Bike/Taxi Accident at 14th and Fairmont St, NW

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Dear PoPville,

I am writing to report an accident that happened this morning just before 8 am on 14th Street NW at Fairmont, going southbound. It looked like it involved a cab and a bicyclist. First responders were on the scene when I walked by at 8 and the bicyclist was being back-boarded and loaded into the ambulance.

This is tragic and notable in part because on Thursday, Sept. 30 around 7pm there was another accident with a cab and pedestrian. One observer at this morning’s accident mentioned that the pedestrian in Thursday’s accident was killed. I have not seen anything written about either accident.

@DCPoliceDept tweeted:

“Accident: Cyclist struck 14th & Fairmont St, NW. male Conscious and breathing. S/B 14th St closed @ Girard St use 13th St NW as alt route.”

and the Washington Post’s Tim Craig tweeted:

“accident at 14th and Fairmont NW Involving a Taxi, cyclist and apparently a dog. Dog Doa.. Cyclist being transported. Street closed.”

Ed. Note: 14th Street has since reopened.

67 Comment

  • I went by around 9:15 and there were still several police cars parked at that intersection. Hope the cyclist’s ok.

  • Does anyone have a description of the dog that was involved?

  • that’s sad. Hope the people involved are ok and the police do a good job investigating.

    There was a dog (on a short leash, in a crosswalk, with an attentive owner) killed in a hit and run on Capitol Hill last month too. They caught the driver, but it’s still terrible. That one was right near a school with lots of kids watching, too.

  • We don’t know who is at fault yet and I hope the cyclist wasn’t seriously injured, but I gotta say I am generally not surprised.

    Every morning at 7:15am I drive down 14th from Columbia Heights to past the circle, and every morning this summer thus far witness the following.

    5-7 cyclists who ignore EVERY redlight the from Florida Ave down to the Circle that they come to. Not the occasional light…EVERY redlight. I can count on two hands the number of times this year I’ve seen a cyclist actually do a full stop at a redlight during my morning commute.

    I see atleast 1 cyclists a day completely ignore the Construction flagman that dot 14th street (with the stop sign forward) and bolt around him and the dump truck/crane/concrete truck that’s backing up or pulling in, forcing the dump truck/crane/concrete truck driver to do a last minute brake slam to avoid making a red spot out of them on the street.

    I see 2-4 cyclists cycle out of nowhere from a side street (again, completely against the light), forcing all the traffic going going up/down 14th to swerve, brake erratically etc to avoid them.

    The best is when they get to Thomas Circle going south. They cut across (without looking or signaling) from the right lane of 14th, to the inside lane of the circle, then back to the right lane of 14th, trying in effect to cut through the circle straight as possible without actually following the road. I see atleast 2-3 people a week do that (again, having run right through their red light) and the traffic issues it causes.

    This all happens in the 5 or 6 minute drive down 14th from Florida to Thomas Circle.

    I have likely saved more lives at this point that an average ER doctor does in a lifetime by swerving, locking up my brakes to avoid hitting just the cyclists who’ve ignored their redlights. Not the ones who ignore stop signs, or bike from the street to the sidewalk, back to thestreet at full speed to avoid the light and come out of freaking no where, or the ones biking the wrong way down a one way street…just the ones running redlights. I am tired of looking out for the best interest of a bunch of folks who don’t care enough to look out for themselves. I wouldn’t be injured, my car would go relatively unscathed and the law would be on my side. If I stopped actively saving cyclists from themselves, I would probably send atleast 2 people a week to the ER. It is a sad fact.

    The roads are only marginally safe when EVERYONE, pedestrians, drivers and cyclists included follow the same rules. It allows everyone to anticipate and rightfully predict each others next move. That all goes to hell when you have one of the three users of said road, decide to make it up as they go.

    • On Friday afternoon I was waling across Mass Ave (near Union Station) in the crosswalk, during a WALK signal and a cyclist rode through the crosswalk and almost hit me.

    • Right – and I’m sure if you had a bicyclist fully, legally in front of you, slowing dow your intended speed, you’d bitch about that too.

    • I agree with your final point, but I think it is only fair to acknowledge that pedestrians and motor vehicles also do their fair share of making it up as they go.

