Seeing Seattle (iii): the Burke Gilman trail

IMG_1099The most famous bike path / trail in Seattle is the Burke Gilman trail.  It runs from Puget Sound (the Ocean) inland along the ship canal that connects to Lake Washington (fresh water) via the smaller Lake Union (half and half). The path then runs past the University of Washington campus (called “U Dub” by the locals. Dub is short for W. Now, in my old age, I know why the previous US president was nicknamed Dubya. It’s sort of scary to be 10 years out of date.)

From the northern shores of Lake Washington, the trail runs forever to the suburbs of Redmond and Bellevue and even further afield. But I stuck to the city slicker parts, from the Pacific to round the top of Lake Dub. BTW, there is one segment missing near the Pacific end, but there are promises it will appear. It appears the trail was built one block at a time; I’d swear a different design engineer was hired for each one. Consistency is not a virtue.

The trail follows a former rail right of way. Actually, not so former. Bits of the tracks are still there, and apparently still in use. The trail goes along the waterfront, which is heavily industrialized and commercial. Detours and diversions are as common as tractor trailers. A few bits ran through rather sketchy auto-body-shop and junkyard land; other bits were fully gentrified with a Trader Joes store and Adobe offices and high-end houseboats.

Here’s the industrial bits, which are mostly towards the west / Ballard end:


the road is now one way only on the far side of the double yellow line; the former other truck lane was restriped as the bidirectional bike lanes. The rail tracks seemed to be still in use. Traffic, and cyclists, move unpredictably in all directions.




In the following two pic, the cycle path swerve to cross the rails, with a jog to keep the crossing as close to right angles as possible:





The docklands and low value scrap yards peter out, replaced by new infills. Below, the path has swerved — while crossing a busy intersection at a diagonal, to take a new position behind the sidewalk, all without the benefit of paint or signage for cyclist or motorist — and passes early infill, which turns its back to the path:



A new “power centre” appears, complete with bike racks, that is a tich more urban friendly. The path becomes more urban now:


An outdoor pub with scrap yard decor appears, but I misread the name. We decided to find another lunch spot. Still cyclists are acknowledged:



The cycle path passes barely a foot outside these doors. The hatched lines and a caution sign advise of the conflict.





throughout it all, the path was busy with cyclists, some obviously commuters, some recreational slow-poles like myself. There were also joggers and walkers, some smokers, and a fashion shoot with cameras on tripods.

I developed a new appreciation for the consistency and high standard of the Ottawa and NCC pathways.

Eventually, as one moves closer to Fremont, the urbanness increases, and the path becomes part of trendy gentrification. That part next.