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I was hit by a car traveling into campus at the intersection of Pend Oreille Road. This was after I had stopped at the stop-sign and been waved on by a stopped car traveling the other direction. Riding the Burke-Gilman Trail should be safer than riding on the road, not the inverse!”

— Sam Cook

Heavy congestion can lead to injury-causing modal conflicts and collisions.
Photo credit: Steve Ringman, The Seattle Times

In the past decade, 66 collisions involving pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists have occurred along the University of Washington’s (UW) 1.7 mile segment of the Burke-Gilman Trail. The highest concentrations of collisions have occurred where the trail cuts through arterial intersections at Brooklyn Ave NE, University Way NE, 15th Ave NE and NE Pend Oreille Road. These collisions have resulted in 36 injuries and over 30 instances of property damage caused by poor sightlines, failing intersection design and outdated signalization. Within the same 10-year timeframe, 15 accident reports have been filed through UW’s Online Accident-Reporting System due to injuries attributable to the poor physical condition or traffic of the trail.

The Burke-Gilman Multimodal Connector (BGMC) will greatly reduce the risk of collisions, injuries and fatalities at arterials by improving intersection design in several important ways:

  • Sightlines will be improved by squaring intersections, creating more generous queuing space and eliminating visual obstructions like invasive vegetation and drastic grade changes.
  • The mid-block crossing at Brooklyn Ave NE will be raised and realigned to improve vertical sightlines and slow approaching arterial traffic.

    Photo of Pend-Oreille Intersection
    The trail’s intersection with Pend Oreille Road has proven dangerous for both trail and road users.
    Rendering of improvement to Pend-Oreille Intersection
    The Burke-Gilman Multimodal Connector will replace the intersection with an underpass.

  • Signal phases with parallel arterials will be separated and reinforced with “No Right On Red” to prevent frequent right hooks that occur as vehicles turn north off of NE Pacific St, crossing the trail while it has a green phase.
  • Two signalized perpendicular arterials will receive “No Right On Red” treatments to prevent cars from queuing in the trail crossing as they prepare to turn west onto NE Pacific St.
  • The mid-block trail crossing at Pend Oreille Road will be grade-separated to eliminate a conflict point entirely.

    Where the BGMC intersects other high-volume paths, a suite of design treatments will minimize conflicts between bicyclists and pedestrians traveling along and across the trail. Safety improvements will include tabling the BGMC’s bicycle path to passively calm speeds, opening up sightlines by removing adjacent invasive vegetation and concrete abutments, and installing tactile warning strips at intersection approaches.

    The BGMC will also double the number of Code Blue emergency phones with broadcast capability located along the trail from five to 10. Additional crime prevention measures will include data infrastructure to accommodate the possibility of video cameras and lighting improvements throughout the corridor.