Good Samaritans help fallen cyclist

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.)

76 comments on “Good Samaritans help fallen cyclist”

  1. 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.

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

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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???

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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 :)

  10. 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?

  11. “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!

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

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

  16. “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.

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

    Hmmmmmm…

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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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