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Man biking crashes on Capitol Hill after car pulls in front of him, driver flees

A man biking on E Olive Way crashed after the driver of a car pulled in front of him near Belmont Ave E Tuesday morning, Capitol Hill Seattle reports. He was transported to the hospital, but was conscious and alert.

The injured man was biking westbound (downhill) on Olive Way when the driver pulled in front of him. He crashed as he slammed on his brakes to avoid hitting the car. He flew over his handlebars, he told the Seattle Fire Department.

SPD is investigating the incident as a car and bike collision. No vehicle description has been released yet.

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This appears to be the latest in a series of hit-and-run incidents this year in which the motor vehicle driver involved left the scene. Mike Wang was killed by a driver who fled the scene in July. The driver of a truck that struck someone biking near Georgetown in early August and fled the scene, then went to a fast food drive-thru. The victim of a hit and run in Lakewood early this month is pleading for the driver do the right thing and come forward.

Commenter Paula Lowe left a message this morning describing a hit-and-run she says occurred in the University District September 14 that left her son with injuries and a totaled bike:

My son was riding his bicycle in the U District on Sept. 14 and a woman driving a white BMW T-boned him. He had the right-of-way. She knocked him off his bike. He was badly hurt and his bike was destroyed. She didn’t even stop. Luckily he had a friend nearby who picked him up. They didn’t get her license plate info. No one else stopped. I would like to know who she is so I can send her an invoice for his medical bills and his bike, plus make sure she got the appropriate tickets from the cops. I hope she reads this.

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44 responses to “Man biking crashes on Capitol Hill after car pulls in front of him, driver flees”

  1. robtr

    That story sounds like BS. I have a trek and no way are the brakes so powerful that they will cause you to fly over the handle bars.

    1. Shane Phillips

      There are lots of different Treks, and he was already going downhill so he was inclined toward being above the handlebars already. It’s not clear to me from either this article or the one at CHS blog – did he actually collide with the car (which would easily explain why he flew over his handlebars), or did he crash because of the braking itself?

      1. Tim D

        It’s actually really easy to brake and go over the bars…when you really, really slam on the brakes (when your choice is “or hit that car”), you skid. Your back end fishtails and it’s very easy to hit curbs, grates, potholes, parked cards, etc. When you do, you go right over the top. I know this because I did it when I was 16….landed on one side of my face, which knocked me out and pushed my nose about an inch and half toward the other side of my face.

        More recently (I’m 42 now), I was going about 20mph in the bike lane on 12th toward Jackson on my way to the train station. At the time, I was passing traffic, which was very backed up. I large van saw a parking space and pulled toward it (into the bike lane) about 3 cars ahead of me. I slammed on the brakes, my back wheel locked and started to fishtail right. Fortunately for me, they saw me and stopped leaving me enough room to get by, so I let up on the brakes. Had they not, I was either going down from loss of control due to HARD braking, or hitting them.

        Trust me, it’s possible.

  2. josh

    -“This appears to be the latest in a series of hit-and-run incidents this year”-

    -Are you kidding me. Does this author know what a hit-and-run is? Sounds to me the biker was speeding if he couldn’t stop quick enough. A hit and run actually requires one to be hit.

    -“He crashed as he slammed on his brakes to avoid hitting the car. “-

    I hope the bicycle rider is not seriously injured, but this is a prime example of bikers (and bike riding news reporters alike) blaming the car before any actual evidence is gathered.

    1. Tom Fucoloro

      Police are investigating as car and bike collision. One party left the scene.

    2. pqbuffington

      Oh yes, that plethora of bike-riding reporters that gush so conspicuously in the bicyclists favor -like the Seattle Times bike-beat reporters and their minions in the comments section- and tirelessly advocate for the rights of the non-automobile driving public.

      Indeed, that is why the bicycle rider went to the hospital and the automobile driver carelessly into the ether because even the real world so obviously favors the bicyclist over the automobilist.

      And as for your language…that really gives you away, “…blaming the car…” as opposed to “…the biker was speeding…” are as stylistically skewed as your attempt at literal argument, “A hit and run actually requires one to be hit.”

      Of course, hitting the street does not count…but wait, it does:

      RCW 46.52.020
      A driver of any vehicle involved in an accident resulting in the injury to or death of any person or involving striking the body of a deceased person shall immediately stop such vehicle at the scene of such accident or as close thereto as possible but shall then forthwith return to, and in every event remain at, the scene of such accident until he or she has fulfilled the requirements of subsection (3) of this section…

      1. Bubba Mike

        there is a difference between hit and run, which implies a collision and leaving the scene of an accident. this is the later. Also the vehicle in the lane has possession of the lane and the vehicle that encroaches in the lane is at fault for the accident. Car or cycle the rules are the same.

