Cyclist Struck by Bus at 4th and Massachusets Ave, NW


A reader sends the photo above reporting “a bicyclist was struck this morning by a Keller bus at Mass Ave. and 4th St NW.”

@DCPoliceDept tweeted around 8:30am:

“Accident reported @ 4th & Massachusetts Ave NW. Approach w/caution and expect delays. MPD is en route.”

And as of 9:15am:

“Accident Pedestrian Update @ 4th & Massachusetts Ave NW is clear and all lanes are open.”

No word on the condition of the cyclist.

66 Comment

  • This intersection sucks! Drivers to not pay attention at all to peds or cyclists crossing Mass. They’re in such a hurry to get onto the freeway. Buses are always flying down Mass too… Hope the cyclist is ok.

    • Even as the cyclist was down, a Yellow Cab in the center right-turn lane of 4th St southbound did a right turn on red. The whole stretch of Mass Ave NW, westbound to Mt Vernon Square, is flooded each morning with drivers speeding and blatantly running red lights.

  • Including links when you quote tweets would be helpful.

  • That’s unfortunate. bad intersection for every mode of transportation. a bunch of arterials intersect and at times backs up in 4 or 5 directions. In addition to 395 access there’s also Mass & New Jersey Aves and H St traffic.

    Not blaming the victim at all, but I think it’s wise to seek out less convoluted intersections on bike during rush hour.

  • I was the one who called 911 (despite all the other people who seemed to get out their phones quicker – but hey, at least you got a picture). It was horrific. At least he had a helmet on and seemed to be moving somewhat afterwards. The cyclist was at fault: going against the crosswalk sign, if you want to be considered a pedestrian or going the wrong way on a one-way street, if you want to be considered a car. Maybe all the Bikeshare people across the street will at least take that to heart instead of riding through the city willy-nilly without helmets. I don’t want to ever see something like that again.

    • Was the cyclists going northbound across Mass in the crosswalk? And the bus turning left from 4th onto Mass (to go onto the freeway?) Or was the bus going straight down Mass?

    • As a bike commuter for 10 years I’ll say I see my fair share of bad drivers, as well as bad bikers. What is important as you “eyewitness” pointed out but I’ll add all sides, drivers, bikers and pedestrians can learn from unfortunate situations like this. It is possible to explain “going against the crosswalk”. Does this mean the sign said don’t walk, was the biker “salmoning” going against traffic.?… From the looks of the bike (time trial bars and all) this may have been a more experienced biker. Hope the biker is ok, as well as the driver of the bus. Had to be a terrifying moment.

    • I rode by earlier and the bus seemed to be angled in such a way that it was turning left from 4th onto Mass. If that’s true, the cyclist had either a walk sign or a blinky red hand sign across Mass.

      • Or a solid red, which is what the eyewitness said.

        • Which doesn’t exist. Either both the pedestrian and traffic lights were red. Or the traffic light was green and the pedestrian signal was walk or flashing don’t walk. There are no other options are this intersection. I promise.

          • That is not true.

          • Southbound 4th street does not have a protected left. And whenever that light is green the pedestrian light is walk/flashing don’t walk. It’s never a solid don’t walk. I can’t offer anything more than going through this intersection every single day.

          • PDleftMtP

            Look at the signal closely next time you walk through. Pedestrian signals go solid red when the light turns yellow, at the latest. They are red before the traffic light is.

          • The pedestrian walk sign also goes to “Walk” well before the light turns green for any car traffic on 4th Street.

        • In that case, the bus had a red, too, if it was turning from 4th.

      • I’m a little more inclined to believe the eyewitness who saw this go down than a POPviller who saw the crime scene later and determined what happened based on the bus “seem[ing] to be angled in such a way that it was turning left from 4th onto Mass.” It’s also possible the bus was travelling on Mass and the cyclist was heading south against the light. Why don’t you leave this to the eyewitnesses and the police rather than going CSI here.

        • A. If you had seen the eyewitness.
          B. If you have ever read a police report in Washington DC

          you would know why not.

      • Why should a cyclist EVER have a walk sign (unless they are walking their bike across an intersection, which is rarely done)? If on a road with bike lains, they would have a bike signal, otherwise, a cyclist should be following the traffic signals, NOT the pedestrian crosswalk signals.

        • There are many places (the 15th street bike lane, to name one) where cyclists are supposed to follow the ped crosswalk signals. DC doesn’t really have any bike signals, except at 15th and New Hampshire (or somewhere therabouts), I believe.

