Dear PoP – How to Report a Cabbie that Clips a Cyclist?

Photo by PoPville flickr user Lauren PM

“Dear PoP,

I’m not sure if this is going to the right place, but on my bike ride home from work, a cab clipped me. I was riding up 14th somewhere between Clifton and Fairmont streets and a cab seemed mad that I was on the road and went right by me, hitting my left handlebar with his side-view mirror. I didn’t fall, luckily, but I easily could have. He just as easily could have gone around me, but chose to go so close as to hit me bike. I got the license plate, and I think I know what cab company he was with.

I want to find out how I should go about reporting him in a way that will actually get something done? Maybe your readers will have suggestions, or can share their experiences?”

Do you think an incident like this is worth reporting? If so, anyone know which DC agency should be contacted about this?

113 Comment

  • Definitely report it, but I am not sure who you would report it to.

    F’ing cabbies. I generally try to avoid 14th and use 11th to go up – the hill is a lot easier to tackle, too.

    • +1 for 11th, or avoiding 14th North of U.

    • Seriously? A cab hits you, keeps going, and you don’t know who to call? Why wouldn’t you just call 911, especially since you have the tag information?

      It’s important to report this stuff to the police so their stats on pedestrian/bicyclist accidents are more accurate.

      • +1000

      • I’d try to get in touch with the cab company too– maybe they’ll do something to punish the guy. Personally I think all but maybe 5% of DC’s cabbies deserve to be fired or thrown in jail.

    • This is easy…CALL 911 immediately. Hit and runs are serious business.

  • Honestly, I think it’s probably worth going to the police if you indeed have the full plate number. What the cab driver did is technically leaving the scene of an accident. If he had scraped a car’s bumper and sped off, there’s no driver in this city who wouldn’t push it. You have the right to ride in the road, and do so safely. Go to an MPD station and fill out a report and go the distance to testify against him. You have no real damages, but he at least ought to get the ticket. That’s, of course, if you can convince MPD to even take a report. They often discourage cyclists from filing reports even when they are hit, or they’ll ticket the cyclist without an interview or witnesses (or common sense), simply based on the cabbie’s word.

  • Call the police. Really people? I shudder at the immaturity/ineptitude of some of the folks that write in.

    How are these people operating in society? I half expect to open PoP one morning and see: “Dear PoP: How do I put on a pair of pants?”

    You were struck by a vehicle. Call the police.

    • +1 but its going to be a stupid police report:

      Cops: Did you fall

      Stupid Kamikaze Biker: No

      Cop: was you bike damaged

      Stupid kamikaze biker: No


    • me

      Hehe @anon. Funny because it’s true.

    • Some people like writing in just to get the opinions of readers and to see the outcome if someone else has been in a similar situation… The OP’s first reaction probably was to report it to the police, but maybe they didn’t know if that was the most effective thing to do considering the police might not take any action. If you think the questions are too juvenile don’t read the blog!

  • i. hate. cabbies.

    • I do too. Such a menance. I’m not a cyclist but I ride a scooter. Cabbies terrify me, the way they will whip random U turns to grab a potential fare, the way they drive so erratically when they’re looking for the drop-off address. Ugh.

      • Yeah, and they’ll park themselves in front of entrances thinking it’s their right. I pulled up to a building (not a taxicab pickup zone) to pick someone up once and was cursed out by a couple cabbies for taking “their spot”. They were screaming like derranged maniacs that I MUST show them respect, and I was like, WHY? The cabbie that tried to rape me a couple years ago certainly didn’t extend the same courtesy to me.

  • This is vehicular assault, I would call the police and the DC Taxicab commission.

    • Good thinking. Unfortunately, the DC Taxicab commission is essentially a front-group for drivers, 99% of whom are Maryland residents.

  • The incident was arguably a hit-and-run, a felony in all 50 states — even the District of Columbia.

    • saf

      “all 50 states — even the District of Columbia.”

