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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Letter of the Day

posted by on October 16 at 8:57 AM

I don’t know if this counts as a Slog tip, but I was so amazed and appalled by what I saw this morning when I drove to work: around 7:50am I was stopped at a red light on the south side of the University Bridge at the infamously dangerous intersection of Eastlake Ave E and Fuhrman Ave E when a female bicyclist came barreling by me on my right (the bike lane) and proceeded to run the red light.

I just couldn’t believe it and, I can’t be sure about this, but from her speed it would not have surprised me at all if she had just come down the hill without stopping at the light at Harvard and Eastlake.

A bicyclist died at that intersection last month and this dumb fuck just positioned herself to become #2. Anyway, she was in her early 20’s wearing brown knickers, a black short sleeve shirt with a dark red long sleeved shirt underneath it and, thank god, a helmet. I passed her again as she was traveling north on the Burke Gilman Trail.

RSS icon Comments


If someone can ride it, someone will abuse it.

Posted by Mr. Poe | October 16, 2007 9:01 AM

Wow, just wow.

Posted by Tim | October 16, 2007 9:09 AM

Aww, Mr. Poe, this isn't the appropriate venue to vent your relationship woes.

Posted by Carollani | October 16, 2007 9:10 AM

If they're not wearing teched-out lycra suits, it figures it gonna be some kind of clown outfit.

Posted by Lloyd Clydesdale | October 16, 2007 9:12 AM


Posted by Breaking News! | October 16, 2007 9:17 AM

She was only wearing knickers? I'm confused.

Posted by Gabriel | October 16, 2007 9:17 AM

I drove past this intersection during my Seattle visit last week. Sweet Moses, people! Put the brakes on!

Posted by Michigan Matt | October 16, 2007 9:17 AM



Posted by Mr. Poe | October 16, 2007 9:18 AM

Please this isn't worth a ah much less a wow. Bikes run the lights there all the time - north bound, south bound, and when east-west mostly they jump into the crosswalk whether or not the walk light is green or red.

Posted by whatever | October 16, 2007 9:18 AM

You must be new to the neighborhood. I was waiting for the bus at Eastlake and Harvard an hour before that, and in the five minutes I was there noticed 4 out of five bikies blowing through the red light at the bottom of Harvard. Two of them went on to blow through the red light at Fuhrman (one nearly getting clipped by a vehicle turning left onto Fuhrman, and which had the light). And that's a typical morning.

Posted by Laszlo | October 16, 2007 9:21 AM

Face it, there is no enforcement of common traffic codes against bicycle violators. Seattle Police have a tolerance policy, in fact if not in writing. Bicyclists are given a free hand in Seattle, thus the preponderance of riders blowing red lights and stop signs

Posted by Bike Friendly | October 16, 2007 9:32 AM

Yeah, this isn't news. I go through that intersection twice a day on my way to-and-from work, and the only thing that surprises me is that there haven't been more "Darwin Awards" meted out there.

Posted by COMTE | October 16, 2007 9:35 AM

Like everyone else, said, this IS NOT NEWS. It's news when a morning goes by without a few bikers running a red light in any given Seattle neighborhood. This is why many of us fling crap at you bicycle evangelists when you scream about drivers' inability to follow the law.

Posted by tsm | October 16, 2007 9:45 AM

i think the point of the "tipper" is that this a infamous intersection -- they seemed to have thought people would, for a time a least, be a little more careful there.

comte gets it; it's not about laws or other intersections. it's about not learning a very vivid lesson.

but maybe that cyclist checked for traffic first. who knows?

Posted by infrequent | October 16, 2007 9:47 AM

@8: Just playing, love. Come on, it was funny!

Posted by Carollani | October 16, 2007 9:48 AM

I know. I laughed.

To everybody saying this is not news:

1.) Dan never said it was
2.) The tipper expressed he wasn't even sure if it was a tip
3.) It was filed under 'City'

Carry on.

Posted by Mr. Poe | October 16, 2007 9:55 AM

Y'all is crazy to ride bikes in this city. You would never catch me or any of my crew on a bike.

Posted by Shaniqua Jackson | October 16, 2007 10:15 AM

Everday at Mercer and Dexter I play this little game called: Count how many cars run the red light turning eastbound onto Mercer. The record for one light cycle is 8.


I live near a bar. Every night I see hordes of people stumble out, get in their car and drive home.


A cyclists ran a red light? FUCK! BURN ALL CYCLISTS AT THE STAKE!

Posted by Pay no mind | October 16, 2007 10:34 AM

Stand at the bottom of Dexter during rush hour and watch in horror as commuters clad in lycra bomb the hill and run the light at the Westlake / Fremont Bridge intersection.

Posted by Anon | October 16, 2007 10:47 AM

Go stand at nearly any busy intersection in Seattle.

