Man cycling on E Marginal Way killed in collision with semi truck

A man was killed in a collision with a semi truck this morning while biking on East Marginal Way.

Seattle Fire responders reported he was in his 30s (UPDATE: SPD reports he was 54).

SPD is investigating the incident. We will update when we know more. From SPD (UPDATED at 7:30pm):

An adult male cyclist sustained mortal injuries this morning after a collision with a semi-truck. At approximately 7:10 a.m. officers and fire department personnel responded to 911 calls of a semi-truck/bicyclist collision at South Hanford Street and East Marginal Way South.

Preliminary investigation indicates that a 53-year-old man driving a flatbed semi-truck was attempting a right turn from westbound South Hanford Street to northbound East Marginal Way South. At the same time a 54-year-old male bicyclist was northbound on East Marginal Way South approaching South Hanford Street. For reasons that have yet to be determined, the bicyclist collided with the truck-trailer’s left side wheels in or near the intersection and went down. Fire department medics responded and after administering CPR treatment, pronounced the bicyclist dead at the scene.

There were no citations issued at the scene, which is standard procedure in serious traffic collisions requiring extensive follow up investigation and collision reconstruction.

Traffic Collision Investigation Squad detectives responded to the scene and continue to actively investigate.

Condolences to his friends and family.

UPDATE: E Marginal Way is an industrial road connecting the West Seattle Lower Bridge to Sodo and downtown. It is a heavily-used commuter route for people biking, despite heavy industrial traffic and very poor pavement condition. It is really the only viable option for cycling between downtown and most parts of West Seattle.

This tragic collision comes within the first hours of Bike Month.

While it is still unclear what happened in this incident, West Seattle residents have long sought safety improvements to East Marginal Way. The draft Bicycle Master Plan suggests a significant safety redesign, and the road topped a recent list of needs produced by neighborhood group West Seattle Bike Connections.

UPDATE: Also see West Seattle Blog’s report. While this information is still early, several WSB commenters and witneses who spoke to King 5 said the man was trying to cross from the west sidewalk (where the West Seattle trail dumps people heading north) to the bike lane on the east side of the road. The truck was apparently making a left turn onto E Marginal when they collided.

The Seattle Times’ Mike Lindblom tweeted a link to a 2008 story he wrote about the bad cycling environment on East Marginal, which described a similar problem:

A greater threat is the tango between freight trucks and northbound cyclists entering from the West Seattle Bridge trail. Riders must cross East Marginal Way South to reach the bike lane to downtown.

UPDATE: Mayor McGinn released the following statement:

This morning a collision between a bicycle and a truck took place on East Marginal Way in SODO, resulting in the death of the person on the bicycle. My heart and thoughts are with the family and friends of the victim. These tragedies hit hard on everyone involved: the driver of the truck, the first responders, and those who had to witness the aftermath. It hits me hard too. I want to know that everyone traveling our roadways can do so safely.

I met with Seattle Department of Transportation director Peter Hahn and City Traffic Engineer Dongho Chang this morning. I directed them to report back on what we can do immediately with existing resources to improve safety on this corridor. They have also been looking at the feasibility of a separated cycle track at this location as part of the Bicycle Master Plan update.

This tragedy, like other recent tragedies, reemphasizes the importance of safety on our streets. We want everyone to get home safely.

UPDATE: SDOT Traffic Engineer Dongho Chang briefed the Seattle Bicycle Advisory Board Wednesday evening on changes the city is working on to make E Marginal Way safer. The mayor has given SDOT 30 days to get back to him on any possible quick and easy fixes to address many of the dangers on E Marginal Way.

Since E Marginal Way is a key freight roadway for the Port of Seattle, the city will work with freight interests to come up with a solution that meets everyone’s needs.

Chang visited the site Wednesday to assess the situation. He said a two-way cycle track on the west side of the road seemed “logical” as a way to connect the West Seattle Bridge to the Alaskan Way trail. The bottom line: “We are going to look at [safety improvements] closely and in a very accelerated fashion.”

Video report from King 5:

Map of the location:

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41 Responses to Man cycling on E Marginal Way killed in collision with semi truck

  1. Gary says:

    My condolences to his family.

