Another Cyclist Has Died—So Will the City Council Finally Fund Bike Safety Improvements?

For the Past Seven Years, the City Has Starved Money from the Bicycle Master Plan

Comments

1
Let's stop calling them " accidents." There was nothing accidental about Kung's death. She died because of a shitty design that was allowed to endanger cyclists for two decades. She died because of apathy and a failure of leadership.

There's nothing accidental about it.

And a special "go fuck yourself" for the "not helpful" comment from Sally Clark. Funding the things that would fix these death traps is helpful. Pouring gasoline on the "war on cars" fire is not.
2
Rest in peace, Sher Kung and others lost by these senseless fatalities, and condolences to all. I haven't visited Seattle for a long time, but 2nd Avenue should no longer have bike lanes if it is indeed the deathtrap that it has been described--at least until an improved and much safer design is put in place for bicyclists and pedestrians. 61 fatalities over four years should be deemed unacceptable!

Seattle needs to step up to making all city routes safe for bicyclists and pedestrians as well as motorists a priority.
3
@2

umm...there have been 61 collisions..NOT 61 fatalities.
4
I can think of a pretty good reason why an initiative undertaken in 2007 hasn't received as much funding as its backers hoped. Is the Bicycle Master Plan really a unique case?
5
Extremely unsafe place for me to ride a bike.
Rides there anyway.
Not an accident. Correct.

6
They said she wasn't able to stop in time.

How sad is that?

Please slow down, and drive with in your limits.
7
I use that Second Avenue lane very week and it is always a frightening experience. Every intersection with an eastbound one-way street is basically a high-stakes guessing game: will this vehicle make an unsignalled left turn, or won't it?

I'm always astounded by how many people buy the "war on cars" rhetoric despite Seattle's bicycle infrastructure being simply pathetic in compared to many other major West Coast cities (I'm most familiar with SF, Portland, and Vancouver).
8
"Another Cyclist Has Died—So Will the City Council Finally Fund Bike Safety Improvements?"

Why don't we see a headline from The Stranger that says, "Another Black Man Has Been Killed At The Hands Of Another Black Man - So Will the City Fund Public Safety Improvements?"

Nope, if it is people like the editors and writers at The Stranger getting killed, we are to spend millions. If it is people of color, getting killed, or just robbed and assaulted, by people of color, in 10 times the amount every year, there are no calls to remedy that. They are south of I 90 and east of I 5, not Capitol Hill, so who cares.

So much for social justice and inclusiveness.
9
The new bike lane has the signal light timing backwards. In most new infrastructure bicycles are given a green light ahead of motor vehicles, so that they can clear the intersection. But on the new bike lane, turning vehicles are given a green light first.
10
The Stranger hans't been a supporter of more cops, community policing, and improving public safety? Are you reading a different paper than I am?
11
@3: Whether it is 61 collisions or 61 fatalities within the past 4 years, that's still a statistic I wouldn't be proud of. Your point?
12
Bicycles do not belong on arterial streets. Just painting lines on major thoroughfares is NOT a safety measure and does NOT make them bike friendly. Instead, it's just PR pandering with no substance. Alternate routes for cyclists that keep them out of harm's way are what's critically needed. But that would take real planning and real money, not just local government leader showboating.

Meanwhile, cyclists often show a disregard for their own safety and the safety of others when then venture into much faster moving traffic as though they believe they have some kind of bubble of protection around them because riding a bike is so PC. Wake up, cyclists. You're highly vulnerable even in the most sympathetic vehicular traffic. Don't assume you are highly visible (you're often not) or that a vehicle is able to stop in time to not hit you. You could end up maimed or dead riding under those assumptions.
13
Build protected bike lanes or nothing at all. Seriously, the half-assed "bike lanes" in this city do more harm than good, and I have to wonder if Ms. Kung would have still be here if there had been no "bike lane" on 2nd Ave. For example, the useless white line marking the 3-foot-wide 4th Ave "Bike Lane" leads drivers to think that it's OK to get within inches of cyclists, whereas those drivers would otherwise provide a much wider berth, and cyclists are given the false sense that drivers may actually be paying attention to them.

And I have no idea what those bike signs painted in the middle of busy streets are supposed to achieve...
14
Without a denominator, this article is worthless.

You say collisions are increasing? What if more people are riding bikes?

You say about 15 collisions occur at the intersection out of 400 per year? Maybe 4% of all riders go through that intersection.

