This post originally appeared on Orphan Road.

Just to highlight Seattle’s struggling bicycle infrastructure, I thought I’d describe my bicycle experience today.  My wife and I took our 2yr old son on a ride from Gasworks Park to the Lake Forest Park Farmer’s Market.  The ride started off great – the Burke Gilman Trail was packed with bikers, joggers, and rollerbladers.  But when we were close to Lake Forest Park we came upon a sign saying that the BGT is closed in 2.5 miles, and there’s a detour.  Fairly sure the Third Place Commons was less than 2.5 miles away, we continued onward.  But I had miscalculated – the BGT was closed about a mile from our destination.  With a choice between turning around and riding 2.5 miles to the detour and just finding our own way, we chose the adventurous route.  This led us to a push-your-bike grade of hill.  Ok, a few of them.  In the hot sun, but we eventually ended up on Bothell Way NE.  This road (actually a highway), is 4 lanes of unforgiving, high-speed traffic.  It’s no place for a bike with a child seat, even downhill.  So we chose the sidewalk, until it suddenly ended.  We found a side street up and down a few more hills, and we were there.

Arriving at the market, we couldn’t find any bike racks.  I figured the town’s city hall should have at least one, and I finally found it – covered in plants from a vendor.  I asked if I could move some off it (and the vendor agreed, after some passive-aggressive banter about charging me for the spot, and how he’s going to complain to the market’s coordinator), but a recently added ballot box was installed so close that a bike couldn’t fit.  So we headed off and found people leaving the other bike rack we could find.  But another vendor was using the water spigot – located right where our bikes would go.  We eventually found another bike rack at Third Place Books.  We took a bus part of the way home, for fear of having to ride uphill Bothell Way NE.

Overall I had a great time and I love Third Place Commons.  But that was despite the lack of respect shown for bikes along the best bike path in the region.

Significant observations:

  • If I were in a car, there’s no way they’d close the only highway connecting two cities for multiple months without a realistic second option.  If the BGT really has to be closed for months, do it in the winter.
  • If you’re going to just end a sidewalk, at a blind corner with nothing but high speed traffic, at least add “sharrows”.  Actually, no.  Get rid of a lane and build sidewalks.  I can only imagine being a pedestrian – or a pedestrian in a wheelchair – in such an environment.
  • If I were in a car, businesses would go out of their way to make sure I had a parking space.  In fact, they’d devote far more than half of their entire land space to my vehicle.  Yet despite being across the street from the BGT, they can’t offer more than a handful of poorly designed bike spaces?