St
• Turn right onto NE 104th Place, which
becomes 45th Ave NE.
• Turn left onto NE 94th St.
• Rejoin the trail at the trail connector.

Heading northbound from Seattle
• Divert from trail at NE 94th St.
• Turn right onto NE 104th Place, which becomes
45th Ave NE.
• Turn left onto NE 105th St
• Turn right onto 35th Ave NE.
• Turn left onto NE 145th St.
• Turn right onto 30th Ave NE.
• Turn left onto LDS private road.
• Turn right onto 28th Ave NE.
• Turn left onto NE 150th St.
• Turn left onto 27th Ave NE.
• Turn right onto NE 155th St.
• Turn left onto 33rd Ave NE.
• Turn right onto NE 156th St.
• Turn left onto 37th Ave NE.
• Turn left onto NE 178th St.
• Use sidewalk on west side of Ballinger Way NE.
• Turn right on Ballinger Way NE and cross SR
• Travel SW on Beach Drive NE.
• Travel SW on Beach Drive NE.
• Rejoin trail at west end of Logboom Park.

Do you prefer a variation on this detour route? Be sure to leave it in the comments. Perhaps we can come up with our own detour that is faster and/or safer than the official route. After all, we have the added advantage of not needing permission of Lake Forest Park.

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36 responses to “King County releases official Burke-Gilman detour”

  1. NickBob

    Yeah, imagine closing I-5 from SoDo to Northgate and having the detour routed thru the Eastside, along with an encouragement to walk or ride a bike. War on Cars! This nonsense doesn’t effect me directly, but it’s discouraging to see nevertheless. I suspect there will many cyclists who use the busy arterials which will spur compaints (at the very least) from road raging drivers. Be careful out there.

  2. Brian

    This is so sad. It won’t affect me either, since I live very close to my work, but the county’s recommendation to a) use motorized transportation and b) don’t bike on a legal roadway is shocking and depressing. I keep thinking to the photos of how bike lanes are protected in Denmark during construction. Sigh.

    I’m not a good organizer, but I would be happy to participate in a group ride on 522 to peacefully advocate for the safety of cyclists.

    1. RachaelL

      I’d be up for that. I find the idea that a warning not to ride is the proper addition to a statement about safety issues on a road. Surely the statement should include information about plans to make the road safer for all users. Those buses don’t drop people straight into cars – surely people have to walk a little ways.

      1. RachaelL

        Err, find the idea absurd.

  3. Rich

    I chatted with some King County folks at the bike expo a few months back, and they said the detour process was very frustrating because of the number of jurisdictions involved. Everyone has to agree, and one party can make things difficult.

  4. doug

    I used the directions and mapped out the route on Bikely:


    This route is long and is hilly enough to preclude breezy summertime cruising by beginning cyclists, to be sure. Glad I don’t have to do it as a daily commute.

    While mapping it out, I noticed a couple errors in the northbound cue sheet:

    “Turn right onto NE 104th Place, which becomes 45th Ave NE” should read ” Turn right onto 45th Ave NE, which becomes NE 104th Place”

    and “Turn left onto NE 178th St.” should read “Turn right onto NE 178th St.”

    I make these kinds of mistakes on my own cue sheets frequently….

  5. Brad Hawkins

    522 ain’t so bad but it’s definitely for the fast and fearless. On the southbound route, just take the entire bus lane and you’re good to go. The northbound side has some shoulder and it’s downhill so you can skirt into traffic a little as you roll, pretty quickly, into LFPTC.

    Does WSDOT leadership live in LFP?

  6. RachaelL

    I’m really confused by this route (again). The most sensible looking parts south of 145th (straight route though apparently very busy) seem unnecessary – the trail is open after that. Is there no way to get back to the trail earlier? Am I misreading the closure location? I think I noticed this before but thought I had to be mistaken. What’s the reason for that?

    1. It’s possible to get between roads and the trail closer to the start of construction but it’s really steep.

      The geography of this area is a real challenge, and a lot of the stakeholders are indifferent at best to bicycling. If either of these were not the case…

      1. RachaelL

        I figured it was something like that but it just seems so outrageously out of the way. I’ve only been up that way on bus or walking. Perhaps I should ride it before it closes for the summer.

