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Cycling and the S.L.U.T. - cyclists sue Seattle over new streetcar track hazards

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Cycling and the S.L.U.T. - cyclists sue Seattle over new streetcar track hazards

Old 06-02-10, 03:21 PM
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randya
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Cycling and the S.L.U.T. - cyclists sue Seattle over new streetcar track hazards

As the tracks of the South Lake Union Transit have been laid, numerous reports of bicycle accidents have turned up in these areas, particularly at the Fairview-Valley intersection, where left-turning bicyclists are hard-pressed to approach the tracks at a 90-degree angle.

In addition to the streetcars themselves, cyclists must take care to avoid the streetcar tracks, which can easily ensnare the average city bike tire.

Joe Pomerleau, a bicycle commuter, learned about this new safety hazard the hard way.

“I was biking to work downtown heading towards Mercer Street,” Pomerleau wrote in an e-mail. “I crossed over the rail line and my back tire got caught and threw me off my bike, shattering my left elbow. I probably will not have full functionality of my left arm again because of this.”

Unfortunately, Pomerleau is not alone.

On Dec. 6, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported another streetcar related accident along Westlake. Additionally, many online blogs and message boards, run by groups such as Seattle Likes Bikes, turn up many instances of accidents and injuries related to the new tracks.

“We like the idea of the streetcar and support expanding the network,” said David Hiller, advocacy director for the Cascade Bicycle Club, which has received at least nine reports of severe injuries from cyclists.

A 2005 technical report prepared for the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) by Parsons Brinckerhoff Quade & Douglas, Inc. alludes to the potential hazards at intersections such as Fairview-Valley and the need for alternate routes along some of the main stretches of track.

“Unfortunately, the Seattle Department of Transportation ignored the safety concerns and decided it was better to get the streetcar built quickly, rather than correctly,” Hiller said.
more:
http://dailyuw.com/2008/1/15/riding-...nger-cyclists/

sorry, but the word censor has butchered that URL link....

here's another story:
http://www.seattlepi.com/transportat..._lawsuit1.html

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Old 06-02-10, 05:03 PM
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Originally Posted by randya View Post
more:
http://dailyuw.com/2008/1/15/riding-...nger-cyclists/

sorry, but the word censor has butchered that URL link....
Well then, run it through a shortener.

Here's the original link run through snipurl:

http://snipurl.com/x0mym
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Old 06-02-10, 05:27 PM
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Who signed off on THAT acronym???
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Old 06-02-10, 05:40 PM
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I'm LOVIN' that!! I would definitely live in a place where the transit system was acronymed "S.L.U.T"!

"Dude, how you gettin' to the mall?"
"Just gonna ride the S.L.U.T."
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Old 06-02-10, 07:30 PM
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Am i missing something?

Byline was January 15, 2008. This an update or something?
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Old 06-02-10, 07:35 PM
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A&S Humor Thread.

-Kurt
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Old 06-02-10, 09:51 PM
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Originally Posted by SCROUDS View Post
Am i missing something?

Byline was January 15, 2008. This an update or something?
read the second story in the PI, a lawsuit has just been filed on behalf of injured cyclists, it's a hot topic on BikePortland as well...

http://bikeportland.org/2010/06/01/i...ad-to-lawsuit/
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Old 06-02-10, 10:38 PM
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Just make an "L" turn at those intersections. First we complain about all the cars people use, then we whine about the tracks that are used to get people out of those cars. I learned as a very young person not to ride across train tracks at anything but a 90 degree angle. I guess some people did not.
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Old 06-03-10, 03:52 AM
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I live in a city with lots of streetcars - yes, the tracks can be annoying and dangerous but it's no problem when you're sufficiently careful. This just sounds like typical "I hurt myself, pay me!" syndrome.
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Old 06-03-10, 07:00 AM
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these tracks were placed in the outside lane of a main arterial route for bicycle traffic from downtown to the University district, after having been appraised this configuration would create a hazard for bicycle traffic.