        • NOT true. See 15th St. Cycletrack, for example. Cyclists are instructed (albeit not clearly or very effectively) to follow the pedestrian signals. Your statement, though, demonstrates why the cycletrack is pretty crappily designed.

          • It’s different when the cyclist has a designated bike lane and/or is instructed to follow ped signals. I think the point was the cyclists should not be riding in crosswalks. They should be riding with traffic. I’m all for the city being bike-friendly, but it’s hard when so many bikers blatently disregard traffic signals. Several people, including myself, were walking, with the right of way, in a crosswalk the other day, only to have a biker fly through the intersection, clearly running a red light. Several pedestrians stopped in the intersection (in an effort to avoid being hit I think), causing the biker to swerve and yell obscenities. When I pointed out that it was she who had run the red light, I was greated with a finger.

          • DCMR 18 1201.11: “A person propelling a bicycle or operating a personal mobility device upon and along a sidewalk or while crossing a roadway in a crosswalk shall have all the rights and duties applicable to a pedestrian under the same circumstances, except that the bicyclist or personal mobility device operator must yield to pedestrians on the sidewalk or crosswalk.”

    • So, the bicyclist was in the crosswalk, going south, crossing Mass, and a bus turning left from 4th turning onto Mass somehow didn’t see him? Sounds like the bus driver’s fault. If someone is actually in the crosswalk and the traffic on Mass is stopped (which they would have to be for the bus to be making a left onto Mass from 4th), then the bus is all in the wrong. You have to look for *anyone* in the crosswalk when making a left, whether that person is a biker, pushing a baby carriage, whatever. The bus driver was wrong, wrong, WRONG, in every way I can tell from the picture above.

      • There’s also the possibility that the bus was interested the intersection on a green light but wasn’t able to clear the intersection before the light turned yellow/red. And the cyclist was trying to make the light and entered on yellow/red. In that case, both in the wrong but it’s all conjecture at this point.

      • I am not that familiar with the intersection, but from street view, it appears as though there is a left turn lane on 4th. I assume (but I am not sure) this means that there is a left turn arrow from 4th onto Mass. If that is the case, the eye witness could be correct in his/her assessment that the biker was in the wrong, i.e., crossing on a don’t walk/red light. Either way, it’s a sad story.

        • There are two southbound lanes on fourth street. One is a left turn only. One is a straight/left option. When those lights are green, the pedestrians crossing Massachusetts Avenue on both side of fourth street have a walk sign for the entire light cycle (With the blinky red at the end of the cycle of course). There is no protected left phase.

      • I think you’re greatly overestimating your ability to tell what happened from the picture. You think that the cyclist was heading south based on that picture?

        • Thank you! I’d leave the police-work to the police who have the benefit of eyewitnesses and possibly video rather than an out-of-context cellphone pic. Look at this for what it is, a reminder that everyone needs to be more careful and concious of their surroundings while commuting, regardless of their mode to transportation.

      • Couldn’t it be that the bus had a green left turn arrow while the pedestrian had a red stop light? I don’t know if there is such a left turn arrow at this intersection, but just wanted to throw that out there as another possibility.

        • There is no protected left turn for drivers on 4th. Just 1 left only, 1 left or straight lane.

          It may be worth noting that DDOT installed ‘no left turns during eve rush hour’ at this intersection – seems that they may be aware that this is a trouble spot. However, the regulation is not enforced at all… MDP said that because there are ‘conflicting’ signs they can’t enforce at the eve rush.

          Cars always rush this light to beat the cycle – they claim it’s not long enough for them to make it to the freeway… I’ve almost been hit many times crossing (walking) Mass when cars are turning onto Mass from 4th…

          • There is a “No left turn” during rush hour, but you can imagine how well that works…

          • The crossing on 6th Street is even worse. Maryland drivers racing west run the red light long seconds after it’s turned to red for them. Yesterday I had made it 3/4 of the way across the street well into the eastbound lane, when a car went flying westbound behind me. Hello, MPD?

    • yeah that sucks, but I’m not surprised. Busses, cabs, and bicyclists are the biggest offenders that I see on DC streets. I think it’s actually amazing that there aren’t more accidents.

      • Oh, please.

        • yes, oh please…. cyclist ARE the latest biggest problems.. and you need to help with this instead of putting your sarcastic head in the sands of denial.. cyclist MUST follow the rules, and when the don’t… and cause someone (innocent driver) to be engaged in an accident that will follow them all their life.. they need to STOP CHARGING INTO TRAFFIC LIKE THEY ARE ENTITLED!!!!

