Michael Harthorne
Hundreds of people lined Shilshole Avenue Oct. 27 to show support for the completion of the Missing Link of the Burke-Gilman Trail. CLICK IMAGE FOR MORE PHOTOS.

Hundreds show they are the Missing Link

"What do we want? The Missing Link! When do we want it? Yesterday!"

Hundreds of Burke-Gilman Trail supporters, from seniors with walkers to babies on the back of their parents bicycles, turned out for "We Are the Missing Link" Oct. 27.

"It warms the cockles of my heart," Friends of Burke-Gilman Trail's Kevin Carrabine said of the crowd.

The event, hosted in part by Sustainable Ballard, was meant to draw attention to the Missing Link, the section of the trail from near the Ballard Bridge to the Ballard Locks that has not been completed yet. It has been held up by litigation between the city and local industries.

"Some of our friends in these businesses need to decide they're going to catch up with the rest of the citizens," said Del Gerstenberger, a Queen Anne resident who rides the Missing Link three to four times per week.

He said the gravel and the train tracks along Shilshole Avenue where the trail would be make him feel unsafe.

Byron Cole, general manager of the Ballard Terminal Railroad, came out to see what the event would be like.

Cole said cyclists will not be satisfied even when the trail is built as the city plans, with some trail on Shilshole but a stretch of interim trail on Ballard Avenue.

"They won't be satisfied until the railroad is gone," he said. "It seems like it's never enough for the biking community."

Tuesday night is one of the nights the Ballard Terminal Railroad usually operates, but Cole said he would not be moving the trains until the event was over.

"We get enough bad publicity without going out of our way for it," he said.

Mayoral candidate Mike McGinn stopped by the event by bicycle on his way to a town hall meeting at the Ballard Community Center.

"We should finish the Burke-Gilman Trail," he said. "It's the safe thing to do for everyone."

As a line of trail supporters in orange "We Are the Missing Link" shirts stretched down Shilshole Avenue waving at cars and receiving honks in return, 41-year Ballard resident Mike Kelly was feeling positive.

"Eventually we'll get this built," he said. "It's just a matter of time."

The Seattle Department of Transportation's current plan for the completion of the Burke-Gilman Trail has a trail running from 11th Avenue Northwest to 17th Avenue Northwest along Shilshole, an interim route from 17th Avenue to Vernon Place on Ballard Avenue, more trail on Shilshole to 24th Avenue, then a final interim route on Market Street to the Ballard Locks.

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Why put a "park trail" thru an industrial area?

Bicycle commuters go where and when they want to get to work. Parts of the Burke Gilman trail are for recreational use. Why put a "park trail" through an industrial area? Aren't there other alternatives for this? It is NOT safe for recreational riders to be around large trucks that have limited sight. Remember the commuter cyclist killed by a dump truck on Eastlake Avenue?

Hundreds of experienced riders have gotten hurt crossing the railroad tracks under the Ballard Bridge. It does not make sense to put recreational cyclists at risk in this area!

Byron Cole is not being truthful

Mr Cole -- mmm, what you told M Harthorne and what you tle me were a little different, yes?? You he told me that day that you never operate until after 'business' hours in Ballard, as otherwise you to have to deal with too many parked cars.

And on your other point, that 'they' won't be satisfied till the railroad is gone, au contraire! I would just like the RR and its owners, including the man who signed the franchise agreement which stipulated that the City could and would build a trail along the rail right of way, to live up to the terms of their agreement. Most of us trail supporters are happy to see the RR continue to operate - just don't try to make a case that a trail will somehow put you out of business. It's laughable, if it weren't such a lame argument.

And thanks to MH for the accurate reporting on this event. I counted about 250 persons out on a cold day to show their support. Thanks to you all for being there.