In making arguments for safety, you need a way to normalize against other factors. This is how all professional safety studies are done- per passenger mile, per vehicle mile, per hour, etc.

Also, show me that a bike is a more dangerous way per passenger mile than other forms of transport. If you want the government to spend more money on safety, you want them to spend it in the place it can have the biggest effect. If a bike is already 2X safer than a car per mile (not saying it is), then it's pretty reasonable that we're not spending on bikes.

Aviation has this problem- people find any airplane accident so unacceptable that we've made it the safest form of transport around, yet any accident leads to "why aren't planes safer!?". In reality, isn't the question "why aren't other forms of transport as stunningly safe as airplanes?" So we keep spending billions on airplane safety, where we could take that money, put a smoke detector in every house, and save a lot more lives per year.
15
Okay, let's fund it the obvious way: license and tax bike riders, tax on bike sales and on bike related products.
16
@10. My point exactly.

If the projectile that kills you is a 3,500 pound car rolling at 10 mph, or a 20,000 pound truck, they want government spending and enforcement to project people.

If the projectile that kills is a .6 ounce, .38 inch diameter piece of metal travelling at 1,000 feet per second, in South Seattle, that gets no call for government spending and enforcement.

One kind of projectile is a threat that keeps people from bicycling, and the other is not? Bicyclists must be protected by massive government infra-structure spending, regulation, and enforcement. The other kind of projectile doesn't produce a similar call from The Stranger?

We can see where their social justice and inclusiveness begins and ends!
17
Oh, a poll funded by the CBC..... I wonder how it was framed. Where's the crosstabs ?

http://www.cascade.org/sites/default/fil…

2 The goals of the polling research were to: (1) develop Cascade’s narrative, (2) understand bicycling habits, IBCs, (3) check in on the mayoral race. Conducted by FM3, the polling results found that voters polled in Seattle for the most part like bicyclists and like Cascade.

Priority values for Seattle:
Kids, neighborhoods, families, better world for our children.
Hero: people who work together to make their neighborhood a better place
Quest: better world for our children
Threat: neighborhood streets aren’t safe for our kids
Families are suffering, they want to drive less but they don’t have the option.
Villain: powerful corporations who push for roads-only solutions. Elected officials who talk about fixing things, but don’t.
Hero’s tools: neighborhood greenways, protected bikeways, “we the people” language
18
before you spout your Bill O'Reilly style rhetoric there Dom, maybe you should share with us the amount of bicycle accidents that occur in the cities you so adore, such as SF?

There is no safety for the fish (bikes) who swim with the sharks (cars).

This is always a Summertime cry from the affluent whiteys who can actually afford to live in the city and ride a bike to work.

Wait till the sun stops shining and they get back in their cars, they're all going to be upset at all these nice shiny bikes lanes and lights that don't get used 9 months out of the year...great choice in spending!!
19
Survey's 73% wanting bike lanes was very distant from the 97% who wanted our existing roads repaired/improved, the 94% who wanted repaired/built sidewalks, the 94% who want to repair/improve roads before building more, and the 86% who want neighborhood greenways. (page 5)

Sure sounds like a bunch of hands are asking for money for those things and even the CBC-funded poll leaves out funding.

http://www.seattlebikeblog.com/2013/01/2…
20
What is pretty much worth nothing is those "sharrows." I'm betting if you asked 98% of the people have no idea what they mean or how you are supposed to react to them.
21
Enough already with the tax-the-bicyclists nonsense. As is pointed out over and over, bicyclists already pay most of the taxes that fund our transportation systems. Further, bikes have far far less impact on shared resources than the cars that could be used instead. They free up space for cars. The real issue is that transportation funding is still in the Eyman pit - none of us are paying full boat, but far more so the automotive users than the bicyclists. Want more funding for transportation? I agree, but charge the heavy users (cars and trucks) not the lightweight nearly invisible ones.
22
Until the city sets aside certain roads to be bike-only, this will never change.

Anyone thinking they can safely ride a bike because there is paint or a dividing curb on a street just ends up in the hospital or dead. Cars and bikes don't mix...they never will...drivers don't pay enough attention to other cars, let alone bicycles. Dedicate some roads to non-motorized use only and this will become a thing of the past!
23
@ 12 you know what the streets were originally designed for? horse drawn carriages, train cars, and bicycles. Maybe it's cars that don't belong on arterials.
24
After working for decades to increase bike safety and build infrastructure here in Kent and environs, I have concluded a few things, one of which is that riding in the street is insane.

