Bike News Roundup: NO WALKING – MON-FRI – 6AM-6PM

It’s here! Our (mostly) weekly roundup of corporate office time theft bike news from around the region, nation and world.

Is this the worst traffic sign you’ve ever seen? (from MoveArkansas):

Lake Michigan attacks people on bikes.

West Seattle needs safer streets.

95 percent of drivers in America recognize that texting behind the wheel is a serious threat to others. Yet 35 percent do it anyway. (Likewise, 88 percent recognize talking on the phone while driving is a threat, yet a whopping 67 percent do it anyway).

KUOW on Prop 1.

Ken Burns, Gene at Biking Bis has a fantastic idea for your next great American documentary: Bicycles.

Elly Blue on the role of the bicycle in the nation’s protests. Has anyone noticed bicycles playing a role at Occupy Seattle? Well, other than this.

Bike lanes are not inherently liberal or conservative; they are just good, pragmatic governance.”

Stylen’ Cycle Mom – New blog based out of South Lake Union/Eastlake! She’s also on Twitter @StylenCycleMom.

Artist chosen for Burke-Gilman art display.

King county Councilmember Jane Hague was in a bike wreck during a group ride. Sounds like it was her fault (which is only relevant because her office sorta tried to say it wasn’t)

Douglas Lefever, the man struck and killed near the Magnolia Bridge October 2, did not allow his cerebral palsy prevent him from helping men at an area shelter. Police allege that Daniel Mozzochi struck and killed Lefever, who was crossing at a marked crosswalk in his wheelchair. Mozzochi allegedly stopped his car, but when passers-by started pointing in his direction, he reversed around Lefever and his wheelchair and drove off. Police found him a few hours later and noted he appeared intoxicated. He has been charged with vehicular homicide and hit and run.

In good(?) news, drunk driving nationwide may be a little bit down due to, you guessed it, the economy.

I dream of a better world where chickens can cross the road without having their motives questioned

City Council race uh oh: “In addition to opposing paid parking on Sundays, Forch said he’d want to prioritize freight mobility when deciding whether to add bike lanes or sharrows to existing roads.”

Why DC is pursuing the Assault of Bicyclists Prevention Act.

Do we need more light on our city’s bike trails?

In a recent crosswalk sting, SPD found that one third of drivers failed to yield to people trying to walk across the street.

Great City has a good, long post about bicycle safety (a good read with a zoomed-out point of view).

Bicycles vs transit?

How does your bike lock fare in this test?

Seattle beats Portland in transit commuting.

The Vancouver Sun op-ed calls BS on report that their downtown cycle tracks have hurt business.

Everybody bikes! Though the poorest quarter of the population bikes the most, we need to work hard to ensure that safe streets reach low-income neighborhoods.

Dutch Bike Co Chicago is no more (and all their bikes are now in the Seattle shop)

The Battle of the Bikes Washington is October 8.

What do you think of Heather’s route from the Fremont Bridge to 6th/Columbia?

Have we reached Peak Truck?

If you have the viaduct all to yourself for 30 minutes, what would you do? Seriously, WSDOT wants to know. It could happen. I would hold a bike parade…

Is Prop 1 not ambitious enough?

Kent on kids, bikes and books (and books for kids about bikes)

The Mini Monkey Light looks pretty rad (and more practical than previous versions). If you donate $50 to the Kickstarter project, you get one. Pretty cool. (h/t Stephanie)

The Dutch Cycling Embassy says: Cycling is for everyone!

Cycling For Everyone from Dutch Cycling Embassy on Vimeo.

This is an open thread. What’s on your mind?

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24 Responses to Bike News Roundup: NO WALKING – MON-FRI – 6AM-6PM

  1. Gary says:

    “More lights on bicycle trails?” Thanks but no thanks, unless we are talking about places of likely high crime, like the Urban Jungle which is currently being cleared of brush and bike path installed. Bicyclists who ride at in foul weather and at night should suck it up and buy a set of decent lights. Yes this is a regressive tax on the poor, but one of the joys of riding a bicycle is that the outside world is not all like your living room.

