Remembering People Killed While Bicycling
  • Sunday is the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims.
  • At least four people on bikes died while riding in Seattle over the past two years, with at least 53 people killed throughout Seattle while walking, biking, rolling and driving. 
  • Statewide, there were 117 bicycling and pedestrian fatalities in 2020

A white “ghost bike” chained to a light pole at the intersection of Corson Avenue South and South Michigan Street in Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood is a sad reminder of the dangers facing people who bike, walk, and roll on our streets.

On March 24, a truck struck Robert Miesse while he bicycled through this intersection. He is among at least four people killed while riding a bike over the past two years in Seattle, and one of at least 53 people killed while biking, walking, rolling or driving in the city since the beginning of 2020. 

Statewide, data from the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) shows that 117 people were killed while walking or bicycling in 2020, the latest year for which statistics are available. State data shows that bicycling fatalities have more than doubled in recent years, from six in 2014 to 15 in 2018. The WSDOT report also shows the importance of reducing speed limits. From 2010 to 2020, about 86 percent of the fatalities for people biking and walking were on roads with speed limits higher than 25 miles per hour. 

A Day of Remembrance

Sunday, Nov. 21, marks the 26th anniversary of the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims, an international observance begun by the European Federation of Road Traffic Victims in 1995 and adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2005.

In partnership with Seattle Neighborhood Greenways, the Seattle Department of Transportation, and other safe streets advocates, Cascade Bicycle Club is marking this solemn day as an opportunity to remember and celebrate the lives lost due to traffic violence over the past two years in Seattle. 

“We're commemorating these folks to call attention to the need for Seattle to commit to Vision Zero and follow through on creating safe streets for our community,” says Tamar Shuhendler, Cascade’s community organizer. “Each of these deaths is a tragedy, and we must do more to ensure that our streets are safe, calm, and equitable.” 

A Man in a Wheelchair, a Child Playing in a Car 

Seattle Neighborhood Greenways organized the Seattle Day of Remembrance with participation from Cascade, the Seattle Department of Transportation, and community members who want safer streets. Volunteers fanned out across the city over the past several weeks to photograph the locations of traffic fatalities in 2020 and 2021. On Sunday, Cascade and other organizations will share the photos, which have been superimposed with a heart. 

This map shows the locations of the fatal crashes

While at least four people died while bicycling, people walking accounted for the highest number of fatalities. At least 30 people were killed by motor vehicles while walking. Other victims included a man struck by a car while crossing the street in a wheelchair, and individuals struck while riding scooters, mopeds, and motorcycles. The victims include a three-year-old child killed while playing in a parked car.

MLK Way in South Seattle was the deadliest thoroughfare, with at least eight fatalities, followed by Aurora Avenue (seven deadly crashes), and Rainier Avenue and Airport Way (each with four fatalities). Traffic deaths disproportionately kill and harm communities of color, people with disabilities, our unhoused neighbors, seniors, and low-income people.   

The message is clear: Vision Zero is critical for advancing equity in our city and state, and our streets are unnecessarily dangerous. Public officials here, nationwide, and worldwide must do more to make them safer. Seattle residents agree, and they want action. Though city leaders have committed to Vision Zero policies, more investments are needed in safe sidewalks, crosswalks, connected bike routes, lit streets, and lower street speeds. 

Overwhelming Public Support for Safer Streets

Polling conducted by Change Research in partnership with the Northwest Progressive Institute and Seattle Neighborhood Greenways shows Seattle residents want transformational change that makes the city’s streets safer. 

Seattle residents want more Stay Health Streets and pedestrian-only streets, as well as better sidewalks, more bike lanes, and other improvements that make Seattle more walkable and bikeable, according to the polling. Seattle residents also support removing parking spaces and reducing traffic lanes to give space for more safe routes to schools, bike lanes, bus lanes and street cafes, the study shows.

But safe streets are in demand beyond Seattle, as well. The city of Tacoma’s community-driven Climate Action Plan also calls for safer streets, including a complete network of sidewalks, bike connections, ADA-accessible intersections, and Safe Routes to School by 2050. Safer streets also have support in Spokane, where reducing street speeds from 45 mph to 35 mph has been a priority of the city’s Target Zero plan.

People Killed While Bicycling in Seattle

Cascade Bicycle Club attended two memorial rides in 2021 where large numbers of people showed up to remember the victims and demand action. Below are the details of the crashes that killed four people on bikes in Seattle. In some cases, only the first names are used to respect family wishes. In others, the names of the victims were widely shared in news accounts, so we chose to use them here.

  • Mike, 44, struck by a vehicle on Sept. 27, 2020, while riding on 12th Ave NE between NE 73rd St and NE 75th St in the Roosevelt neighborhood.

  • Robert Miesse, 54, hit by a truck on March 24, 2021, while riding his bike through the intersection of Corson Ave South and South Michigan Street in the Georgetown neighborhood.

  • Luri, 53, hit by a motor vehicle on March 31, 2021, while bicycling on South Cloverdale Place and Wabash Avenue South in the Rainier Beach neighborhood.

  • Michael Colmant, 63, killed by a hit-and-run driver on April 11, 2021, while bicycling on Seward Park Avenue South.

Thomas Johnson, 56, pictured above with a grandchild, died on May 9, 2020, after being hit from behind by an impaired hit-and-run driver.

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Paul Tolmé