Cyclist loses part of her thumb in South Lake Union crash

SEATTLE -- A recent accident took part of a bicyclist's thumb, and now the collision is bringing new attention to a busy, booming Seattle area.

South Lake Union is growing, and it's full of cars and commuters of both the two- and four-wheel variety.

Karlyn Beer has commuted by bike for about a decade, but she was no match for a man who was allegedly drunk behind the wheel Friday night.

Beer survived the wreck, but her hand was severely damaged.

"They basically had to immobilize my thumb in some plaster here," she said.

That plaster is keeping Beer from her dissertation, which is due next month, as well as the commute she's made for years.

"It was so, so painful," she said. "Waiting for that ambulance was so painful."

Beer was heading to Ballard along Westlake Avenue North Friday night when an intoxicated 57-year-old named Thomas Brady turned in front of her and caused a crash, according to police.

Beer's thumb was severed at the base of her nail during the crash.

"I hit it and I kind of bounced back and the next thing I know, I look down and my thumb is not as long as it should be," she said.

There's no separate track for cyclists on the road, though the city has targeted the spot for improvements as part of ongoing bike improvements.

"South Lake Union is a real destination for a lot of folks, and what we see is that from the Fremont Bridge to South Lake Union, people are bicycling through the parking lots. And that's just not safe," said Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn.

Traffic engineers will look at a design similar to one being used now in North Seattle. There's no telling if the improvements would have changed what happened on Friday, but Beer and others believe it could help in the future.

"If there's a track there, maybe he would've seen the line, but I can't say," she said. "We're all sharing the road. Let's be on the same team."

Beer said everyone -- cyclists and drivers -- needs to work together to make sure the roads are safe.

"We need to be careful just like drivers need to be careful," she said. "We're not at odds with each other."

Court records show Brady has a prior DUI arrest in 2004, which he eventually pleaded down to a lesser charge. A judge on Monday set his bail at $40,000 for the Friday crash.

The city of Seattle has earmarked $1 million for traffic changes in the neighborhood. The issue will go out for public input in the fall.