    • Shane Phillips says:

      I strongly disagree. Decreasing crime is certainly one issue, but lights are generally insufficient to actually feel safe when riding at night on trails like Burke Gilman. Without lights it’s literally so dark that you can’t see the ground more than a few feet ahead of your bike, and with my light (which is quite bright) it is only improved to 10-20 feet of decent, but not great, visibility. Unless you’re going very slow that’s not enough.

      They’re clearly not saying the trails should be “like your living room.” Even roads for vehicles are not “like your living room.” But roads at night have enough visibility for you to feel comfortable that you’re able to see any obstacles, and trails should be the same way. In fact, it’s especially important due to how much more dangerous it can be to hit a pothole/bump unexpectedly on a bike compared to when driving a car.

      • AdmiralWinfield says:

        Get something like the MiNewt 600. It’s bright enought for almost any sane speed. I know it’s a $150 light, but this a once in 10 year purchase. Problem solved.

    • Mike H says:

      I agree with Shane.

      For some history, one of Seattle’s former mayors (Royer, maybe) wanted to reduce crime. His solution was to put a street light on every power pole. Now, we have many residential streets lit as well as the arterial streets.

    • Andreas says:

      This is like suggesting that they remove the streetlights from I-5 or the Alaskan Way Viaduct because all cars are required to have working head & tail lights. Or that pedestrians should suck it up and buy lights if they’re going to dare to walk at night or in the rain. Let’s just remove all the streetlights everywhere. What could go wrong?

      • Gary says:

        You might notice that the I-90 bridge for cars does not have overhead lights. Why? Because with the light people drive too fast for conditions, so by removing the overhead lights they slow down automatically. And it saves energy and the state money and therefore the environment.

        My lights are ridiculously expensive unless you factor in that lights are life itself. But I can see 100 yards down the road. I use dinotte lights as I think they are the best value (cost/reliablity/customer service) but there are others.

        http://reviews.mtbr.com/blog/category/lights-shootout

        If you can’t see farther than 10 to 20 feet in front of you, it’s time to save up and buy some real lights.

      • Andreas says:

        @Gary: The notion that WSDOT turned off the lights on I-90 to slow people down is laughable. The lights were turned off during the energy crisis in the ’70s, at which point WSDOT revised its illumination policies.

        DOT’s energy-conservation policy began in 1973, when lights were turned off on several sections of highways. And, according to a study by DOT last September, nighttime accidents on the unlit sections of interstate highways have not increased compared to lighted sections. “In fact, the accident rates have decreased equally in both cases”, [WSDOT district administrator R.E.] Bockstruck said. To warrant continuous lighting, an area must have competing lights from nearby businesses that could confuse motorists, and a series of interchanges.—Seattle Times’ Troubleshooter, 11 Dec 1983

        In other words, since the I-90 bridge is straight and wide, and people are just going straight, the lack of lights doesn’t negatively impact safety. But there’s absolutely nothing to suggest that removing the lights makes people go slower, much less increases safety. And there’s definitely nothing to suggest that removing lights from roadways that aren’t 100% straight or which have junctions and other distractions makes such roads safer.

        Oh, and note that while there are no overhead lights for vehicles on I-90, the bike/ped path is in fact lighted by downlights.

      • Gary says:

        Yes the I-90 bike trail is lit, But none of the Burke Gilman is except where it passes near other roadways. So to your rhetorical question “what could go wrong?”, I ask, “What has gone wrong that trail lighting would have prevented?”

        And is the cost of lighting the trail more or less than giving out free sets of lights to anyone who is a) poor, b) riding a bicycle on the BG? I’d guess that one or two light poles is more than all of the light sets you’d hand out.

        Again, I claim that if you want to ride a bicycle at night, the same as if you want to drive a car at night, you should provide your own adequate lights.

        If we want to encourage poor people to consider bicycling more and hand out lights, that’s a different discussion but one I’d support.

        And yes the average speed at night on the I-90 bridge is lower without the lights. (They didn’t replace them when the bridge sank. Even though they did turn them back on after the ’73 oil crisis.) And since when you crash you need to disapate all that kenetic energy, (Ke = (M * V^2)/2 a reduction in speed does decrease your injuries.

        Watch this video for a good example of how it works.
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BpZRxo3EWAc
        That’s only 5K difference in velocity.

