The Phillips Law Firm would like to take a moment to express our sympathy to the family of Mrs. Sher Kung. Mrs. Kung tragically died last month after she was struck by a truck while crossing Second Avenue on her bicycle in downtown Seattle. Mrs. Kung was a wife, a new mother, and an attorney with the firm of Perkins Coie. Suffice to say, she will be missed.
Facts of the Fatal Crash
Mrs. Kung, 31, was riding her bicycle to work in downtown Seattle on the morning of Friday, August 29th. At approximately 8:45 a.m., she attempted to cross Second Avenue at the intersection of Second and University Street. She was ultimately killed in the process as a left-turning truck hit her bicycle. The impact occurred partway through the intersection.
The truck in question was labeled with the name Rubenstein’s, a commercial flooring company. According to one witness, the driver of the truck was “hysterical” following the incident. “He had opened the door, and was pacing around, screaming that she came out of his blind spot. He was pretty broken up.” According to the Seattle police, the truck driver cooperated with investigators and showed no sign of impairment.
In addition to being a new mother, Mrs. Kung was an associate attorney at Perkins Coie working in the firm’s litigation group. Her focus was on intellectual property litigation. On the day following the accident, the firm released a statement calling Mrs. Kung “one of our brightest young lawyers.” The statement continued, she was “an exceptional lawyer and a wonderful comrade, with boundless energy, legal brilliance, and relentless optimism…Our hearts go out to her partner and their child, her extended family, and her many friends.”
A memorial ride was held for Mrs. Kung on Friday, September 5th. Riders gathered at Westlake Park and then traveled to Benaroya Hall via Seattle’s bike lanes. A brief service was held at Benaroya that included a moment of silence.
Days Before Upgrades
Mrs. Kung’s death proves even more tragic considering it came just prior to the implementation of upgrades that have been planned for Seattle’s dangerous Second Avenue bike lane. These upgrades officially began on Friday, September 5th. According to plans, the Seattle Department of Transportation is to convert the bike lane into a more protected route, from Pike Place Market to Pioneer Square.
More protection means left-turning cars and trucks will only be able to proceed on a green arrow. Further, bike-shaped green lights will be installed to tell bikers when they can proceed straight through intersections. Parked cars on Second Avenue will also be repositioned to form a cordon between the anticipated bike lane and moving cars. Finally, pavement on Second Avenue will be painted green where streets and parking-garage driveways cross the bikeway.
Second Avenue has been considered a dangerous biking route for years. There were 57 bike collisions from January 2007 to March 2013 on Second Avenue between Belltown and Pioneer Square. Of these collisions, seven were at University Street and nine were in the block approaching University. In 2013, John Pucher, a Rutgers University cycling expert, labeled the Second Avenue bikeway as “death-defying.” He went on to state that he was almost hit five or six times on just one cycling trip downtown.
A Tragic Reminder
Mrs. Kung’s death provides us all with a very powerful reminder. That being, drivers of motor vehicles and bicycles share Seattle’s roadways; and, they must find a way to safely co-exist. Seattle has received much attention as of late for its numerous projects and plans to help improve biker safety. While some of us support these measures, others disfavor them. Regardless, we must all learn to be more responsible and attentive when driving a car, or riding a bicycle, when upon our City’s streets. Once again, the Phillips Law Firm expresses it sympathy to the family of Mrs. Sher Kung for their insurmountable loss.