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Capitol Hill Community Post | Vision Zero By 2030 (in case I live that long)

Last December, an idiot sideswiped me when he cut into the southbound bike lane to park his car by Seattle U. The accident cost me a concussion and scars on my nose and leg.

Last night, another idiot, this one on a bicycle, pulled a Jersey left at the intersection of 12th with Union and Madison. Again, I was traveling south on 12th on my way home from work. Both of us ended up sprawled on the street just a couple of blocks from the site of my December accident. No major injuries this time, thank God. My bike took some damage, but mostly just cosmetic. Steel frames are amazing.

I’m not damaged, but it may be a while again before I bike to work. Before December, I rode pretty religiously 3-5 times per week. After the concussion, it was about 3 months before I got back in the saddle and then it was only for the occasional sunny day ride. My bike commuting went from 3-5 times per week to 3-5 times per month. Last night was one of those rare rides.

It’s a little ironic, at least Alanis Morisette ironic, that as I walked my bike out of the office yesterday, I mentioned to a co-worker that I don’t ride as much as I used to since my December crash. She wished me a safe ride home.

It’s the good advice that I just didn’t take

Who would’ve thought, it figures.

Before gearing up for my ride home, I spent some time with a different co-worker checking out a new collision reporting web site. Tim Ganter does a nice job ranking and mapping auto collisions (car on car, car on pedestrian, car on bike) in Seattle since 2006. Turns out that Capitol Hill is a popular spot for ramming people and parked cars. In the past 12 months, we rank third in number of collisions (508), first in collision-related serious injuries (10), and first in collisions with possible injuries (59). We rank first in number of parked cars hit (97), second in DUI cases (20), second in number of pedestrians struck (37) and first in number of cyclists struck (23).

WTF, Capitol Hill drivers?

For the record, that last number is low. I looked at Ganter’s map and my December run-in with the sideswiper didn’t get counted. Also not counted are collisions between two or more bicycles, or collisions of bicycles with pedestrians, or pedestrians with pedestrians, or pedestrians with parked cars.

Ganter is pulling data from SDOT, and I suppose a focus on collisions involving cars (weighing 4000+ pounds) are the ones most concerning. I can attest that colliding with another bicycle sucks and cyclists can be fucking IDIOTS (I’m talking about you, Katherine A!). But a car crash can kill you. Seven people have died in Capitol Hill car collisions in just the past six months. We can and must do better.

In 2015, the City of Seattle “launched” (their word, I wonder how one launches a vision) Vision Zero setting a goal of zero car crash fatalities or serious injury related accidents by 2030. Clearly, we have a long way to go in Capitol Hill and across the City, especially in Seattle’s denser urban villages where 80 percent of pedestrian-impacted collisions occur and where crashes with pedestrians and bicycles most frequently happen during commute hours.

It’s no wonder people are afraid to bike to work, or even walk through certain intersections on Capitol Hill. If we’re to achieve zero fatalities or serious injury accidents by 2030 (and preferably before then), even as more people move into the neighborhood, there are a few things we need to prioritize:

    1. Slower speeds
    2. Safer separation for pedestrians and cyclists
    3. Better crossings for pedestrians and cyclists
    4. Better enforcement of traffic and parking laws
    5. Fewer idiots

Okay, it’s hard to control for number 5, so can we please hurry up with 1-4?



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23 thoughts on “Capitol Hill Community Post | Vision Zero By 2030 (in case I live that long)

  1. While slower speeds might make a small difference, the biggest thing we need is less distracted driving, by treating texting/facebooking/instagramming while driving the way we treat drinking & driving, as they have similar effects on safety & accident rates.

    • I drive 2.2 miles to work and back each day and always see multiple drivers looking at their phones. Yesterday a jaywalker stepped out in front of my car while looking at her phone. I honked and she never even looked up. Everyone involved in an accident while looking at their phone should pay a heavy price, just like drunk or high drivers.

    • @del – I can get behind that, and also think that penalties should be higher for those operating more dangerous equipment.

      I would add that your insurance rates should not change if there’s a dumb pedestrian walking in front of your car and you hit them.

  2. Your “slower speeds” suggestion has already been implemented, at least in theory. The official speed limit now in Seattle is 25 mph for arterials and 20 mph for everything else, although the signage has not yet caught up with the new law. I suspect very few motorists will comply with these new limits on a consistent basis.

    • I assume he means SDOT having the balls to come back and update streets to enforce slower design speeds, and just assuming slower posted speeds would magically change the city (which as you correctly note, are indeed meaningless in moderating driver behavior).

