File photo, Anne-Marije Rook
Participants at the first Critical Lass event, a local group which promotes bicycling, particularly for women.

How bikeable is Ballard?

Is Ballard bikeable?

Well, considering the number of bicyclists that can be seen every day, the answer would have to be yes. But, according to a recent report, there's a lot of things that can be done to improve safety.

On Nov. 3, the Seattle Bicycle Advisory Board held a bikeability tour of the Northwest quadrant of Seattle, a circuit which brought a group of bicyclists through the larger Ballard area, Green Lake, Fremont and Wallingford. the report will help supplement the Bicycle Master Plan using community feedback and was sent to the Mayor's Office, the Seattle Department of Transportation and other city officials

The report zeroed in on some specific problem areas.

Some time was spent at the Missing Link, which has now become a notorious subject in media as local businesses and bicycling advocates battle over its future. The report notes high traffic volume, poor pavement condition, train tracks, and the NW 45th and Shilshole intersection as factors for unsafe conditions. The writers suggest creating more clear signage and signaling, as well as paving the shoulder along Shilshole, to guide bicyclists safely through until the Missing Link is complete.

For the Ballard Bridge, the writers said there are "unacceptable conditions for non-vehicular transportation," including a much too narrow sidewalk, a limited barrier with vehicle traffic and poor lighting. Possible recommendations were widening the sidewalk, adding a separate pedestrian/bicyclist bridge or designating one lane on the bridge to pedestrian and bicycle traffic.

Pavement conditions are also a general problem in Ballard. On NW 14th Ave, the report notes that while there is promise for it as a good north/south bicycle route, the pavement is in "terrible shape." The pavement conditions at 24th Ave NW and NW Market St are also poor, according to the report.

The Board also noted several general recommendations, which can be found below.

  • Improve crossings at main arterials, such as at 3rd, 8th, 15th, and 24th Ave NW, using treatments that facilitate walk/bike to school routes.
  • Improve connectivity: add east-west routes and protected north-south facilities; ascertain continuity of bike lanes through intersections; create safe exits for cyclists at the termini of bike facilities.
  • Improve pavement conditions on regularly used bike routes. Debris and cracks that parallel the direction of travel are particularly hazardous.
  • Improve marking of utility hole covers.
  • Increase quantity and visibility of secure bike parking, particularly in business districts.
  • Provide bicycle priority signals at busy intersections, especially those with a high demand for bicycle left turns, and install more detection loops and green bike boxes. Improve road-side access to signal buttons.
  • Install improved and standardized signage for bicycle wayfinding to trails, greenways, and destinations.

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