this is the problem. the city needs to plan for all road users when designing public rights of way; the anti-bicycling Grace Crucinan (sp) pushed for this dangerous configuration despite the median placement being quite doable for this portion of seattles' light rail.


lame. the city SHOULD get sued. they knew it was a bad design alternative and went ahead and did it anyway.
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Old 06-03-10, 07:06 AM
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Originally Posted by Dchiefransom View Post
Just make an "L" turn at those intersections. First we complain about all the cars people use, then we whine about the tracks that are used to get people out of those cars. I learned as a very young person not to ride across train tracks at anything but a 90 degree angle. I guess some people did not.
I crashed on recessed tracks when pedestrians bolted off the sidewalk to catch the trolley, and I had to take evasive action to avoid hitting them. No need to act high and mighty. Accidents can happen.
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Old 06-03-10, 07:14 AM
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We have these recessed tracks in the middle of the street in certain parts of Boston. There's no separation between motor traffic and the trolley cars, so all other traffic rides over and parallel to the tracks when the trolley isn't there. Any lateral movement over the tracks when you're traveling parallel to them is pretty tricky, so passing is difficult. Double parked cars, delivery vehicles, etc., make passing necessary at times.

Not long ago a cyclist here died after getting caught up in the tracks. He was hit by a bus when trying to get up.
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Old 06-03-10, 07:23 AM
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The bigger danger than getting stuck in my experience is slipping on the tracks, especially in winter or when it's wet.
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Old 06-03-10, 07:44 AM
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Glad I don't live out west.... Our maybe I'm just jealouse
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Old 06-03-10, 08:18 AM
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The study one of the Canadians posted on the forum indicated that train tracks are a HUGE deal in Toronto.

It might have been the main cause of accidents. It would be safe to assume that they are a big problem in all cities that have ground level train/trolley,street car rail public transportation.

I know I have gone over tracks that addressed bikes. They had areas that were essentially flush with just maybe 1/2" of dip on either side of the track. Of course 1/2- 1" is enough room to catch the very narrow high pressure clinchers lots of folks use. I switched to fat tires- 50mm on the 26" and 40mm on the 700c because of potholes, but I suppose they help a little a tracks..

Rails are a problem for motorcycles also. If you cross them at 60 degrees or so they can slideslip the tire/wheel and you eat asphalt.

Big problem that eventually has to be addressed. It really shouldn't be too hard or expensive I can picture some sort of spring loaded gate that can support bicycle weight, but easily swings downward out of the way when 10,000 lbs of wheel hits t.
Charlie

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Old 06-03-10, 08:30 AM
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Originally Posted by phoebeisis View Post
Big problem that eventually has to be addressed. It really shouldn't be too hard or expensive I can picture some sort of spring loaded gate that can support bicycle weight, but easily swings downward out of the way when 10,000 lbs of wheel hits t.
Charlie
There are rubber inserts designed to do just that. They wear out over time, but they serve their purpose adequately. Why were they not installed? Laziness. Why are they not being considered at this point? Anti-cyclist bias.

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Old 06-03-10, 09:03 AM
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these tracks aren't old, this was new 21st century placement along a significant transportation cooridor and one of the very few feasible streets for bike traffic between downtown seattle and the university district. flangeway filler could simply be placed in tracks that are at intersections, and those that run parallel with the outside lanes, despite this not being the most common application of flange filler.

the redesign of street corridor when the trolley was initially built in to better accommodate streetcar, motor vehicle, bicyclists and pedestrians was well within the capabilities of the city planning department.

the **** is a lame pledge to the decades long redevlopment of the seattle commons concept being rammed down the throats of seattlites by Paul Allen and Vulcan Properties. when additional trolley lines are added to the city, I hope to high heavens they being using the street medians like they were originally used and place tracks center of roadbed. when pedestrians want to access mid-street platforms, the cars should be required to stop.

traffic calming along this type of streetcar line, designed to service dense urban development, is an imperative. I would be able t begrudgingly accept traffic conditions even to the level of Market Street in San Francisco but even that is pushing it from a pedestrian and bicyclists perspective. I'm forgetting where the trolley tracks are placed there, i think it is inside lane from the castro towards downtown.

nonetheless, better 21st century implementation of streetcar tracks is well within the abilities of city governments.

