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How was day one of the Burke-Gilman closure? + VIDEO

Well, it’s day two of the Burke-Gilman Trail closure. How is it going so far? How was the detour? Were there open spaces on the bus bike racks? Were there any conflicts between buses and bicyclists in the bus lanes on 522? Did you just drive instead (be honest)?

This guy interrupted a live KIRO report yesterday with an awesome two-word review of the detour: No fun.

He enters at the 1:30 mark

King County Parks, Metro and Cascade Bicycle Club held a joint press conference yesterday talking about the detour. They also created a video:

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Sorry, can't embed the video for some reason. Click to watch on Vimeo.

So yes, whatever decision you choose to go with, be safe and look out for yourself. The signed detour really isn’t too bad. Just give yourself some extra time and enjoy the change in scenery.

Perhaps we have not been clear enough in our reporting of this detour that the plans for the trail are exciting. Distress over the state’s unwillingness to make 522 safer (thus frustrating efforts for a good detour) has perhaps overwhelmed our coverage of the trail project. Here’s a before and after concept image from final environmental impact statement:

"A visual simulation to illustrate “before and after” conditions along the trail is shown on Figure 3.7-1. A photograph was taken of the trail view at a location north of NE 153rd Street and used as the base for the computer-generated simulation. The primary purpose of the simulation is to illustrate the effect of widening the trail. The view was selected to illustrate a typical trail section."

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30 responses to “How was day one of the Burke-Gilman closure? + VIDEO”

  1. Not a lemming

    I am only riding 522 south to 153rd, from there you can slip down to Riviera Pl. until you are south of the closure. My commute has only increased 0.5 miles by this route, instead of 6.5 (the official detour). Going south the bus drivers in the bus only lane on 522 are far more predictable in their actions than the average driver. Going north there is a decent shoulder between 153rd and 165th where you can get off and parallel the closed trail to the shopping center at Balinger.

    1. Annie B

      This sounds good to me. I’m a bit timid of Bothell Way but going south if I drop down 38th from Sheridan Heights I am only on Bothell Way a short distance & can cross over to 153rd at the light there and get down to the trail using your route. Thanks!

    2. Gruenk

      The official detour only adds about 2.1 miles if you follow its entire length, not 6.5 miles.

      1. Not a lemming

        Gruenk is correct. That was my mistake. I think that 6.5 may be the length of the official detour, NOT the difference in distance. None the less 0.5 extra as opposed to the 2.1 extra continues to work great, and I continue to see more taking this route.

        Its my opinion that its far safer than a few sections of the official detour on 145th and 35th.

    3. Norm

      Thanks for posting this alternative. It works great!

      Going north, note you have to switch from the trail to Riviera Pl at 42nd Pl, where a sign warns the trail is closed ahead. After turning off Riviera Pl, it’s a bit of a climb up 39th and 37th Aves, but a piece of cake compared to the official detour, and the lake views from that neighborhood are nice.

  2. Ben

    They built a floating bridge (I-90) in about 18 months, so I do wonder why it is expected to take six months for a 2-mile stretch of trail… Heaven help us if they decide to fix the rest of the BG trail, much of which is nearly as bad as the portion they are fixing (such as around the big slide area), because it could take many years at that glacial pace.

  3. Saul

    The detour is not that bad going north. Given the topographical constraints, the detour is the only option that makes sense. The short stretch on 145th needs signs advising motorists about increased bicycle traffic. Traveling south, the only bad part is a very steep hill in LFP. Other than that, the stair stepping up the hills on the detour is actually a nice change of pace.

  4. Leif

    Glad to see a local news report about bicycling that isn’t riddled with factual errors and hostility towards cycling.

  5. Andres

    My partner rode it today (from north to south). Her report: “it was mean”. She apparently got yelled at by motorists on some of the busier streets (turning left on 35th, for example). Sigh.

    1. Given the State’s lack of support for a viable 522 routing it sure would be nice to get some WSP or SPD (as appropriate) enforcement to tamp down on this kind of behavior. Yelling at Cyclists, who would rather not be on that route anyway, doesn’t help anybody.

  6. KentoSea

    Commuter from Kenmore to Seattle – I’ve NEVER ridden up Bothell Way in the southbound direction before for obvious reasons, but there was no way I was going to take the detour proposed by the county. Sooo, I turned the lights on and hopped onto the bus lane this morning during rush hour. EASY. Couldn’t believe how safe I felt either, must be the fact we’re riding in a whole bus lane rather than an 18 inch shoulder. In all, between Ballinger Way, where the detour begins and 153rd, the ride up was less than 5 minutes and not one bus passed in that time. At 153rd, hang a left and you can snake your way down to the trail from there, just past the construction. In all, it added about 90 seconds to my commute. I think I’ll feel even more safe doing this in the fall/winter when it’s dark out and I’m lit up like a Christmas tree. Safe riding everyone!

