Seeing Seattle (ii) : When bike paths and pedestrians conflict

Of course we rented bikes. Gotta explore and check out their bike facilities.

In the Green Lake area, we found ample evidence of cyclists and pedestrians — and dog walkers, joggers, and runners  — in conflict for limited space.


This solution is pretty rational: it appears to be a bi-directional asphalt path and a flush concrete pedestrian sidewalk beside it (on both sides).

But once the pedestrians and cyclists are separated, other issues of equity arise. Joggers go faster than walkers, the elderly, or people with strollers. Is this jogger going the right way being on the left sidewalk or should she be over on the right sidewalk, which whoops, just ended.


There wasn’t room for multiple segregated facilities, so some innovative solutions were tried out. This lead to this sign outlining where one might move, and how:


The first few lines made sense, then I started to wonder if things weren’t going a bit far when specific rules guidelines start to appear for different classes of wheelchair users. And then the whole thing went for a loop with the final instructions that the different lanes were for clockwise or counterclockwise direction around the (circular) lake, similar in size to Dow’s Lake here in Ottawa.  Now one has to match category of users at the top (walkers, runners, and strollers) with the correct lane AND with the correct direction.

And just which way is clockwise? When I face the lake, or am on the path (facing which way?) and isn’t it the opposite when I am on the other side of the lake?

The painted arrows didn’t seem to help. Isn’t the inside track now two directional? Where were the stroller and wheelchair icons? Perhaps I am particularly dense.



But I’m not alone, because everyone was going in every direction on every bit of asphalt or concrete, kids stopped to eat ice creams in the middle of the track, and a steady stream of people crossed the paths to get from the parking lots to the washrooms. Extendible dog leashes extended. Elderly cyclists wobbled by. Speed demons passed so fast there was a doppler effect.

I found throughout the Seattle area that society is very hierarchical, and expresses this constantly with micro-managing signage that would make an Ottawa bureaucrat proud. On a later story, you’ll see how many priority categories a simple parking lot can have.

Next: the famous Burke Gilman trail.