Cyclist hit by Driver at 13th and Wallach Pl, NW

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Photo by PoPville flickr user Joe in DC

Joe writes:

“I came upon this after this happened – don’t know the cause. I heard from people on Twitter that the cyclist walked to the ambulance on his own power. Irony: the person who appears to be the driver is wearing hospital scrubs.”

118 Comment

  • Maybe the cyclist was illegally riding through a crosswalk? That’s what I get from the photo.

    • I’m really not sure what you mean by “illegally riding through a crosswalk.”

    • I agree it looks as if the cyclist is going in the wrong direction based on the way the bike lies.

      • It looks to me like the cyclist was riding on the sidewalk and got hit in the crosswalk. Riding on the sidewalk in that area is perfectly legal.

        • Legal, but MORALLY REPREHENSIBLE

        • I never said it was illegal. As a cyclist (myself included) you should not put yourself at risk by riding on the opposite side against the flow of traffic. I also do not bike on the sidewalk (regardless of legality) for this reason.

          • That’s ridiculous. The onus is on *drivers* not to hit people in crosswalks, not on people in crosswalks to only be on certain sides of the street. Looks to me like the driver tried to make a quick left and was paying more attention to oncoming traffic than who was in the crosswalk, i.e. the driver appears to have been at fall (which is probably why you see an officer writing a citation in the background.

          • So pedestrians should also walk in the same direction as traffic? If they get hit in the crosswalk is it also their fault?

          • Bikes travel a lot faster than pedestrians and it is harder to stop a bike quickly in this situation. All I am saying is biking on sidewalk is a bad idea, biking against the flow of traffic another bad idea – regardless of legality. I bike every day, I am not siding with the driver.

    • At no point outside of the central business district can a cyclist be illegally riding through a crosswalk. Dangerously, yes. But not illegally.

    • This photo is looking south down 13th Street. The driver was traveling north on 13th and took a left turn across the opposite lane of traffic to get onto Wallach. The cyclist was probably biking south on 13th with the flow of traffic and the driver didn’t see the biker when he made the left turn.
      .
      Lots of MD’ers circle around the neighborhood looking for parking. The left onto Wallach doesn’t have a light or a stop sign, so it can be a bit tricky to make the turn. You have lots of people driving south down 13th to go downtown and impatient drivers will get backed up behind you, as it’s only one lane. My guess is that the driver gunned it to quickly make the left turn and didn’t see the cyclist.
      .
      Regardless of circumstances, the cyclist has the right of way over the car. There’s no way in which the cyclist is at fault here.

      • If the driver is pointed north… so is the biker.

        Is it legal to ride through a crosswalk outside the central business district on the wrong side of the street? If it is, it shouldnt be. Drivers are accustomed to looking for pedestrians moving at a modest rate of speed. A biker can zip out between cars and trees and everything coming from the opposite direction you expect them to be and be in front of you before you even know its an issue. This illuminates part of the problem with bikes on sidewalks… if in fact its totally legit for them to be on the other side of the road.

        • We have no idea if the cyclist was riding north. Bikes usually get tumbled and flipped around in accidents.
          .
          That said, it’s not illegal for a cyclist to ride in either direction through a crosswalk in this part of town. This is far outside the CBD.

        • regardless of the legal fault – cyclists (myself included) need to be smarter. I NEVER ride opposite to the flow of traffic for this very reason.

      • justinbc

        “Lots of MD’ers circle around looking for parking”
        Yeah, so does practically anyone coming to this neighborhood, as there’s a real shortage of it. MD drivers do plenty of stupid things, but singling them out as “looking for parking” in densely populated neighborhoods isn’t really necessary.

        • I live a block and a half south of this accident, and I have counted the cars cruising around, especially on Friday and Saturday nights. I guarantee you at least 50% of all car traffic in the area is Maryland drivers. And that IS worth saying. People from out of town are driving steel deathboxes and using the roads their tax dollars don’t pay for and putting people who *do* live here at risk.

          • You do realize that a “Maryland driver” might live immediately across the street from a “DC driver” right? But enjoy your generalizations.

          • What, along Eastern Avenue? Otherwise I sincerely doubt that. Unless they have off-street parking, in which case they’re probably not one of the myriad cars circling the block.

