SPD: Woman with walker killed crossing street downtown

A man driving a pickup truck struck and killed a woman with a walker as she crossed Seneca at 5th Ave near the YWCA Thursday afternoon.

UPDATE: The King County Medical Examiner has identified her as Michele Jozefiak, 45.

Our deepest condolences to her friends and family.

Police are investigating, according to a post on the SPD Blotter.

King 5’s Heather Graf posted this devastating photo from the scene:

The collision happened just three blocks from 5th and Pike, where Leo Almanzor was killed while walking to work in November. His death helped to prompt the city to include walking safety projects downtown as part of its Vision Zero plan. 5th and Seneca is on the list for improvements later this year.

We will update when we learn more. Details so far from SPD: Continue reading

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Trail Alert: Expect Burke-Gilman Trail detour near Shilshole Marina

Image from SDOT

Images from SDOT

The city is building a new high quality crosswalk between the Burke-Gilman Trail and Shilshole Marina, so expect delays and a detour for the next couple weeks if you’re heading out toward Golden Gardens.

Details from SDOT:

Beginning as soon as March 27, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) will build a new crosswalk, curb ramps and a pedestrian island on Seaview Avenue NW between the Burke-Gilman Trail and the south entrance of Shilshole Bay Marina. The improvements will make it safer and easier for everyone to cross the street, including cyclists, pedestrians and people who use wheelchairs or other mobility aids.

Building the improvements will require a temporary, up to 2-week detour of the Burke-Gilman Trail at this location to repair the trail asphalt and provide a smooth connection to the new curb ramp. SDOT will set up a clearly marked detour for trail users for the duration of construction.

What: Temporary closure and associated detour for Burke-Gilman Trail

Why: To build a safe street crossing at the south entrance of Shilshole Bay Marina

When: As soon as Friday, March 27 and lasting up to 2 weeks

What to expect during construction Continue reading

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Grist features Seattle’s hidden bike kitchen, The Bikery

Click to read

Click to read on Grist

Some people enjoy learning how to fix their own bike. Others can’t afford to take their wheels to a professional. Others just like to hang out in an inviting, inclusive space dedicated to fixing bikes and sharing bike knowledge.

The Bikery is a “bike kitchen” non-profit hidden on the neighborhood side of the Artspace Lofts building at Hiawatha and S Charles Street where the Central District meets the International District meets the north Rainier area.

Sam Bliss recently wrote a great profile of the Bikery for Grist: Continue reading

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Can Westlake’s streetcar tracks ever be safe for people biking?

Fatter tires (like the ones on Pronto bikes) are less likely to get stuck in streetcar tracks. But tracks can still be dangerously slick when wet.

Fatter tires (like the ones on Pronto bikes) are less likely to get stuck in streetcar tracks. But tracks can still be dangerously slick when wet.

Seattle plans to speed up buses and the South Lake Union Streetcar by making the curb lanes on Westlake Ave transit-only between 6th Ave/McGraw Square downtown and Valley Street/Lake Union Park. This is great news for transit reliability and could support some transit route restructures to greatly improve transit service on clogged streets in the area.

But any mention of this stretch of Westlake Ave (different from the segment to the north that is getting a bikeway) brings up cringes for the many people who have crashed while biking over the poorly-designed streetcar tracks. The gap in the tracks is wide enough to grab skinny and some medium-width bike tires, effectively locking people’s wheels and sending them into extremely dangerous falls, often over the top of their handlebars. Even if a tire is not “grabbed” entirely, wet rails can be surprisingly slick, causing slide-out style crashes.

And it happens to people of all levels of biking experience, even people who think they know how to safely bike around the tracks.

“It’s not a problem until it is, and that moment can happen very very quickly,” said Bob Edmiston, a Seattle Neighborhood Greenways organizer who crashed on the Jackson Street streetcar tracks in January. He broke his collarbone and has not yet been cleared to get back on his bike. (We spoke yesterday as he walked home after the bus system ground to a halt. A commute that takes 20 minutes by bike took him an hour and a half.)