      • Andreas says:

        Gary: Care to give a cite for your repeated claim that the average speed on the bridge is lower without the lights? I can find no suggestion anywhere to that effect. And the newspaper articles that I’m finding seem to suggest that the lights were not in fact turned back on after the energy crisis ended. (The article I quoted was in response to a reader’s query as to why lighting had not returned to several of the area’s major highways despite the crisis being over.) But regardless of when they went off, again, the only reason I’m seeing given is cost savings from reduced energy use and no increase in accidents.

        And since pretty much the days of the Model T, drivers haven’t provided their own lights—their vehicles come with them already installed to industry and legal standards. Drivers merely have to maintain their lights, which most of them do because failure to do so will generally result in a ticket before long. Until such a state of affairs exists for bicyclists, it’s folly to operate under the assumption that all trail users will have adequate lighting. Do you really think WSDOT wouldn’t have lights on the I-90 bridge if vehicles didn’t come with head & brake lights installed and enforcement of vehicle lighting laws were as lax for cars as it is for bikes?

        As for what could go wrong, I’ve had many near misses on the BGT thanks to folks riding without lights, plus there are the cracks, holes, branches, wet patches of leaves, mud, etc, that are mostly invisible at night. I’m sure most folks who have ridden the BGT at night could say the same. I know your response: I need better lights. Well, my lights are intended primarily to make me visible, not to illuminate the road in front of me. That is what most people’s lights are for (and that’s all that the law requires people’s lights to do). Yes, I could spend a good chunk of change for a setup that would light up the trail sufficiently. But I’m not going to, and neither are the majority of trail users.

        There’s also the issue of what happens when someone with your “adequate” lights approaches from the opposite direction. On highways there are dividers to prevent oncoming traffic’s headlights from shining in your face, and when you’re driving on a windy road with your brights on, you switch to low beams when someone somes towards you. There’s none of that on the BGT. One second it’s pitch black, the next you’ve got some asshole’s strobe aimed right at your eyes and you’re effectively blinded. If the trail had baseline lighting, those lights wouldn’t be so blinding by their contrast with pitch blackness.

        Anyway, regardless of our disagreement on lighting, I really want to thank you for the physics lesson. Lower speeds mean less severe injuries? Definitely wouldn’t’ve figured that one out without the formula and the YouTube tutorial. Learn something new every day!

      • Gary says:

        Sorry I couldn’t find the link on the slower speeds. But I do remember the article and it was in-conjunction with the first replacement of the I-90 bridge, where they took out the mid of the lake swerve. There were lights on the old bridge, and none on the new one. Someone wrote in asking and the reply from WSDOT was that it lowered overall speeds, which as you noticed reduces injuries and accidents.

        The problem with an internet search is that this happened before 1990 which is the limit on the Seattle times search page. So you can either take my word for it, or ask yourself do you drive the same speed when you can’t see as far.

        Secondly are you advocating that bicycle manufacturers include lights?

        With my lights, I can see approaching bicyclists whether they have any lights of their own or not.

        “Yes, I could spend a good chunk of change for a setup that would light up the trail sufficiently. But I’m not going to,”

        So you are in effect asking me to pay for lighting the trail so you can skip buying lights? Where do you think this money is coming from?? You are saving a ton of money not driving a car, use some of it on some decent lights. You can justify to yourself with this question: “If I was in the emergency room after hitting an unlighted obstacle, what would I pay not to be here? ” A $1K? That’s what it cost my insurance company to clean out my hand the last time I fell. (not a lights issue. but a fair assessment of the cost of a minor injury from a fall.)

        As for those on coming riders blinding you, yep, it’s a problem if your own eyes aren’t adjusted to the lack of light. Like I’ve mentioned before, you can fix this, get some decent lights of your own.

      • Gary says:

        Oh and on that Physics lesson, It’s not that it isn’t obvious that lower speeds reduce injuries, it’s that it’s not obvious about that V^2 component of the energy. That a little more speed is a lot more energy. People think nothing about driving 5mph over the speed limit but with that v^2/2 factor going from 25 to 30 mph gives you 138 more units of energy for the same mass.