    • No one seems to me mentioning that you lose right of way as a bike rider riding your bike in a crosswalk. Not that that justifies hitting someone, but I’m just saying, to all the bikers out there, if your are going to leave the vehicle lane and use the crosswalk, or are riding down a sidewalk, get off and walk the bike to make sure there’s no question of who’s liable if a collision occurs, or be REALLY sure no driver is turning who has no time to stop. It slows down everything and gives the vehicle time to see you entering the crosswalk.

      • Actually it turns out I’m wrong…I just remember a girl being cited a couple years ago but maybe the law changed. There’s these two applicable laws:
        1201.11 A person propelling a bicycle or operating a personal mobility device upon and along a sidewalk or while crossing a roadway in a crosswalk shall have all the rights and duties applicable to a pedestrian under the same circumstances, except that the bicyclist or personal mobility device operator must yield to pedestrians on the sidewalk or crosswalk.

        1201.13 No bicyclist shall suddenly leave a sidewalk and ride into the path of a vehicle which is so close that it is impossible for the driver to yield.

    • You are sooooo right!

    • I’m not sure this is called for given that most people here don’t actually know what happened.

  • We live at that intersection and to be honest, I am surprised this is the first time this has happened. I see cyclists breezing through this intersection after work every day when the lights are clearly red and they expect for cars to yield to them. I’m sorry, I may be wrong here, but when I ride in the city I consider myself a vehicle and obey laws as if I were in one. If the light is red, stop and wait for it to turn green, FALL IN LINE and become a vehicle. Do not shoot up between cars and create another obstacle for the cyclist and the drivers.

    • Not likely. Traffic is so heavy, a cyclist can’t just “breeze through” during rush hour. Otherwise, your advice is good.

      • True, but considering I witness it daily (including the ones who jump on the sidewalk near 6th Engine – which I actually think is less dangerous, but still not correct riding habit) I know it does happen. I understand why people do it, but at the same time, if we want to have the discussion about safety, that is up there in the “dumb things to do on a bike” department.

        • Going westbound on Mass the light turns red while there’s still 10-15 seconds left of the eastbound green light cycle. Left turns from Mass to 4th street are prohibited. The light turns red for Westbound traffic to prevent them from blocking the box.

          Given all this it is by far the safest behavior for westbound cyclists to “breeze” through this light and stop at the light with H Street. And the least annoying for automobile traffic.

          • Or you could FREAKING STOP. The rationalization by cyclists of never yielding to anyone or any traffic rule or signal as “safer” is a lot of the problem. I don’t mean slow down a little to avoid getting run over. I mean yield. Stop. Don’t try to explain why it’s always ok for you to keep moving because it’s more convenient.

          • 1:10 you are correct, but 11:26 shows that most drivers haven’t a clue, so cyclists need to consider that, too.

          • PDleftMtP

            I think the fact that you characterize the suggestion that cyclists could, perhaps, consider actually obeying traffic laws from time to time as “clueless” kind of makes 11:26’s point about your level of entitlement.

  • however you feel about laws and right and wrong, that’s a scary and cringe worthy photo.

  • One issue that might help with this discussion is the understanding of bike laws. I admit I do not know the answer to this, so I will ask here. Assuming this is how the accident happened: (hypothetical)

    At that intersection on 4th St @ Mass ave heading south, you have 2 lanes, 1 = left turn only, other = left or straight.
    Assume cyclist started on sidewalk near Wiseguys, heading North (first across H St.) and then across Mass Ave, toward Papa Johns.
    Assume that the light for southbound 4th St. traffic turns green and subsequently, the cross walks across Mass are both now “Green” for pedestrians to cross:

    1: Is it legal for cyclists to be on the sidewalk in this section of the city? I live here, but I really am not sure – where does that magical “downtown” area end? When I ride out, I stay on the sidewalk until I get to an intersection where I can merge into traffic.
    2. If a cyclist is in a crosswalk, do they have to dismount and walk their bikes out of safety for other pedestrians?

    I personally am of the camp that if traffic is flowing in the direction that you are traveling, you need to be in the road “acting like a vehicle”. If you are going against 1 way traffic (like the cyclist here could have been doing), you can cross at cross walks, but you should dismount your bike for the safety of pedestrians also on the sidewalk.

    Thoughts, clarifications?

