The Burke-Gilman Trail Missing Link team has been working hard in recent months to gather very granular comments about the planned trail route to address safety and business access concerns section-by-section.
SDOT staff held a series of workshops on specific trail sections in recent weeks, and now they are hosting a big open house to discuss the project design as a whole. You can also comment online.
This is your chance to see the latest concepts and weigh in on specific design considerations. This is part of the community design process Mayor Ed Murray, many longtime project appellants and and longtime trail supporters have created together to finally finish this damn trail.
Open house details from the Missing Link project page:
We want to hear your ideas. Join project design staff at an in-person event to help us better understand local conditions, opportunities, and challenges along the preferred alignment of the Missing Link:
When: Thursday, July 13 from 5 to 8 PM
Where: Ballard Eagelson VFW Post, 2812 NW Market St, Seattle, WA 98107
Can’t make it to the event? Visit a 24/7 online open house from July 10 to July 23 at BGTMissingLink.participate.online
13 responses to “Missing Link open house Thursday will dive into the gritty trail design details”
These are comments I will be delivering at the meeting tomorrow:
These comments are based on my experiences commuting through the missing link. I have been commuting almost every workday for the last three years.
17th Ave and Shilshole
Currently there is not a safe way to go from the north side of Shilshole to the south side where the trail will be. Cars typically drive very fast on this section of road which makes it tricky to time crossing. To the left, there is limited site distance due to a bend in the road. To the right there is better sight distance but the crossing is made difficult by many cars turning from Shilshole onto 17th Ave at a high rate of speed. The other problem is that since here are no traffic lights, the cars are typically not bunched together and so there is few opportunities to cross safely. I will typically ride on the sidewalk from 17th ave to 46th street where there is better sight distance and more opportunities to cross since many cars turn at 17th Ave. Although there is a crosswalk, most cars do not stop when I wait in the crosswalk. I would like to see a stop sign or traffic light at Shilshole and 17th Ave so that crossing is safe. Note that my comments could also apply for the other crossings on Shilshole Ave.
NW 45th street
I think that the dangers and issue with the railroad crossing should be well known. I would like to see that crossing to be at least as safe as the other one on the trail in Fremont.
Another dangerous part of the bike lanes on 45th street when traveling from west to east is the ending of the bike lanes at 11th ave where bicycle riders need to transition from the left side of the street to the right side of the street where the trail picks up. Bicycle riders need to cross a lane of traffic at the stop sign at 11th ave and I have personally seen and experienced dangerous situations where cars and bicycles conflict. There is no clear “rule of the road” for how the situation should be handled. I will typically move right and into the car lane towards the end of the block and take the lane so that I proceed through the intersection with the cars in the car lane. I recommend that the bicycle lanes be placed on the south side of 45th street to match the trail on the south side of Shilshole. In this way the conflict at 11th ave will be avoided.
The current bike lanes do not feel isolated enough from car traffic as I have seen cars drive in the bike lane. The plastic posts were quickly knocked down by cars and do not provide an effective way to separate cars and bicycle riders. I would like to see a physical barrier that blocks cars from entering the bicycle lanes.
Trail Access from 8th Ave NW
Although this is not part of the missing link, I am hoping that feedback can be taken. There is not a good way to transition from the trail to 8th ave. One obstacle is the train tracks which need to be crossed at a weird angle to cross safely.
If SDOT had built the 17th Ave Greenway all the way down 17th, to the future BGT (like it should have been), instead of randomly veering off prematurely like a distracted kid hopped on on sugar at a toy store, adding some form of safe crossing at 17th and Shilshole would be trivial. Instead, we have a situation where the safe crossing will appear to be at Dock St, despite 100% of cyclists continuing to use 17th all the way to Shilshole.
“Distracted kid hopped up on sugar at a toy store”? No. The route turns onto Dock to cross Leary at an intersection that’s square. 17th/Leary (and the additional intersection with 48th Street just south of it) is a mess beyond the scope of a Greenway project.
