Did a Bike Path Just Kill a Seattle Cyclist?

by on September 8, 2011
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The bike path where Brian Fairbrother was discovered

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Amid all the grief and remembrances of Vivace’s Brian Fairbrother, who suffered a tragic cycling accident in late August and sustained brain damage that has led to his removal from life support, there is the nagging question of how such an experienced, helmet-wearing cyclist crashed so catastrophically. As I read the account–that Fairbrother wiped out on some dirt near the bike path, but was found on nearby stairs–I couldn’t wrap my head around it.

Then I was sent these photos of the “bike path” in question.

As you can see, it’s not apparent (or even reasonable to assume) that the bike path veers suddenly into the street against oncoming car traffic (and oncoming cyclists, even if you do make the mental adjustment). Nor can you see that there are stairs ahead until right upon them.

I heard about Brian’s accident (like many, many others on Capitol Hill, I knew him from his 20 years of work for Vivace Espresso) not long after writing this post: “The Economist to Seattle: Car Speed Kills,” about failures of Seattle’s biking infrastructure. As it happens, I had just met the cyclist killed in that incident about three weeks before he was hit by a car. These accidents are beginning to feel less and less truly accidental.

Photo can’t testify in court, but this one testifies publicly to the danger bicyclists are often put in as they make their gerrymandered way around the city.

UPDATE: This comment from Barry felt worth bringing up to the body of the post:

So sorry so many of us ride this route every day and didn’t take the time to point out the dangers and prevent this. It would have only taken one of us to stop and report this. Let’s all be aware of other dangers we see every day and get them reported and/or put up a marker ourselves to protect our bike community. Paint and chalk are cheap.

Several people have mentioned an interest in doing something to improve the signage in this spot. I will check with SDOT about the possibility of making improvements, and whether funding is needed. Stay tuned.

UPDATE: Brian Fairbrother memorial and photo gallery.

UPDATE: SDOT was warned in 2008 that the loop path was unsafe.

68 thoughts on “Did a Bike Path Just Kill a Seattle Cyclist?

  1. I’m a cyclist in Seattle. All of these cyclist deaths and accidents are piling up and making me feel like I’M stupid for wanting to get around Seattle on a bike. I thought we prided our city on being green, but it feels like the most important green to the majority of residents is the one that comes after yellow and red.

    If we’re ever going to be a world class city we HAVE to invest in making green transportation safe for residents & tourists.

    I want to know where the city leadership is on this! How come there aren’t PSA’s about bicycle awareness everywhere? Is cyclist awareness a part of the driver’s ed courses in our state? How about on the drivers license test? Why not?

    • That is absolutely ludicrous! No signage, no bright yellow warning paint, nothing! His family should sue the City of Seattle and insist on infrastructure upgrades, people bike at night. This is just another tragedy waiting to happen, and the city is the one to blame!

  2. I literally just rode this route yesterday and saw this. It is a HORRIBLE design and I, travelling fortunately at a slow rate of speed on the sidewalk/path, stopped and realized there was steps. It took a second to realize that the path veers into what appears to be oncoming traffic.

    This path needs changed/closed/altered immediately. This isn’t just a danger to cyclists either, it’s not a good design for pedestrians either. Heaven forbid a mobility limited person wants to get down to the path below. Absolutely WRONG design.

    Hopefully something can be done…

  3. Scary stuff- I see that if you use Google Maps to get bike directions, it routes you right through there with no suggestions of the danger. Although it does show the path splitting into two with no explanation as to why- and still routes cyclists over the portion with the stairs anyway.

    • Google Maps is worthless. It gives lousy directions for vehicles. It’s not designed for bikes or pedestrian traffic.

  4. Y’all need to get a grip on a couple things. Yes, it’s horrible the man suffered such a horrible accident on that spot. It cost me coffee from the best Barista around.

    most of Seattle was NOT designed for bikes to have exclusive rights to passage. In this state a bike is a vehicle just like a car or motorcycle. When I worked in that area there used to be a sign directing bike traffic onto the street.