      So no, his suggestion has not yet been implemented.

  3. How about now giving pedestrians and cars green light at the same time?
    As a foreigner from A different country I am always wondering that there are not more pedestrians hit every day. I don’t see how it makes sense to give cars green light and then Let them wait for pedestrians to cross.

    Why not have a separate green phase for pedestrians. And what about round about. Why put stupid traffic lights every few yards.

  4. I recall when Dixy Lee Ray was Governor you could get a bicycle drivers license. You could ride on the sidewalk, but you had to follow the same laws as a pedestrian and walk your bike across the street at the crosswalk.
    You could ride in the street, but you were counted as a vehicle and could not go on the sidewalk. You couldn’t switch from one to the other like today. What changed that was all the bicycle messengers in the 80’s-90’s getting run over in Manhattan trying to make the cutoff deliveries by 5pm. We no longer have the bicycle delivery like that since FAX’d and E-Mail’d documents can be considered legally signed in court, but we still by RCW, allow bicyclists to operate in traffic and on sidewalks in an unpredictable fashion. There seem to be idiots regardless of them driving a car, riding a bike, skateboarding, or jaywalking.

    • The “bicycle license” was just a registration to help police recover stolen bicycles…

      I’m a dedicated bicycle commuter, though I own a car I only really use it for traveling long distances or carrying very heavy loads. 99% of my in city travel is done by bike or on foot.

      While this incident is unfortunate and I won’t tell you I haven’t encountered my share of ding-a-ling cyclists (mainly stop sign runners who try to pass me on my right as I am making a right hand turn…) I will tell you driver ding-a-lings are much more widespread and waaaaaaaaaaaaay more dangerous..

      As far as I am concerned the only thing that would help would be actual *enforcement* of the laws we have – stop people from speeding and running stop signs – how very rare it is to see a driver actually stop at a stop sign…

  5. It isn’t always the car’s fault, btw. I typically walk to work or bus, and occasionally ride a bike or drive, but regardless of the mode of transportation, it’s just idiots.

    Walking on the sidewalk I’ve had people walk into me because they were to engrossed in whatever TV show they were watching on their phone or too busy on facetime. Really? Can you not just walk?

    I’ve had cyclists hit me on the sidewalk and then not even glance back, I’ve had them scream ‘F-you’ when I’ve said “Watch out!” as they speed through the sidewalk. I’ve had a driver ogling a girl across the street idle up to and hit me as I was already halfway across a sidewalk. His excuse when I said “This is a crosswalk, buddy” he said “Hey man, I was looking at something beee-uuuu-tiful.”

    Honestly, I think traffic enforcement would help with the bulk of the problems, as well as some changes to the laws: no bikes on sidewalks, bikes breaking traffic laws are subject to the same fines as cars – none of that ‘bikes cause less damage than cars’ or ‘cars do it too’ – everyone deserves tickets. Pedestrians should be cited for jaywalking or crossing against the signal when cars are present – and ideally for inattentive walking (pipedream, eh?). And for f**k’s sake can we get some speed enforcement around here? Lowering the speed limit is nice, but who is enforcing it (against all wheeled vehicles)?

    Until that happens we’ll have to deal with scofflaw drivers, entitled [scofflaw] cyclists, and inattentive meandering pedestrians.

  6. My rants:

    Seattle drivers, do not stop for me when I’m a cyclist at a two way stop. You make the road unpredictable and so much more dangerous. For gods sake sometimes cars stop on a green light and try to wave me through a red. This makes me so angry.

    Second rant, bicyclists who completely disavow all traffic rules. These are usually idiots riding around without a helmet weaving through sidewalks, traffic, and intersections without a care for anyone else on the road. So dangerous.

    I purposefully ride at a slower pace because 12th ave scares me.

    • I’ve experienced the same thing as a pedestrian — drivers stopping on green(!) and trying to wave me across the street against the light. It’s not a frequent occurrence by any means, but I’ve never seen it anywhere but Seattle.

  7. “intersection of 12th with Union and Madison. Again, I was traveling south on 12th on my way home from work. ”

    Road selection might help you out. There are a lot of quiet neighborhood roads in all directions in this area, you should only be on arterials if you are crossing or for short periods of time. Avoid people and you avoid accidents. I can’t believe how often I see someone riding up Madison or similar roads, there is no up-side.

    • If you only drive you might think this true… but the reality is that being on a 4 lane arterial as a cyclist can be less stressful than being on a neighborhood street.