          • justinbc

            Assuming your statistical conclusions actually are accurate, you’re still allowing for another 50% of drivers from not-MD to be circling the block. That’s a sizable amount, making MD drivers far from the exception here.

          • Low Headways : I live half a block from Western Avenue — but I appreciate your sincerity. My point is that just because someone has Maryland tags doesn’t mean that they’re “from out of town”. They likely have the same driving skills — or lack thereof — and familiarity with the city — or lack thereof as someone who lives in the city.

      • I agree with your analysis of the photo, until you get to the point where you say that the cyclist has the right of way over the car, always, and that there’s no way the cyclist was at fault. Cyclists have the obligation to obey traffic laws, including the laws of right of way, just like cars.

        Last month, I was driving north on 13th in that area, going at about 20-25mph. I live on 13th just a few blocks north, and I’m really familiar with all the potential traffic dangers there. There was a cyclist (wearing no helmet) to ahead of me in the lane, hugging the right side of the lane by the parked cars. There were cars coming in the other direction and I was making no attempt to pass the cyclist. Then, all of a sudden, with no warning whatsoever, the cyclist turned left in front of me in such a tight circle that he was briefly biking TOWARD me in my lane. I slammed on my breaks, leaving skid marks on the road, to avoid hitting him. The car behind me in our lane also slammed on her breaks, and was only able to avoid hitting me by swerving into the lane of oncoming traffic. The cyclist only circled again and laughed. I was still shaking 20 minutes later.

        So, no, I have to disagree. There are plenty of ways the cyclist could have been at fault in this accident, and my experience just illustrates one of them. It is reckless to assume that the biker is always right, an assumption which can lead to some very dangerous, cavelier behavior on the road.

        • why does it matter if someone wears a helmet or not? were you wearing a helmet? totally irrelevant.

          • It is relevant to the injuries the cyclist would have suffered if I had been unable to avoid hitting him. I know it’s not the law here in DC, but if he’s going to be a danger to himself and others, the smart thing to do would be to mitigate his own risk. I, personally, am not a cyclist. I was always a clumsy one as a kid, and do not choose to now. I walk, metro, and drive, in that order of preference. I only wish that everyone on the roads, crosswalks, and sidewalks would do their absolute best to keep themselves and others safe. Regardless of who was at fault in this particular accident this morning, it’s a terrible shame that it happened at all. We all need to be more safety-conscious and less righteous.

          • *self-righteous

          • caroline is not demonstrating effective rational communication skills.

          • Caroline… you wear a helmet when you are driving your car or on the metro? it could make all the difference and save your life in an accident. Didn’t think so.

        • In both assumptions they are making, the cyclist is absolutely not at fault. They may not be true assumptions, in which case there are certainly situations which it could be the cyclists fault. You’re personal story has nothing to do with what he was saying, although I’m sorry that person happened to be riding wrecklessly.

          Also, studies show helmets are more warranted while driving in the car than riding a bike, so you shouldn’t make judgements based on that.

    • Just to clarify, it is legal to bike on sidewalks (and crosswalks) in DC, except within the Central Business District downtown, bounded by Massachusetts Ave. NW, 2nd St NE-SE, D St SE/SW, 14th St NW, Constitution Ave and 23rd St NW.

      The accident in this post happened well outside of the CBD.

      • But it is not right for cyclicts to go through cross “walks” and claim they have the rights of pedestrians. I drive and bike, and I do not like it when a bike goes through a crosswalk and waves as if I am supposed to stop for them as I would a pedestrian. Cyclists are not pedestrians.

        • You ARE supposed to stop for a cyclist in a crosswalk. Did you really just say that?

          • I say cyclists cannot claim to be pedestrians. Let’s say Cyclist A is aside my jalopy; we approach a green light. Cyclist turns in front of me, into a crosswalk, and claims I should stop for them. But Cyclist A, darling, you are not on foot, and such move is irksome.

    • you think the car hit the bike and knocked both of them in the opposite direction (away from the crosswalk)?

    • brookland_rez

      MD Plates!

    • Budding accident reconstruction experts…

  • Not irony: The driver has Maryland plates.

