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Seattle Times: No Reason for Cycling "Death Trap" in Ballard

By Erica C. Barnett June 2, 2011

In an op/ed for today's Seattle Times, longtime cyclist Stefanie Frease writes about her experience with the so-called "death trap" along the Burke-Gilman Trail between Fremont and Ballard, where cyclists must cross over railroad tracks that are often slippery and hazardous. Frease skidded and crashed on the tracks last month, and now she's wondering why the city---specifically, pro-bike Mayor Mike McGinn, hasn't fixed the unsafe intersection.
Why has it not been repaired? Why are there not ample warning signs that the rubber is extraordinarily slippery (and unsafe) when wet? How many dozens more cyclists need to break bones, or worse, before the city finally takes this crash site seriously?

Over the past month, I've also learned that not only have cyclists reported their accidents to the city, but as far back as November the crossing was designated a bike high-collision location and the Seattle Department of Transportation had planned to repair this notoriously dangerous spot a week before I crashed. At the last minute, this safety project was removed from the budget.

As a direct result of that decision, I spent a week in the hospital and two weeks in a rehabilitation facility. Now I am home with wheelchair, walker and tens of thousands of dollars in medical expenses in tow. Doctors have barred me from walking for at least two more months, or risk surgery.

Every bit of this was preventable. Crossing that rubber-coated railroad was like hitting black ice. If I didn't stand a chance, neither do others. The accidents will not stop until changes are made.

According to the Bikewise site, which catalogs crashes and hazards throughout the city, crashes at track crossings along the Burke-Gilman Trail are extremely common, particularly at the intersection where Frease went down. I have a call out to SDOT to find out what happened to the city's plans to fix the intersection.
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