The execution of the south end of the Greenway was not very good. The “diverter” design at 17th/Dock is not as clear as it could be. The signal that was installed at Dock/Leary is pretty cheesy. Dock/Ballard really needs a four-way stop and better wayfinding. The overall route down to the interim BGT is sort of convoluted. Only the last part will improve when the BGT is finished, so the Greenway will still need work. But it’s not some crazy deviation to nowhere. It’s working with the grain of the street network instead of against it. Put down the coffee, stand down the crazy rhetoric!
They should have merged Dock Pl with Russell Ave and had them 90 degree into 17th. The sight lines are horrible coming down 17th, I don’t care if cross traffic has a stop sign.
And it is absolutely a deviation to nowhere. Pretty much 100% of riders are coming from the east and continuing west. No one, and I can say that with complete confidence, wants to or will take a backtracking, eastern deviation, that would add 1/4 mi to their route. If you are going to the extreme southern end of downtown Ballard, you might consider taking Dock St.
I have not witnessed one single cyclist during peak times, in the almost two years (year round) the Greenway has been open, take the Dock Pl deviation, even with the crossing light. Everyone continues towards Leary on 17th and braves crossing the Leary Freeway. In the mornings, it’s not so bad. Afternoons, that crossing is brutal, and I choose to take 14th>Leary>17th.
Leary and 17th is not very conducive to a signaled crossing as-is, nobody would argue that, but that’s a terrible reason to just give up, which is exactly what SDOT did. It NEEDS safety improvements for the ~100% of cyclists/pedestrians that will continue to cross there. Leary as a whole would benefit from a couple more signalized intersections between Market and 15th. Market already has signals at 22nd, 20th, 17th and 15th, with two ped signals mixed in for good measure. Why can’t Leary?
The problem with an intersection at 17th/Leary is the geometry of the two streets where they cross. That’s about as permanent a problem as you can have. Leary’s angle relative to the primary grid to its north creates similar problems to Denny’s angle relative to the primary grid to its south. They’re wide streets that carry a lot of people, mostly in cars and buses, but also on foot; walking along them and crossing them is important for transit access.
The best thing for walking along and crossing these streets is to “bend” some off-angle streets to them, so they intersect at right angles, minimizing crossing distances, and to prune the rest of the intersections. Approaching Denny from the south, most traffic on Boren continues onto Fairview, which has a usable intersection with Denny (Fairview/Denny is a crappy intersection, but not much more than is made necessary by how crappy the two streets themselves are). The intersection between the stub of Boren, Lenora, and Denny serves little purpose except as a hazing exercise for new-to-town pedestrians. It’s way more crappy than could ever be justified by the tiny amount of traffic on Lenora, the stub of Boren, and Boren Ave N. It ought to be closed, making an unbroken sidewalk along the south side of Denny. It would be silly, if heading northwest, to insist on taking the slightly more direct route along the stub of Boren and darting across Denny to Boren Ave N, just because the streets share a name. Boren curves off into Fairview, that’s just how it is.
Similarly, divert southbound traffic on 17th Ave NW to Dock Street in order to cross Leary at a reasonably shaped intersection. Split the intersection of Leary with 17th into two intersections; likewise the intersection of Leary with 20th; shape them so you certainly can’t continue perfectly straight across Leary, really so you can’t see straight across as you approach. Put in proper signals at both Dock and Vernon. Restrict car move movements a bit. Build a street network that’s basically shaped right.
Last night at the meeting at the VFW, I asked the SDOT reps about 17th and Shilshole. They said they’re planning a signal for that intersection. Of course, that could be executed well or badly.
@Al: 3rd/Market, 50th/Latona and 45th/Wallingford are three intersections in the near vicinity that have the similar, offset geometry of 17th and Leary, with 3rd being pretty much identical. All three of those intersections work just fine with a signal, although 3rd could use a little updating to modern standards.
