Man biking hits person in crosswalk on the Ave, both seriously injured

A man in his 20s biking on the Ave collided with a man in his 40s walking in a crosswalk Thursday evening, sending both people to the hospital.

When Medics transported them shortly after 4:30 p.m., the man walking had serious injuries and the man biking was in critical condition.

We send them both our best wishes.

Police say the man on the bike was headed downhill (southbound) on the Ave approaching the mid-block crosswalk between NE 47th and NE 45th Streets. He was passing a stopped bus on the driver’s side and collided with a man walking eastbound in the crosswalk.

Traffic Collision Investigators shut down the area for a while, and their investigation is ongoing. Blood work is still pending, so it it not yet known if impairment was involved.

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39 Responses to Man biking hits person in crosswalk on the Ave, both seriously injured

  1. Andres Salomon says:

    Ugh, that really sucks. Hoping for a quick recovery for both.

    Note the huge disparity between car/ped and bike/ped collisions. In the former, the person driving gets to drive home (often without even getting a citation). In the latter, both head to the hospital.

  2. Josh says:

    More commonly a threat from motorists, but that second-vehicle threat is common enough that it’s written into law,

    (4) Whenever any vehicle is stopped at a marked crosswalk […], the driver of any other vehicle approaching from the rear shall not overtake and pass such stopped vehicle.

    http://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=46.61.235

    • John says:

      In addition, there’s a double yellow line down the middle of the Ave. Definitely an illegal move that I see bikes and cars doing every day. I’ve had close calls with both after getting off a bus.

  3. Andres Salomon says:

    I find myself in a similar situation often. I take The Ave because it feels much safer than the alternatives (Brooklyn, Roosevelt, or 15th), but may be in a rush to get somewhere. The bus might be sitting there for multiple minutes, loading and unloading a completely packed bus. Passing is not particularly safe, due to the narrowness of lanes and the potential for oncoming traffic (which means if you pass, you need to pass quickly; so at fast speeds).

    I wish the 12th Ave Greenway actually connected to the north and south, Roosevelt was safer with a PBL and only one general purpose car lane, Brooklyn was a residential street with a speed limit of 20 or 25mph, and 15th had a road diet/PBL. It would give me a decent alternative to The Ave, especially when I’m biking on a heavy bike with my kid.

    • RTK says:

      As of this week the 12th Ave Greenway does connect to the south. The barricades have come down and the pedestrian / bike passageway is now open at the south end. So you can now go straight through from 12th to Cowlitz. Just wish the accessibility / bike ramps had been made a bit wider.

    • Eamon Nordquist says:

      “Passing is not particularly safe, due to the narrowness of lanes and the potential for oncoming traffic (which means if you pass, you need to pass quickly; so at fast speeds).”

      It’s not just unsafe, it’s illegal, and this is why. Making the decision to do it quickly only makes it more dangerous. I don’t care if you are in a car or on a bike – if you are in a hurry to get somewhere, you should choose a street other than the Ave. I hope both the injured parties will be ok.

      • Andres Salomon says:

        I think you missed my point about the alternatives feeling unsafe. Perceived safety trumps laws when people are walking and biking.

      • Ints says:

        Speeding up because of a lack of perceived safety puts the rider and obviously in this instance others at risk. It’s a bad habit to get into.

    • Skylar says:

      I actually feel /less/ safe on the Ave because of the constricted streets, frequent bus stops, and distracted people walking out into traffic. If I’m in a hurry, I take 15th, and if I want a relaxing ride I take 12th. Even if I have a destination on the Ave, I’ll take a side street and cut over.

  4. bill says:

    This is the sort of man-bites-dog story that will get wide play. Meanwhile, unreported because it is normal, expected, and ordinary, approximately 100 people will be killed by cars today in the United States, adding up to a 9/11 death toll every month. Every month.

  5. Goretex Guy says:

    “Perceived safety trumps laws when people are walking and biking” has nothing to do with this accident. Perceived importance on my part means I can do whatever I want, legal or not. An attitude we see with all forms of transportation, cycling, driving and walking.

