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The Seattle Sketcher

An illustrated journal of life in the Puget Sound region by Times artist Gabriel Campanario.

October 18, 2013 at 10:46 AM

Pedaling is perilous on Burke-Gilman’s ‘missing link’

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Sketched Oct. 10, 2013

In the war between cars and bicycles I try to keep myself out of the crossfire — my preferred ways of transportation are walking or busing. But I would certainly bike more if I felt safer on the road.

My standard of safe cycling, however, may be pretty high for this city. Even on a “Bicycle Sunday” along car-free Lake Washington Boulevard this summer I felt intimidated by spandex-clad cyclists zooming by in packs as if they were in the Tour de France.

Imagine then how I felt recently riding through one of the least safe cycling routes in town: the “missing link” segment of the Burke-Gilman Trail in Ballard. The mere sight of cyclists and cement trucks sharing the road made me cringe.

I understand the debate over completing the trail is more than a decade long. But, while it continues, the flow of cyclists enduring the treacherous path isn’t slowing down. What would it take to make this a safe ride now?

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One of the most treacherous moments riding along the “missing link” was approaching the Ballard Bridge. Though my instinct was to keep pedaling straight, I had to make a sharp turn to negotiate hard-to-see rail tracks running parallel to the the road.

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Most of the “missing link” runs through an industrial corridor including marine-fabrication shops, warehouses and boat repair businesses. Workers who approached me as I sketched said the new trail would probably eliminate their parking spaces near the rail track.

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The current trail ends at 11th Avenue Northwest by the Ballard Fred Meyer and it starts again about 1.5 mile from here at the Ballard Locks. If you venture past this sign as I did, all I can say is this: Be careful!

Your community. What draws you in? Send me your suggestions of interesting places and people to sketch via e-mail, Facebook or Twitter.

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