      • Sure, everyone is guilty of a little law bending. Speeding, rolling stops etc. But cyclists are the only ones, by a wide, WIDE margin who regularly simply ignore redlights. I’ve seen maybe a dozen cars completely ignore a redlight, and half of them were while watching an episode of cops.

        I am shocked everytime I see a cyclist actually stop at a light.

        • Okay, but I’m not interested in ranking the transgressions. There are people in all three groups that are “bending” (and by that you mean “breaking”) the law and it all causes unnecessary danger on the roads.

        • This isn’t remotely true. You just notice it more. I notice at the intersection of P and Florida NE when cars regularly run lights and nearly hit me. Or at Florida and 1st NW where cars routinely run reds. Peds j-walk against lights all the often too. The blame game doesn’t work so just stop unless you have a real solution.

        • When I go running in the morning I regularly see cars roll through stop signs, diong the old California stop. That is the car equivelant of what the bikers you see are doing. I fully support police officers stopping people and giving them a warning and making them at least 10 minutes late to where they were rushing off to.
          As far as pedestrians, the only place where I don’t see jaywalkers is Seattle (where people will stand in the rain on an empty street waiting for the green light).
          Perhaps we need a national or city-wide follow the traffic rules day. Everyone drives the speed limit, no one jay walks and bikers and cars obey redlight/stop signs.

        • sunsquashed

          But cars are the only ones, by a wide, WIDE margin who regularly simply ignore the presence of bike lanes (and block them with their cars) and double yellow lines (which they pull illegal U-turns on top of). Yes cyclists regularly ignore certain traffic laws, but so do cars. My follow up question to you is, who is more dangerous, the person on a 25lb bike going 15mph, or the 2,500 car going 35mph?

        • It’s a far more serious thing when a 2,000-lb car runs a light. Just sayin’

    • your commute sounds very frustrating. i feel bad for you. are you unable to take a different route, like 13th street?

    • If by “stopped actively saving cyclists from themselves,” you mean failing to avoid an avoidable accident, you are wrong that the law would be on your side.

      I too drive down 14th Street every morning, and you are grossly exaggerating. Only very occasionally do I have to swerve or hit the brakes to avoid a bike, and it really doesn’t bother me when bikes run lights so long as they aren’t impeding traffic when they do so. There is so much bike traffic on that street in the morning that the right southbound lane is a de facto bike lane. I just stay in the left lane.

    • “The roads are only marginally safe when EVERYONE, pedestrians, drivers and cyclists included follow the same rules. It allows everyone to anticipate and rightfully predict each other’s next move.”

      Agreed, but is this thread really the best place to discuss the issue of cyclists flagrantly violating traffic laws? It’s certainly an ongoing issue in PoPville, but we don’t know if it was relevant in this particular case. (As CH him/herself noted at the beginning of his/her lengthy post: “We don’t know who is at fault yet.”)

      I guess I understand why people jump into these threads to discuss larger complaints, but it does seem to hijack them.

      • I’ve also read this exact same comment, presumably from this same commenter, on multiple posts. I’m guessing he/she has it saved somewhere to copy/paste anytime anything remotely related to bicyclists comes up.

    • when biking through thomas circle, it’s pretty much necessary to bike in one of the inner lanes instead of the bike lane because most cars don’t check for bikers in the bike lane before making a right turn out of the circle.

      • lindz0722

        This is completely accurate. I’m a relatively new city cyclist and I try VERY hard to be as predictable (and law-abiding) as possible, but that circle really frightens me. Especially during the morning rush, that bicycle lane is a dangerous thing to try and ride in. I often see people stopping in the bike lane and waiting for a red light to (illegally, yes) proceed around. Also not safe or ideal, but preferable to assuming a car will see you. Not to mention having to watch out for pedestrians darting across the crosswalks of the side streets even through a Don’t Walk sign.

        Also, cyclists at Thomas Circle are going on and off the sidewalks into the bike lanes thanks to the Bikeshare station on the west side of the circle by M Street, which doesn’t make the situation any easier.

