Friday, August 23, 2013

Cyclist severely injures pedestrian in crosswalk

Horrific accident apparently resulted from inattention

At about 8:40 this morning, an unidentified man described as being in his 40's or 50's was struck by a bicyclist at the crosswalk in front of the Wells Fargo branch near the intersection of E. Madison Street and McGilvra Boulevard E.  The man was knocked to the ground unconscious and suffered what are described as life-threatening head injuries as a result of the collision.  According to a witness, the man was convulsing when the ambulances arrived. He was taken to Harborview Hospital, but information on his condition has not been released.

The cyclist was reportedly traveling at a fairly high speed down Madison, heading towards the water, when the pedestrian stepped into the crosswalk on the Wells Fargo side of the street. A witness stated that the man appeared to be on his cell phone, stepped into the street from behind a tree, and did not look to his left when starting across the street.  The cyclist, who is reported to be 26 years old, attempted to slow down but was unable to stop before the man wandered into the path of the bike. A witness estimated that the bicycle may have been traveling 30 miles an hour at the point of collision. The cyclist was also injured in the accident, but a report by KOMO states that these were only scrapes and cuts.

Wells Fargo's branch manager, Michael Morrow, who saw the accident, told us that there have been at least nine accidents at that crosswalk in the three years he's been in the job.  He says there's a lack of visibility both for those crossing the street and those traveling on Madison. In this incident, he said, "cars were parked on both sides of the south end of the crosswalk, the site lines were blocked, the pedestrian did not see the cyclist nor the other way around, and the cyclist was going too fast."  He notes it could just as easily have been a car that hit the pedestrian.

Morrow was already involved with the efforts of the Madison Park Business Association and the Community Council to get a Seattle city grant to improve the crosswalk. Among the ideas suggested, he told us, are a raised crosswalk (as in the Arboretum), a concrete pedestrian "refuge island" (as on E. Madison in front of the Broadmoor entrance), and redesigned curbs to the west and east of the crosswalk in order to prevent cars from parking too close and blocking visibility.  New signage, flashing lights, and speed bumps are other potential alternatives that SDOT could consider, though some of these ideas might not be practical for this intersection. The city, according to Morrow, was already well aware of the hazard to pedestrians at this site, but today's accident may heighten efforts to fix the problem.


  1. Having almost been hit myself by a cyclists I must ask if speed limits apply to them as well as red lights. In one case I happen to step into a crosswalk with the light in my favor, but the cyclist ignored the light and nearly hit me.

    I must also ask if the cyclist would have stopped if the person had used the crossing flag?

    I also recently saw cyclist using a sidewalk rather than the street. I believe that we have a problem with cyclists in Seattle and the rules of the road!

    1. It is legal in the city of Seattle for cyclists to ride on the sidewalk. They must yield to pedestrians, however.

    2. Why would a cyclist yield the for pedestrians on sidewalks when they fly through crosswalks with people using them???

  2. Bicyclists are usually on the receiving end. But sometimes they cause accidents.

    People are fallible. They make mistakes when they’re driving. They make mistakes when they’re riding.

    But when they’re driving they have liability insurance. (Or at least they’re supposed to have it under Washington law.) But bicycles are not motor vehicles and riders are not required to carry liability coverage.

    So who pays when a bicyclist causes an accident? It’s not totally intuitive, but a homeowner or renters policy will cover the damages caused by a negligent bike rider. (The same holds true for accidents caused by skateboarders and rollerbladers.)

    The odds of getting injured by a rider you don’t know are pretty slim (particularly in bike versus bike accidents). If you’re riding in a group you probably know the other riders. There’s always the question: should I make a claim if the at-fault rider was a family member or friend?

    People worry about insurance rates and relationships. But when you break it down the decision becomes pretty clear. Your friends and family purchased insurance for these types of situations—to make sure someone else was taken care of if they made a mistake. If you don’t make a claim the only one you’re helping in your friend or family member’s insurance company.

  3. This is a sad story.

    It's an ongoing problem, in part due to the cars parking illegally and blocking sightlines near the crossing.

    If one looks at the Google street view, it's clear there are at least two, and perhaps three cars parked illegally (within 30 feet of the crossing). Look here:

    That said, people on bikes need to slow down and watch out, and people on foot need to watch for people on bikes before entering the crosswalks.

    As to the question of Mike - almost all bicyclists are drivers as well, and those who aren't often own homeowners insurance with liability coverage.

  4. I hope this man recovers.

    "A witness estimated that the bicycle may have been traveling 30 miles an hour at the point of collision."

    30 mph is not easy to reach on your bike in the city. Bikes often look faster to people who don't have any idea how fast they are really going.