Watch as numerous vehicles (many with just one occupant in them) blow through red lights, speed up for yellow lights, turn while people are in the crosswalks, etc. Oh, and also note that over 50% of the drivers will be using their cell phone.

Be afraid of these cars, not a girl on a bike.

Posted by stink | October 16, 2007 10:53 AM

Nice try, bike-apologists, trying so hard to blow this off as nothing.

It's news because the last time someone plowed through that intersection on a bike and got killed, we ranted and raved about how it was the motorist's fault.

And yet here is an example....

Posted by Gomez | October 16, 2007 10:59 AM

And we STILL don't know what exactly happened at that accident, if the cyclist had run the light or not, if the truck had signaled or not, etc... even though several of you have already decided without knowing the facts.

Posted by Gomez | October 16, 2007 11:00 AM

I didn't think Dan could drive.

He's always mentioned walking or biking to work, and has written about how his BF does the driving, but never driving himself.

Glad to know he has a license.

Posted by atlsea | October 16, 2007 11:04 AM

Dan posted the letter - he didn't write it. I had to do a double-take myself.

Posted by whatever | October 16, 2007 11:14 AM

Holy crap that's shocking! I bet it was pretty neat to see the bridge-that-goes up-and-down too! They don't have bridges like that back on the farm ...

Did your hot tipper mention whether he (or she) honked his horn at the cyclist, threw stuff at her, yelled at her, or tried to run her over with his SUV in retaliation for being shown to have an inferior mode of transportation?

Posted by Raindog | October 16, 2007 11:15 AM

Your knickers would be brown if you bicycled like that!

Sorry, I had English parents--I grew up with another meaning for knickers (and fanny).

Posted by anonymous | October 16, 2007 11:16 AM

At that intersection it ought to be a $500 ticket. Whether cars run some other red light somewhere else doesn't matter. This is typical of Seattle cyclists' sense of entitlement.

Posted by Fnarf | October 16, 2007 11:29 AM

I biked to work today in the light drizzle. I was cold, moving fast, and didn't feel like waiting for the red lights to change. There may be 20 lights between my house and my job. I ran them all. Nothing happened. I will probably do the same thing tomorrow. I predict the same results. Carry on.

(BTW, it's amazing how dropping the word "bike" into your post immediately triples the number of comments.)

Posted by Gurldoggie | October 16, 2007 11:32 AM

How could someone drive past someone going north on the Burke Gilman? When it goes north, it's far from the street. Is this "hot tipper" driving a car on the trail?

Posted by SteveM | October 16, 2007 11:38 AM

One would think that ECB would know better. (You can run (or peddle) from Darwin but you canít hide...)

Posted by You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me | October 16, 2007 11:49 AM

@29: It's OK to drive your car on the Burke as long as it's an SUV and you're only doing it when there's a lot of traffic on the street.

And good point re: going North. Burke doesn't go North after the bridge until you get to the Pacific / Montlake interchange, at which point a Northbound driver would have to be looking across oncoming traffic and through the trees to spot a cyclist. Staring off into the trees on your left so you can mind someone else's business is, as we all know, is a hallmark of good driving technique.

Posted by Raindog | October 16, 2007 11:55 AM

@ 17, that's because you're too busy cruising in your suv. Working to fill it up. Washing it so it looks soooo good..... That's crazy.

Posted by Bicycle Jihad | October 16, 2007 12:02 PM

I'm this morning's hot tipper and my reason for writing was simply to express incredulity at someone taking a huge risk at a known hot spot of bike/car collisions especially where there was so recently a fatality.

Additionally, do bicyclists routinely break the rules of the road? Yes, as do motorists and pedestrians. But at a time when bicyclists are trying to get the city to work with them and provide safe bike lanes it seems to me that flagrantly disregarding the rules of the road goes against that agenda as well perpetuates motorists viewpoint that bicyclists are a bunch of entitled wankers. To me it just makes what she did stupid twice over. YMMV.

@25 - I normally take the bus or, surprise!, ride my bike to work. I drove this morning because I have things to move after work that require a vehicle.

@29 - I work at the UW and several roads lrading to south campus bisect the Burke Gilman. I was at such an intersection when she rode past.

Posted by mj | October 16, 2007 12:04 PM

I don't get why bicyclists are so smug about not getting tickets for running red lights. The reason the police don't ticket you is that Seattle doesn't care if you die. Are bicyclists proud of that?

Posted by elenchos | October 16, 2007 12:06 PM


Well, when you get hit, it will be your own damn fault. Judging from how you reacted to the officer shooting the teen, I'm sure you'll play victim the second you fall.

