BikeNerd: Cascade Bicycle Club, Elected Officials Call for Traffic Safety and Courtesy

By BikeNerd September 15, 2011

The Cascade Bicycle Club held a press conference today at the intersection of the Ave and Campus Parkway, within sight of the location of a collision that killed bike delivery man Robert Townsend. Five speakers, including City Council member Tom Rasmussen, King County Council member Joe McDermott, and Seattle Police Department spokesman Sean Whitcomb, called for increased safety and courtesy on Seattle's roads. In the past two months, three cyclists have died on Seattle streets—two as the result of car-cyclist collisions, and one who crashed on a poorly marked staircase that the city had previously identified as a hazard for cyclists.

The speakers' podium was set up within sight of a ghost bike left to memorialize Townsend. During the course of the press conference, several passersby stopped to look at the letters and flowers left by Townsend's friends and family. Behind the array of cameras and microphones set up by the press, around 20 CBC members held up signs saying "ENOUGH IS ENOUGH" and "WE CAN DO BETTER."

Each of the speakers talked passionately about the need to reduce fatal collisions. The CBC's communications director, M.J. Kelly, said, "I'm speaking as a concerned parent. Every day I bike through this intersection on a family bike with my two sons, and I don't want my husband to get that phone call."

When I spoke to Rasmussen at the end of the program, he voiced some of the same concerns I brought up on Tuesday about inflammatory anti-bike rhetoric (e.g., "the war on cars"). "I think we need a truce," Rasmussen said. "That rhetoric is irresponsible and polarizing. We need to stop giving the finger to each other. We're all very fragile—people on bikes and in sidewalks are no match for [cars]."

Rasmussen voiced support for the road safety summit proposed by Mayor Mike McGinn, which the CBC announced it would also take part in. Hopefully the summit can come up with some serious proposals. It's important to have sober reflections on tragedies like the press conference, but the best way to memorialize the victims of the recent collisions is to ensure that similar events don't happen in the future.

(Ironically, the elected officials caused the event to start late by getting stuck in traffic.)

Judging by the response to my first BikeNerd post on Tuesday about the death of bicyclist Robert Townsend, readers want the bike news. I'm excited to keep doing it big on the cycle beat as BikeNerd. Watch this space for more bike-centric news and opinion.
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