        It is easy to bash cyclists because so many of them do not even attempt to obey the law but in this case it does sound like the auto is the cause of the of the accident.

    3. Tim D

      If a bike was speeding and tried to pass car illegally and wiped out, sure…you’re right. If a bike is cut off by a car and has to take evasive action to avoid a collision….YES, it IS the DRIVER OF THE CAR’s fault. If you need to think of it in terms of a car to make it click…imagine this: you’re driving in a car, and another car suddenly turns in front of you leaving with little warning and not enough room to brake to a stop. You two choices, hit the car, or run up on the curb. You chose to try the curb and you catch a pole. Whose fault is it?

      A bike rider going 25mph can stop as fast or faster than a car doing the same speed….so if he had to evade, he was cut off….and that’s the driver of the car’s fault.

    4. Tim

      Whether or not the biker was speeding or riding out of control is irrelevant when the driver flees the scene of the crash. Leaving someone hurt and laying in the road is inhumane and the person that flees should be locked up for that alone! I’m not a lawyer but I believe there is a Good Samaritan law that applies here as well.

  3. Shawn

    it’s to bad the person got hurt, but sounds like a novice rider if he/she went over the bars. I would like to know more ifo on this to REALLY find who is at fault. The car should NOT have fled the scene.

    1. Alix

      Given that the driver may have cut the cyclist off because they didn’t see him (or didn’t look) it is entirely possible that they didn’t see him crash either and continued on out of their own obliviousness.

  4. Doug Bostrom

    What a smorgasbord of empty, farfetched speculation:

    I have a trek and no way are the brakes so powerful that they will cause you to fly over the handle bars.

    Your brakes don’t work properly, so nobody else has working brakes either.

    Sounds to me the biker was speeding if he couldn’t stop quick enough.

    Yeah, if you’re crossing an intersection with the right-of-way and somebody drives in front you, you’re speeding. You wouldn’t object, right?

    …but sounds like a novice rider if he/she went over the bars.

    Because everybody knows, physics don’t apply to experienced riders, who never, ever succumb to panic even when confronted with a choice between braking a little harder and being struck by a car.

    Out of the whole lot, Alix offers the only speculation with a shred of credibility. Surely folks can do better.

  5. Hi, Tom.

    I have just picked a vitriolic Twitter fight with you and have tweeted some stuff that I meant when I tweeted it. I’ve still got blood in my eyes. I’m calming down and apologize for my invocation of “ass-kicking,” but I remain mighty pissed.

  6. Chetan

    Its sad to see so much anti bike hysteria every time one of these incidents happened. The cyclist didn’t flee the scene. Don’t hate on the cyclist, hate on the person who acted like a wimp and ran away.

  7. Todd

    This kind of stuff is always going to go on as long as cars and bikes coexist and vie for the same space. It seems to me that the only way to truly avoid these kind of mishaps — well we can never truly avoid them — is to clearly designate sectioned off bike lanes throughout the city. I mean put up concrete barriers. Obviously this would be expensive as hell so it would have to be limited to a few main thoroughfares through the city. But to be effective and fair, this would also require bicyclists to use them — and make certain streets no bike zones. And give us tickets if we don’t follow the rules. Even then this would not eliminate it but should greatly reduce the number of casualties.

  8. Mike Lindblom

    @pqbuffington I’ll keep your shoutout in mind when I bike to work tomorrow. Cheers, Mike Lindblom, Seattle Times transportation writer.

    1. Tom Fucoloro

      I’m sure he wasn’t talking about you… haha.

      When did you get minions? I want minions.

      1. pqbuffington

        i am minion!

    2. pqbuffington

      Ha! I do stand corrected and should have qualified my remarks to certain editorial opinions and the like…However, while I hope you enjoy your rides(s) I am not sure how your personal transportation decision challenges the point, but maybe it does…

      Have you come of the bike-commuter closet to your readers? You should.

      1. Tom Fucoloro

        Mike has written about bike needs many times, and he certainly tweets about biking often (@mikelindblom). I don’t know if it has specifically come up in a news story he’s written, but I feel like it has.

        But you’re right, Mike’s not writing the editorials over there. Luckily, the ed board is not writing his stories, either.

      2. pqbuffington

        ok then, i will pay attention to the sea-times again…mike has bested my cynicism

  9. Gear Grinder

    Interesting that neither the author of this account, nor any poster prior to me, has raised the possibility that the motorist signaled the lane change and that the bicyclist didn’t see it. Naturally, this could never happen.

