Four people were killed and 52 injured when a “Ride the Ducks” amphibious vehicle plowed into the side of a BellAir tour bus full of international college students Thursday on the Aurora Bridge, officials said. Nine of the injured were reported to be in critical condition.
Hello dear reader(s).
I was having a good day. My cold is fading, which means I have more immunity than I thought, because these puppies usually last a week, I have a bit of energy again, I got errands done really quickly, I played my drums an hour to other people’s music to try to get a feel of playing with other musicians again, and another half hour playing my own beats until I busted 3 sticks and a snare drum head (oh well, cheap enough); and was generally just having a good day.
Then I hit my Facebook and read about the tragedy in the article above. Regular reader(s) will know that I used to live in Seattle, and as far as places go, I really loved everything about it except the high cost of living and the traffic. I’ve ridden the Ducks, and I remember taking a picture from the Aurora bridge on a Duck because the mountain was out. It was probably taken about 100 feet from the location of the accident. As someone who actually lived there, I would often defend the cheesy touristy Ducks to other residents as harmless fun. Even though one sank once and now this, I still believe they are generally harmless. Accidents happen, and people die all of the time. Still, this one really gets to me because I think of the fun I have had on those the times I’ve been on them. I think of some visitors to one of the most beautiful, picturesque cities in all of the country, leaving their hotel rooms, or meeting family from out-of-town, and hopping aboard one of those not knowing it would end in such tragedy.
I will admit that I actually cried a little. I hate my empathy.
In the comments on the story, people are already saying they think the driver probably wasn’t paying attention. They think he was probably looking over the side to point out attractions in Lake Union. And that could be. But so far, the investigation is ongoing, and 4 people are dead, with a lot more injured. Some are critically injured. I personally doubt the driver wasn’t paying attention because usually those people know the city so well (as I got to living there) that you can point at what to look at just watching the road. There is no question that the Duck lost control, but let’s hold off on the blame for a while, shall we? Let’s wait and see. It is important to remember that those vehicles are Word War II era landing craft. It is also important to remember the growth the area has experienced in the last few years thanks to Amazon, with no transportation upgrades to keep pace. In fact, thanks to Bertha (the broken boring machine) transportation options have only gotten worse. The congestion in that city is one of the key reasons I decided to move.
The Aurora bridge in particular is a nightmare. You can be going along at a nice 40 mph and suddenly you have to slam on the brakes (if heading Southbound) because some asshole from the left lane decides he needs to get over to the right so he can turn into the Queen Anne neighborhood. Going northbound, the same thing happens for getting off Aurora at the end of the bridge into Fremont. The bridge is not divided. The Duck was traveling North, and struck the bus traveling South. Billions on a tunnel they can’t dig and can’t spend thousands on a concrete divider?
Naturally, people are going to start trying to ban the Ducks. Because that is what happens anytime something they don’t like is involved in something that nobody likes. It is getting out of control. Multiple Ducks run multiple times a day, for years without incident. I hope they don’t ban them, it is part of Seattle. Maybe the Duck was not in good working order, maybe the driver made a terrible error, at this point nobody knows much except that the people on the bus, and the driver of the bus likely were not doing anything wrong but being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
And the wrong place at the wrong time is anywhere in traffic in Seattle. How many more people WSDOT? Will it take the viaduct pancaking people like in Oakland during the earthquake before you cut your losses on the tunnel and figure something else out? How about a viable North-South rail system? Replacing the viaduct with an elevated structure? Something, anything that can be seriously deployed (as opposed to the tunnel pipe-dream) in an attempt to keep up with the Amazon growth that you so actively courted without a serious plan to deal with it? It’s all about the economy? People? They mean nothing. You want the dollars. We get it. How can you sleep at night?
I am not putting blame entirely on Seattle and Washington. We still don’t know what happened. But I guarantee, if there was more North-South options in Seattle, then people wouldn’t have to stop suddenly on the undivided bridge and careen out of control into opposing traffic which at the very least, should have a barrier between the two.
I am horrified and shocked at the loss of life, and the injuries from this incident. I hope they don’t ban the Ducks. I hope they don’t forget about the grieving families, the lost, and the injured.
I hope they pull their heads out of their asses and do something about their traffic before something worse happens.
In the meantime, I will be staying out of the city that I love so dearly.