  7. Louise

    If you live in the northend, you could take the Interurban Trail to 185th St. Head east from the trail, then north, and hook up with Perkins Way, a lovely road that descends alongside a babbling brook (ok, so uphill is a bit of a grunt). It will take you to the Lake Forest Park shopping center (where you should not spend any money, since LFP doesn’t deserve it). Cross 522 at the light and head east on Beach Drive to Logboom. Catastrophe diverted.

  8. Merlin

    biking home this evening along 25th through Montlake along the signed (but not Sharrowed or Bike-Laned) Lake Washington Loop – this route goes along quiet residential streets and is sometimes quite busy with bikes. Quite a few people were out in their yards chatting with neighbors as I rode by. No one gave me a second look (or even a first look!). I wish the residents of 25th could meet with some of the freaked-out folks in Lake Forest Park and Bothell and let them know that bikes do not destroy a community!

    1. JRF

      Same with the non-trail segments of the Interurban in North Seattle.

  9. JRF

    Much shorter detours exist and I expect those with 24t front and 36t rear drivetrain options will find and use them. The intersection between the politically negotiable and the reasonable grade options yield a massive detour. So massive of a detour that I expect a great number of regular commuters will just work out their own routes and the nimbys rejecting detours down their streets will end up with defacto detours down their streets regardless.

    Short and steep, northbound…

    Continue on the BG as usual to shortly after 125th St where you can hop over to the Riviera Pl, on your right. Continue past 145th st to what looks on the map like 40th Ave NE. (I’ve never actually noticed the street sign. This is also the location of the 1st stop sign on the BG entering LFP.) Climb up around a hairpin turn and keep right (north) where it flattens out as 39th Ave. Then loop around left on 150th st for a second steep climb, then right on 37th Ave NE for a bit of coasting, then left on 153rd, and up to 522.

    From there, you can cross (pedestrian style) 522, head through a parking lot and climb up 155th st to 35th Ave and bam, you are on the “official” detour route. The maps don’t show 155th st and 35th ave connecting, but for bikes and pedestrians, they do with a gravel path.

    I’ve done this bit BG 35th ave route many, many, many times. Some of it is brutally steep, but there are flat spots to catch your breath.

    Some map based speculation…

    A variation on Short and Steep. To avoid the somewhat extreme grade of 155th st, it LOOKS like you only need to go on 522 as far as 157th ln, and then drop down to Beach Dr, but I’ve never been down that way, or know if Beach Dr at that point is some private road. It LOOKS like Beach Drive is continuous from 157th ln all the way up to Third Place Books. If that works, this is probably the shortest possible detour–essentially 147th to 157th. (Riviera Pl is hardly counts as detour as it never strays more than spitting distance from the BG.) I don’t know how well this would work southbound. Good 522 crossings are sparse around here and I don’t recall what the sidewalk is like for cautious counter-flow 157th to 153rd.

    Alternative long southern detour…

    If you want to go west of Acadia, my preferred route, described as northbound here, is to cross to the west side of Lake City Way at 115th and then go north on 25th Ave. There is an obvious jog on 25th Ave to the right at 135th St and a NON-obvious jog to the right again at 140th. After crossing 145th, you can jog two blocks east to join up with the “official” detour. I like this route because 25th is quiet, has a reasonable grade, has a nearly instantaneous pedestrian crossing light at 125th, and a quick responding light at 145th, two otherwise difficult to cross streets. I called SDOT to adjust the loop sensors at the 115th crossing of Lake City Way, so they should be in good order for bike triggering. (I was very impressed with the response from SDOT, btw.)

    Coming from the official detour originating around Matthews Beach, turn West from 35th Ave on 110th St, then then north on 28th Ave up to 115th. I find 28th Ave one of the more gentle climbs out of Meadow Brook.

    I haven’t been north of 160th off the BG very often so don’t have as much to say on that part of the official detour route. I DO, however, dislike 178th. It is twisty, with horrid shoulders (crater-like potholes), when present at all, and cars drive far to fast for the conditions. The same probably applies to Ballinger Way, though I’ve only seen that from a car. Brookside Blvd is pleasant on a bike though.

  10. biliruben

    My last house was on top of Perkins in Shoreline, and I currently live pretty close to where the trail is going to be closed, at 145th, so I know this area pretty well.

    Perkins is indeed a nice ride, but narrow shoulders. The cars are generally sparse and moving slow, however. You still get buzzed by idiots now and again.

