Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Death Of A Cyclist Downtown

Yesterday evening a cyclist was killed by a vehicle driver who was allegedly under the influence of alcohol. From the Spokesman Review article. (There was a horrible comment expressing regret that the cyclist wasn't Richard Rush or Jon Snyder. It's since been removed. Asshole.)

Scott C. Reckord, 49, was booked into Spokane County Jail on a vehicular homicide charge after he failed a field sobriety test and on a charge of felony hit and run.

Police said he was driving a pickup that was headed north on one-way Division and turned left to go west on Sprague, where he collided with the bicyclist in a crosswalk.

The Spokane County Medical Examiner’s Office identified the bicycle rider as David Squires, 56. Squires died of skull fractures caused by blunt impact to the head.

Squires was riding south in the crosswalk at Sprague on the west side of Division when he was hit about 6:40 p.m. The victim was taken to a local hospital where he died.

Coincidently, the photo red camera at that intersection was activated just yesterday. Since it has constant video coverage of the intersection, it may make it easier for the police to see what happened.

There have been some comments on the Review article concerning the cyclist riding through the crosswalk. According to the Revised Code of Washington, vehicle drivers must yield to pedestrians and bicycles in the crosswalk. RCW 46.261.235 has more detail and also states

No pedestrian or bicycle shall suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk, run, or otherwise move into the path of a vehicle which is so close that it is impossible for the driver to stop.

Now Spokane has a city ordinance 16A.61.787 that states:

No person may ride a bicycle or non-motorized vehicle upon any sidewalk or other pedestrian way within the retail zone of the congested district of the City as defined by SMC 16A.04.010 and SMC 16A.04.020 , provided that nothing contained herein shall be construed to prohibit the riding of a bicycle or non-motorized vehicle upon any sidewalk or other pedestrian way within any area other than the retail zone of the congested district of the City. (emphasis mine)

The congested district as defined by the city ordinance includes the intersection this accident took place at. However, the retail zone is defined as:

"Retail zone of the congested district" means all the area within the congested district bounded as follows:

On the north by the north line of Spokane Falls Boulevard;

On the west by the west line of Monroe Street;

On the south by the south line of Second Avenue from Monroe Street to Washington Street, and the south line of First Avenue from Washington Street to Bernard Street;

On the east by the east line of Washington Street from Second Avenue to First Avenue, and by the east line of Bernard Street from First Avenue to Spokane Falls Boulevard.

The retail zone shall also include both sides of Monroe Street from Main Avenue to Broadway, also both sides of Riverside Avenue, Sprague Avenue and First Avenue from Madison Street to Monroe Street, and both sides of Post Street from Spokane Falls Boulevard north to the Post Street bridge.

This intersection is clearly outside the retail zone so Mr Squires had every legal right to ride his bike on the sidewalk and through the crosswalk which is probably of little comfort to his family and friends.


Anonymous said...

Nice article and good legal justification for the cyclist's right to ride in the cross walk.

I worry about the speed which Mr. Squires entered the crosswalk and the location of the vehicle at that moment. He may have contributed to his danger if he was riding quickly. BUT, if the driver was drunk, it would be a key factor in reacting to the sudden entry of a cyclist riding on the sidewalk. Under normal safe driving the driver should have had his blinker on and slowed down to make the left turn. The driver would also have a clear view of the curb and crosswalk ahead where the cyclist would have been, coming from the opposite direction. I hope we learn more details. We all need to be safe - both cyclists and drivers.

I have commuted here in Spokane during all seasons since 2001 and feel the general conditions are favorable for cyclists and improving. But, there are enough very dangerous drivers out there to remind cyclists to ride with caution and make yourself seen.

Matt D.

Mark H. said...

It has always bothered me that the City makes it illegal to ride on sidewalks downtown but fails to provide a safe alternative. A seasoned rider will be able to navigate the street traffic but casual cyclists will still feel more comfortable on the sidewalks. It is about time the city provides a bike lane for east/west and north/south through the retail core!

Lucas said...

I always thought it was interesting that even though it is clearly against the law for us regular joes to ride on the sidewalk downtown the SPD's bike patrol does it all the time.

I ride through the intersection where this cyclist was killed on my way home every time I bike to work. It was weird going through it today and seeing all the flowers there.

Sherry said...

Several years ago a woman coming out of a store downtown was struck by a cyclist riding on the sidewalk. It was a very bad accident, prompting a lawsuit, and I believe that was the impetus for the no-cycles-on-the-down-town-sidewalks law.

Rachel said...

It's so unfortunate that he wasn't wearing a helmet :-(