    1. 10, 20, 30, still can't run over people in crosswalks, whether they are paying attention, or not.

    2. Umm......yes you can. If the cyclist was travelling at the speed limit of 20-25 mph and the person stepped right out in front of them without looking, there is no time to stop. The same applies to someone driving a car. This is an awful tragedy but there has to be a large degree accountability on the part of the pedestrian. I imagine all the "nanny state" liberals will take issue with this but people need to be accountable for their actions. It is that or we invest in large rolls of bubble wrap.....

    3. Yes people need to be accountable for their actions, which is why the cyclist holds at least 50% if not more of the responsibility for not being able to stop their vehicle in time. Whether you are driving a car or riding a bike, you are supposed to be driving at a speed where you are in control of your vehicle.

    4. So I guess Madison should have a 5mph speed limit just in case someone decides to jump out in front of your car. The POSTED speed limit is 25mph. If you are driving at or below that speed you still may not be able to stop if someone darts out in front of you. Bubble wrap for all!

  5. cyclists are completely lawless. they assume the best of both worlds(cars or pedestrians) whenever it suits their needs and they think everyone should yield to them. and to make it worse they are smug and superior about it. "share the road with cyclists"?? how about they share it with cars and pedestrians??!!

    not sure if seattle is the bike capital of the US but its certainly the rude bike rider capital.

  6. The real sad truth here is that motorists, cyclists and pedestrians ALL need to pay attention. If more attention was paid by all more accidents could be avoided. I know pedestrians have the right of way but you cannot simply just walk out into a crosswalk without looking first. Not saying this is what happened in this tragic accident but it is the reality all too often. While fixing that crosswalk will make a big difference, it won't make the problem go away. Paying better attention on ALL fronts will help tremendously.

    1. Agreed. There seems to be an increasing attitude by pedestrians and cyclists that it is the job of the driver in the car to be the sole person staying alert. I drove from Downtown to Madison Park over Capitol Hill last Friday and I was a nervous wreck by the time I got home! People walking around with their ear buds in their ears, texting madly just step into the road and start crossing the street. Even scarier when they are on a bike, clad head to toe in the "hipster uniform" of black skinny jeans and a black hoodie and dart out from between cars. Madison Park is not a haven of hipsters but there is a large population of older residents who do the same thing. I think of an "accident" as something that happens despite people being aware and alert. We a need a new word to define these tragedies that occur due to reckless and clueless behavior.

      I have taught my kids that they should never cross the street without making eye contact with the driver approaching the intersection. The crossing flags are helpful but until the driver sees the "whites of their eyes" I say stay on the curb!

    2. The last reply is totally correct, especially about making eye contact with drivers, but have you tried that with a bike rider? By the time you make eye contact, the biker would be on top of you.

      Just as drivers are advised to use hands free devices, the pedestrian should keep off of their cell (or other electronic) devices when crossing streets! The cell phone may have been part of this accident, but it doesn't excuse the 30 mph speed of the biker...

      Hopefully a new mayor may change the arrogant attitude of the bikers in Seattle!

  7. So does the 25 mph speed limit apply to bikers YES or NO?

    Are bikers allowed to run red lights, YES or NO?

    Are bikers allowed to cross a marked crosswalk with a pedestrian in it, YES or NO?

    It's time to stop the "bubble wrap" %^&* and understand that a person has been in hospital for a week now in critical condition!!!

  8. According to the MPCC member cited in this article "this particular crosswalk did not seem to be a priority for the government because there weren't enough 'documented accidents' to warrant corrective measures" and yet the bank manager claims "the city was already well aware of the hazard to pedestrians at this site, but today's accident may heighten efforts to fix the problem." Which is it? The article and comments section has, to date, tried to affix the blame to the cyclist running a red light (?), the mayor(??), the pedestrian not looking before crossing, the cars parked too close to the crosswalk and a tree. The Seattle bike code requires that riders show "due care" when approaching a crosswalk. This does not involve slowing down to a crawl. Also, keep in mind that cyclists typically ride on the extreme right of the lane so they are that much closer to the sidewalk when a pedestrian enters the crosswalk. According to the SDOT Pedestrian Code #WAC 132E-16-040 -- Pedestrians -- Right of way.
    (Section 2) Pedestrian sudden movements. No pedestrian shall suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle which is so close that it is impossible for the driver to stop.

    To the last commenter - watch your mouth - this is a family blog. Everyone realizes this is an unspeakably awful tragedy but, just because it happened in Madison Park, does not mean the crosswalk should shoot to the top of the DOT's list of dangerous spots that require immediate attention.

  9. When I was riding a motorcycle, here one of the simple rules that I try to follow. Don't assumed you have the right of way even if you do, it's cheaper that way.


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