“he got out of his car to take photos of his car, while I lay bleeding and stunned in the road” Looking for Witnesses


“Dear PoPville,

I was struck by a car during on Monday morning and wonder if any PoP readers witnessed it. At 9:10 a.m. I was riding south on 14th Street in the bicycle lane near Trader Joe’s. I was going about 15 miles per hour when a silver SUV drifted into the bicycle lane, side-swiped me, and threw me off my bicycle.

After the crash, the driver moved his car into the center of the road so it would appear that I was at fault; he got out of his car to take photos of his car, while I lay bleeding and stunned in the road. Someone called the police and I was taken by ambulance to the emergency room where I got a lot of stitches.

Based on the testimony of a driver who saw a group of cyclists moving from the bike lane into the right lane, a police officer gave ME a citation for changing lanes without caution. I will be contesting this citation, as I was not part of this group of cyclists changing lanes.

I hope this won’t devolve into the typical cars vs. bikes ballyhoo – I was being a safe, law-abiding, and cautious, but was wrongly cited nonetheless. If anyone witnessed this incident I would be very grateful if you would contact me at [email protected]

98 Comment

  • I’m sorry I didn’t witness this but I need to vent because I was hit by a car who failed to yield to me at 11th and U this morning, too. I thought about calling the police, but I’ve heard this far too often: “a police officer gave ME a citation”. When you’re in the right, and scared to call the police because there is a solid chance the blame will be put on you, things are not working as they should.

  • Perhaps go to local businesses in the area and ask if they can review security camera footage. Don’t wait too long b/c that stuff gets recorded over.

  • Russian-Dash-Cam dot Com

  • As a cyclist, this is disconcerting. Sorry this happened to you. Hope someone comes forward to support your claims. Makes me wonder if more cyclists should be riding with a camera considering how the cops tend to side with car drivers in these situations. Is it worth investing in a helmet camera or something like it as a precaution? No props to the cops.

    • I bought a camera for reasons like this. I kept seeing people saying things like…”It’s useless most of the time, but when you need it, it’s REALLY useful.”

      Doesn’t have to be expensive. I bought a $100 camera, $17 SD card, and $17 mount. You can get cheaper than that if you want, but that’s how much I paid

  • gotryit

    And people wonder why I bike with a camera recording…

    Sorry that happened to you. I hope you find some witnesses / video footage.

    • Can anyone recommend a camera? Front-facing? Rear-facing?

      I was recently verbally harassed by a driver who threatened (after honking, buzzing) to “run my [race] [body part] over”. When I flagged down a cop car immediately at the same intersection, they just yelled at me: “don’t instigate!”. With police behavior and contributory negligence effectively working against cyclists (especially those who are behaving lawfully at the time), it seems a camera might be a worthwhile investment.

      OP: I hope you are recovering and I’m sorry this happened to you.

      • gotryit

        I use a Virb (because I’m cheap), helmet mounted (so it captures where I’m looking).

        While the area behind you may seem scary because you’re not looking there, a rear collision is less common than some others. Check out the WABA smart city cycling guide on typical collisions.

        The Virb takes great quality video, but the interface / transfer isn’t particularly great. That works for me because I rarely pull video off it.

    • Any recommendations on where to get one?

      • Contour Roam camera can be mounted on a helmet or handlebars looking forward; Cycliq Fly6 camera can be mounted on a seat post looking backward, and includes flashing lights to boot.

      • you can get an entry-level Go Pro Hero or Garmin VIRB from REI, Amazon, Best Buy…for a little over $100 plus the cost of the mount. I chose a handlebar mount b/c if felt too awkward mounted to my helmet.

  • Wish I could be of help, but I wasn’t there to witness it. Glad that the accident wasn’t worse. I ride the bike lanes every day during my commute to and from work, and I have to remind myself that a bike lane does not offer any more security than when I am just riding on the far right in a regular road. Even while wearing bright clothing and practicing careful/defensive biking, we ultimately are vulnerable to drivers not paying attention, etc. It’s a risk we take every day. The driver sounds like a cold and callous human being. Let’s hope something in his life changes so that he doesn’t remain insensitive and cold to the suffering of others. Get well!

