Memorial walk for Desiree McCloud tonight on Yesler Way

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Friends and family of Desiree McCloud painted her bike white and decorated it with notes, flowers and Magic cards. Unlike most ghost bikes, this one is the bike she was riding when she crashed.

Friends and family of Desiree McCloud painted her bike white and decorated it with notes, flowers and Magic cards. Unlike most ghost bikes, this one is the bike she was riding when she crashed.

Family, friends and neighbors working for safer streets will hold a memorial walk for Desiree McCloud today (Monday) on E Yesler Way.

The walk starts 6 p.m. at Bailey Gatzert Elementary. The group will cross the street to the ghost bike memorial set up at 13th and Yesler where McCloud crashed last month while biking with friends. She passed away a week and a half later from a head injury.

Her passing prompted an outpouring of remembrances from friends. She clearly touched a lot of lives.

After a memorial at her ghost bike, the group will walk up the hill to Yesler Community Center for a meeting to discuss solutions so it does not happen again.

It is not yet clear if the First Hill Streetcar tracks on Yesler played a role in her crash, but concerns about track safety have been heightened since she passed away. About a week after McCloud crashed, a woman on a Vespa crashed and was seriously injured on the tracks at 12th and Jackson.

One year ago, Daniel Ahrendt crashed on the streetcar tracks at 14th and Jackson, just three blocks from Desiree’s ghost bike. Like Desiree, Daniel had moved to the left to pass someone (in his case a stopped bus). His wheel hit the tracks and he fell, then the bus ran over him and seriously injured him.

Tracks are a common cause of solo bike crashes because tires can get caught in the gaps or slip on the wet or oil-covered metal. Tracks are especially dangerous when they cause over-the-handlebar crashes.

Searching for other possible explanations, one friend suggested that she may also have started to “speed wobble” after the long downhill heading west on Yelser. Unless police know more than they have released, we may never know for sure what caused the crash.

But facing the loss of such a giving person who donated so much of herself to others — including her work as a regional leader for the Girl Scouts — people are looking for ways to contribute positively in her memory. People hoping to contribute financially can donate to the Girl Scouts of Western Washington in McCloud’s honor.

Central Seattle Greenways is urging the city to install protected bike lanes adjacent to streetcar tracks, a policy we have long advocated for on this site. You can sign their petition online.

More details on the memorial and solutions meeting from the event listing:

Central Seattle Greenways will lead a Memorial Walk and Solutions Meeting to honor the life of Desiree McCloud and to bring attention to the many collisions that have happened to people who bike along streets with streetcar tracks including East Yesler Way and where Desiree McCloud crashed on her bicycle.

The Memorial Walk will start in front of Bailey Gatzert Elementary School at 1301 E Yesler Way. We will walk across the street to the ghost bike marking where Desiree crashed her bicycle. Desiree’s mother, Penny McCloud will speak, as well as other community representatives.

Girl Scout leader, Magic player, Geek Girl Desiree McCloud was a dynamic young woman completely engaged in a positive way with many communities in Seattle. Gifts in honor of Desiree can be given to a scholarship fund being set up for girls in science at the Girl Scouts of Western Washington at http://bit.ly/1UgDhyF .

Seattle Neighborhood Greenways honors people who have died walking and biking on Seattle streets. We only do Memorial Walks with the full blessing and cooperation of families of the victims. This advocacy honors families, provides a forum for the community to grieve the loss together, and gives communities an opportunity to address street safety.

The Memorial Walk will conclude with a Solutions Meeting with City officials at Yesler Community Center at 917 E Yesler Way to look for solutions to make our streets safer. Central Seattle Greenways has posted a petition for safer streets with streetcar tracks including East Yesler Way at http://bit.ly/1Q6v91N

About the Demands for a Safer Street http://bit.ly/1Q6v91N
Central Seattle Greenways makes the following demands:
(1) Immediately, Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) needs to provide continuous, intuitive, protected bike lanes on Yesler between 14th & Broadway to protect people biking from the streetcar tracks. In the longer term, the entire Yesler corridor is inconsistent and unsafe for people biking. SDOT needs to evaluate it and install safe, consistent biking infrastructure along Yesler from downtown to 30th Ave S.