“I’ve been riding on two wheels since I was six,” he said. “Going around railroad tracks at a 90 degree angle is no problem … When I made a left turn across the rails, that’s when my back wheel got caught. I thought I was in the clear, but watching the video, I clearly wasn’t.” Here’s that video from his rear-facing camera: Continue reading

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If a truck filled with salmon can bring the city to a crawl, we need more transportation choices

Image compiled by KIRO Radio Traffic.

Image compiled by KIRO Radio Traffic.

Seattle’s transportation system is fragile.

Decades of focusing nearly all major transportation investments on a few highways has not prepared the city to handle unexpected blockages. A single truck full of salmon overturned at the start of Tuesday’s evening rush hour, and the whole system collapsed. And this is not the first time.

When SDOT Director Scott Kubly was seeking his job, he told The Stranger’s Ansel Herz that one of the first problems he noticed about Seattle’s transportation system is how a single crash can bring everything to a standstill:

You’ve got a city that’s growing tremendously fast. You see it in all parts of the city. That’s a really good thing, but what it does is it puts stress on the transportation system. And this transportation system is pretty fragile. You can have one incident that sends the entire system into gridlock if it’s in the wrong place in the network.

Anyone who saw their commute take an hour or more longer than usual yesterday knows he is spot on.

But not only have Kubly and city leaders identified the problem, they also know how to fix it: Invest in more transportation options. And that’s the centerpiece to Mayor Ed Murray’s Move Seattle plan and transportation levy proposal. Here’s how the Move Seattle plan describes it: Continue reading

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Painters will close Fremont Bridge overnight Saturday & Sunday

The never-ending Fremont Bridge painting project is, well, getting close to ending. But some of the biggest closures are still to come.

Workers will close the bridge overnight from midnight to 7 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. There will only be two chances to get across the bridge, so anyone biking late at night might want to plan on routing to other bridges.

Details from SDOT:

The Seattle Department of Transportation’s painting project on the Fremont Bridge is nearing completion. One of the last areas to be painted requires leaving one of the two spans of the bridge upright to expose surface areas which are otherwise inaccessible.  This work will be done on Saturday and Sunday, March 28 and 29, between midnight and 7 a.m. when traffic volumes are light.  Pedestrians and bicycles (but not vehicles) will be allowed 5 minute long crossing periods at 1:20 a.m. and 2:20 a.m. – otherwise all traffic must use alternate routes during this early morning closure.

The painting project began in August 2014 and consists of preparing and re-coating the steel parts of the bridge to help keep them from rusting.  SDOT paints the bridge every 12 to 15 years to prolong its useful life.

Continue reading

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Bipartisan bill to add bicycles to state’s ‘dead red’ law moving through legislature

If you see this little dude, line your wheels up with the two white lines and the signal should detect your bike

If you see this little dude, line your wheels up with the two white lines and the signal should detect your bike

So you’re biking along, the only person on the road, and you reach a traffic signal. You wait at the light, but it doesn’t seem to know you’re there. The signal detector system is tuned for heavy cars, but not your bicycle. You get skipped.

Transportation departments in the state are supposed to make sure their traffic signals can detect bicycles, but there are a ton of signals on Washington streets. You have found one of many that are not properly adjusted or designed to detect your bike. So what do you do?

Obviously, you wait until a safe moment and run the light. You have no other choice. Thanks to a 2014 law, someone on a motorcycle can already do this legally. But an oversight left bicycles out of the law, and SSB 5438 would fix that.

The bill has wide, bipartisan support. It was co-sponsored by Senate Transportation Chair Curtis King (you may remember him from this unfortunate news story earlier this year) and passed the Republican-controlled Senate 45–3 in early March. It is now making its way through the House, where the Transportation Committee recently passed it. Now it just needs a full House vote before going to the Governor’s desk.

It’s great to see leaders from both parties embracing cycling and moving this bill. There’s nothing inherently Democrat or Republican about bikes. They are simple-yet-powerful tools for self-sufficient, fun and healthy transportation and recreation. Bike tourism is a way to expand tourism and economic activity in rural communities off the beaten path and major highways. And safe streets are important to communities of all political backgrounds. Continue reading

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