  • the problem with drifting & the side-swipe danger is massive. it’s one thing for a biker to beware potentially opening doors (you can ride out towards the outer edge of the lane and look at parked cars to see if anyone is about to come out), but with drifters it is completely unpredictable.

    yesterday the same thing almost happened to me, a careless driver was moving along R Street talking on their phone and drifted almost directly onto my side. when i biked in front and did my bike horn move (waving my arm in front of them), they screamed out the window “haha, what are you going to do about it”?

    does anyone have any thoughts on how to address this issue? how can drivers be educated to stay in their lanes? or how can we get MPD to better enforce the traffic laws?

    • I once witnessed a driver on R Street, near Connecticut, almost hit a cyclist twice. Once while he pulled up next to a parked car and again as he tried to back into a parking space. I stopped and rapped on the window and said, you almost his him twice. His response was to throw up his hands and yell “I don’t f-ing care!” I saw his partner walking towards him with two cups of coffee and remarked on what a winner he had picked.

      • Getting in his face (I assume after the biker had already gone?) seems aggressive. If through my crappy driving skills I almost hit a biker twice, and the biker had already left, I’d be pretty defensive about some busy-body scold coming up and 1) touching my car (!?), and 2) getting in my face about it. I’d be totally apologetic to the biker; I’d be ready to yell back at you, too.

        • The jerk who almost killed someone twice and then said they didn’t care about having done so is not the person my sympathies lie with here. And if they’re that crappy of a driver (or that psychotic) then they deserve all of the scolding they get.

        • What is this irrational reaction to “touching my car!?” What do you think is going to happen when a person touches a car? Are the oils in their fingers going to dissolve your paint? Are you scared that it’s Bruce Banner and next comes the hulking and the smashing?

        • Wow, thanks for assuming I went up to him, spread myself across his car and started screaming at him. I went up to the car, rapped on the window – that means knocking by the way – and told him he almost hit a cyclist twice. I was giving him the benefit of the doubt, maybe he was obtuse and didn’t realize it – but no, he simply DID NOT CARE about anyone besides himself.

        • Try to be less defensive. It’s healthier in the long run.

    • Holy crap. I’m not a cyclist and I’m absolutely shocked at that. How the hell are people so crazy?

    • Nothing. Most drivers in the city act like assholes towards cyclists, and most police officers don’t give a shit about cyclists.

      Ride with a camera, record everything, every time something happens, post the shit out of it to every blog/website/facebook group in the area you can find. Send it to MPD, file a report, make a big fuss, EVERY SINGLE TIME.

      Otherwise it’s always going to be drivers word vs cyclist, and the motorist will always blame the cyclist.

      • I don’t want to make this drivers vs. cyclists, but both are equally terrible and that’s the problem. Yesterday on my commute home, I saw cyclist after cyclist randomly cut across lanes, and at least 4 ran red lights. One didn’t even look. Then this dumb driver tried to avoid traffic by DRIVING DOWN THE BIKE LANE. She was so close to my car and then I was trying to legally turn right, but I couldn’t or I would have hit her!

        • Yeah, completely agree with this. I’ve seen terrible behavior from both sides. Unfortunately though, when the terrible behavior is performed by someone in a car the consequences are almost always more dangerous for obvious reasons.

          • Right, which is why I scratch my head when I see cyclists do dangerous things. It can result in death, whereas the driver of a car will probably just have a few dents like the jerk in this story. It would be nice if drivers were ticketed for doing illegal things like driving and parking in the bike lanes though. I personally could never ride in this city because I drive in and out of it every day and witness some of the worst driving.

          • figby

            Yes, cars can kill. I live on the “city’s premier cycletrack,” though, and I am pretty sure a bicyclist is going to strike and kill me soon.

        • You have to understand, most laws for cyclists are some weird default combo of car and pedestrian law, and in many cases it doesn’t make sense or is actually dangerous for cyclists to follow. For example, I take New Jersey north to get home from work, and at some point the 2 far right lanes turn right. I have to cut across the traffic to be able to go straight and there is no good way to do this.

          There’s an entire debate on whether red lights and stop signs should be the same for drivers and cyclists. I’m with the idea that red lights should be treated like stop signs for cyclists and stop signs like yields. If you had to move your car with your body, while being totally exposed, you might feel the same.