(2) The City of Seattle must develop a policy to provide safe, protected bike facilities wherever streetcar tracks are laid.

About Desiree McCloud
Girl Scout leader, Magic player, Geek Girl Desiree McCloud was a dynamic young woman completely engaged in a positive way with Seattle. It is being investigated at this time whether Desiree died as a result of crashing on streetcar tracks on E Yesler Way in front of Bailey Gatzert Elementary. However, streetcar tracks often cause bicycle crashes. You can read more about the crash and about Desiree at http://komonews.com/news/local/family-wants-changes-to-seattle-streetcar-tracks-after-fatal-bike-crash

and http://www.seattlebikeblog.com/2016/05/25/woman-who-crashed-along-first-hill-streetcar-route-passes-away/

Seattle Neighborhood Greenways honors people who have died walking and biking on Seattle streets. We only do Memorial Walks with the full blessing and cooperation of families of the victims. This advocacy honors families, provides a forum for the community to grieve the loss together, and gives communities an opportunity to address street safety.
http://seattlegreenways.org/our-campaigns/memorialwalksrides/

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6 Responses to Memorial walk for Desiree McCloud tonight on Yesler Way

  1. ScottA says:

    My comment isn’t about Desiree’s tragedy but more generally about streetcar tracks in Seattle. As a twice a day Jackson Street cyclist for the past few years I try to carefully navigate around the tracks and I KNOW where they are. I’m trying to imagine how I’d fare if it was dark and I wasn’t familiar with where the tracks are. Assuming that cyclists should be able to ride on city streets they aren’t familiar with AND at night I think there’s a big design challenge here. I rarely ride Jackson as far east as Boren but that intersection is especially bad as have often been pointed out on this blog.

    It seems that “tracks ahead” warning signs (flashing and large?) might be appropriate for the worst spots along streetcar tracks. It’s easy to have “signage fatigue” and ignore the signs but these tracks are really hazardous and it seems like a whole new approach is needed. Locating the First Hill tracks mostly in the center of the right-of-way has helped minimize interactions with the tracks but there’s still so much work to do.

    • Josh says:

      The tracks are not terribly visible on a dark rainy night, or even a gray rainy day, especially if a cyclist is responding to some other traffic situation (driveway pull-out, lane change, right-on-red without yielding… any number of reasons a cyclist won’t always stay in a narrow door-zone bike lane).

      There should be a continuous, conspicuous warning stripe alongside the rails as they run, something properly retroreflectorized for conspicuity like any other pavement marking.

      I don’t know of any pre-defined hazard color for streetcar rails, but since it’s a hazard to cyclists, it might make sense to use the same kermit green used to highlight hazards on other cycling facilities. Perhaps diagonal hashmarks, like OSHA safety striping, to make it clear it’s a stripe to avoid?

      Certainly SDOT’s claims that they’ve adequately provided for bicycle safety along the route are false. They’ve provided just enough bike infrastructure that they can shift blame onto cyclists when they get sued, but the rate of injuries makes it clear they haven’t actually provided safe conditions for cycling.

  2. Gary Anderson says:

    Seems to me we need to have protected bike lanes anywhere there are streetcar tracks. I recently was in Amsterdam and there are streetcar tracks on most major streets and of course bicycles everywhere on either protected or at least dedicated bike lanes.

  3. Jeff Dubrule says:

    I rode on Jackson from the ID station to 14th, this evening. The multi-lane road requires a merge across the tracks to do a “normal” left-turn. I opted to use the bike-box to do a 2-stage left at 14th, but not all intersections had bike-boxes, and there was no sign to indicate: you needed to be at the intersection already to see. They need boxes, along with clear indication of the rail hazard & how to avoid it.

    • Josh says:

      SDOT doesn’t really seem to care about bike box safety or signage, either. Most of their bike boxes don’t comply with FHWA requirements, which could be why the city hasn’t even requested FHWA permission to experiment with bike boxes — they’re all unapproved, rogue installations that violate MUTCD requirements.

  4. Dave says:

    After a couple of track caused crashes I dont ride on streets with tracks unless I have to. There is just no way to know what it going to come up that is going to require you to react and having the track hazard always there means that there is always a risk something will go wrong. I dont see any way to substantially eliminate this risk when you are riding where tracks are

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