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Good Samaritans help fallen cyclist

Posted by Geeky Swedes on December 29th, 2009

Several Good Samaritans helped a bicyclist this morning, after falling at the railroad tracks along Shilshole Ave under the Ballard Bridge where the Burke Gilman Trail guides people at a right angle to cross the tracks.

A MyBallard reader writes that several drivers got out and helped the cyclist after the accident around 8:15 this morning. “The biker said no vehicle was involved,” he says, “It appeared that he lost control of his bike crossing the (presumably) frozen tracks and fell on his face. The visor on his helmet was broken.” The emailer says that people helping this bicyclist commented on the frequency of these types of accidents. In fact, he saw one several weeks ago at this same location, “He was riding very carefully and going slowly. Thank goodness he was wearing a helmet. The bicyclist today was also saved from more severe injury by his helmet and visor.” (Copyright photo L..P. O’Donnell used with permission. Photo edited by photographer.)

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168 reader comments so far ↓

  • 1 Jon // Dec 29, 2009 at 8:40 pm

    Sorry, can you please explain the news value here? Are there not enough car crashes to report on? ;-)

    Seriously, if the story is really about how dangerous these tracks are (and dangerous they are!) and how shameful it is that we don't have a completed “missing link” of the trail yet (and shameful it is!), why not actually invest the time in covering that larger story?

    Covering car + bike crashes (especially ones where nobody gets hurt) with no context or bigger story is cheap, lazy reporting that does little to enhance our understanding of our community, and it plays into the “if it bleeds, it leads” mentality that has driven TV and print journalism into the gutter.

  • 2 Patrick // Dec 29, 2009 at 8:47 pm

    As a former WSU Cycling Team president and NW Collegiate Cycling Conference Director I must say the competence of riders commuting through Ballard is atrocious. I have a workshop one block from this picture and I see at least one rider a week fall on those tracks.

    The metal of the tracks is SLIPPPERY and they are perfectly spaced so both your front and rear wheel will slip at the same time. Don't let your wheels touch it! It's better to ride FAST and hop over railroad tracks unless you can't manage that. If you can't, ride down 46th where there's no tracks.

    Also, if you never rode your bike off the sidewalk as a kid then you probably are not skilled enough to ride in traffic. You need to learn to be safe and I suggest you take the bike handling class at the velodrome in Marymoor. You will learn to ride a straight line and how to ride close to other moving people. http://velodrome.org/mva/node/16

  • 3 crownpill // Dec 29, 2009 at 8:58 pm

    I love these sorts of comments, the kind that say, “This wouldn't have happened if you were as competent as me.” Sure, folks on bikes could be better riders, but c'mon Patrick, don't be so high on your horse. Very experienced, competent riders fall on those tracks all the time, this one include.

  • 4 NoraBell // Dec 29, 2009 at 9:05 pm

    It's newsworthy that people stopped to help.

  • 5 BBO // Dec 29, 2009 at 9:11 pm

    Is this really news or pushing an agenda?

    Patrick is on target with what he wrote, which doesn't surprise me as a fellow Coug.

    Cyclists want there own special trail. Okay you have it.
    Cyclists like to preach to “share the road.” We do.
    However, let's not complain or make a big deal out of these accidents when they occur. Do I feel badly for the injured part, of course. We share the road, ALL OF THE ROADS, even the uneven, less safe ones.

    I would like to see cyclists obey the same signage as the rest of us. I know stopping at an all way stop kills your momentum and a cyclist must “re-start.” It is your choice to ride, so please, ride safely and assume the risks and responsibilities that everyone else should, as well.

    I recall the phrase “equal rights don't equal special rights.” A different cause but it should apply here!!!!

  • 6 Cougar Bob // Dec 29, 2009 at 9:14 pm

    I think this is a totally bizarre photograph. There is no assistance taking place in this photo. The subjects faces are anonymized……If anything it looks like there are two uniformed people supervising somebody on the ground who is drawing white lines on the street. Looks like a Devo album cover outtake.

