With strong cross-winds, waves crashing on one side and highway traffic flying by on the other, biking over the I-90 Bridge can be a rather unnerving experience.
But crashes on the bridge are somewhat rare, but that is probably no comfort to one woman who was injured in an April 30 collision with another woman on a bike.
The woman who hit her fled the scene, and the Washington State Patrol is now seeking her for hit and run. They are also seeking witnesses how saw what happened or saw the suspect.
Officers say the victim was biking eastbound on the floating section of the bridge when “a white female, approximately 25-35 years old with sandy blonde, shoulder length hair” riding a road bike westbound veered into her.
As a reminder: You are required to stay at the scene of a collision whether you are on a bike or in a car.
While instances of serious bike-on-bike collisions are rare, they do happen. It’s a reminder to always slow to a safe speed to give others room. And obviously, don’t flee the scene! It’s a crime.
The Washington State Patrol is investigating a hit and run collision involving two bicyclists that occurred Wednesday, April 30, 2014 at 3:15 pm on the west end of the I-90 floating bridge bike path.
The victim, pictured below, was riding her bicycle … eastbound on the bike path when she was struck by a separate cyclist, who was traveling westbound. According to the victim, the suspect was westbound and veered to the left hitting her. The impact of the collision caused the victim to fall and sustain serious injuries to her elbow and hip.
The suspect is described as a white female, approximately 25-35 years old with sandy blonde, shoulder length hair. She was riding a “tour type” bike and was not wearing a helmet or traditional cycling clothing.
The suspect initially stopped and asked if the victim if she “was OK?” and if she “needed anything?” She then left the scene on her bike, last observed riding westbound towards Seattle.
State Patrol detectives are requesting any information regarding this incident including witnesses who may have had contact with the suspect and/or victim.
The Washington State Patrol wants to remind that all citizens are required to stop at the scene of a collision and provide their contact information whether it involves a car or bicycle.
If you have any information related to this collision and/or events leading up to the collision, you are asked to please call Detective Ruth Medeiros at 425-401-7719.
Update: WSP released this photo of who they say is the suspect May 15:
This stinks. I wish for the victim’s swift and complete recovery.
I strongly feel that the bike path on I-90 needs widening. I rode on it for the first time last Wednesday (yes, the day that the accident occurred). I passed by a few cyclists. Even with little wind, one has to ride fairly confidently in order to not cause a close call.
I was on the I-90 bike path for the first time a week or two ago, and feel exactly the same about widening. Of course it’s great that there is a bike path at all, but it would be so much more comfortable with an extra 2-3 feet – how much would that have cost? Probably about 20 dollars in the grand scheme of things; unfortunately, it’s probably too late now, at least until thousands more I-90 commuters swap their cars for bikes.
I’ve been commuting the I-90 bridge for many years now.
It’s safe enough if people remember that they’re not racing, they’re riding on a narrow shared path with people of indeterminate bike and traffic skills. But far too often, people ride like they’re racing — close passing, pacelines, no announcement of passing other riders, passing when there’s an oncoming bike or pedestrian, etc.
If I remember correctly, the idea of narrowing the trail a few years back was shot down by Federal minimum standards, the trail is already at the minimum width allowed. It’s no wider than the sidepath on Broadway.
When built, the 520 bridge is supposed to have a 14-foot path — that extra width will be very welcome, especially with the volume of bicycle commuters expected on that route. I suspect we’ll have to wait until the next rebuild of the I-90 bridge to have any widening of its path, but I’d love to be proved wrong.
Interesting. 14 feet sounds great! When was the I-90 bridge built, anyway? I am relatively new in Seattle …
Wikipedia has all….
If you think that the current bike path is narrow, you should have tried riding it before they removed the middle hump. I did it “once” and vowed “never again.”
I ride “everyday” but that day I had an appointment mid afternoon so I didn’t ride. I wouldn’t have had a helmet cam as I don’t own one yet, but I do carry a first aid kit.