  • Hope the cyclist is OK… I’ve been through this stuff before and hopefully MPD doesn’t royally mess up the case like mine was. Maryland tags? SHOCKED

    • Dunno, the MPD cop looks thoroughly confused…

    • Took a cab to work this morning because I was carrying a big, heavy bag and didn’t want to walk/crowd the Metro with it…. anyway, I passed this accident and observed the driver and the cyclist standing near each other while police appeared to be assessing the situation. There was an ambulance parked near by, but the cyclist was standing and alert when I passed.

  • Maryland plates? Unexpected.

    • Oops, the other comments hadn’t yet loaded for me. Of course I wasn’t alone in my thinking, though.

  • Probably talking on Obama phone while eating Utz crab chips.

  • I am increasingly terrified of crossing the street in front of anyone who has a MD license plate. In the evenings, they all cut through my neighborhood and barely pause at stop signs even if I’m already in the crosswalk. It’s absolutely ridiculous. These people need to be held more accountable or more people are going to get hurt or even worse.

    • It’s ridiculous – running red lights is now the norm, not the exception. I almost got taken out the other day by someone blowing through a light. I know they think that our streets are merely commuter roads for them, but people DO live here. I’m sure they wouldn’t appreciate a bunch of DC drivers running stop signs and lights in their town.

      • justinbc

        The problem isn’t helped by the constant pedestrian habit of entering the road prior to the red light in anticipation of its impending occurrence. I’m certainly not defending bad drivers here, but so many people start walking before the signal gives you the OK to do so.

        • That has nothing to do with drivers running red lights.

          • justinbc

            Yes, it does, as the “running” of the red light is often done just shortly after it’s turned. The walk signs have built in delays to prevent pedestrians from walking into the street as soon as a light has turned. When both things happen at once it results in pedestrians being hit.

        • the two events are orthogonal

        • I also find that annoying, but it’s a separate issue. Yes, peds shouldn’t be standing in the road before the light changes because it makes it difficult for drivers. But a red light is a red light, and it shouldn’t matter if people are standing close to the curb or not.

          • I would tend to agree with you, but as a general rule I find it tough to blame only one person when both people were doing something wrong. If an accident does happen, it’s a shame to think that it would have been avoided had just one of them been doing the right thing.

  • It looks to me like the cyclist was heading south on 13th and car made a left turn into the bike.

    • There is no bike lane on 13th. However, there is a pretty wide gap between moving traffic and the parked cars. So lots of cyclists now use 13th to go north/south due to all the construction blocking the bike lane on 14th.

    • Cyclist was going south.

  • Guys, I really don’t think you can tell from this photo what the cyclist was doing…last time I was doored, if people had tried to guess what was happening from the placement of my bike, the would have guessed I was guessed I was biking in the middle of the street, going the wrong way, on a busted bike. (I wasn’t). Just hope the cyclist is okay. Very scary.

  • i was so close to getting hit by a RUDE Maryland driver this morning while on my bike. She not only ran through a red light at 14th and Rhode Island, she was like 3 cars behind and went around other cars into the oncoming traffic lane to run the light. After almost hitting me, I gave her the death stare, and she had the audacity to open her door and scream at ME!!!!!!!! Ahhhhhhhhhhh.
    I honestly hate the whole ‘maryland driver’ rhetoric on this blog, makes me feel sorry for the responsible maryland drivers out there, but at a certain point when EVERY OFFENSIVE driver I encounter is from MD, its hard to not join the hate MD drivers club!

    • I bike thru there every day for my AM and PM commute. I’ve got front and rear facing video cameras on my bike, but I unfortunately didn’t catch that. I bet the driver was on something. Sounds like it was pretty intense.

      • What brand of cameras do you use? I’m thinking about getting a gopro white as a front facing camera.

    • Confirmation bias. Learn it.

    • That is how I feel about DC cyclists. At a certain point when EVERY OFFENSIVE cyclist I encounter is from DC, its hard not to join the I hate DC cyclists club.

      • But since bicycles don’t have license plates, you have no idea where cyclists come from, oh sarcasm fail-er.

      • But cyclists aren’t going to kill anyone. Drivers are.

        • A cyclist can – and have – killed people. That a car is more likely to cause serious and life-ending injuries does not mean a bicycle can not.

          And a cyclist can cause an accident just as a driver can.

          I hope the cyclist is ok.