    1. cheenulee

      I have ridden Bothell Way/Lake City way on numerous occasions (just rode it again this AM coming into Downtown Seattle) and have never had a issue this riding 522 along this stretch. Never. No reason to stop now.

  7. biliruben

    4 year-old on a trail-a-bike. Inexperienced wife rider. Strong desire for ales at the Brewers Fest in Kenmore for father’s day.

    I’m not sure there is an acceptable solution to this conundrum.

    Two years ago we trailered it, locked up at Kenmore park and ride and grabbed a shuttle up the hill. Last year it rained hard and my tix went to waste. I had dreamed of actually climbing the hill this year, but I’m not sure my boy is ready for shoulder riding on Juanita.

    I’m thinking I’ll try the route I outlined in a previous post, but both 145th and 38th will be dismount and hike situations, and make our way back to the park and ride.

    Any better ideas?

    1. biliruben

      I wish I had a rowboat. It would be easier.

  8. Brian

    Is it legal for cyclists to use bus only lanes in Seattle and King County? I’ve never been able to figure out the answer to this.

    1. We received a memo at East Base, home of the Sound Transit 522, that said it was LEGAL – emphasis supplied by Metro management. Unfortunately, there was no RCW cited. Suffice it to say, we’ve received a TON of information that cyclists will potentially be in the bus only lane and how to react. Hopefully, everybody got the memo… or read the reader board… or read the “Outhouse Safety Journal” .. or read the announcement on the side of the lockers…

      If you have a problem with a particular driver, get the coach number and contact Metro. We see every complaint and read the actual words you’ve written, minus any identifying information. It’s best if you can provide constructive criticism. Many of the complaints we receive are obviously just ranting, but that’s another story for another time and place.

  9. Aron

    35th heading north at 6:30pm is just ok. North of 125th, it’s as though every driver read about the Burke detour and decided 35th would be better than Lake City for them too. Sharrows with car skid marks are an ominous symbol. Be careful.

    1. Biliruben

      35th is the standard commute route for those coming up sandpoint and 35th. It’s essentially a bypass of downtown lake city, which can get congested with all the transit and peds mucking things up. They drive it fast and drive it mean. You can take 37th as a more peaceful alternative.

  10. Come on, bikeblog. This is the least common denominator solution that puts bikers at the bottom of the stack rank. I’m planning to ride 522 lit up like 4th of July every night, and hope that some bus doesn’t drill me.

    1. biliruben

      Transit drivers and riders are our most likely ally, in that they at least get it that cars are not the be-all and end-all of getting from A to B.

      You will certainly piss them off and move them from ambivalent to angry.

      If you have a casual disregard for your own health and safey, then pop into the general purpose lanes. Those drivers already have a generous helping of scorn to heap on those who deign to ride a silly 2-wheeler. You likely won’t make them even angrier than they already are.

      In any case you, and many others who sound like are hardcore cyclists, are not the target audience for any of this guidance being relayed here. You can take care of yourselves (or not) and make the best decision based on your experience and foolhardiness.

      I, at least, am trying to provide a bit of my own experience to those who may actually need it.

  11. Greg Louie

    OK, I’ve ridden a different variant of the detour each of the last 3 days, and while the “official” route is not that bad, there are 3 things that really stick in my mind. (1) the climb out of Lake Forest Park on NE 156th is really a grind, even in a 39-25 (2) the jog around Acacia Cemetery is really circuitous, and (3) crossing Lake City Way at 145th is pretty dangerous (almost hit while in the crosswalk twice in 3 days).

    Today I got around climbing 156th by riding up the hill on 178th and going left on NE 25th (longer but mostly gently climb), then working through the neighborhood adjacent to Kellogg Middle School to 27th NE. This may cease being safe when school resumes in September and Shorecrest students start driving to school again.

    Staying on 27th NE all the way to 137th (even if you follow the official route around Brookside School and down 37th NE) works well going south; going north it’s better to take 13oth (Fred Meyer) across as you don’t have to cross in front of traffic to hit the “walk” button. There is no light on 27th to cross at NE 145th, but I haven’t had a problem finding a gap yet.

    There’s a great scenic detour through Meadowbrook Pond at the corner of 35th NE and NE 105th that exits/enters on 36th NE off of 110th.