Truer words were never spoken! You put on Lycra top and bottom and you own the road. Nothing else matters, no one matters, because you own the road. You sit in a car and you own the road and cyclists are a nuisance. It’s the same mindset. I dread summer and the fair-weather cyclists in their jersies who blow off everyone else, ride abreast even in crowded sections, give little or no warning as they buzz by you at 20+ mph, act as though they are the most important thing out there.
Sounds like a two-way protected bike lane…
Not that there will be any possibility of widening it; in fact there was talk of narrowing it a few years ago in order to squeeze an extra car lane, but luckily that didn’t happen.
and yes, I ride across the I-90 bike lane several times a week and Bike to Work month is far scarier than the dark wind and rain of January.
How could they make the I-90 trail any narrower than it already is? That would have been insane. If anything, they should get rid of one car lane to widen the trail!
Do you see more bike commuters during the Bike to Work month? I commute from Northgate to downtown Seattle, and I don’t see too many more bike commuters this month than I normally do.
No, there are a few more due to better weather. Bike to work Day will be crazy busy though.
Bad as this data counter is, we will have at least a comparison set of numbers here dome early June.
Thanks for the information, Gary!
Some information seems lacking here.. What was the ‘victim’s response when asked if she was ok or needed anything? If a collision does occur, how long is a person required to stay on the scene? It doesn’t exactly sound like “fleeing” occurred here. Also it seems like some good old fashioned lycra elitism to call someone out for their choice of attire, as if they aren’t a “real” cyclist for not wearing a helmet or “traditional” tights.
I don’t see any “old-fashioned lycra elitism” here. Most likely, the other cyclist’s attire (and lack of a helmet) was described in an attempt to help the readers identify her (if at all possible).
This may be the first and only time you’ll ever see the Washington State Patrol accused of “lycra elitism.”
> It doesn’t exactly sound like “fleeing” occurred here.
Just realized, I actually saw the aftermath of this – looked like a pretty serious scene, with the victim lying sprawled against the wall, a bunch of EMTs and 2 or 3 ambulances, etc. in the breakdown lane and of course a pretty good backup forming on westbound 90. I agree that “fleeing” sounds a bit melodramatic from the facts as stated, but if you ride away from someone who is lying on the ground, that’s definitely not a decent way to behave. Still, I don’t know if it would have occurred to me that you can actually be charged with hit and run as a cyclist. Out of curiosity, what are the legal consequences for biking while drunk or stoned?
Washington’s DUI law is written to apply to all vehicles, but the State Supreme Court’s interpretation limits it to motor vehicles, with its harsh penalties justified by the “severe threat to the public safety” of “combining sharply impaired physical and mental faculties with a vehicle capable of great force and speed . . .”
Instead, for bicyclists, police can take you off the road and drive you some place safe if you agree, or impound your bike if they think you’re likely to still be a hazard when released. (Of course, any other drug or alcohol laws still apply if they want to find something else to charge you with.)
There’s a deliberate policy choice at work here — while we’d rather not have drunk cyclists, several millennia of recorded history suggest there will always be some level of public intoxication, so we really ought to look at minimizing harm, not trying to eliminate the problem entirely. I’d much rather have a drunk on a bicycle than behind the wheel of an SUV.
(1) A law enforcement officer may offer to transport a bicycle rider who appears to be under the influence of alcohol or any drug and who is walking or moving along or within the right-of-way of a public roadway, unless the bicycle rider is to be taken into protective custody under RCW 70.96A.120. The law enforcement officer offering to transport an intoxicated bicycle rider under this section shall:
(a) Transport the intoxicated bicycle rider to a safe place; or
(b) Release the intoxicated bicycle rider to a competent person.
(2) The law enforcement officer shall not provide the assistance offered if the bicycle rider refuses to accept it. No suit or action may be commenced or prosecuted against the law enforcement officer, law enforcement agency, the state of Washington, or any political subdivision of the state for any act resulting from the refusal of the bicycle rider to accept this assistance.