    • Andres Salomon says:

      So you’ve made an observation about human behavior. Now how do you design a transportation system that takes into account that expected behavior? Or do we just shrug our shoulders, call it an “accident”, and wait for the next time that it inevitably happens?

      • Goretex Guy says:

        Given the levels of self-indulgent jackassery observed in the human race it’s difficult to design ANY system that takes that into account. As long as we support any “me first, I can do anything I want” philosophy we’ll get these results. Snark that blames everything on “the system isn’t perfect” just enables stupidity. Expecting people to be mature, and holding them to the consequences when they offend and injure is a good first step. Even for cyclists, of which I’m one.

  6. Laura says:

    How about all buses go to 15th and we make the Ave from 50th to Campus Parkway pedestrian & bicycle, only, with clear freight hours.

    • William C. says:

      That’s been proposed several times on the Seattle Transit Blog. The general consensus so far is that there isn’t enough pedestrian traffic to fill the street, especially during off-hours.

      A lot of the bus traffic will be taken off soon, though, if Metro’s proposed U-Link changes pass.

      • sb says:

        If a lot of bus traffic is removed from the Ave then you’ll find that cars will go a lot faster, and, as a result, I think there will be more accidents.

        Am I the only one that often bikes through the alleys in the u-dist, partially because they can be safer than the streets?

  7. Alexander says:

    Would the law which says (roughly) “don’t leave the sidewalk and cross in front of someone who can’t stop” apply here? Not sure how that would work in this situation.

    East Pine has the same road setup (2 lanes with in-lane bus stops) and I will sometimes see cars/bikes pass stopped buses downhill at speed. It is not particularly safe, unfortunately, for any users. The in-lane bus stops seem to encourage wrong-way passing.

    This also highlights the danger of having bus stops directly before crosswalks. I know Metro tries to place bus stops on the far side of intersections, but clearly this stop is not one of those.

    • Andres Salomon says:

      I don’t think that one would reasonably expect a vehicle that can’t stop to be moving around the bus in the wrong lane. Also, it sounds like they’d left the sidewalk some time ago if they were hit in the middle of the road.

    • Al Dimond says:

      I really doubt there’s anything exonerating the cyclist, who from the accounts posted, made a bad and aggressive error passing this way.

      There are lots of situations where you can fault road designers for encouraging bad judgment… I don’t see how this is one. It’s just inexcusable aggression to pass in this way when you can’t see far enough ahead in your intended path of travel to react to conditions ahead of you. If the bus is just stopped for too long there are other ways around with a bike.

  8. predictable says:

    I was on a route 44 bus when I heard Metro issue a driver advisory about this collision. I found this thread when I went looking to find out what had happened. I then registered on SBB to offer a few observations.

    I work at the UW and spend a fair amount of time in the U District. Until 2 years ago I commuted by bike, but fell off the wagon, so to speak. I am considering getting back on the bike. I need the exercise.

    You see any variety of bikers in the District, and any variety of safe and/or unsafe behaviors. Not sure the UD is unique in that regard, but maybe wins a certain prize?

    Sure, for one there are helmet-less — oh, call them “free spirits” — weaving through traffic on The Ave, but then last week I was almost run over *twice* by well-equipped, helmeted guys steaming down the sidewalk on NE Pacific (by Hitchcock Hall) at 20+ MPH. They were both headed east toward UWMC. I had to wonder, are they on their way to save some lives?

    Last year, I had two close encounters with Jimmy John’s delivery cyclists who blew through a stop sign and crosswalk. I can more easily understand this. They are not looking to save lives. They just don’t want your sandwich to get soggy. (I am not unaware of the death of JJ “contractors” at the hands of inattentive, left-turning motorists, but that is another sad story) Anyhow, who do I sue if I’m dead?

    All of this is to say that I love bicycles, but that I might be slightly embarrassed to be known as a bicyclist. I exaggerate, but the number of cyclists who seem to make up and rationalize their own personal rules of the road as they go along horrifies me.

