Paul Andrews

Today’s Ride: Memorial Visit to Rider Down

In Bicycle advocacy, Bicycling, Rider Down, Today's Ride on March 2, 2009 at 8:40 pm

By early afternoon today the sun was shining and temps approaching 60, which this winter in Seattle is like Palm Beach, so I headed out for a longer than usual in–city ride.

My first stop was a return trip to the memorial to Kevin Black, the cyclist who died after colliding with a van in Ballard. The first thing you notice at the intersection of NW 65th St. and 24th Ave. NW is a ghost bike hung on a pole and adorned with a parka carrying an inscription: “A Cyclist Was Killed Here.” At least that’s what I think it says. Vandals have spray-painted it over.

Another rider down

Another rider down

Just south and west of the intersection, two telephone poles are covered with notes of gratitude and appreciation for Black, a molecular biologist at the University of Washington. One of the notes, taped to a non-smiley face with tears, says: “To daddy you were just trying to go to work and pick me up from school that afternoon and that van just ran you over like a speed bump I’ll see you in hevin Love Emily”

A daughter's lament

A daughter's lament

The poles also carry a photo of Black with his two young daughters, each of whom has written a note. Scores of slips of paper from people who knew Black and others who simply felt moved also adorn the poles.

Scores of tributes to Kevin Black

Scores of tributes to Kevin Black

Black with his two daughters

Black with his two daughters

We don’t yet know the full circumstances of Black’s death. But I hope we eventually do, because without an understanding of what happened there cannot be closure. The police are continuing their investigation; we’ve asked for an update and will let you know what we find out. In the meantime, the moving testimonial is worth visiting for anyone who travels this city as a reminder of the damage that vehicular transport can wreak.

More on Black from the MyBallard blog.

From Ballard I picked up the Burke-Gilman Trail over to Fremont, where I noticed some new directional signs aimed specifically at cyclists.

New bike route signs...for riders!

New bike route signs...for riders!

And when I got home, I found doorknob flyers on my front door emblazoned, “Coming Soon! Bicycle Route Signs!” The Seattle Department of Transportation “will be installing new signs within the next 2-4 weeks,” the flyer read, helping “bicyclists navigate through the city.” In some places a small dot with an arrow will substitute for a sign.

Funded through the $365 million “Bridging the Gap” levy passed in the fall of 2006, the signs are highly noticeable, put about 7 feet high and close to eye level for a cyclist while riding. I like ’em. But I hope they aren’t sucking funding from safety maintenance. I noticed at the Ballard intersection that the bike lanes are worn to invisibility and badly need remarking.

From Fremont I continued on the trail to the University District, made a couple of shopping stops, then circled around on Ravenna Ave. NE back to Green Lake, climbing the hill to top out on Phinney Ridge before dropping back home. All told, more than two hours on the bike on a glorious day. The season starts just around the corner, but even though it will be months before I can get to my favorite haunts high in the Cascades, I can feel the fever coming. Roll on!

  1. […] being. Or, as one of Kevin’s daughters put it in a card “to Daddy” posted at a memorial at the intersection where he died, “ran you over like a speed […]

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