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City of Seattle faces lawsuit after two bicycle crashes on same Streetcar tracks

A stretch of streetcar tracks running through Seattle’s Central District are at the heart of a recent lawsuit filed on behalf of two crash victims. (Photo: KOMO News)

SEATTLE - A stretch of streetcar tracks running through Seattle’s Central District are at the heart of a recent lawsuit filed on behalf of two crash victims.

Suzanne Greenberg said she was riding to work on May 24 when she lost control of her bike and tumbled to the ground.

“I went around the bus and instantly the track was coming in like this and I didn’t see it until, basically, I was in it,” Greenberg said. “I got thrown to the left and I threw my arm out to break the fall and that’s what tore the rotator cuff and broke the shoulder.”

A local television news reporter filming a piece commemorating the death of another bicyclist exactly one year earlier pulled her to safety, Greenberg said.

“He came running out saying ‘are you okay, are you okay?’ and I started cursing the rails saying, ‘these rails, this is my second time [falling because of the streetcar tracks], they’re so dangerous’,” Greenberg told KOMO in an interview Wednesday.

She said the reporter told her about Desiree McCloud’s injuries and death. McCloud flew over the handlebars of her bicycle on May 13, 2016 hitting her head after her tire also got stuck in the track groove gap. Though McCloud had been wearing a helmet she died 11 days later.

“When I heard about Desiree, was thank God I only broke my shoulder,” Greenberg said.

McCloud, 27, was riding with a group of other bicyclists from Capitol Hill to Alki Beach when the crash occurred at 13th Avenue and East Yesler Way, according to the lawsuit. The group specifically mapped out a route that was bicycle friendly, the suit said.

“Upon passing another bicyclist, Desiree’s front tire engaged a streetcar rail and rail flange gap throwing her from her bicycle onto the pavement of East Yesler Way,” the suit said.

A ghost bike in McCloud’s honor remains chained to a street sign near the crash site.

On Dec. 19, McCloud’s estate and Greenberg filed a lawsuit against the City of Seattle.

One year later, Greenberg’s bike “engaged a streetcar rail and track groove gap throwing her from her bicycle onto the pavement of East Yesler Way.”

Greenberg said she was attempting to pass a bus when she fell.

Greenberg said this was the second time she had been thrown from her bike crossing a streetcar track. She said she scraped her knee after falling in South Lake Union several years ago.

Attorney Phil Arnold, who is representing McCloud’s estate and Greenberg, calls the tracks “a deathtrap.”

“There’s a lack of political will, a lack of sensitivity, when you have a street car track that is a deathtrap to people who ride bicycles,” Arnold said on Wednesday.

Arnold said his clients are seeking financial damages, as well as permanent change. When reached Wednesday, the Seattle City Attorney’s Office and the Seattle Department of Transportation declined to comment on the case pending in court.

“This is a hazard that is there for all people who ride bicycles,” Arnold said. “We want that deathtrap removed.”

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