Recovery fund started for man seriously injured biking home on Dexter

Photo from the fundraiser page

Photo from the fundraiser page

Brandon Blake was biking home on Dexter Ave Thursday when a person driving an SUV made a left turn in front of him at Harrison St. Unable to stop in time, he collided with the passenger door and window of the vehicle. His head went through the window, and he was transported to the hospital with what appeared to be life-threatening injuries.

Many readers sent in distressed notes after seeing the scene and following investigation, just one block from the intersection where Mike Wang was struck and killed almost exactly two years ago.

Thankfully, Blake is expected to make a full recovery, but he has some painful and time-consuming recovery ahead of him. He was left with facial fractures, broken ribs, bruised lung and a concussion. He and his family could use your help with the financial strains his recovery will put on them.

An online fund has been started to gather funds. If you can, please consider contributing.

Details from the fundraiser page:

Brandon Blake- Bass Player, artist, and Pre-School teacher extraordinaire- was involved in a serious bike accident on Thursday July 25th, when a car turned in front of him. He went through the side window of the car and suffered several facial fractures, broken ribs and a concussion. Brandon will need facial reconstruction surgery and will have significant medical costs as well as missing work while he recovers. We’ve started this fundraiser to help defray the costs during Brandon’s recovery.

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26 Responses to Recovery fund started for man seriously injured biking home on Dexter

  1. Mike says:

    Why is this stretch of Dexter so dangerous? It has good visibility, bike lanes, and lots of bike traffic.

    • doug p says:

      I wonder if it is more dangerous than other roads. Quite a few people ride on Dexter each day, so it makes sense that there seem to be more accidents there than typical.

      That said, I think the fact that it is a major commute route for cars with two lanes in each direction is a big contributor. Lots of people in a hurry on a road that encourages fast driving.

      • MikeSea says:

        I believe northbound at Dexter at that point is a downhill bike lane. Not steep, actually barely even downhill, but fast enough to get up to decent speed. Downhill bike lanes scare the hell out of me (ie 2nd, Pine, etc).

      • Breadbaker says:

        Ordinarily, I’d think that the opposite would be true. The more bikes, the more drivers would be familiar with driving with bikes in the vicinity. But the Denny-Mercer stretch of Dexter seems to defy this idea. The road is in fact too wide here, with too many uncontrolled cross street intersections. As another said, in biking this stretch, I try to make eye contact with every bike heading south in the left lane and every car at the intersections heading west (I won’t say “stopped at the intersections” since so often they are in rolling stops that barely end when they hit the bike lane.

      • Doug p says:

        Breadbaker, what I meant to suggest is that the rate of accidents on Dexter may be lower, but the larger number of people riding on it drives the absolute number pretty high. I get caught up in groups if twenty riders during rush hour pretty frequently. That density of cyclists is not common elsewhere in Seattle, in my experience.

        I’m sure the data is out there and may or may not agree with my unsupported hypothesis. I just don’t have time to do it myself.

      • Breadbaker says:

        dougp, I don’t think we were really disagreeing. And I don’t have the time or patience to look at the statistics either.

        Dexter-Denny and Dexter-Mercer are both terrible intersections as well. The east-west traffic is quite likely to block the box, the buses are crossing the bike lanes to relatively active stops just after the intersection and right turning traffic often backs up right into the bike lane.

        What gets me is that there are considerably more signs telling cyclists things (including wrong things, like “stop at intersections” on the tiny little cycle track on Lynden than there are signs telling motorists how to behave at bike lanes in the entire city. Some education and some well-publicized enforcement is way overdue. Bike lanes are not traffic lanes of last resort, parking lanes of last resort, places to pull over to use your cell phone or available when making a U-turn or if the right turn lane is overfull. If you have to stop to cross a bike lane, you should stop short of it, even if, God forbid, that means motor vehicle traffic will have to stop behind you.

    • Tom Fucoloro says:

      That’s a good question. There is not nearly enough traffic on Dexter to warrant four lanes. Excess road capacity leads to speeding, which is one of the biggest factors in the number and severity of collisions.

