Cycling In The Puget Sound: Be Careful Out There

Product Liability
Jun 23, 2013

It has been a brutal couple of months here in the Pacific Northwest for cycling incidents. The list is long and painful. My deep sympathies for all the victims and their families. We hope we can learn something from these events. We do hope that the reporting of these incidents will bring about greater awareness to drivers and to fellow cyclists. Be careful out there.

  • May 1st: Cyclist Fatally Hit While Riding During National Bike to Work Day. A bicyclist attempting to cross East Marginal Way in Seattle was struck by a semi truck. Cyclists and city government officials have long known about the hazards in this area: cyclists from the West Seattle Bridge reach the waterfront on a sidewalk west of Marginal way; they then try to reach the bike line on the east side of the street. Seattle Time transportation reporter Mike Lindblom pointed this out years ago when he wrote:

A greater threat is the tango between freight trucks and northbound cyclists entering from the West Seattle Bridge trail. Riders must cross East Marginal Way South to reach the bike lane to downtown. Truckers tend to show courtesy, but sightlines are poor enough that cyclists shun two traffic signals, instead choosing to cross wherever the coast is clear. See the full article here.

  • May 30th: Cyclist Fatally Hit from Behind. A cyclist traveling southbound on Airport Way South is hit by a sedan traveling in the same direction. The cyclist is thrown from her bicycle. She is rushed to Harborview Medical Center but cannot be saved. Her name was Surinderpaul Basra. She was an employee at Essential Baking Company. A memorial walk was held for her to honor here and bring greater awareness to bicyclists on the road.
  • June 16: Cyclist Fatally Hit During Charity Ride. Xavier Pelletier, a 16 year-old boy from Victoria, BC rides in the tw0-day Ride to Conquer Cancer charity bicycle event. He was riding in a large pack and tried to pass when he fell into the oncoming lane of traffic and was hit by a car. Xavier was riding with his mother and his uncle. He rode to support his uncle, a cancer survivor. He sure sounds like he was a neat kid. His family has graciously asked that folks make donations to the Ride to Conquer Cancer event through the BC Cancer Foundation. Others have been more critical of the lack of certain safety precautions. Here's a letter to the editor from one cyclist who rode in the event.
  • June 16th: Bicyclist Attacked. A skateboarder hanging out with his fellow boarders pushed his board in front of a cyclist, which caused the cyclist to crash. The group then surrounded the cyclist and beat him unconscious. Cycling is dangerous enough that we shouldn't have to contend with this kind of hazard too. These skateboarders don't represent the views of the majority of skateboarders who I'd like to think view cyclists as comrades who also have an affinity for self-propelled wheels. This cyclist confronted the skateboarders, but on balance he did nothing wrong. It raises the question however as to what cyclists can do to improve their image in the community. I have some ideas, but that's a topic for another day.
  • June 18th: Criminal Conviction in Car Collision With Bicyclist. A Gonzaga University law student pleaded guilty to hit and run and vehicular assault. He was sentenced to one year in prison for having crashed into a cyclist who trailed his young daughter from behind, and fled the scene. The girl suffered a fractured skull and wrist but has thankfully since recovered.
  • June 22: Well-Known Cyclist Fatally Collides With Car. Just this past weekend, Jerry Shafer, a well-known local competitive cyclist died after having collided with an on-coming vehicle while attempting to pass other cyclists. This is yet another local tragedy. Shafer, 65, was as experienced a rider as they get. It's a reminder that every cyclists, no matter the experience level can be just seconds away from tragedy.