(Thursday photos courtesy Gary Long)
Tonight, our partners at the Seattle Times look at bicycling-safety concerns, in the wake of two recent deaths in Seattle. Their story says the Cascade Bicycle Club plans a media briefing on Wednesday to call for safety improvements. Here in West Seattle, a bike crash last Thursday led a witness to make a similar call. It happened at noontime in the 5900 block of Beach Drive, along the rutted, cracked stretch just north of the slide zone that is caught up in a legal fight. Gary Long e-mailed photos to WSB along with the following letter, cc’ing both SDOT director Peter Hahn and Seattle City Council president Richard Conlin:
West Seattle continues to experience hazardous road, bicycle and pedestrian conditions. Here are photos of a bicyclist accident on an extremely hazardous stretch of Beach DR SW.
The City has had request of residents and other users to repair street and sidewalk hazards and has not responded except to a patch here and a patch there. Look at the pictures and count the public costs of this accident with police, fire and private emergency responders. Then count the medical bills of the woman whose bike tire caught in the extremely uneven roadway and threw her off balance.
Wouldn’t Seattle do better if it truly cared about the public safety of its citizens to find some money to repair the road and sidewalks? Both are dangerous in this section and SDOT apparently has no recorded inspection activity over those past ten years. At least the SDOT claims to have no records of such activity.
In the meantime, what kind of logic is there in designating an unsafe roadway as a bicycle facility? Is this just to have more miles to list on Seattle’s brochures? Or is Seattle serious about creating alternative transportation choices that are safe? If you look at the pictures and the conditions of the roadway you will see why this accident happened.
No one should use this stretch of Beach DR. SW (even though it serves the neighborhood as a commute alternative into downtown) and believe they are safe. The sidewalks are unsafe in many places as well as the street. Shared bike lanes designated on Beach DR are completely unsafe as a bicyclist must weave along the roadway to avoid an accident just like the one that occurred (Thursday).
Ask the City of Seattle to take responsibility for creating safe streets, bikeways and pedestrian facilities.
Official information about this particular crash and the victim’s condition is scant. Since the 911 log indicates a Seattle Fire Department crew responded, we asked SFD spokesperson Kyle Moore what he could tell us; he says their records show only that they were called to help a woman in her 40s with “unknown injuries.” No SFD aid car/medic unit was called, so if she went to the hospital, it was by some other means of transport. Meantime, we have an inquiry out to Gary to see if he has received any reply from the city since cc’ing them on this four days ago.
P.S. There is no easily accessible database to track bicycle-related injuries in the city, since calls like this go out as an “aid response” or “medic response” rather than “bike crash,” but a search of our archives (and the rest of the Web) indicate West Seattle hasn’t had a deadly bicycle crash since the two that happened in 2006. A crash in Eastern Washington earlier this year killed a bicyclist from West Seattle, Sally Eustis.