(Photo by Eric Shalit – rough pavement at E. Marginal/Hanford; ‘ghost bike’ in background)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
The bicycle rider killed in the East Marginal Way crash on Wednesday has just been officially identified by the King County Medical Examiner’s Office as 54-year-old Lance David of Federal Way.
We also have learned that a memorial ride for Mr. David is being organized for this Sunday, 1 pm, from Marymoor Park – full details are on this Facebook event page.
Meantime, since the crash, safety concerns continue to percolate, with two crashes today leaving riders hurt.
First, what happened today: Just before 9:30 am in the 400 block of Alaskan Way, blocks from yesterday morning’s crash, a 53-year-old man lost control of his bicycle and crashed to the ground, the impact breaking his helmet, according to public-safety radio communications. So far, authorities have not reported any other vehicles involved; the man was taken to the hospital.
A few minutes before that, we later learned, a 32-year-old woman had fallen from her bike after colliding with a car on Delridge Way SW alongside the Boren school building. Seattle Fire spokesperson Kyle Moore says she “suffered minor scrapes and bruises” and didn’t want to go to a hospital, so firefighters took her home.
Bicycle safety was already on many people’s minds since the deadly crash on Wednesday morning. Many bicycling advocates are reaching out – May has long been Bike to Work Month and Bike to School Month, so some events already were scheduled; for example, tonight, riders can stop by the West Seattle Tool Library for free bicycle repairs, 6-9 pm (northeast side of Youngstown Cultural Arts Center, 4408 Delridge Way SW). Says Stu Hennessey, “Our goal is to help our bicycle community ride smooth and safe.”
And there’s a bigger picture to safety, as discussed at last night’s Seattle Bicycle Advisory Board regular monthly meeting downtown – which began with a moment of silence in honor of Mr. David.
Before key points about the meeting, here’s the latest from police regarding the Wednesday crash, investigated by the Traffic Collision Investigation Squad, which handles cases involving death and/or serious injury.
We inquired with SPD first thing this morning and they pointed us to this update added to their original SPD Blotter report:
Preliminary investigation indicates that a 53-year-old man driving a flatbed semi-truck was attempting a right turn from westbound South Hanford Street to northbound East Marginal Way South. At the same time a 54-year-old male bicyclist was northbound on East Marginal Way South approaching South Hanford Street. For reasons that have yet to be determined, the bicyclist collided with the truck-trailer’s left side wheels in or near the intersection and went down. … There were no citations issued at the scene, which is standard procedure in serious traffic collisions requiring extensive follow up investigation and collision reconstruction.
The extensive discussion in the comment section following WSB coverage took on multiple safety issues at the scene. One is shown in photos shared with us last night by West Seattle bicyclist Eric Shalit – the one atop this story, and this next one:
Eric says he went to the scene yesterday for a closer look at the road, and he believes “a likely contributing factor in the accident and death is not comingling of trucks and bicycles, but that the cyclist had to simultaneously navigate a road surface of crevasses, potholes, exposed partially buried railroad tracks.”
Over that surface, as shown in the top photo and in Kathy Dunn’s photo added to our Wednesday report, a “ghost bike” now watches. Kathy also shared this photo of a notice on the pole beneath it:
The memorial went up sometime in the early evening, which is also when the Bicycle Advisory Board was convened at City Hall for its regular monthly meeting. Chair Allegra Calder, in calling for the moment of silence, called it a “terrible day.”
The events of the day led to an unscheduled agenda addition right after that, with a brief appearance by SDOT’s Dongho Chang. He remarked – as did many yesterday – that it was a tragic coincidence that a bicyclist was killed in the first hours of this year’s Bike to Work Month.
He noted that East Marginal Way, “a critical link to West Seattle,” shifts in the area from what he called “a nice bicycle facility” to an “onroad facility, and then an offroad facility.” He also acknowledged that while the city’s Bicycle Master Plan calls for “major separation” of bicycle traffic from motorized-vehicle traffic in the area, there are “obviously some competing interests,” but, he said, they’ve been working with the Port of Seattle to address that.
More urgently, he elaborated on Mayor McGinn‘s statement following Wednesday’s crash (as published in the Seattle Bike Blog‘s report), saying that SDOT will “get back to the mayor within 30 days” on recommendations for safety improvements in that area. “It could be as simple as restriping,” Chang said. “… We’ll see what we could do with existing resources, as well as (with the) pavement.” He promised the SBAB would be briefed.
A meeting attendee asked what the timeline would be for action, following that 30-day timeline for reporting back to the mayor. Chang said it was too soon to say, but he hoped there would be some “easy implementation,” adding that his co-workers can be “pretty innovative.”
A board member subsequently observed that fast action would go “a long way toward helping people deal with the tragedy.”
As the meeting moved on to its central scheduled topic, the city’s Bicycle Master Plan Update, the crash was mentioned multiple times over the course of the evening. It was observed that the update must be seen as a “living document,” knowing that circumstances will change, as will priorities, as seen in the discussion of the East Marginal Way safety challenges.
The ensuing discussion touched more on process points than on the contents of the update itself, which has been in progress for some months, and will be public soon, since the SDOT reps said a draft version of the BMP update will be available within a month, so that it can be reviewed before summer sweeps in and takes centerstage in most people’s attention, with a “final” draft in the fall.
Board members urged them to be sure it focuses on looking ahead, not so much on recapping what’s happened since the plan itself was issued in 2007. And there was some discussion that even though plans are supposed to look way ahead, updates like this one are inevitable every five to seven years or so. The updated plan’s prioritization, in fact, might even need to be revisited annually, within “a framework,” it was suggested.
They also discussed “getting projects moving” with initial funding, instead of waiting until a giant pot of money is available – if it ever is. And there was talk of a reality check – realizing that the city, for example, can’t be the “lead agency on everything” – it can’t, for example, be the lead agency for “teaching people how to ride.”
Instead, the city should focus on where it might get the most bang for its buck, such as educating people about how different types of bicycle facilities work (one example: the bike boxes, like the one that popped up at Andover/Delridge before signage), and supporting safety education for young children.
Also suggested: Find ways to be sure the BMP update doesn’t come out with a big splash – and then hover undiscussed in the background somewhere – “be out there all the time promoting it,” suggested one SBAB member.
But before the meeting ended, discussion came back around to the death on East Marginal Way.
One West Seattleite identifying himself as “just a concerned citizen” mentioned the emotional impact of driving past the scene yesterday morning, and the difficulty of reconciling that with his role as a Commute Challenge captain “encouraging folks to (ride) with me … Anything that this group can do to change the (safety) reality, especially on that stretch, is really appreciated.”
West Seattleite Kathy Dunn added, “We are way behind on having decent routes in and out” of West Seattle.
ADDED 11:16 PM: Mr. David’s wife Jane David has just posted a comment after our Wednesday story:
I just wanted to say thank you many times over to those who stopped to help Lance, and my heart goes out to the truck driver. My family is devastated over his loss, but we are lifted up by the incredible support of family, friends and fellow bicyclists. Lance was a highly experienced and careful road biker. He was aware of his surroundings, logged thousands of miles on his bike, and had ridden this route many times before. Each time he rode in, I would say “be careful” and he would reply “I always am”. We don’t yet know for sure what happened and maybe never will. I just hope and pray that some changes are made that will prevent this from happening to someone else’s loved one.
ADDED FRIDAY AFTERNOON: This is already in the comment section, but we want to make note of it here in the story as well: West Seattle Bike Connections and West Seattle Greenways plan a ride in memory of Lance David, next Tuesday, leaving Seacrest at 5:30 pm. Here’s the Facebook event page/invitation.
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