After five months in a state of partial completion, the city made substantial progress toward completing the temporary Burke-Gilman Missing Link improvements between Shilshole and Fred Meyer Sunday.
The two-way bikeway on NW 45th Street is an attempt to increase safety on a notoriously dangerous stretch of road that has resulted in a huge number of injuries over the years. Train tracks that can easily grab bike tires combined with high bike volumes have led to many broken bones and a lot of road rash.
Michael F. Marian owns Marian Built Fine Hardwoods and Furnishings, located near a particularly crash-prone area near the Ballard Bridge. At this point, people on bikes need to cross the tracks, and people who naturally head straight instead of making a sharp turn to cross perpendicular to the tracks unknowingly run a high risk of crashing.
After witnessing far too many injuries outside his business, Marian started documenting them. He sent a justifiably fiery email to the city and local media (including Seattle Bike Blog) that included his photos. It’s a reminder that while the trail remains held up in the courts, going through an endless number of studies (including a full Environmental Impact Study, happening now), people are getting hurt. It’s exciting to see any kind of improvement in the area, but this is far too high a price to pay for safe streets. It shouldn’t take this many injuries before something is finally done about them. And the Missing Link is still very far from complete.
Here’s what Marian sent:
Shilshole Ave NW under the Ballard bridge is a very dangerous place for bicycles. SDOT has made Shilshole a one way street in an attempt to make it safer. They have installed islands, re-paved, and re-painted existing traffic lines. But they have done nothing, NOTHING to direct bicycles across the tracks perpendicularly. I would think some cones glued to the roadway to direct this, while still letting the train through, would be sufficient. Whatever the solution is, it needs to happen today.
I will be actively using social media to get the word out about this, as well as taking as many pictures and getting as many statements as possible. I have cc’d various contacts in the local media. To them I would say ‘bring your cameras down, you WILL see people fall and get hurt’. I will also be more than willing to be a witness to any lawsuits brought forth against the city.
This is so bad I just can’t believe it’s going on.
Yesterday a young lady broke her wrist and her face gushed blood onto the roadway as she was taken away by ambulance. The day before a seven year old boy hit the ground, hard. And that’s just two of the 5 accidents I personally witnessed in those two days.
I CAN NOT WATCH PEOPLE GET HURT AND SIT QUIETLY WHILE NO ONE DOES ANYTHING ABOUT IT!
Get down there and install cones to direct bicycle traffic across the tracks perpendicularly. You are costing the city a lot of money as well as allowing people to be SEVERELY INJURED!
DO IT NOW!!!!!!!
WHAT EXCUSE COULD YOU POSSIBLY HAVE?!
Thank you for your time yesterday talking with me. I definitely heard you loud and clear and am taking your concerns seriously. Safety is SDOT’s highest priority and we have a goal of zero fatality and serious injury by 2030. I sincerely understand your urgency and outrage about the bicycle riders who have difficulty and fall crossing the rail road tracks under the Ballard Bridge on NW 45th Street. I am directly accountable for addressing this situation and am committed to doing exactly that. I talked with our field crews and they confirmed that all riders were following the newly marked crossing that was completed yesterday afternoon. This section of the NW 45th Street has been one of the highest bicycle fall locations in our city. I am hoping that the interim changes that have been made will help our residents navigate this street safely and more easily as we continue to finalize the environmental review of the Burke Gilman Trail project.
UPDATE: A common question from readers is: Are they going to make the T-intersection of 46th and Shilshole into an all-way stop? It’s a difficult and dangerous to turn left from the new bikeway to access the central Ballard business district. Here’s Chang’s answer, via email:
There still needs to be some improvements along the Shilshole connection from the interim work. We did not have the all way stop at this intersection, as we initially focused on 45th street. Navigating this intersection easier and safer will be in our next steps.