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Bike News Roundup: A 1971 NIMBY rally against the Burke-Gilman Trail

It’s time for the weekly Bike News Roundup. It’s a long one, so I hope you didn’t have any work to do today. As always, this is an open thread.

Photographer: Tom Barlet. Image Date: 1971

In case you were not already aware, people have a history of fighting changes in the city. This incredible photo from MOHAI shows citizens fighting the now loved Burke-Gilman Trail, which has become a cornerstone of life in North Seattle. Could you imagine our city without it?

That photo reminds me of this genius tweet:

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Pacific Northwest News:

Halftime show! This one’s a bit terrifying:

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13 responses to “Bike News Roundup: A 1971 NIMBY rally against the Burke-Gilman Trail”

  1. As to the visitor to Seattle taking Aurora downtown: the best route downtown from Green Lake is… probably Stone Way, 34th, Fremont Bridge, Dexter?

    At the Fremont neighborhood greenways meeting a representative from the Chamber of Commerce seemed to be interested in having greenways so she could use their existence as an excuse to discourage biking on Stone Way. Here’s yet another reason biking on Stone Way is important. The other two are: (1) it’s also part of the most direct and least steep route from lower Fremont to central Wallingford, and part of many bike trips for that reason; (2) if I tried to count on two hands all the businesses I’ve biked to on Stone Way I’d run out of fingers.

    1. Tom Fucoloro

      Stone is another one of those examples where I can hardly imagine the street without bike lanes… and it hasn’t even been that long!

  2. Jeff Dubrule

    A comment I posted to Sightline’s HOT-lane thread:

    I think most drivers don’t think of the cost of driving on a per-trip basis. In fact, most of them don’t want to think of it at all, but they consider maintenance, gas, insurance, etc. as “committed” costs, mostly immutable. This is reinforced by the fact that gas tanks carry enough fuel for several trips, so buying gas every week or so is just a fact of life, like your trash-pickup bill.

    The only time to consider it is when buying a new vehicle, but external factors (person/cargo capacity, offroad capability, sportiness, towing limit) usually trump gas-mileage and other per-trip costs.

    Now that I’m biking/busing (with free employer-provided pass) more, when I do drive, I am rather conscious of the trip-cost… 30 miles to the arena tonight for my men’s-league hockey playoff = ~ 2.25 gallons of gas @ $4/gal for the good stuff = $10. The league fee (for ice time, referees, admin, trophies, etc.) works out to about $20/game, but I bet if I asked my teammates why hockey was expensive, not 1 would bring up that 30% of the cost is getting there.

    However, while driving is perceived as free, however, tolls, including HOT lane-fees, are not perceived as free; each one is a buying decision. This leads to the same sort of penny-wise-pound-foolish sort of thinking that has a company buy the cheapest printer paper that causes paper-jams, which results in a $60/hr employee spending their time un-jamming the printer (instead of advancing the interests of the company: double whammy).

    1. Tom Fucoloro

      Right? And they pay for the roads projects through their property taxes and the cost of their free parking in their grocery/restaurant/retail receipts and would never notice any of those costs. Then again, you pay those whether you drive or not.

      If people had to pay all the costs of driving each time they drove (instead of spreading it out into many different pools and taxes, some more visible than others), almost nobody would do it unless they REALLY had to (mobility issues, hauling, etc).

  3. MikeSea

    One thing I never understood about the Stone Way bike lanes is why they didn’t do something two blocks over on Woodland Park Ave instead. It is much better for biking and I still use it instead of Stone Way. Talk about a great street for a future neighborhood greenway. I won’t go up or down Stone Way on a bike when I have the easier and safer options of Wallingford Ave N or Woodland Park Ave.

    How sweet would it be to have a neighborhood greenway all the way from N 34th in Fremont all the way to Greenlake and the Zoo? Put in some stop signs and some crosswalk/ cross bike lights on Bridgeway, 46th, and 50th. Add a much bigger sidewalk/path from where Woodland Park Ave goes into the Upper Woodland and connect it to the soap box derby hill and you have a significantly safer route… Or maybe I am missing something.

    I always figured the Stone Way road diet was for making it more safe for pedestrians yet the bicyclist took all the hate for that project because of the bike lanes. Or maybe I am missing something there too.

  4. Doug

    MikeSea: I know right? I live at the top of the hill and always go up Woodland. However, going downhill I take Stoneway to avoid the frequent stops on Woodland.

  5. (Reply commenting still might be broken, it’s scrolling me up to the top of the page when I click the button; I’m using Chrome on Linux)

    I think what you’re missing is that if you think there was an uproar over road diets on a road like Stone Way with excess width and capacity to burn, just try to get stoplights on Bridge Way, 46th, 50th, *and* Green Lake Way.

