Seattle to pay $1.55 million after cyclist's tire got caught in streetcar track

SEATTLE — Seattle will pay $1.55 million to a man thrown under a bus after his bicycle tire became caught in a streetcar track.

It's the city's biggest payout for a safety problem that led to more than a half dozen claims for injuries, and even a death.

Daniel Ahrendt was seriously hurt as he biked to work in May 2015.

Heading down Jackson Street at the intersection with both Rainier Avenue and 14th Avenue, his front tire got caught in the gap around the track of the First Hill Streetcar.

"When he fell he hit the pavement and a bus ran over him," said Ahrendt's lawyer, Catherine Fleming.
She recently negotiated the $1.55 million settlement with the city.
"One certainly hopes a figure like that will make them look more closely at that intersection," Fleming said.

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Fleming hired an independent traffic engineer who said the city could make the intersection safer by re-routing the bike lane, adding meaningful warning signs, or installing a rubber flange filler around the track, as the city has done elsewhere.

"For various reasons, primarily cost and the maintenance required, the city has resisted inserting or including flangeway filler in that particular intersection," Fleming said.

KIRO 7 obtained a police report from an incident in the same place last month, when a bus ran over a female bicyclist's arm.

Fleming said the circumstances were similar.

In a statement, Seattle transportation officials wrote that since the 2015 incident, "we have thoroughly evaluated safety at this intersection and considered a variety of potential safety improvements which could be implemented here and in other locations where people on bikes ride over streetcar tracks. We are in the process of developing specific recommendations which we expect to be able to share in the near future."

Cyclists getting caught in streetcar tracks is an ongoing problem.

In 2018, the city paid nearly $500,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by the family of Desiree McCloud.
She was killed when her bike got caught in a track gap.

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