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At memorial for fallen bike rider, call for safety changes near First Hill Streetcar tracks

A memorial service was held Monday night to honor Desiree McCloud, who died in May after crashing her bike along the First Hill Streetcar tracks. But Monday’s remembrance was more than an opportunity for friends and family to gather with the community to remember the 27-year-old. Following the memorial, city officials met with walkers to discuss improvements that could be made to the stretch of E Yesler along the tracks where McCloud lost her life.

The dangers posed by the First Hill Streetcar tracks need solutions as soon as possible, friends and loved ones said.

“I feel personally convinced they were at least involved,” said one friend who was biking with McCloud at the time of the crash. “It seems clear to me that the design is very poor.”

About 30 people, including members of Central Seattle Greenways, SDOT reps, and McCloud’s family and friends, gathered near the area where McCloud crashed at Yesler and 13th for Monday’s memorial, The service took place near McCloud’s bike now displayed as a “ghost bike” that was left in memory of the rider. Speakers talked about McCloud’s intelligence, passion, and determination. Her friends said she moved to Seattle on her own, always tried to help others, and had aspirations to be a neuroscientist.

A petition has been started to improve the biking infrastructure on Yesler between Broadway and 14th, which includes the street where McCloud crashed her bike. It demands immediate improvement to the stretch of Yesler between Broadway and 14th which cyclists claim to be particularly dangerous, and asserts that “The City of Seattle must develop a policy to provide safe, protected bike facilities wherever streetcar tracks are laid.”

Although the investigation of the crash will ultimately determine the exact role the streetcar tracks played in McCloud’s crash, cyclists say they are dangerous and cause many crashes on that stretch of road.

At the solutions meeting, community members discussed the petition and what short and long term improvements could be made to the stretch of road where McCloud sustained her fatal injuries, as well as more general concerns that Seattle bike lanes are too narrow or in the “door-strike” zone, and narrow bike lanes are often hazardously situated between streetcar tracks on one side and parked cars on the other.

The discussion of improvements to the specific stretch of Yesler was briefly derailed as family members and friends talked about their general disdain for the streetcar system.

McCloud’s mother said the streetcar seemed to her like “a whole lot of wasted money and wasted effort.” McCloud’s father called for a streetcar embargo.

“You people live here,” he said to those at the meeting. “Make them not profitable. Make them so not profitable that the city rips them out.”

City traffic engineer Dongho Chang and SDOT representative Jim Curtin were present to hear the concerns, though Chang could not confirm to the group that SDOT would protect the bike lanes on Yesler.

“I know the desire is to have everything fixed right away, and we want to do that,” said Chang. He also encouraged cyclists and pedestrians to give feedback on SDOT’s comprehensive plan, as he said that feedback is what SDOT bases its design recommendations on.

Seattle Central Greenways representative Cathy Tuttle closed the meeting by thanking the city representatives for attending, and expressing her sadness.

“She was doing exactly what she should have been doing, and she’s not here anymore,” Tuttle said. “Streets are our public space, and we need to reclaim them.”

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10 thoughts on “At memorial for fallen bike rider, call for safety changes near First Hill Streetcar tracks

  1. Did the accident happen where the ghost bike is right now? If so, I don’t understand how she ended up on the tracks. Perhaps I’m not picturing the right spot.

    • Ive crossed tracks hundreds of times over 4 decades. And whether its difficult or not, it doesnt really matter, its optional. You can always get off and walk a very short distance to cross them if you are unsure. Advocating that we remove the street cars is insane.

  2. um, no we wont be ripping out the street cars. Just go perpendicular across the tracks or you know..walk your bike

  3. “McCloud’s mother said the streetcar seemed to her like “a whole lot of wasted money and wasted effort.” McCloud’s father called for a streetcar embargo.”

    Tall buildings are also dangerous so those should be banned as well. I remember my college roommate, just in the process of getting to know him, had lost his mother. I said oh I’m so sorry. He said she tripped on a curb and hit her head, freak accident. That leads me to think curbs should be banned as well.

  4. I think that people should stop speculating about this accident and wait for the results of the official investigation. Only then will we know if the streetcar tracks had anything to do with it.

  5. The real goal is to remove parking along streetcar tracks and create more separate bike lanes at the expense of vehicle parking. All just part of the program to improve bike infrastructure and “reclaim” public spaces, or what we used to call roads, through aggressive advocacy.