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Desiree’s mom: ‘I don’t want anyone else to lose their future on something that’s so preventable’

Friends and family of Desiree McCloud painted her bike white and decorated it with notes, flowers and Magic cards. Unlike most ghost bikes, this one is the bike she was riding when she crashed.
Friends and family of Desiree McCloud painted her bike white and decorated it with notes, flowers and Magic cards. Unlike most ghost bikes, this one is the bike she was riding when she crashed.

Family members of Desiree McCloud spoke with KOMO for a powerful story about her untimely death on Yesler Way near 13th Ave.

Desiree crashed May 13 while biking westbound on Yesler with friends. She was passing a friend on the left when a friend saw her wobble and fall hard over her handlebars. The police report and SDOT note that it is not clear whether she crashed due to the streetcar tracks, but that is a very common cause of over-the-handlebar crashes along the South Lake Union and First Hill Streetcar lines.

Desiree’s brother Cody has also crashed on streetcar tracks, he told KOMO.

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News of her death last week after several weeks in the ICU drew a flood of beautiful remembrances from friends. Desiree clearly touched a lot of lives both as a friend and through her work with the Girl Scouts.

Her family is putting pressure on the city to make sure the street is safe for biking so nobody else is hurt the way Desiree was.

“I don’t want any other parent to have to go through what I went through,” Desiree’s mother Penny told KOMO. “I don’t want anyone else to lose their future on something that’s so preventable, something so ridiculous.”

Watch the full heartbreaking report:

Our deepest condolences go to her friends and family.

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12 responses to “Desiree’s mom: ‘I don’t want anyone else to lose their future on something that’s so preventable’”

  1. (Another) Tom

    Only the first. What a senseless tragedy.

    This expensive boondoggle will continue to kill and injure cyclists. Jackson is unavoidable and the only realistic option for many cyclists coming from the south end. Yes, you can ride on King and other streets but at the least you still have to cross the tracks.

    I’m glad we set aside the master bicycle plan so we can plan even more tracks downtown.

    Meanwhile the trolley cars are still stuck in traffic.

  2. So… putting aside the idea that we’d remove the streetcar tracks from two critical routes west from the Central District… what are the concrete options going forward? I see these:

    Along the whole line, evaluate whether rubber-filled gaps would be effective, and what the maintenance cost would be. Priority would be intersections, then the Jackson/14th/Yesler switchback, then Broadway.

    On Jackson, bikes basically lose out and the nice route is kicked down to King. That’s fine, but King doesn’t get you across Rainier, and isn’t as nice as Jackson grade-wise. Weller has even worse grade characteristics (unacceptable for this purpose because a lot of people won’t use it). This would take an open-ended design process with a firm commitment to build an excellent non-Jackson bike route between Pioneer Square and the Central District; I can’t think of a way to do it that isn’t expensive or disruptive to someone.

    For eastbound Yesler the bike lane is against the curb and it’s never legal for a motorized vehicle to enter it except at a small number of curb-cuts… so I guess put up flex-posts? Westbound Yesler (where this crash occurred!) has curbside parking. Swapping the bike lane and the parking trades danger to cyclists for danger to people exiting vehicles, and adds accessibility challenges (per Portland’s experience). I’m not sure the road bed is wide enough to accommodate this configuration, and the current configuration where the narrow bike lane doubles as a buffer zone for drivers exiting their vehicles is obviously not a real solution. So the parking has to go, no two ways about it. That makes for a really generous westbound bike lane and a really narrow eastbound lane, which can’t be balanced until next time the street and rails are torn up (a couple generations from now?).

    1. Gary

      Figure a 15 year cycle for track wear at least on curves. Less on straight sections.

      Tears me a up, as I loved those old waterfront street cars, but then they had a designated right of way most of their distance.

      1. Gary

        (less wear, longer life) oooppps. need more coffee.

      2. That sort of maintenance won’t require tearing up the concrete part of the road, will it?

  3. […] on the Network today: Seattle Bike Blog remembers a woman who died from a fall over her bike handlebars, likely after getting tangled in […]

  4. […] Desiree’s mom: ‘I don’t want anyone else to lose their future on something that’s so prevent…(Image: Seattle Bike Blog) […]

  5. Hill

    Seattle built a quicker, trendier, cheaper mode of transit that it knows causes many bike accidents in other US cities, (google it…) We all have to buck up and pay for trollies, trains, etc. that are OFF streets. They have always been dangerous…..
    The bible of bicycling in it’s 6th edition, Effective Cycling, has 2 chapters on these issues.
    Just because you know how to ride a bike, doesn’t mean you know how to ride safely in
    city, country, highway environments.
    Bicyclists educate yourself…..

    1. Gary

      Those tracks are a trap!

  6. No surprise to me at all that the US’s biggest proponent of road bikes with 650b x 41mm tires lives in Seattle.

    1. Well, his preference predates these streetcars and he largely spends a lot of time riding on barely-paved backroads and gravel fire roads out in the boonies. It’s not so much related to the state of our pavement in Seattle.

      That said, I do prefer slick 26″ tires over the narrow 700C tires that everyone defaults to even when riding around Seattle. The smaller wheels also turn more quickly than 35mm+ 700C setups, which is important for the tight right angles in our oddly pedestrian-focused bicycle infrastructure.

  7. D reeves

    I’ve spent the last month in Northern Europe — and noticed that Amsterdam, Oslo, Helsinki and Rotterdam all have extensive tram networks with cyclists riding in and around all the tracks.

    Sometimes they’re physically separated from the rest of traffic, but often not.

    One difference I did note are the tires on most city bikes — quite a bit wider, and things like fixies and road bikes are really only for the truly hard core.

    I wonder what their accident rates are?

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