    • gotryit

      1. South of Mass ave it is not legal to bike on the sidewalk. I don’t think that law is enforced much, but you should still stick to the principle of “don’t be an a-hole”.
      2. I don’t know the answer to #2, but again, don’t be an a-hole. If there’s room to bike without getting close to people, then fine. If there isn’t, then get off the bike and walk it. Just my opinion.

    • 1. Assuming the bike was coming North, he shouldn’t have been riding on the sidewalk.
      2. A cyclist riding on a sidewalk where legal outside the Central Business District does not have to dismount when crossing an intersection.

    • The cyclist had passed me ca. 8:30 a.m. going west on New York Avenue near 1st St NW about three minutes before the accident. So , like me, he probably was going south on 4th Street before arriving at Mass Ave. The downed bike was in the SE corner of the intersection. The bus could have been going east on Mass, or south on 4th turning onto Mass, but few buses ever do that, and it really would make no sense for a commuter bus. The bus driver was saying something about how he was “on H Street” but that makes no sense at all — that would have put him twenty meters
      to the east.

      Of course, we’re all speculating here. Anyone who has ever read an accident report written up by an MPD officer will know that nothing like the truth, or even like standard English, is going to be found there.

    • DCMR 18 1201.11: “A person propelling a bicycle or operating a personal mobility device upon and along a sidewalk or while crossing a roadway in a crosswalk shall have all the rights and duties applicable to a pedestrian under the same circumstances, except that the bicyclist or personal mobility device operator must yield to pedestrians on the sidewalk or crosswalk.”

  • I am an avid cyclist (both recreational and amateur competition biker) and both follow the rules and can keep up with traffic when it is traveling at regular city speeds. I hope the cyclist is OK and I was not an eyewitness so I will not claim to know how this happened or who was at fault.

    That said, I am always upset when I see “cyclists” riding around on the sidewalks and crosswalks, putting pedestrians in danger and also breaking the law. Bikes belong on the street, and there are even laws forbidding cyclists from traveling on sidewalks in the central business district. This is because bikes travel at a higher rate of speed than pedestrians and are thus more compatible with road traffic. And as a driver, I get continuously frustrated when cyclists either have no idea how to ride a bike in the city (bikeshare “riders,” I am looking at you) or use crosswalks as pedestrians. Crosswalks are for pedestrians only, end of story. For all of you non-cyclists who ride bikes or capitol bikeshare bikes, you make the rest of us look bad so please clean up your act.

    Sorry, I am done with my rant…

    • OSZ, you really need to read a few DC regs. You’re wrong about almost everything.

    • Um, so you have to be some sort of avid competitive cyclist riding 25 mph in the street or you shouldn’t be on a bike? Plenty of cyclists are capable of riding slowly when they are on the sidewalk or are in a crosswalk. I like gotryit’s rule – don’t be an asshole. That should apply to pedestrians, cyclists, drivers, and anyone spouting off an opinion about how they should behave.

      • Given that 4th Street southbound is one way, a cyclist turning left onto Mass Ave eastbound (if that is what happened), the cyclist would be in the left-turning lane or the crosswalk: about the same either way. Bikes in the crosswalk there don’t bother pedestrians in the least. Cars that are speeding, not signaling and running red lights, though: that’s more than annoying.

  • If you are crossing Mass. Ave in the cross walk heading south, you are given 25 seconds to cross the street. Once the counter reaches 17, the hand starts flashing. Even if you start during the solid walk sign, given the width of the street, you will almost always be in the intersection with 17 seconds left. At the same time, the light for cars turning left from 4th onto Mass turns green and cars proceed to turn directly through that crosswalk, unless they yield to the pedestrians who have the right of way. Almost every day I see drivers yelling at pedestrians to hurry up through the crosswalk. One particularly rude driver cursed a girl out even when she had the right of way as well as time plenty of time to finish crossing. I try not to cross here because I don’t like car bumpers on my heels. It really is a bad intersection. The timing has to be changed. I don’t know enough about DC bike law to comment on that, but from a pedestrian’s stand point, it is not a great place to cross.

  • Maybe this will solve some of the arguments?

    • Holy crap, that’s crazy. This makes me think it was clearly the cyclists fault, but I’m curious to hear what others think (not that it matters what any of us think, but I find this stuff interesting).

      On a related note, maybe it’s time for more people to get dashboard/handlebar cams.

    • Ouch. Looks like the bike was heading the wrong way on a one way street. Not much question who was at fault there, then. Salmoning is just plain dangerous.

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