Trailside Connector shows possibilities to integrate mixed-use paths with neighborhoods

Above: Top: views of proposed Trailside Apartments.  Bottom left, view of connector path looking east from near Burke-Gilman trail toward 24th Ave East.  Bottom right, top view of connector, Trailside apartments and Trailside commons space.

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Feet First supports new development that prioritizes pedestrian access and amenities, and in Seattle a wonderful amenity is the Burke-Gilman trail!

Recently, Feet First worked with the developer of a Seattle project called the Trailside Residential complex, located alongside the Burke-Gilman trail, which passes through the University of Washington campus, a half-mile south. The applicant proposed vacating NE 48th St between 24th Ave NE and the trail to allow construction of two buildings with 268 residential units, ground floor retail, and outdoor amenities space for residents.  The proposal included a commons area with a connector to the trail (see below drawings).

Feet First, along with Cascade Bicycle Club, met onsite with the developer and representatives from Seattle’s Department of Transportation (SDOT).  We advocated for a wider trail connector that would accommodate cyclists and pedestrians safely, since the trail exits to a downhill slope where bikes could reach high speeds quickly.  We also gave testimony at a hearing at SDOT.

The project was completed last year and it looks great!  The trail connector is at the width Feet First and Cascade requested.  It has many design features we requested.  It is on an incline but sloped sections are interspersed at regular intervals with flat “platforms” to make uphill walking easier.  There are surface markings on the trail just south of the Burke-Gilman intersection, a staging area just off the trail north of the connector/trail intersection with a bike repair station, drinking fountain and seating.  Lighting installed along the connector casts low (not blinding) light for nighttime user safety.  Well-designed kiosks are at the foot of the connector and at the trail intersection.

There is one bollard where the connector dead-ends at the junction of NE 47th St. and 24th Ave NE.  An additional bollard and a more permanent no-parking sign where the connector hits 48th NE would have been helpful.  Also, speed bumps we requested at the Burke-Connector junction (the City Design Commission also suggested) were not added.  Another key safety item omitted were surface markings we requested on the Burke north of the Connector junction.  Both would have been important safety features to minimize potential conflict between walkers and people on bikes.  Still the developer, with City of Seattle oversight, did a very good job.  We are pleased with the result.  Below are some still pictures from the site.

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