MPD Reports Cyclist Killed at 11th and U St, NW on Thursday

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From MPD:

Detectives from the Metropolitan Police Department’s Major Crash Unit are investigating a traffic fatality which occurred in the intersection of 11th and U Streets, NW.

On Thursday, May 16, 2013 at approximately 10:05 am, a Nissan Altima was traveling east bound on U Street in the center lane towards 11th Street. Upon entering the intersection at 11th Street he struck a bicycle that had entered the intersection traveling south bound on 11th Street. The bicyclist was not wearing a helmet at the time of the collision.

The bicyclist, 50-year-old Andre Brands was transported to a local hospital where he succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced dead.

The driver of the Nissan Altima did not sustain any injuries.

This case is currently under investigation.

61 Comment

  • “The bicyclist was not wearing a helmet at the time of the collision.”

    Was the driver wearing a seatbelt? Was his car up to safety standards? Oh wait none of that is specified… but please imply that a helmet would have saved this persons life or save them from being smashed by a fast moving 3,000 pound vehicle.

    • Chill out Phil. Why so angry?!

      • Not angry and not trying to pick a side or advocate for helmets/ against helmets, for bikers or for drivers. It’s simply frustrating that while stating that a case that resulted in death is still under investigation they choose for the only implication of safety or lack thereof was that the cyclist was not wearing a helmet and nothing else at all. By all means include this in your finalized report in the context it belongs, but it does not belong in a initial public statement on the incident. All my opinion, please do not take any personal offense.

        • I have no idea what happened here but when car accidents occur and there are fatalities and/or serious injuries involving someone in the car, it is routinely reported whether or not the driver and/or passengers were wearing seatbelts. Maybe it’s just the highway safety industrial complex trying to promote their pro-seatbelt agenda, but it happens nonetheless.

          My sympathies to the victim and his family and friends.

    • I don’t see any indication the vehicle was “fast moving.” Why jump to conclusions when you don’t have all the facts?

    • I beg to differ. A helmet pretty much guarantees an increased risk of head trauma and brain damage in the event of an accident. I’ve read stories of rollerbladers falling from a standstill and suffering irreparable brain damage. If you get into a low speed car accident, your head isn’t going to land someplace soft. Everything else can afford to get broken and eventually heal, but your head is not one of them. I’m sorry, but as a former EMS worker with experience seeing bike injuries, I have to share that it’s a really poor life choice to ride without a helmet. This guy paid the price unfortunately..

      • “A helmet pretty much guarantees an increased risk of head trauma and brain damage in the event of an accident.”

        Are you sure you didn’t mean “DECREASED risk”? The rest of your post seems to imply that you did.

  • Yea helmet is pretty irrelevant in such collisions. RIP.

    • How is the helmet irrelevant? Do you know the cause of death? Were you there? Please do a cursory google search about the safety outcomes of wearing a bike helmet – I think you’d be surprised.

    • It really depends on how fast the car and cyclist were traveling and how they collided. I can say from personal experience that a bike helmet does make a difference.

    • absolutely not irrelevant. This person was not run over. A friend of mine saw the accident and it was a case where the injury was a head injury against the road. Just a really sad situation. Wear your helmets, people. I’ll sometimes casually leave mine at home for shorter trips, but I’m going to make sure to bring my helmet more religiously.

      And in response to the other Phil, the police department is merely reporting facts that are self-evident or already ascertained. The other facts, including whether the driver was at fault, are being investigated.

      And, not in response to Phil but just in general, cities across the US, including DC, have made great strides in making roads more friendly to bikers. While that progression continues, we need to remember that there’s danger in biking, and take the appropriate precautions. It’s sad to see cases like this in the meantime.

  • are there more details elsewhere that would imply that the car is at fault here? don’t see that from the above statement. so sad no matter what. hate to see ghost bikes.

  • lindz0722

    As someone who both drives and rides my bicycle in DC, the righteousness of each “side” in these arguments really annoys me, especially seeing as someone died in this sad accident. I hope that doesn’t happen in these comments.

    It seems that the relevant question that isn’t answered here is who had the green light. Nobody, regardless of method of transportation, gets the right-of-way through an intersection against the light.