    Maybe if the Mayor worried more about safety of the existing paths instead of wasting money to paint big green boxes at intersections, spots like this one could be changed and made safer.

    • “In this state a bike is a vehicle just like a car or motorcycle.” Yes, just like that spot on I-5 that suddenly turns into a stairway.

    • Disclaimer: I wouldn’t wish the death or harm to anyone. It’s tragic that this accident happened. It should serve as a warning that all need to stay alert in order to protect themselves – YOU are the only one who is always there to look out for YOU.

      That said, look at Google Maps and go to street view. This is TOTALLY a sidewalk. Personally I think that advent of bicycle lanes is doing more harm than good and this is a perfect example. In the good old days before they decided to make the little add-on of the divert ramp to the road the only way to bike here would have been on the road. More dangerous contending with the traffic, sure, but there are no stairs in the road so it would be logical to assume that the pathway is in condition to go, say, 25-35 mph. This wierd adaptation makes steps to adapt a sidewalk to carry bikes, but it’s still pretty obviously a sidewalk. It’s not like the article titles are “1000th cyclist dies at famed Eastlake stair”. It is truly wonderful to live in such a place where everyone wants to look out for eachother so much but we expect that we can afford to rubber-bumper safe everything and it’s just not practical. We skip right by the part where we stop and think if it is reasonable to assume that someone could take care of themselves in a situation and skip straight into more signs and more padding, and more rules. The articles themselves are a great warning sign for the public and the dialogue is a great way to spread the word organically without waiting for McGinn or SDOT to come save us. Whoever made the comment about getting out there and making your own sign – good on ya! That’s the American entrepreurial spirit!

  5. Is that a bike path or a sidewalk? I don’t see any painted bicycle icons at all, but there are hand railings for pedestrians. That ramp is ADA approved as well, not installed for bicycles.

  6. This is a “bike path” as there are City of Seattle bike route signs that point you ON to this sidewalk. (The green ones they put on posts.)

    I myself almost went tumbling down these stairs a few years ago, when they first put the signage up marking this as a “bike path”, thankfully with quick reflexes, I grabbed onto the pedestrian handrail you see there and stopped myself very quickly. (Having the bike go down only two stairs. I feel quite lucky about that now.)

  7. So if there is no room on the road for a bike route, and the topography dictates stairs where the sidewalk goes, then riders should dismount and walk their bike down the stairs to prevent injury. Makes sense to me.

  8. Jeez. Looks like a sidewalk repurposed as a bike path. Really stupid and negligent on the part of the city.

  9. I’ve worked with this man for the last decade, the path needs markings at least… So today they have been spray painted in by the public but the city needs to put in real ones. Also to note a correction, it was the other side of that bridge that he fell, he was going southbound.

    • Nope, the photographs, other accounts, and Google’s satellite view make clear that he was traveling northeast.

  10. I’m glad I took a look at the photos. It’s clearly a hazard that has not been addressed. Time to deal with it. I don’t like hearing about great people tumbling to their deaths in such a senseless way. My condolences to everyone who knew this man.

  11. I’ve biked that spot. It’s part of the Chehsiahud Loop, one of Nickels’ ways of claiming the city had lots of bike paths without spending any actual money on them. It goes around Lake Union, sort of. There are numerous place where it’s unclear where the path goes unless you bike it often. The first time I biked it, I did exactly what Brian apparently did, and had to stop (I’m the world’s slowest cyclist, so this wasn’t a problem) and turn around. I can easily see how someone unfamiliar with the spot and going fast might have real trouble there; no idea if that applied to Brian.

    I will say Seattle is not alone in having crappy signage on its bike trails that aren’t really bike trails but just designations of places bikes might be ridden. I can think of many in places as allegedly bike friendly as Vancouver, Victoria and, dare I say it, Portland. You’d think they might do something like ask a total stranger to the city if he or she understands where the trail goes and add signage if they don’t. But no.

