Vision Zero by 2030 (in case I live that long)

Last December, an idiot sideswiped me when he cut into the southbound bike lane to park his car by Seattle U. The accident cost me a concussion and scars on my nose and leg.

Last night, another idiot, this one on a bicycle, pulled a Jersey left at the intersection of 12th with Union and Madison. Again, I was traveling south on 12th on my way home from work. Both of us ended up sprawled on the street just a couple of blocks from the site of my December accident. No major injuries this time, thank God. My bike took some damage, but mostly just cosmetic. Steel frames are amazing.

I’m not damaged, but it may be a while again before I bike to work. Before December, I rode pretty religiously 3-5 times per week. After the concussion, it was about 3 months before I got back in the saddle and then it was only for the occasional sunny day ride. My bike commuting went from 3-5 times per week to 3-5 times per month. Last night was one of those rare rides.

It’s a little ironic, at least Alanis Morisette ironic, that as I walked my bike out of the office yesterday, I mentioned to a co-worker that I don’t ride as much as I used to since my December crash. She wished me a safe ride home.

It’s the good advice that I just didn’t take

Who would’ve thought, it figures.

Before gearing up for my ride home, I spent some time with a different co-worker checking out a new collision reporting web site. Tim Ganter does a nice job ranking and mapping auto collisions (car on car, car on pedestrian, car on bike) in Seattle since 2006. Turns out that Capitol Hill is a popular spot for ramming people and parked cars. In the past 12 months, we rank third in number of collisions (508), first in collision-related serious injuries (10), and first in collisions with possible injuries (59). We rank first in number of parked cars hit (97), second in DUI cases (20), second in number of pedestrians struck (37) and first in number of cyclists struck (23).

WTF, Capitol Hill drivers?

For the record, that last number is low. I looked at Ganter’s map and my December run-in with the sideswiper didn’t get counted. Also not counted are collisions between two or more bicycles, or collisions of bicycles with pedestrians, or pedestrians with pedestrians, or pedestrians with parked cars.

Ganter is pulling data from SDOT, and I suppose a focus on collisions involving cars (weighing 4000+ pounds) are the ones most concerning. I can attest that colliding with another bicycle sucks and cyclists can be fucking IDIOTS (I’m talking about you, Katherine A!). But a car crash can kill you. Seven people have died in Capitol Hill car collisions in just the past six months. We can and must do better.

In 2015, the City of Seattle “launched” (their word, I wonder how one launches a vision) Vision Zero setting a goal of zero car crash fatalities or serious injury related accidents by 2030. Clearly, we have a long way to go in Capitol Hill and across the City, especially in Seattle’s denser urban villages where 80 percent of pedestrian-impacted collisions occur and where crashes with pedestrians and bicycles most frequently happen during commute hours.

It’s no wonder people are afraid to bike to work, or even walk through certain intersections on Capitol Hill. If we’re to achieve zero fatalities or serious injury accidents by 2030 (and preferably before then), even as more people move into the neighborhood, there are a few things we need to prioritize:

    1. Slower speeds
    2. Safer separation for pedestrians and cyclists
    3. Better crossings for pedestrians and cyclists
    4. Better enforcement of traffic and parking laws
    5. Fewer idiots

Okay, it’s hard to control for number 5, so can we please hurry up with 1-4?