Safer Biking Becoming More Likely in Ballard

Are you a cyclist? If so, you’re probably aware that the Ballard District Council is working to make biking and walking safer in our neighborhood. Not too long ago, the Seattle Department of Transportation approved greenways throughout the city, including Ballard, in an effort to promote safe bicycling and walking in the city. According to the Ballard Greenways website, greenways are “slow, low-traffic streets connecting parks, libraries, schools, and businesses for pedestrians and bicyclists who need safe and comfortable routes through the City.” Ballard’s greenway would go along 58th Ave NW from 6th Ave to Golden Gardens. If adopted, it will create a safe east-to-west bicycling option in the heart of Ballard!

However, this route still poses challenges, as 58th St NW crosses multiple busy roads (8th Ave, 15th Ave, 20th Ave). So, it may require a Neighborhood Project Fund grant to make those crossings a bit safer for bicyclists and pedestrians.

If you’re interested in hearing more about the greenways, attend the Seattle Neighborhood Greenways meet-up tomorrow. SDOT staff, Peter Hahn and Dongho Chang, will be there to answer greenway questions. The meet-up is on Thursday, March 22nd from 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM. It will take place at the Phinney Neighborhood Center. For more information on the advocacy group, check out the Seattle Neighborhood Greenways Facebok page.

Ballard to See Changes to its Bus Route

Ballardites, if you take the bus, pay attention. According to the Ballard News-Tribune, Ballard will be receiving a Rapid Ride, known as Rapid Ride D. It’ll make for a fast connection from Ballard to downtown Seattle, similar to the 15X, but with different stops and at all normal bus hours. The Rapid Ride D line will be slower than the 15X, but will offer more frequent service, better facilities, and more. Fortunately, the Ballardites spoke loud and clear at a recent Metro meeting, and the 15X will be kept, along with the Rapid Ride D. However, the local 15 route will be replaced with the Rapid Ride line D.

Stay tuned for updates on how the Rapid Ride D will impact other bus routes in the Ballard area. As of right now, the plan is for the 18 route to go through Fremont, Route 24 will change, and Route 46 will be eliminated. I’m eager to see the impact that the Rapid Ride will have on Ballard.

Potential Ballard to Downtown Rail Line To Be Studied

In today’s Seattle Times, Mike Lindblom reported that Sound Transit is planning to study the potential of a possible rail line from downtown to Fremont to Ballard, running along Westlake. Originally, Sound Transit officials planned to do this research later in the decade; however, they are speeding up the timetable and planning to fund the $2 million study in next year’s budget.

On the plus side, I’m glad that Sound Transit is making Ballard a priority. With all the new construction, Ballard is growing rapidly. If there isn’t proper transit and more of it, Ballard is going to turn into a complete grid lock. Some residents are even brainstorming their own Ballard lines, as indicated by the Ballard Spur. The study will look at offering the potential of street cars, light rail, and buses to serve Ballard residents’ needs.

Although I’m not a mass-transit professional, I see a few positives in the proposed potential route. First, I support the idea of linking up with the South Lake Union Trolley and the Downtown Seattle light-rail. That’s a no-brainer. Also, it’s a great idea to run through the dense neighborhood of Fremont; SPU would be another great option for the route.
However, I hope the study looks at a few potential cons with the proposed route. First, it’s suggested to run up 24th Ave NW. Why not 15th Ave NW, which would be easier for non-Ballardites to get to? Second, the route goes through NW Market St. If it’s a light rail or streetcar option, that would turn NW Market St into a nightmare for cars.

Many initial readers are expressing similar concerns in the article comment section, especially regarding why we’re spending money on a study, as well as route suggestions. I only hope the study is able to obtain the results we’re looking for and actually accomplish something. I really hope the study isn’t wasted money. It wasn’t long ago that we studied a potential Downtown to Ballard monorail line extension, which resulted in absolutely nothing. I’m not bitter. Nope.

Thanksgiving Talk: Light Rail Proposal – Ballard Spur

While you’re prepping for the big feast today, here’s an idea to nibble on. A local Ballardite and Sound Transit business analyst, Keith Kyle, has drafted up an independent plan to get light rail from the University District to Ballard. It’s called the Ballard Spur.

Courtesy of Ballard Spur's Facebook

 

The Ballard Spur is a grassroots effort to get light rail over to Ballard by way of Wallingford and Fremont. Under Sound Transit’s current plan, Ballard would likely not have light rail in the next 30 years or so. Under this plan, Kyle is hoping to get the initiative on the 2012 ballot. It’s an ambitious goal but he has already received coverage on numerous news sites, as well as rapid support on its Facebook page.

While it is still in the exploratory design phase, the Ballard Spur Facebook page is receiving significant engagement from interested people in the Ballard, Wallingford, and Fremont neighborhoods, whether supporting or opposing the idea. As a Ballard resident, I would be ecstatic to have the option of getting to Capitol Hill in 10-12 minutes. The 44 bus line is already a fairly active bus, so there is ridership for a light rail line like this. If it does gain support, I hope it doesn’t follow the same fate as the 2006 proposed monorail extension to Ballard – a failed plan and a waste of money and time. Ideas, like this, would hopefully make Ballard more accessible and certainly more attractive for new residents.

For more information or to get involved, check out the Ballard Spur’s Facebook page.