  12. That fork is extremely dangerous. It’s a death trap. The city of Seattle must immediately put a sign there diverting cyclists to the right.

  13. I refuse to ride on the against-traffic side. This location only enforces that for me. Of course, in exchange, I’m much more often exposing myself to automobile traffic.

    • I am very familiar with this area. There is a barrier between the bike path lanes and automobile traffic. It’s not very tall, but it still does the job.

  14. I was driving north on 15th Ave S after coming off of Beacon Ave S and noticed that there’s an entire lane marked for bikes, with no lane for cars at all. No indication that cars should take another route or where that would be, but lot’s of bicycles painted in the middle of the only northbound lane. Also a danger to both.

  15. Sorry, looks like stairs ahead to me, and this is a SIDEWALK not a bike bath. Makes you wonder how fast he was going.

    • Perhaps you should visit the location in person before making judgments. This is a multi-use path that is signed for cyclists and considered a city-sanctioned bike path (part of the Cheshiahud Loop that others have mentioned above). At this particular point, it lacks a sign advising cyclists to veer right into the street for a short portion before reconnecting to the bike path. I am more of a runner than a cyclist, and the first time I ran this supposedly “continuous loop” around Lake Union, I got confused at this point about where the path continued. Undoubtedly, there should be better signage here. Even a cyclist riding at a fairly slow pace doesn’t have visibility of these stairs from just a few yards away, and could have a hard time breaking if s/he didn’t know to veer into the street. As pointed out in this story, the stairs look, from just a short distance away, as though they could be a bike-friendly ramp. My heart goes out to Brian, his family and friends.

  16. If he would have been scalded to death by the espresso machine you’d all be on here blaming the manufacturer and his employer and remembering him as another guy on a bike. Call up your mother today and tell her how much you love her. Afterwards get on with *your* life, folks.

    • No, Michael, we wouldn’t. I knew Brian well for 20+ years. He was intelligent, cautious and competent. His loved ones are not idiots, hungry to sue or point blame. That something as simple as a lack of a sign or proper ramp was able to outwit him means that others may appreciate the warning. You don’t.
      That Seattle has lost a widely loved public figure due to a situation based on our inadequate provisions for cyclists has us sad and shamed.

  17. Does anyone know if he was riding a fixed gear bike? I know some hardcore folks don’t even have brakes on those things… coming up on those hidden stairs at speed on a fixed gear road bike with tiny tires? *shudder* That’s why I ride a fully suspended mtb in the city: I can just bomb down those stairs, no harm done! One can never really expect the city to be safe. Cars, gangsters, obstacles… My 5 pound chain lock doubles as a weapon if need be. R.I.P. Brian.

  18. I knew Brian as “the great guy behind the pastry case” at Vivaci. Such an incredibly sad loss. My heart and condolences go out to his family and friends in this very trying time. Take care.

  19. Im not a bicycleist but i have walked through that area before and thought to myself that that was a stupid design.

    • I don’t see anything wrong with the design, but they definitely need signage to go with it. Cyclists also definitely need to slow down. That trail is a mixed-use sidewalk, not a raceway.

  20. So sorry so many of us ride this route every day and didn’t take the time to point out the dangers and prevent this. It would have only taken one of us to stop and report this. Let’s all be aware of other dangers we see every day and get them reported and/or put up a marker ourselves to protect our bike community. Paint and chalk are cheap.

    • Jake, I reconstruct bicycle accidents for a living, and I’ve been riding my own bike for…. jeepers, more than 50 years now.
      Most simple falls don’t result in serious injury, but some do, and some are fatal. When you fall, everything goes kafluey, and occasionally the wrong part of you hits something unyielding in a tragic way.
      Therefore, I think that in the absence of some real evidence, you can’t conclude he was going too fast.
      John Schubert, Limeport.org

  21. There should have been signs, no question about it. But for the cyclist to die because he fell down such a short flight of stairs, he must have been going far, far too fast for conditions, and probably not paying much attention to what he was doing.