    Looking at google street view, it looks like there is a well marked bicycle lane there, and is that the general route from West Seattle to Seattle?

  2. Travis says:

    So sad.

    It is a major route to/from West Seattle as well as part of the link from the Duwamish trail up to the city. There is a great bike lane on E. Marginal, not so much on Hanford.

    Any news on whether he was heading north or south on East Marginal?

  3. Anthony says:

    Gary, yes this is the general route from WS to downtown. This happened right next to the skatepark.

    Sad, very, very sad. I hope this only helps spur more action into creating a safer street network for us cyclists, but with this city I doubt it.

    My heart goes out to the family and friends, I wish them all the best in such a tragic case.

  4. A says:

    That is THE route out of West Seattle to Seattle and other destinations. It’s a pothole nightmare underwater half the year and a major trucking route with constant heavy truck traffic. The path adjacent to Spokane street makes a left turn to become the sidewalk of Marginal and to get onto the northbound bike lane on the east side of Marginal, many choose to use one of the several driveways on the west side of Marginal to sort of merge/left turn across the road. It can be hairy.

    Condolences to this person’s family and loved ones.

  5. Suzanne says:

    It’s a terrible crossing. The lower bridge dumps you onto the sidewalk on the wrong side of the road and you have to cross E Marginal from a very awkward position, jumping the curb or waiting for a break in the curb, or crossing the port exits from right to left, where drivers aren’t looking. There are side roads with cars pulling out, truck traffic, and limited visibility to the south (at the part near the bridge, anyway).

  6. Jeff H says:

    I must have rode by just minutes before this happened. Gut-wrenching to read this.

    http://westseattleblog.com/2013/05/bicyclist-killed-in-crash-east-of-west-seattle-low-bridge

    Marginal Way (from the bridge @ Spokane St all the way toward downtown @ Atlantic Ave) has painted bike lanes on north-bound and south-bound sides. But the road surface is terrible. And most people riding bikes use the sidewalk heading northbound from the bridge to the traffic light at Hanford, where they then cross (diagonal) to continue heading northbound on Marginal. It is unsafe, but there is not an “easy” way to cross Marginal.

    I hope this incident raises awareness that a two-way physically separated cycle-track should be on the west side of Marginal all the way from Spokane to Atlantic. This will become even more apparent when more traffic uses Marginal when the Viaduct comes down.

    Condolences to the rider’s family. Please be safe out there.

    • LWC says:

      A two-way physically separated cycle track seems like an obvious solution here — I’ve been saying that for years. Shift the traffic lanes west, move the southbound lane to the east side of the road, put up some jersey barriers, and you have a mile-long cycle track with *no driveways to cross* that connects at the north end with the viaduct bypass trail (for lack of a better name) and at the south end with the WS bridge trail. It would require no removal of traffic lanes, and it would keep pedestrians and cyclists from conflicting. The south-end connection to the WS bridge trail would still be challenging, however.

      • Tom Fucoloro says:

        putting a two-way cycle track on the west side would make it easier to connect to the trails to W Seattle and the Alaskan Way Trail to downtown. I’m sure freight folks have been pushing to get the street repaved for years, so it seems like a great chance for bike and freight folks to unite.

  7. Dan says:

    @Gary, the bike lane is on the right hand side of the street, the sidewalk path coming from West Seattle towards downtown puts you on the left hand sidewalk with no designated way to get over to the right hand side of the road – have to cross three badly paved lanes to get to it. He was hit at the most popular spot for people to cross over to it.

  8. SC says:

    Terrible, terrible news. Condolences to his family and friends.

    I have ridden this road many times, and this intersection is not bike-friendly: the light is very long, and there is no good way for cyclists to get from the sidewalk (on the left-hand side, if you are riding north) to the bike lane (on the right-hand side).

    I do not usually ride this road during commuter hours, so my usual m.o. is to wait until the intersection is completely clear and then proceed very carefully. I don’t know what the best solution to this intersection would be. :(

  9. Cyclingroot says:

    As someone who goes to work via this route, as I did this morning around 6:30, I must say it’s one of the scariest spots. One nice thing that was added recently was a traffic light to cross onto the east side of the street. The light is on Spokane st. and I’ve made a commitment of using it ever since it was installed since I’ve either seen or been involved in a few close calls trying to cross from one side of East Marginal to the other.

