(The latest information on this story can now be found at this link.)
A bicyclist was fatally injured shortly after 7 a.m. today in a collision with a semi truck near the intersection of East Marginal Way South and South Hanford Street, according to the Seattle Fire Department.
Witnesses and medics arriving on the scene tried CPR, but were unable to revive the man.
The cyclist, who was wearing a helmet, was crossing East Marginal when he hit the back of the semi, which had just passed through the intersection, witnesses told KING5. Authorities, however, haven’t confirmed how the crash occurred. Police said the cyclist was a man in his 50s.
Witnesses said the driver didn’t even realize what had happened until he was flagged down.
Cyclists and the city government have long understood the hazards in the area, as described in this Seattle Times story five years ago. Cyclists arriving from the West Seattle Bridge reach the waterfront on a sidewalk west of Marginal Way, and then try to reach the bike lane on the east side of the street.
“I ride this twice a day. It really could be anybody,” said Bob Anderton, an attorney who specializes on bicycling law. He commutes on Marginal Way and said it was shocking seeing the downed cyclist after the crash. “I have no idea what happened,” he said.
Louise McGrody, outreach director for the Bicycle Alliance of Washington who also passed the scene this morning, was injured at the same intersection in January 2008 when a trailer became unhitched from a pickup.
Experienced riders often avoid the intersection by pedaling on the sidewalk west of Marginal Way, continuing north beyond the Hanford Street traffic signal, then crossing the roadway diagonally whenever a safe opening appears.
The Cascade Bicycle Club’s policy director, Craig Benjamin, said that a proposed street rebuild of Marginal Way meant to accommodate heavy freight loads would be an opportunity to improve the bicycling route as well.
West Seattle Bike Connections is urging the city to put a “cycle track,” separating bikes from other traffic along Marginal Way, using either Highway 99 money or safety improvement funds from the proposed sports arena in the Sodo neighborhood.
In the greater Seattle area, there have been eleven bicycle fatalities from 2007 through March 2013. A map showing the locations of collisions involving pedestrians and bicycles during that period is available here.
Ironically, May is National Bike to Work Month; and it was announced just this morning that Washington state has held onto its #1 ranking from the League of American Bicyclists as the top most bicycle friendly state in the country.