Attorney seeks people who have had incidents at fatal Issaquah trail crossing

Photo of the intersection in question, from John Duggan.

Wayne Wagner was biking on the East Lake Sammamish Trail September 22 when a woman driving made a right turn into him at SE 56th Street and killed him, according to the Issaquah Reporter. Wagner was 69.

Our condolences to his friends and family.

The trail runs alongside East Lake Sammamish Parkway in this part of Issaquah. At the intersection with SE 56th Street, the trail crosses 56th Street as a crosswalk. People driving are allowed to turn right at the same time that the crosswalk has a “walk” signal, but signage clarifies that they are supposed to yield to people in the crosswalk.

The incident is still under investigation, so it’s not yet clear what (if any) charges will be filed.

Cycling attorney John Duggan (also a Seattle Bike Blog advertiser) is pursuing a wrongful death case, and is seeking anyone who has had incidents at this trail crossing. Get in touch by emailing john@dugganbikelaw.com.

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20 Responses to Attorney seeks people who have had incidents at fatal Issaquah trail crossing

  1. Scott says:

    Wow I knew him he was my grade school volleyball coach / friends dad. He was such an awesome person, I’m so sad to hear he died in this manner :(((

  2. Jim says:

    That intersection is exhibit A in the argument against right turn on red.

  3. asdf2 says:

    So, what’s being asked for here? Separate signal phases for bikes and right turns. If so, are you prepared to wait 3-5 minutes to cross the street while all the cars in the same direction as you have a green light?

    • Tom Fucoloro says:

      I don’t think there’s an exact ask yet. This is fact-finding.

    • Gary Anderson says:

      It could be done similar to the signals where the BGT crosses 25th Ave NE in Seattle north of University Village. Crossing (through, not turning) traffic has a green light with BGT traffic (bikes, pedestrians, skaters, …) while right turning traffic has a red light. Right turning traffic that crosses the trail has a separate signal phase — there is no right turn on red as indicated by signage and signals. This has worked very well at this intersection and the wait times aren’t objectionable. It was incredibly dangerous before this signalling was installed. This seems like the only reasonable thing to do where high volume right turn traffic crosses a high volume crosswalk or trail.

      • asdf2 says:

        I live by that intersection, and it’s not too bad. What makes the timing acceptable is that the right-turn phase comes out of the green time for cars on 25th, rather than lengthening the overall cycle.

        The concern is that in a more car-oriented location like Issaquah, it would be all to tempting for traffic engineers to make the lights always favor the right turns, and the crosswalk would only get green after a press of a beg button, followed by a wait of entire 2-3 minute cycle.

        Of course, a special right-turn cycle shouldn’t even be necessary to begin with, since drivers already have a protected right turn during the phase when drivers to their right have a protected left turn.

      • Ross M says:

        The best possible solution is a tunnel like the Burke uses in Kenmore, or like Issaquah is building just one street crossing to the south (http://www.ci.issaquah.wa.us/index.aspx?NID=2802). Granted, tunneling under 56th would be a much larger endeavor, but the next time this intersection needs work the option should be explored seriously.

    • J says:

      That signal is already slow (I’d guess it’s already at least 3 minutes) even when the right turns and crossing are running at the same time. A big flashing “stop when pedestrians are present” would be more appropriate than the tiny little sign that’s currently there, with the two faded orange flags. It is an extremely dangerous and poorly designed crossing and Issaquah’s failure to provide a safe detour from that intersection continuing south to downtown will no doubt result in additional injuries. It’s municipal malpractice to provide no safe alternative route.

    • Dave says:

      Portland has a number of intersections with bike-specific “go” signals. They prevent confusion and two were on a street that did have a red turn on right fatality in 2011. They do NOT create backups or unreasonably long waits at signals. And, yes, few worse ideas than a right turn on a red light!

  4. Josh says:

    That sign is not proper in Washington State.

    Washington State is a “stop” state for crosswalks, not a “yield” state.

    When a pedestrian or bicyclist is in a crosswalk in Washington, a turning driver must “stop and remain stopped,” not merely yield.

  5. GlenBikes says:

    What is the lawsuit here? Is it against the City of Issaquah? Something like negligent design causing death? If so, I think that is great. It is unfortunate but currently DOT’s favor unsafe highway designs because they (say at least) are afraid of lawsuits if someone is injured when they don’t follow negligent designs like AASHTO. We need them to be afraid of huge lawsuits every time someone is injured when they *do* follow those design standards.

  6. O says:

    How about the negligence of the trail being closed for months under i90 with no signed detour?? Gilman->17th ave nw is terrifying. as is l sammamish pkwy

    • BillN says:

      Last Sunday I parked at Lake Sammamish State Park and rode along the trail to Marymoor. I got really confused on the way back in Issaquah because of all the closed roads and closed trails without detour signs. I ended up at Gilman and 17th which was confusing and “terrifying”. I got off my bike and walked across 3 crosswalks before I could get on the bike bridge over I90. This isn’t my normal stomping grounds so I really needed some wayfinding signs. I’m not really sure what I did wrong but I am sure I didn’t go the best way in Issaquah. Trails are continuing to be built all around Puget Sound but signs are not always included.

    • jlo says:

      Yep, it’s closed until late 2018 (while the dirt settles on the new tunnel). It’s pretty crazy where I see people riding to get around this, but there is no other option. Someone else will get hit and another lawsuit.

  7. Priscilla says:

    I’ve been to this bike trail before. I hope justice is served and the case comes to a swift close, without too many external costs.

  8. Alkibkr says:

    I worked with Wayne many years ago and still remember him as a very special and remarkable human being. Issaquah is not the village it once was, it is swarming with cars and they need to get with it and adjust the design of their intersections for the safety of those who aren’t cocooned in a big vehicle. This was so unfair and avoidable.

  9. Joshua Heard says:

    I drive this intersection nearly every day. This intersection is a mess.

    First, they need to have two lanes turning right, not just one. Now, cars now have to wait two or three lights to turn right, which puts them in a hurry. They should add a lane. The number 2 lane should be straight, or right turn into the number 1 lane only of the crossing street. The number 3 lane should be right turn only into the number 2 lane only of the crossing street.

    Second, the blinking pedestrian sign blinks all the time, which means that after the first week, drivers tune it out. It should only blink when a pedestrian is present, alerting drivers to their presence. The crosswalk should have a red light for pedestrians, which turns green for pedestrians when they press the crossing button. This also activates the flashing pedestrian sign. I would also put a second sign in the median so drivers can really see it.

  10. David says:

    Isn’t this sort of trail design common around here? Where the 520 trail crosses 40th and 51st they have the same thing with the similar markings that cars should yield to bikers on the trail (and these are off the ramp from 520).

    What’s needed is no right turn on red, at least when the trail is busy. Personally, unless I’m in the first batch of bikes crossing those streets, I always assume the cars have right of way. That’s usually what they assume too. Heck, sometimes they need reminders even if the light has just changed.

  11. Susan says:

    …..Stop the Right On Red!…………. I drive in Chicago frequently where it is illegal in all crosswalks and there are photo enforced signs posted to remind!. This was an accident waiting to happen…..I know that large intersect, and it appears as though it has not been planned safely.

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