The Seattle Department of Transportation pushed the bounds of humor in its Twitter feed this morning, by depicting motorists wearing a “scumbag hat” near the West Seattle Bridge.
Transportation staffers blamed the trouble on drivers who looked at a crash just west of the bridge.
The “scumbag hat” reference is based on a hapless Internet character named “Scumbag Steve,” who wears a brown cap.
Joe Szilagyi, co-founder of the West Seattle Transportation Coalition, said of the tweet: “It doesn’t seem particularly professional.” The tweet has since been removed.
Seattle DOT often uses humor as an effective way to inform the public, said spokesman Rick Sheridan.
“Our traffic management center staff typically will use a humorous meme to highlight a problematic roadway situation,” he said. “Our intent is not to insult motorists, rather it’s just to call out where there’s a problem, so people can make decisions about their trip.”
Minutes before the “scumbag hat” tweet, SDOT had tweeted the same photo with information about the traffic jam, as it did an hour before, also with a photo of the scene.
Bridge congestion tends to fan emotions in fast-growing West Seattle. “Instead of insulting taxpayers and voters for trying to survive, SDOT and the heads of city government should be answering today why, for decades, West Seattle’s transportation issues were overlooked,” Szilagyi said. On Dec. 6, authorities took two hours to clear a non-injury crash from the adjoining Alaskan Way Viaduct. On the other hand, the city improved conditions in late 2012 by completing an expansion and strengthening of the Spokane Street Viaduct east of the bridge. Transit use has increased rapidly.
SeattleDOT said in a follow-up tweet: