Seattle Department of Transportation data identifies the block of Dick’s Drive-In (111 NE 45th St) as 2010’s most hazardous intersection for bicyclists, reports seattlepi.com. Four collisions involving bicycles happened at this site last year, and six over the last three years. Fortunately, none were fatal.
I walked the two blocks to Dick’s Thursday evening to watch bikes and cars. I saw several bikes come downhill in the street, a couple ride uphill on the sidewalk (legal in Seattle), and a few motorists turn into Dick’s or onto 2nd Avenue with cell phones to their ears.
A helpful hint from reader Hoyt:
This spot is on my regular commuting route. After years of left-turning cars failing to see me as I came down the hill toward Dick’s, I started using my front (non-blinking) bike headlight at all times of the day and night. It has really helped and I have noticed that cars don’t turn so close in front of me any more.
From Cathy Tuttle, regarding our future neighborhood greenway:
The whole intention of Neighborhood Greenways is to reduce conflict, increase comfort, and help people travel more safely to the places they want to go by bicycle or on foot. Greenways help us move towards a vision of safer streets for all road users. Infrastructure that makes it safer for walking and bicycling automatically benefits drivers too. Greenways, like the first Seattle Greenway that is going to be built this year in Wallingford, from Latona to Stone way along 44th and 43rd, will make our neighborhood safer for everyone. If you feel comfortable letting your child walk to their friend’s house to play, then you’ll feel more comfortable when you have to drive as well.
Tangletown resident and Cascade Bicycle Club Director of Communications M.J. Kelly witnessed a car/bike crash on Wednesday just east of I-5. It’s all very close to home, as are the crash sites of three people killed while biking recently. I’ve recently invested in bigger, brighter lights for my bike, but haven’t made any changes to my routine, which includes passing Dick’s most days. Please share any advice/observations you think might prove helpful to your neighbors.
I go past there every Thursday night at 7pm from U-District to Lower Wallingford. Feels like we’re playing Frogger sometimes… and as the passenger in the car, it’s my job to help spot bikes. We almost nailed one at dusk without lights, dress in all black, going the wrong way, last week.
I have three:
1) if you think that stretch is risky for bikes, try negotiating it with a stroller. Even worse when panhandlers block the sidewalk at the utility pole…
2) kudos to Hoyt for recognizing bikers are harder to see and doing something to protect himself and others. Bikes are also silent and moving much faster than pedestrians, intersections are particularly hazardous. When riding on the sidewalk, they’re required to stop before using the crosswalk even if they have the light so turning vehicles have the opportunity to see them. (From the WSDOT website: Bolting into traffic – No pedestrian or bicycle shall suddenly leave a curb and move into traffic so that the driver can not stop (RCW 46.61.235).)
3) Cities in Oregon are allowed to reduce speed limits on certain non-arterials to 20 mph. Evidently the WA legislature has considered this and failed to act, it may be on the table again. Seattle really needs to reduce AND enforce speeds in some places for the safety of those of us who live, walk and bike on urban streets.
When I bike, I wear reflective clothing at night, along with reflectors and lights both front and back.
When I drive, the number of cyclists I see wearing nothing but black and without anything reflective or illuminated is legion. It’s not just illegal, it’s absolutely stupid.
I am wondering why the city decided to make 44th and 43rd a seattle greenway when the wadot advises children who attend john stanford international school to walk or ride from their home first to 42nd and then to proceed down to the school on 42nd. Wouldn’t it make more sense and more safe for children going to jsis to make 42nd part of the greenway. Thanks for any info regarding the decision making process surrounding the seattle greenway.
I ride with my lights blinking at all times. When I’m going fast down 45th I take the lane as well so I’m more visible. Must be very defensive there, but even with precautions you are still rolling the dice on that block.
It’s hard to drive with a Deluxe dripping onto your steering wheel.
@4 cheryl. We’ve had meetings since 2009 trying to decide which route would work well — that allowed us to advocate for the very first Seattle greenway in Wallingford. It is just under 1 mile long. Greenways are intended to be a complete system to knit together the city by low stress routes for walking and biking. We need other n-s and e-w connectors for sure. Ideally, we’d like to make a network of greenways like Portland has done throughout their city where almost 85% of their households are within 1/2 mile of a greenway.
The Seattle neighborhood that has come closer than Wallingford to getting a complete system planned out is Beacon (see http://www.beaconwalksbikes.org/).
Join the http://groups.google.com/group/seattle-greenways-organizers as a Wallingford greenway person and help to figure out where we need future routes to go. We’d love more active participation!
Since I live near there, I’ve experienced the danger of this hill both as a driver and as a cyclist. When I’m on my bike on this hill, I always have all my blinking lights on (including my bright, multi-colored MonkE Lights on my wheels, a gift from my wife who prefers that I stay alive.) I also make a point of occupying the whole lane when descending the hill, rather than riding in the marginat the right. As a driver, I’ve seen that cyclists that share the lane with cars can be hidden from view and nearly hit by cars attempting to turn into the parking lot. Cyclists should appreciate that the neighborhood traffic and Dick’s traffic make this stretch of road very stressful to navigate for drivers and drivers may not see cyclists if they are not obnoxiously blinking.
“…safer for everyone…”, everyone in her case is walkers and bikers, certainly not drivers who must keep to the right of the center line and not hit the wavering bikers. Perhaps in a few years car will not be allowed in the city and those who produce and pay taxes will have left. Let the lefties support their socialist government, chosen by those who don’t pay taxes.
Oh jim, just go galt already.
I agree with you w/r/t riding in the middle of the lane. I do the same on 40th, going east to U. Bridge. I think it makes your biking behaviour more predictable if you act like a car & take turns at 4-way stops instead of passing on the right, riding into Xwalks, etc.
Even though it is legal to ride on a sidewalk, I almost never do, and then only if there are no peds within a block of me. I always get off and walk around peds and to cross the street. Too many times I have nearly had a toddler or dog flattened by a bicyclist with a higher sense of entitlement than courtesy. And riding into a crosswalk is a prime example of entitlement trumping self-preservation.
Also, this website is fantastic:
If cycling on 45th is so dangerous, then why don’t you ride on 44th or 46th?
Seems like a fairly simple solution to me.
45th is a designated bike route, complete with sharrows. 44th and 46th are actually more dangerous in many ways: most of the intersections have no stop signs or yield signs, there are many more pedestrians and children, there are cars parked on the street that impede visibility, and in some places the pavement is that rubbery, bumpy stuff. It seems counter-intuitive, but (with the exception of locations like the intersection in question here) I often feel safer riding on a well-traveled thoroughfare like 45th because the lanes are wider and safer, pedestrians are looking out for traffic, and in many cases people are looking out for bikes.
If you are headed east on 45th(downhill) you are probably going at least 20mph and up to 35mph. As a cyclist, you have every right(& duty) to take the entire lane if you are going at or near the speed limit. I know there is a bike lane but it doesn’t always mean that you stay there. Take the lane when it is appropriate! You will get more respect from the drivers of cars that are considering turning left in front of you. Cars that want to pass you from behind will have to reconsider that notion because at that moment, you are presenting yourself as a car. Not a teeny tiny cyclist hugging the doors of parked cars.