      On the arterial I usually have a good line of vision, can travel quickly and take a lane when I need to. On a back street every one of those small round-abouts is a gamble – often sight lines are obscured and drivers speed through way to fast for the conditions – too often going around the circles on the *wrong side* of the road….(and think this is OK…). The roads are narrow, leaving few options for bailing out.

      On an arterial I worry about – road ragers who think that having to slow down for 10 seconds is the end of the world and people who are driving distracted or clueless and may pull out or turn in front of me.

      On a back streets I have to worry about road ragers who think having to slow down for 10 seconds is the end of the world… drivers who plow down what are basically one way streets and feel that anyone and anything smaller than they are (and this goes for smaller cars and drivers with smaller balls too…) must give way or be run over and possibly being broadsided by a speeding driver that I couldn’t see at any intersection.

      In all the arterials are actually, usually faster and somewhat less stressful and I prefer them in most situations – with the exception of climbing steep hills. When going up a steep hill, that means I will be going much slower anyway, I usually prefer to take a quieter street. Down a steep hill – the bigger the street the better. At the speed of traffic I like my space.

    • Not to mention the Aleppo-shitty bone-jarring side streets of Capitol Hill! Would rather they fix streets rather than make bike maps and bike share plans. My daughter went over the handlebars on a nasty pothole with nary another vehicle in sight.

  8. ” with the exception of climbing steep hills.”

    “I see someone riding *up* Madison”

    Which is what my example was about…

    If you are going down or fast arterials can be fine. I don’t really see this aggression in roundabout-land that you do though. Perhaps we have different riding styles and that impacts our experiences.

    • Usually the aggression on the straight bits when there’s not enough room for two cars to pass – and it’s not necessarily directed towards cyclists alone.. anyone coming in the other direction is fair game – while 23rd was closed in one direction we had regular and almost predictable screaming matches between motorists on my street…
      At the roundabouts it’s usually plain laziness – not going all the way around to make a left hand turn or carelessness – going way too fast coming into intersections where it is difficult to see – not yielding people (peds, bikes other motorists) who are already in the intersection.

      By going uphill I don’t mean just any hill – a steep and prolonged hill with fast traffic and no shoulder… Like – I tend to take Inerlaken on my way home even though on my way to work I go straight down 23rd/24th/Montlake Ave.

      I probably wouldn’t choose to climb straight up Madison from the Madison Valley side- steep, long, not too many stop lights. On the other hand Madison from the city side has a lot of lights that tend to keep traffic reasonably slow and isn’t nearly as steep. I wouldn’t hesitate to climb it if I were heading in that direction. In any case at the intersection in question – no matter which way the offending cyclist was traveling he was actually going down hill… 12th is a low spot on Madison..

    • @ CD cyclist: At a roundabout, it is legal for a motorist to turn left in front of the roundabout instead of going all the way around it. But this does require extra caution in making sure that part of the intersection is clear of other vehicles, cyclists, or pedestrians.

    • Not true…. from the Sdot website…
      “State Law does not distinguish between a traffic circle and a larger roundabout. Consequently, a driver turning left at a neighborhood traffic circle must proceed counterclockwise around the traffic circle.”

    • OK… it does say that if you cannot go around the correct way because you are driving a vehicle that is too large or the intersection is blocked in some manner you can go around the wrong way *BUT*only if you yield to all other users and do it safely – so – if the round about is not obstructed going around the wrong way is indeed illegal.

    • I once asked a police officer about this and he said it was legal to turn left in front of the traffic circle, but perhaps he was misinformed.

      I stand corrected.

  9. I know that my overweight self could use the exercise, but I would never bike as a mode of transportation. You as a bike rider will never win. Maybe in some other country, but not here in the United States. I have lived here my entire 50 years of life, and I have noticed that in the last several years, I never see police out enforcing the laws for cars or bikes. Instead we have road diets and bus bulbs to try and control traffic. Until we get more enforcement from the police, I think things are going to stay pretty much the same. I would love to be able to run errands on a bike, but as of now, the most I can do is walk.

    • Too bad we couldn’t give the parking ticket guys/gals the training and authority to give speeding, stop sign violation, etc. tickets… the regular beat guys are too busy with other crimes to spend their time doing it… A lot of forces used to (maybe still do?) have a division known as traffic.. which is often the butt of jokes, but I would guess making traffic stops these days has become just as – even perhaps more – dangerous than the other jobs on the force and the meter readers just aren’t trained for that…