Jaywork: Ever had a bike stolen? You’re not alone. Here’s what probably happened to it

Click to read.

Click to read.

Casey Jaywork has a great story in the most recent Seattle Met focusing on the apparently growing scourge of bike theft in Seattle. He talks to police, he talks to a bike theft tracking expert, he talks to a bike theft victim, he talks to a guy on the Ave who sure seems to know a lot about bike theft, and he talks to a fool who almost got stabbed trying to get a stolen bike back (me!).

It’s a long read, but it’s good. Here’s an excerpt:

To the prepared thief, every bike rack is a buffet. You think a cable lock will keep your beloved wheels in your life. The thief knows a simple pair of aviation snips cuts through that cable like butter. You’re convinced a locker-style combination lock will outsmart a crook. He pops it in seconds with a shim—just slides it in between the body of the lock and its fishhook tip, and your bike is his. (A good bandit can make a shim in about five minutes with nothing more than a beer can and a pair of scissors.) U-locks? Routinely opened with a Bic pen jammed into the keyhole. Even with that rare unbreakable lock, a bike is no safer than its anchor; outside Guthrie Hall at the University of Washington sits a metal rack that bike thieves have sawed straight through.

The components, meanwhile—the lights, seats, handlebars, derailleurs, and brakes that turn a frame into a ridable bike—can go for hundreds of dollars each on the black market. With no serial numbers, these parts, unlike frames, are untraceable. “As long as you’ve got the proper tools,” Justin, a University Avenue fixture who has swapped stories with more than one bike thief and asked that his last name be withheld, explained, “you can just walk up to a bike and be like, ‘I want those rims, I want those handlebars, I want that seat.’ ” A buffet.

Not that your bike is safe indoors. Whitney Rosa, a customer service manager at a medical firm and self-described “avid bike commuter,” thought the locked communal storage room of the Capitol Hill condo building where she rented an apartment was secure until her $8,300 Seven Mudhoney disappeared on December 31, 2011.

Her ride, with its custom titanium frame painted like a pair of blue and brown argyle socks, became one of 824 reported stolen bikes in Seattle that year, according to city data (by 2013 the number rose to an annual 1,121, three per day on average). Had police given it to her straight, Rosa would have learned that only 1 percent of stolen bikes make it back to their owners. And thieves rarely get caught in the act. Someone leaning over a bike to unlock it looks pretty much the same to passersby as someone leaning over a bike to hack or cut its lock. And as Rosa now realized, inside storage isn’t necessarily better.

Read more….

Posted in news | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

This must end. Child hit ‘like a dog’ by two different people who both kept driving in Rainier Valley

Click for the KOMO report.

Click for the KOMO report.

A seven-year-old girl is in serious condition in the Harborview ICU after she was struck by two different cars on MLK at S Genesee Street last night. Neither person who hit her stopped.

“They hit her like a dog. Just ran over her, not stopping, no nothing. They sped up, not stopping at all — neither one of them,” one witness told KOMO News.

King 5 reports this morning that she has been upgraded from critical condition to serious condition, but she remains in the ICU. She was unresponsive when Medics arrived and rushed her to the hospital.

We wish her a full and speedy recovery, and we send our best wishes to her family and friends through this difficult and uncertain time.

Police are looking for information to help track down either of the people responsible. The first vehicle is a red or maroon Chevy Tahoe, the driver of which hit her and knocked her down onto the road. The second vehicle is a gold Acura Legend, whose driver ran her over while she was in the road.

Neither person stopped, and both are wanted for hit-and-run. Anyone with information needs to call 911. Or better yet, the people responsible need to do the right thing and turn themselves in.

Neighbors are outraged, sad, shocked and all the other emotions that should come with knowing that a child in your neighborhood was run down by two separate people who did not care enough to stop. The collision is just about a half mile down MLK from where 15-year-old Trevon Crease-Holden was struck and very seriously injured in 2013 while walking his little brother home from the community center. The person driving in that case also fled the scene.

