It looks like it’s getting safer to ride your bike in Seattle
SEATTLE — The Emerald City is notoriously tricky for bicyclists. There’s the rain, the hills and the weave of bike lanes.
But despite the challenges, biking in the city might be getting safer.
A Seattle Reddit post Tuesday asked if the city was about to make it through its first year without a single bicyclist fatality.
It’s not true – there was a death in January – but the rate of fatalities and serious injuries does appear to be dropping.
According to the Seattle Department of Transportation, there were two deaths in 2017 and three bicyclist fatalities in 2016. There was only a single death in 2015.
Those numbers don't seem like huge improvements on first glance. But Tom Fucoloro, the editor of the Seattle Bike Blog, said the numbers might mean more as a huge influx of bikes is hitting the road. More than 1 million bikers traveled over the Fremont Bridge by the end of November and shattered records, Fucoloro said.
"More people are biking, but the deaths and injuries don't go up," Fucoloro said. "They stay a consistent 'higher than you want' level. But the more people that are biking the rate goes down."
This could mean there's safety in numbers. The more bicyclists on the road, the more drivers look to watch for bikes.
"Common sense would say the more people biking, the more people that are getting hurt," Fucoloro said. "That's not necessarily true."
It's promising that the rate of serious injuries appears to be dropping, Fucoloro said, but there's still work to be done. Downtown and southeast parts of the city - especially Rainier Avenue - remain dangerous due to the lack of consistent bike lanes.
And the number of bike lanes the city is building seems to be dropping, Fucoloro said, after two good years of bike lane growth.
"The city has slowed down on building (bike lanes) which is very frustrating," Fucoloro said.
Pedestrian and bicycle death rates in Washington state have remained about the same.
According to the Washington State Department of Transportation, 575 people were killed in the state through September. Last year, 591 people were killed over the same time period.