    Woodland Park Drive is a fine road to bike on and I use it regularly, but it doesn’t get me through the arterials if there’s much traffic, and it’s not as straightforward if I’m going somewhere north of 50th. Wallingford Ave. is mostly OK, though I prefer Stone’s climbing lane, and you need stairs to get down to the BGT area. And regardless of my route preferences, if I want to visit a business on Stone Way (and there are many!) I’m going to ride on Stone Way. If someone came to remove all the arterial bike facilities in Seattle I’d fight hard for Stone Way. The fact is, in America our businesses are on arterial roads, and people on bikes need straightforward access to them.

  6. That said, if we had the political will to create safe crossings of all four of the arterials (Green Lake Way being maybe the worst of them), Woodland Park Drive could become an excellent way to bike leisurely from Green Lake through Fremont; we already have decent bike facilities (though sometimes with lousy signage) on 34th and the Fremont Bridge. And then on Dexter as far as SLU (despite woes with cross-traffic and turning traffic).

    All we’d need then is a Belltown greenway (I’m 100% serious about this. I might even call what I’m thinking of a “Belltown woonerf”) and a few downtown cycletracks, and our intrepid visitor would have a truly delightful ride downtown.

  7. MikeSea


    I agree with making sure there is access for businesses and bikers and am in no way advocating removing bike lanes. My concern as a biker was that the politics of the road diets made it seem like bike lanes were the reasons for the road diets when my understanding was that it was to make streets safer for pedestrains and even drivers. In the end it seems as if the bike community was the recipient of the anger on these decisions because bike advocates took too much credit for the bike lanes. I thought it was a strategic mistake marketing wise.

    On the Woodland Park Ave route the Bridgeway and 50th cross lights wouldn’t likely be issues. Bridgeway has become much slower and backed up since the redesign. 50th is a disaster since they re-configured 50th on the other side of Stone/Greenlake Way. 46th eastbound could be a problem but 46th westbound is as messed up as 50th Eastbound. Greenlake Way does not come into play on this route because once you cross 50th you go down the soap box derby hill through the Lower Woodland tennis courts parking lot. Though you could run it through Upper Woodland but it gets pretty creepy in there after dark.

    And again this would be one of those very family friendly routes that would have much less shared direction traffic than an arterial.

    Next on the list is of should be greenways that are already used a ton by bikers is N/NW 75th St from Greenlake to 32nd NW. That is a great route.

  8. I’m not talking about Green Lake Way within Woodland Park, which is easy enough to get across. I’m talking about the portion where it’s a wide, fast arterial between 46th and 50th, which is rather hard to cross by any mode. It’s a fairly new road as roads go, its design is a pedestrian disaster, it’s a hotbed for excessive speeding, and nothing much fronts it; were I the dictator of Seattle I’d either remove it or road-diet it. But I’m not the dictator of Seattle, and SDOT probably thinks every awful thing about it is necessary to avoid backups back onto 46th and Aurora.

    I only mention people coming for Stone Way because the representative of the Fremont Chamber of Commerce at the Fremont Greenways meeting hinted at that — she mentioned Stone Way as a street she’d like to discourage cycling on and made some statements that I could only interpret as part of a strategy to set casual/wary cyclists, parents, and neighborhood advocates against unfair stereotypes of more committed cyclists in order to gain their support for removing bike facilities on arterials.

  9. MikeSea


    You are right. My mistake. I forgot about Greenlake Way. That street is so backed up both ways that I don’t think a crosswalk / crossbike light would hurt traffic flow and it would certainly make things much safer for pedestrians.

    I’m curious about how the numbers have played out on Stone Way with the road diet but even more curious about the numbers on 50th. 50th seems to be worse than ever after the change a number of years ago, but that just might be more people in the city.

  10. Michael Snyder

    I don’t think it is strictly political will.
    Street crossings are expensive.

    For a single full 4-way light, plan for $250,000.00.
    Paint (bike lanes and sharrows) are the cheapest facilities to implement.

    Fiscal conservatives should love bike lanes.

  11. Tom Fucoloro

    I think I fixed the comment nesting problem. I’ve been getting hammered by spambots recently, so I installed some new defenses. One of them created an invisible “red herring” input box that would trick spambots into using it instead of the comment box. For some reason, Chrome (but not Firefox) seemed to also try using this box, which is why your screen bounced to the top of the screen (that’s my theory, anyway). Ugh. I disabled it and things should work again now. Let me know if they don’t!

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