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  11. Anthony says:

    Colorado is the street I wish the City had invested in. Its on the east side of the RR yard, and goes behind the old Sears HQ. It was a a great way to get from Argo and WS to downtown with very little traffic.

    Now we are stuck with a hodge podge of paths and streets, I don’t see a solution here that the city is willing to really stick to seeing done.

  12. biliruben says:

    Hopefully we won’t need to add to many more to the body count before we can get a safe, smooth infrastructure to get to and from West Seattle.

    We need to modify SDOTs rules for pedestrian and bicycle safety upgrades, yesterday.

    Funding is the problem. We should demand funding commensurate with our numbers.

    My condolences to the victim’s family.

  13. Ted Diamond says:

    You only have to look at the worn painted line separating motor traffic from the bike lane to realize that trucks and cars treat the bike lane as an extension of the road. I have watched semis veer into the bike lane ahead of me to avoid the damage the broken road does to their suspensions. This always spooks me, and I sometimes ride on the dirt between the bike lane and the RR tracks. And at corners, trucks cut sharp, so their trailers sweep across the bike lane.

  14. Thomas says:

    I second what Cyclingroot said: the light (and pedestrian crossing light) at the intersection of E. Marginal Way and S. Spokane Street is the safer option. It requires an long wait for the light to change, but it is very much the safer option.

  15. Pete says:

    any cycle track needs to be on the west side of Marginal….its inexcusable that the main bike path from West Seattle just dumps you at Marginal on the wrong side of the street (facing oncoming traffic)….and then a couple miles later at Atlantic, you jog back over the west side to connect to the Elliot Bay Trail. I ride this stretch five days a week from West Seattle to downtown and back….its a complete mess.

    At least from my experience though, the semi truck drivers around the port are far more courteous than your average car commuter, though it would still be much safer if the truck (and car) traffic was physically separated from cyclists along there.

    At the very least figure out a slightly better connection between the north bound bike lane on Marginal and the West Seattle bridge bike path.

  16. Nathan Todd says:

    I commuted this morning around 7:30. Saw the aftermath. This is a tragic waste of life and quite the horrid way to start bike-to-work month. Just adding my two cents to the consensus that we need a better route out of West Seattle. A cycle track please ASAP.

  17. Susan says:

    I am sick about this — and angry at the Seattle bureaucrats for dragging their heels about creating a safe bicycle infrastructure in the city. It is shameful that this so-called enlightened and green city with the so-called Ten-Year Bicycle Master Plan should be so far behind other U.S. cities that have installed cycle tracks within their borders to encourage cycling by commuters and recreational cyclists and to keep those cyclists safe. I bike-commute from the U District to downtown Seattle, and everyday is a harrowing experience. I wonder why I continue to do it. Stories like these make me question my sanity.

  18. LWC says:

    The problem with the west side is driveway crossings. Put it on the east side, and you can have a concrete barrier the whole way, with no breaks: 100% physical separation from cars. The only trick is crossing at the north and south ends, but I believe that can be designed safely.

    That being said, there are not many driveways on the west side, and anything would be a huge improvement over the current setup.

  19. Drew says:

    I agree with Susan. This kind of sickening loss of valuable human beings is becoming a regular event in this city. The emotional and economic damage sustained by surviving friends and family is incalculable and it is obscene that is tolerated. Sure it lands on the front page of the Seattle Times and the eulogies and flowers flow – BUT NOTHING GETS DONE.

    Seattle falls all over itself to accommodate developers and sports interests, but when it comes to keeping the taxpayers safe when they are on foot or bicycling, it’s just a bunch of lip-service, half-measures and general bullshit. It is sickening and infuriating, and all elected officials had better start paying attention as the voters are noticing who’s toast is getting buttered these days, and who’s simply getting pasted.