    If you wanted to connect to the interurben, you could climb it. There is one steep stretch, but generally doable. Go to 10th, then you have a choice of riding 185th with a bike lane to the interurban. Alternatively or there is a secret ped bridge you get get to by taking a right on 10th, then a left on 195nd. You then follow residential streets along a cemetery to the interurban (the connection was still a work in progress last I road this)


    If I were to be forced to ride a detour all summer, I would instead probably take another route. This one will probably piss off my neighbors, and it’s still hilly, but not quite as absurd as the official route. Basically (coming from the south) it has you get off the trail at Lakeside place, and ride 42nd above the Burke. 42nd is also hilly, but doable. You end up popping out to 522 at 153rd, which has a light, then I’d cross and make your way over to 38th Ave, and back to essentially the official route. How you make that crossing and few blocks of 522 depends on what kind of rider you are. (from the north, just reverse this, obviously)


    There are some alternative ways of getting to 42nd rather than climb Lakeside, which is steep, but has flats to catch your breath. One I’m partial to is climbing 40 stairs and a path at 13oth St and the trail. For nutso riders, you can climb the straight shot up 125th, and save a bit of altitude. For a gradual climb, you can hop on Sandpoint around Matthew’s beach, but that’s a very busy road with so-so shoulders.

    Anyway, good luck!

    1. biliruben

      I should be more clear about the target audience for the above route on 42nd. This is for riders who:

      1) can climb a hill but perhaps not as many hills as LFP town council recommends for you, but
      2) are understandably nervous about mixing it up with fast moving cars on 522 (easiest route) or 145th (official route).

      This route has fewer hills, is shorter, and you don’t need to ride on a highway. At 153rd, you can cross at a light, and there is a brand new sidewalk on the west side of the road that will get you to 38th Ave and up into the official route.

      I will add a caveat that I haven’t actually tried this route out yet in it’s entirety, but I will probably do so on Friday to the brewers fest up at St. Edwards. I’ll let you know how it is.

      1. Tom Fucoloro

        Thanks for the suggestions. Looks like a promising alternative, considering people can cross 522 at that light and ride on the sidewalk. And the amount of climbing actually doesn’t look too bad. Isn’t GPS data too cool?

        The link, again: http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/view/37372850

      2. biliruben

        Yeah, I think if you have a light bike and decide to carry them up the stairs, it may be superior in every way. If you climb Lakeside however, it has more elevation gain.

        Stairs are pretty much at the low-point of 42nd, so it really saves a big up and down. I love those elevation maps! The only real nasty climb is the 2 blocks up 145th.

    2. biliruben

      I did a side-by-side comparison, and I’m not as sold on my route. 42nd/41st has a lot of up and down. As a consequence, though it’s half a mile shorter, it’s got around 100 ft more climbing you need to do, all told.

      It might be quicker and prettier, but it doesn’t necessarily appear easier.

  11. Victor

    Guys, I think I found the solution for this. I rode yesterday from Seattle on the BG. At Lakeside PL NE, I get off, making a left. This leads to a fairly steep climb for about 150 meters, but hey its exercise and manageble. This will lead to Sandpoint Way. Make right on it and it leads to Lake City. On Lake City, I was mostly on the bus lanes and I felt safe. This leads to Bothell Way or 522 and frankly its easy riding as its mostly downhill and there is a right shoulder to ride on. Cars will not be going that fast if you ride between 5 and 6.30 pm as its rush hour with traffic, so again less dangerous. Once you get to Lake Forest Park Towne Center, I would cut across that and head to the Goat Trail (which is east of the LFPTC) to get to Kenmore. Its all residential and safe. For those who need to get back on to the trail to go farther north, then you head to 61st and go south on Cat Whiskers Road, and the trail is there. Alternatively, you can stay on 522 and rejoin the trail at 61st. The only issue is that on this stretch of 522, the cars and buses go faster (45 mph speed limit).

    I feel this is a very viable route. The uphill climb on Lakeside slows you but once you get on Bothell Way, its all downhill and you can go fast. All in all, I think it will add just about 10 minutes to my overall time with this detour and I think its favorable to the official detour which seems much longer. The talk that 522 is not safe is I think not very true. Buses tend to be more respectful of cyclists.

    1. biliruben

      Have you tried it the other way yet?

      I’m guessing the bus drivers and their passengers won’t be as thrilled tootling along behind you as you climb the hill at 7 mph.

      I’m agreed that Northbound, bombing down 522 is viable for those with the nerve.