Posted by Mr. Poe | October 16, 2007 12:07 PM

bitch bitch bitch. Why don't we license cylists? Plates, tabs, classes, tickets and all. Use the proceeds to build ACTUAL bike lanes. Safe ones.

It seems like bike lanes cost a hell of a lot less than car lanes. You can fit two or three bike lanes in the space for a car. Bikes wear out the actual pavement at a glacial pace when compared to car so theres much need for maintenance. It costs almost nothing to clean up the environmental impact of a bike.

If it could be calculated, i bet the cost of keeping bikes on the road, safely and legally, in their own dedicated lanes with lights, is tiny when compared to the billions we spend to keep cars happy.

Posted by cycling commuter | October 16, 2007 12:10 PM

um, as I have said before, speedbumps. Big Honkin' speedbumps. The kind that can't be cruised over at 40 mph. Make'em curb to curb to stop people from only getting half a bump.

Posted by MSW | October 16, 2007 12:12 PM

Where's the clown who thinks that any driver involved in a bike-car collision should automatically have his license lifted?

Posted by road sharer | October 16, 2007 12:14 PM

I think the whole bike contentiousness is due to the fact that sometimes drivers want cyclists to act like cars (i.e., to obey the traffic laws) and sometimes as "not-cars" (i.e., don't get in front of me and ride slowly when there is no bike lane).

The same goes for cyclists -- sometimes they want to be treated as cars and sometimes they want to be treated as "not-cars" (i.e., I should be able to run 20 red lights because I am not a car).

I generally think that cyclists should act as cars (this, I believe, is consistent with how the law treats them), which means I get annoyed when they break the traffic laws, and I am okay with going slowly behind a cyclist until I can safely pass or the bike lane re-appears.

Posted by Julie | October 16, 2007 12:15 PM

@ 28 - after your hyperemotional rants on the kid-shot-by-cop thread the other day, this solidifies your position as Seattle's most Fight The Power individual. I'm in complete agreement with Poe @ 35.

Posted by Matt from Denver | October 16, 2007 12:19 PM

@33: The fatality (his name was Bryce) was almost certainly not a result of a cyclist running the red light. Like most bike-car incidents, it was a result of a driver not paying attention to cyclists; in Bryce's case by ignoring the bike lane.

Also, bicyclists aren't a cohesive, unionized, single-issue constituency. Just like people who drive cars, we each have our own ideas about what is safe behavior and what the city should or shouldn't be doing on our behalf; just like drivers we're (semi-)regular people with our own opinions (except generally speaking we aren't destroying the planet or routinely killing people with our chosen mode of transportation). This cyclist may or may not give a crap about anyone else's agendas; she was just trying to get somewhere, like everybody else.

I guess it's not your fault that the SLOG thought it was newsworthy to post your tattle-tale letter. I just find it laughable that you'd be so shocked and outraged over something that basically amounts to jay-walking, and poses a tiny fraction of the danger of a motorist running a red light, or a motorist turning without checking the bike lane, or a motorist talking on a cell phone ... or a motorist doing any of the things motorists do every day that result in injuries and fatalities.

Anyway, I'm glad you usually ride the bus or bike. I rescind 76% of my prejudice and reactionary anti-motorist blanket judgment.

Posted by Raindog | October 16, 2007 12:24 PM

People randomly select (without knowing they are random or selecting) their demise. Presumably many bicyclists may think, well, that poor guy got kilt there yesterday, thereby reducing my chances of getting kilt there today. To reduce your fear of dying in an airplane crash, take the very next flight following a crash. Percentagewise good odds.

Last week I was approaching this same death trap intersection when a guy on a bike with HIS CHILD IN THAT FLIMSY DRAG-ALONG CONTRAPTION clumsily maneuvering between sidewalk and street, perilously navigating a compromised construction zone and nearly falling with his human cargo into traffic. What are "parents" thinking when they drag their kid - IN HEAVY AUTOMOBILE TRAFFIC - behind their bicycle in a plastic egg crate on wheels?

You might as well just shoot a kitten in the jaw.

Posted by RHETT ORACLE | October 16, 2007 12:30 PM

@ 41 - A bicyclist running a red light "poses a tiny fraction of the danger of a motorist running a red light, or a motorist turning without checking the bike lane, or a motorist talking on a cell phone ... or a motorist doing any of the things motorists do every day that result in injuries and fatalities." ???

Only if you're talking about the danger posed to others. In this case the danger she posed was entirely to herself as she could have been punted by a car that was obeying the law.

I'm a bicyclist and it's breathtaking how arrogant and self righteous fellow bikers like you can be.

Posted by Matt from Denver | October 16, 2007 12:31 PM

@41 - A bicyclist breaking the law most certainly subjects others to danger when oncoming cars have to unexpectedly swerve to avoid hitting him/her.

