SDOT makes temporary fix for dangerous bike path

by: David Ham Updated:


SEATTLE, Wash. - Michael Marian said he's seen dozens of bicyclists falling underneath the Ballard Bridge on Shilshole Avenue Northwest in the last few months.

"I found it so ridiculous that people were falling so I started taking pictures of people falling," said Marian, whose office at Marian Built Fine Hardwoods and Furnishings overlooks the path underneath the bridge.

He sent his pictures and sent an angry letter to Seattle Department of  Transportation (SDOT) to fix the problem.

"A lot of people fell down, a lot of people got hurt," said Marian.

SDOT agrees it is a very dangerous stretch for bicyclists.

"It is one of the highest bike fall locations we have in the city," said Dongho Chang, SDOT engineer.

Over the weekend SDOT repainted lines to guide cyclists to travel in a perpendicular path away from crevices created by rail road tracks.

"It’s a temporary fix absolutely. It’s something that we want to solve ASAP," said Chang.

"After they put in the lanes they didn't clearly mark out the tracks and the accidents were still happening," said Marian.

Vickie Corrin has been using the path and doesn't think the lines are an improvement

"It's not intuitive.  I’m not an engineer, it doesn’t make sense to me as a bicyclist," said Corrin.

But SDOT said it wants to build a permanent path for bicyclists and pedestrians along Shilshole Avenue Northwest that would be the missing link to the Burke-Gilman Trail.

However, nearby industrial businesses put a stop to the project in 2008 when they sued SDOT and the Cascade Bicycle Club, arguing the path would create a dangerous situation for bicyclists and truckers.

"In 2010 the Ballard businesses designed and proposed a safe alternative to SDOT’s design for the Missing Link; it is called the Ballard Cycle Tracks.  This safe alternative only requires the city to move the trail two blocks - to NW Leary Way and  NW Market Street," said Josh Brower, attorney for the businesses that filed the lawsuit.

"SDOT and the Cascade Bicycle Club are dragging out the Missing Link issue, not the Ballard businesses.  Nearly two years ago, in August 2012, the city’s hearing examiner agreed with our clients and ordered SDOT to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)  for the Missing Link because SDOT’s design is so dangerous.  It has been nearly two years since the examiner’s decision and SDOT has not even issued the draft EIS," added Brower.

Chang said the EIS study will take about a year and a half to complete and will decide then if a permanent trail makes sense for Shilshole Avenue Northwest.

SDOT said extending the Burke-Gilman trail on Shilshole Avenue would have been safe.

"In our assessment it was safe. We got the concerns form the businesses so we want to do our due diligence and look at the impact," said Chang.