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Old 02-04-09, 05:27 PM   #1
unixpro
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Cyclist killed this morning in Ballard

Got into an argument with a van.

Story at the Seattle Times
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Old 02-05-09, 01:42 PM   #2
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RIP.

This is too close to home.
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Old 02-05-09, 01:55 PM   #3
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Police report:

http://spdblotter.seattle.gov/2009/0...cle-collision/

Apparently the rider was trying to pass cars on the left.
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Old 02-05-09, 02:52 PM   #4
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From the police report, it sounds like the rider was in and out of the bike lane, and lane splitting. Not that it makes his demise any less tragic, and my sympathies go out to his friends and family. This is a strong reminder to all of us to play safe out there, though.
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Old 02-05-09, 03:26 PM   #5
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Lots of risks taken by the cyclist based on the police account. My sympathies for his family and friends also.
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Old 02-05-09, 06:45 PM   #6
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OK, I've got a little more on this, and it sounds like just plain bad luck for him combined with some impatience on the part of the van driver.

At that point in the street, it is curb|parkingn|bikelane|road. The van had pulled into the parking lane in preparation for a U-turn (this is the impatience -- she didn't want to go around the block). The rider was coming down the bike lane when she turned out in front of him. He veered to the left to avoid her but was unable, put it down, and slid under the back wheels of the van. Game over.

Be careful out there, folks.
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Old 02-05-09, 08:56 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by unixpro View Post
OK, I've got a little more on this, and it sounds like just plain bad luck for him combined with some impatience on the part of the van driver.

At that point in the street, it is curb|parkingn|bikelane|road. The van had pulled into the parking lane in preparation for a U-turn (this is the impatience -- she didn't want to go around the block). The rider was coming down the bike lane when she turned out in front of him. He veered to the left to avoid her but was unable, put it down, and slid under the back wheels of the van. Game over.

Be careful out there, folks.
This description does not agree with the Seattle Police Blotter you linked to earlier. The blotter says a lot more about him passing line of stopped traffic at high rate of speed and that van was moving left to turn east on to 64th. I go through this intersection about once a week. If the intent really was to turn left onto 64th, there's no law against that assuming she signaled and shifted left.

I am very saddened when I hear about folks getting killed regardless of the circumstances, but I want to try to evaluate these tragedies with a clear eye. We know it is risky, but how risky is it if we try to do our best to be smart? If the blotter version is borne out, this was more than bad luck.

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Old 02-05-09, 09:09 PM   #8
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Ballard

I'll amend my last comment. Having seen the writeup in the PI:

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/398826_bike05.html

The witnesses on the street support the u-turn intent you describe (versus left turn on 64th). Probably still legal from the middle, I think. So there could be reason to fault her (I don't know), but if his intent was to keep his downhill speed up on 24th and pass the line of cars on left to do that, it still seems like a lot more than bad luck. I don't mean to be cold. this is really really sad, but I spend a lot of time on those streets and see a lot of risky things.
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Old 02-05-09, 09:20 PM   #9
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If you're interested in the details, it's worth reading some of the eyewitness accounts at the My Ballard blog. The police report appears to be just one version of the story.
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Old 02-06-09, 06:19 PM   #10
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“When the light turned green he was passing cars in the bike lane, and the van pulled away from the curb where the bus stop is. He swung wide to the left to go around the van. I think he thought the van was just pulling out into traffic, but when he realized the van was making a U-turn, he laid the bike down and slid under the van.”

This is very, very sad. And this almost happened to me in early December, in a different location. I started an evasive manoever just like Black did, it forced me into the turn lane to the left of the truck. Luckily, just luckily I slid to a stop instead of impacting the driver-side-rear-panel.
I was riding in the left of the lane (to avoid parked cars and construction), downhill and going pretty fast, along with traffic. A truck in front of me pulled to the right with no signal and slowed to a stop in the parking strip. As I continued, the truck suddenly made a fast, sharp left across my lane to execute a U-turn and caused me to automatically move left. I fully believe this is what Black was doing. He was doing nothing illegal. The U-turning vehicle did not yield. The witnesses likely are not bicyclists and didn't understand his "left pass." He wasn't passing, he was trying to avoid.
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Old 02-06-09, 07:30 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Catgrrl70 View Post
As I continued, the truck suddenly made a fast, sharp left across my lane to execute a U-turn and caused me to automatically move left. I fully believe this is what Black was doing. He was doing nothing illegal. The U-turning vehicle did not yield. The witnesses likely are not bicyclists and didn't understand his "left pass." He wasn't passing, he was trying to avoid.
This is my interpretation as well.

