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Old 04-20-09, 12:16 PM   #1
randya
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Hitting Hazard in Bike Lane Worth US$3.5Million to Crippled Seattle Cyclist

Don't you ever wonder what they were thinking when the bike lane is full of double-wide drainage grates, manhole covers of various types and sizes, and poorly backfilled utility cuts?



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Originally Posted by KIRO TV
King Co. Reaches $3.5M Settlement In Crippling Bike Crash
Posted: 6:01 pm PDT April 15, 2009
Updated: 6:46 pm PDT April 15, 2009

REDMOND, Wash. -- A multi-million dollar settlement has been reached for a Seattle man who sued King County over a crippling bicycle crash.

The county will pay $3.5 million to Jeffrey Totten, who will spend the rest of his life struggling with traumatic brain injury.

Totten was an endurance athlete who climbed mountains, rode bicycles and lived a very active life until his accident put him in a wakeful coma for seven months.

”I've got a traumatic brain injury. A traumatic brain injury is the type of injury that's like once you have it, you've always got it,” Totten said in a video released by his lawyers.

He spent the last two and half years struggling to recover and rehabilitate. His left side still partially paralyzed and his international career as an electrical power plant engineer over.

“I don't want to talk about this to anyone because they're just going to say, 'Jeff, you're never going to be able to do that and I'm tired of getting told that,” Totten said.

Totten’s wife, Danielle Leavell, has known him since high school.

”I've lost my husband, our relationship now is very parental. He's now my child,” Leavell said.

Totten was riding westbound down Novelty Hill Road on Sept. 4, 2006, when his bicycle hit a little pothole surrounding a county survey marker, called a monument.

“They're advertising this as a bike route. If you are advertising it as a bike route you don't have monuments on the fog line where a bike is going to be traveling, particularly one that looks like that,” said Totten’s attorney, Richard Adler.

The $3.5 million settlement was reached just days before the case was to go before a jury.

“There's no amount of money, there's no amount of money in the world that we would trade everything to have Jeff back, Leavell said.

Today, the survey marker is covered and the county leveled the roadway as much as they can, but the pavement is beginning to crack again.

A county spokesperson said the county regrets the incident and believes that with this settlement Totten has the resources he needs to continue his rehabilitation.
http://www.kirotv.com/news/19192707/detail.html#-
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Old 04-20-09, 12:57 PM   #2
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Man, I've got mixed feeling on this one. On the one hand, if a city is going to establish bicycle lanes they have an obligation to assure those lanes are safe for bicycles. On the other hand, there's no such thing as 100% safe, and the best way for any city to avoid this type of litigation in the future is to eliminate all bike lanes. I'm guessing that's been discussed in city council meetings in this particular case.

Now don't flame me. I feel for Totten and his family and I'm certainly not in disagreement with their law suit. I've just got mixed feelings on this one.
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Old 04-20-09, 01:02 PM   #3
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If he had been wearing a helmet, he would have

. . . just kidding.

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there's no such thing as 100% safe, and the best way for any city to avoid this type of litigation in the future is to eliminate all bike lanes
+1
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Old 04-20-09, 01:25 PM   #4
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If he had been wearing a helmet, he would have

. . . just kidding.
not to be a s**t disturber but...

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Originally Posted by Examiner.com
The Navy veteran and endurance athlete was left with severe brain injuries despite wearing a helmet.
http://www.examiner.com/a-1962888~Br...5_million.html

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Old 04-20-09, 07:53 PM   #5
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I feel for him too, but there's certainly a degree of CYA in being an adult. Another way they could remedy the situation is put 'warning, bike at your own risk' signs EVERYWHERE, and then it would be up to the bicyclist to... you know... not run into stuff.

Bad things happen to good people, and that's unfortunate, but it doesn't necessarily mean it's anybody's fault.
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Old 04-20-09, 09:09 PM   #6
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boy randya, a misdirect! are you even referring to this accident in your bike lane criticisms?

it wasn't a bikelane, it is a exurban, rural road and an official 'bike route'. the steep hill allows bicyclists to approach 40mph or even exceed it. the county had been paving around the marker, leaving a deep indentation. it was the county's fault in leaving dangerous road conditions on a road officially designated as a class IV bikeway.

I hope, if this happens to any of you, that you are also fairly compensated for your lifetime of loss.

