Paul Andrews

Posts Tagged ‘publicola’

Carnage on the Roadways: Be safe out there!

In Bicycle advocacy, Bicycle Commuting, Obama Bikes on August 8, 2009 at 9:11 am

A 26-year-old male cyclist hit a car which was turning left into a driveway on the south side of Northeast 45th Street in Wallingford (Google street view here). The cyclist was taken to Harborview with life-threatening injuries. The Seattle Police Department is investigating.

As someone who rides this route nearly every day, some thoughts:

The rider was eastbound on a section of N.E. 45th fraught with peril. At that particular point the rider would typically be traveling very fast. It’s at the end of a medium-length downhill which, although not particularly steep, will put speed on a bike fairly quickly.

There are numerous traffic hazards from cars doing all sorts of things, including pulling out from Dick’s Drive-In. There also are stoplights at the bottom which usually are green (for 45th St. traffic), but cars typically want to make free right turns on red. Finally, it’s just plain busy along here all the time.

The police report suggests the colliding driver was waved through on a left turn by a stopped vehicle. This is a real legal hornets’ nest. Drivers acting as traffic cops can be legally liable when their actions cause accidents. In Seattle, you see a lot of this, and it endangers other drivers as well as cyclists.

In any case, this is a tragedy that gives all cyclists pause as we consider how often we narrowly miss this kind of accident every day.

Until full details are in, it’s a bit sticky to blame the driver of the colliding car at this point. That driver was responding to the yielding driver’s actions and undoubtedly did not think about needing to yield to a bike as well.

Whether negligence is a factor here or not, though, Erica C. Barnett’s points on Publicola about vehicular assault are well-taken. Police need to take bike accidents far more seriously and issue tickets on the same basis as if a car were hit instead of a bike. It’s pure insanity that drivers are not prosecuted for hitting and/or killing cyclists simply because they didn’t mean to. By that logic, no traffic tickets would be issued.

David Hiller, Cascade Bicycle Club’s advocacy director quoted in Erica’s story, notes the club will try (I assume he means once again) for new legislation in Olympia that would force the legal system to take bicycling accidents more seriously. A Vehicular Assault bill failed to make it out of committee earlier this year.

To correct the comments queue in Erica’s piece, there are decidedly NO bike lanes on N.E. 45th St. There are fading sharrows, but at BikeIntelligencer we think sharrows are next to worthless, a sop to the cycling community that has no effect whatsoever on actual traffic conduct.

Cycling accidents are up this year. If the cyclist dies he will be the fifth killed already in Seattle; in 2007 only six cyclists were killed for the entire year in the four-county Puget Sound region (3 in King County). Undoubtedly the surge in cycling’s popularity contributes, with more trips and less experienced riders on the road adding to the mix. But the fatality statistic alone begs the need for stricter laws and better enforcement of the laws already on the books.

[Although not in response to this accident, Michael Snyder at SeattleLikesBikes makes a similar case.]

And at, Richard notes there are enlightened drivers out there.

Meanwhile, the carnage continues nation-wide.

Stanford University law profession, 72, “family members have said the nature of his injuries may indicate a hit-and-run.”

Baltimore man, 67, “got tangled in the rear wheels of a truck.”

Pennsylvania woman, 68, RIP.

Texas lawmaker will fight Gov. Rick Perry’s veto of “3-feet-please” law, which Perry was encouraged to do on grounds it would give cyclists “a false sense of security.”

Ride safely!

Behind Cascade Bicycle Club’s snub of Bikin’ Mike

In Bicycle advocacy, Bicycling, Obama Bikes on August 6, 2009 at 1:24 am

Mike McGinn, the bicycling candidate for mayor of Seattle, must wonder what you have to do to get a bike club’s endorsement. McGinn rides his bike everywhere, including commuting daily downtown from his Greenwood home, he shows up at bike rallies like Bike to Work Day with his “Mike Bikes” stickers, he is squarely in the camp of alternative transportation choices. Face it, the man “gets” cycling.

But here’s the Cascade Bicycle Club, representing more than 11,000 members as the largest local cycling club in the nation, endorsing widely degraded incumbent Greg Nickels for re-election. Not even a dual endorsement, just “Vote Nickels.” In a hard-fought eight-way primary where every vote counts, Cascade’s snub has to hurt.