          I see stupid cyclists all the time too. I try to be safe, but the truth is, I feel like the world is created to be safe for everyone else on the roads, and I’m the last priority. I will follow the laws that keep me safe. Stupid cyclists can and do injure people. Stupid drivers kill people.

          • I am not talking about cutting over responsibly if that’s what you HAVE to do. I am talking about cutting in front of a car in which the car has to brake to avoid hitting, and as you pointed out, killing you. As far as the red lights, you should probably at least look both ways, but if you do that and no one is coming go for it. I see cyclists fly through red lights without even looking.

          • It’s confusing for drivers too. I was driving down Georgia a few weeks ago when a bike flew across the lane in front of me and another car and we had to slam our brakes not to hit him and then he flipped us off. I realize i’m supposed to stop for pedestrians in crosswalks, but what about bikes? I feel like if a bike is being cautious, like a pedestrian, and obviously looking to pass then obviously I would stop, but feeling entitled to cut through traffic in a pedestrian zone seems dangerous to everyone involved, right?

        • …but both __have members which are__ equally terrible…

          There are people on the road from both groups which are perfectly good with what they do. The problem is that the police and perception often sides with the driver. We don’t find that people that are terrible and aggressive drivers are representative of all drivers, but we do find that people that are terrible and aggressive bikers to be representative of all bikers

          I also think that there are a lot of situations where the law for the cyclist doesn’t reflect the nature of cycling (that is, you are fully exposed, acceleration is just not as fast as a car, etc). I think the Idaho Stop is a great example of this: on a bike, you can stop very quickly, but are much slower to accelerate.

          But, I completely agree that no signaling and showing a lack of awareness of the road around you is very much a problem for all to many cyclists in the city.

        • Totally tangential point re the car in the bike lane blocking you from making a right turn. Not sure the circumstances of when she got there to block you, but you are supposed to merge into the bike lane before making the right turn.

        • Thus the contempt for cyclists…

      • “Most drivers in the city act like assholes towards cyclists”

        Oh, come on. Most?

        I am daily cyclist and have had a few close calls (no accidents, fortunately) and it’s usually a careless driver, not an “asshole” (but careless drivers can kill you, too). I’ve also seen plenty of my fellow cyclists ride dangerously so there is blame to go around.

  • Wasn’t there an outcry on this process (issuing citations to bicyclists without taking or considering their statement) a few years ago and a commitment to make a change?

  • OP, I’m so sorry this happened to you. I almost cheesed it on P Street yesterday because a maniac MD driver passed about 2 inches from my handlebar. Hope you’re on the mend.

    As cyclists, we need to push the DC Council to reform contributory negligence laws in the city. All too often, when a car driver is in the obvious wrong, cyclists also get cited because of being more than *One Percent* at fault, which is ridiculous. While we’re at it, also petition Cathy Lanier to educate her officers about the actual laws we have on the books, like how cyclists are allowed to take up an entire lane in the absence of cycle lanes.


  • Ugh, this just really riles me. Don’t people realize that one wrong move and they could kill a human being???

    • No, all they care about is their cars. This driver didn’t care that they could have killed a human being, as long as nothing damaged their precious car.

      • It’s not only that, it’s the urgency with which people travel. I have to remind myself when I’m behind the wheel that arriving somewhere 5 minutes late is better than hitting a biker/pedestrian/etc.

        Every single day I see drivers (MD, DC, VA, etc) running red lights, turning right through red with little regard to pedestrians, rolling through stop signs,…

        • THIS. this. EVERYONE has somewhere to be, we get it. yesterday i was coming up Q in the bike lane, and was stopped at the light at 14th, still in the bike lane. a guy came up behind me wanting to turn right on the red, and was just honking and yelling at me to move it. where are you going so urgently that you MUST turn right on red? a few minutes later i saw someone doing about 60 on rhode island avenue. everyone needs to calm down.

          • Totally true that everyone needs to calm down. But I’m trying to figure out exactly why a car couldn’t get around you to go right on red. Maybe the driver was irritated that your car was needlessly far into the intersection so as to needlessly block a driver from turning right on red? Didn’t witness it so I can only guess. In my own experience, people are more impatient with a delay occasioned by someone’s thoughtlessness (IF that’s what was going on). If you were behind the white line, so a car could easily get around you, then you’re right, he was in the wrong.