Hit and run is a criminal insult on top of the tragic and devastating collision that sent this girl to the ICU. A Seattle Times map shows that since 2007 there have been at least six serious collisions involving people walking or biking within a block of Tuesday’s collision. Expand that range to ten blocks and the number grows to at least 32, one of which killed someone. Continue reading

Posted in news | Tagged , , , , | 8 Comments

Cohen: 2nd Ave protected bike lanes ‘just the beginning’

A few years ago, the city added green paint and signage to try to cut down on all the right hook collisions at this Pine Street intersection. But the problem remains.

A few years ago, the city added green paint and signage to try to cut down on all the right hook collisions at this Pine Street intersection. But the essential problems remain.

There is another way. Here's Pike Street downtown today (for one block)

There is another way. Here’s Pike Street downtown today (for one block)

You don’t have to bike for very long in Seattle before you figure out the most dangerous kind of street: “Downhill streets with on-street parking and turning movements at intersections: Those are problems that Second Ave had,” Cascade Bicycle Club’s Advocacy Director Jeff Aken explained recently to Josh Cohen at Crosscut. “Cyclists get moving pretty good on those streets and without separation and visibility, it can be sketchy. You pay a heavy price for mistakes.”

And as the redesigned 2nd Ave bike lane shows us, it doesn’t need to be that way. These streets can be designed to be safer and more comfortable. That includes this list of familiar white knuckle bike routes Cohen found during his research:

From 2007 to August 2014, Second had 60 bike-car collisions and one fatality. But the city has many other problem spots. In that same period, Pine Street from 12th to First Avenue had 94 bike and car collisions. Roosevelt Way between 70th Street and the University Bridge had at least 63. There were 50 collisions [on Jackson] between 23rd Avenue in the Central District and First Avenue in Pioneer Square.

There are other problem spots, too: Rainier Avenue S.; the Ballard Bridge and the nearby “missing link” section of the Burke-Gilman Trail; the vexing five-way intersection under the West Seattle Bridge; Pike and Boren, among others.

The list could easily go on from there. But where once people seemed resigned to just throw their hands up in the air and give up, the success of 2nd Ave has shown that there is another way. And now we don’t need to fly to Copenhagen (or take the train to Vancouver) to see it for ourselves. It’s right in our own downtown.

The city is in the process of hiring a planning firm to handle design of the Center City Bike Network, which will move design on other needed bike lanes like 4th Ave, 7th Ave and some much-needed east-west corridors like Pike/Pine. Construction is currently planned for 2016 if all goes according to schedule. Though, as we have noted before, the city should look for opportunities to accelerate some of the most-needed connections, like on Pike Street.

Posted in news | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

Dexter protected bike lane plans include shared turn lanes, bus stops

Image from SDOT

Image from SDOT

Dexter_BoardsBinder1-mapWhen the state finally finishes its Hwy 99 utility work that has torn up half of Dexter Ave near Harrison Street in recent months, they will put the road back together and repaint it. But instead of returning the street to its former dangerous design, which was the scene of more than its share of death and injury, the city plans to give the street a safer makeover.

Working on a tight budget, planners propose changing the current bike lanes into much wider parking-protected bike lanes and redesigning the street to have one lane in each direction plus turn lanes. Having fewer lanes to cross when making a turn and having a dedicated lane to wait while making turns should make the street safer and less stressful for everyone.

In the cases of several people who have been struck and killed or seriously injured on this stretch of Dexter, including Mike Wang in 2011 and Brandon Blake in 2013, people making left turns gunned it to try to make it through a break in the two lanes of oncoming traffic, but did not see the person riding in the bike lane (we have a follow-up story about Blake coming soon, so stay tuned).

This section of Dexter carries only about 10,700 vehicles each day, including about 1,100 bikes (bikes make up nine percent of vehicle traffic). That is far fewer motor vehicles than the former highway-style street was designed to carry. As we noted in our previous post, having a dramatically over-designed street is dangerous and stressful for everyone. Indeed, SDOT data shows that only 41 percent of people driving northbound on Dexter obey the speed limit. Southbound, it’s 52 percent.

