Dear PoP – Bicyclist Injured on Mass Ave. Anyone Know What Happened?

“Dear PoP,

This morning as I was driving toward Maryland on Mass. Ave, I saw a blonde girl (maybe in her 20’s?) sitting on the street at Rock Creek Drive. She appeared to be injured, and there was a bicycle on the road. Several people were helping her, including a guy in a suit. Does anyone have any more information about this? I hope the girl is okay.”

21 Comment

  • That’s why I stopped biking to work. It’s scary out there. I think we should have at least one North-South corridor through the city devoted solely to pedestrians and cyclists – maybe 11th street? Imagine the improvement in air quality and public health as people start walking and riding more!

  • I’d settle for just some bike lanes on a few main roads. DDOT seems to lack the political will or cojones to even propose this. Why not a few main arteries like Mass, Connecticut, NY, Penn, North Cap, etc?

    Until then, I hope this cyclist is ok. Maybe WABA has some info?

  • I like Sherman Ave Guy’s idea. Just one N/S and one E/W route that is for bikes. Realistically there are not enough E/W routes as it is (Park Road anyone?) but I’m not sure the bike lanes are sufficient. My experience is that I still bike as though it’s not there and I am not protected – since at any moment someone might pull into it to turn or outright park. Sat morning a guy made eye contact with me before whipping out of his parking space into the bike lane, cutting me off so I have to screech my brakes to avoid hitting his side. I think he just didn’t want to wait for me to pass… I don’t know. But he saw me, I was in a bike lane, it was slow traffic at 8:00 am on a Sat.

    Why on earth is there a culture war between cyclists and cars? I really don’t want to fight in it – I just want to ride my bike, with my kids, to the market and not feel like someone hates me or wants to kill me.

  • I’m not sure that main arteries (Mass. Ave., Conn. Ave., etc) are the best places for bike lanes. The lane on 11th St works so well in part because Sherman absorbs most of the fast car traffic, leaving less car-bike conflict. Also, it’s one of the least steep ways to get up the hill. In fact, the 11th St bike lane was miraculously well-planned and designed.

    We now return you to Greater Greater Washington…or as the HTML coders say.

  • Isn’t 11th Street where kids were throwing bricks and cinder blocks off the top of their building at cyclists? Broke one guy’s leg.

  • I started biking to work when I moved to Petworth at the beginning of the month. For the record, I’m not new to this, my bike was my main mode of transportation all 5 years of college in MI, and I biked to work when I lived in Baltimore for a year. I used to bike around detroit, the car loving capitol of the world where bike lanes are a totally foreign concept.

    DC is by far the scariest place I have commuted. I was doored by the passenger door of a car stuck in traffic my 3rd day commuting. I’ve been cut off my WMATA busses and small sporty convertables. I’ve been HORRIFIED at how the bike commuters ride in this city. While I would love more bike lanes, I don’t think that would really solve the problem. I think people in this city just need to learn to effing drive both their bikes and their cars, and then learn how to share the road with each other. It really isn’t that hard or inconvenient. The world does not revolve around you, mr cyclist-running-a-red-light-while-riding-in-opposing-traffic-to-bypass-the-law-abiding-cars-stopped-at-the-light-because-you-think-that-you-are-obviously-so-important-slowing-down-at-a-light-is-beneath-you or you, ms. car-driver-passing-a-cyclist-in-your-lane-with-about-2-inches-separating-you-so-that-person-knows-what-an-inconvenience-you-think-they-are

    I hope the women is ok and not critically injured. I’m glad to hear people were helping her, instead of laughing and telling her she deserved it, which is about what I would expect in this city at this point.

  • @Petweezy – Agree with everything you said. I was the person who submitted this, and if there was room to pull over anywhere close to there, I would have stopped to try to help as well. Thinking back on the situation now, there was a black SUV stopped at the light on Rock Creek Drive right before the cyclist, and the driver side door was open, so I think the man in the suit was from that SUV. No idea who hit who, if anyone was even hit… Merely… scuttlebutt.

    I used to hate hate cyclists, but I’ve gotten to the point where I let them in front of me in traffic so other cars won’t hit them. I feel like if I don’t try to protect them, no one will. Sure, they slow you down, but in about 100 feet, you will be able to zoom away from the cyclist after not killing them or mowing them down.