  • 7 Ernie_98107 // Dec 29, 2009 at 9:17 pm

    That's some funny s**t Bob!

  • 8 gurple // Dec 29, 2009 at 9:23 pm

    “As a former WSU Cycling Team president and NW Collegiate Cycling Conference Director…”

    You must be a hit at parties, Captain Non Sequitur. “Hey, this cheese dip isn't bad!” “Well, speaking as a former WSU Cycling Team president and NW Collegiate Cycling Conference Director, the optimal blend of cheeses for peak racing performance is 25% asiago, 75% brie.”

  • 9 coyotebill // Dec 29, 2009 at 9:40 pm

    “Nothing to see here. Move along.”

  • 10 Edog // Dec 29, 2009 at 9:41 pm

    When a problem comes along…….

  • 11 nwcitizen // Dec 29, 2009 at 10:12 pm

    What Nora Bell said.

  • 12 Bikes for Bums // Dec 29, 2009 at 10:13 pm

    Coming exclusively on myballard.com at 5pm: Toddler trips over crack in pavement and scuffs knee. Check back in at 5 for exclusive interviews with distraught parents as well as photos of Hello Kitty band aids applied to the kids mangled knee.

    Tomorrow on myballard.com: Slaughtering Sidewalks-Are Ballard's sidewalks just a step away from tragedy?

  • 13 BoomBoom // Dec 29, 2009 at 10:16 pm

    Peace between drivers and bikers?! Have we entered some sort so of “Ballard Bizzaro-Realm?”

  • 14 Herder // Dec 29, 2009 at 10:20 pm

    This is an interesting photograph none-the-less. Both 'helpers' are just standing with their arms folded and hands in pockets.

    I used to commute along that stretch (on my bike) and many a time had the wits scared out of me. I was run off the road twice by those cement trucks (before any of you start with your “better bike handling” comments, I'm a 30 year bicycle commuter). I hate to say it but it's going to take a fatality before anything is done about that disastrous stretch of road.

  • 15 calling doug11 // Dec 29, 2009 at 10:42 pm

    Where's doug11 when you need him?!

  • 16 onederfullone // Dec 29, 2009 at 11:21 pm

    “you must whip it”
    But seriously, glad the biker escaped major injury, and that folks were there to check on them.

  • 17 wtc // Dec 29, 2009 at 11:47 pm

    I was never WSU Cycling Team President, although I have played this role on T.V.

    I think the point of this story is that we need to get this 'Missing Link' of trail built already. The fact that it's still being delayed is positively shameful to Ballard.

  • 18 SPG // Dec 29, 2009 at 11:51 pm

    Do we really ever need him?
    I'm sure someone here can fill in with some ALL CAPS!!! screed against everything and somehow manage to even piss off the cyclists too.
    I almost wonder if this story is here just to feed Doug and keep the comments lively during the holiday break…

  • 19 glutton // Dec 29, 2009 at 11:52 pm

    looks like they are being lots of help..arms crossed watching him lay in pain..other dude with hands in pocket…probably were gonna rob him till they saw the photographer

  • 20 anonymous // Dec 30, 2009 at 12:16 am

    Well since that is me lying there on the ground I can tell you exactly what happened. I swung wide to negotiate the same set of tracks that I have been riding over for the past three years and didn't realize the road was as icy as it was. Face planted in between the tracks so it wasn't really the tracks that did me in at all.

    The two guys standing there watched over me while I made a puddle of blood under my face. Whoever they were I greatly appreciated them being there for me. Now I just have to figure out how I'm going to pay to have my teeth fixed.

    So, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to take my vicodin and go to sleep.