    Not only that, but I believe (could be wrong, willing to be corrected) that this path was shared by pedestrians. If so, why was he going so fast?

    Finally, he was an experienced cyclist. Was this really his first time there, or was he being a daredevil?

  22. One can’t assume he was going fast, or was being a “daredevil,” simply because he died. The brain damage was caused by lack of oxygen.
    I knew and worked with Brian back in the 90s. He was a fine, upstanding man, as numerous posts on other sites show.
    Maybe it’s natural to want to somehow paint this tragic accident as his fault, in order to shield one’s self from the possibility it could happen to you.
    But some of these comments are depressingly rude.
    Brian was a great guy and a sh***y accident felled him.
    It’s really sad for a lot of people.

  23. I’ll reinforce a couple of points that others have made because it seems to be missed by a couple of the anti-bike crowd out there.

    1) This is not just a “sidewalk” — it’s a marked multi-use trail, just like the Burke Gilman or Samammish River trails. It has signs clearly indicating that bikes are encouraged to ride this route “around Lake Union”. If you look at Google Maps, you’ll see that it’s clearly labeled as “Lake Union Trail”. If it was just a sidewalk, it wouldn’t be marked as a “Trail” on Google Maps.

    2) I’ve run around this trail (as in running, on foot) and I also almost broke my neck down these stairs. I was running along at full speed and had no idea there were stairs there. As the photos indicate, it’s very deceptive visually. I can only imagine what fate I would have encountered had I been on a bicycle at the time.

    3) Lot’s of people will say – “why wasn’t he on the road where bikes belong”… well, sadly, many of the people making this claim are the same drivers who curse and swear at those cyclists, like myself who do choose to ride on the road. I’ve ridden my bike on the road there many times. And that particular section of Northbound lanes is actually quite dangerous. Although I’m a very experience cyclist (6 Ironmans, 7 one-day STPs, 5000+ miles/year for the last 7 years, commute by bike every day, etc)… I can honestly say, that that particular street is one of the streets I will do everything in my power to avoid. The car traffic is lethal, there are parallell railroad tracks in the street for the southern portion of fairview, that bridge has narrow lanes, and the cars often travel in excess of 10-15 miles over the speed limit. I am not at all surprised that even an experienced cyclist would “opt to take the marked bike trail” to avoid the insanity.

    4) Most importantly… someone died! C’mon people.. have a heart! When ever a young vital person dies we should ask ourselves as a society, “can we do better?” — it seems to me that that’s the point of this blog post. And kudos to Michael for writing it.

    • What is wrong with the northbound lanes?I ride them on a regular basis. I don’t think they are any more dangerous than other roads in seattle, especially Eastlake that Fairview connects into. I also don’t think riding against the flow of traffic across that bridge is a good idea anyways. It isn’t wide enough for 2 bikes to pass comfortably. Northbound cyclists should ride on the east side of the road, either in the street or on the sidewalk on that side.

  24. So…half the comments up here are from folks who are familiar with the multi-use path, and both runners and cyclists, travelling at various speeds, including “the world’s slowest cyclist” agree that there’s something very wrong with this picture, and have had concerns with this section of path for some time–yet some of you guys just want to come up here and play devil’s advocate, for what purpose exactly? What do you think you know about this situation that the rest of us are so blind to see? What do any of us really know about this incident, except that someone has met an untimely death, and there’s a questionably “safe” multi-use path in our city that may have cost us one of our citizens?

    It seems to me that unless we wish to express valid concerns, have a friendly, constructive conversation about this, extend well wishes to friends and family of the cyclist, we should go find something better to do with our time. Those of us who don’t have anything nice to say, should examine their reasons for posting here.

    It’s one thing to say you have concerns regarding the riding speed of some cyclists on multi-use paths. It’s quite another to make broad assumptions and be blatantly cold and heartless in a thread like this. I think shameful.