There have been 80 reported collisions on this stretch of street since 2011. More than a third of them involved someone biking or walking. Continue reading

Posted in news | Tagged , , | 26 Comments

Study: Widening Ballard Bridge sidewalks possible, but it won’t be cheap (+ is there an easier way?)


The study does not include options to widen the bascule draw bridge section of the bridge.

The study does not include options to widen the bascule draw bridge section of the bridge.

When it comes to major infrastructure barriers to cycling in Seattle, there are a select few that really stand out from the rest, such as the north section of Rainier Ave, the 520 Bridge and the Ballard Bridge. There are plenty of other big barriers, but these are the egregiously-awful ones holding back a flood of potential bicycle trips.

The Ballard Bridge is awful both for people walking and people biking. The sidewalks are barely wide enough for just one person to use, and if you have a walker or a wheelchair, well, the city owes you an apology. A low barrier separating the sidewalks from moving traffic feels more like a tripping hazard than a protective barrier, and it’s not hard to imagine yourself tumbling over it and landing in front of a fast-moving freight truck. If a second person uses the sidewalk while you are there, things can get uncomfortable and potentially dangerous fast (see photo above).

Fixing the Ballard Bridge is noted as a high priority in both the Bike and Pedestrian Master Plans. In a survey leading up to the 2007 Bike Master Plan, respondents listed the Ballard Bridge as the most requested bike facility upgrade.

For people who have been pushing to get city action on improving the Ballard Bridge for years (decades?), it is easy to feel like the city is no closer to a solution than it was in 2007 when the first Bike Master Plan recommended building a new bike/walk bridge next to the historic and people-hostile 15th Ave bridge. The city’s newest study looks at options for widening the existing sidewalks to make them more comfortable for people walking and biking, but the result does not provide a clear path forward.

The Ballard Bridge Sidewalk Widening Concept Study looks at three potential ways the existing sidewalks could be improved and tries to make a quality cost estimate for each. The good news is that most of the sidewalk segments can feasibly be widened. The bad news is that it will not come cheap, and no option would include widening of the bascule draw bridge section.

The study also looks at a high-quality trail connection at the south end of the Ballard Bridge to link to the Ship Canal Trail, which we will cover in a follow-up post (so stay tuned). That project also comes at a price. It turns out, if you build a major structure with only the movement of cars in mind, retrofitting it later to work for people is not cheap. Continue reading

Posted in news | Tagged , , , , , , | 58 Comments

Bike News Roundup: Look at all these people who support the Westlake Bikeway

It’s time for the Bike News Roundup! Here’s a look at some of the transportation news floating around the web recently.

First up, Cascade put together this video of people who support city plans for a bikeway on Westlake:

Support for the Westlake protected bike lane from Cascade Bicycle on Vimeo. Continue reading

Posted in news | Tagged | 13 Comments

Someone keeps stealing from Bike Works, so now they’re low on BMX bikes

IMG_2812Bike theft sucks, but stealing from Bike Works? That’s seriously messed up.

Unfortunately, some person (or persons) missing a moral compass has been hitting Bike Works hard this past week, stealing as many as 20 bikes that young bike repair students had put their hearts into fixing to get them ready to be given to other kids whose families are unable to easily afford a new bike.

“Break-ins like this make it that much harder to get bikes to youth who really need them,” said Bike Works Executive Director Deb Salls in a press release.

Many of those stolen were BMX bikes, which are pretty much the coolest and most in-demand kind of bike a kid can have. So if you have a BMX ride sitting around that you can spare (or if you’ve been looking for an excuse to upgrade), now would be a great time to bring it down to Bike Works at Ferdinand and Rainier in Columbia City.

More details from Bike Works: Continue reading

Posted in news | Tagged , | 3 Comments