For the record, Cascade’s David Hiller, our favorite bike advocate in the known universe, says the club acknowledges McGinn’s contributions and “we wish Mike well”:

“While I am personal friends with McGinn and have no doubts about his commitment to bicycling, our adopted policy is to support friendly incumbents first.  For what it’s worth, this approach to endorsements is shared by many organizations.”

It’s also worth noting that Nickels, for all his many faults (“As mayor I’ve made my share of mistakes,” says his TV ad), has been a friend to cycling. Hiller cites a litany of progress in Nickels’ eight looonnnggg years of office:

“It is also hardly disputable that Mayor Nickels has done more for bicycling that any mayor before him. If the mayor had not supported our changes to Bridging the Gap, including the Complete Streets ordinance and more funding for bicycling and walking, if he had not funded the Master Plan, if he had not come to the table on the Fremont Bridge reconstruction, if he had not reconsidered the configuration of Stone Way N., if he had not intervened to keep the Burke-Gilman Trail open past Suzie Burke’s property in Fremont – any of a number of decision points could have led us down a different path for this endorsement.  However, in the end the mayor did the right thing on all counts and it would be unfair to walk away someone who has demonstrated a commitment to bicycling – or at least a willingness to listen and learn.”

For his part, McGinn is taking the brush-off in stride. He has stood side-by-side with Cascade on major campaigns such as the “No on Roads & Transit” a couple of years ago (which resulted in a true transit initiative, as McGinn prophesied), the Complete Streets movement and the Stone Way flap. (Re the last, despite Hiller’s nod to the mayor, remember: We never got the full bike lanes we were promised.)

And McGinn remains the sole mayoral candidate to oppose the horrific underground tunnel, which he rightly notes will drain valuable transportation dollars from cycling projects as well as funnel traffic into direct conflict on popular bike routes like Westlake, Dexter, Leary Way and Fremont Avenue. Nickels of course is a huge tunnel advocate.

Finally, McGinn actually rides a bike. Nickels admits he does not. Asked if he’s tempted to challenge Hizzoner to a two-wheel race, McGinn laughed. “I’m not a fast rider,” he said. “But I think I could take him.”

As for Cascade, “they made a political calculation,” McGinn said, noting the signal the club’s endorsement sends to “other incumbents to do the right thing, and they’ll be rewarded.”

BikeIntelligencer found one informal glimmer of redemption for McGinn. Polling several Cascade members and veteran riders privately revealed strong personal support for Bikin’ Mike. The club’s official endorsement may carry less sway for cycling cognoscenti than for the Voters Pamphlet types.

Cyclists, in other words, know who’s got their back.

At BikeIntelligencer, we admit to being taken aback by Cascade’s stand. We wish it could have been a dual endorsement. We also think a boost to McGinn in the primary, setting up a possible head-to-head with Nickels in the general election, would have been a cyclist’s dream of two strong cycling supporters to choose from.

That said, we recognize the political balancing act a major player like Cascade has to conduct come election time. And we think the community at large understands it as well.

Cascade’s endorsements

Publicola explores McGinn’s conservative appeal. Note the comments queue. Publicola also endorses McGinn.

So does The Stranger.

Daily Roundup: Livestrong reminder, First person nekkid in Portland, Downieville, Bike mag wins Maggie

In Bicycling, Daily Roundup, Mountain Biking on June 16, 2009 at 4:12 am

Lance Armstrong’s Livestrong Challenge hits Seattle on Sunday. Ride or not, you can help make a difference! Check it out…

Philly cyclists raised a ruckus about speed and unsafe conditions on Martin Luther King Way. Now they’re updating city’s responsiveness.

First person, albeit pseudonymous, report on the World Naked Bike Ride in Portland, from Seattle’s own Publicola.

Downieville: It’s not just for downhillers anymore.

Congrats to Bike magazine, the best-written, most entertaining sports publication available anywhere, for winning a prestigious Maggie award in L.A. Bicycle Retailer has the details:

“This is incredible,” said Bike magazine’s editor Lou Mazzante, who was on hand with fellow staff to accept the award. “To beat magazines like Tennis and Backpacker—magazines that have much larger staffs and budgets—is amazing. It’s a testament to the hard work and dedication of our staff and contributors; this award belongs to them.”