    @Andres Salomon, some of your comments like “Perceived safety trumps laws when people are walking and biking.” really seem like rationalization that is counterproductive. Call it cycling exceptionalism. I am fairly sure that one of the 2 guys who blew by me at Hitchcock hall concluded that *I* was the one with the problem when I cursed them. I mean, *they* had it all under control. Why was that old dude swearing at me?

    But as they say: “I was already way too committed to stop”.

    • Andres Salomon says:

      I am rationalizing why someone would bike on the ave when they really shouldn’t be. Ditto for sidewalk riding.

      Al says we can’t blame infrastructure for this. I disagree. This is why we shouldn’t mix bikes and buses. If this person had their own bike land or a bus-free route, do you think they’d be biking in the same lane as a slow bus?

      • predictable says:

        I think that you are largely making my point. To what extent will infrastructure improvements (which I support) reduce the responsibility of individual to operate their vehicles in a manner that takes into account the prevailing conditions and that does not endanger others?

        I don’t think that improvements in infrastructure necessarily lead to an improvement in judgement. If they did, we could just build new Jimmy John’s bike lanes or new high-speed BGT express lanes (“Good to go!”).

        I say again: “I was already way too committed to stop”.

      • Andres Salomon says:

        I think your statement should be, “I was too committed to stop AND I was watching the broken pavement AND I was watching for cars coming out of driveways AND I was trying to keep up with the cars behind me AND I was watching for opening doors AND the person in the crosswalk was hidden by sidewalk furniture AND..”

        Because that’s the reality of biking here, and the effect that infrastructure has. Yes, the people involved in collisions (cars, bikes, and peds) have usually made some mistakes (misjudging their speed, paying attention to the wrong thing, etc), but the whole point of Vision Zero is that common human mistakes shouldn’t result in hospital or morgue trips.

        We could just look at statistics. Places that build safer infrastructure have fewer deaths/serious injuries. Period. Humans are just as impatient and prone to doing dumb stuff there; infrastructure just takes it into account. Studies show people also behave better (in terms of following the law) when infrastructure has been created to actually accommodate them, as opposed to having to constantly break laws in order to feel safe.

      • RDPence says:

        There is no way to design away stupid behavior. Stupid will always come up with a way to be stupid.

    • Dave says:

      I agree with you about cyclists around UW. Many are students that don’t know (or are above) the helmet laws or traffic laws.
      Had to comment on the sidewalk next to Hichcock though. Due to the construction there is no easy way to get to the bike lockers outside of Health Sciences. The narrowed sidewalk due to construction or busy Pacific with busses stopping are the two choices left. Again construction plans have no consideration for cyclists leading to dangerous bike-ped interactions.

      • predictable says:

        Dave,

        Yes the situation on Pacific near Hitchcock is bad, but having to, or choosing to, bike on a sidewalk is not a reason to to display your cool 25MPH biking skills. It is a reason to slow down.

  9. predictable says:

    I think you are missing the point and maybe have a blind spot. I mean, should we have dedicated Jimmy John’s bike lanes? Is it OK for nominally-ept UWMC bike commuter jocks to nearly kill me because they are impatient and/or too cool to FAIL and/or because the infrastructure could be better?

    Re: “I was already way too committed to stop”, try plugging that quote into a search engine (like, say, duckduckgo.com).

    Support for infrastructure improvements depends a teensy-weensy bit on the good will of the general public. Or so I think. Run over enough pedestrians because “the infrastructure is deficient” and there may not be enough happy, supportive citizens left to vote for your improvements.

    But, whatever. The 44 is still an option. I just need to be careful when I debark onto the UWMC sidewalk bike lane :)

    • Andres Salomon says:

      I am not saying that behavior is okay. I will repeat: THAT BEHAVIOR IS NOT OKAY. People should not behave recklessly, and doing stuff like quickly passing a bus that’s unloading people in front of a crosswalk is reckless.

      However, it is a result of people responding to the built environment. We can wag our fingers at people and say “behave better”, or we can design a better built environment where people don’t feel the need to behave like that.