    R.I.P. Brian. However it went down, it’s a tragedy, and it’s clear you will be missed by many. The multi-use path obviously warrants an investigation and perhaps steps taken to make the path safer for all users. It’s eye-opening to be reminded of how precious our lives are, and how quickly and senselessly they can be taken away. I know I’ll be riding that much more cautiously going forward. Cheers.

    • I had an errand to do on Westlake this morning. I decided that, since I had commented here and some other places, I ought to go check out the site of his accident. Which, I’d like to say, was tragic. The man did not “deserve it,” no matter what he did. But no one should do anything other than tell the truth here, as they see it, and let the chips fall where they may.

      1. The city should have had a sign there, and at the other entrance to the lower walkway. More generally, the bicycling community of Seattle should use this as a wakeup call. Cascade Bicycle Club ought to perform a comprehensive inventory of cycling hazards, and get with the city to erect signs where needed, and make some repairs where needed.

      2. The sun was not an issue. The cyclist was traveling northeast. The sun would have been to his left rear. This blog’s statement that the sun might have been in his eyes his flat wrong, and should be corrected.

      3. The stairs (10 of them) are not visible from where the cyclist was. However, it’s obvious as you approach the accident site that there is a steep dropoff. This is especially the case when you consider that a cyclist sits a few inches higher than a pedestrian. A prudent cyclist would have slowed down before getting to the stairs. There is no other reasonable conclusion to draw as you stand there that the cyclist came up on those stairs much, much too quickly.

      4. It’s inconceivable to me that the cyclist would have been pulling a daredevil stunt, as I had suggested earlier. I do realize that there are some crazy people out there, but a 50-year-old man on a “city touring” bike wouldn’t have intentionally taken the stairs at full speed. What’s much, much more likely is that he misjudged his own speed, and/or his attention lapsed.

      5. The “trail” is in fact a city sidewalk, used by cyclists and pedestrians, and which in a fairly short space, crosses several sidestreets. It is not a place where a prudent cyclist ought to be going fast enough to get himself killed by falling down a flight of 10 stairs.

      6. If I was sitting on the jury called to render a personal injury judgment, my amateur judgment (i.e., never having been on such a jury, and currently lacking any instructions on how to apportion responsibility) would be that the cyclist bears three-quarters of the responsibility for the accident, on account of imprudent speed and/or inattentive cycling, and that the cityu bears one-quarter of the responsibility on account of not having a warning sign there.

      It’s terrible that this man died. Cyclists need to remember that they are not immune from accidents; that going too fast can kill them. Cycling organizations should spread that message, and should mount a concerted effort to work WITH the city to identify similar spots that need better signage, or in this case, signs at all.

      • Jake: re: your second point, “this blog” mentions nothing about the sun being in his eyes. We can’t say what exactly happened because none of us was there, and can’t say how much prudence should have cushioned a fall. The point of this post is to ask whether this portion of a city bike path is as safe as it could be, and the overwhelming response is, no, it is not. So I hope that readers take your last paragraph to heart. As for the rest, I think you’ve had your say. You’ll have to find other blogs to comment on.

        • Michael: I came from an article where the other rider, a friend of Brian’s, states that he had just started riding, and was very cautious as such. It was their first time on this ‘path’, and they had no idea that they were supposed to veer off onto the road for a short time, before returning to the path. They had researched the route beforehand. Apparently, whatever map they used failed to show why there was a need for this. Add no signage to direct to the street? I am amazed more haven’t met with the same fate. I have read here, that there have been several close calls; seemingly by much more experienced riders/runners. So sad. Also, exasperating that so many are able to draw nasty conclusions with snippets of information. RIP Brian.

  25. My condolences to Brian Fairbrother’s family. This is indeed a dangerous arrangement for unsuspecting cyclists or runners from this direction. It is moderately less bad from the other direction. I ride here often, and agree that there should be better signage / bright paint / etc to highlight the danger. It is not at all intuitive when encountering for the first time.

