Bicycles Safety/Weather/Big Storm

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We are now entering the dark, rainy time of the year, when visibility declines and roads get wet and slippery. A much more dangerous time for those in our community who ride bikes to work or cycle for pleasure. I cycle to work each day and have been in more than a few accidents myself--including one incident when a driver deliberately ran over my bike.

Many local communities don't take bicycle safety seriously and Seattle is a poster child for a lackadaisical attitude towards providing safe bikeways. The city acts like they are doing a lot for bicycles (and they have printed costly, multi-color bicycle maps to prove it), but its all a hollow promise. Want some prime examples?

(1) There is no dedicated bicycle path--without contention with cars--into or out of the city. The Mayor talks big about encouraging bike commuting...but the lack of safe, car-free, bike paths for commuting to the city in unconscionable.
(2) Until recently the heavily used Burke Gilman trail was full of deep ruts and bumps from tree roots and other reasons. Very dangerous. I saw one individual thrown by one of those ruts and taken away by an aid car.
(3) The City has plastered white bicycle symbols all over major arterials--somehow suggesting they are safe for cyclists (I think they are called sharrows--see pic). This is recipe

Sharrow on the Fremont bridge..both cars and bikes share this right lane where cars have to be to turn. I have seen some very close calls here.

for disaster as bikes are encouraged to ride in very dangerous territory. But it allows them to put lots of bicycle route lines on their maps.
(4) The Fremont bridge is a very dangerous place where cyclists and cars are thrown together in the same lanes.

The laws are quite weak regarding penalties for motor vehicle operators when they hit or kill bicyclists. (and dozens die each year) Tomorrow there will be a justice seminar at City Hall in Seattle to talk about this issue and all are invited to attend--check out the web site:

OK, enough editorializing. Now back to weather. Want to bike and stay dry? No, you don't have to move to Phoenix. Use the weather radar.

On my department web site (and many other places, like the NWS sites) you can view weather radar animations. Rain is rarely uniform. Looking at the radar you can time your cycle, avoiding the heavy stuff most of the time. Ever since I began using the weather radar, I rarely have gotten very wet--even during the winter. Really--using the radar can change your life.
Not the time to go for a ride.

Finally, we have some big weather to talk about. Today, heavy rain struck the Bay Area-- a few gauges today outside the San Francisco metro region at elevated locations received more than 10 inches, including 12.08 at Mt. Umunhum and 16.81 inches at Mining Ridge. Even the lowlands near SF got 2-5 inches. That is big rain down there.

But our turn is coming on Friday. I will post more about this tomorrow...but take a look at the high-resolution model precipitation prediction for the 24-h ending Saturday at 5 AM (see graphic). WOW! Over 5 inches (red color) in portions of the Olympics and several inches over a substantial area. And the rain is not over yet. The first big rainfall of the season. We really could have used the coastal weather radar for this one--with the potential for a rapid rise on SE Olympics rivers and streams. At this point it does not look like a problem for the folks downstream of the Howard Hanson Dam. You will not have to water your garden anymore.
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