      Look at drunk driving. It’s horrible, and it even used to be culturally acceptable. We decided that the core cause was drunk driving, we spent tons of effort and money making it both illegal and culturally unacceptable, and you know what? People still drink & drive, killing lots of people each year. Constantly. Why? Because our built environment encourages it. Bars that are inaccessible by public transit or walking. Bars with parking lots. Land use that basically requires you to drive. And when you drive, requires you to drive *fast*.

      The same thing with texting and driving. We’ll probably make it illegal (as we should), and try a campaign to make it culturally unacceptable. But people are still going to do it, because they have no choice but to drive, and driving is boring. They’re people. They’re being stupid, selfish, and needlessly dangerous, but they’re people. If you want to fix a problem with humans, you NEED to take human behavior/psychology into account.

    • BellevueTheBikable says:

      You’re missing the point more. American addiction to car travel kills approximatrly 60k people per year (30k from collisions and another est. 30k from toxic emmisions). Many people suffer health issues and die after years of living an inactive lifestyle, commuting via car, working long hours, and leaving no time for physical activity. In turn, our natural habitat, where we live, play, fish, and forage, has transformed into a place meant for machines to dump their toxicity all over natures abundance.

      So what’s the bigger tragedy? A bunch of jerks on a bikes or a bunch of nice people in cars? Which causes more destruction to our land and families?

      • predictable says:

        While I might lack the necessary ideological zeal, I am not sure that I can disagree with most if not all of what you say. So I am not sure what point I am missing.

  10. GrievingOnlooker says:

    As a passerby, I arrived at the scene shortly after the medics did, and stood with a handful of absolutely quiet onlookers, heartbrokenly staring at the two men lying still in the street. Thank you to this blog for answering the question of what their conditions were. Two factual points: (1) the bus was still there, stopped at the bus stop, and I think there was room for a cyclist to pass without crossing the double-yellow line (though this is a REALLY bad idea, and failing to stop at a crosswalk is totally wrong, dangerous, and irresponsible); (2) yes, the pedestrian appeared to have been in the crosswalk to the mid-way point when hit, and I suspect could not have predicted/seen the cyclist appearing, nor had any time to react. Everyone makes excellent points about safety, our responsibility, and infrastructure. Let’s also take a moment (as the onlookers did) to respect & regret the suffering that resulted.

  11. Mani says:

    My sister was on the scene of this accident and was helping the injured bicyclist. He sustained a very serious head injury. This article does not state it, but the cyclist was not wearing a helmet. I understand the arguments for how dangerous it is to ride a bike down the Ave or similar streets. Why would anyone do so and not wear a helmet? It’s just not worth it. Please just let this tragedy really solidify the need to always wear a helmet every time you get on a bicycle. My heart goes out to everyone involved.

  12. Breadbaker says:

    The “solution”, of course, is patience. We have this problem all the time with both cyclists and pedestrians crossing on four-lane roads, where the car in the right lane stops and the car behind it, which can’t see the pedestrians or cyclists, moves to the left lane and plows them down. The Ave. is easier. The likelhihood of a bus passenger getting off and immediately, as is his or her absolute right, getting into the crosswalk, where the driver of the bus is obligated to let them pass in front before the bus moves, is pretty large on the Ave. So all the cyclist has to do is stop and wait for the bus to move and then move behind it. Which is what any car should do, too. If they all just did that, more people would be uninjured and some people might be a little later to their destination. A small price to pay.

    • Ints says:

      +1 to the idea of practicing patience.
      With the grade of the Ave and all other north-south routes through the u district it’s tempting to let gravity do its thing and effortlessly zoom downhill. What helps me fight that urge is to know that after the ride I will be sitting at work for what can feel like an an ungodly amount of time so I try to savor the ride for as long as I can. It constantly puzzles me to see people in a hurry to go sit at a desk or whatever it is they do for work.