  20. BTW says:

    SDOT drafted a conceptual design for stakeholder review about 5 years ago that reconfigured East Marginal to combine sidewalk and all the bike lanes into one big path or cycle track on the west side, and shifting the existing two lanes + turn lane used by trucks to the east, thereby separating uses, and making it possible to ride into downtown without ever crossing paths with the trucks in most cases.

    After witnessing the aftermath of this this morning I will not forget it anytime soon. Time to dust off those plans for East Marginal reconfiguration.

  21. Kirk from Ballard says:

    This area was long ago identified as a real safety hazard. It’s appaling that yet again, it takes a loss of life to have safety improvements taken seriously. Now is the time to fix these problems, not as part of a 10 year plan. We need solid bicycle connections from every part of the city to downtown, at a minimum. Will someone else have to die for SDOT to fix the Ballard Bridge south end merge, which by the SDOTs 2009 estimate, would only cost $900,000? SDOTs own poll identified this location as the worst crossing in all of Seattle. They can’t even fix the sidewalk potholes in this locationto make it more safe.

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  23. RTK says:

    I ride by through the intersection where Michael Wang died on my way home from work. At least a couple of times a week I still reflect on the aftermath of that accident as I ride through. I ride through this intersection as well on the way home, another reminder of the dangers that we face. I hope to see a ghost bike at this location.

    My condolences to his family and friends.

  24. Don Brubeck says:

    I came upon the aftermath of this crash on the way to work, and have not been able to think of much else since. Condolences to his family, friends and loved ones. And sympathy for the truck driver, too, who surely did not want to cause this unnecessary death.

    It is too early to say what the precise sequence of events was, but we know for sure and have known for quite awhile that this stretch of road is dangerous for cyclists. As other have noted, the truck drivers are looking for us and are courteous, but the design and condition of the road do not let bikes cross safely and do not allow semi drivers to see bikes well enough. SDOT, the Port, the trucking companies, the Mayor and Council members have it on lists to fix with a cycletrack and safe crossings, and it’s our no. 1 target at West Seattle Bike Connections. It should not take a death to get this designed and built. But now there has been one, and funding this would be a way to honor the memory of someone like all of us just trying to get to work and back home safely and good health.

  25. Lars says:

    Isn’t Seattle ranked 1st for the bicycle friendly states this week. The majority of accidents happen at intersections for cyclists. Cyclists, like motor vehicles, hate waiting at intersections and sometimes they take risks. The re-routing of the bike trail thru the tunnel construction area is much worse than this intersection. The signs are very confusing going either way.

    My condolences to the cyclist’s family.

    • Lars says:

      I rode the route this morning. There already is a perfectly safe crossing intersection at Spokane and E. Marginal. When I got to the intersection at Hanford and waited in the green safe zone for the light to change while both feet were on the pavement. When it changed, – clipped back in and before I got half way thru the intersection, it turned yellow and then in a second later it turned red before I got thru the intersection! Way to fast for a light change IMHO. If another semi was in the left lane waiting to make a turn, this would hide a cyclist coming from the south and if the right turn semi rolled thru the light instead of a complete stop, I can see how an accident like this could happen.

      Lars

  26. Brian says:

    While I didn’t witness the accident I arrived on the scene while the biker was still being given compressions. I spoke to the two witnesses who flagged down the truck that he collided with. After hearing their description and surveying the accident scene I would like to add one possible contributing factor to the accident – the sun. When I arrived the sun was directly East, positioned over 99 yet still low in the sky. From the west side of Marginal Way looking eastward, which is where you would be looking when you crossed Marginal, the low angled sun could be blinding. In contrast, Hanford street and some of the Northbound lane of Marginal Way lies in the shadow of 99. This combination of lighting and shadows makes it difficult to see.

    I’ll share what the two witnesses I spoke to told me. They said the truck turned from Hanford onto Marginal, the biker was crossing marginal eastbound and collided with the middle of the truck bed. When he fell he was run over by the rear wheels. That’s all they told me.
    My condolences to everyone involved in this tragedy. It has and continues to weigh heavily in my heart.

    • Ted Diamond says:

      Thank you for sharing this. I had pre-conceptions about how it might have happened, and they were wrong. Good to be set straight.

      Am still numb and shocked. Condolences to family and friends.