    Nor do they ever ride too fast for conditions. They don’t dart in and out of traffic, or ride at night without lights. Bicyclists never harass pedestrians on the sidewalks. They don’t ride without brakes into crowds, crash into young children, and try to leave the scene.

    Yes, bicyclists are saints, or so the Seattle Bike Blog so obviously believes. There is no need to stop and think it through, because if it involves a bike and a car, the car is at fault no matter what.

    Police can investigate this as a serial murder for all I care, but you don’t know the facts. Of coursem that does not prevent you from writing a heavily slanted story. Tom, are you gunning for a job at Fox News? They just love this kind of thing. You’re a natural!

    1. Doug Bostrom

      For a moment Gear Grinder seemed as though he might be in stable orbit about reality, until he ignited his kicker engine and took off for deep space.

      Is this blog endowed with special powers, acting like an attractant for a tiny group of people harboring unquenchable deep anger toward bicycles? Where do these people come from and why do they feel compelled to vent their spleens in this particular place?

    2. Chetan

      You should check traffic law. Just because the driver signaled doesn’t mean they had the right of way. You don’t just signal and then go for it blindly, you check what’s coming.

    3. doug in seattle

      So when you see someone signaling to pull out of a parking space you slam on the brakes and wave them on? Interesting.

  10. Kevin Carrabine

    @ Tom


    Mr Minion

  11. Ben “Jammin”

    Sounds like the car driver may never have seen the speeding biker and still doesn’t know that he/she may have CONTRIBUTED TO an accident.

  12. The voice of reason

    Tom: I think the anti-biker crowd would agree that when you write “this appears to be another hit and run”, it could be considered hyperbolic/slanted if we don’t know the car and bike collided. REGARDLESS of this technicality:

    EVERYONE: chill out! My hunch is that Tom’s editorializing (if any) carries this sentiment: accidents are happening because of two reasons:
    1. Cars are not being aware enough
    2. Bikers are assuming they are being seen when they’re not

    I don’t care who broke what technical law, the people involved in these accidents should be responsible before and after the accident.

    And after reading through some of these comments: it’s shameful to see what assumptions some of you make based on speculation on what happened. The passive-aggressive sarcasm with which you convey your opinions is polarizing and unproductive.

    1. Gear Grinder

      Sorry, but Tom’s post was hysterical. Not hysterical funny, but hysterical in the literal sense. He’s ratifying every stereotype of your group.

    2. Tom Fucoloro

      I changed it from “hit and run” to “incidents in which the motor vehicle driver involved left the scene” to be more accurate. I am not sure if causing an accident and fleeing counts as hit and run or some other crime, though it is clearly a crime.

      And Gear, you’re funny. If you think this post is “hysterical,” then I’m afraid you have a dangerously low tolerance for any piece of writing more exciting than a dictionary. Read it again. It’s pretty much a recap of what we know and a recap of recent similar incidents. If it comes off as though hit-and-run and leaving the scene are bad things to do, well, they are.

    3. Gear Grinder

      Tom, it’s pretty obvious that you’re in the propaganda business with your blog. Your cyclist audience is doubtlessly impressed, and of course the mayor and his overwhelming popularity endorse your site. Everyone else who stumbles through here, not so much.

      Keep preaching to the choir. See how well it works for you.

      1. pqbuffington

        What type of handle is “Gear Grinder”? How many Burt Reynolds posters in your bedroom? Do you fruitlessly hail the Snowman on you CB? Of course the Bandit franchise really belongs to the Great One, Jackie Gleason, but I digress…

        And as for your replies, let us start with your claim that the SBB is in the “…in the propaganda business…” Do you even know what that word means? You must with such lines as “…ride without brakes into crowds, crash into young children, and try to leave the scene…” Oh yes, this is not hysterical at all. To be hysterical you would have to invent even more fantastical accounts, like the cyclists that bayonet young children and the infirm and flee the scene in brakeless ecstasy.

        And what of the line “…ratifying the stereotype…” Do you know what ratifying means? Is the SBB blog engaging in some street treaty negotiations with the AAA? Did you mean “…reinforcing the stereotype”…?

        Lastly, “…are you gunning for a job at Fox News?” What is this even supposed to mean? If you are claiming the SBB is merely some front for the vast pro-bicycling-conspiracy, then please at least allude to the more likely destination for such liberal bias, i.e. MSNBC.

        Man, Gear Grinder, I thought you might be a more formidable troll, but you commit that what you accuse of, have propensity for malapropism, and do not demonstrate even a working knowledge of the two great camps of American political discourse.

