Ask BikeNerd: The Lake on the Burke-Gilman Trail

By Josh Cohen October 15, 2010

This week's Ask BikeNerd question comes from former PubliCola TechNerd Glenn Fleishman,who raises some valid concerns about a safety hazard on the Burke-Gilman trail.

This image is pre-construction, but the problem puddle forms near the top of the tracks.

Glenn writes: The new trail configuration over near Gas Works (in front of the kite/surf shop) is enormously better than before. It's well marked. It's got a curb. I don't feel like I'm going to be crushed any more. Visibility is better. Great job on the design.

But: The east side was poured incorrectly. It's concave and collects water that stays for days after it rains, forming a deep puddle across the entire trail.

I have gone back and forth very nicely with the project lead at SDOT, who told me the new stuff was poured on a very tight budget, and they were sorry, but perhaps that was life. I know they have no money.

But I think drilling a hole and putting some gravel in it with a metal cover; pouring an asphalt patch that's leveled; or cutting a drainage line would solve the problem for a modest fee.

As fall comes, it's a splash all the time. I see people veering around it, which puts them right into oncoming runners (the walk/run and bike trails merge right there) and biker traffic.

I've seen the spot Glenn is talking about and it does indeed turn into a pond after a good rain. I've had a few near misses there myself with eastbound riders swerving left around the puddle and damn close to me as I headed west.

I posed Glenn's query to the Seattle Department of Transportation and it sounds like they're already in the process of fixing it.

Diana Holloway, Project Design and Delivery Manager for the Seattle Department of Transportation said, “despite our financial limitations, we are committed to resolving the ponding problem on the trail. We are currently working with Street Maintenance on a modification for that location. Given that we must finalize the design, follow-up with the required documentation, issue the work order to our crews, and then await optimal weather conditions, our goal is to complete the work within the next two months.”

Since the next two months are guaranteed to have plenty of puddle-filling rainy days, my best advice is to treat this problem area with the same deference you would every other narrow, blind spot on the trail. Ride extra slow, give a warning with your voice or bell, and proceed with caution. Also, if you've got full fenders on your bike (anyone commuting year-round in Seattle without a set of full-coverage fenders is crazy), riding through the puddle at a reasonably slow speed should leave you dry.

That's it for this week's Ask BikeNerd. As always, send your bike questions my way at [email protected]
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