November 1, 2018
Few people are as well known on the Seattle waterfront as Warren Aakervik. Warren “retired” from Ballard Oil a few years back, but he doesn’t seem to want to leave, which is a good thing because he is also a staunch advocate of Seattle’s maritime industrial core.
It is therefore notable that Warren resigned from the Burke-Gilman Trail Missing Link Design Advisory Committee (DAC), in a letter to the stakeholders dated October 3rd.
Warren resigned because of the city’s determination to develop a bike path through the middle of Seattle’s Ballard industrial area. He said he couldn’t endorse the design because it is dangerously unsafe. “I believe, a trail user will get seriously injured or die if the City moves forward with the trail in this location.“
Warren originally joined the DAC because the city had promised it would listen to all stakeholders at the table, including those who can speak to the industrial interests of the maritime and industrial community of Ballard, and would take all reasonable steps to make the trail safe.
“After participating in good faith for over a year, I can only conclude there is no way to make the Missing Link safe” in the current proposed alignment along the south side of Shilshole Avenue.
Warren spent many hours poring over the data in the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) and determined that during peak commuting hours there would be one bike or pedestrian crossing every 15 seconds at each industrial driveway. By applying the data to just one company, salmon Bay Sand and Gravel, Warren found there would be at least one truck crossing per minute.
“For every minute during the PM Peak, a truck entering or exiting salmon Bay will be in constant conflict with bicycles and pedestrians who are zipping by every 15 seconds. A driver driving a big truck, with limited visibility, will have to navigate this maze, looking for a gap big enough to get through, while yielding to trail users, without hitting someone hidden from view.“ Multiply that by the dozens of businesses trying to operate along the proposed trail.
Warren repeatedly made suggestions to make the trail safer, based on his decades of experience driving heavy freight trucks, living and working in the area, and participating in the City’s freight mobility plan and Freight Master Plan. His suggestions were repeatedly ignored or rejected as “not the way SDOT designs a bike facility.”
“That is what SDOT believed about its trail on Second Avenue where a cyclist was killed and the City was found liable for its flawed design,” Warren says, “and what SDOT believed about its trail on Spokane Street where, again, the City was liable for the death and injury of a cyclist caused by the City’s faulty design.”
Warren says SDOT is repeating these mistakes in Ballard and will be liable for the deaths of cyclists and trail users killed because of its flawed and unsafe design.
In this space in July ([Expletive] the Fishermen!) we noted the institutional disdain the City of Seattle has for the commercial fishing industry. Still, it would be cynical to believe the City intends to cite deaths of cyclists as a reason to remove industry from the neighborhood.
“There is no reason for people to lose their lives and livelihoods,” Warren says. “Moving the Missing Link to Leary or Ballard Ave. can solve all of these problems.”
Chris Philips can be reached at: 206-284-8285 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org