    Thanks,

  • 21 travitron // Dec 30, 2009 at 12:25 am

    Here's a mind-blowing suggestion for the city: Take a few hundred dollars and a few hours of someone's time and put a friggen asphalt 'ramp' over the relevant portion of the tracks. I would even wager to guess that you'd get free bicycle rider volunteers to do it for you. Or, maybe just put something over the rails themselves in the appropriate area so they are not prone to being slipped upon. I'm assuming that during non-freezing months, these are fairly safe to cross if done at a right-angle to the tracks. So either cover the tracks up completely or just the rails/gaps. I don't understand why this needs to keep happening.

    Anyone have an asphalt machine and a penchant for late-night asphaltin' ?

  • 22 nwcitizen // Dec 30, 2009 at 12:52 am

    Well said travitron!

  • 23 runnergal // Dec 30, 2009 at 1:00 am

    My 2010 resolution is to STOP reading these darn postings. You people are ridiculous!

  • 24 Tastyviddles // Dec 30, 2009 at 1:01 am

    Okay….if it is common knowledge that this spot is dangerous …yadda yadda yadda…why don't bicyclists stop – walk over the tracks…get back on bike? I'm not a cyclist..so maybe that's just not really a possibility? Just curious?

  • 25 Bjorn Toobiewild // Dec 30, 2009 at 1:23 am

    Yeah, it looks like a cheap scifi film, “Fiend without a Face”. Maybe they were actually laughing at the cyclist.

  • 26 Bjorn Toobiewild // Dec 30, 2009 at 1:25 am

    Retouched photo? Maybe they were laughing at the cyclist?

  • 27 JulianDavies // Dec 30, 2009 at 1:31 am

    My friend lost teeth in the same spot. Seems to be quite the stimulus package for our local dental economy. I hope you feel better soon.

    Despite what the esteemed collegiate cyclist said above, I doubt that taking a velodrome workshop on fixed-gear track riding would have done much for you today. And his advice to ride fast and hop the tracks is, well, atrocious.

  • 28 SPG // Dec 30, 2009 at 1:40 am

    I apply the “ride fast and jump over stuff” method to my driving. Pot hole? Hit the rocket boost button and jump right over it. Bad drivers? Hit the laser cannon and POOF! gone just like that. Now I don't see why we need decent roads or traffic control for cars anymore!

  • 29 JulianDavies // Dec 30, 2009 at 1:40 am

    Is this a relevant comment to a cyclist losing teeth after slipping on ice or pushing an agenda?

  • 30 NoraBell // Dec 30, 2009 at 1:42 am

    Yikes. Sorry to hear that. I hope the vicodin and some sleep help. Not fun doing a face plant on the cold, hard sidewalk.

  • 31 SPG // Dec 30, 2009 at 1:42 am

    Why doesn't the train stop. get out. lift train over bike path. get back on tracks? Or am I missing something?

  • 32 NoraBell // Dec 30, 2009 at 1:43 am

    Bye bye then.

  • 33 SPG // Dec 30, 2009 at 1:45 am

    Because the $78trillion marine business of Ballard would disappear the moment you touch those nearly abandoned tracks. All the blood that is spilled on them feeds the magic of those tracks.

  • 34 Tastyviddles // Dec 30, 2009 at 1:46 am

    Yes – or that too!

  • 35 travitron // Dec 30, 2009 at 1:54 am

    Ha ha, yes, I didn't consider that!

  • 36 SPG // Dec 30, 2009 at 2:04 am

    um, We don't have a special trail, at least not through Ballard because a special company likes to use the public right of way for their own purpose and file frivolous lawsuits.
    Too many cars don't share the road.
    I think we should actually be making a big deal out of these accidents every day. Every single one of them should be on the news and every single time they should point out that if SBSG wasn't suing and obstructing the trail these accidents wouldn't be happening.
    If cars were being mangled and their drivers injured and disfigured daily over this exact spot you could be that it would have been fixed a long time ago, so where are the equal rights?

  • 37 Silver // Dec 30, 2009 at 2:11 am

    I couldn't have said it better.

  • 38 gnomie // Dec 30, 2009 at 2:13 am

    Well at least they saved the bike.

    I'm curious how the visor helped protect him in the fall?