  • jburka

    There’s a light at 11th and U. So which of the two people involved ran it?

  • So someone ran their red light. It should be pretty easy to determine who, although some witneses were posting on GGW last week that the cyclist did which wouldn’t be surprising. Anecdotally we see it every day, all day and even DDOT was shocked by the numbers of cyclists running their reds. I guess we will see when the report comes out.

    Another cyclist put themselves into long term care at this exact same intersection last year for running their red and failing to yield. They got runover by a big delivery truck.

  • If this Ahole driver wasn’t driving fast this wouldn’t have happened.

    • And you know this, because….?

    • It sucks the gentleman died. It is impossible to tell who was at fault from what we are giving in the OP. We we do know is that this is a sad event, calling names is childish and the wonderful police are investigating what happened.

    • you’re right! shame on him driving city speeds through an intersection where he has right of way. btw, there were no indication of speed or who had right of way, so anything people say here is pure speculation or reading WAY between the lines…

      • You see the irony here? You mention how there is no proof of anything, and then say the driver was driving “city speeds” (whatever that means) and had the right of way.

        Either way, another cyclist crash, another dead cyclist. Please drive safely and alertly out there, even if he ran the red light (which he shouldn’t have) does not mean he deserves to die. Here is hoping that if it is found the driver did run the red light, he gets prosecuted. At that point, he killed someone to save 1 minute, and he deserves much more than a $300 ticket.

        • I think the irony is intentional *smh*

        • “City speeds” means 25mph unless otherwise posted in DC. With typical traffic on U Street at that time of day, as well as with the non-timed stoplight pattern, I would be surprised if the driver were moving at anywhere near that speed.

          Very sad that the cyclist was killed. And if the driver was at fault, yes he/she should be prosecuted for vehicular manslaughter. But frankly streets can be dangerous, which is why your mother told you “look both ways before you cross”…. even when you have a green light/walk signal.

      • Motor vehicles operators who drive above the posted speed limit surrender all rights of way.

  • There are not that many check boxes on the vehicle crash form that apply to cyclists. But there is one for whether or not the cyclist was wearing a helmet, which is why it seems to always gets reported.

    Guess we’ll have to wait and see what the investigation shows. I hope there were some eyewitnesses other than those involved in the crash, because of those involved, only one has a voice at this point, and that one has a lot of motivation to say they’re innocent (whether they are or not) and without any eyewitnesses or other evidence to prove or disprove their word, their word will be final.

    • sunsquashed

      I agree. When NYC came out with their big study of bike collision stats, one of the interesting patterns was that fault (bike or car) was roughly equal in most types of collisions (cars were a bit more likely to be at fault, but not by a huge margin as many cyclists would suspect). BUT, the exception was when the cyclist was killed. In those cases, the cyclist was significantly more likely to be at fault. The implication of this pattern was that when the cyclist couldn’t be a witness and tell their side of the story, surprise, surprise, the car driver was innocent and the cyclist was at fault. As mentioned earlier, let’s hope that witnesses were present, and the person at fault is identified.

      • That’s one conclusion you could draw from that data. But given that collisions often have witnesses and there are cameras at or near many intersections, another conclusion you could draw is that cyclist-fatality accidents occur more likely when the cyclist is at fault because those are the times a driver is least to be driving slowly or be looking for a cyclist in their lane. In other words, the deadliest crashes occur when cyclists are where they shouldn’t be.

        Obviously, I have no idea what happened in this case, but I don’t think your conclusion from the NY study is necessarily right.

  • So sad.

    I have no idea what role, if any, this played in the accident, but that intersection’s gotten very difficult to bike through the last few weeks because of road work and the resulting ruts.

  • That’s an interesting point about the crash form–I didn’t know that. I think some of the frustration in the comments above is prompted by bicycle/pedestrian fataility coverage that focuses on the cyclist/ped behavior (ie, cyclist wasn’t wearing a helmet, pedestrian wasn’t in a crosswalk) while giving short shrift to the driver’s behavior. (Except in hit and run situations, where it seems to be a given–rightly so in most cases, I’m sure–that the driver was at fault.) In this case, there isn’t enough information in the above post to make a judgment.