Consider. Would you "drive" on the street in a car with no outer body, no fenders, no safety bags, no seat belts? Because by riding a bike in the street (or motocycle), that's what you are doing. When you hit a car going at car speeds you are in a car crash, not a "bike crash". A bike on the street is a really, really stupidly designed, unsafe...car.

What I do is drive on the sidewalk, segregated bikeways (which exist in a few rare places) or non-motorized trails. If I'm forced to go on the street, I do it as quickly as possible, and dart back to the sidewalk.
25
It's a shame, and I can't imagine what her family is going through. Let's not lose sight of that in a debate about the solution. I see probably an accident a week, and I'd agree that painting bike is not enough. Most drivers don't seem to know that crossing the line is a ticket, which I see daily.
26
lanes*
27
@24 My experience is that pedestrians are far less predictable than cars. So unless you're riding where there are no pedestrians, if I were you I'd be in the street. There are streets I'll avoid riding altogether (Denny) and use the sidewalk if I must travel that way, but for the most part I'll take painted lanes over nothing at all, and keep my head (with a rear view mirror) on a swivel.

In some places the painted lanes move much better than the over-sized cars in the general vehicle lanes so many people prefer to use to travel even short distances.
28
@24 driving on the sidewalk is illegal. You sound like a menace to everyone.
29
#27

I live in Kent.

#28

I live in Kent.

30
I wonder if the truck driver had his turn signal on. If he did then he's not completely exonerated, he should have looked for bike traffic anyway. I feel sorry for the truck driver, I understand he was devastated, I would be also. I have driven trucks in and out of Seattle for years and it's sometimes hard to see bikes, especially the high speed dudes that seem to think they own the roadway. I support bike lanes, away from cars, and they also need to have a speed limit.
31
@29: I'm sorry.

Hey, remember those skits on Almost Live? That was some funny shit.
32
It's awful that a person was killed riding her bike. My heart sank when I heard the news.

Beyond the immediate concern for another human being though, I will say that the 'bicycle lobby' in Seattle- Cascade Bicycle Club and other aggressive bike proponents- are tantamount to a special interest group.

The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. And right or wrong, the many are motorists. (A philosophical conversation about the whether this is good or bad is a different subject altogether.)

There should be no more road diets, no more tacit war on cars, no more lanes taken away from cars on already jammed and gridlocked streets for bikes, until traffic and parking issues created by growth, McGinn and others of his ilk, are resolved.

And no- the argument that more people on bikes makes more room for cars does not fly. Any right-thinking person who looks around can see, empirically, that a small minority of commuters who chose a bike instead of their car is not going to fix the problem. So you can't sell the (tacit, un-declared) war on cars that way, people see through that rhetoric.

Address the problems with traffic and parking - stop the war on cars - and then let's talk about special interests.

As it stands, too much needed road capacity has already been taken out of service for general purpose vehicle traffic for use as bus only lanes and bike lanes... this is exacerbating our traffic problem, not helping it.

I'd argue too, that bicycle zealots are also creating life threatening circumstance for inexperienced cyclists by urging them to take to the streets when they aren't trained to ride safely in traffic and often may be ignorant of traffic laws.

In my opinion, if you don't have a driver's license and have not received any training on how to ride safely in traffic, you are a danger to yourself and others.

33
@21 Enough already with the tax-the-bicyclists nonsense. As is pointed out over and over, bicyclists already pay most of the taxes that fund our transportation systems. Further, bikes have far far less impact on shared resources than the cars that could be used instead. They free up space for cars.

Explain why your average motorcyclist or boater has to 1 - have a special test to license the driver, 2 - pays nearly the same amount in yearly registration fees as a 4,000 lb SUV, and 3 - does not get their own, separated, dedicated facilities on most public roads ?

It's not about "impact" so much as how we've as a society agreed to fund the facilities and guaranteed a baseline of training and accountability to use the public roadway.
34
@32: I agree that a loss of life for traffic is a terrible thing, but your anti bike screed is just utter bullshit. Transportation in many forms involves risk. While I remain an enthusiastic motorist (as in my nice fast car) as well as a bike commuter, you won't see me riding a motorcycle on the freeway. But I have no problem with the folks that do, and I think it is incumbent on all travelers to do what they can to not kill each other, even by accident. That includes re-purposing right of way (a resource of the public commons) for a means of transportation that increasingly available as a reasonable alternative for daily commuting. Have you driven in downtown Seattle during rush hour lately? As for majority vs. minority thing, give me a break. We do all kinds of things for a minority of people, and that is as it should be. Being in a majority is not an unconditional trump card, particularly when it comes to public resources. Bikes are a more efficient means of moving reasonably fit people (I am grey and overweight and can ride just fine) in heavy traffic, and we should encourage this means of transport simply to increase overall flow. Yeah, that means you might lose a lane cager, and be slowed down a couple of minutes. Get over it, you're going to be grid locked regardless to any square footage dedicated to alternatives like bikes or buses.

