Do you bike to Magnuson Park? If you’re a Club volunteer or you take classes with us, you probably do. If you work or visit one of the many nonprofits here, you just might. If you live here, enjoy the beach, the playground, the athletic fields and the scenic trails, you might as well.
I ride a bike to the park several times a week for my five-mile commute, and this summer, my seven-year-old son came along with me to attend a few sessions of summer camp. One day from our summer stands out for me — the day we were nearly hit by a car, riding from the Burke-Gilman Trail into Magnuson.
It was a beautiful morning, and we’d been having a conversation about how nice it was to be biking early in the morning on our family bike together. We had just turned off the trail, and I noticed a single car parked on the right side of the street. I spotted the bright taillights as we turned onto the 65th Street, which indicated to me that the car was likely about to pull out. I braked and slowed, and started ringing my bell (hello, we’re here, please notice us!), taking the lane and giving the vehicle a wide berth as we passed it. While I never took my eyes off the car and the driver-side mirror, the driver didn’t look and pulled out, just as we were parallel to his car. I hollered. The landscaper working nearby hollered. Some quick maneuvering very narrowly saved us from being hit.
I was shaken and near tears, thinking I had done just about everything right in terms of defensive riding but still narrowly missed being hit. When I heard about the 65th Street cycletrack project, I realized that had we been in the protected bikeway, this incident would not have occurred. It’s possible that other collisions, like the one that happened to a woman in my husband’s running club, will decrease overall if speeds are brought down due to the project.
Benefits of the Project (from SDOT):
- * Dedicated space for people driving, walking, and biking
- * Increased safety and comfort for families riding with children and other more cautious bicycle riders
- * Decreased risk of collisions from “dooring” (car doors suddenly opening in front of bikes) and from vehicles overtaking bikes
- * Increased awareness of all road users
- * Better non-motorized access to the park, which decreases demand for vehicle parking close to Magnuson Park natural areas
- * Lower speeds on NE 65th Street (speeds on NE 65th are greater than 30mph (emphasis mine))
- * Shorter crossing distance for pedestrians at NE 65th & Sand Point Way
- * Better connections between Magnuson Park and the Burke Gilman Trail for all users
What’s a “cycletrack”? The short answer is that it’s a physically protected bikeway. More and more cities are building them. I recently enjoyed riding cycletracks in downtown Vancouver. The proposed cycletrack on the south side of 65th will connect people on bikes from the Burke-Gilman Trail to the trail into Magnuson Park. It will be two-ways, have a three-foot physical barrier and will feel more secure than tangling with cars on 65th.
It’s a small project, but the 65th Street protected bikeway needs your support.
The Open House will take place Monday, Sept. 17, from 6:30 until 8 p.m at The Garden Room in The Brig building, 6344 N.E. 74th Street.
If you want to see the project built, attending the Open House is the most effective way to show support. But if you can’t make it, please send a quick letter to our City of Seattle representatives (Mayor, City Council, leads at SDOT). Let’s complete this short but critical gap in what is otherwise a lovely ride to the park.