Do arguments against the Burke-Gilman Trail gap hold up?

Mar 22, 2017, 5:32 AM | Updated: 9:32 am

Burke-Gilman Trail...

Business and union representatives are arguing against the Burke-Gilman Trail project that will complete the popular walking/biking route in Seattle. (KIRO 7)

(KIRO 7)

If you thought the final route for the gap in the Burke-Gilman Trail was a done deal, think again.

Related: People Power created Seattle’s Burke-Gilman Trail

Seattle approved a plan to close the gap three weeks ago. But businesses and labor unions have stepped in to say they never agreed on the plan.

Michael Walker, with General Teamsters 174, is worried about safety.

“It’s insane to put a bike path out there. Worst case scenario is not if, but when one of those bicyclists ends up under one of one of thousands of trucks that deliver out there daily,” he said Monday during a city council meeting.

He and other critics want the city to consider a different route. Alternative routes have included trails that run from NW 46th Street to Ballard Avenue NW to Market Street, as well as a trail that runs straight north from NW 45th Street and up to NW 57th Street before dropping back down to Shilshole Avenue.


The preferred route by the city would connect the 1.4-mile gap in the biking and walking trail along Shilshole Avenue. The gap in the trail exists between NW 54th Street and Market Street to NW 45th Street and 11th Avenue NW (near Fred Meyer).

The current gap in the Burke-Gilman Trail in Ballard. (City of Seattle)

The current gap in the Burke-Gilman Trail in Ballard. (City of Seattle)

It isn’t a myth that the volume of bike crashes along Shilshole is relatively high compared to other areas of the city — although nothing when compared to downtown Seattle. A map from the city shows a long line of bicycle collisions in the area. The map fails to note when those crashes occurred, but it does show the highly concentrated bike activity in the area.


An interactive map on the city’s website gives a clearer picture of just how accident-prone cyclists are in the area. The current route cyclists take that follow the approximate route of the Burke-Gilman gap do see at least a few crashes every year.

Of course, the number of crashes would arguably go down with a dedicated walking/biking path. Which means things such as parking are actually what is being contested.

A study by the city found that a common concern related to most public projects is the loss of parking. Of the three main options for filling the gap, the city’s pick is the only one that has a “significant impact on parking.”

And we all know how difficult it is to find parking in the city.

A final environmental impact study is expected to be completed in May.

The Seattle Department of Transportation hopes to begin construction on the extension next year.

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Do arguments against the Burke-Gilman Trail gap hold up?