(3) The law enforcement officer may impound the bicycle operated by an intoxicated bicycle rider if the officer determines that impoundment is necessary to reduce a threat to public safety, and there are no reasonable alternatives to impoundment. The bicyclist will be given a written notice of when and where the impounded bicycle may be reclaimed. The bicycle may be reclaimed by the bicycle rider when the bicycle rider no longer appears to be intoxicated, or by an individual who can establish ownership of the bicycle. The bicycle must be returned without payment of a fee. If the bicycle is not reclaimed within thirty days, it will be subject to sale or disposal consistent with agency procedures.
“Also it seems like some good old fashioned lycra elitism ”
Sounds like a chip on your shoulder and nothing more.
If you’re so defensive of it you’re likely the one with the chip on your shoulder. What’s next, complaining about how crowded the burke is while you’re trying to train?
On the question of, “How long is a person required to stay on the scene?”
If you’re involved in an injury accident, or damage to an attended vehicle, you must remain on the scene until you fulfill these requirements:
(3) Unless otherwise provided in subsection (7) of this section the driver of any vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury to or death of any person, or involving striking the body of a deceased person, or resulting in damage to any vehicle which is driven or attended by any person or damage to other property shall give his or her name, address, insurance company, insurance policy number, and vehicle license number and shall exhibit his or her vehicle driver’s license to any person struck or injured or the driver or any occupant of, or any person attending, any such vehicle collided with and shall render to any person injured in such accident reasonable assistance, including the carrying or the making of arrangements for the carrying of such person to a physician or hospital for medical treatment if it is apparent that such treatment is necessary or if such carrying is requested by the injured person or on his or her behalf. Under no circumstances shall the rendering of assistance or other compliance with the provisions of this subsection be evidence of the liability of any driver for such accident.
Even if the injured cyclist said she didn’t need any help, the other cyclist was required to provide her contact information before leaving the scene. And it’s illegal to leave the scene if the injured person appears to need assistance, even if they don’t ask for it. (People with head injuries often aren’t aware they need help. Been there, done that, rode home with two broken arms before I came out of shock.)
Bikes don’t have licenses or vehicle insurance, so those provisions can’t apply, but the other rider clearly didn’t leave her contact information behind if they’re having to seek her in the news.
Luckier than the cyclist on the Lions Gate bridge in Vancouver…
Two-way sidepaths are not full-width travel lanes. Passing within a 10-foot lane is hazardous, especially if there are barriers on the sides of the lane.
AASHTO specifies minimum physical operating width for cyclists at 40 inches. Vertical obstructions require at least a foot of shy distance. In a 10-foot sidepath with barriers, two 40-inch cyclists are splitting 96 inches of safe space.
If both riders hold perfect lines, that’s 16 inches of passing clearance, not the three feet that’s often defined as a minimum safe passing clearance.
(For what it’s worth, that’s part of the calculation behind limiting side-by-side riding to two abreast… legally, a standard travel lane is usually not wide enough for three cyclists to share under the normal rules of the road. Competitive cycling is different, the peloton operates under mutually-agreed assumption of risk. But commuting isn’t competing, and adequate clearance by racing standards is reckless driving under ordinary driving rules.)
Wow. Thanks for the link to the Vancouver story, Josh. I hadn’t seen that. Terrible.
This is another reason to vociferously oppose SDOT’s attempts to under-design future two-way cycletracks like Westlake.
painting a center-line would do wonders…
I don’t think a center line would make much of a difference actually. Cyclists may ride side by side entirely safely unless there’s passing to be done (whether same-direction or reciprocal heading), and codifying: this is my side you stay on your side, isn’t going to be of any help when we’re also sharing the lane with pedestrians.
I think we’ve got to ride with care and competence.
On narrowing, my understanding is that the West bound I-90 auto section will be restriped from 3 lanes to 4. (To put an HOV lane in.) And to do that, they will remove 6 of the 8ft of the current shoulder, putting cars/trucks two feet away from the jersey barrier that seperates the traffic from the bicycles.
