WA looks for answers as bike, pedestrian deaths hit 20-year high

Sep 8, 2022, 6:58 AM | Updated: 10:09 am
Rose petals in the shape of a heart are left on the sidewalk near the spot where four international...
Rose petals in the shape of a heart are left on the sidewalk near the spot where four international students died a day earlier in a bus crash on the Aurora Bridge in Seattle, Washington on September 25, 2015. AFP PHOTO/JASON REDMOND

The numbers are in, and we are not doing a good job behind the wheel when it comes to sharing the road with bikes and pedestrians.

We have talked about how deadly 2021 was on our roads. 592 people left their homes and did not return, a 20-year high.

155 of them were on bicycles or walking. “We are going the wrong way,” the Washington Department of Transportation’s Charlotte Claybrooke said. “We’ve had a 26% increase in deaths of pedestrians and bicyclists on our roads and a 28% increase in serious injuries.”

Under 3% of all crashes involved bikes or pedestrians, but they represent 26% of deaths. It’s simple physics. Bicyclists and walkers lose when encountering a car.

And not surprising, most of these deaths are happening in cities, not on rural roads, and most are happening at conflict points like intersections and crosswalks.

“Most of them are where a pedestrian is crossing a street, and it might not be at a signalized intersection,” Claybrooke said. “It could be any legal crosswalk. The same is true for bicyclists. The majority of them are happening in intersections.”

And the causes are variable: a car turning without seeing a bike, a pedestrian crossing a dark street at night, a bike blowing through a stop sign or signal. Everyone has a role to play in preventing these deaths, but it is the drivers that are being targeted for fixing the problem.

And again, it’s because cars never lose against bikes and pedestrians.

Claybrooke said the legislature has given WSDOT the green light to reduce speeds where it makes sense.

“That means adjustments to the roads like roundabouts instead of a traffic signal that help to naturally lower the speeds for motorists and changing the road features so that we provide separated facilities,” she said.

With Washington traffic deaths on the rise, Democrats mull expanded ‘complete street’ design

Traffic calming devices, like speed humps or raised intersections, are also in the tool kit. So is simply lowering the speed limits.

More photo enforcement is also in the bag. It used to be those red light cameras, speed cameras, and photo enforcement were only allowed by the legislature in Seattle or big cities.

That has changed.

“[The legislature] expanded that and allowed for other cities to be included and to utilize that tool and not just in school zones and where there are traffic signals,” Claybrooke said. “They can be used near hospitals, near parks where you find children playing. It’s much broader than it used to be.”

Drivers can expect to see more photo enforcement and other measures in cities of all sizes across the state until the number of fatal accidents goes down.


520 bridge construction...
Chris Sullivan

Here’s your warning: Seattle’s SR 520 will be fully closed all weekend

We've been warning you all week because we don't want a repeat of last weekend: 520 is going to be closed this weekend.
1 day ago
Chris Sullivan

Major traffic shift coming to I-90 east of Snoqualmie Pass

A big change is about to happen on I-90 east of Snoqualmie Pass. WSDOT is widening six more miles of I-90 starting next week.
3 days ago
Chris Sullivan

Avoid I-90 for the Seahawks game officials say, with westbound closed at Mercer Island this weekend

Good luck getting to the Seahawks game from the east side this weekend. Westbound I-90 is going to be closed at the west end of Mercer Island.
7 days ago
lane splitter...
Chris Sullivan

Sullivan: My experience with a lane splitter and why it is still illegal

A question for all motorcyclists today. Do you want to make it home alive? Then don't be a lane splitter.
8 days ago
Chris Sullivan

WSDOT closes parts of I-405 this weekend to repair ’15-foot-deep sinkhole’

You will not want to be using Interstate 405 this Saturday, because construction is going to close the freeway south of Bellevue.
17 days ago
Chris Sullivan

A deep dive on the final stages of repair to the West Seattle Bridge

Load testing is one of the final steps to perform before the West Seattle Bridge can reopen to traffic.
1 month ago

Sponsored Articles

Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
WA looks for answers as bike, pedestrian deaths hit 20-year high