So you can see why I don’t buy the “it’s the geometry, stupid!” argument of why we can’t have a safe intersection on a major throughput for cyclists. You could pave Dock St in gold and 100% of cyclists will still continue to use 17th to Shilshole, because: it’s the direction they’re going!
It’s funny, I was just thinking of 45th/Wallingford and 50th/Latona as comparisons. I use these intersections regularly on foot and I think they’re great examples of why to avoid offset arterial intersections.
50th/Latona requires “jogging” movements for anyone going through north-south. The signal cycle has a few protected turn phases for “jogging” traffic, with long “caution” phases to allow drivers to clear 50th, during which pedestrians are stuck waiting. Considering large traffic volumes on 50th and proximity to I-5, it’s hard to imagine SDOT delaying 50th to improve the long pedestrian waits and risking backups affecting the I-5 interchange. This is very similar to 17th/Leary’s proximity to the Ballard Bridge interchange.
Wallingford Ave., similarly, doesn’t carry that much traffic… it’s not even an arterial street north of 46th! But because turn/jog movements have to be protected in each direction, it has an unusually large impact on 45th Street congestion. Of course it also roughly doubles the wait time to cross 45th on foot. Drivers also “jog” on 45th between Wallingford (which is an arterial south of 45th) and Meridian (which is an arterial north of 45th).
3rd/Market is much worse, as an intersection, than either 3rd or Market are as individual streets. And all the bad things about it — the enormous curb-cuts along Market; the missing crosswalks along them; the poor sight lines; the right-of-way confusion — have to do with its geometry. The sight-lines have a lot to do with its 3-dimensional geometry.
Meanwhile, down in Beacon Hill 15th/Columbian is getting reconfigured to replace a curving off-angle intersection. The one complaint is that people will have to drive a little out of their way to access 15th from the residential area to the west. All I can say is that the shortest path between two points is a straight line, but sometimes the best collective network isn’t made up of all the individual shortest paths. We all hem to the street network when we travel instead of going as the crow flies; we travel 45 degrees out-of-direction for a few blocks routinely, and rarely comment on the “inefficiency” unless we find ourselves going in the wrong cardinal direction.
(FWIW, a bike/ped-only offset crossing of Leary could be really cool and much simpler than a full-service intersection — get people across Leary the short way at two points sharing the same signal phase, use Leary’s sidewalks and some bike lanes to get to the other part of 17th, no separate turn phases needed. That would require a lot of expensive and controversial work, including removing some motor-vehicle movements — what we’d actually get out of the city for a greenway-sized project would be nowhere near what we need.)
At the top of Shilshole Ave, the trail should go south of Market on what is technically NW 54th Street. It is the safest and most scenic for all who would use the trail and have the least impact on Market Street.
Imagine one lane each way and traffic stopping for those who parallel park and for Uber and Lyft drivers who stop in the street for pick-up and drop-offs.
I told SDOT this at the seafoodfest and will tell them tonight. They should just pave 54th street anyway, make it all nice like a real street and then bicycles would just use it anyway.
I also told them that they should make all of Shilshole a paid or no parking zone unless the business owners drop the lawsuit.
I can dream….
Will 54th be paved when the Nordic Museum opens?
Last time I biked this, the pedestrian traffic, on a random summer Sunday evening, overwhelmed the pavement as it currently is. One thing we’ve learned from every cycle track in this city (yes, including Linden) is that pedestrians simply assume they can mosey onto them when there’s no room on the sidewalk.
At the VFW event, I asked about the connection at 24th and Market, between northbound BGT and northbound 24th Ave. Cyclists will have to go from the west side of 24th to the east side at that intersection.
SDOT reps didn’t offer any design solutions, but when I suggested an all-ways pedestrians-and-bikes-only phase for the signal at that intersection, they indicated that that was an option mentioned in the EIS.
I can’t imagine any other solution to connect the trail to 24th. Can anybody else?