Burke-Gilman Trail's 'missing link' still causing problems for bikers

Burke-Gilman Trail's 'missing link' still causing problems for bikers
SEATTLE -- Cyclists call it one of the most dangerous routes through Seattle, and this week the Burke-Gilman Trail's "missing link" notched yet another car-bike collision.

Bike rider Laura Vertatschitch takes the Burke-Gilman from her home in Ballard to the University of Washington, and she said she loves most of the route.

"The Shilshole piece is the only part that's even moderately dangerous to navigate," she said.

That stretch under the Ballard Bridge puts cars and cyclists precariously close. There's a bike lane that bows out to cross railroad tracks and a bridge support column that gives drivers little room pass.

That's exactly what happened to Vertatschitch.

"This particular car, I can only assume, was trying to speed up and get past me before that column happened," she said.

Instead, the driver hit her. It was just a glancing blow, but it highlights how dangerous the stretch of trail can be.

"This stretch is kind of treacherous," said cyclist Dennis Eichinger. "You gotta cross the railroad tracks and the road's narrow and it's busy."

The city has a fully designed, fully funded project to replace the so-called "missing link," but it's being held up by litigation. A coalition of businesses don't want a dedicated bike lane cutting through an area already crisscrossed by heavy truck traffic.

And some drivers say not every bike rider uses common sense.

"When people are riding a bike and they are doing 40 miles an hour, they've got to realize that it takes a little bit to stop these cars, too," said driver Bruce Ramon.

Dedicated lane or not, cyclists likely will keep using the route as the city pushes forward with its plan.

"There has to be some way for us to share in a safer way," Vertatschitch said.