      1. Victor

        Bill, no i have not tried it the other way. If there are lots of people riding on 522 going south, the buses will be more
        accomodating. But yeah that could be a problem. In that case, best to follow the official detour for the south bound,
        and use the route I suggested for the northbound.

  12. Biliruben

    What they really should done is negotiate a route thru the cemetery. The dead people wouldnt give us too much grief….

    1. Todd


  13. I feel like we need some sort of flip-side spoof of LFP bike path NIMBYs, reflecting the absurdity of the whole thing. “Say no to NIMBYs, Not Along *MY* Bike Path!” “Misinformed NIMBYs owning property along *MY* bike route endangers my bike’s value!” “Homeowners plant flowers that trigger my allergies! NAMBP!” “Put the NIMBYs along the Interurban — someone else’s bike path!”

    1. biliruben

      While I like some good satire as much as the next guy, I’m not completely certain that NIMBYs are really to blame here. There just isn’t a parallel thru-route next to the trail for much of this. Between 145 and 16oth, there is no good alternative besides 522. For that segment, they should have dropped some barricades and given bikes 8 feet of the highway.

      1. The NIMBYs aren’t to blame for the fact that there’s no solution to this mess, but they were totally crazy, they tried to get in the way, and they may have influenced the route, which is completely insano. They also might be fun people to troll, and the minutes of city council meetings are available, with info on streets people didn’t want bikes on.

        I’m not totally sure WSDOT was wrong to not give up a lane of 522. Take away a vehicle lane and rush-hour backups go crazy — then drivers are looking for their own alternate routes through the neighborhoods, surely to no good effect. I’m pretty sure the number of people affected would be greater than the number affected by Burke construction now, just in a different way. You can’t drop barricades, anyhow, because there are cross streets and driveways in the area that have to be reached.

      2. biliruben

        Yeah, maybe. I didn’t realize the preliminary route went along Beach instead of up Ballinger. That’s a big change, for no good reason or effect, other than there are rich people who live along Beach.

        There are 6 lanes for most that area. With a little coordination, you could leave the 4 general-purpose lanes, and make sure there is a transit lane available for the direction of the commute. It would have a taken a bit of effort and man-power, but it would have been worth it.

  14. M.J.

    According to Mary Jane Goss, candidate for mayor of Lake Forest Park, we cyclists, as “very small segment of commuters versus the needs of the supermajority of other commuters,” just need to “buck up for our commuting decisions.”


    1. Todd

      She’s absolutely correct. We are the minority. Get over it.

  15. Chris Taylor

    I usually get on the BG southbound at Ballinger Way, but my trip starts near Lynnwood Transit Center. So my detour will involve taking Sound Transit #511 from Lynnwood to I-5 & 145th. I plan to ride 145th to 37th, then wiggle around on those back roads (steep, but downhill in my direction) to Riviera PL NE, which runs parallel to the trail. I just hope that 40th AVE NE, which crosses the trail, remains open at the crossing.

  16. Greg Walters

    As a long time Lake Forest Park resident I think I speak for the majority of residents here in giving all the users of the Burke-Gilman a big apology for the lame representation we get from our city government. As you all know it seems like every other city has worked out a plan with King County long ago to fix the trail except for us. Almost all the problems can be traced to a hand full of residents who border the trail who would just as well see it disappear and simply don’t understand that it’s one of the great urban trails in the country. Just keep telling yourselves as you take the detour…”No more tree roots!” Ride safe.

    1. michaela

      Thank you, Greg for reminding us that not everyone in LFP is against cyclists and the badly-needed trail improvements. The cyclists were definitely given a piss-pour detour route, but as long as we’re going to be out there sharing the road with a bunch of cars, let’s all try and play nice.

  17. Todd

    I have not seen the blueprints of their plans for this section of trail. But I have to laugh when it requires 5.2 million dollars and 6 months to fix 2 miles of trail. Is it going to be gold plated??

    1. Biliruben

      I’d seen a figure half that amount, and was frankly quite surprised it was that cheap, because I have seen an older iteration of the plans. It’s taken nearly a decade oto get to this point, with LFP suing and blockading every step of the way. The true costs are probably 10 times the 5 million with the time and energy taken to beat this through the process.

      They are completely rebuilding it thru wetlands, with a new bridge and completely new trail crossings with open sightlines and new signalization.

  18. Todd Holman

    I’m excited about it and glad we are all going to benefit from it. It’ll be great. But I’m not going to let my own myopic view distort the big picture here. If this isn’t government waste… I don’t know what the h*ll is.

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