      But beyond that, a center turning lane would give people driving some extra breathing time to make their left turns more safely. Having to cross two travel lanes and one bike lane with other cars are breathing down your neck is not comfortable or safe. This can be easily fixed in a great number of ways. But it requires the city to put some money into the project. This will be the subject of a follow-up post. Stay tuned.

    • RTK says:

      I think the reason it is so dangerous is that with the downhill grade for cyclist going north the southbound drivers don’t realize how quickly bikes can be coming towards them.
      When they turn left it is across two lanes of traffic so they may focus on the vehicles and not see the cyclist further over amidst the clutter of things of different sizes moving at different speeds.
      Additionally since they are turning from a left hand travel lane I think many people have the feeling they need to get across quickly to not plug up traffic behind them, this may lead to trying to shoot through a gap they wouldn’t if they were in a proper turn lane. Not sure if there is any research behind this notion but I personally feel it may play a part.
      I ride this section daily and as I come towards every intersection between Denny and Mercer I am focused on those vehicles in the left hand lane heading south. I’m looking at what they are looking at and for any indication they may be getting ready to turn.
      As others have noted, there is a large volume of bike traffic hear so statistically there is a large chance of an accident that on less travelled roads.

      • Chris says:

        100% this.
        I always fixate on those vehicles/drivers in that left-hand lane and you can SEE that they’re almost exclusively focused on the northbound car traffic, not bikes.
        And I always slow way down when northbound car traffic is backed up — oftentimes the southbounders turning left (east) only see the stopped traffic an an “opening” and don’t consider the bike lane.

  2. Zach says:

    Could you please add a link to the donation page?

  3. Ryan says:

    I’ve stopped riding Dexter all together. 9th is slow, fun, pretty, and fairly direct.

  4. KB says:

    My fervent best wishes to Brandon for a successful recovery. But I wonder where the driver is in all of this. Shouldn’t Brandon have a claim against the driver’s assets and/or the driver’s insurance for the medical costs and lost income that were a result of the driver’s failure to yield? Why is Brandon forced to reach out to the community for help–why isn’t the driver being held accountable? Is there more that we’re not hearing, such as the driver was not only driving dangerously, but also without insurance?

    • Eric says:

      KB,
      Not sure what is the case here, but my experience with insurance claims are that the legal minimum for liability is $25,000 (most people have the minimum) which is probably not sufficient for facial reconstruction surgery and any time spent in a Critical Care center of a hospital. The other issues that could be in play would be the lag time that occurs for insurance to pay bills. Sometimes insurance companies don’t pay up immediately, even then they usually only pay medical bills and have nothing to do with lost wages. It is a sober reminder that if you commute by bike it may be a good idea to have some sort of disability insurance both short term and long term.

    • Joseph says:

      I imagine the Vulnerable User Law would apply here? Negligent driving that resulted in serious injury. Although not sure how that would affect the amount collected from the insurance, and how quickly that could be collected.

      Tom discussed this on this blog: http://www.seattlebikeblog.com/2013/04/25/cascade-law-enforcement-is-often-unfamiliar-with-the-vulnerable-user-law/

    • Sarah says:

      Something is wrong with a society that forces the victim of an accident (that wasn’t his fault) to beg for money for his healthcare.

      • Tom Fucoloro says:

        Hear, hear. The list of things wrong with this situation is astounding. It’s even worse if the person responsible flees the scene.

      • Anna says:

        Thank you, thank you, thank you to the Seattle Bike Blog for posting this. I’m a friend of Brandon and Sabrina’s, and I really appreciate all you’ve done for them.

        I’ve biked to work some in the past and love cycling around the city. Dexter scares the bejesus out of me. There are too, too many accidents there. Please let me know if there’s anybody at the city I can contact about making Dexter safer.

    • SA says:

      Do we actually know the driver was at fault?

  5. Phil says:

    If he hasn’t already, Brandon needs to quickly contact a lawyer skilled in bike accidents. When I was involved in an accident, John Duggan got me full compensation for my bike all clothing ruined, full medical coverage, and personal injury compensation beyond that. The insurance company would have paid very little if any without his help and intervention. There are several other biking attorneys in Seattle. If you know Brandon, it is imperative that he contact John or someone like him ASAP. Do NOT talk with the insurance companies. They are collecting information from him to keep from paying premiums. They have no interest in helping him beyond meeting the most basic requirements.

