Seattle’s Second Avenue Bike Traffic Triples
About a week after the tragic death of Sher Kung, a cyclist who was hit by a left-turning truck on 2nd Avenue, the new protected bike lane with new traffic signals were installed on that infamous corridor in downtown Seattle.
The day the new bike lane was unveiled, I had a chance to drive down it. The exact intersection where Sher was struck confused almost every driver, including me. While the rest of the lanes had a green light, the left turn lane had a red arrow which flashed quietly in the low left corner of the new traffic signal. Distracted by the heaps of flowers and photos that memorialized that fatal spot, I was prepared to make a left turn despite the red arrow. A City worker alerted me to the fact that there was a new signal, as he pointed to the red arrow. Confusing, to say the least. Not to mention–there were dozens upon dozens of small aluminum pinwheels every several feet leading up to that stretch on the road, which added to the drivers’ distraction.
Regardless, the bike traffic has tripled on Second Avenue. Looks like cyclists feel more confident that they can commute safely there. But, according to the Seattle Times blog, a young woman was almost hit during morning rush hour on Sept. 16th, when “she failed to notice the red bike icon, and rode downhill near a left-turning car at Spring Street. She shrugged as if to confess her mistake, and continued south. A couple minutes later, a driver stopped for the red arrow, then illegally made the left turn.”
The Seattle DOT shot an instructional video along Second Avenue last week and disbursed about $250 in privately-funded gift certificates to drivers and cyclists who obeyed the new traffic signals. The real reward: A safer bike route and fewer bike accidents.