  • I knew Andre – he graduated from my school last year. He was a helpful and thoughtful person who improved the lives of those around him. His death is a huge loss to the community – and will serve as a reminder (at least to me) that we all need to be careful: bikers, drivers and pedestrians alike.

  • Holy cow people. RIP Andre Brands, I hope his family and friends can find peace as time moves on.

  • RIP to the poor fellow.
    I have no idea what happened here, but here are my observations about drivers and bikers in the city:
    – there are a lot of aggressive drivers in the city
    – there are a lot of crazy drivers in the city, mostly cab drivers, and when I see them I stay cleer
    – every day, without fail, I see a driver being a complete idiot.
    – there are a lot of idiot bikers in the city. Every day, without fail, I see a biker doing something completely retarded. And it sticks out in my mind because it’s so egregious.

    I think, that given that bikers are more likely to lose in a collision with a vehicle, and given how many crazy drivers there are, they should be more cautious. My 2 cents.

  • I wonder if any of the construction at that intersection had anything to do with it. The road is a mess right there.

  • bikers need to start following rules like cars… I see so many people on bikes run red lights and stop signs.. it is so scary and foolish. They are asking to get hurt..

    • Since when do cars follow the rules? How often do cars drive at or under the speed limit? Make a complete stop before the white line at a stop sign, or before turning right on red? Cars routinely break rules. The difference is that they’ve been doing it for so long and in such great numbers that we’ve come to accept it as normal behavior.

      • You are kidding right?

        42% of the cyclists who use the PA Avenue Bike lanes, run their red lights. Fact.

        If even 1% of cars on any road consistantly ran their red lights, the screeching outrage would hit such a high pitched level, Obama would have to appoint a Presidential Commission to study the problem. Yet cyclists bike around this town with complete abandon and disregard, doing what ever the heck they feel like doing, running red lights, biking the wrong way down 1 way streets, running stop signs etc, and then complain that everyone “else” isn’t doing all they can to save them from themselves.

        It is unfortunate that this guy lost his life. If it wasn’t his fault, the driver will pay the price but I’ve lived here for 30 years and I have never seen such a flagrant disregard for traffic laws in my life as I see every day with the close calls cyclists cause themselves.

        • You changed the subject. The original poster said “bikers need to start following rules like cars”. How many cars drive at or under the speed limit? How many cars come to a complete stop before the stop line for a given stop sign?

          Cars routinely break the law. Read the comments to any article or post on speed cameras, and see how many drivers thinks it’s unfair to receive a $100 ticket for “only” exceeding the speed limit by 44%. Last year DC issued 91,550 tickets to cars for red light running, using only 50 cameras. I guess Obama ought to start thinking about that commission.

          I would say that lots of bikes follow the rules just like lots of cars: they don’t.

          • slightly more than 100,000 people commute into DC every day as single occupants in their cars.

            100K cars, times 240 work days a year is 24 million singl5e occupany cars. 90K of them is less than 1/2 of 1 percent. So yeah…42% of cyclists ignoring their red light is like 0.4 percent of drivers doing it.

            Of course there are far more than 24 million vehicles on DC streets every year. I just gave you the daily single occupant commuter car. That doesn’t include the District residents driving to work in the district, or people driving around on weekends, or buses, delivery trucks, or the likely tens of millions of other vehicles on District streets during the course of the year, driving that “driver running redlight” percentage down to the one qtr of 1 percent range.

            Yeah…totally the same.

          • I don’t have fancy math backing me up, but here’s my experience from 15 years of driving:
            – people who run red lights are an exception rather than the rule
            – bikers that follow any sort of road rules are the exception rather than the rule

          • That whooshing sound is the point flying over your head, anons.

          • PDleftMtP

            This foolishness is exactly why overzealous bike advocates have a bad name. “You stopped with your tire on the white line, so red lights and stop signs don’t apply to me!” I’ll bet you occasionally jaywalk; does that mean I can punch you in the face? After all, neither one of us is following the law.