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Old 06-03-10, 09:24 AM
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What do you expect from an agency called S.L.U.T.?

They're looking at running a streetcar line down one of Denver's major avenues. Last I heard, they were taking cycling concerns into consideration. Hopefully we don't get this kinda mess.

P.S., that article is over two years old... Any recent updates on the situation?
Edit, nevermind, looks like the second article is more up to date.

Hurray for reading.

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Old 06-03-10, 10:38 AM
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They should have stuck with trolley buses. $50 million for something like 1.5 miles of track. And now they are expanding it. I'll never understand ripping up perfectly good roads to install rail track. There are no advantages of rail trolleys over buses, except for public perception, and that doesn't seem to matter anyways. No one rides the thing. It's at around 10% capacity. They could have bought 10 buses, painted them to look just like a trolley, and operated them for a long long time for a lot less money than the boondoggle trolley.
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Old 06-03-10, 11:23 AM
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I'm for rubber tire transit/trolley buses. Much more flexible for serving users, and no messing up the roadway.

But Bek is 100% right; medians are the right places for light rail, especially on roads popular for cycling. Stupid, stupid.
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Old 06-03-10, 11:31 AM
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Originally Posted by jefferee View Post
Who signed off on THAT acronym???
No one. I think the official name for the train is the "South Lake Union Street Car." But it's unofficially known as the "South Lake Union Trolley," yielding a funny acronym. There are tee-shirts that read "I rode the S.L.U.T."

Originally Posted by mikeshoup View Post
What do you expect from an agency called S.L.U.T.?
If one exists, I'd expect some humor. Or some "sugar."
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Old 06-03-10, 11:51 AM
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Originally Posted by Bekologist View Post
this is the problem. the city needs to plan for all road users when designing public rights of way
The street car on MLK is a real problem as far as this goes. It has the right of way, so that if it hits a pedestrian, the ped is at fault. Adding (more) insult to injury, the light is timed so that a person can't cross the street ( on foot ) in a single light cycle. People have to walk out to the street car section, where they could get hit ( and theoretically sued for it ), and wait for the next green light. The only time I ever cross MLK is on bike rides, and I'm always glad to move faster than my feet will carry me!

I see the MLK issue as a big problem, affecting our pedestrian brothers and sisters, but the SLU issue as an annoyance.

I prefer not to ride on Westlake because of the tracks. I learned many years ago that they're dangerous, that they'll grab your tire and throw you. So, I approach them with extreme caution, always cross at something close to 90 degrees, etc. I usually take 9th ( one block west ) instead, or occasionally Terry ( one block north ). When I find myself on Westlake, I take the left lane. The tracks run down the middle of the right lane, where I'd normally be. I won't ride between the tracks, as this prevents me from avoiding surprise obstacles in the road. It's annoying, but easily avoided.

Crossing Westlake isn't so much of an issue, because you more or less have to be at a 90 degree angle to the tracks to do that anyway.
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Old 06-03-10, 08:01 PM
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Originally Posted by bizzz111 View Post
There are no advantages of rail trolleys over buses, except for public perception, and that doesn't seem to matter anyways. No one rides the thing. It's at around 10% capacity. They could have bought 10 buses, painted them to look just like a trolley, and operated them for a long long time for a lot less money than the boondoggle trolley.
Twenty-five years ago, Mayor Ann Rudin (sp) forced light rail down Sacramento's throat. Everyone assumed that no more people would ride the trolleys than were on the buses. They could not have been more wrong. The middle-class folks who would not be caught dead on buses swarmed to the trolleys. Sometimes public perception matters.
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Old 06-03-10, 08:16 PM
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There's a trolly looking bus that travels in the tourist corridor in orlando. Nobody is fooled, its still a bus.
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