KIRO: Przychodzen’s family will talk to Kirkland about Juanita Dr safety

The family of John Przychodzen is mourning his death, which came less than a year after he moved to the area from Connecticut. The Kirkland man was struck from behind while he was riding his bicycle northbound on Juanita Drive near 86th Ave NE Friday. He died from his injuries.

Przychodzen, 49, biked to work every day and was minutes from his home Friday afternoon when he was killed. An 18-year-old driving a pickup truck struck him then crashed into a utility pole. Though the investigation will not be completed until next week, police do not believe drugs, alcohol or cell phone use were factors. Detective O’Neil even went so far to say, “It might have been a freak tragic accident.”

However, Przychodzen’s brother, Ed Hodzen, is not ready to accept the incident as a mere accident.

From KIRO:

[Hodzen] said other cyclists told him that drivers speed and veer into the bike lanes often.The victim’s family is hoping now that Kirkland police will send a message to speeders and reckless drivers.

“Something like this is not an accident,” Hodzen said. “There is no such thing as just an accident. These things happen because people make decisions in the way they operate motor vehicles, whether or not they have regard for people outside their vehicle.”

After the memorial later this week, the family will come to the scene of the collision to study the safety issues on Juanita Drive, and they will talk to the city about solutions.

This entry was posted in news and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to KIRO: Przychodzen’s family will talk to Kirkland about Juanita Dr safety

  1. Todd Holman says:

    This whole situation is tragic for all. Everybody loses here and if something can be done to improve safety — as a fellow rider — I’m all for it. And I certainly understand the brothers loss and pain having dealt with death in my immediate family. But that kid (sorry, young adult) who hit him has got to live with this also. I’m a driver too and I once hit a motorcyclist when I was 19… and to this day… I have no idea where he came from because I never saw him. Sadly it happens. Therefore, I’m reserving judgement until all the facts come out. In the meantime, the best I can take away from this is just to remind myself that any attention relapse while riding with traffic cannot be accepted. It’s the only thing I can do. Unfortunately, it’s tragic things like this that tend to hammer that point home.

    • Tom Fucoloro says:

      Yes, police have not released enough details for any of us to make judgments on what happened/blame/etc.

      However, enough people have expressed concerns about safety at this point (and others) on Juanita that road design is clearly an issue. I don’t know the spot well enough to comment on that off the top of my head, but I would love to get thoughts from those familiar with it.

      So many of our roads are poorly and dangerously designed, putting people’s lives at risk unnecessarily. This is what road diets and other traffic calming designs are all about. They might be somewhat unpopular at times, but municipalities all over the region need to take safe road design seriously. It’s unfortunate that it takes a tragedy to remind people that road design changes are not about politics, but life.

      It’s not fair to anyone (whether driving, walking, biking) to be put in a situation where transportation leads to a death (theirs or others). We have tools to drastically lower the potential for conflicts, and we need to accelerate our use of them.

  2. Biliruben says:

    Remembering when I was 18, I have no idea how I survived to 25 without taking a whole slew of victims with me, I drove with such recklessness.

    Maybe raise the driving age to 25 and drop the drinking age to 12. I bet we would cut car-related fatalities by a third.

  3. Sally Johnson says:

    I work on Juanita drive and drive it everyday. And I’ve seen many bicycle accidents over the years. And I must say many of the bicyclists who ride this road are completely reckless. They want to play car when it’s convienent, but if they want to duck around cars then they jump back to the shoulder. They ride the shoulder line so close that most cars veer into the opposite lane of traffic just to avoid them. I’ve personally almost hit a few bicyclists because they just charge around the hill. I was not surprised at all to see that a bicyclist had died. It is tragic. But I think it’s bold of the family to blame the driver of the car without much information being revealed and without knowing the area. I find that the bicyclists are way more reckless than the drivers. Juanita drive is a very dangerous road for bicyclists.

    • Tom Fucoloro says:

      Sally, regardless of how other people you have seen ride on the street, the article linked states that he was far on the shoulder and out of the way of the general traffic lane when the collision occurred. I agree with you that there is not enough information to jump to conclusions.