@33: Overall kinetic energy, which on a motorcycle still peaks far higher than on a bicycle. I'd be okay with taxing based on overall mass of vehicle (minus body weight) times average speed and tire footprint in a directly proportional fashion. I'd even be willing to throw in wheelbase, although some of the recumbent and cargo bikers might have a problem with that.
35
@34, and I'd be fine with dividing the square ft of the road proportional to number of certified trained, registered, tab paying users of the facilities.

I see zero bike licenses. I guess we should look at bike lanes being set aside for motorcycles.

See what happens if you determine one category as your rule ?
36
Thanks for writing this article, Dom. Godden, Clark, Rasmussen and SDOT have blood on their hands. But don't forget Metro bus drivers, who are the ones insisting that the 2nd and 4th Avenue bike lanes are on the left side of the road so they don't have to deal with cyclists while making stops.
37
Lots of rage in this thread. Not a lot of reason. It wasn't a car, but a truck that killed the cyclist. And it was on a left turn, so bike lanes probably wouldn't have done shit. And it was mass transit, not some submission to cars that put the bike line in the most dangerous place.

But whatever. Rage about cars and how evil they are.
38
Who was the councilperson that removed funding for this project, making a cycle track with separate light phases for cyclists and turning vehicles? He needs to be charged in this wreck for creating the very thing the project was trying to prevent. You can't install left side bike lanes without also providing a separate signal phase for cyclists or this is exactly what will happen.

I suggest buying a copy of the Dutch CROW manual, available online for €90 in an official English translation, and applying it religiously. This is a country that has managed to get a 35% VMT share for cycling, with a trip share as high as 50% and at the same time reduced their maintenance costs for city streets by reducing motor vehicle traffic. They have it figured out, completely or as completely as anyone else has done, and we in the US need to at the very least start from their example. The Dutch experience has shown that bicycle infrastructure has a 20:1 payout in terms of better health and lower health care costs, reduced pollution and lower energy costs, and as pointed out before reduced road maintenance costs. Good bicycle infrastructure doesn't cost, it pays.
39
#35 you act as if cyclists have somehow managed to escape every tax in the city, not just the motor vehicle specific ones. Tell me how much motor vehicle taxes contribute to the transportation funding in Seattle, versus total City of Seattle transportation spending. I seem to recall a bond issue a few years back to bury a freeway that had no motor vehicle taxes paying for it, and that it was in the $billions...
40
@39,
(Auto) Dealers contribute a big share of state sales tax revenues — as much as 20 percent in some states

http://www.teslamotorsclub.com/archive/i…
41
@36 and #38. I don't see you saying a Councilmembers have "blood on their hands" when a young black man bleeds out and dies because they haven't hired enough cops to secure the seen in less than 20 minutes so it is safe enough for cops to go to work.

I don't see you saying they have blood on their hands every time a low-income, elderly Asian woman, gets her head pounded into the pavement for the gold necklace around her neck because they can't adequately patrol the streets with 750 fewer officers than Boston has (same population).

Apparently you are only concerned, and demand a city service be adequately funded, when the means of death is a 20,000 pound projectile at 10 mph rather than a 600 mph, .38 inch diameter, 4/10th of an ounce projectile, not fired by a cop.

I can see where your sense of social justice and concern for your fellow human being begins and ends. North of I-90 and west of I-5. If people die south and east of there by means of a different projectile, and their skin color is different, no councilmember has blood on their hands for failure to fund public safety at the same level as the Chief of Police's former city.
42
This city's wealthiest 1% are NOT running around on bicycles, so there will be zero money for bike safety. Honestly, Stranger, don't you understand how government works yet?
43
The Seattle Times has been one of the most pro-bike daily paper in the US for a couple years now. To bring up what Joni Balter might have written 5 years ago is pretty ridiculous. She doesn't even work there anymore.

It's almost as if Dominic *wants* the Times to be anti-bike...but that doesn't make any sense, does it? :)
44
Bicyclists should fight for expensive taxes for bicycles if they want expensive bicycle lanes. Car drivers can only pull so much dead weight.