      All 50 states AND the District of Columbia.

      (Thank you. I feel better now. I also get annoyed at the cricket sign on GA Ave. Yes, you’re in all 50 states, but if you’re not in DC too then why are you here?!)

    • WRONG. It’s a misdemeanor.

      “conviction of the 1st offense, be fined not more than $500, or shall be imprisoned not more than 6 months, or both; and upon the conviction of his 2nd or subsequent offense, shall be fined not more than $1,000, or shall be imprisoned not more than 1 year, or both.”

  • That stretch of 14th has so little space between the parked cars and the passing vehicles.

    File a police report (duh). Likely nothing will be done with no damage/witnesses though. Sorry it happened!

  • Attempted vehicular manslaughter. Wow. The reason they write PoP is that he is perhaps more responsive than the authorities…

    • So ‘the cabbie seemed mad’ makes this attempted manslaughter? Seems like a stretch to me.

      • Why do you hate bikers so much? I bet you have never been struck by a vehicle before. Harrowing experience! This cabbie should be dealt with ‘Quiksilver’ style.

      • I’m with you. Of course, the cabbie is at fault, but “attempted manslaughter?”

        Actually, there’s no such thing as attempted manslaughter, which means this makes even less sense.

  • Effing cabbies indeed. I don’t ride a bike, but I hate being anywhere near them on the road. They seem pretty reckless on the whole. They’re like highway bumblebees. You can see them a way off and you hope like hell they don’t get near you.

    • Not to mention that I frequently get cabbies who don’t know how to get to Columbia Heights without my directing them.

      • They know how. They’re simply counting on you either not knowing or being too drunk to tell them so they can drive around in circles or find a way to somehow go to Columbia Heights via 18th Street and run up the meter.

      • The WORST is when you tell them to go a certain way and they completely ignore your instructions. I know the safest streets to take to get to my crib. Don’t try taking me down some shady ass streets at 9:00 at night on my way home from work. No tip for you!

        • Agreed! I told a cabbie to take a certain street last week, he turned down the street, went about two blocks, and turned back to get on the street we started on. I couldn’t tell if he was clueless or trying to run up the fare. Luckily, I was close enough to home that I could just hop out of the cab.

    • Cabbies are soooooo much better in NYC.

      No but really. In this case they are. I’ve never been refused a ride to a certain part of town or told I have to pay twice the amount just to drop someone off on the way to a final destination in NY. And the rides are so much cheaper! DC drivers need to step it up.

    • Why can’t they use turn signals? Why can’t anybody in this effing town USE THEIR MOTHER LOVING TURN SIGNALS?!?!!

  • I had this happen while on a bike once, so I caught up with the cab (which is basically inevitable usually), and I broke his window with my U-lock then threatened to break his face.

    Carrying a easily extended knife (switchblade, etc.) of some sort also helps to gouge the sides of cars that try to bump you.

    • You make a strong case for justifiable homicide if the cabbie feared for his life after you broke his window and threatened him.

      • Do I also make a case for justifiable homicide that I feared the cabbie would run me over? You can take it both ways.

        I should amend that you shouldn’t really care a knife. A screwdriver is just as effective, and a U-lock/chain works great for making threats.

    • This is both horrifying and awesome. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve imagined doing such things…only thought, though.

      • The key is to come off as completely insane. Frothing at the mouth will help. Also, wearing skinny jeans or other hipster-douche gear makes one instantly non-threatening.

        If you aren’t the confrontational type, just carry a screwdriver and puncture the cabbie’s tire as you ride by, then double-back down the sidewalk or one-way street.

    • You should look up “Michael Bryant” on wikipedia. He was a Canadian MP who had an altercation with a Toronto cyclist. Arguably the cyclist was the aggressor. Bryant killed the cyclist with his car in the altercation. All charges against Bryant were eventually dropped.

      You should know where to draw the line, if not for you but for your loved ones who will mourn you.