Bicyclists have responsibilities to others as well. Accept it or get off the road.

Posted by tsm | October 16, 2007 12:52 PM

@43: Of course I'm talking about the danger posed to others; one could be pardoned for thinking that blatantly-fucking-obvious. That's why I pointed out that the Bryce's death at that intersection involved negligence by the motorist, not the cyclist.

This letter just fosters more blame-shift. Cyclists choosing to take risks like this doesn't in any way excuse or diminish the real-life dangers we face every day from motorists who ignore us or the real-life safety improvements that pro-bike organizations advocate for. It's as absurd as saying that just because some people jay-walk we no longer need to paint crosswalks or have pedestrian walk signals.

Posted by Raindog | October 16, 2007 12:55 PM

Raindog how do you know how the accident with Bryce happened? It could have been as you described or it could have been the result of the bikes running the light. We may never know.

Posted by whatever | October 16, 2007 1:22 PM

um, gee...

i guess thats why the city is dumping hundreds of thousands of dollars into red light cameras...cause those darn bicyclists keep running red lights!

news flash, waterbrain; this city has a preponderance of shitty DRIVERS...the bikers probably just take after their 4 wheeled counterparts...and who can blame them?

whats the big deal anyway?

Posted by justanothertool | October 16, 2007 1:23 PM


And extend those big ass speed bumps clean across the bicycle trail also.

Posted by You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me | October 16, 2007 1:32 PM

Thinks it's bad in Seattle check out Austin

Posted by whatever | October 16, 2007 1:48 PM

Stop already. Read Mr. Poe @1.

Posted by Full Circle | October 16, 2007 1:52 PM


Hey Seattle, I'm from San Francisco. So, I don't know the intersection but thought this was an interesting discussion.

Of course, the same thing happens here and drivers have the same level of animosity for bicyclists and vice versa.

I'm a cyclist who tries to keep his pride in check. However, I often feel as if cars are in my way. They tend to run yellow lights, blocking busy intersections, disregard bike lanes, and honk when I behave as a car. Cars can be really mean and at the end of the day, they're in a two-ton metal box. I'm on an aluminum stick with a plastic helmet on my head.

So, I only run red lights after I have stopped and looked both ways but I'd even be willing to give all that up if we were treated with equal parity.

I think #36 put it very well.

Posted by Eric in SF | October 16, 2007 1:59 PM

fuck me. who the fuck cares.

Posted by sam hill | October 16, 2007 3:15 PM

Everyone focuses so much on the negative that bikers end up getting pissed, and running red lights, to get away from drivers that get pissed at bikers and throw orange peels at them (I was on a side walk waiting for a crosswalk signal! WTF!). Long story short, drivers with a personal vendetta against bikes that run reds, should nicely thank bikes that don't run them. Bikers with a pet peeve about cars not giving wide enough berth should wave when given ample space. Reward, don't punish, don't escalate the problem. Let the police administer tickets as necessary, and let's all try and get along, and stay safe.

Posted by k42 | October 16, 2007 3:49 PM

@ 43 are you suggesting we regulate the danger people are allowed to put themselves into? And if so why do you think it is more dangerous to run a red light than to encounter consistant head-on traffic at 70mph?

Posted by mr. Gerbik | October 16, 2007 4:16 PM

@21: the accident in question was not a result of some cyclist blowing the light. it was green and a dump truck failed to yield to bikes in the bike lane and killed and injured them.

@44: responsibility? you mean like, the one every cyclist has to keep themselves alive? The real news flash is that whether they obey laws or not, cyclists still have to watch out for cars who are going to break them so it ends up not mattering much about following laws that don't protect them.

the idea that bikes blow willy-nilly through intersections and cars have to slam on brakes and swerve to avoid them is a strawman. seriously, watch who does this and how. contrast with cars running yellows/reds who generally just stomp on the gas and pray. bikes run reds, but any cyclist who has been on the road more than a week is gonna know not to run an intersection if there is cross-traffic.

@34: same point applies. cyclists aren't all that smug about being able to break traffic laws with impunity, because they know ultimately it's their own ass on the line regardless.

Posted by chunts | October 16, 2007 6:27 PM

If somebody runs a red light, and nothing even the least bit interesting at all happens as a result - does anybody with more important things to worry about care?

Posted by hey | October 16, 2007 7:39 PM

@ 54, what are you talking about? Less abstract philosophy please.

Posted by Matt from Denver | October 16, 2007 9:54 PM

I just ate a delicious sandwich from the buffalo deli.

P.S. If a car runs a red light and hits someone, then the person they hit is probably going to be injured. If a bike runs a red light and hits someone, then the cyclist is probably going to be injured. There's a different consequence for stupidity, and so there's a different response.

Posted by that one guy | October 18, 2007 12:45 PM

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