        And for everyone that thinks “hit-and-run” is only applicable to some narrow definition of “hit”, please see the section of RCW 46.52.020 included in an earlier reply.
        Anyone involved in an accident “…resulting in the injury to or death of any person…” is obliged, by law, to remain at the scene. This is the law; this has nothing to do with who is to blame for the accident. If the drive knowingly left the scene of an injury accident then they are potentially guilty of a class C felony.

  13. es _hwy

    I feel very bad for the biker but having driven in that neighborhood for years I see bikers ride as if they are not afraid of getting in an accident with cars. It’s probably the minority of the bikers but it only takes one biker to make the other bikers feel as if they have the same confidence. Cars have to weive to avoid these bikers…it’s both parties that need to be responsible

  14. no stinking badges

    certainly don’t want anyone hurt, but to instantly assume the driver is at fault isn’t fair. that stretch of olive it sure is tough to see what’s coming and cyclists regularly bomb it through there.

  15. Chuck

    Since none of us were there, all we have here is speculation. Let the police investigation follow its course and we’ll all have answers that we can provide more informed opinions. While I hope the rider fully recovers, its on the police to prove that the car driver knew they were involved in an accident. If they didn’t know they’d been involved in an accident, what obligation did they have?

  16. Doug Bostrom

    It strikes me from several remarks here about “speeding cyclists” and “bombing down hills” that bicycle drivers are really conspicuous when they’re actually approaching the speed limit. In Seattle most streets have a 30mph speed limit. Most of us who drive bicycles can testify that 30mph is speedy riding going a little beyond just exhilarating. Yet, those of us who drive cars know that 30mph can seem a little slow; adding on an extra 2-3mph seems like nothing, making us into true hill-bombers. We just don’t -look- like we’re driving too fast because most other cars in view are going equally as fast, in fact often faster.

    Who knows if the automobile driver on Olive saw the bicyclist or not? We can hazard a guess that if the driver did, he/she would have avoided putting the cyclist at risk, with the alternative being that the driver was perhaps so callous as to seem sociopathic.

    Assuming the driver of the car did not see the bicycle and its driver, there’s useful information here for any of us who drive regardless of our number of wheels and whether our engine is fueled by gasoline or glucose. Taking in all of the information in a dynamically changing scene requires time. This accident happened because of something not seen, just as the accident at University and U. Parkway likely did. Time is of the essence; drivers have to allow themselves time to take in information and when that time is not invested in information gathering we change from drivers to passengers, simply letting what may happen, happen.

    So, 30mph may be the posted speed -limit-, but it’s too fast in many situations, places with too many dynamics in the form of intersecting vehicles, pedestrians, etc. Accidents– the result of giving up driving by failure to gather information necessary to safely operate a vehicle– will continue to happen as long as we’re too hasty when driving.

  17. Todd

    I’m not a Gary Grinder believer but let’s be honest. As much as there are automobile a-holes out there — there are plenty of bikers too. I don’t know the scope of this accident and wish it didn’t happen — so my following comments do not apply to it. But in general, I am appalled by the amount of biking behavior that give us all a bad name. For every person that follows the rules, I’ll show you 2 bikers that don’t. Some of these clowns only give a rip about themselves and think traffic laws do not apply to them. I’ve seen it all. Truth is many bikers are irresponsible, self-consuming, thoughtless, all-about-me shitheads.

    1. Eric

      I ride a bike and I drive a car. I break laws doing both. Many of the laws I break when I operate a car or less conspicuos than when I ride a bike. I speed in my cars, I have changed lanes without signaling, I have run a red light by trying to sneek in under the yellow.

      On my bike, I have run red lights because the light just won’t change without a car nearby. I have run red lights because I wanted to get away from drivers who endanger my safety. I have not come to a complete stop at a stop sign because it is a lot of work to stop and start when there are no cars waiting for me.

      I am realistic and know that no matter what I do, people will separate themselves as drivers and bikers, just as republicans and democrates, christians and muslims, etc., etc. Following the law to the “T” will not cause people to suddenly think cyclists are people who are just trying to get to work. For whatever reason, human nature has a dark side to it, and it has been manifested lately in cars vs. bikes.

      Just remember, even if a cyclist has broken a law, they don’t deserve to get hit.


      1. Todd

        Oh no doubt we don’t deserve to be hit and when anybody leaves the scene of the accident — their chicken-shit-guilty-yellow bastards. And this typically is not the biker. Pardon my Czech. I certainly am no saint nor am I insinuating that anybody deserves to get hit — no matter how bad their behavior. But neither am I going to sit here and say that if some bikers do get hit by cars, it’s a surprise to me. If you play with fire long enough, you’re going to get burned. And on any given day, you can see the biking arsonists on the road.

