SEATTLE -- What began as a quiet rally ended in a heated face off.
“Back up off me – you’re in my personal space,” union leader Michael Walker told cyclist Mark Durall at Seattle City Hall.
A missing section of the Burke-Gilman trail in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood has been a point of contention between bicyclists and industries along Shilshole Ave. for decades. The 1.2-mile gap starts at 11 Ave. NW and ends at the Ballard Locks.
The city recently announced completing the route along the south side of Shilshole Ave. However, some businesses disagree with the route and made statements to city council members during a meeting on Monday.
“Shilshole Avenue is a high industry, high truck traffic area, and to put bicycles into that is insane. It’s the absolute worst scenario you can create,” said Walker, who represents mixer drivers with Teamsters Local 174.
He and a handful of union leaders and industrial workers asked the council to consider jobs and lives by re-considering Market or Leary Avenues instead.
“They rely on that industrial corridor in order to be able to perform their work,” Katie Garrow, with the Martin Luther King County Labor Council, said.
“These jobs aren’t effected by a bike trail,” said Durall, speaking on behalf of the Friends of the Burke-Gilman Trail and Ballard Farmer’s Market. “Big trucks and bikes don’t mix. Well, we agree with that. That’s why we promote a separate protected trail.”
Durall believes the real issue at hand is parking.
The city expects a full environmental impact report by May and to break ground on the trail by the end of the year.