      • I’m familiar with the story. The cyclist’s mistake was by starting something on a stretch of road that offered him little to no “escape route”. You also have to avoid altercations on routes you take every day at the same time as you can be found again.

        Maybe I do belong in jail, but if I don’t look out for myself and go after people who act aggressively towards me first, who will? The MPD? HA! I prefer to consider myself a bike vigilante.

        99.999% of the time, I am an agreeable cyclist. I stick to bike lanes (or ride as far over as I can), I wear a helmet, reflectors, I signal, I stop at all red lights and stop lights, and I always give pedestrians the right-of-way. But, if a driver tries to run me off the road, throws something at me (has happened), or actually hits me, I will crack a windshield, key a car, break a headlight or do whatever I have to in order to defend myself.

        Exacting revenge on one asshole driver at a time.

        • You seem to be confusing revenge and self defense.

        • Keep this up and I predict that you will soon become a dead/maimed bike vigilante. At least you’ll go out in a blaze of glory swinging around your kryptonite lock!

          Why do you sink to their level. As soon as you turn to violence, you become no better than the cabbie.

          • Shaq, I’ve bike commuted for almost 20 years. I’ve been side-mirror clipped, rear ended, run over by a u-turner, t-boned, and swerved at. So I have my revenge fantasies too. But I don’t cross that line because it’s wrong. Not to mention crazy.

    • You belong in jail.

    • I am amazed that people actually believed everything I wrote, more so than that people are upset that someone would even do this.

      For the record, I have punched a cab after he ran into me, and I did break the window, but it was with my first, AND I broke my hand in the process, so I learned my lesson.

      I may not be a total wuss, but I’m not a bike vigilante (maybe in my dreams, though).

      Regardless, people need to lighten up!

  • In other places I’ve lived the local cycling association/activist group (rough equivalent of WABA) collects information on all types of accidents and particularly run-ins with cabs. They usually go to the police, but also track the data independently to identify problem areas, problem cab companies, and problem cab drivers.

    If WABA doesn’t do this (and I’m not sure that they do), a call to them might encourage setting such a program up.

  • No defense of cabs because I think everyone has at least one story of them causing vehicular chaos, but I’ve also witnessed JUST as many cyclists nearly cause death to themselves or others by ignoring the rules of the road (blow through red lights, stop signs, etc). Just sayin.

    Also, in case you’ve missed it, the cops are currently trying to contain a murder wave in the city. Good luck with your case.

    • Somebody should punch you in the face and key your car so we can all tell you how unworthy crimes against you are of police enforcement.

      • Wow. Some violent people on this thread. I hope you guys are all talk.

        • Check out any of shaq’s comments. He’s all vigilante action.

          I’m all for bikers’ rights, and I agree that many, many drivers put bikers in direct peril for their lives, but this topic always exposes such an enormous amount of hate, bile and calls for violence. And god help you if you even *try* to present an alternate view.

      • There are more bikers breaking laws than car drivers. I hope you get run over by a Metro Bus before you key someone’s car

    • So any cyclist that gets hit ever has no right to complain because there are a couple of knuckleheads out there on bikes? Is that really your point?

      Also, newsflash: cars don’t obey the rules of the road either.

      • If you read dp’s comment with a calm, level head, you’ll see he’s not saying that at all.

        • No, no, of course not. Just strongly implying it in as cowardly way as possible. Otherwise he wouldn’t have used the constuction he did. (i.e. “not to defend cabs, but a lot of cyclists are suicidal”)

          Anyway, how’s your ex-girlfriend? I know it’s a bummer when you get dumped, but a lot of women just won’t put up with physical and emotional abuse these days. Just sayin’.

        • Thank you TSM.

          To anon 12:13 – you should relax.

          To anon 12:15 – you should also relax and read more carefully. Again, I am not defending cabs/cars. I am quite aware that they do not follow the rules of the road a large percentage of the time – my opinion is that cyclists are equally guilty of that offense (however reluctant they may be to admit it).