    I’ve gotten so used to driving down here, that when I go to Philly on weekends to see the bf, it’s such a calming experience to drive up there (roads that I used to drive everyday for 5 years). Forgot how that felt. Even more ridiculous of an experience was when I went up to Allentown, PA and got to drive on country roads that I had learned to drive on when I was 16. Forgot what it felt like to be totally under your own control, not behind another driver, not another car in sight. It’s a strange feeling when you’re going 35 under your own duress – not stuck behind another car cursing that driver out for going *only* 35. It’s made me rethink my driving skills, definitely made me a much better driver.

  • I have no idea what the circumstances are of this accident, but I agree with Petweezy. There are many stupid things being done on both sides.

    However, dedicating a road to cyclists and pedestrians would solve nothing. As it is, many cyclists choose to ride on dangerous routes when there are far safer alternatives nearby. I have seen bikers on 16th Street during rush hour, which is practically a highway. There is no shoulder because there’s a sidewalk, and traffic is extremely heavy. But 14th Street is two blocks one way, Beach Drive is two blocks the other way (and has TONS of cyclists every day), Oregon Avenue, Ross Drive, 13th Street… there are so many alternatives. Even the sidewalk of 16th Street would be a lot better and safer. So as it is, some people choose to ride on unsafe routes when there are much better alternatives, why would a single dedicated n/s route help anything?

    Again, while I have no idea what happened on Mass Ave, that is a major commuting route. I would be terrified to ride my bike on Mass Ave during rush hour. Again: I am not blaming the cyclists or the driver since I know nothing about what happened, but cyclists can do a lot to make themselves safer by choosing routes that avoid major arteries. This is what I do when I’m on a bike because I value my life a lot more than being self-righteous about the idea that I should be able to ride on every single road a car can drive on.

  • @ Jamie,

    Before the 11th Street bike lane was striped, my principal Petworth-to-Dupont route was Park Rd. to 16th St. and down to New Hampshire. To say that 16th Street is “practically a highway” during rush hour is true, but only if you mean “a really congested, slow-moving highway.” If a cyclist can keep ahead of the buses in the right lane, which are always stopping for passengers, they block most of the overtaking traffic. And picking a path between stopped cars and gridlock can also go quickly (for the bicyclist).

    That said, the paucity of shoulder or margin for error make 16th Street pretty hectic. I don’t like to ride on sidewalks, because those are for pedestrians.

    Other than that, we’re basically in agreement that the best arteries for cars aren’t always the best for bikes (and vice versa). 11th Street is good for bikes.

  • @Monkey Daddy- I actually should have been more clear – I’m mostly talking about 16th Street north of Adams Morgan/Columbia Heights where there is hardly any pedestrian traffic, and you can ride through the park pretty much all the way to Maryland as an alternative.

    Once in town, I’d still rather be on 11th than that part of 16th, but traffic moves a lot more slowly from Adams Morgan south and I don’t think it’s nearly as unsafe. I’m not saying I condone this – but people drive up to 60 mph on 16th Street after Arkansas and all the way to Silver Spring. It’s irrelevant that that’s way above the speed limit – it happens, that’s the way it is, and anyone on a bike on that part of 16th Street is putting their life at risk.

  • Not original to me but…”If the lights are timed for 30 mph…aren’t they also timed for 60?”

  • If this is the accident I saw (by Howard University), she was extremely injuried. My guess she will be okay but will be in critical care for a while. I was on a shuttle going to work when we passed by the accident as it happened. Our shuttle driver pulled to the side of the road and allowed some of us to get off to see if she was okay because no one else was stopping. As I walked up to this woman, I knew she was not okay! Without going into to details she will probably have to have major surgeries (again, this is all guessing on what I saw). My role was to call 911 at that point and give locations and stuff. I hope she is okay and I hope the person who hit her did not leave the scene (another detail I don’t know). I just know she was hit by a truck (according to someone in our shuttle).

    Hopefully she will be okay!

  • “And picking a path between stopped cars and gridlock can also go quickly (for the bicyclist).”

    and then one day someone “picking a path between stopped cars” will get hit by someone who doesn’t see them, and once again we will hear from all the whiny bikers complaining that the drivers in this town are out to get them.

  • Sounds like Anon 3:45 saw a totally different accident since I don’t think the first was anywhere near Howard. Crap.

