Cyclists press city to make E. Marginal route safer

by: Frank Field Updated:

SEATTLE - About two dozen Seattle bicyclists held a memorial ride Friday afternoon in honor of Lance David, the cyclist who was killed Wednesday in a collision with a semi-trailer in SODO. And bicycle commuters who spoke to KIRO 7 say the city needs to act faster to make the main road connecting West Seattle and points south to downtown safer.

The city estimates almost 300 cyclists use East Marginal Way every day. They complain that the road is unsafely rough and that there's not enough separation between bikes and the heavy truck traffic that uses the road to get to and from the port.

They also complain that there's no safe way to get from the West Seattle Bridge to the bike lane on East Marginal without riding on the sidewalk to a crosswalk north of the bridge, or by darting across traffic.

Cascade Bicycle Club's policy director, Evan Manvel, said Seattle lags behind in making cycling safer. He points to European cities and Portland as setting the standard for spending on cycling infrastructure.

"They've successfully gotten it so everyone feels safe biking around," Manvel said. "And that's something we could do too as a city and a region if we chose to."

Wednesday's accident scene is now marked by a white "ghost bike" placed by David's friends. Although it appears to be an accident, Seattle mayor Mike McGinn has given city transportation officials a month to come up with ideas to make this route safer.

SDOT spokesman Rick Sheridan says short-term solutions will likely involve painting and signage to what is otherwise a safe intersection. "There's only been one (other) collision in the past five years at that location," he said. "However we're going to look for ways to enhance cyclist safety along that corridor."

SDOT says long-term plans call for separating bikes from traffic, possibly with a two-way cycle track separated from the road. But that's at least five years off.

Bike commuters say the city needs to make improvements more quickly. West Seattle resident Peter Goldman says separating bikes from cars will benefit cyclists and drivers.

"We'll be out of the way of cars, and more importantly, we would convince people to leave their cars and use their bikes so there would be less traffic for cars and trucks," Goldman said.

Cyclists aren't done pushing for change. There's another memorial ride planned for Tuesday from West Seattle to this site where Lance David died Wednesday.