          Clearly the OP has every right to complain. My second, albeit insensitive, opinion is that with no physical proof whatsoever (no bodily injury, no property damage, no eye witnesses other than the OP) the cops are not going to be able to do anything for you. At most it is your word vs. theirs and that is not a suitable legal defense (I’m not a lawyer either).

          • Again, I am not defending cabs/cars. I am quite aware that they do not follow the rules of the road a large percentage of the time – my opinion is that cyclists are equally guilty of that offense (however reluctant they may be to admit it).

            Frankly, you’re full of it. OP wrote to report a cab had hit (assaulted) him. Your response was, “not to defend the cabby, but cyclist often ride recklessly”.

            What was your point of bringing it up if not to conflate the two–and imply the cyclist had it coming in a kind of gutless-weasely way?

          • Since–either intentionally or unintentionally–TaylorStreetMan missed the point: when someone asks advice about how best to report a rape, and someone says, “You know, not to defend rapists, but a lot of women dress provocatively”, they’re quite justly told to go fuck themselves.

            On the off-chance, you’re not just being a douche-bag, perhaps you could let us know what we would uncover the second or third time around should we “relax and read more carefully”?

          • @ Dr Pangloss:
            “Since–either intentionally or unintentionally–TaylorStreetMan missed the point”
            Perhaps if you had explained yourself more clearly the first time, I would have understood your oblique comment.

            A woman dressing provocatively does not equate to a cyclist riding recklessly or foolishly.

            A woman dressing provocatively is not justification for a rape… do you believe so?

            A biker running a red light, zipping in and out of traffic and just generally flouting all the traffic laws can very easily get himself run down – and his actions be a significant cause of his demise.

            Frankly, I tend to agree with you that the comment didn’t necessarily belong in this string, but it certainly wasn’t untrue and I think you overreacted, as well as misinterpreted it.

          • Frankly, I tend to agree with you that the comment didn’t necessarily belong in this string, but it certainly wasn’t untrue and I think you overreacted, as well as misinterpreted it.

            Why, yes, it was rather strange wasn’t it? An odd and puzzling >non sequiter.

            Of course, every time a pedestrian or cyclist is hit by a car in this city, some douche-wad makes the novel observation that sometimes pedestrians or cyclists don’t obey every traffic law to the letter. But, no, no, I would never think of implying that the victim was to blame in any way.

            He’s just ruminating on an unrelated topic.

            How’s this then: woman says she’s sexually assaulted, and d-bag says, “You know, rape fantasies are quite common among women.”

            Do I think a woman dressing provocatively is inviting sexual assault? Don’t be ridiculous. But I do think that when a person strings together two related points sequentially, he’s trying to link them together.

  • Ok, here’s the deal:
    according to 31 DCMR 701.3 you have 30 days from the date of the incident to file a written complaint with the Taxi Commission. They do allow you to email the complaint to [email protected].
    If they decide that the taxi driver has violated the Commission’s rules they can impose the following sanctions under section 703:
    703.1 Any taxicab owner or operator, upon determination of liability for violation of any of the
    Commission’s Rules, may be subject to a civil fine, not to exceed five hundred dollars
    ($500), for each violation.
    703.2 The Panel, in addition to imposing a monetary fine, may suspend or revoke the license of
    any taxicab owner or operator for violation of any of the Commission’s Rules.

  • I watched DC Cab last night. It’s got Gary Busey in his prime as a racist sleazebag crazy man, Mr. T’s finest acting performance,Roz from Night Court, the Barbarian Brothers, Bill Maher, crazy ass crack Tyrone.

    Do yourself a favor and watch DC Cab.

  • Definitely complain! To the police maybe, but definitely to the DC Taxicab Commission:

  • File a police report, complain to the taxicab commission, and stop biking up 14th past Florida during commuter hours.