      • This is bullshit. The right answer is that you DON’T BIKE THROUGH the circle – it’s designed so that only cars are in the circle itself. You should dismount and walk your bike around the circle like a normal pedestrian.

        I see so many idiots everyday nearly kill themselves riding around Thomas Circle in the middle of rush hour. And of course, many of them are not wearing helmets. If you look at the map, you can see that the bike lanes actually go around the circle and require you to cross at certain points through the crosswalk. This is done due to safety issues.


        • Bicylces aren’t pedestrians. I am not sure how that circle is designed, but if it is really designed for only cars considering then it should be redeisgned.

          • Fine, if you think it should be redesigned, then lobby DDOT to do it. Until then, follow the rules, or don’t. Just don’t be surprised when you are flattened by a vehicle because you decided to make it up as you went.

          • Please look at the link I posted. The bike lanes are designed to go around the perimeter of the circle only at certain points. At other points the cyclists are designed to walk through the crosswalk. I agree that the circle ought to somehow be redesigned, but having cyclists cut through the middle only makes matters worse and dangerous for everyone.

            I think the solution is to somehow install a protected, physically-separated bike lane in the tunnel that goes underneath the circle.

          • edit – my last comment on a potential solution was in regards to Stevens Circle, which has even more reckless bicyclists than Thomas Circle. Stevens Circle does even have a bike lane, due to it’s small size. Cyclists take it upon themselves to weave through in order to save a little bit of time. It makes the situation in there so much worse.

      • I gave up on Thomas Circle and now I take either 11th or 15th. Both are way more pleasant to take on a bike than 14th.

    • sunsquashed

      While I agree that cyclists often do not obey traffic laws, this idea that cyclists are somehow worse than cars is wrong for two major reasons:
      1) If you drive a car, you are probably not noticing the incredibly large number of traffic infractions by other cars. I would be happy to demonstrate this in person if you would like. Spend 1/2 hour biking with me around DC, and I bet I can change your opinion on the “bikes vs cars, who is worse?” debate. Please realize that it is physically impossible to use the bike lane on this stretch of 14th street for more than one block because there are ALWAYS parked cars blocking the bike lane. Some of the behaviors that cyclists do that annoy you are in response to their being regularly forced out of the bike lane by illegal actions from cars. Also, U-turns on double yellows are illegal. How many times do you see a car do that every day? I see at least one case every 5-10minutes, and both times I’ve been hit by cars have been due to illegal U-turns.
      2. Bikes (rarely) kill people, but cars frequently do. While this isn’t an excuse for cyclists to bike like suicidal maniacs, please realize that the consequences of bad driving from cyclists and cars are very different. Cyclists are putting their own lives at risk with bad/stupid behavior, while car drivers are putting OTHERS at risk with their bad/stupid driving. Big difference!

      • FWIW, I could not ride in the bike lane for most of 14th St. between U and Rhode Island today because it was full of delivery trucks, utility trucks, and fencing from from a construction project just north of P.

        I don’t blow through lights, but I do proceed after a stop if the coast is clear so that I can safely claim a lane.

        As for taxis, they are always looking for fares on the right, and when they see one, bolt over as quickly as possible without checking to seek if there’s a bike riding in the bike lane or on the right side of a travel lane. Happens all the time.

    • So basically, because a few minutes have been added to your short mid-city commute by random bikers, this made you feel it was ok to conjecture that this person who was horribly injured this morning had it coming?

    • Congratulations to you for saving so many lives! Maybe you should take public transit instead of driving. If you had seen the scene, you would have responded differently. I think your comments are very offensive, especially after what happened. The cab had clearly made an illegal u-turn and struck the cyclist, who was riding in the bicycle lane. Don’t immediately start pointing blame when you don’t know the entire story. Nice job generalizing!

  • Why can’t we all just get along?

  • I don’t know who’s worse, bicyclists or taxis. Sounds like the perfect storm.

  • I assume the dog was with the bike rider, if so, bikers need to stop walking their dogs while riding a bike. Its dangerous for everyone.

    If the dog was in the taxi (unlikely), drivers need to strap their dogs down with a seatbelt leash. Failure to do so is also very dangerous to you, your dog, and other cars on the road.

    • You have no information whatsoever to conclude to whom the dog belonged, so why guess?

