City The Ballard Bridge and Bikers
posted by July 10 at 11:35 AMon
No one is satisfied with the bike paths over the Ballard Bridge. I wrote about the problem back in 2005:
The Ballard Bridge is a special kind of nightmare.
At the southwest corner of the bridge, where Hiller and I are straddling our bikes, waiting for the car to pass, there is a small cut in the low curb that separates the bridge’s bike path from car traffic. “Bike path” is a bit of a misnomer on the Ballard Bridge. The path is so narrow and so close to the rushing traffic that if feels more like a gangplank. On one side is speeding traffic, on the other side a long drop into the ship canal. Two bikers, headed toward each other along this path, wouldn’t have room to pass without colliding, with one likely ending up in traffic, the other perhaps in the water.
Last week, when the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported that a man was in critical condition after falling into oncoming traffic on the Ballard Bridge, it used the accident as an occasion to remind readers that the city’s Bicycle Master Plan calls for serious bike improvements to the structure.
It’s unclear when those improvements will come. It’s also unclear whether the man’s fall last week was actually due to the design of the bridge’s bike lanes. The man is 60 years old. And the P-I noted that before his accident, there had been no car-biker accidents on the Ballard Bridge since 2004—which is actually a pretty good record for a bridge with universally-derided bike lanes.
But if it turns out that the man’s accident was due to bad bike paths (and not biker error or some other factor), look for him to become the new poster child for efforts to make the city feel a greater sense of urgency about improving the Ballard Bridge bike lanes.