      As for Juanita being a dangerous road for people riding bikes, there seems to be agreement on that. The behaviors your describe (riding in and out of the shoulder, riding on the shoulder line) sound like the result of improper bicycle facility design. If you do not design a clear space for people to ride, people will try to find their own way. A shoulder is often not of consistent width or condition, for example, as a bike lane should be. I hope you will support any effort to improve the design of the road so it is safer for everyone.

      • Elmo says:

        I totally agree that the design of Juanita Drive is terrible for bikers. I used to bike it and I stopped because I was always “playing car when it was convenient,” or to put it another way, trying to stay on the shoulder as much as I could but having to merge with traffic whenever the shoulder got too small, disappeared altogether, or became covered with debris. I’m not sure how Sally would judge me as a biker but, trust me, I’d love to never “play car” again. I’m just not willing to give up biking to do it.

    • Eric says:

      Sally,
      I think the family’s point is valid even if cyclists are riding in a manner that may be unpredictable. I am infering that their concern is regarding a lack of responsibility and respect for the power of cars. Many people don’t seem to understand that a car can kill pedestrians and cyclists in a fraction of a second and they drive in a manner that displays this misunderstanding. Our legal system has no options for these types of incidents even though a father has died because of the disregard someone else showed while operating a 2 ton hunk of metal. If this was a pedestrian / car accident wouldn’t the public be irrate, but because cyclists are seen as intruders on roads we find that people are making apologies for the driver. I believe that drivers have developed an entitlement to the road and have been isolated from the consequences of poor driving habits. Because of that we see road rage increase, inattentive driving becomes more common place, and aggressive driving becomes the norm. When I drive to work I see this and when I ride my bike to work I see this. I think that the family is just trying to increase the visibility of these issues and say that the driver made a choice (it just happens to be a choice that the majority of americans make), which was to drive without the proper mindset and respect for the damage that can be caused by his/her hand.

      I am tired of hearing about semi trucks crashing into cars and killing children on the morning commute, road rage and alcohol causing the death of a father, and now bad driving habits killing a another father.

      I believe that there is a lack of responsible driving and I believe it does need to be addressed.

  4. merlin says:

    Juanita Drive is part of the Lake Washington Loop – a designated bicycle route around Lake Washington. But there does not appear to be anything at all about Juanita Drive (other than probably a few signs indicating “Lake Washington Loop”) to make it a safe route for cyclists. This is true of too many sections of our so-called “bicycle infrastructure” – a bit of paint or a little sign on a pole is supposed to create a safe bicycle route shared with cars and trucks and buses going 30-50 miles/hour. Need: drivers training that includes the responsibility to protect pedestrians and cyclists; lower speed limits enforced not just by cops but road design; separated bike infrastructure everywhere; route-finding tools for cyclists that point to low-traffic, low-speed roads not just arterials with paint; and of course compassion for both the young driver and the survivors of the cyclist.

  5. Doug Bostrom says:

    It seems as though we’re in a transitional time with regard to bicycles and cars sharing contiguous pavement. Old habits die hard, drivers are used to squeezing benefit from “extra” pavement.

    The behavior of automobile operators using the bike lane as an extra lane is something I see frequently on Greenlake, also the new lane on Roosevelt.

    Short of a physical barrier, I wonder if a simple rumble-strip arrangement similar to what’s used on freeways to wake up drifting drivers would be a help? Grinding these into the pavement would be a relatively affordable step and I’m sure they’d help drivers become more conscious of their violation of what’s supposed to be a line of demarcation.

    • biliruben says:

      Rumble strips are notoriously dangerous for bikes.

      • pqbuffington says:

        i will take a rumble-strip over a mere white-line anyday…

      • Al Dimond says:

        A problem with rumble strips is that they hem cyclists in. The bike lane isn’t always the best place to be on a road that has one (perhaps you need to move left to turn, or there’s a parking situation making a move necessary), much less a shoulder on a road that doesn’t.

        I liked the rumble strips on the shoulders of highways when I lived in Wyoming, but those were fast highways through ranch country, with wide, consistent shoulders and miles of open road between driveways. On a suburban road, with slower speeds, more turns, and more obstructions in the shoulder, a cyclist needs the ability to move left.