      • +1
        Confirmas bias is a two way street.

    • MD drivers have god awful commutes (their own fault for choosing to live there) and can’t take a highway to get into the city. By the time they are close to downtown DC, they’re at the end of their rope and start doing very stupid things. Especially if they’re running late.
      .
      I’ve a very impatient driver, so I understand their frustrations. But that’s also why I chose to live in core DC and get to work in 10 minutes via bike or take the Metro. I couldn’t deal with that nonsense.

      • I hope to goodness you’re a troll.
        “their own fault for choosing to live there” like DC real estate market isn’t astronomically higher than Maryland and Virginia, and therefore cost prohibitive for a lot of people who would probably like to live here. A three bedroom apartment (the bare minimum for a family of four with one boy and one girl child) is largely unobtainable to the average middle class family. The $3000 rent that’s pretty much market value for many spaces of that nature in a reasonable neighborhood would require a family to make at least 150k a year to be able to afford.

    • Amen. I had a close encounter with a Maryland driver yesterday. In fact, almost every single close encounter I’ve had (with one notable exception with a DC driver) has been with a Maryland driver. They tend to be fat ladies driving minivans. They all have attitudes, and they’re aggresive, nasty drivers. I suspect they generally dislike the idea of bikers, and make it personal when they almost run you off the road.

      • I’m afraid I have to disagree. Why pick on the fat women in minivans? In my experience aggressive Maryland drivers are just a microcosm of society – with all genders, ages, races equally represented. Still, I’m terrified when I see a Maryland license plate.

      • As a woman who learned to drive/went to college in Maryland, it’s fair to assume that a lot of us are not great drivers. When I got my license, it was practically out of a cereal box. Didn’t even have to parallel park and the test proctor was kind enough to overlook me accidentally running a stop sign. HOWEVER: It is not fair to assume that I’m a fat woman in a minivan or a nasty person. I just don’t have great skills. And I didn’t become a better driver when I went home to DC, either. ALSO: There’s nothing wrong with being overweight, and shame on you for making judgmental comments about people’s body types.

        • Followup for clarification: “fat woman in a minivan” was supposed to be in quotations as seen here, to further highlight your disappointing choice of language.

    • Just had the same thing happen to me this morning, with a MD driver failing to yield to me when I was walking across an unsignaled crosswalk. As I death-stared at him, he didn’t even look at me but just shrugged as he sailed by as if to say, “meh? Meh?”

  • Deja vu. My wife was hit by a doctor right in front of the Washington Hospital Center earlier this week. The first thing the doctor said was, “My light was green” (that was not true). She never even offered to help my wife, who was laying on the street. Fortunately, some paramedics saw my wife get hit, and they attended to her. Then, to add insult to injury, the doctor tried to leave before the police arrived.

  • From the picture, I’d have to say it looks like the car was well into its left turn when the bike entered the crosswalk. That would mean the crosswalk was clear when the driver initiated his turn.

    IF that was the case, I’d say the onus was on the biker not to enter the crosswalk while a car was approaching.

    • I don’t know about that- from the picture, it also looks like the bike was well into the crosswalk by the time the contact was made. This photo isn’t enough evidence to point blame in either direction. And the onus is always on the driver not to hit people, not for people to dodge cars in crosswalks.

    • You have an amazing gift of bullshit.

  • I witnessed this accident, and left my name with the bicyclist. He was riding in the street, and the white car was making a left-hand turn. I’m guessing the driver did not see the bicyclist or misjudged the bicyclist’s speed, but as soon as I saw him pull forward to make the turn, it was clear to me that there was no way he could make it in time and there was no way the bicyclist could get out of the way or stop in time. The bicyclist was thrown across her good/windshield of the car, and I couldn’t believe he was able to stand after. I hope he is ok.

  • I’m looking at this and not sure how anyone is coming up with an opinion…neither the bike nor the car are in the crosswalk so there’s that. Even the witness statement…sounds like they are both wrong…the car is turning left and unable to stop…the bike is leaving the curb and unable to stop…not sure who has the right of way in this case.