  2. Andreas says:

    I don’t think we can say it sounds like Hague’s collision was her fault. Despite the alleged victim’s claim that “You can’t crash into the back of somebody and put the responsibility on them,” there are a few circumstances where that’s exactly what you can do. To quote WSP Trooper Keith Trowbridge (as quoted in the P-I), a driver generally would not be cited for a rear-end collision “when someone makes an unsafe lane change in front of your vehicle and brakes at the same time, causing you to rear-end the vehicle that cut you off.” The story says Hague was about to pass the group when they began to turn. If the person hit didn’t signal, and if they changed lanes in front of Hague, it sounds like she wouldn’t be at fault. But, of course, the story doesn’t mention anything about signalling, or lanes, or really anything else—the story is more speculation than fact. I’d say we don’t have enough info to say whose fault it sounds like it is.

    That said, it wouldn’t surprise me if Hague was indeed at fault and was trying to blame the other party. After all, I can’t help but wonder if she discovered the joys of biking while her driver license was suspended after she was convicted of driving drunk. She blew a 0.135 and a 0.141—legal limit is 0.08—but claimed she only had two glasses of wine in about 3.5 hours. Doesn’t look like Hague and personal responsibility are on good terms.

    • Tom Fucoloro says:

      You’re right that there’s not really enough to say she was at fault. I wrote that based on her admission that she did not notice the route turned (but everyone in front of her did). The only reason I brought up fault was because her spokesperson sorta suggested previously that it was not her fault, then they stepped back and changed their story. Sounds like they pissed off the other party in the wreck. Really, it’s not important and I’m glad nobody was hurt too badly.

  3. Andreas says:

    It should be noted that the crosswalk in the SPD sting, while on an arterial, had both pavement markings and an overhead sign. And from a quick googling, it appears SPD’s stings are usually at marked or signalized crossings. If they were to do a sting at an unmarked arterial crosswalk, I’d bet the percentage of scofflaws would jump at least 50%, if not upward of 75%.

    It’s unfortunate that SPD doesn’t dedicate a couple of cops to do these stings at different times and different locations every single day. It would do more for public safety than many of their other efforts, and with the ticket revenue they could probably hire a few more cops to deal with the other, more exciting crimes. But I assume they (and the city’s politicians) don’t want to deal with the backlash from all the good, law-breaking citizens who would be ticketed.

  4. Fair's Fair says:

    95 percent of drivers in America recognize that texting behind the wheel is a serious threat to others. Yet 35 percent do it anyway. (Likewise, 88 percent recognize talking on the phone while driving is a threat, yet a whopping 67 percent do it anyway).

    Casting a pretty narrow net there, aren’t you?

    Energency room doctor discusses the tragedy of texting while walking, rollerblading, bicycling, and driving.

    See comments #5 and #7 in this thread.

    Photo of cyclist texting while riding.

    Another photo of cyclist texting while riding.

    And another.

    Cyclist on the phone, not seeing streetcar bearing down.

    What’s a girl to do?

    Some gals on bikes just can’t keep away from the texting.

    Does this one have a death wish?

    • Tom Fucoloro says:

      I didn’t cast that “narrow” net, the USDOT did. It was a link to a survey that only focused on driving while texting, which kills scores of people across our nation.

      I don’t use my phone while biking and I advise others not to, as well. It’s a bad idea to do anything to distract you. I feel the same about walking across busy streets while texting.

      But people using a mobile device while biking or walking is not a deadly scourge killing and maiming others across the country.

    • Gary says:

      Ah, the photo of the girl behind the street car, she’s behind it. The lights on the street car are “red”, it’s already passed her, she’s in no danger from it. The tracks she’s crossing, that’s another story.

      (Not to justify talking on a cell phone while riding, but this photo doesn’t show the danger.)

  5. Al Dimond says:

    Open thread random topic: Does anyone here use Lake Washington Boulevard on the eastside between Northup Way and where it splits off into Lakeview? I tried switching back to it today, since traffic looked pretty normal, and the surface is really nice (after the first block or so, which is still bumpy)… but the bike lane is gone!

    Permanent lane lines haven’t been drawn in yet, so it’s possible they’ll fix it, but I’m going to try to figure out who’s responsible for it and drop them a line. I don’t always love bike lanes, but on a road without street parking I think they’re OK. If they really do take them out I’ll really have to take the lane here.

