Person on bike struck and killed by driver in Georgetown collision

Just before 5pm Wednesday evening, someone riding a bike was struck and killed by the driver of a semi-truck in the Georgetown neighborhood, according to the Seattle Police Department. The collision took place at the intersection of Corson Ave S and S Michigan Street, which turns into S Bailey Street east of Corson. From SPD:

Prior to the collision, the driver of the semi-truck was stopped facing northbound at the intersection of South Michigan Street and Corson Avenue South, preparing to make an eastbound right turn [onto Bailey Street]. As the driver waited at the light, a bicyclist that had also been travelling [sic] northbound pulled in front of the truck, apparently out of view of the driver. When the truck pulled forward to turn right, the bicyclist was struck and killed.

The person riding the bike was approximately 40 years old, according to the department.

The curb ramp from Corson onto Bailey has a very large apron to accommodate the wide turning radius of large freight trucks that travel through the area. Georgetown has received a much larger volume of vehicle traffic since last March when the high West Seattle Bridge was entirely closed, though the low bridge remains open to freight traffic. The semi truck on SDOT’s traffic camera showed a visible USPS logo. There is a USPS distribution facility not far from Georgetown in Tukwila, and a USPS vehicle maintenance facility in SoDo.

Corson Ave S and S Bailey St (Google Maps)

 

This is at least the sixth traffic fatality on Seattle’s streets so far in 2021 and the first we know of where someone involved was riding a bicycle.

We are heartbroken at this news, and are thinking about what this person’s family and friends must be going through right now.

About Ryan Packer

Ryan Packer is Temporary Editor of Seattle Bike Blog.
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18 Responses to Person on bike struck and killed by driver in Georgetown collision

  1. Peri Hartman says:

    I saw this in the Seattle Times this morning. It’s hard (impossible ?) to understand what happened from the descriptions. From a standstill, a large truck doesn’t gain speed very fast. I would think there should be plenty of time for a cyclist to react.

    I’m not saying that there was time to react, just that something is unclear or incongruous about the description.

    Regardless, most unfortunate.

  2. btwn says:

    if you look at the image of that corner on street view, you can see where vehicle traffic has polished off the textured yellow area on the sidewalk. I wonder if the person on the bike was standing on the corner and got caught by the rear tires of the trailer as it rounded the corner?

  3. Gary Yngve says:

    This is tragically preventable. Cyclist should know better than to get in the danger zone of a truck. Truck could be retrofitted with sideguards to reduce injury and could be retrofitted with cameras to expose blindspots. SDOT could design the road to manage the intersection conflicts better.

    • Ryan Packer says:

      At this point there’s exactly zero evidence that the person killed “should know better” than to be where they were.

      • Gary Yngve says:

        Respectfully disagree. Anytime I see a big truck on the road I stay far away from it. Even if I am on the sidewalk at a corner, I back away from the edge. If I need to cross in the vicinity of a large truck, I make sure I establish eye contact with driver before entering the danger zone, shouting if I have to. If I cannot affirmatively negotiate safe crossing with driver, I don’t cross.
        Yes, there shouldn’t be so much responsibility needed on the part of the pedestrian/cyclist, but until the rest of the ecosystem is improved, peds and cyclists are ultimately responsible for their own safety.

      • Rob says:

        Respectfully I’ve been driven into by someone actively making eye contact with me and knew of my presence. That is a strategy to help prevent these kinds of things but it’s just a strategy. I would stop with the idea that any one person is “ultimately responsible” when in reality there are lots of people responsible, some you acknowledge but still work into this idea that the victim could have stopped it.

        I sometimes think that thought process comes out of fear. Fear that thing we do to get around could end up being our death but it’s also a think that brings us joy or makes it possible to travel. At the end of the day it’s soothing to believe it was something the victim could have prevented and that a different strategy would avoid it. I tell myself the same things frequently, and it’s easy in hindsight to note an error. But errors are always easier to catch once it’s clear that there was an error.

        Anyway, I’m glad you have strategies, I hope others have them too but at the end of the day no strategy can predict and solve all situations. Is there something the victim could have done? Probably, but you could go all the way to “they should have stayed home today” and be right but it doesn’t matter because that’s not what occurred and we don’t have clear evidence to say that she didn’t look at the truck, see it was stopped, think the driver saw her and then all turns out to have been untrue. Maybe the driver looked at her but didn’t actually “see her” because they were preoccupied. Maybe no one looked at anyone.

      • Gary Yngve says:

        You make a good point about rationalizing fears and that no risk is 100% preventable.
        In aggregate, there are so many ped/bicycle vs truck/lorry collisions that some of them could have been prevented by the vulnerable user being more defensive. We may never know the exact situation for this case. We would need video of the scene and video from inside the cabin of the truck driver. I should have couched my original statement. Nevertheless, I think that for the purposes of Vision Zero, we should still use these opportunties to teach peds/cyclists to be more defensive, rather than saying that 100% of responsibility belongs elsewhere… because living/escaping chronic injury is more important than comparative fault.
        Josh mentions below that driver may have RTOR while cyclist was crossing in xwalk. The cyclist’s speed here may have limited drivers’ perception of them. Again, whether or not cyclist was going faster than a walker is irrelevant; it is worth highlighting in general that going faster than a walker in a xwalk increases the chance of the driver looking and not seeing you and hitting you on RTOR.