    Don’t make assumptions about his rate of speed. The first thing that happens when you ride unsuspectedly off of a drop-off is the bike starts to tilt forward as the front end drops. A little bit of front brake and you are going towards the bottom updside down. The vertical drop involved in a flight of stairs like this would be very dangerous even at moderate speed in this scenerio.

    Brian was a kind man and interesting conversationalist. I will miss him dearly. This is a terrible tragedy and I hope that we can take action to reduce the likelyhood that it will happen to some one else. I would donate money for signage and the site owner can feel free to contact me by email.

  26. I will miss Brian terribly. I must say, however, that if I had to choose my time, the idea of spending my last moments on a bicycle with my heart pounding, blood coursing through my veins, feeling the sun on my back, the view of the water, the wind on my face and the exhilaration of the ride…that would be my choice. RIP my friend.

  27. I run this lake loop 3 times a week. It’s a sidewalk that bikes ride on. To state that he “had nowhere else to go” and “it looks confusing” is preposterous and tenuous at best.

    If bikes want more safety they need to help start paying FOR it (road painting, signage, etc) with license tabs, JUST like cars have tab taxes each and every year. As well as car insurance in case accidents do happen to them.

    Oh, and I ride bikes *occasionally* as well.

    Accidents happen- I feel very sad for this gentleman and his family that had to decide to take him off life support on Tuesday.

    • Do you think that the vast majority of cyclists don’t own cars? Most of us cyclists DO pay for roads and signage etc. Should we start having to register joggers as well so that they can pay for sidewalks they run on?

    • Road improvements get paid for out of general funds for the most part, which all residents contribute to in one way or another. I commute by bike 5 days a week and yet own two vehicles. Should I ask for a refund on my car tabs?

    • Where do you think money for road signage comes from? Trust me – it doesn’t come from your car tax.

  28. To two above- nope on the jogger/walker tabs and fees…that would be just plain silly, right?

    All these horrible accidents and only the cars or environs are *ever* to blame. Not the bicyclist. And honestly I think the truth usually lies somewhere in the middle (with the exception of the man killed on Denny in hit and run a few months ago…that coward driver should just be found and punished painfully!)

    Just read that yet another bicyclist killed today on University/Campus. Sad. Be careful out there no matter how you’re travelling…life is short.

  29. I was so sorry to read this..in Oct, 1994, I rode in the opposite direction on this same bike path and also thought I was approaching a “ramp,” only to realize too late that I was going down stairs! I panicked, braked too quickly, flipped over and landed on my head. I was wearing a helmet but blacked out for a couple of minutes.

    A very kind boat mechanic working nearby came to my rescue and took me and my bike in his van to Virginia Mason where I was diagnosed with a concussion and had stiches to sew up a large cut on my scalp.

    I was very lucky…in hindsight I wish I would have thought to complain to a city official of some kind but at the time thought I was just not being careful enough.

  30. It would have only taken one of us to stop and report this.

    I did report it, on 24 August 2008, more than three years ago, and received an acknowledgment from a Parks Department planner. Here is what I wrote them:

    I just took my first counterclockwise bike ride around the Cheshiahud Loop. It was nice ride in general but there were a few places that were a bit confusing or even dangerous for an unfamiliar rider. I’m not sure if the loop is considered finished yet but I thought these comments might be helpful. Please forgive me for being somewhat vague about locations, as I am obviously less familiar with these areas.

    1. There is a bit on the east side where the trail seems to go down a lot of steps and then back up. It is not apparent until you are near the steps that they are actually steps rather than a ramp. I think this is dangerous currently. I would strongly recommend some warning signs here. If cyclists are meant to instead travel on the nearby road against the traffic flow, the trail needs signage and road markings to indicate this…

    I hope these comments will help improve the trail. In particular I hope you will pay close attention to the first two comments which represent a danger to cyclists and other trail users.

    Apparently it takes more than one person to complain to a city official to get a dangerous item changed.

