With the paint barely dry on bike-lane-free 35th Ave NE, person driving strikes and injures someone on a bike

Just hours after a video of dangerous conditions for people biking on the new 35th Ave NE gained a lot of traction on social media, someone driving struck and injured a person biking on the street near the intersection with NE 70th Street.

News about the injury was posted to the Safe 35th Ave NE facebook page this afternoon, and Seattle Bike Blog confirmed the details with Seattle Police.

Around 11:30 p.m. Thursday night, someone driving collided with someone on a bike. The person biking was transported to the hospital by ambulance with a knee injury, according to SPD. The person driving was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence.

As is typical for traffic incidents, the details of the collision are not yet available pending investigation. As such, it’s not clear whether the scrapped bike lanes would have prevented it.

Sending my best wishes to the person injured.

But news of the collision certainly adds to growing concerns about the safety of the newly redesigned 35th Ave NE. The street was planned, designed and contracted to include bike lanes, but Mayor Jenny Durkan removed them at the last minute due to opposition from some project neighbors.

Comparison of design diagrams for 35th Ave NE. On the left, the original design has two bike lanes, two general purpose lane and a parking lane. On the right, the mayor's design has two general purpose lanes, a center turn lane and a parking lane.

Design concepts for this stretch of 35th Ave NE from SDOT.

Her decision to remove the bike lanes drew strong criticism from people concerned about bike safety and the mayor’s commitment to its bicycle, Vision Zero and climate plans. People also voiced serious concerns about the city’s planned street design, which includes problems like wide travel lanes known to encourage speeding.

The decision to remove the bike lanes was due to politics, not best practices for designing safe streets. It went against the city’s Bicycle Master Plan and against the original design created and approved by SDOT traffic engineers after years of planning and public outreach. I hope nobody else is injured here, but hope alone is not enough to stop traffic injuries.

Here’s the video posted about 12 hours before the collision that called attention to how unsafe the new street design feels to someone on a bike:

UPDATE 5/20: A reader who did not wish to be identified reached out to say that they were waiting at the light at 35th Ave NE and NE 70th Street on a bike Sunday afternoon when someone driving sidewiped them while trying to make a right turn on red. The reader was not injured, but read this story and wanted to share:

Hey Tom – I just wanted to let you know that I was also hit by a car at 35th NE and 70th, while standing at a red light; the car attempted a right on red around me and bumped/hit me with its mirror. I wasn’t hurt, but still not ideal. The driver stopped and was apologetic, so i chose not to pursue it further. For a variety of reasons I don’t want to post this on twitter publicly, but please feel free to mention it in any articles.

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