  27. Kirk from Ballard says:

    While it is tragic that someone died here, the crossing really isn’t that bad. There is a stop light with a crosswalk with a walk signal. The accident wasn’t even at this location. Compared to crossings in other parts of the city, this one didn’t even make the SDOTs list from their recent survey:
    The top crossing location barrier was the Ballard Bridge, which was also referenced in numerous comments. Other key locations identified for crossing improvements included:
    - Broad St & Valley St
    - Stone Way N and N 34th St (where the Burke-Gilman Trail crosses Stone Way N)
    - Montlake Boulevard E (where SR-520 crosses Montlake Boulevard)
    - 24th Ave NW & NW Market St
    - Eastlake Ave E & Fuhrman Ave E (South end of the University Bridge)
    - Eastlake Ave E & Harvard Ave E
    - 12th Ave & E Madison
    - 12th Ave & E Jefferson St
    So why is SDOT now focusing on this E Marginal Way crossing? Because someone died. Why isn’t the SDOT investigating what they can do immediately with existing resources to improve safety on the above already identified corridors?

  28. Double D says:

    So true. Entering traffic off of the bridge heading north isn’t much better, and I’ve had numerous close calls with autos turning right towards the Ballard Blocks. I’ve all but given up on the Ballard Bridge and use the Ballard Locks as my crossing. The BB is just not worth the hassle if it can be avoided.

  29. Double D says:

    BTW – I was commenting on Kirk from Ballard’s response about the Ballard Bridge earlier…

  30. Peri Hartman says:

    Very sad indeed.

    While we advocate for cycle tracks, is anyone concerned about two-way cycle tracks. On this straight flat stretch along E Marginal, it’s pretty easy to maintain 20mph or faster. It’s not hard to imagine a fatal head-on bike collision, so let’s be proactive!

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  32. bill says:

    A very good point, Peri. A cycle track on Marginal needs to be wide enough and straight enough for high speeds. Meanders to slow us down will just frustrate fast cyclists and encourage them to ride in the road.

  33. Donna S says:

    So sad. THis area has always bothered me, so I did some route exploring. Maybe I’m a weenie for using the sidewalk along SPonkane street but it’s a great way to go. Then use the Busway road around 6th Ave S. It’s between 4th Ave S and 6th AveS Headed North, it has a wide shoulder and in the afternoon, had extremely low traffic. It’s more narrow headed South, but still worth a try. This road is not even shown on the bike map–there is just a weird space. Read about it here (with maps):

    http://stopmakingitpink.blogspot.com/2013/04/day-9-west-seattle-ramble-why.html

    Very strange that’s its not on the bicycling map…I wrote the SDOT to ask why but have not heard back.
    Donna

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  35. 47hasbegun says:

    The lack of any crossing north of Spokane Street and the difficulty of seeing traffic from both directions when on the wrong side like that has pretty much kept me using the crosswalk at Spokane Street to get to the east side of East Marginal Way. There really isn’t any other safe option for cyclists on that route.

    I don’t really like having to use a crosswalk, but traffic there can be pretty heavy.

  36. Big E says:

    Crossing at Spokane is good in concept but it’s still another couple hundred yards before the start of the northbound bike lane on East Marginal. Yet another area where a safety compromise is the only choice.

    I ride this route every day and this incident has really driven home just how many safety compromises presented by our disconnected network of bike-safe routes. I work south of Spokane Street and, for all the challenges for people travelling to and from West Seattle, East Marginal Way gets even more hazardous south of Spokane Street. Even in a car it’s hazardous given the horrendous pavement condition, total lack of direction-finding signage, dangerously exposed RR tracks at crazy angles, and non-existent sightlines. While the new flyover bridge over the RR tracks is convenient to avoid waiting for the occasional blocking train, it creates some of the worst designed merges I could imagine on both it’s north and south approaches. It’s only a matter of time before there is a serious accident in this area as users of all types make up their own new and illegal ways to figure out the mess that my co-workers and I have dubbed “The Hydra.” Only extremely experienced cyclists even attempt to ride in this area and I worry that I’ll become the next victim because of the unavoidable compromises and regardless of riding with extreme care and vigilance.

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