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Man injured while biking on E Marginal Way

Photo from reader Patricia
Photo from reader Patricia

Two people biking collided head-on this morning on E Marginal Way just north of Spokane Street.

One person lost consciousness for a period of time, but was conscious as medics loaded him into the ambulance.

It is not immediately clear how the collision occurred, and police are investigating. However, a reader who arrived shortly afterwards sent the photo above and had this to say about it:

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It was a bike southbound running into a bunch of bikes northbound (probably because the bridge had opened/closed a few minutes earlier).  Several of the guy’s front bike spokes were broken ( I’m assuming that was his bike).  He was wearing a helmet.  He seemed relatively OK (conscious) as they placed a head brace on him and placed him on the stretcher.

Bike on bike accident was bound to happen in this area.  It is a free for all in the mornings when bikers are trying to cross EMW.  Please help speed the plan to fix this mess and prevent something like this happening again.

We wish him a speedy recovery.

E Marginal Way was the scene of tragedy in May, when Lance David collided with a truck and died trying to cross from the west sidewalk to the bike lane on the east side of the street. A well-documented problem, the trail from the West Seattle Bridge dumps people biking onto a skinny sidewalk on the opposite side of the street from the bike lane. There is no clear way to get from the sidewalk to the bike lane, and just about everyone seems to have found a different way to make the crossing.

While it is not totally clear what happened in this collision, the area is a known problem area, and the city, neighborhood leaders and freight groups see improved paving and a two-way protected bikeway as the likely best solution. However, the project is now searching for a new funding source after the state legislature failed to pass a transportation package. We have asked the city for an update on the project and will update when we learn more.

We will also update when we learn more about the collision. West Seattle Blog is also on the story.

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37 responses to “Man injured while biking on E Marginal Way”

  1. Matt W

    I have definitely noticed a pretty severe lack of courtesy, etiquette and overall road savvy amongst my fellow riders lately, especially downtown. Common sense people! The less ammo we give the Monsonites the better.

  2. Changren

    The guy who hit the pothole was in a separate incident on Highland Park way.

    1. Tom Fucoloro

      Oh! Thanks for clarifying that. Oops.

  3. meanie

    YAY another win for freight mobility!

    When the port blew our property tax dollars to appease its subsidized customers on a train bypass just south of this intersection, they not only repaved this section, they made it worse for the hundreds of daily cyclists who *attempt* to get from Wsea to Downtown daily.

    They made the intersection crossing wider and more difficult to get across, and eliminated the first block of bike lane in the choke point on Emarginal.

    The bonus is the spot where this accident occurred is a blind turn into traffic, and the entry its littered with potholes.

    Those trucks can save nearly minutes getting past the train traffic the port creates, so its worth the lives and millions of dollars right?

  4. JAT

    Indeed there were two incidents in W.Sea this morning – one was a single rider crash cause by poor surface conditions and the other was a conflict in what is remarkably like a two-way cycle track, no?

    just sayin’

    1. Tom Fucoloro

      How is E Marginal anything like a two-way cycle track?

      1. JAT

        It is like a two-way cycle track in that along the north side of Spokane and the west side of E Marginal Way there is a grade-separated marked bike facility (albeit it shares the duties of sidewalk as well) in which, by SDOT design and both motorized and non-motorized users’ expectation, cyclists travel in both directions on a single facility on one side of the street.

        The trouble being that the facility in addition to being too narrow for the number of curves involved, as built, stops being two way at some point, and north-bound cyclists are expected to cross over to a bike lane on the east side if E Marginal way, but exactly where this is to happen is not clearly marked or universally agreed.

        I’ve been riding through this intersection for about ten years, through various detours and revisions and so-called improvements. Am I wrong about this configuration being a two-way cycle track?

      2. Tom Fucoloro

        Well, it’s a trail, which is a little different. But once you hit E Marginal, it disappears and stops being one. That’s the problem. If people on bikes could simply stay on the west side of Marginal all the way to the new Alaskan Way Trail (currently half-buried under tunnel construction equipment), then that would be a more complete and easy-to-understand connection.

        I’m not going to defend West Seattle’s often poorly-designed trails, though. And I wouldn’t judge the idea of a cycle track based on them, either.

  5. Amanda S-P

    I cycle this route daily and have found it safe and convenient to cross the street at the crosswalk at Spokane and EMW. Instead of turning left around the corner and on to the sidewalk, then trying to cross whenever, go straight to the intersection, push the button, and when you get a walk signal, cross and go left directly to the northbound bike lane. Many don’t know about this way of crossing–I didn’t until discussing the dangers of the area with a fellow cyclist after the Lance David tragedy. Perhaps an easy quick step would be to put up signs directing cyclists to the safe crossing. And we can all spread the word to help make a safer situation.

    1. Kirk from Ballard

      +1! I just don’t get the complaints about this location. There’s a cross walk with a signal at Spokane Street. What’s the issue?

      1. Tom Fucoloro

        FWIW, I’ve never thought to do that while biking through the area. Isn’t the bike lane missing there? Maybe people are not interested in mixing with traffic on what appears to be a busy truck street. Perhaps a temporary fix would be to complete that bike lane and clearly mark the crossing as the bike route to downtown.

