Cyclist Killed In Seattle On First Day of Bike To Work Month

May 2, 2013

For the first time this year, a cyclist was killed in Seattle. It happened Wednesday in a fatal collision involving a bike and a semi truck. Wednesday was also the first day of National Bike To Work Month.

The fatal collision happened in Sodo on East Marginal Way and South Hanford Street, a few blocks north of the West Seattle Bridge. The area is also close to several freight terminals owned by the Port of Seattle and there is usually heavy semi truck traffic. This can be a tricky area for cyclists coming from West Seattle. As riders head north to downtown Seattle, they have to cross East Marginal Way to reach the dedicated bike lane on the east side of the street. The pavement is bad and many cyclists have said there aren’t enough safe crossings.

Dongho Chang, a traffic engineer for Seattle’s Department of Transportation, said the city has been aware of the problems and might add some additional crossings. “What we can do short term might be some re-striping," he said. “But, long term, there needs to be some capital dollars to improve the roadway surface.”

Chang said long term solutions could include a separate bike lane along the west side of East Marginal Way, which would require further talks with the Port of Seattle and Seattle policymakers.

Before the collision, SDOT was in the midst of planning ways to improve the city’s bike infrastructure. After Wednesday’s fatal crash, the Mayor’s office asked the transportation department to speed up those plans.

The latest complete city statistics are from 2011. The numbers indicate that May and August tend to be the months when there are the most severe bike collisions and more riders on the streets. The statistics also show an increase in bike fatalities in 2011 compared to the previous year. But Chang says more people are biking every year and the rate of collisions per rider is actually decreasing.

Meantime, the League of American Bicyclists issued its annual rankings for bicycle friendly states on Wednesday. Washington is ranked number one for the sixth consecutive year.

The rankings are based on state's policies that protect bicyclists and the availability of bike lanes and trails, among other things.