      • Because the vast majority of dogs are not by themselves? Pretty likely that the dog was either with the biker or with the taxi cab.

        Of course, you already knew that. You’re just being a jerk.

  • Taxi drivers are no saints either. I saw one wearing full on Steve Bartman-esque headphone while driving on 695 yesterday, playfully changing lanes without blinkers

    • and no one ever saw an Uber driver hit a cyclist.

    • Agreed. Let’s face it, we all suck. None of us follow all the rules and we regularly endanger others. And those few who do (purport to) follow all the rules tend to be self-righteous and are generally intolerable.

      But taxi drivers are the worst.

  • Taxi drivers = worst drivers in the city

  • There’s something about that stretch of 14th, from Meridian to U, that is just terribly unsettling. The road narrows and then widens, and lanes shift abruptly. And with all the one ways, and high density of people, cars are more anxious to take risks to avoid long waits at a light, or when trying to make a turn.

    The intersection of 14th and Irving is probably the calamitous in the area. It’s not surprising its one of the most dangerous. DDOT really needs to study that stretch. Sad to think it’ll take people getting killed or maimed before the city does something to ease congestion and deter risk-taking by (rightly) frustrated drivers. As someone who drives, bikes, and walks in that area, i find it to be a miracle that more people aren’t hurt. Hope the cyclist gets better soon!

  • I saw this dog bolt past 11th and Fairmont (I was at the bus stop) and run straight up Fairmont. It looked like it had a collar, but could not tell because it ran by so quickly. No one was chasing it, so it’s very possible the dog slipped out without the owner realizing. 14th St. traffic at that time of day, sadly, I am not surprised an accident occured.

  • 1. I rode past this site today too. Bummer, and thinking of the folks involved.

    2. I bike and follow the rules of the road as much as I can although, like all people I sometimes do stupid things. Please don’t hurt me when you drive simply because you hate other bikers who don’t follow the rules.

    • Agreed. I too try to follow the rules of the road when I bike, but we all make stupid mistakes and I appreciate all the drivers out there in DC who do treat bicyclists with respect. I have been pleasantly surprised with how aware DC drivers are of bicyclists. I do sometimes run into a trouble at all-way stops…because when I actually stop (on my bike) for my turn drivers are so shocked they don’t know what to do! Clearly this is an indication of how many bicyclists out there are ignoring rules and endangering themselves. In the end though, it is just a bicyclist on a bike with a puny helmet, so we are the ones who will pay for our mistakes.

  • Hi all- I feel terrible about this accident. I hailed the cab this morning and the cab was pulling a U-turn in front of the corner of 14th and Fairmont to pick me up. I was looking straight ahead to the door and out of nowhere and so quickly the man hit into the side of the cab. He was breathing but not fully conscious. I called 911 and waited for the ambulance. If anyone knows about this man’s condition please let me know. He is in my thoughts.

    • I was just up a few steps from you hailing a cab, too. As I was calling 911, I helplessly watched the little dog on the other side of the street walk under the metro bus that killed him. I am hopeful that at least the biker is okay. Any updates would be appreciated. I have not been able to get these images out of my head and feel terrible for all impacted.

      • My wife and I were in a southbound car on 14th at the same time you and the previous poster were hailing cabs. If you heard a relentless horn, that was us trying to get the bus driver to look up. Neither of us can get the image of that helpless, wandering puppy and the horrible way it died. From what I could see, the bus driver was so riveted by the cyclist in the street, that nothing could have diverted his attention.

        Thanks for letting us know that we weren’t the only ones so affected by the pup, and so worried about the condition of the cyclist. Please, if anyone knows how he’s doing, a lot of folks are pulling for him.

        • So the taxi makes a u turn – the cyclist runs into the side of the taxi – a passing bus is watching out for the cyclist and doesn’t see a loose dog running? Tragedy any way you measure it.

        • Hi all – my friend is the cyclist and he’s doing fine. Some minor fractures in his face and a likely concussion but he’ll be OK. I’m sure he appreciates everyone’s concern and especially the folks who called the ambulance.