      2. Kirk from Ballard

        The bike lane appears within 100 feet of the intersection, not sure why its not painted in sooner. While crossing with the light, there isn’t any cross traffic coming through. I go that way several times a week, and never have had a problem.

      3. Kim

        I have used this cross-walk since the fatal accident in May as well. It is reliable and much safer. However, sometimes you have to wait a bit for the light to change, which is why I think cyclists don’t tend to use it. I would rather wait 60 seconds and cross safely than risk my life (which isn’t an exaggeration considering recent events).

      4. meanie

        The issue is your *probably* breaking SMC 11.44.100.

        Its annoying as hell to see other cyclists juke traffic by using crosswalks as turn lanes, mostly because its an awesome way to get hit by a car not expecting you to turn.

        The whole area is jacked, defending your one solution and scoffing at others is ridiculous. Especially given the number of injurys and death in this two block area.

      5. Amanda S-P

        Yeah, in this case using the crosswalk is definitely not a ‘solution’ to the problems with this area for bikes, but it really does seem a lot safer than darting across EMW where there is absolutely no crossing infrastructure for anyone, poor visibility, and dangerous road surface conditions. In principle, using crosswalks as turn lanes is not good practice, but in this case, as a temporary measure, it would be a lot better if all cyclists did this rather than the alternative that most currently use. Since it doesn’t seem like there will be any more permanent and better solution available any time soon, I will still advocate it. I think the best overall solution would be to make a two-way cycle path along the west side of EMW with a concrete barrier between it and the truck traffic, all the way down past the coast guard museum. But something like this may never be in place, and if we can prevent even one accident in the meantime it would be worth it to advocate crossing at Spokane.

      6. biliruben

        Which cars would pose a danger using Amanda’s method?

        I definitely see an issue with Bikes sitting in the left turn lane at a red light, then converting to crosswalk to get across half the road. That’s dangerous.

        I don’t see the undue danger here, turning into the road or instead of on to the sidewalk.

    2. From the WS bridge, I tend to just take the lane on Spokane, and follow it all the way to E. Marginal. It’s safe, legal, and avoids all the ridiculous and dangerous crossings associated with the signed bike route. South/West-bound, I follow the signed route.

    3. Kirk from Ballard

      Using the crosswalk to cross to the far side of the road is definitely legal and does not violate SMC 11.44.100. As long as you yield to peds, and don’t cut off a vehicle that’s too close to stop.

    4. Melinda

      I do it this way too, but I’m only ever passing through the area late at night on weeknights, when there isn’t much freight traffic anyway.

  6. Ride this intersection at least once a week and Bike Hugger’s followers have read my Commuter Challenge reports that happen on this very road.

    Hold your line and have situational awareness and hey if you want to race so bad, pin a number on your back and line up at one.

    Save the competition for the weekend or actual races.

    1. meanie

      Nice ad spam.

      1. You saw an inline ad show up here and clicked on it? Cool. The bike blog marketing is working and targetted at just you. Will split the nickel with Seabikeblog when the check comes. See the hidden links too?

      2. Tom Fucoloro

        Spam that shares relevant personal experience about the topic at hand is, hands down, my favorite type of spam :-)

  7. SpringyMan

    could someone post a google map location for this intersection? I don’t ride over on the west side much, but am very interested in the issue.

    1. Amanda S-P


      It isn’t that descriptive because it’s underneath the West Seattle Bridge/99 interchange. But if you do street view on the south end of EMW you should be able to get a sense of it.

      1. J.J.

        It was about 100 feet south of S. Hinds, where the curb goes away to allow cars to enter E. Marginal from a parking lot. Quite a few cyclists cut across right there because you don’t have to hop off the curb.

  8. J.J.

    This accident happened right behind me. Here is the comment I posted on the WS Blog:
    A group of us (cyclists) had just turned north on the bike trail along the west side of E. Marginal. There is that first spot where some cyclists cross, right where the trail turns into the new sidewalk. Since that rider was killed at the intersection further down E. Marginal a few months ago, I’ve always just stayed on the sidewalk until well past the light.

    I think someone behind me started across. There was another cyclist going south in the bike lane and they collided. The southbound rider was in pretty bad shape–bloody nose and semi-conscious.
    Afterthought: glad to hear he is apparently okay. Whichever cyclist tried to cross E Marginal needs to take responsibility for this accident. It’s a pain getting across but there is no excuse for that kind of riding. Maybe he did, I couldn’t tell since whoever it was didn’t appear to be injured. But it was a large pack rolling north due to the bridge just opening, so there should be plenty of witnesses.

    1. Amanda S-P

      It doesn’t have to be a pain getting across if you use the crosswalk at Spokane and EMW. There is no reason to ride up the wrong side of the road then chance it crossing EMW to the north side. This route is so much safer for everyone and adds, at most, one minute to the ride time. Let’s build some peer pressure to discourage unsafe behavior here and everywhere else!