I guess everyone reads these fragmentary, inconsistent accounts with their own perspective. Some are reading it with the bias of a rider who was "riding too fast" and passing cars willy-nilly.

I read it with this bias -- very experienced rider. Skilled bike handler. Father of two. 39 years old. More than likely, *not* trying to set a land speed record on the way to work.

Catgrrl70's summary is a good one, I think - "he wasn't passing, he was trying to avoid."
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Old 02-06-09, 11:22 PM   #12
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This.Just.Sucks.
I'm very sad, and a little more nervous about riding. Hopefully I can use that constructively.
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Old 02-07-09, 10:02 AM   #13
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If he was just avoiding someone who pulled out from the curb to hang a U-turn, my question becomes: Is this a U-turn legal zone? If not, (and if witness reports can assure that the driver did not use a signal) is the driver going to be charged in this incedent?
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Old 02-09-09, 05:42 PM   #14
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http://clerk.ci.seattle.wa.us/~scrip...p1.htm&r=1&f=G

SMC 11.55.120

U turns -- Restrictions.
No person shall make a U turn unless such movement can be made in
safety and without interfering with other traffic. No person shall
make a U turn on any curve, or on the approach to or near the crest of
a grade, unless the vehicle can be seen by the drivers of all other
vehicles approaching from both directions within five hundred (500)
feet. (RCW 46.61.295)
SMC 11.55.140
Left turns between intersections -- Limitations.
No person shall make a left turn between intersections on any street
when such left turn delays or stops any vehicle traveling in the same
or the opposite direction on the street, or when such left turn
endangers or is likely to endanger any person or vehicle on the
street, provided that if traffic conditions are such that the delayed
or stopped vehicles could have safely passed the left turning vehicle
on the right without stopping or being delayed such left turns are
permitted.

SMC 11.55.180
Starting parked vehicle.
No person shall start a vehicle which is stopped, standing, or parked
and then commence movement unless and until such movement can be made
with reasonable safety. (RCW 46.61.-300)

SMC 11.55.240
Turn signal -- Distance in advance.
A signal of intention to turn or move right or left when required
shall be given continuously during not less than the last one hundred
(100) feet traveled by the vehicle before turning or moving right or
left. (RCW 46.61.305(2))


There's been no updates yet as to the status of the police investigation that I know of.
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Old 02-16-09, 02:36 PM   #15
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I know they didn't teach anything "bike related" when I was taking drivers education and I can't remember my daughter's driver's education covering much if anything on cyclists (or come to think of it motorcycles). Given when and where I grew up, looking for cyclists when I was pulling out, making a U-turn or changing lanes wasn't something I did, I do it now because I cycle myself and know where to look (most of the time) but I still get caught of guard occasionally.

Anyone know?
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Old 02-16-09, 03:07 PM   #16
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Even if the van was doing an illegal maneuver, I think cyclists sometimes think they can just roll through situations like this without slowing down, owing to the thin profile and maneuverability of the cycle. If I see a vehicle and I'm not sure what it's doing, whether I'm in a car or on my bike, I slow down. On my bike, even more so, because even if the car is in the wrong, I'm the one that gets injured/killed if I misjudge the situation. Always give yourself a positive safety factor!
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 02-16-09, 09:14 PM   #17
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This description does not agree with the Seattle Police Blotter you linked to earlier. ...

Ink
The police report was, at a minimum too short and at most incorrect, as were the local newspaper reports. After this accident, I am starting to doubt all reports of accidents similar to this. MyBallard, a local blog, has (or had) numerous eyewitness reports of this accident and they support the u turn version. The Police report says the van was in the left turn lane. OK, maybe that's correct, but they didn't say that the van was perpendicular (90 degrees) to the flow of traffic. this is shown in the pictures taken immediately after the crash. She (the driver) was most likely making a U-turn. The local paper said the van was turning into the Tavern driveway (she, the driver was going to do some repair work there) I drive by there every single day. There is no driveway. There is a driveway to the business (2) business doors up the street, about 75 ft or more. If she was turning into that driveway she was still making a U-turn because she was turning 100 ft down the street from the driveway entrance. You can make u-turns legally at major intersections, not in the middle of the block. My "guess" is that she wasn't charged with anything. So all in all, still, I hate to say it but I'm thinking that the rider made a pretty poor decision and paid fof it even if technically he was in the right. As riders we have to be ultra aware of our surroundings at all times. We get no second chances to be wrong as this shows.
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Old 02-23-09, 07:50 PM   #18
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[QUOTE=...I read it with this bias -- very experienced rider. Skilled bike handler. Father of two. 39 years old. More than likely, *not* trying to set a land speed record on the way to work.