    Today it really wasn't the tracks or the industrial area that caused this. One needs to check the weather a bit closer and if there is a chance for ice on the road chances are the bicycle is probably not a wise decision.

    I am not a president of the Ballard Cycling Federation but if I were bike pres (and there were such a thing) I would enact a 3 strikes program. All accidents are to be reported and kept in the secret Ballard excel sheet.
    Once a cyclist records his 3rd accident his bike automatically gets posted for sale on Craigslist.

    This worked for my daughter when she started driving. By the time she was applying for college she racked up 3 accidents in her car. Her college of choice was somewhat based on public transportation as we sold her car directly after the 3rd accident.

    It good to be King!

  • 39 Silver // Dec 30, 2009 at 2:14 am

    I was kinda thinking “Well yeah, I'd crach too if I had a bag over my face…”

    I don't think that the Swedes did the 'shopping.

  • 40 Silver // Dec 30, 2009 at 2:15 am

    Love your name, Bjorn!

  • 41 Silver // Dec 30, 2009 at 2:22 am

    Gnomie – not a bad idea, but we should also keep a spreadsheet of all the locations in the city where bicycle accidents occur. If they reach a critical threshold, that location should be reworked to make it a safer place to ride.

    They already do with with crosswalks.

  • 42 Anonymous // Dec 30, 2009 at 2:37 am

    Wow. I used like myballard.com because the readers/commenters were a lot nicer than they are at most other blogs on the internet. Now I feel like I'm wrong.

    After all this violence happening in Ballard, I like having a pleasant post knowing that there are still good samaritans around.

    Jeez. It's one post. You guys don't need to go all troll on myballard.

  • 43 zxrb // Dec 30, 2009 at 2:40 am

    One of my friends fell here also. You should dismount and walk your bike across these tracks. all it takes is one wobble and the track can grab your tire.

  • 44 Silver // Dec 30, 2009 at 3:05 am

    Amen to that!

  • 45 LBB // Dec 30, 2009 at 3:42 am

    1) This is the path of the Burke Gilman trail – many riders aren't familiar enough with Ballard to even *know* about 46th and may be taking the Burke for the first time.
    2) Have you ever watched professional cycling? I've seen a few of those competent cyclists bite it.
    3) Many competent cyclists have never experienced railroad tracks – do they have railroad track crossing lessons at the velodrome?

  • 46 bbo // Dec 30, 2009 at 3:47 am

    Ahhhh, cars aren't being mangled. However, I think most responsible motorists are more aware of dangers such as railroad crossings, elevated offramps in freezing weather, etc. I am not going to argue that some motorists are jerks.

    I understand the cyclists “wants,” trust me I do. I have a lot of “wants” myself but when dealing with finite budgets, some things are a lower priority.

  • 47 bbo // Dec 30, 2009 at 3:51 am

    Few hundred dollars?? Hahahaha!!!

    Volunteers? Can you imagine the union workers letting that occur, or the city due to liability issues???

  • 48 Oldgirl // Dec 30, 2009 at 5:47 am

    Silver, I don't know you but you are the guardian angel of Ballard. You rock.

  • 49 travitron // Dec 30, 2009 at 7:07 am

    Hence my suggestion to go rouge and just do it in the middle of the night. It's not going to fix itself…

  • 50 kim // Dec 30, 2009 at 7:28 am

    i find this newsworthy. buddy, this isn't tmz.

  • 51 juan grande // Dec 30, 2009 at 7:42 am

    There's this, but I'm not sure how often it gets used/updated:
    http://www.bikewise.org/

  • 52 wtc // Dec 30, 2009 at 2:47 pm

    those aren't the tracks grabbing your tire. there's actually a troll under this bridge, too, and it's him that's grabbing your tire.

    only he's wearing an invisible cloak.

  • 53 bmvaughn // Dec 30, 2009 at 4:02 pm

    Doesn't the poster below who actually fell say that this had nothing to do with the railroad tracks?