  12. OlderRider

    Opening confession- I bus into Seattle and ride out. That said, the detour to 145th is not bad. Then I get off it. 522 has sidewalk and shoulder much of the way with a few tight spots. A short level block in the bus lane then back onto the trail. Not too bad. Extra cheat- cut through the Elks lot straight off 35th and go between the Kidney Center and the strip joint and skip the traffic by the Taco Bell

  13. Jenjamin Bones

    Riding 522 both ways has been just fine for me so far. I have yet to encounter a bus. It will all be worth it when we ride that sweet and smooth new trail next year!

    1. For those so inclined, you can use OneBusAway or bus schedules to plot a window of opportunity to use the bus lane in relative peace. I’d recommend using the 153rd stop timetable as that includes all the routes that go through there. There are no guarantees though as buses may be running late or there may be a deadheading coach going through there that OneBusAway won’t know about.

  14. Lori M

    I’m going to second what OlderRider said, from another older rider. I bus in, bike out. I checked out the detour last night, leaving Seattle at 7:30. The hardest part was very quickly after getting onto the detour — they don’t show it in the KOMO coverage, but there is a steep hill around that very first corner! From there I stuck to the detour — although I don’t agree that there are “signs all over the place” marking it (more signage is needed! Although possibly NOT in bright orange?) . After consulting with a couple of bikers trying the find the detour going the other way, I found my way to 105th and then to 35th. I was really TRYING to be good and stick to the detour at 145th and 522, when a guy in a yellow jacket on a bike went past me and right around the corner! Couldn’t resist — I followed him north on 522, right past a cop sitting his squad car, and down the hill. I was afraid the cop might follow me and give a warning, but no such thing happened. That long long downhill -now there was some fun! Definitely NOT recommended for anyone with kids in tow or inexperienced riders, but for commuters with plenty of flashers, the shoulder is quite wide starting just past where the cop was parked and turns into a bus lane just before the shopping center. Then a quick trip to the detour onto the trail just west of Log Boom Park. (Question — is that area also going to be closed off? There is a LOT of orange tape and fencing in there!)

    1. Tom Fucoloro

      No, log boom is the end of the planned closure for this project. And don’t worry about the officer. It is legal for you to ride on 522, even in the “bus only” lane. But I certainly agree I wouldn’t take kids or beginners with me. Going southbound on 522 is another story. No fun and a lot of exhaust in your face.

  15. Todd Holman

    Somebody asked if it was legal to use the HOV lanes to ride a bike in? I suppose this is a valid question but bicycles legally have the right to ride any section of road, including highways, that cars do unless they are specifically marked or highways considered high density in populated areas. 522 is not on that list. Now does that mean I’m going to ride in areas I’m “legally” allowed to? Heck no. It’s not me I’m worried about.

    Refresh your bicycle rights here:


  16. Todd Holman

    So back on topic. This detour is not fun but I don’t find it terrible either — providing you are riding from the south and heading north into Lake Forest Park. The level of grade from the start of the detour is — and i’m guessing — about 2-4% in most places but it’s drawn out and has some plateaus to catch your breath. I don’t mind hilly terrain like this because I can keep a decent, steady pace w/o blowing a gasket. But heading south out of LFP does not look like fun and I don’t plan on riding it this way anytime soon. There are some really steep grades there. The elevation gain may be the same but it happens in a shorter period of distance.

  17. Todd Holman

    Period of Distance? Awesome. I’m starting my own customized physics class.

  18. lakecityrick

    This is a late report on Day One of the Detour:
    It is ten days after and I have full blown acute tendonitis. I’ve been completely out of the saddle but I’m beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I am not a recreational cyclist; I’ve commuted in King County an average of 7000 miles a year for the past 20 years. Being 68 years of age, I pick my hills wisely and have avoided overuse injuries like this for over 140,000 miles of riding. I begged King County starting in April when the signs first appeared to reveal the detour course, so I could test the route and train on the hills. Finally on June 10, Keven Brown from King County sent me the route with a personal explanation citing the good citizens of Forest Park for using the permit process to block the release. Typical. Thanks, Forest Park.
    So here I am; I don’t drive and I can’t even walk to a Metro stop, let alone get on the saddle and ride up my driveway. Somehow, I’ll commute from Lake City to my job in Redmond this week. As for the ‘Detour’, forget it. I’m taking 522, no matter how “strongly” the County advises against it. It’s legal. When I am able to ride again, I’ll time my ascents/descents by following a Metro bus, shown in the daily schedules on http://www.onebusaway.org. (many thanks to the Metro driver who supplied the link)
    Sorry to all who would consider this a rant, but I felt the need to rekindle this issue. Hopefully my ‘Day #2’ will be less traumatic.

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