  31. I live about three blocks away from where the accident happen, I’m not surprized at all that it did. I don’t bike but I run and walk around the area very frequently. On one such occasion I was just reaching the top of the stairs in the picture and saw a biker very surprized to see me, he had no idea that there were stairs there. If not for my appearance he would have probably gone down the stairs as well.

    As for people saying that Brian had to have been going too fast to suffer a serious injury, that’s just flat out not true. When I was 12 or so I hit a pot hole on a flat road at night while not going very fast, it was enough to cause me to crash. I landed chin first, I suffered a substantial concussion, several broken teeth and lost a great deal of blood. If I could get hurt that badly on a flat road just imagine what could happen to you falling down several stairs onto concrete.

  32. Sorry folks. Watch where you ride. If you are relying on a sign to be there at every opportunity for danger you’re living a lie. Wake up. This is no bike path by the way, it’s a sidewalk. Sometimes sidewalks have stairs.

  33. I saw at least one comment wondering if this is truely a bicycle path. I thought it was a sidewalk. There is so much left to do in Seattle for both cyclist and pedestian safety. Unfortunately, I have been clipped by cyclists twice in the last 18 months while walking this stretch of sidewalk.

  34. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Bike paths and bike lanes are death traps. Cyclists should avoid them!

    Every study I’ve seen touting bike infrastructure admits that using it is more dangerous than riding on the road, yet the goal of getting novice cyclists riding is seen as more important.

    Bicycle infrastructure is most often poorly designed, because traffic engineers, by and large, have no idea of the realities of cycling. They mostly drive cars, so they assume we are pedestrians. They design bike paths and bike lanes that can only safely be negotiated at walking pace.

    Cyclists tempted to use bike paths and bike lanes should first look at the accident statistics: they do not favor so-called ‘bike infrastructure’.

  35. Some of the bikers I know relish how they can “just switch” between being a pedestrian and a vehicle, hopping up onto a sidewalk to go down a one-way street that a car can’t, and run through a red light because their bike is more agile than a car. I know pedestrians who are just as bad, walking out in front of cars armed with the knowledge that the law is on their side.

    I’ve walked on this sidewalk several times. It’s a sidewalk. If you want to take your bike onto this sidewalk, please get off (as I understand it, like you’re supposed to) and walk for a bit. If you want to stay on the road and retain your status as a vehicle, stay on the right side of the road and do so.

    But PLEASE, do not come cruising down the sidewalk at speed and bellow “OYT! OYT! OYT!” (I hear that a lot from bikes; I don’t know what it means). Don’t behave in a way that shows your “refusal” to do something inconvenient.

    And EVERYONE, bikers, walkers, drivers: exercise a degree of self-preservation; assume that you are not seen instead of holding the entitled attitude that “it’s YOUR job to watch for ME”. I have seen cars pull out in front of other cars, bikes pull out in front of cars, and pedestrians just walk out in front of bikes, each one assuming that they have the right-of-way.

    Pedestrians, bikes, and cars will share sidewalks and roadways with each other if they really want to share. But SHARE is the key word here, and from my experience reading this article and walking Seattle’s sidewalks, it seems there are a lot of people who WANT the sidewalks and roads without SHARING them.

    • @Stephanie–a correction. In Seattle bicycles are legally allowed to ride on sidewalks at a reasonable speed. As for this particular stretch being just “a sidewalk,” that point has been taken up many times already in this thread–it’s also recommended by the city as part of a multi-use loop around Lake Union.

  36. I don’t live in Seattle… but if I did, given such an obvious problem, I might not wait for the city to do something. I’d at least consider going out there myself with a can of orange Day-Glo spray paint and a painting big circle-and-diagonal-line and the word BIKES. And a fat line of Day-Glo on the pavement near the steps. I would the risk of getting into serious trouble for doing that would seem to be small.

    (I was going to suggest painting an arrow, but thought, “Well, if someone followed the arrow and got hurt I might get into trouble.” So that might be risky, but telling bikes where NOT to go would seem fairly safe.