Cyclist Killed

From the Seattle PI

“A bicyclist was killed instantly and another was rushed to Harborview Medical Center after a dump truck turned into them Friday afternoon at a busy intersection in the Eastlake neighborhood.”

By my count, that’s 3 cyclist deaths this year and sadly demonstrates traffic safety in Seattle.

– UPDATE: Great posting by Denny Trimble about the tribute assembled by the local cycling community –



8 Comments

That’s terrible news…. I was riding right by there yesterday late afternoon. I’m guessing I just missed it. Anybody know what the deal is with this:

“The driver of the truck was not cited, police said.”

How can you turn into someone, killing them, and not be cited?

Drivers can say all they want about how bicyclists should act like cars, not run stop signs, not ride up the side, whatever… For me this pointless death is just more proof that drivers don’t see us.

Sure I’ll continue to make an effort to be lawful but I’m focusing on ME seeing THEM. That means staying out of their way when I feel a situation is dangerous. Example: If I think it is safer to run a light than to wait in traffic wondering if I’m seen by the guy who really wants to hurry and squeeze through the stopped line of cars so he can get into a driveway for his double-tall-nonfat, then I’m running the damn light!

I happened upon the scene on my bike ride home from work, around 5:00 p.m., and a bystander said they had just moved the body to the Coroner’s van across the street, in front of the Red Robin. It was a fairly gory scene, including brain matter in the street and a huge puddle of thick, viscous blood near the truck’s front tire, where the victim must have been pinned and bled out from his head injuries. The Crime Scene personnel were still taking pictures and analyzing the accident scene, and finally gave the okay for the cops to pull the bikes out from under the truck. I remember thinking that they looked different, very sparse. Now I can correlate their spare appearance to a piece I saw on the news once about fixed gear bikes. There were no brakes or shifting wires on the two bikes, they were just peddles and frame…they had no means to brake.

Looking about I surmised fairly quickly that the bikers had to be at least partly to blame, and guessed they were trying to beat the light…which all us cyclists have done, as the truck only traveled about ten or fifteen feet from the intersection and there were no skid marks. He apparently stopped very quickly. The news that evening confirmed this and said the truck was going less than 5 mph, and witnesses said the bikers were racing toward the light at a very high rate of speed, and one witness said he saw a look of fear on the lead biker’s face (the one who died) when he realized he was going to hit the truck. These two guys picked the wrong intersection to speed through, as there is automobile traffic going every which way, all the while competing with pedestrians and bikers alike. I also feel for the truck driver, as it appears he was not at fault, but now must live with the guilt of having been involved in an accident that took another’s life. The news said the truck driver wasn’t cited, which is good to hear. The news also said he jumped out of his truck and burst into tears when he saw what happened.

I’ve never been a reckless speeder, but like most cyclists have had my share of close calls and also made an impetuous move or two (or three), especially during rush hour traffic in downtown Seattle. But let me tell you, this scene has affected me tremendously, I thought about it all weekend, and I’ll be exhibiting much more caution now and peddling even more defensively. I’d rather arrive home a few minutes later than have my wife have to identify me at the morgue…like this young man’s family must have had to do. My heart goes out to them.

Bob

Ugh…I hadn’t heard all those details yet.

Fixed geared bikes…no brakes…no helmets…passing on the right…honestly…I wouldn’t have cited the driver either…this is coming from a guy that owns and rides a fixed gear.

I’ve got a lot more to say…but I’ll hold back.  These kinds of incidents are battlegrounds that cycling advocates don’t need.  If we want the streets to be safer for cyclists, then we all need to be making better decisions about how we represent ourselves on open roads.

Tai

It’s tough; especially seeing the venom on the PI’s soundoff board. Nothing splits the Seattle community quite like cyclists and motorists.

Tai - as a representive of the Bicycle Paper I’d hope you’d get your facts clear before you guys publish anything on this (or post to a public forum).  Passing on the right is legal in Seattle - Especially in the bike lane (which these riders were).  The truck too a right, through the bike lane, without checking for their presense.  The cops let him off for who-knows why, but it’s certainly not because they weren’t wearing helmets.  If the victim of a car-wreck isn’t wearing a seat-belt it doesn’t get the at-fault party off the hook!

I’ve been pinched a couple times with impatient cars turning right in front of me.  In each case they didn’t signal - it’s reflexes that saved me from being swallowed by the car.

Andrew,

I apologize to you and everyone else for getting the facts wrong about their brakes.  Bryce and his buddy had one brake each as shown in the photo.  It wasn’t enough to prevent them from getting killed, so you are right and I am wrong. 

Amidst all the argument and hostility surrounding this issue will be a lot of finger point and trying to figure out who is wrong or right.  What happened is a tragedy.  You’ll notice from my previous post that I didn’t care to talk about the legalities of the matter.  Even though Bryce and his pal were legally in the right as far as traffic flow, they aren’t around today to do anything about it.  I’m sure the truck driver doesn’t take any solice in the fact that he was not cited.  He’ll probably have to contend with a lifetime of emotional trauma, assuming he is a thoughtful human being.

Just so we get this straight…I’m on my own two feet here.  My opinion in a public forum will always be mine.  The minute it’s printed in the paper or on our website, it will be the paper’s.  I participate in several forums.  I’m not going to go asking for my editor’s opinion before I can speak, nor is that expected.  I am a cyclist, a Seattle resident, a year-round (almost) daily commuter, in addition to working for the paper.  I hope Byron doesn’t make all his bloggers think like him.

My opinion on the matter is still the same.  We need to be making better decisions as cyclists.  It is a separate issues from legalities.  The police officers clearly weren’t thinking about the legalities in this case either, otherwise they would have probably cited the driver.  Laws don’t save lives, better decisions do.

Tai

I don’t care if local laws allow “passing on the right” as I would never presume to creep or fly into an intersection alongside a vehicle that has even a 1% chance of deciding to hang a right.  Been riding for over 50 years and riding defensively has kept me vertical and alive countless times as a 2-3 ton vehicle decides to make a move across my lane - be it a right or left turn.

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