  13. Curi says:

    I [bike] commuted to work in the U-District from 2009-2014, and saw my fair share of other cyclists crossing the double-yellow and going around buses on the Ave as described here. Impatient motorists also do it, as do the organ donor longboarders who positively tear a$$ when going southbound (i.e., downhill). It’s all bad behavior and should not be tolerated, but I can’t help but feel that buses should be routed elsewhere given the narrowness of the Ave and traffic & pedestrian flow. Buses are a MAJOR source of traffic congestion on the Ave since they are often at capacity during rush hour, and make multiple stops along the Ave which completely blocks everyone else who is waiting behind. It’s just a bad street for buses to be on given the physical limitations.

    That said, I sincerely hope the pedestrian takes the cyclist to court to recoup any uncovered medical expenses. If you cross the double-yellow to overtake, you are 100% at fault should something go wrong.

  14. predictable says:

    I am not sure that everybody riding the 44 is going to jump on their bikes. I include folks I encounter in motorized chairs and people who seem to be dealing with ALS or MS. No joke.

    So I am not sure I would want to kick buses off of any single thoroughfare to keep them from creating bicycle/auto congestion. I mean, they *are* getting drivers out of their single-occupany vehicles, right?

    I am very interested to know how the cyclist and pedestrian are faring. It is a sad fact that many stories like this often fall off the radar and you never get a decent sense of the life consequences for all involved.

  15. predictable says:

    I am not sure how you start a new topic here. It looks like you need to be somebody named Tom. But I witnessed this AM an astonishing near-death of a cyclist and I thought I should report this somewhere, if only as a follow-up in this comment thread.

    I was on a UW shuttle bus in the U District around 9:45 AM, crawling northbound up Brooklyn to a 4-way stop at 40th (to the east)/Lincoln Way (to the west). A different, smaller shuttle was heading southbound and came to a stop at pretty much the same exact time across the intersection.

    I take this shuttle a lot. Normally, being lazy, I would just drop into the most forward, “passenger side” side seat facing the driver (west in this case). That seat was taken, though, so I plunked down in a passenger-side seat facing forward (north).

    At the stop, I looked to the right (East) and saw a guy heading westbound on 4oth on a road bike. What can I say reliably? I could see a full-sized (athletic?) guy wearing bike jersey and shorts and a helmet on a bike with drop bars and derailleur. He was a ways away. So, as the shuttle bus started to move forward — as did the southbound shuttle bus — I figured he would decelerate to the stop.

    Not so. To my amazement, the cyclist accelerated and blew past the intersection stop sign. I screamed “WOAH!!!” and the bus driver braked suddenly and the bus stopped (I can’t conclusively claim cause and effect). Regardless, the southbound shuttle also braked sharply leaving maybe a 5-6 foot gap through which the seemingly-invulnerable cyclist flew to the west, never looking back.

    That’s the story. The fact that a few people on the bus shouted “What a moron!” and “Idiot!” is probably gratuitous. But if this fit, helmeted (Why bother?) cyclist wants to step forward and assert as to how he had it all under control, that would give me a good chuckle. I kinda feel that if I didn’t see his strangeness and didn’t shout “WHOA!!!”, he’d probably have gotten a ride in the Medical Examiner’s stylish grey van.

    • Dude, I can tell you idiot motorist stories where aggressive motorists nearly killed themselves and others day after day. Three guys in my NOC have been rear ended in the past month. I can’t tell you how many times I have had idiots jump crosswalks in Kirkland when other cars are stopped. That is very illegal and very dangerous.

      I find it funny how every motorist has a crazy cyclist story they regurgitate. Apparently any bad cyclists means it is open season on the rest of them.

  16. predictable says:

    Dudecan,

    What’s a NOC?

    “I find it funny how every motorist has a crazy cyclist story they regurgitat”.

    I can’t imagine that your comment is a response to my post. “Motorist?” I was on a bus. “Regurgitate?” This unique event occurred — once — almost exactly 12 hours ago.

    I reported this near-death experience in part to see what the response from the SBB community would be. I also have to consider what the new SBB headline woould be — “Another cyclist killed in U District!” if I had not yelled “WHOA!!!”.

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