    The only thing I will agree to is that cycling on the sidewalks against traffic is a bad idea all the way around…legal or otherwise. Even if the driver looked both ways…it’s quite possible that he couldn’t see the cyclist or assumed that the cyclist would stop before crossing the intersection. The same applies to the cyclist…

    Good thing is there were no “apparent” injuries

    • “the car is turning left and unable to stop…the bike is leaving the curb and unable to stop…not sure who has the right of way in this case”
      The party going straight has ROW; party turning left needs to yeild.

    • The bicyclist wasn’t on the sidewalk. He was riding in the street. His bike was thrown rather far (and so was he after he rolled across the windshield). The photo reflects where his bike and the car ended up after he was hit. It was scary to witness. I stopped along with a couple of other drivers and a nearby pedestrian.

    • It’s crystal clear who has the right of way. The cyclist who is riding south with traffic, just like any car driving south. The guy waiting to turn across the southbound traffic has to wait until traffic is clear. He obviously misjudged.

  • I am sorry but I am tired of cyclists NOT obeying traffic laws either. The zoom around running red lights and turning corners the wrong way on one way streets. I think it is great the DC is such a bike town BUT they need to be ticketed for not obeying traffic rules. We should follow Portlands model.

    • I am a daily cyclist and I agree. I used to yell at other cyclists, now I just shake my head and cringe. There are A LOT of jerk cyclists that feel entitled in this city. I myself am a very conservative biker (unless at Haine’s Point or in Rock Creek on weekend days) – I simply do not trust drivers in this city. I also think cyclists need to think of the larger picture, if you piss a driver off one day, the next cyclist they encounter may receive the brunt of the aggression.

      • I gave up on yelling at other cyclists after I nearly got in a fight asking someone to stop using their cell phone while biking up 11th… futility

    • I have seen cyclists get ticketed for not obeying stop signs and such. I wish more drivers would be ticketed for all the stupid things they do, but I don’t think there are enough cops in the city for that.

      • Funny story; I’ve actually seen cops give bikers tickets and lectures for blowing the stop sign, traveling east on I St. SE between S Capitol and New Jersey, on a few occassionals. I lived there and could see the intersection from my apt where groups of cops on bikes would blow through the same stop sign at shift change every night.

    • Ticket motorists and every problem in the world would be solved.

  • I recognize that driver from the car and the scrubs. He’s nearly hit me before. I guess it was only a matter of time.

  • By looking at this picture the cyclist was clearly flying through the air which is against the law in restricted DC airspace and he had an (illegal) alian on his handle bars. I saw the whole thing.

  • I live close to 11 and fairmont and in the mornings Approximately 80 to 95% of the bikers dont stop at the stop signs. My neighbor actually setup a video camera and showed it to the police which got them ticketing (once), but the problem continues. My car has got scraped and hit twice in different incidents. The arrogant self entitled nature of the riders in NW is the root of the problem. My sympathy for these accidents have diminished with time even though I am also a fellow biker during the weekends.

    • I totally agree. Everyone with a car that’s parked for free on public property should be legally entitled to broom-spoke cyclists. I just hate em. Those prick bikers take up less room, create less pollution and congestion, and inflict less damage to infrastructure. And their attitude! Oh my god, their attitude.

    • I live close to 11 and fairmont and in the mornings Approximately 80 to 95% of the [drivers] don’t stop at the stop signs. [The city] actually set up cameras, but the problem continues. [My friends have been hit and seriously injured/hospitalized] twice in different incidents. The arrogant self entitled nature of the drivers in NW is the root of the problem. My sympathy for these accidents have diminished with time even though I am also a fellow driver during the weekends.

  • I always look MD drivers in the eye. They treat our neighborhoods like shortcuts.

    • Same here. Eye contact when I’m walking or driving. I have a counter-commute, and as I’m driving home the last few blocks through into Columbia Heights on 13th street, I see some RIDICULOUS stuff out of drivers with MD tags. My personal favorite are the ones who decide that they can just “stack up” on the car going straight through the stop sign ahead of me, since I’m turning. Sometimes I wish I just had a POS car so I could obey traffic laws and just bump them on principle.

  • Maryland tags, I see.

  • This entire thread of comments is like a car wreck,… I want to look away but I can’t!

  • “the cyclist walked to the ambulance on his own power”

    So did I when I got hit by a car on my bike, but I had a separated shoulder that still bothers me 2 years later.

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