  • 54 vestlandsjenta // Dec 30, 2009 at 6:08 pm

    Completely agree with SPG.

  • 55 SPG // Dec 30, 2009 at 7:41 pm

    But this isn't a question of something that happens occasionally but a constant danger comparable to an unmarked four foot drop off for a car. Most cars would make it, though it would be pretty damn scary, but every so often a car would go at it with the wrong speed or angle and flip over.

  • 56 SPG // Dec 30, 2009 at 7:41 pm

    Me too…most of the time.

  • 57 LiltingMissive // Dec 30, 2009 at 7:47 pm

    That is the worst advice I've ever come across.

    A sideways bunny hop is not an easy thing to pull off. I bunny hop over potholes and crap all the time while riding in traffic, but I would never attempt a sideways hop in traffic.

    The best way to handle any track crossing is to control your lane and cross at a minimum of 45 degrees when dry, and as close as you can get to 90 degrees when wet or frosty. I've crossed those tracks countless times and I've watched many people attempt the “at speed” approach and have their back wheel come flying out from under them (with some recovering and some not). When it's wet or frosty I slow way down for both the entry and exit turn to the crossing as the closest I've ever come to going down there was actually in the exit turn.

  • 58 SPG // Dec 30, 2009 at 7:48 pm

    They should take out the tracks for that one spot. Then they can stop the train, take it apart, and reassemble it on the other side of the path.
    Or when you see a pothole in your car, you can stop, back up, and take another street. That way SDOT won't have to actually fix any potentially dangerous road conditions.

  • 59 dan'l // Dec 30, 2009 at 9:02 pm

    i don't ride a bike… i wish i knew how, but i don't… i have to say that i hate driving through that spot SO MUCH… i can't believe how insane that bike path is… zig-zag/pot-hole/slippery tracks… i feel really bad for any cyclist that has to ride through all that AND deal with the crazy cars at that turn-or-don't-turn spot… (no blinkers. ever.) i'm happy that the person in this story wasn't struck by a car, and that people stopped to help… any updates on how the cyclist in this story is???

  • 60 Herder // Dec 30, 2009 at 9:41 pm

    It is no more dangerous than the tram tracks in South Lake Union or what our friends in Portland have to deal with on a daily basis. That said, the entire stretch from Fred Meyer to Market Street, is the most dangerous cycle way in North Seattle and that's not to mention rain, dark and those danged cement trucks inches from a cyclist.

    They need to move the bike path down to the waterfront and give access to cross streets from there. Simple.

  • 61 SPG // Dec 30, 2009 at 10:26 pm

    They fell and landed on the tracks, while setting up to cross them, and found the ground to be icier than expected. The tracks are either the aggravating factor or the front tire slid on the icy first track and the cyclist went down right there. Hard to say for certain from our perspective and probably hard to tell for sure even from the cyclist's perspective since when those tracks take you down it happens soooo quick. Either way, ask anyone who bikes regularly or works down there and they'll tell you that cyclists go down on that spot daily. Most just get some scrapes and bruises but quite a few get seriously injured.
    The most surprising thing to me is that there haven't been a ton of lawsuits over it. I guess cyclists are less litigious than life size toy train owners.

  • 62 bmvaughn // Dec 31, 2009 at 12:45 am

    Who would they sue? The city? Doesn't this get into the realm of tripping on the sidewalk and suing the city? Just playing devil's advocate :)

  • 63 SeaSpider // Dec 31, 2009 at 5:06 am

    Obviously you're not THAT competent since you fell. Sorry to sound harsh but I've ridden over those tracks hundreds of times without incident. I also crossed over San Francisco cable car tracks thousands of times without falling and cable car tracks are FAR more treacherous to cross than those railroad tracks. Patrick is right, too many people simply don't know how to ride.

    Also agree with the first poster that this really isn't newsworthy. What next, a story about how someone stopped to help a motorist fix a flat?

