As I’m sure regular Burke-Gilman Trail users have noticed, Seattle City Light has wrapped up its work between the UW and the power station under I-5.
“City Light appreciates customers’ patience leading up to this important milestone,” City Light said in a statement. “The infrastructure improvement reflects City Light’s strategic plan adopted in 2012. At a later date, new electrical cable will be pulled through the conduit to complete the project.”
The detour was pretty rough for everyone, but City Light deserves credit for taking their original plan back to the drawing board. While the detour was plagued with concerns about poor sight lines and long crossing distances, the original plan would have detoured people on the trail into often-busy traffic lanes. This might have worked fine for confident riders, but the Burke-Gilman draws people of all levels of confidence, many drawn to the trail specifically because they do not feel comfortable biking in traffic.
Meanwhile, the UW detours will continue for a while as work on the Montlake Triangle project gets closer and closer to completion. You can stay updated on UW detours on the project website.
I wish they’d acknowledge what a lot of people are doing now, which is turning back off Stevens at Anderson hall, heading through the parking lot, and getting back on the trail right past the footbridge to UWMC. Whoever was working on that stretch of trail wrapped it up months ago, and it’s clear all the way.
I was riding the burke detour near the uw campus a few weeks ago and one of the uw police officers driving an suv actually swerved his car at me just to threaten me and then rolled down his window and yelled at me, “get on the sidewalk, bike”. I would suggest avoiding this detour and the u district entirely due to the uw’s continued stance in both policy and this incident against people using bikes on or near campus. I personally will not be doing business in the u district in the future.
That’s pretty shocking Chief. I’m not too familiar with UW police, but in an insurance like you describe I’d recommend getting a badge # (or at least vehicle #) and reporting the incident. ‘moving on’ won’t help change behavior.
UWPD is a public police agency made up of sworn officers with the same duties and responsibilities as an agency like SPD or the State Patrol. I’m not sure what their misconduct procedures are, but I recommend you contact them somehow to report what happened:
I apologize if you had an unfortunate event with one of my officers.
Please feel free to call me in my office at 206 543-0521 so I can obtain additional information. Or, you may text my cell phone at 206 406-7995 with your name and I will call you back as soon as I’m available.
Chief John Vinson, UWPD
Cheif, that sounds completely out of line with my experiences at UW, and the values of UW’s leadership around active transportation.
I see UW’s Police Chief has already personally replied here to your comment with his personal cell phone #. I encourage you to reach out and take appropriate action.
UW has a pretty spotty record with the Burke, and with transportation generally. Closing it to shoot a movie a few years ago? The lighting around the new dorms, which, like the lighting near the sculpture park near the Elliott Bay Trail, makes it harder to see anything except the lights themselves? The new Rainier Vista design where the bike route between the Burke and the Montlake Bridge involves multiple unnecessary sharp turns and ambiguous conflicts with pedestrians?
And UW has stood in the way of progress on transit as often as it’s led, despite the importance of transit to the university and nearby businesses. The most recent example is opposing bus stop placement proposals because of buses blocking views of Mount Rainier; a more clearly obnoxious one is the extent to which they prioritize football parking that’s needed a handful of times per year over every-day bus movements around the light rail station; and the original slight leading to all this was their fight against a more convenient station location. UW doesn’t seem to care about much that doesn’t directly serve the university, and that’s pretty inappropriate for a public institution in a location that lots of other people have legitimate stakes in.
I think for any large organization, one can find a set of things they’ve done wrong, especially when decision-making is distributed and not all stakeholders are equally onboard.
e.g. I could just as easily write up a list of things I think they did extremely well during my years doing actual community organizing in the U-District. (but I’m pretty busy right now so I’m not ;-)
If “active transportation” or whatever was really a value that UW has internalized, as an institution, they wouldn’t do stuff like this and never have an answer for why they’ve done it that suggests they understand everybody’s needs, weighed the various things they valued, and came to a thoughtful decision.
Instead, their pattern of behavior, designs, and statements is that of an institution with an “active transportation” department rather than an “active transportation” mindset. When there’s an obvious bike or transit component to a project or decision the people that care show up; when the impact is more subtle, or people don’t know it’s happening, or when they call on a representative of the degraded American practice of architecture, they screw it up. They screw it up in ways that people that care would never screw it up — they screw up things when there would be no cost and no downside to doing it right.
UW has created many artificial hazards on the BGT, but the job of the UWPD is to enforce the law and promote public safety on the facilities as they exist on the ground.
No matter what the planners cook up, UWPD should be supporting safe, legal use of that infrastructure. That includes bicycling in the street, even if there’s a trail nearby.
Glad to see Chief Vinson making a public comment on this — it speaks well to a proactive engagement with the community, something many police departments lack.
The Montlake/520 overpass on the Northeast side is pretty terrible for bikes & walkers, right now, if you want to head North over the canal.
My choices are to follow the walkway halfway back over the overpass (going South), then try to get into Northbound traffic. Or, instead, if things are backed up on the off-ramp, you can lift your bike over the Jersey barrier, then hop on. I honestly believe this is safer than the alternative, as ridiculous as it sounds.
It’s even worse if you’re waking… You’ve got to go all the way to the other side, then down, under, and back up, or cross three different crosswalks to get going Northbound on Montlake on the other side.
As far as I can tell, drivers have not been inconvenienced one iota for this work.