    • It seems not. I had a bad encounter at this same intersection several months ago. A driver pulled over into the bike lane to drop her husband off. I was in the bike lane in her “blind spot,” which she obviously didn’t check before changing lanes into the bike lane.
      What I got was an angry guy screaming at me that it was my fault because I was biking at all since “it’s insane to be biking in this city when you could be killed at any minute” and a rant about “how are we supposed to know you’d be there; that’s why its called a blind spot.”
      That attitude really shook me, and I’ve been bike-commuting for eight years now. He literally felt no sense of responsibility for almost killing me and had this immense rage that I existed at all and an absolute lack of understanding that a driver has an obligation to check their blind spot before changing lanes.

  • I’m really sorry this happened to you. I rode past you while you were sitting on the sidewalk but didn’t stop because there were already people there who looked to be helping you. The one car was already parked in the right lane while another car was stopped in the bike lane. I don’t think I can help corroborate your side but please ask PoP for my email it if would help.

  • I hope you feel better, and good luck in court. This sounds to outrageous.

    Not sure what a rider can do, other than ride with a cam.

    It does reinforce for me the importance of more protected bike lanes.

  • I second commenters stating to contact the businesses about camera footage. I know my condo complex is good for 30 days and after that it is wiped and replaced unless we download and save the footage for a particular incident. There are multiple businesses as well as that apartment complex along this stretch. And don’t forget about the business across the street as they may provide different vantage points. I hope you pursue this because going after drivers who show so little regard for human life is the only way changes will be made.

    That’s a tough stretch of road on that block. Delivery vehicles for TJ’s regularly are too large to pull completely off to the side. Or, as in the case at 7am this morning, a large delivery truck just pulled up to the curb catty-cornered so his back corner was blocking the bike lane.

    • The bike lane is also especially narrow by TJs and that whole development. Narrower than the rest of 14th Street.

  • I’m glad to hear you’re ok. 14th street should have a separated bike lane. I don’t understand why DC feels the need to design their roads for maximum automobile commuter efficiency. I guess it’s the baby boomer mindset that unfortunately still dominates the city’s politics.

    • Yes, please have a safer bike lane on 14th street! I know that DOT is ramping up their bike initiative in the city, but we really need to press for better, safer bike lanes lanes in the city. 15th street is a good example. I ride that to work, but I have to merge onto 14th to get home. I hate 14th because it’s so saturated with cars.

    • I don’t think 14th street needs a cycletrack since there’s the 15th street cycletrack one block over.

      • gotryit

        They could make 15th st northbound and 14th st southbound.
        15th street sucks going south because the lights are timed for northbound traffic; whereas 14th street is great going south.

      • By that logic, we should get rid of 14th St. entirely since cars can also use 15th or 16th or 13th. Fact is, we need more capacity for bikes, and it will actually minimize conflict with drivers! Everyone should be in favor of this!

  • No blame intended–I really recommend riding with a visible camera for a record of potential accidents and as a deterrent for harassment. I use a Go Pro with a K-Edge mount but I think I’d like to get this: http://cycliq.com/product

    • What’s the advantage of a rear-facing camera? I feel like the front one would record what I see, which would corroborate my version of events if (oh let’s face it, when) something happens. Really appreciate the advice because this has been confusing me for a while!

      • A rear-facing camera would have caught this driver drifting behind the biker and then into the biker.

      • I only use a front-facing b/c I also assume that a hit from behind would still be evident on a front-facing camera. The rear facing one I think is designed for people that want a rear end incident fully recorded. The Rideye is like a cycling black box and looks really cool but I don’t have any experience with it. I prefer riding with a camera that has a playback screen (which is standard on the both Garmin VIRBs and some Go Pros) so I can show the police what happened on the scene.

        • What GoPro model would you recommend for cyclists? I have been almost hit twice this week and super spooked out.

          • I have a Go Pro Hero 4 Silver which has worked well so far but I only use b/c I got it for free. Otherwise, I would probably ride with the less expensive Go Pro 3 Hero White which has built in wifi so you can watch (or show police) videos thru an app on your phone or the Garmin VIRB which as a built in monitor. For zero fuss, the Redeye looks pretty neat since you don’t need to worry about deleting old videos or lots of buttons. Check out DC Rainmaker for impressive in-depth action camera reviews.