  • 64 SeaSpider // Dec 31, 2009 at 5:07 am

    “I would like to see cyclists obey the same signage as the rest of us. “

    Ummm…look at the stats sometime. 40,000 people a year are killed by cars. Clearly cyclists are not the only ones not obeying the laws!

  • 65 SeaSpider // Dec 31, 2009 at 5:09 am

    Actually the best advice is to simply avoid the tracks altogether. I'll never understand why people ride that road when an easier, safer and more car free route exists one block away.

  • 66 crownpill // Dec 31, 2009 at 6:14 am

    Yeah, SeaSpider, we get it, you lived in SF and had no problem with tracks you feel are much worse. Good for you, man, really. You and Cpt. America clearly don't realize how pompous y'all come off when you say, “You're incompetent 'cause I can do it better.” Ugh, really arrogant.

    I've read your denial of the antecedent before: just 'cause your Bay City tracks are bad, even worse than Ballard's, don't make the tracks here safe.

  • 67 SeaSpider // Dec 31, 2009 at 6:33 am

    Good points but on the other hand why are people riding over the tracks if they're so dangerous? Why not simply go one block over and avoid them entirely? Cheaper and safer – what's not to like? I really don't understand why Cascade and others keep insisting on putting a route through a less than ideal location. Seems like they're more interested in making a statement than finding a safe solution for cyclists.

  • 68 SeaSpider // Dec 31, 2009 at 6:36 am

    Ouch. Ice sucks and nothing you can do except avoid it completely. Hope the vicodin helps.

  • 69 SeaSpider // Dec 31, 2009 at 6:46 am

    “And his advice to ride fast and hop the tracks is, well, atrocious.”

    Yes and no. His advice is sound IF you're just trying to avoid tracks or a pothole AND you're bike isn't burdened with panniers full of groceries, change of clothes, laptop, etc. Hard to imagine for some but there are times when going faster over an obstacle is actually safer. With ice on the ground it's a recipe for disaster.

    One thing I can't help but notice are the bikes people are riding. Seems like all the riders I see falling down are riding on skinny, high pressure tires. Just because Hincapie and Boonen ride 23mm tires pumped up to 120 psi doesn't mean you should – especially if you're riding in Seattle. A fatter tire at lower pressure is much safer and more comfortable. Also a racing bike isn't a good choice for bike commuting for the same reasons a Formula 1 car isn't a good choice for driving to work.

  • 70 Silver // Dec 31, 2009 at 8:05 pm

    I heard a rumor that the post above made the Geeky Swedes laugh out loud…

  • 71 Silver // Dec 31, 2009 at 8:09 pm

    Awwwww. You're sweet!

  • 72 Silver // Dec 31, 2009 at 8:13 pm

    That's an interesting resource, Juan. There's quite the cluster of accidents along the Missing Link, isn't there?

    Hmmmmmm…

  • 73 Silver // Dec 31, 2009 at 8:15 pm

    Ah SEEN 'im! Ah tried to run 'im down, but his breath near killed me!

  • 74 SPG // Dec 31, 2009 at 9:15 pm

    In the plan the tracks would be realigned IIRC, so that's not exactly the issue. The other thing is that if you haven't already been bitten by the tracks or even been down that way, why would you avoid it? How can you avoid a danger you don't know about?
    SDOT and others have studied all the routes, including my preferred route to my front door, and weighed the facts and come up with this route. Let's not delay it further with strawmen.

  • 75 SPG // Dec 31, 2009 at 9:17 pm

    Sue the toy train operator that is obstructing the fixing of a known hazard. Seems to me that they are creating an unsafe condition for their own personal benefit.

  • 76 ballardemican // Jan 1, 2010 at 5:10 am

    what Crown Pill said. I made a living on a bike in San Francisco for a while when I was younger and raced mountain bikes and have slid out on these tracks (and ran out of it).

    Get off your high horse. There will always be less experienced cyclists on the road than people like you; the practical solution is to get rid of the obvious hazards if we can.

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