Journal of the San Juan Islands


Friday Harbor streets increasingly unsafe for bicyclists | Letters

February 25, 2014 · Updated 4:03 PM

I have written before about the unsafe road projects going on.

The narrowing of roads is making it extremely dangerous for bike riders.

The most worrisome is Guard Street, where the narrowing is so extreme that if you have pickups parked on both sides, two school buses cannot pass. This puts any middle and high school student commuting by bike at extreme risk, not to mention the rest of us.

I enjoy bike riding and have commuted during elementary school, middle school, high school, college, medical school, residency, and finally here in Friday Harbor. I have commuted in Los Angeles, Denver, Portland, and Washington D.C. and other cities. Nowhere have I felt it more dangerous than in the town of Friday Harbor.

When I drive down Guard (apologies to Tennyson) I always think “cars to the right of me, cars to the left of me, cars in front of me, into the jaws of death rides the intrepid bike rider.”

In addition to these dangers, the new bump-outs are so extreme that emergency vehicles have a hard time making the turns. They are not alone.

All you need to do is look at all the black tire marks on the new construction to immediately know that many cars are scraping the curb and there is absolutely no room for a bicyclist, again creating a very dangerous situation.

I would encourage the residents of the island to deny more tax dollars for road projects until a safer design is approved. If we have higher taxes, I would encourage them to first be spent modifying the recent “improvements”.

I have taken care of too many injured people through the years and know when cars and bikes collide, the biker always loses. It is only a matter of time before we see a fatality and it may well be one of our school children.

Burk Gossom, MD/San Juan Island


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