    • Kim K says:

      Gary, we don’t know what happened.

      As Ryan noted, there is no evidence they should have known better, etc.

      I hope all of us have learned by now that police very often get things wrong or push out narratives that subtly place the more vulernable party at fault. Since we only know that a person was killed while riding bike when struck by the driver of a truck, we cannot say what that person should know better to do.

      And see comments below, as someone posted on West Seattle Blog that they say the collision and the cyclist was in the crosswalk with the signal in their favor. Very different than the police narrative. So, we don’t know what happened. So, we don’t know who should know better. Maybe the driver should know better when turning right on red at a busy urban intersection? I don’t know. But it’s at least as true at this point as any similar statement about the person riding the bike.

    • Don Brubeck says:

      Gary, the news reports, police blotter report and eye-witness comments on West Seattle Blog are contradictory as to circumstances, including directions of travel and whether the bike riders was in roadway, sidewalk or crosswalk. Crash investigation takes days or weeks. It is irresponsible and cruel to the victim’s family and friends who will read this blog to be jumping to conclusions about who did what and how the bike rider could have prevented it.

  4. Don Brubeck says:

    So sorry for this person’s family and friends and loss of life. Sorry for the truck driver, too,

    In Georgetown and SODO, most streets that people on bikes must use also must be used by heavy trucks. Most unfortunately, this fatal crash is not the first. This is why we need the Mayor and Council to fund and SDOT to build safe bike routes through Georgetown and SODO with decent paving, and separation from heavy trucks on arterials, and traffic calming and street edge definition on minor streets. Drivers of large trucks have huge blind spots. Intersections on Michigan and other streets with heavy truck traffic need to be designed and marked for safety of cyclists and pedestrians and turning movements of trucks. The Freight Master Plan and Bicycle Master Plan show what to do and how to do it. Now, just do it.

  5. Josh says:

    A witness posting on the West Seattle Blog contradicts the police description. They say they watched the cyclist crossing perpendicular to the truck, in the marked crosswalk, with the signal in their favor, when they driver then attempted a right on red.

    • Jesse says:

      That seems pretty plausible. Truck is stopped at the intersection, waiting to make a right on red. Cyclist arrives at the intersection, and uses the crosswalk to cross a major road. Truck driver claims they “don’t see” the cyclist because they were actually only watching the car traffic so they could make a right on red.

      It doesn’t contradict the police statement, just has slight missing details:
      The driver of the semi-truck was stopped facing northbound at the intersection of South Michigan Street and Corson Avenue South, preparing to make an eastbound right turn. As the driver waited at the light, a bicyclist that had also been travelling northbound pulled in front of the truck [in a crosswalk], apparently out of view of the driver. When the truck pulled forward to turn right [on a red light], the bicyclist was struck and killed.

      • Kim K says:

        If you read the West Seattle Blog comments, the witness statements do contradict the police narrative. The witness wrote: “The semi was turning right on a Red, traveling north on Cordon, turning East onto Michigan. This is the corner where the Shell Station is. The cyclist had the green and was on the south side of Michigan, in the crosswalk biking west towards Harbor Freight Tools.”

    • NoSpin says:

      Whatever the cause of this tragic loss of life, we need to get rid of ‘right-on-red.

      Right-on-Red prioritizes driver convenience over pedestrian safety, and is almost universally abused.

      Over generations, drivers have come to believe that there are no restrictions to Right-on-Red, including proceeding only after coming to a full stop and yielding to others who have the right-of-way.

      Too often, drivers don’t even stop at the red light – they just look to the left to see if there are any other motor vehicles coming, and if the ‘coast is clear’ they hook a right without looking to see if they are cutting off a pedestrian entering the crosswalk.

      And when drivers kill a pedestrian, they get away with ‘I didn’t even see them’ or ‘they came out of nowhere.’

      Of course, this will not change: drivers value their own convenience too highly, cops don’t enforce basic traffic laws, and politicians are too timid to take bold action that will upset self-centered constituents.

      • Allan says:

        I agree with NoSpin’s comment. In addition, if they do hit somebody it’s time blame the victim for being in their way.

  6. Mark H says:

    As soon as I read it, I assumed it was a right turn on red collision.

    It’s the epitome of prioritizing drivers above all else to keep allowing this unsafe maneuver.

  7. eddiew says:

    Sad. I biked to Georgetown two Saturdays ago. I visited Counterbalance brewery. when I went through the subject intersection, I used a two-stage left turn. South Michigan Street was full of traffic from West Seattle bound for I-5 and it would have been difficult to reach the left turn lane. I enjoyed both the 1st Avenue South and Airport Way South bridges over the Argo rail yard.

  8. Kathy says:

    We live in a city where it is illegal to bike without a helmet, but it is legal for semi trucks and other heavy vehicles as well to have blind spots.This is a gross injustice.

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