Bellingham, Washington

Anthony Harris
Anthony Harris
  • Updated

North Samish Way Crash Analysis Findings

Authored by Robin Thomas, with assistance from James Fonte & Colleagues


On February 21, 2023 Brandon Mast was killed while crossing North Samish Way in the Samish Way Urban Village in Bellingham Washington. Walk and Roll Bellingham would like to acknowledge his death and to discuss the factors that were at play in this crash to make our city safer for all. We wish to extend our sympathies to the family and friends of the deceased and to emphasize that there is no criminal negligence at play in this crash, and that everyone involved suffered from this event. We do not seek to find blame but to describe the system in which this fatality occurred and make suggestions that could improve the situation, even if just by small increments.

The City of Bellingham street design is within the standards that is set by AASHTO and established by the city. There were no maintenance issues that directly caused the crash, and there was reasonable use of the roadway by drivers. Within this context however, improvements can and should be made to increase safety of vulnerable users and some of these improvements are both inexpensive and easy to achieve. Given the obvious dynamics at play that do not match the use of the Urban Village, it’s important to recognize there are systemic problems that can be improved to create a more pleasant and safe environment for people living in this high-density area.

This crash analysis was inspired by professional teams convened across the US that investigate and analyze crashes and are supported by Strong Towns, a national non-profit that has developed programing to help citizens and professionals evaluate serious crashes. Given that professionals are not readily available to a small non-profit group, a team of citizens performed a 2 hour traffic analysis and observed the system in the vicinity of the crash. From research and observation we will describe factors that we believe contributed to the crash, and recommendations for solutions that we hope will be considered. We further hope that teams are professional teams are convened in the future in Bellingham to review crashes and increase prompt responses where system changes can save lives.

To learn more, read the attached PDF.


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