  6. ChaCha Ala Mode says:

    Over two years ago I was hit by a driver from behind. The medical cost are initially covered by PIP (personal injury) if the medical exceeds that, then you own car insurance can be put into action, even if you are on a bike. If that is exceeded or you do not own a car, then your personal insurance is forced into coverage. You have to wait until after all claims are closed, which can and should take at least two years to ensure all long term injuries are accounted for. Once all claims have been closed then a lawyer will be able to take the insurance to court. It took me nearly two years of therapy and then almost 6 months of negotiations. I had to pay all copays and deductibles out of pocket and then was compensated afterwards.

    So even if the driver is insured to the maximum, it will take years to get the money spent back.

  7. David says:

    The city should look at putting in a lane divider between the North and South running lanes so NO ONCOMING TURNS are allowed between Denny and Mercer. If you need to cross the street, you must U-Turn at Mercer or do a go-around after Denny. This would eliminate the fast “two lane” turn that seems to create such terrible collisions with bikers traveling the opposite direction. I also think they should consider putting car street parking out from the curb, and allow the bike lane to live inside, next to the sidewalk with parked cars as a buffer. That’s the best biker protection you can get on a street.

    • Tom Fucoloro says:

      I disagree. A divider would make Dexter more like a highway and would do little to help the walking environment. Dexter has way too much driving space for the traffic levels, which encourages speeding and other stressful street conditions. The solution is to calm traffic. Create a street where it feels natural to drive 30 mph (the speed limit). That means fewer and skinnier lanes, tighter turns, more and better crosswalks and bigger, more visible and protected bike lanes.

  8. Mike says:

    My deepest sympathies to Brandon Blake and I will in fact send some help to he and his family.

    It seems a reality check is in order here though. I drive a car on Dexter, and own a bike, and am an avid motorcycle rider, subject to many of the risks bicyclists are subject to.

    Many of the bike blogs and associated posts typically portray bikes as victims and cars as the enemy. Regardless of who was at fault for a bike/car mishap, cars are the ‘villains’. Cars are incapable of responding to some of the irresponsible and illegal behaviors by bicyclists appearing to be trying to run the Tour De France for two miles to work.

    The city may turn a bind eye to such bicyclist behavior, support it, and even encourage such irresponsible behavior. This gives many riders a sense of a blank check and entitlement, regardless of the risk to themselves. Try slowing down, stopping for red lights, not passing other slower bikes into the lane of car traffic, waiting in line, and other courteous and sensible behavior. Perhaps you won’t then have to explain why you were hurt in an accident, though you had the right of way.

    Reminds me of an old child hood poem;

    “Here lies the body of Jonathan Grey,
    Who died defending his right of way.
    Now Johhny was right, and right all along,
    But he’s just as dead as if he’d been wrong”

  9. AiliL says:

    Mike,

    I ride a bike, walk, take the bus, drive and motorcycle. I ride a bike more frequently however. And blaming cyclists for the crashes that have been happening (albeit indirectly) is completely off the mark.

    I think that ALL road users should follow the road rules. ALL of them. In my commutes, I do see bike riders run red lights. But I see many, many more jaywalkers and drivers running red lights, which includes failing to stop for a right turn on red and for stop signs. Just head over to Western/Union or Denny/Dexter and count the red light running drivers. And I’m not even including those drivers that decide to proceed on a yellow light and subsequently block the intersection for everyone!

    What I see out there, as a cyclist, watching drivers who could kill me with what they (and you) may think is a small “oops” moment, makes me even more cautious as a rider and even more frustrated when I see posts like yours.

    Just because one cyclist chooses to run a stoplight doesn’t make it reasonable for a driver to fail to yield to another cyclist who was breaking no law.
    Just because that one driver of the mini-van ran the stoplight in front of me yesterday, causing me to have to stop in the intersection, on my bike, with a green light, doesn’t mean I go ahead and fail to yield to other drivers on the street.

  10. Pingback: City will study improvements to notorious section of Dexter between Denny and Mercer | Seattle Bike Blog

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