  • For folks criticizing cyclists for going through red lights on 14th, it’s inaccurate to describe it as cyclists who just “blow through” them. I ride on 14th every work day (saw this accident yesterday morning). There are a few unreasonably aggressive cyclists with a death-wish that I’ve seen, but by far and large if a cyclist crosses against a light, it’s after observing there is no traffic coming (usually on a one-way street). I feel that most of the aggressive behavior that can be observed comes from the adrenaline that comes from riding on the street surrounded by taxis, busses and trucks; cyclists’ minds automatically switch into an adrenaline-fueled, aggressive mindset in response. And, for a cyclist who rides to reduce his/her use of fossil fuels, this is (*sometimes*) accompanied with a contempt for all of the gas-guzzling SUV drivers cruising around. I can personally repent of not feeling any remorse that the giant H2 Hummer behind me is having a hard time getting around me.

    If we’re talking about cyclists running red lights, then let’s also talk about cars parked in bike lanes, vehicles that don’t signal for turns and a host of other ways drivers are inconsiderate and unsafe. I’ve got a scar from stitches on my foot from a passenger who opened her car door right into me without even looking that can attest that cyclists aren’t the only ones making bad calls out there. Let’s face it, no one’s hands are clean. Let’s all work together to make the streets safer for everyone.

    • well said 🙂

    • “if a cyclist crosses against a light, it’s after observing there is no traffic coming (usually on a one-way street). ”

      This is illegal. Just so you are 100% fully aware.

      And many times, the cylist may miss oncoming traffic – like cars, other cyclists, pedestrians, etc.

      Stop at the lights.

  • I was the cyclist who was struck and I’m glad to report that I’m (relatively) okay.

    I don’t remember anything immediately preceding the accident except wondering what some driver was doing. I don’t remember the hit, lying or sitting in the street, the ambulance ride to Howard Hospital, or even the CAT scan they took. But after a couple of hours that are foggy in my memory, I was glad to leave the hospital by noon with only a small fracture in the bones above my jaw that will heal naturally, some scrapes on my face, arms, shoulder, and leg, and a sore arm. The official police report supposedly places responsibility on the cab driver for an overeager u-turn into oncoming traffic, although I have not seen it for myself yet.

    I think it’s clear at this point I wasn’t pulling a pet while on the bike. For those who understand how challenging it is to ride in the on-again/off-again bike lane on 14th with cars double-parked, cars occasionally swerving into the bike lane when it’s there, and pedestrians sometimes stepping out from between cars to jaywalk without looking, thank you for commiserating.

    I welcome any eyewitnesses who would be willing to fill me in more about the accident as I decide what to pursue with the cab company. Please feel free to contact me directly, if that’s possible from this blog entry.

  • Those who have never actually ridden a bike in traffic shouldn’t have a right to leave such ignorant posts. Wake up drivers!

  • Well-said Dave!

  • The accident on Thursday night (Taxi v Pedestrian) was my BF. He is not dead (thankfully) as reported. Pretty banged up and extremely lucky that it was not worse. He was hit in crosswalk by taxi that jumped the light and ran through crosswalk after he was already half way across when light was red. Would give more detail but he doesn’t remember much more after being hit. Will add that Taxi, of course, left the scene. Metro PD has said they will investigate cams on 14th but find that unlikely. Extremely unimpressed with MPD response – boarding on rude. The EMTs and Washington Hospital Trauma folks were great.

    I have lived at that corner for 4 years, get off the 14th Street bus right at that crosswalk and constantly see drivers rushing pedestrians (sometimes in sight of MPD). There is even a sign bolted to the middle of the road that spells out the obvious law that cars must yield to pedestrians.

    Have to say that I love CH and DC (10 year veteran) but am thoroughly disgusted with the MPD overall – from traffic enforcement to the ongoing petty crime that goes on in that vector of the Heights. One would think that Jim Graham, Lanier and others would be a bit more vested in protecting the safety of a thriving neighborhood… but what do I know, I am just a taxpayer.

    Love DC (couldn’t be more liberal) but wonder what exactly we are getting for our contribution as “actual” DC residents that pay income tax, real estate tax and sales tax? (Yikes, that makes me sound like my parents)

    We should demand that they do better.

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