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The Today File

Your guide to the latest news from around the Northwest

October 8, 2014 at 5:26 PM

Bike-lane crashes spur more 2nd Avenue tinkering

Update at 11 a.m.:

A similar crash occurred at the same parking-garage entrance on Second Avenue near Union Street a week ago, according to cyclist Steve Klusman of North Seattle, who was headed to his job in Pioneer Square.

“Coming down Second Avenue, I was so happy when I got to the new protected bike lane,” he recalled in a phone interview this morning.  A car turned left in front of him.  “I crashed into them, did a flip on the hood, and landed on the pavement.” Klusman said he wound up with bruises and scrapes, as well as a bent bike frame.   Police records confirm a low-speed crash happened there at 8:36 a.m. Oct. 2; the driver said she had difficulty seeing cyclists and pedestrians because of parked cars, said police spokesman Drew Fowler.  Klusman says an officer ruled the crash “no-fault,” which couldn’t be confirmed yet by SPD.  Klusman said he now rides on Western Avenue going south, and bikes Second Avenue only in the northbound, uphill direction.

Also, the city says it removed 65 feet of on-street parking Wednesday to improve sight lines — more than the 50 feet the Seattle Department of Transportation mentioned earlier.

The SDOT still maintains that the new bike lane, on the left side of the street, is intended to be an “8-80 facility,” safe enough for use by all ages. “That is the purpose of making these modifications on Second Avenue.”  The “8-80 Cities” meme, used worldwide by urbanist planners, was inspired by Enrique Penalosa, former mayor of Bogota, Colombia, who built a huge bus-rapid transit corridor and 200 miles of bike paths. “A bicycle lane that cannot be used by an 8-year-old is not a bike lane,” he declared at a Discovery Institute event in Seattle in 2006.

Original post:

A car-bike collision Wednesday morning has caused the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) to remove a few Second Avenue parking spaces, in hopes that drivers and cyclists will see each other more clearly.

The crash occurred at 8:13 a.m., on the left side of Second Avenue between Pike and Union streets. Medics responded, and police say the female cyclist suffered hip pain but not serious injuries.

The city has since eliminated 50 feet of street parking, next to a parking-garage entrance where the crash happened, said SDOT spokesman Rick Sheridan.

In addition, some kind of warning signs will be added, reminding cyclists to slow through that block, he said.  A half-hour after the crash, some cyclists were accelerating downhill at of 25 mph or more. Even when the bike signal is green, such speeds can be dangerous if a driver or pedestrian makes an error and suddenly enters the bikeway.

SDOT opened the new separated bike lane Sept. 8, featuring distinctive bicycle signals, at a cost of up to $1.5 million, as a safety experiment to encourage more cycling. It replaced a notorious bike lane next to general traffic, where injuries happened about once a month.  Dongho Chang, the city traffic engineer, revised the traffic signals a few days later to reduce confusion, and said he will monitor and tweak Second Avenue as issues arise.

Comments | More in Traffic & Transit | Topics: Seattle Department of Transportation, Second Avenue bike lane

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