16 October 2018

Hot Spots In The Evergreen State

Recently, Bicycling! magazine published its "Best Bicycle City in America" poll.  This year, Seattle got the top honor.

But, as we all know, no matter how good a city is for cycling, crashes are always a possibility, just as they are for motorists.

With that in mind, a local law firm, Colburn Law, sifted through five years of crash data and determined 15 "hot spots" in Washington State.  Not surprisingly, the first seven, and the majority of those on the list, are in Seattle. 

One reason is that crashes occur most commonly at intersections and, of course, there are more of those in a city.  On the other hand, more fatalities occur on open roadways, possibly because motor vehicles go faster on them than on city streets.  

The hottest of the "hot spots":  4th Avenue and Pike Street, Seattle

The Colburn report does raise at least two pertinent questions, both of which relate to the changing cycling scene the Emerald City as well as the Evergreen State.

One is how effective dedicated bike lanes will be in reducing the number of crashes.  I have not been to Seattle but, from what I've heard and read, it lags behind other "bicycle friendly" municipalities in its construction of lanes and other infrastructure, though the pace has increased recently.  And, some of the new lanes are separated, at least by pylons and planters, from the traffic lane.

Another question is whether the city's new dockless bike share programs will increase the number of riders who go without helmets--which, planners expect, would increase the number of injuries and fatalities.  So far, there doesn't seem to be any evidence of such things, as police have actually issued fewer citations to cyclists who weren't wearing helmets (which are required by law) in 2017 than in 2016.

Whatever the answers may be, they probably will have no bearing on whether Seattle "repeats" as "champion" in next year's poll.

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