        • +100000

        • Anons @1:40pm – Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I especially
          love where you said “Yet cyclists bike around this town with complete abandon and disregard, doing what ever the heck they feel like doing, running red lights, biking the wrong way down 1 way streets, running stop signs etc, and then complain that everyone “else” isn’t doing all they can to save them from themselves.” You spoke nothing but the truth!

      • Eh, I see the difference being that cyclists are more likely to be gravely injured or killed if they break the rules than if drivers made the same foolish decision. And honestly, I don’t see cars egregiously running red lights from a stopped position just because they don’t feel like waiting at the red (unlike bikers).

        I’m all for cops ticketing both cyclists and car drivers who don’t wait for red lights or come to complete stops at Stop signs. They are both road vehicles according to road use laws.

        -DC pedestrian who doesn’t own a vehicle

        • 9 out of 10 bicyclists I see on the road don’t follow the rules whatsoever. And I’ll say maybe half of them are so bad, I don’t know how they still live. Most drivers I see on the road aren’t so bad, but some are. And most of the bad drivers and actors are cabbies.

          • I bike just about everyday from Columbia Heights to 18th and K and I feel confident in saying that well more than 50% of all bicyclists will go through a stop sign or red light if afforded the chance.

            Go to the intersection of New Hampshire and 17th St (near Swann St.) around 8:30am and see how many bicyclists do not stop at the red light. You will be amazed.

          • justinbc

            9 out of 10 statistics are 70% correct.

  • Yep, bikers in this city are totally disregarding the stop signs, lights etc. They need to be ticketed like drivers do. And I say this as someone who bikes for fun twice a week through the city. I don’t always stop at stop signs, and when I don’t, my head is on a swivel, no distractions (headphones, sunglasses) and I make the decision when barely any cars or humans are in sight. The problem main is there are a lot of stupid people in this world with no common sense….

  • justinbc

    As someone who bikes virtually every day in DC, and has been car-free for 2 years now, it continually amazes me some of the ridiculous shit my fellow bikers do with disregard to their own safety. I think part of this can be attributed to the fact that (theoretically) to operate a car you have to pass some sort of test and be repeatedly recertified, whereas bikers merely have to have the funds available to buy or rent a bike. They don’t have to even know the traffic laws that they’re breaking. That is not to say the 16 years of driving a car provided me with any less amazement at how terrible most drivers were as well, but as the individual more likely to get hurt in a collision, I definitely err on the side of caution in my own personal travels. In fact I try to stick mostly to roads that I know have a dedicated bike lane when getting around the city, and even those are often infringed upon by cars.

  • If we redirected the time and energy arguing on this forum towards building flying cars (but not flying bikes), this sort of thing wouldn’t happen.

    End of argument.

  • What you often see cyclists doing (and I do it as well) is make Idaho stops. While not legal in DC, it’s a fairly logical thing for cyclists to do. That is, treat red lights like stop signs, checking in both directions and continuing on if the intersection is clear/no cars are approaching nearby.

    I personally find this to be a safe method of travel and I’ve never been hurt doing it. If I was, I’m obviously going to face the largest consequences.

    When have I been hurt? When drivers and pedestrians don’t follow the rules of the road. I’ve been right hooked by a Hummer on 14th St. while I was in a bike lane and the Hummer didn’t signal. I’ve hit pedestrian as I came around a corner (there was a Don’t Walk sign) and the pedestrian sprinted into the street and ignored/didn’t hear my last second yelling. I’ve been seriously hit by a pastor who didn’t yield when we were both approaching each other in opposite directions. He was speeding (He said about 40mph in a 25 in Columbia Heights) when he attempted to take a turn that ended up being in my path.

    Those are just personal experiences so they’re anecdotal, but anyone that rides consistently tends to have a growing outrage (it does plateau to a riding defensively/fearfully acceptance stage) over the amount of crazy shit that happens on the roads. From pedestrians not looking when they’re crossing against lights to cars doing all kinds of crazy stuff beyond the standard not checking of mirrors, the risks are all around.

    There have already been plenty of good points made on the implied or assumed law-abiding nature of car drivers (# of speed camera tickets, seat belt usage, etc.), but here’s another recent story about how careless drivers can be when it comes to sharing the road:

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