Catgrrl70's summary is a Catgrrl70's summary is a good one, I think - "hgood one, I think - "he wasn't passing, he was trying to avoid."[/QUOTE]
I ride this road all the time. He hit the van maybe 100 to 150 ft past an intersection. Just before that intersection is a hill steep enough, and long enough that if you just coast, you will be hitting at least 27 mph for a rider his size (my size and speed if I coast down hill).
Reports are that he was doing 35 accross the intersection and even discounting that this was faster than his actual speed, he was still going way too fast for conditions (100 ft past the intersection).
In fact the safe thing to do is to slow down prior to that intersection because it's pretty much a blind corner in that you cannot see oncoming traffic (either direction) until it would be to late. It is not a safe intersection for a bike to blow through at high speed, which by all accounts he definately was. I'm sure he was just trying to avoid as opposed to pass, but at that point (and speed) those kind of things blend in together.
It's too bad and again, I'm guessing that the girl did not get a ticket for an illegal U-turn, which may have been hard to prove, though I'm almost sure that's what she was doing as it's the only reason for the van to be sideways in the street at that location (there is no driveway to be turning into). Pictures show her van sideways in the middle of the road with the bike on it's side next to it on the uphill side
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Old 02-25-09, 08:50 PM   #19
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It would be a great stretch of the imagination to call that intersection a "blind corner". At the point where the van hooked a quick u-turn, the driver would have a pretty clear view up the street.

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&sour...02414&t=h&z=19
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Old 02-28-09, 11:32 AM   #20
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"technically" you are kind of correct correct

Quote:
Originally Posted by allan6344 View Post
It would be a great stretch of the imagination to call that intersection a "blind corner". At the point where the van hooked a quick u-turn, the driver would have a pretty clear view up the street.

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&sour...02414&t=h&z=19
Where the Van hooked a U turn was in the middle of the block, and you are correct that there is no "blind corner" or any visual obstacle at that point. However, the "middle of the block" is about 100 feet of so past the intersection, and it's NOT a stretch to call the intersection, which is what I was doing, pretty much a blind corner.
Heading down the hill, both uphill corners have apartment buildings that stretch out to the sidewalk making the corner effectively blind until you are upon it. It is not a smart move to fly through this intersection mainly because if someone was running the light (at the intersection), you wouldn't be able to avoid them.
The biker was ripping through the intersection at high speed. If he wasn't, he would not have had the speed to plow into the van so forcefully when it pulled the U turn in front of him (at the spot about 100 ft past the intersection).

Last edited by martinrjensen; 02-28-09 at 11:42 AM.
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Old 09-03-09, 12:13 PM   #21
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Update: Family of bicyclist killed in Ballard crash sues.
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Old 09-03-09, 07:32 PM   #22
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So sad.

I know my wife fears stuff like this everyday when I'm out riding.

One quote from that message board stuck out to me:
"Our bike lanes are a joke. The bicyclists feel that they have the right of way in their lanes - right up to their deaths. Having designated bike lanes in their current form is leading to more deaths on the road. Expect biker mortality to escalate as more Seattleites take to the roads on bikes - in their bike lanes.

Vehicle and Bicycle operations are incompatible in our current road system. We need to revise our road system to accommodate these separate modes of transportation. The sooner the better because we are going to continue to splatter bicyclists all over the road until we deal with this issue.

We should vote (yes vote) on whether to recognize biking as an equal form of transportation in the city. If the answer is yes, then we need to modify our roads to support biking as a mode of transportation instead of a mode of recreation."

He has somewhat of a valid point: I remember reading an article about infrastructure and bicycling arguing that bicycling is actually contributing to conjestion simply due to the bike vs. car reality of riding in most cities. Bike lanes are not, nor will they ever be, the catch-all solution non-nimble city planners think they are. But someone's got to come up with a better solution, which I don't think we've seen yet.
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Old 09-05-09, 09:35 AM   #23
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Totally valid point re the bike lanes. Drivers now have remarked to me that things must be better having lanes and some sharrows in Seattle. What a joke. Fix the roads so that I can actually roll through without losing control (while in the bike lane of course) because of all of the metal, poor pavement repair and debris. If you really want to see stupidity in action, check out the dedicated bike "left turn lane" in the middle of 1st ave NE as it crosses over I-5 in Seattle. 15 feet of gradually widening lane immediately following a totally blind corner which if not negotiated properly by a car kills the biker waiting to turn. Idiots.
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