          • Thank you! (Can’t seem to reply directly to your suggestions)

  • Slightly off topic, but the part where the driver stopped in the street reminded me of something I am constantly astonished by. I just don’t understand drivers in this area who have a minor accident and just stop IN THE MIDDLE OF F***ING TRAFFIC. Get out of traffic! Your car is not disabled! You or someone else is going to get killed! Use common sense, idiots!

    • Sounds like he pulled into the middle of the street to stop to make it look like the bikers fault.

  • Recently I was parking my car on 11th street. I had my signal on and my reverse lights where on because i had it in reverse. I cyclists then came right behind me even though it was evident that I was trying to park and still kept coming. I didn’t move my car because I was stunned that he didn’t move to the left and go around my car but just yelled at me for being in the bike lane. When I was clearly trying to park.

    • I’m guilty of this as a cyclist. Food for thought: if we ride around your car and move out of the bike line AND then get hit by a car the driver of that car could argue that the we were not in the bike lane and swerved into the car lane recklessly. Biking in the city is difficult and dangerous. Cut us some slack for wishing people didn’t block our “safe” dedicated bike lanes so we don’t have to quickly merge into traffic.

      • Why would you do that? As a driver I have to stop all the time to let someone parallel park. It’s part of driving in the city. As a cyclist I would think you would stop and then continue once the person is safely parked.

        • I don’t yell EVER. I always stop and wait. I get annoyed though. I see other people yell. I get why.

          • you get annoyed bc someone has to park there car? switch to decaf

          • Thanks, I drink tea. Does the fact like a driver I get frustrated when commuted bother you?

          • Anonomnom

            I am a cyclist and I have to disagree with you LA. How else is anyone supposed to park in those spaces without going through the lane? As has been mentioned, that is one of the annoyances with being on a road in a city. Rarely am I on the car side, but that is just simply not their fault.

            Now if they are sitting there with blinkers waiting for someone to enter their car, that’s another story…

          • yes, and try decaf tea

        • The OP did not suggest that cyclist wait but suggest the cyclist “move to the left and go around my car” my response was in regards to that. I stop and wait because I”ll probably get hit trying to merge or swerve away (I’ve had close calls doing just that), so I always stop now.

        • Let’s not pretend like drivers are generally well behaved when they have to stop and wait for someone to parallel park.

          My house is on a one way street with parking on one side and a tight curb on the other. Because it’s right in front of a stop light, and MD drivers are impatient jackholes, I will regularly get cars laying on their horn and trying to squeeze past, often hopping a curb and/or pulling up close behind me so that I can’t back into the open spot and get out of their way.

        • As a driver you never change lanes on a multi-lane street in order to get around someone parallel parking? That’s… Remarkable.

      • See, but you don’t have to quickly merge into traffic and risk your life. You can just stop and wait. Assuming they’ve given you plenty of time to see that they’re about to park, that is. Also, this is why it’s good to check behind you every often so you’re aware of what’s there.

    • If a driver needs to cross into the bike lane to park, I will slow down and either go around safely or just stop. It’s common courtesy. And in this situation, cars have no choice. It’s called sharing the road.

      • Agreed. More frustration when drivers put on their hazards and wait in the middle of a bike lane for parking to open up. Again, I am not an aggressive cyclist, but I see other cyclist shout and get mad. Good. Speak up for those who are too timid.

  • So sorry this happened to you and I hope you find a witness! The 14th street bike lane is a total mess right now, with uneven pavement and construction barriers overlapping the lane, so it doesn’t surprise me that this group of cyclists changed lanes abruptly. So unfair of the cop to cite you based on the flawed testimony of a driver (because they’re never biased when it comes to cyclists…). I hope you recover soon.

  • What about contacting your DC council member? They should have some responsibility in getting the police to stop issues automatic tickets to cyclists.

