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Shilshole Avenue Railroad Crossing

A column from Danny Westneat in The Seattle Times tells the story of how cyclists are tired of waiting for the City to fix “the most dangerous street in Seattle”.

Here’s a google map screenshot of the area where Shilshole Avenue NW crosses under the Ballard Bridge. Look closely to see the railroad tracks, and the sharrows and mini-bike-lanes that are intended to encourage cyclists to cross the tracks at a larger angle. Apparently it’s not very effective (because no doubt the markings disappear quickly under vehicle traffic – and some cyclists probably don’t know what it means anyway) and anecdotal reports say that cyclists crash there “daily”.

Shilshole Avenue Bikeway

The City of Seattle has used sharrows and pavement markings to encourage cyclists to cross the tracks at a larger angle.

The column mentions that cyclists and business owners are so frustrated with the situation that they’re starting to take matters into their own hands:

There are warning signs posted (although inexplicably in one direction only.) But most of these were tacked up in exasperation by Byron Cole, manager of Ballard Terminal Railroad.

“I made my own signs, but I got in trouble with the city for putting them up,” Cole says. “They said the signs weren’t to code. They sit back and say they have to do the work, but then they never do it.”

A group of cyclists even hired a respected traffic engineer:

So they hired their own traffic engineer, a respected one the city uses. He came up with a plan to actually fix the hazard, by putting in a new rubberized filler system around the tracks to prevent bike tires from catching.

The engineer’s estimated budget: $13,680, labor included. Which the bicyclists agreed to pay in full.

No response from the city, says David Middaugh, the cyclists’ attorney.

The City has it’s own side of the story, of course.

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