Three months ago, Wendell Hultman was riding his bicycle with a friend on the Interurban Trail near Everett.
Rounding a hairpin turn with a bad sightline, the cyclists dodged two teen-agers then suddenly came upon a couple walking their dog. The meeting ended very badly.
Hultman, 73, either struck the dog or the leash and went over the handlebars. His helmet cracked, and he died about two weeks later of his injuries.
Because the crash didn't occur on city streets, it didn't come to the attention of city officials until weeks later when the dog walkers, whose pooch recovered, contacted their city councilman.
Now, reports the Everett Herald, the city staff — already working on a new bicycle map for the city — will make recommendations on improving trail safety by the end of the year.
Last summer, the Renton City Council reacted to the death of a pedestrian struck by a bicyclist on the Cedar River Trail with strict restrictions against people who ride bicycles.
They lowered speed limits on trails within the city to 10 mph, established dismount zones, and instituted a $101 fine for violators.
The bicyclists I've talked with about these measures don't appreciate being targeted like this, although they do support a yellow line that now runs the length of the Cedar River Trail east of the I-405. Most pedestrians, and bicyclists, adhere to staying right of the yellow line except to pass.
The Herald reporter, Debra Smith, interviewed a couple of trail experts associated with the Burke-Gilman Trail in Seattle: Reiner Blanco, a traffic engineer with Seattle Department of Transportation, and Tom Eksten, former King County project manager on trails in the system. Here's what they suggest:
— Do away with bumps and obstructions on the trail;
— Keep an eye on maintenance, especially buckles and bushes that need trimming;
— Install signage on hazardous sections of trail, just like on roadways;
— Create uniform rules across jurisdictions in the Seattle area;
— Post reminder signs about trail etiquette, such as staying right and warning pedestrians before passing;
— Educate dog walkers about the hazards their pets and leashes present on the trails;
— Keep conditions in mind, such as trail congestion, when cycling;
— Consider speed limits (they don't suggest a speed; except for Renton's 10 mph, most trails post 15 mph);
— Widen paths at busy locations;
— Separate bicyclists and pedestrians by painted lines, such as Green Lake Trail, or on separate paths, like Myrtle Edwards.
Many of these are worthwhile suggestions, and I hope Everett city officials take them into consideration as they seek to improve trail safety.