        Now before anybody gets to excited, these comments are in general and in now way reflect the circumstances of the gentleman that was hit. I sincerely hope he has a speedy recovery.

  18. After an email exchange last night Tom asked me to post my email in response to one of his.

    “Hi Tom.

    Although I have written for the Stranger in the distant past, I don’t currently read the paper or Slog except for Charles’ zen bits and Paul Constant’s posts via RSS so I’m not aware of their link to your piece. Slog’s RSS seems to update once a day or so so perhaps something will come across the transom at bedtime or something. I saw a twitter peer rt your tweet and it hit at the perfect angle to make my head asplode, before dinner and two days or so after the anniversary of my sister’s death.

    During the two weeks she was dying, and since then, I cannot tell you how many times I have heard the question you liken to victim blaming. It is not that. It is a) a simple, simian expression of interest in the severity of the emgency affecting a fellow simian, and b) an attempt by the person posing the question to provide an opportunity to express appropriate sympathy toward the more intimately affected person in the conversation. In short, it’s a natural attempt to build and share the experience of emotional intimacy.

    Since my sister’s death, her passing was most recently commemorated in our hometown by some sort of art-related competition involving painted bike helmets, something that self organized and that while I was aware of it I had nothing to do with. I am on an iOS device as I write this and therefore can’t easily pause composition to locate the links to the event or recall the name of it, but will track it down if you would like.

    About nine years ago on my blog, about this time of year, I took the time to try to write as accurate and detailed a memoir of my sister’s death as I was capable of at the time. It was directly prompted by exposure to my mediasphere’s frenzy over the first anniversary of 9/11.

    It can be located in my blog archives by using the drop down to locate the topic “Suzy: September 1988.”

    With regard to whether or not there is a misunderstanding or not, I am not gonna say there is one. I think we both agree on the importance of bike helmets. But your remark trivializes honest huamn sympathy and inquisitiveness by characterizing this natural behavior as somehow an attempt to imply that the victim of a cycling accident was at fault in the accident. In my opinion, this interpretation can only make sense if one also assumes that anyone inquiring about the accident is, in essence, an enemy, whether of the cyclist or cycling at large I cannot say.

    Such a mindset is not conducive to building alliances or encouraging the wider use of helmets.

    Please feel free to post this to your blog in part or in full. I suppose I will carve out time to develop a post for my largely moribund blog as well, at least in part to reflect on the oddity of experiencing a twitter flameout at my wizened age. Please forgive any typos; iOS’s autocorrect can be hard to defeat when writing longer things.”

    A moment later, I added this:

    “I forgot to mention I did read your acknowledgement that “blaming the victim” has a specific rhetorical connotation. That is surely the strength and weakness of Twitter we say what we mean and realize we’ve lost control of the meaning ass soon as it’s posted. Twitter has a deletion feature but personally I prefer that regrettable things I have written remain visible. Blurted things have value, just often one we did not intend, and that value is something that can only emerge in the process of interaction.”

    Tom responded noting he hadn’t considered the perspective of persons asking about an accident, but rather was concerned about the media employemnt of the query.

    I haven’t posted Tom’s side of the correspondence in order to allow him to do so should he feel so inclined.

    The missing links, from above:

    the Safe Art Heads project, 2007, Bloomington, IN: http://www.rhinosyouthcenter.org/safeartheads/

    Suzy’s death, 1988: http://mike.whybark.com/archives/cat_suzy_september_1988.html

  19. biliruben

    My buddy got waxed on Eastlake yesterday. Classic left-hook.

    It sounds like a month on crutches and he’ll be okay, but I’m feeling a little bit guilty about getting him commuting on the bike this spring.

    1. biliruben

      Any recommendations regarding whether he should employ a lawyer, and if so, whom?

  20. Todd

    I’m not blaming anybody. Nobody deserves to get hit — whether riding a bike or driving a car. I’m simply saying that we share the road and the way many bike riders have disregard for their surroundings, I am not surprised IF they have a collision with a car. Nor am I surprised with the many drivers I see… which brings me back to my original post. Why not just have dedicated bike avenues and no bike zones throughout the city?

  21. Shawn

    What could help for this not to happen in the future as often, could taxing bicycles when you are buying a bike say like $5 at time of purchase with the guarantee that it goes 100% to building bike lanes or for our outdated roads that we have that are not wide enough for both bikes and cars to make them wide enough so they can share the road safely? just a suggestion. lets here it and sorry for any spelling mistakes

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