      1. Agreed. Staying west of the road then trying to cut across mid-block means you’re trying to cut across the whole road under time pressure… it’s hard to do that with the patience that it warrants, especially if you’ve got a bunch of people behind you. Crossing at the crosswalk can actually be done in a patient, orderly way.

      2. (I mean, the infrastructure there should encourage doing that because it’s the right thing to do. As it is, it discourages it by starting the bike lane farther up the road. It’s still best to cross EMW in the crosswalk at Spokane, but it isn’t so obvious. Signage and markings should indicate it.)

      3. J.J.

        Crossing at Spokane in the crosswalk is definitely safer. The problem is, then you roll north and get to the light at E. Marginal and Hanford (where the cyclist was killed a few months ago).
        The bike lane is in-between a right turn lane and a lane going straight–often both occupied by semi-trucks.

        I’m an experienced rider and frankly I don’t feel safe even though it’s a bike lane. Trucks swing wide when they turn, and the intersection is full of potholes.

        Instead, I just ride at a reasonable pack down the sidewalk on the west side of E. Marginal (around the fire hydrants) and avoid the whole mess. Then when I’m about half way down the E. Marginal straightaway, I can cut across with complete visibility both ways and no intersections. Not ideal, but I feel like it’s the safest route.

  9. merlin

    I ride this route a couple times a month at various times of day (NOT at rush hour, so not with a pack of other people on bikes!) – and I almost always just stay on the sidewalk the whole way. The painted bike lane offers only the slightest comfort riding next to all those trucks – and besides, the sidewalk for most of the route is wider than the bike lane, the pavement is better, and nobody ever walks along that route. I’m hoping for a two-way cycle track; there’s plenty of room.

  10. Brenda

    I have been commuting on this route off and on for over 10 years. It has been a bad section of the route forever. I’m very sad to see this happen, but I’m not surprised. I have used a variety of solutions over the years to cross over to the northbound bike lane. By far the safest that I’ve found is to travel north on the sidewalk on the west side until well past (north of) the traffic light. There is a discontinued driveway with barricades up on the left, I pull in there, turn around and make a left turn when traffic is clear. This is especially helpful if you already know there is traffic in the way that you’re going to have to wait for. It gives you a safe place to pull completely out of the way while you wait for traffic to clear. As someone else mentioned, you can see traffic both directions for a long way. The only trick is to clearly signal my left turn into the driveway if there are cyclists behind me that are anxious to pass. Any of you looking for a safer way to get across, there’s another option for you. Staying on the sidewalk for me means I yield to all oncoming traffic: pedestrian or bicycle. I’ve never had to stop to get out of anyone’s way, but I’m prepared to. Dodging around the trees and fire hydrants is challenging but then I’ve never been one to race in to work either. And why did they have to leave all those trees in place on the sidewalk when they redid it? If the sidewalk could remain wide for the entire distance, that would make it a more viable option.When you are stuck in a mob from the bridge opening, patience and safety has to be the priority. I hope the injured rider is okay and recovers quickly, and I hope the one who collided with him has learned an important lesson. I have seen some bicyclists traveling north in the southbound bike lane waiting for traffic to clear for them to cross over. That has got to stop!

    I had thought about using the crosswalk at the intersection of Spokane and E. Marginal, but I have never tried it because I didn’t think the bike lane started until quite a ways north of there. I’ll have to check it out and see if it’s a good option too next time I try riding in to work. I’m wondering if there is signage there, I’m usually too busy looking for oncoming riders at the corner to look for a sign.

    To the person who mentioned staying in the road riding with traffic at Spokane Street and turning onto E Marginal at the light, I used to do that all the time too. I guess I lost the nerve to do it some years ago, plus I’m not a very fast rider so I hold up traffic more than I like. I think I’m getting old and cautious! It’s too bad this is such a nightmare connection, because it is such a heavily used bicycle commute route. I have a hard time understanding why it is taking this long to have a viable solution for this intersection. How many more collisions will it take? I too am looking forward to a 2-way cycle track, although I’m not excited about the driveway crossings near the Coast Guard Station.

    1. A

      An issue with riding the sidewalk are the coast guard folks who use it as a jogging route who are extremely hostile and aggressive towards people on bikes using the sidewalk. It’s bad when it’s a group of guys jogging together and gets dangerous when they’re jogging with women, as they feel they need to up their macho factor with ladies around. The majority of the time I have passed (with plenty of room, bell ding well in advance and “on your left” call always) coast guard joggers on that path, or further north around the detour area I have been at the recieving end of threats.

      1. Bill

        Have you called the base commander? Or the admiral for this region (who lives in a CG-owned mansion overlooking Elliot Bay Marina)? The CG officers I know would not tolerate bad behavior toward the public.

  11. ks

    In order to reach the crosswalk across East Marginal Way, you must first cross a small walk across an obtuse angled free right turn with a huge support post blocking line of sight between you and the right turning traffic. (this is the right turn for southbound cars turning west onto Spokane).

  12. […] know this during today’s rides back and forth to Alki, but this morning there was another collision–bike on bike–here. What I did notice was the new green bike lane leading up to the corner with the ghost bike. […]

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