On May 13, 2016, Desiree McCloud crashed her bike as she rode along the streetcar tracks on East Yesler Way near 13th Avenue. She died 11 days later.
Today, McCloud's brother Cody McCloud filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the City of Seattle over her death, claiming that the streetcar tracks caused the cyclist to crash. Suzanne Greenberg, another cyclist who was injured from a crash near the same spot on the anniversary of McCloud's death, is also suing the city for unspecified damages. Greenberg broke her shoulder and tore a rotator cuff after her crash, according to attorney Phil Arnold of Campiche Arnold LLC. The lawsuit was first reported by the Capitol Hill Seattle blog.
The lawsuit alleges city officials acted negligently by failing to take steps to mitigate the potential cycling hazards surrounding streetcar tracks on East Yesler Way. The plaintiffs suggest a number of potential fixes, including creating a protected bike lane, prohibiting bicycle traffic in the area near the crash, and inserting rubber in the grooves to prevent tires from getting caught. City officials considered a protected bike lane, but did not execute on those proposals, according to the lawsuit.
Police could not determine whether the rail track caused McCloud's fall, according to the Seattle Times. But the lawsuit disputes that claim, saying the fact that McCloud was pitched over her bike when she crashed is evidence that her tire got caught in the rail groove.
"Here you have a death trap for bicycles. And the city is simultaneously inviting children and adults at various skill level to ride their bikes on that street," Arnold told The Stranger, referring to the city's policy of actively encouraging bicycle use.
While the lawsuit solely claims negligence over the rail tracks on East Yesler Way, the lawsuit points to a report in the Seattle Times of 80 cycling crashes on or near rail tracks.
The Seattle Department of Transportation did not immediately respond to The Stranger's request for comment. I will update this post when I hear back.