A Bad Sign

This morning, while commuting to work near where another bicycle commuter was killed earlier this year, I saw multiple SDOT trucks.  One of these trucks was parked on the sidewalk that I and many other bicyclists use when coming from the West Seattle Bridge.  This resulted in bicyclists taking to the street, albeit the wrong-way.  In fact, I found myself “salmoning” on the bike lane… Ooops.

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Thankfully, I made this unwise and illegal move (not unlike the bicyclist pictured above) without incident.  Why is SDOT creating this dangerous situation?  Why, to add safety signage, of course.  This:

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Unfortunately, this pedestrian sign pointing at a crosswalk only reinforces the INCORRECT understanding that many people (including far too many police officers) have that crosswalks are for pedestrians and not for bicycles.  This is the actual law:

The operator of an approaching vehicle shall stop and remain stopped to allow a pedestrian or bicycle to cross the roadway within an unmarked or marked crosswalk when the pedestrian or bicycle is upon or within one lane of the half of the roadway upon which the vehicle is traveling or onto which it is turning. For purposes of this section “half of the roadway” means all traffic lanes carrying traffic in one direction of travel, and includes the entire width of a one-way roadway.

RCW 46.61.235(1).

I asked one of the many SDOT workers on site whether it was too late to change the pedestrian sign to a bicycle and pedestrian sign.  He said he had never heard of such a thing.  “Oh, they exist,” I assured him, “they’re just not used enough.”  They are certainly allowed by law.  In fact, SDOT even installed a couple just west of this spot at the entrance to the port.

I appreciate that SDOT is working to improve safety in an area that needs it.  However, these signs will only add to the confusion about what a crosswalk means.

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Please SDOT, use a better sign.

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