After the second person in just one week was injured by a person turning across the 2nd Ave protected bike lane into a parking garage between Pike and Union, the city has made changes to improve visibility.
But the garage entrances have been a different issue because they are mid-block and there are no signals. Instead, the city has used green paint and symbols of people biking to tell people they should look for people on bikes before driving across the bike lanes. But not everyone follows those rules, and obscured visibility does not make it easier.
That could have been the issue Wednesday morning, when someone driving turned into the path of a woman headed south in the bike lane. She collided with the car and had to be hauled away in an ambulance. The Seattle Times reports that she “suffered hip pain but not serious injuries.” But it could have been a lot worse.
The city responded before the end of the day by pushing parking further back from the garage entrance to give people turning a better chance to see someone headed down the bike lane. They will also be adding signage to make it more clear to people turning into the garage that they need to look for and yield to people in the bike lane.
The garage entrances have long been an issue on the street, even before the upgraded bike lane. But while the upgrades addressed many other issues on the street, they did little to fix the garage entrances and may even have made them worse. During peak hours, attendants help guide cars in and out of many of the garages, as they did even before the bike lane. But that’s not a full-time solution.
Driveways are trouble in any dense area of the city and are awful for the walking environment as well as for biking. But where driveways must be accommodated, there are design elements that can help them work. The green paint is a low-cost way to make it clear that, as a person driving, you are about to enter a space dedicated to biking. If the bike lane were raised a bit, this effect would be even more clear since a person would have to drive over a small curb to cross the bike lane.
But, of course, it also requires people driving to recognize and respect that bike or walk space and yield, something that needs to become a part of our driving culture through education and extremely clear signage.
King 5 has a full report on the problem and got some good before and after footage showing the problem the city has addressed:
EDITOR’S NOTE: I am in St. Louis visiting family this week, so I apologize for being slow on covering yesterday’s collision. I will still be reporting from here, but breaking news coverage will probably be slower than usual through next week.