    I had a thought while riding on Saturday: what if, instead of a Critical Mass or a Bike To Work Day, we had a Follow the Rules Week. I envision all cyclists en masse really, truly, madly, deeply following the rules. We’d have to do some education because a lot of folks hold dearly to the belief that they know the traffic laws when they don’t. Thousands of bike commuters riding exactly with the traffic, stopping in their queue at the light, signaling turns… taking the lane when it is too dangerous for cars to pass on the left. Never exceeding the posted speed limit (which no one believes is 25/15 MPH on Michigan Ave NE)… Never rolling a stop sign, but coming to a complete and full stop with foot on the ground, looking both ways and then crossing.

    Then, after that amazing example of law-abiding, every driver in the city will spend a solid week following every traffic law to the T. No rolling stops, no speeding.

    Just an exercise in self-discipline on both sides. If nothing else, it’d be an interesting educational campaign, since I think a lot of the ‘issues’ stem from folks who think they know the rules but don’t… and could use some humbling.

    (and yes, I know that’s a wholly unrealistic idea, given human nature.)

  • @Anonymous345 – the accident I saw was nearish the Naval Observatory, not Howard. Sad that there were two injuries in one morning (I’m sure that happens often, but not often that you hear about them). I wish someone knew what happened!

    @Sophiagrrl – I *love* that idea!

    And in general – I’ve seen a lot more cars getting pulled over by DC cops recently. That makes me happy, even as a driver. It’s not just the cyclists that get angered by terrible drivers!

  • @Mal – I visit my gf in Philly and have the exact opposite reaction. Both drivers and bikers there are CRAZY! No regard for anyone else on the road. Lane changes without warning or looking, riding through red lights without seeming to notice that there is oncoming traffic, stopping in traffic lanes to pick someone up or tie a shoe. Every time I’m on the streets downtown or in West Philly, I see someone risk their lives in some really, really stupid way. If any city can make DC drivers look not so bad, it’s Philly. In DC, at least, the drivers seem to be in control of their vehicles and aware of their surroundings, but extremely egotistical about the relative value of their time vs. others’ safety.

    @Monkey Daddy – no, but a light timed for 60 would also be timed for 30. If you get to a light twice as fast as expected, you will just have to wait longer for it to change; however, if you take twice as long to get there, it will have already gone through a cycle by the time you get there. Even if you get through several 30 mph lights at 60 mph, you’ll eventually catch up to the lights that haven’t turned green yet.

  • I knew a guy a while back who was trying to get a job in a Congressional office–part of his job description was to “do whatever it took” to get the Congressman to meetings, Reagan, etc. on time by car. This included jumping curbs, cutting off other drivers, generally being an asshole. Is that common? Because, when you think of how many Congresspeople and Senators there are, that’s a lot of insane driving right there. . .

  • @eric in ledroit I know right!?! I’ve decided I want to make a tshirt that says “don’t be a pussy, TAKE THE LANE”. That is what I feel like shouting to the people who do “the weave”.

  • Jamie, don’t let anyone tell you and please don’t tell anyone ever again that riding on the sidewalk is safer on 16th Street. I live exactly where you’re talking about, and riding on the sidewalk is a common practice on 16th already and tantamount to a death wish. Riding up you have weary cyclists hitting the hill and not paying any attention to cars turning from the road. Rolling down they have no control on the sidewalks (that change from brick and cement pavement and can really screw you up on a bike) and they, again, fly through crosswalks and right into the paths of turning cars.

    I ride my bike on 16th all the time, and Monkey Daddy is right about the buses in the right lane. If the hill is too much for you, get off and WALK your bike on the sidewalk. Riding on the sidewalk is dangerous to pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers. It’s just stupid if you’re over the age of 7 and plan on crossing a street.

  • I was the person hit by Howard University last Monday. I just wanted to thank Anonymous who posted on 8/24 at 3:45 and everyone else that stopped and helped me. It was pretty serious, but I’m going to be o.k. The Howard U docs took great care of me and I’m already back home convalescing.

  • @E-Rich:

    North of Military Road, on the west side of 16th Street there are exactly 2 street crossings all the way to Silver Spring (a distance of about 3 miles) because it borders Rock Creek Park. This is the area I am talking about mostly.

    But honestly when I said the sidewalk on 16th Street I was saying “even the sidewalk.” There is a bike lane on 14th and traffic is much slower moving, and Beach Drive which essentially parallels 16th Street is already a very popular and reasonably safe bike commuting route. I just can’t think of a good reason to bike with two lanes of rush hour traffic, and no shoulder, in 16th Street.

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