The “good” news is that any break down will now jam traffic completely slowing it all to a crawl, and thus be safer to ride by on a bicycle. The bad news is that the traffic will be spraying water/gravel/dust directly on us as we cross Eastbound. (West bound you’ll still be sprayed but it will be on your back.) At least until they hit each other and come to a stop again.
Just wondering if anything can be done to reduce the impact of moving freeway traffic closer to the trail…
Would installation of standard median barrier glare screen on top of the wall between the trail and the freeway shoulder significantly reduce spray and debris? (Not to mention reducing headlight glare for trail users, although there’s more issue with bicycle headlight glare than motorists given the popularity of round-beam Magishine clones.)
I would think so. The key is that this is really a bunch of floating pontoons so any weight added to one side has to be added to the other to keep it level. I wouldn’t think these glare screens would be all that heavy. But for sure we aren’t going to get a taller jersey barrier.
I wouldn’t really want a taller jersey barrier, even riding the bridge every day, I still enjoy the view more than I dislike the freeway traffic.
The only other freeway I ride is Highway 167 south of Auburn. There’s no barrier separation there, just a paved shoulder, but at least all bike traffic is moving the same direction as motor traffic, so the spray/grit/debris comes from behind.
Having freeway traffic that close is also much noisier, even just a few feet of extra separation helps reduce tire and wind noise.
Still a safe and efficient route, just not very scenic or pleasant when semis are only a few feet away.
A comparison with riding on the Ballard Bridge. If you ride on the street it is like riding on a highway thanks to the commuters who drive routinely at 40 or 50 mph. If you ride on the sidewalk (like everyone) then you have about 3 feet to share with bicyclists and pedestrians. There is no traffic clearance. The separation from traffic is a few inches.
Ruth, exactly. The Ballard Bridge was identified by SDOT’s own poll as the worst crossing in Seattle and the top location that Seattites would like to be made safer. It was identified as the biggest barrier to cycling in the city.
In the three years since their own poll, SDOT has done nothing, absolutely nothing, not one thing, to improve the Ballard Bridge cycling experience.
Kirk, what would you recommend to improve the Ballard Bridge cycling experience in the short term? It’s not entirely clear to me what could reasonably done without, say, a fairly major redesign (like widening the sidepaths). Sure, you could imagine closing a vehicle lane and putting in a cycletrack, but that’s not going to happen — nor is it likely to be safe, given the highway speeds on the bridge.
Are there obvious things SDOT could be doing there that they’re currently not?
I rode across it for the first time last week (never again!) and thought of some easy things that would make it better. First, increase the height of the barrier from cars by adding a railing on top of the concrete. Second, put up signs allowing only one-way traffic for bikes. I had to dismount because some cyclists were riding the opposite way of traffic. While I wish we could have two-way, there is just not enough room! Simple things like this would be great to do NOW, while we wait for a better long-term solution.
While the city could encourage people to ride with traffic, it’s a sidewalk, not part of the street, so current law allows bicycle travel either direction. Formally prohibiting riding against traffic is beyond SDOT’s control, it would require City Council action, and then significant enforcement.
Oh, there are so many things that could be done…
To begin with, they could fix the pothole paving on the sidewalks. On the south end, west side, at the curb cut into traffic, the sidewalk is heaved with the addition of some serious potholes. At this point, a cyclist should be braking with one hand, signalling with the other, but you have to negotiate some seriously bad pavement. I alerted the SDOT sidewalk crew and sent pictures, and corresponded with them so that they knew the location. Two years ago. Nothing.
Additionally, the signs at that same location are ambiguous, suggesting that turning cars should yield to bicycles, when in fact all cars should. The signs need to be changed, enlarged and place further up the bridge.
And yes, major work needs to be planned, scheduled and completed. On the smaller scale, an underpass at Dravus was suggested and evaluated by SDOT in 2009, and priced at $900,000. They said they didn’t have it in the current budget. Five years ago. In the meantime, they have spent how much more on how many other projects. Remember, this is the location deemed to be the biggest barrier to cycling in the city by SDOT’s own poll.
