The Missing Link of the Burke-Gilman Trail was featured in a several media outlets yesterday in relation to the current race for Seattle Mayor. (the Missing Link is a 1.5 mile unconstructed trail segment in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle, and part of one of the most heavily used multi-use trails in the US…#3 best urban bike path in the country according to USA Today)
Seattle Mayoral Candidate Ed Murray made a gaffe when he commented on the most controversial bicycle infrastructure project in the city to a reporter last week. On Monday Seattle Times’ Jonathan Martin wrote an editorial that featured the following comment on the Missing Link from State Senator Ed Murray:
“I took a look at it, and it seems potentially dangerous. I think it needs a second look.”
From this comment both the Cascade Bicycle Club and the Seattle Bike Blog have been blasting Murray. The Seattle Bike Blog post had 42 comments in the first 12 hours including some fact corrections by Josh Brower, the lawyer representing the business/industrial interests in Ballard who brought a lawsuit against Seattle regarding the Missing Link. To their credit, Mr. Brower and Tom Fucoloro, who maintains Seattle Bike Blog, were rather civilized in their online dialogue.
I find it fascinating how politicized this comment has quickly become. While there is truth to the first part of the statement of it being potentially dangerous, it does indicate a lack of awareness and willingness to find a solution. However, I believe that the second part of the comment is what alarms advocates the most, how Murray does not seem to know the Missing Link has been studied for well over a decade.
In the last several months the political power of bicyclists has been in the media, from Salon to the Wall Street Journal (the WSJ editorial reference was a jab at the “all powerful bike lobby” but there is increasing truth to the comment). The worldwide growth and popularity of cycling is starting to be felt, and it is being accelerated by the organizing voice that social media has provided bicycle advocates.
The amazing thing is that Ed Murray actually appears to be pro bicycle infrastructure. His platform supports prioritizing bikeable/walkable neighborhoods and bicycle friendly transportation planning. However, he is facing the incumbent Mayor who has become known as a biking mayor, vocally a proponent of bicycle infrastructure, and frequently seen around the city on his bicycle.
There is the potential for this story to go national, especially if Murray’s campaign takes a nose dive. I’ll be following how this story evolves, as a cyclist, voter, and urban designer.