    • With you until the last one. If I’ve got something to do on 14th, I’m riding up 14th. The cyclist did nothing wrong. This sounds like an aggressive taxi driver who should not be on the road. There are too many of them. The same goes for speeders on 15th and cabbies who make u-turns into traffic on any street and hit cyclists or pedestrians in the crosswalk. The cab companies will only start hiring qualified, safe drivers when there are consequences for the ones who come close to killing people on the roads.

      • I wasn’t suggesting that the cyclist did anything wrong, but the section of road he pointed out isn’t bike friendly in the slightest.

        As a pedestrian, I’ve often outpaced cyclists on that stretch, and there are bike lanes on 15th and 11th. Add to that taxicab thunderdome and people getting into/out of cars and it just seems wiser to avoid 14th.

  • If you know the Cab number or the cabbies ID you can tweet to @badcabdc!/BadCabDC

    They put together a list every month a submit it to DOT.

  • Call the police, perhaps? Sheesh!

  • Report this to the police? Please let them work on the important issues. Take care of this yourself and call the cab company.

    There are tons of bike lanes in this city now (including one street over from where you were riding), why aren’t you riding on those?

    • Just curious– I’m not a biker, yet– but is there a way to know where all the bike lanes are? Other than being intimately familiar with the city?

    • When I really picked up my cycling frequency, I found Google maps to be pretty helpful and pretty accurate as far as which streets are bike-friendly.

    • I doubt the OP is trying to press charges against the cabbie, but without a police report, no cab company is going to listen to anyone just making a complaint out of the blue.

      Secondly, bike lanes aren’t for bikes. They are for cars. Cyclists don’t need bike lanes to ride in the city, but cars benefit from bike lanes because then bikes aren’t in their paths. A cyclist has full rights to ride in the street. A cabbie does not have the right to hit a cyclist because he is going too slowly. THAT’S why he was riding up the 14th street.

  • Cabbies and bikers–two groups of road users whose behaviors in this city are well worse than in any of the eleven other American cities I’ve lived in.

  • Ok, maybe i’m just jaded to all the whining that goes on on this site, but, if you didn’t fall, homeboy probably has no idea that he hit you – it’s not like mirrors have sensors in them to alert a driver that such a thing has happened. And if you weren’t injured, or your bike wasn’t damaged, I can only assume the cops would roll their eyes, write a pointless report, and nothing will come of it. Grow UP.

  • Call the cops and write up a report. If not for yourself then for the next person that cabbie clips/runs over/rams. “Don’t bother the cops won’t do anything” – that’s the attitude that lets pedophiles and rapists keep preying on person after person. Get it on record!

  • And all this discussion leads me to try to rope some of you in to my boycott of taxis! 🙂 There are too many in the city and they, on the whole, drive like crap and endanger the lives of their passengers, pedestrians and most certainly, bikers.

    I will always use public transportation or my own two feet before supporting those menaces!

    • I’m with you on that. I’ve been boycotting them for the past 4 years, and am always trying to convince others to do the same. They don’t deserve anyone’s business.

  • just yesterday i was nearly clipped by a Park Police who started coming into my lane (without a signal). when i scretched to a halt and yelled “whoa,” the passenger cop opened his door and demanded “whoa what!?” i replied that they almost hit me and then told them to watch out for bikes (I was on CaBi, wearing a helmet and in a legal travel lane). all the stupid parkie could say as i rode off in front of them was “no riding abreast.” abreast? abreast of WHAT! i was riding alone, bullet-head.

    then, a few blocks later a cabbie made the patented un-signaled swerve to the right followed by the no-look u-turn. i had moved into the center of the lane after the swerve and then howled at the dude when he started to make his urban U-ie. he screamed back at me as if I was the culprit…

    where are the cops when you need them (oh right, they’re ALSO running down cyclists…)?

  • Where might one report a cyclist running red lights and zipping in front of cabbies?

  • I had a cabbie tell me that pedestrians do NOT have the right of way in a crosswalk!

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