There was a study two years ago to evaluate the viability of blowing off the outer railings and cantilevering reasonable sidewalks. Nothing done. No information communicated. Nothing. SDOT needs some action here. Are we just to suffer forever? Yes, major construction needs to be planned and executed.
On the approach northbound, there is no good access. But there easily could be, if they put in a dedicated bike lane coming up Nickerson from the Ship Canal Trail to the bridge on the east side, travelling northbound.
Alternatively, the approach from Dravus northbound could be made much more bikable, with a bicycle signal to negotiate the intersection, and a bike lane northbound, continuing all the way until the Nickerson interchange and the stop sign.
Oh, and approaching the bridge southbound from Leary, the cars coming from Ballard Avenue routinely run the stop sign and pull through the sidewalk approach. A little enforcement there would be nice too.
Wow, long rant. I guess it’s my cause…
One other thought, since the real problem is that the bridge is too narrow for modern traffic standards…
It’s about half a mile long including the approaches. At 40 mph, that takes 45 seconds to drive. At 20 mph, it takes 90 seconds to drive.
Is an extra 45 seconds really that much to ask for safety?
If you lowered the limit to 20 mph and actually enforced it, faster cyclists could choose the traffic lane, the exit ramps would no longer be dangerously sharp turns, and you’d have fewer rear-end accidents when traffic stops for the bridge opening or the traffic light on the Ballard end.
George Benson proposed lowering the speed limit on the bridge to 30 mph decades ago for driver safety. Is it time to take a more serious look?
Depending on how one defines “Ballard bridge cycling experience”, it seems that a bit less than 3 years ago phase II of the ship canal trail was completed. From my point of view that significantly improved my “Ballard bridge cycling experience”. I have ridden across the Ballard bridge (on the sidewalk) a couple times, and walked my bike a couple more, then I discovered the ship canal trail and I now always take the Fremont bridge. Depending on one’s schedule that might not be an ideal alternative for all, but for me I’d gladly trade a pleasant 20 minute ride for an hour of abject terror (well, ok, maybe its more like 3 minutes, but it seems like hours).
On the other hand, half the time I cross the canal I’m going to PCC so the Fremont bridge is not actually out of my way at all, so my opinion may count for nothing. And if I’m going to Trader Joes I’m doing it on a week end and am riding for fun anyway.
One thing SDOT could do for little enough cost is put up a sign saying “FYI, if you’re not in a hurry there is a nice trail over there ->”, and, I suppose, finish the paving repairs/painting on the partial “missing link”
I wonder if the Mayor or any SDOT officials have actually been across the Ballard Bridge on the sidewalks. They don’t look so bad from a car, you really have to be out on the sidewalk to appreciate just how appallingly violent they feel to people on foot or bicycle. Seattle needs to implement congestion tolling, and Ballard Bridge would be as a good a place as any to start; then we could have a real debate about just how much right-of-way space the cars need.
I’d love to see Kirk’s second reply (http://www.seattlebikeblog.com/2014/05/12/two-people-collide-while-biking-on-i-90-bridge-state-patrol-looking-for-suspect-who-fled/#comment-627693) become a guest post of its own. I crossed the bridge a few times a week and he perfectly described most of the problems and practical improvements.
I’m more worried about the posts jutting into the narrow sidewalk than other users.
While moving to Seattle, on the 90 bridge, I was so impressed and excited by the number of riders. I couldn’t wait to be one of them. My first crossing, I was shocked at how horrible it was. Coming from Chicago where every car is trying to scare you or hurt you, I was more terrified by the cross winds, debris, feeling of falling into the lake, and the legion of squirrelly riders.
I’m more used to the bridge now and know what to expect from the wind and sometimes the other riders. Expect the worst.
Feel bad for the lady in the story. Heal fast.
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Update on the search for the hit-and-run cyclist, courtesy of Q13 — she was riding “a Fuji hybrid bike with straight handlebars.”
That should narrow it down quite a bit…
I’m confused what the good of this is. The police have told me that unless they directly witness an incident they cannot issue citations. So even if they find the hit-and-run cyclist, what good will it do?
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