Last edited by Bekologist; 04-21-09 at 08:33 AM.
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Old 04-21-09, 09:02 AM   #7
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I realized that it might not have been in a bike lane after I posted it, but the original article is none to clear on this point. Besides, it doesn't change the fact that double-wide drainage grates, manhole covers of various types and sizes, and poorly backfilled utility cuts are more likely to be found in a bike lane than outside of one.
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Old 04-21-09, 09:12 AM   #8
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really? in cities with 3 percent bike laned streets, there's 97 percent of the streets equally as likely to have utility cuts, drainage grates, manholes, etc on them. your 'figuring' is faulty.

you're blowing smoke and using a tragedy to dis bike infrastructure. stop the misdirect.
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Old 04-21-09, 09:16 AM   #9
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After reading this article yesterday, I paid close attention to the conditions of the designated bike lanes on my commute home. I was amazed. Potholes, drainage gratings, manhole covers, big cracks in the pavement, rocks, you name it! In the past I've never really thought about these hazards as I've always assumed it's my responsibility to be on the lookout and avoid hazards whether I'm in a bike lane or not. But yesterday I was viewing each of those hazards as a potential law suit, similar to that described in the article. What's the solution? Spend millions to upgrade and maintain all bike lanes to be 100% safe? Eliminate all bike lanes? Do nothing and keep your fingers crossed? Glad I'm not a member of city council having to make such decisions!
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Old 04-21-09, 09:26 AM   #10
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why do i need to come up with the solutions?

road hazards are ever present regardless of road striping or preffered class infrastructure- all states allow bicyclists to avoid hazards by moving out of a bike lane if present.

Municipalities should, perhaps, maintain bike lanes to a higher standard - yes, wristtwister, as bikes are more susceptible to road hazards than motor vehicles.

It WOULD be much cheaper to maintain streetscapes for bicycle travel versus motor vehicles as damage to pavement from bicyclists is virtually nil... how many bicyclists would it take to create a pothole? how many decades would it take? but car traffic can create potholes seemingly overnight.



please keep in mind this accident occurred where there was no bikelane.

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Old 04-21-09, 12:27 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Bekologist View Post
really? in cities with 3 percent bike laned streets, there's 97 percent of the streets equally as likely to have utility cuts, drainage grates, manholes, etc on them. your 'figuring' is faulty.

you're blowing smoke and using a tragedy to dis bike infrastructure. stop the misdirect.
seriously?

drainage grates are almost ALL in the bike lane, except when the bike lane is in the door zone...

utility cuts and manholes also tend, proportionally, to be in the margins of roads, and thus in the bike lanes, rather than in the main travel lanes.
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Old 04-21-09, 07:33 PM   #12
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What was the county thinking? Anyone seen any other markers on King county roads? That is just stupid. Is that used for property or road surveys or both?
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Old 04-21-09, 08:01 PM   #13
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seriously?

drainage grates are almost ALL in the bike lane, except when the bike lane is in the door zone...

utility cuts and manholes also tend, proportionally, to be in the margins of roads, and thus in the bike lanes, rather than in the main travel lanes.
right back atchya- are YOU serious?

manholes are in the margins? and almost all the drainage grates in a city are in the bikelanes? what about all the streets without lanes, the vast, vast majority of streets?

logic is failing you, randya, to fallaciously gripe about a factor not even relevant to this accident.

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Old 04-21-09, 08:23 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by wristwister View Post
After reading this article yesterday, I paid close attention to the conditions of the designated bike lanes on my commute home. I was amazed. Potholes, drainage gratings, manhole covers, big cracks in the pavement, rocks, you name it! In the past I've never really thought about these hazards as I've always assumed it's my responsibility to be on the lookout and avoid hazards whether I'm in a bike lane or not. But yesterday I was viewing each of those hazards as a potential law suit, similar to that described in the article. What's the solution? Spend millions to upgrade and maintain all bike lanes to be 100% safe? Eliminate all bike lanes? Do nothing and keep your fingers crossed? Glad I'm not a member of city council having to make such decisions!
It shouldn't be a difficult decision at all. If you're going to provide bike lanes, maintain them at least to the same standards as car lanes as far as removing debris and repairing potholes. And before even opening the bike lane, patrol it to make sure that there aren't any permanent hazards like survey monuments.

Cities have no problem deciding to take the federal money that funds the creation of most bike lanes. They should commit to building them properly and maintaining them.
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Old 04-21-09, 08:30 PM   #15
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right back atchya- are YOU serious?

manholes are in the margins? and almost all the drainage grates in a city are in the bikelanes? what about all the streets without lanes, the vast, vast majority of streets?

logic is failing you, randya, to fallaciously gripe about a factor not even relevant to this accident
.
I don't know about where you live, but around here the BLs are maintained to a lower standard than the rest of the roadway. A supporter of bike lanes (like you) should be enraged when they are not properly designed and maintained. Instead, you prefer to pretend that the problem doesn't exist.

Fortunately there are plenty of holes in the BL pavement where you can hide your head.


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Old 04-21-09, 09:10 PM   #16
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...see my response in post #10, roody. you're right, municipalities should maintain bikelanes to higher standards as bicyclists are more susceptible to road hazards...