    • Gary says:

      While I don’t ride that bit of road, I have talked to the folks in Bellevue about bike transportation issues and they seem genuinely interested in the complaints/comments. It’s worth a phone call.

      As for bike lanes, sure you want the paint? I usually find that good tail lights do the job of getting cars to give me room.

    • Frequent Reader says:

      Major repairs were done to the road there, just recently. I think a bike lane might be coming back eventually.

      That said, I HATE the bike lane on Lake Washington Blvd. I ride it from where it becomes Lake St to 38th Pl and every time I’m praying that no one doors me. The “car lane” is pretty narrow and usually busy, so is the bike lane, lots of pedestrians on the sidewalk and cars are parked pretty much all along the way. The whole waterfront-ish area along Lake Wash Blvd in Kirkland could be a candidate for smarter bike facilities given the foot, car and bike traffic in that area daily. Take out some parking spots, maybe some bike boxes at signaled intersections and put some bike path on the other side of the parked cars. Or something. I especially hate being squished in the tiny bike lane between parked cars and heavy downtown Kirkland traffic on that street, to the point of saying “screw this street” and exploring alternative options (which seems sad since effort and money did go into that stupid bike lane…).

      • Frequent Reader says:

        To be more thorough, I meant to say (but forgot to type):

        “I especially hate being squished in the tiny bike lane between parked cars and heavy downtown Kirkland PM commuter time traffic on that street”

        :) I mean, :( about the situation of course.

    • Al Dimond says:

      Well, I talked to someone at the City of Kirkland, and the bike lane is going to go back in when the road is permanently re-striped.

      On the stretch I’m talking about (between Northup and the Lakeview/LWB split) there’s no street parking, so having a bike lane is actually nice. I ride north in the morning from Northup, and I split right onto Lakeview to climb the hill on 68th. Lakeview has really awful street parking, including a section that’s not actually wide enough to park in, so drivers just park with their wheels blatantly in the bike lane (any given day if I’m feeling bitter I report them to the police… I’m not sure if they do anything, though). I actually might be better off slogging up 52nd to avoid Lakeview.

      Anyway, the way LWB is drawn now there really isn’t much room to the right of where the cars actually travel, and riding in the rightmost part of the lane, where you’re least visible, and hoping the drivers see you and move over, is not something I really want to do. The only sensible way to ride this section as it’s striped now is to ride where you can’t be missed (right down the middle) and pull off at appropriate places (intersections) to let people by. Unfortunately this pisses off some motorists (many don’t realize how little time is really at stake, and even fewer motorists understand proper lane positioning than cyclists), causing scary, aggressive behavior (unfortunately it’s really hard to get plate numbers when people do this stuff).

      • Frequent Reader says:

        Must… save… 30… seconds! But yes, I do agree that that particular bike lane was pretty nice and low-stress. Now if someone would make Northup less of a crap street for peds and cyclists… Mmmm, sweet dreams.

        It would be kind of nice if parking was at least restricted on LWB/Lake St from Central to Lakeview during commuter hours the way it’s done on many streets in Seattle (say, around the U-District/Ravenna). Two lanes open in each direction would be a good thing for motorists and cyclists. Another stretch of my Kirkland commute leg goes along 100th St where there are no bike lanes, but the road is 4 wide lanes with no parked cars, and biking along that street is way nicer, cars just change lanes to go around me and traffic flows nicely (most of the time…). Had there been a bike lane, I can see drivers thinking that surely the road is designed such that they can pass me safely without changing lanes (someone knew what they were doing while painting lines on the pavement, right?) and coming in way too close for comfort while I’m riding in a crack-filled curb seam lined bike lane.

  6. AJL says:

    Speaking of the Cheshiahud “bike route” in the Lake Union Area (the previous stair problem noted by Stylen’ Cycle Mom)…no one has mentioned that about 2 weeks ago SDOT added bike route markers, those funny circles w/a bike in them along with directional arrows, routing bikes Through the Parking Lot adjacent to the Streetcar stop on the very south end of the Lake. Really – through the Parking Lot. Like this is somehow acceptable when many people already know the dangers of riding through the Westlake lot?

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