  • Yep, buy a helmet cam. That was the only thing that saved my wife when she was hit by a car last year. The cop initially blamed my wife, despite it being clearly obvious that she could not have been at fault. Even then, the cops never charged the car driver. At least the drivers insurance company paid up quickly and then raised the drivers insurance rates after seeing the video (the insurance company rep was really pissed/offended that their customer straight up lied to them). The Contour Roam is a reliable, good priced cam, and a lot more aerodynamic on a helmet than a GoPro.
    In response to some of the comments about how to prevent this stuff in the future….. I encourage cyclists to use their mouths like a car horn. When a car starts to drift, a loud yell that can be heard inside a car can often alert the driver to your presence/their behavior. Yes, drivers do not like being yelled at by cyclists, but I’d prefer to be perceived as being rude than to get run over!

    • It’s such a catch-22. I once yelled at a driver that started to pull out of a parallel parking spot way too close in front of me (just a “HEY WATCH OUT!”). He stopped, saved my skin. He then pulled out, floored the gas, roared past me, and cut into the bike lane inches in front of my tire before speeding off with a one-finger wave. I didn’t bite it, but it was a close call. I agree with the above sentiment that people around here need to chill the f out. My yell was the same thing as a car horn. His reaction was pure road rage…

  • Hope you’re ok

  • same exact thing happened to me a few months ago while i was cycling in georgetown. police tried to blame me, too.

  • I have a good cop story:

    I was approaching T st approaching 14th (riding east). I was going super slow bc the light was red and was doored by a cab. My shoulder was sore but that was about it. A bicycle cop was a block behind me and saw the whole thing. The cop asked if I wanted to her to give the cabbie a citation (she sternly told the cabbie that it was entirely his fault). Since I wasn’t hurt and my bike was fine and the cabbie was apologetic, I didn’t see the need for a citation in this instance. However, in thinking about it later, perhaps I should have requested a citation, just in case my shoulder was hurt worse than I thought, or if there was damage to my bicycle that wasn’t apparent.

  • Really sorry to read this. If you can any footage from the street/shop cameras you could make your case. I would recommend go to the shop owners and explain your case and get their buy in. They are not obliged to give you a copy. And if you know any lawyer get their advice. All the best

  • Just now on 4th St SW, a driver began drifting his big blue Cadillac into the bike lane, of course without signaling. I shouted, he stopped, and let me pass.

    A Metro Transit cop was watching the entire thing from his SUV, and told *me* “you have to be careful, man.” Careful, or psychic?

    • gotryit

      Careful. Many times when biking, there are little clues you pick up on from cars nearby.
      For example, a car is slowing approaching an intersection, but has no turn signal on. I predict they may turn right across the bike lane. So I slow down to make sure I can avoid them.
      It sucks, but I’m still alive. I don’t even bother pulling footage of those from the camera anymore.

      • Yup. I like to use the car side mirrors to judge the driver’s hand position. You can tell someone is suddenly going to cut you off before they even start because they start to move their hands on the wheel to a different position.

        Unless of course they have tinted windows in which case you’re pretty well screwed in that respect.

  • I’m sorry this happened to you. I pray it all works out in the end.

  • Please remember that in DC, there is no obligation for a cyclist to a) ride in a bike lane or b) ride on the right-hand side of the road: http://ddot.dc.gov/sites/default/files/dc/sites/ddot/publication/attachments/DC-Bike-Law-Pocket-Guide-Oct2012.pdf. Also look at the Common Enforcement Error on page 18 – a vehicle overtaking a cyclist riding to the right is not at fault pursuant to DC regulations. This little guide, published by WABA, DDOT, and MPD is really helpful in understanding rules for vehicles and cyclists sharing the road.

    • The second sentence should actually say that when a vehicle is overtaking a cyclist riding to the right, the cyclist is not at fault pursuant to DC regulations.

  • Sorry for what happened to you.

    I’ve had a few friends run over in similar incidents: cars changing lanes, turning, using the bike lane, etc. IMHO bike lanes are less safe than taking the lane on a street like 14th (busy, but cars aren’t driving that fast, and lots of lane changes). Flashing headlights and taillights during the day are also a good idea.

    from http://www.bicyclespacedc.com/commuting/:
    “Broken glass, gravel, opening car doors: this is a small sample of the kind of hazards you’ll see at the far edge of the road, so why would you want to ride there? By riding down the center of the lane, not only do you make yourself more visible to motorists, and discourage them from trying to squeeze by you, but you also make a statement: bicyclists belong on the road too.”

  • I would LOVE to be able to bike to work. The uphill ride home is one problem. My biggest fear is being hit.

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