  6. pqbuffington says:

    I frequently ride that route. The location given for the collision is about as wide a shoulder as one ever gets. Sometimes, cars park on the shoulder, or enter Juanita Drive from the numerous driveways and sides-streets, and one has to veer into the main traffic lane to avoid such. Also, north bound at this location is uphill and even though this is a rather flat spot, the speed of a cyclist would probably not be in excess of 25 mph.
    That being said, I have been harassed (yelled at while well over on the shoulder) on a few occasions by car-loads of teens on Juanita Dr., once not far from the site of the collision. On one recent ride, I saw a car with the phrase “one less f’ing bike” spelled out in masking tape across a rear window; this was in down-town Kirkland and the driver was a late-teen or twenty-something male.
    Even worse, I have called the police twice in the last six-years to report being threatened by drivers who swerved at me with the obligatory honking and yelling (“…you don’t belong here…”, ”…get out of my way…”, “…asshole…”, “…get on the side-walk…”, etc…). This does not include the left-turn-middle-finger in front of me when I had right-of-way or a few other road-rage situations where the deliberate actions of the driver forced me to take evasive action(s).
    And while car-on-bike violence, this to include the threat of violence, is by no means exclusive to the east-side, a strange psychopathy runs through the place. After riding Seattle- Bellevue-Seattle daily (sometimes north-loop, sometimes south-loop, mostly I-90 multi-use path) for the last six years or so, I give myself about 8-9 months between such encounters…
    These occurrences should not to be conflated with “ever-day” near misses that we all experience either through our own carelessness or someone else’s. I am by no means claiming perfection as a rider or a motorist. But, there is a definite line some motorists cross and we all know it when we see it. I hope John Przychodzen death was not one of those cases.

  7. kumodog says:

    Juanita Drive runs over and around Finn Hill where I live and I drive. I also bike and am very familiar with Juanita and that stretch of road. The speed limit on Juanita is 35 mph. Even at 40 mph, the curve where John was hit and killed is gradual enough that you would have plenty of time to see and avoid a cyclist at that speed. There is no valid reason for this driver to have hit this cyclist. As mentioned in one of the posts above, the shoulder on that stretch of Juanita (and on the south side of the hill in general) is very wide. The cyclists on Juanita, in general, share the road well and keep to the shoulder. However, I see cars doing 50+ up the hill and riding well into the shoulder to “cut” curves all the time. I have no doubt that this is what this 18-year-old kid was doing (and maybe talking/texting on his cell phone at the same time) when he hit Mr. Przychodzen. Don’t blame/excuse the victim and don’t blame cyclists for this driver’s recklessness that cost this man his life!

  8. kumodog says:

    Juanita Drive runs over and around Finn Hill where I live and I drive. I also bike and am very familiar with Juanita and that stretch of road. The speed limit on Juanita is 35 mph. Even at 40 mph, the curve where John was hit and killed is gradual enough that you would have plenty of time to see and avoid a cyclist at that speed. There is no valid reason for this driver to have hit this cyclist. As mentioned in one of the posts above, the shoulder on that stretch of Juanita (and on the south side of the hill in general) is very wide. The cyclists on Juanita, in general, share the road well and keep to the shoulder. However, I see cars doing 50+ up the hill and riding well into the shoulder to “cut” curves all the time. I have no doubt that this is what this 18-year-old kid was doing (and maybe talking/texting on his cell phone at the same time) when he hit Mr. Przychodzen. Don’t blame/excuse the victim and don’t blame cyclists for this driver’s recklessness that cost this man his life.

  9. Mom of a teen driver says:

    As a mom of a teen driver, one of my greatest fears is a collision with a bicycle. You teach your teen to obey the speed limits/road rules and to watch for pedestrians & bikes, but even I greatly dislike sharing winding roads with them. Often the cyclists ride right on the white line and when there is traffic coming at you and a bike you are trying to get around on a curve, it is dangerous to say the least. Busy,winding roads just are not safe for bikes. My heart goes out to the family who lost a loved one in this accident, but also to the boy who hit the cyclist. People need to stop trying to place blame and figure out a solution that can help prevent these accidents from happening in the future by giving bikers a safer place to ride and not putting drivers in the position of having to dodge them.

    • esther clark says:

      Mom, when you are on a winding road and there is a cyclist you would like to get around, wait until there is no opposing traffic and you have good visibility, just like you would trying to pass a car. Its not that complicated.

Comments are closed.