NONE OF WHICH IS RELEVANT TO THIS ACCIDENT!
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Old 04-21-09, 10:03 PM   #17
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NONE OF WHICH IS RELEVANT TO THIS ACCIDENT!
what's relevant is that the county marked this road as a bike route, whether it had a bike lane stripe on it or not. And even if it wasn't marked, the hazard presented by this particular feature was unacceptable.

I still say bike lanes are more likely to have certain hazards in them than not, including double-wide drainage grates, manhole covers, etc. how about this - make the bike lane stripe dashed, so it's clear you can leave it if you need to? or, get rid of the stripe altogether and go with giant sharrows in the lane, a motorist ed tool if I ever saw one? and get rid of the mandatory bike path/lane statutes? I'm not the enemy, I'm as fond of good facilities as you are Bek, but if you're stuck in the bike lane ghetto, you're stuck with the drainage grates.
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Old 04-21-09, 10:20 PM   #18
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Yeah, I have seen all types of hazards in bike lanes, especially car debris that ends up there. It does not help that public buses stop in the lanes and motorists take rights cutting you off.
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Old 04-21-09, 10:30 PM   #19
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If the busses pull through or stop in the bike lane, they do a whole 'nother level of damage to the pavement! Think waves and depressions, big ones, with potholes in them...

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Old 04-21-09, 10:59 PM   #20
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Everyone wants the county to ante up to better maintaining bike routes, but they're in a downward spiral on revenue right now so things are going to get worse before they get better.. Since the cornerstone of the legal case in this incident was that the county was responsible because it designated the pavement as a bike route, it doesn't take a legal supermind to figure out that the county will reduce bike routes to reduce its legal exposure.

Net-net: A lawyer gets $1M for a new Porsche and a vacation home in Hawaii, the victim gets a couple million to live the rest of his life a bit more comfortably, and the bike routes go away. Not a great trade-off compared to just allowing individuals to take personal responsibility for avoiding common road hazards.

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Old 04-22-09, 12:48 AM   #21
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If the busses pull through or stop in the bike lane, they do a whole 'nother level of damage to the pavement! Think waves and depressions, big ones, with potholes in them...

Luckily, there are very few potholes where I live, the damage is quite limited.

The bus thing is annoying, though, especially if you are caught behind one, but the bus stop is on the side of the bike lane, so I can understand.

It sucked the other day, though. The bus stopped, so I looked over my shoulder to enter the vehicle lane and go around it. This lady in a huge, silver truck was nice enough to let me over, so, as I am going around the bus and almost clear of it, it revs up and pulls into the lane. It would have taken me out had I not sped up and gone far enough ahead to reenter the bike lane.

I have heard many stories about buses and bicyclists out here in Beaverton.

EDIT: I apologize for the OT.
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Old 04-22-09, 03:03 PM   #22
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...just allowing individuals to take personal responsibility for avoiding common road hazards.
unfortunately, two wheeled vehicles are much more susceptible to most road hazards than four wheeled vehicles; crappy roads may be bad for everyone but they are way worse for cyclists than they are for motorists.
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Old 04-23-09, 06:28 AM   #23
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Everyone wants the county to ante up to better maintaining bike routes, but they're in a downward spiral on revenue right now so things are going to get worse before they get better.. Since the cornerstone of the legal case in this incident was that the county was responsible because it designated the pavement as a bike route, it doesn't take a legal supermind to figure out that the county will reduce bike routes to reduce its legal exposure.

Net-net: A lawyer gets $1M for a new Porsche and a vacation home in Hawaii, the victim gets a couple million to live the rest of his life a bit more comfortably, and the bike routes go away. Not a great trade-off compared to just allowing individuals to take personal responsibility for avoiding common road hazards.

- Mark
Too bad the health care system is for profit and not state subsidized, as that often compels the need to sue. It probably costs 80K/year for the guy to stay at home, with 24 hour nurses, drugs, machines, etc. That cuts his part by half, since it is likely that he'll only live 20 years more now. The county probably just designated the roadway as a bike route for votes and to draw more people in to live there. SO what if we loose a few "designated" routes.
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Old 04-23-09, 06:39 AM   #24
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Bike route does not necessarily mean there's a bike lane, and if the monument was on the fog line, I don't think the fog line is technically part of the roadway. Once you hit the fog line you've left the "roadway" and are traveling off-road. At least that's how I understand it. I often ride on a shoulder if there's a clean one, especially on high speed roads, but I know that by doing so I'm giving up rights and I have to watch out for hazards.
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Old 04-23-09, 07:56 AM   #25
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That little hole in the picture is it? After winter, I pass stuff worse than that every 50-100' on my rides. It's my job to not hit them until they get fixed. Lawsuit? I don't think so.
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