Driver Who Caused a Cyclist to Crash and Ran this Morning – “do the decent thing and follow up with the police”

via google maps

A reader shares:

“I would like to send out regarding a auto/bike incident I witnessed this morning:

To the woman driving down New Hampshire Ave in the left lane around 8:35 am who suddenly decided to make a right turn, with no turn signal, onto Oneida St NE, cutting directly in front of a biker in the right lane and causing him to crash, then driving away (after pausing therefore acknowledging what happened), I got your license plate number and a picture of your vehicle and have turned it over to the police. Please do the decent thing and follow up with the police so you can help pay for that poor biker’s broken collar bone and various other injuries.”

61 Comment

  • I doubt they read this blog. Hope the cyclist recovers quickly and the police take care of things!

    Thanks for getting the car info – you’re my “Rave” of the day!

  • Ouch. Nice job Samaritan. Lets hope the police follow through and treat it as a hit and run.

    • justinbc

      How would that be a hit and run if no contact was made?

      • Directly causing a crash in which you are not actually involved is just as illegal as hitting someone.
        And why would you even question this? This makes me so angry. Only a completely entitled, self-absorbed a-hole would think this is remotely okay. Anyone with an iota of human empathy would know you are both morally and legally obligated to stop here. You are part of the problem. Stop it.

        • WOW. Asking how something could be considered a hit & run if there was no contact =/= victim blaming. No where in his comment did he say it was OK. Check your attitude at the bike rack.

        • lol, you must be new here – this Justin fella is a known entity, if you will

          • …Are you actually agreeing with really? Cause…really.

          • Regardless of whether or not I agree with his particular opinion, Justin often comes off as self-absorbed and tone deaf. I won’t comment on the semantics of what charge fits best.

        • For some reason I think you were already angry.

        • Moral outrage aside, your assertions of legal facts are not correct. The relevant law pertains specifically to operators of vehicles that are involved in collisions with other vehicles, persons, or property, and the DC Code defines the term “collision” very specifically.

          • You can be civilly liable for basically anything. That wasn’t the issue under debate here, though. Hit and run is a criminal offense, but this does not meet the legal definition of hit and run. There is not really any debate to be had on that one, as the hit and run statute is very specific.

        • justinbc

          Of course you’re obligated to stop. That doesn’t make it a hit and run. You seem to lack the concept of middle ground, perhaps some coffee would help with your growing tension.

          • You are obligated to stop because if you don’t it’s a hit and run.
            And what kind of person reads this post and thinks: “hey, you know who I think people need to sympathize with more? The idiot who made a right turn from the left lane and broke a biker’s collar bone. With all the support bikers get in DC, I better support the a-hole driving a 4,000 lb death machine. They’re the real underdog here.”

          • I for one certainly sympathize with the cyclist and not with the driver, but it is factually wrong that this is a hit and run. There is a legal definition of hit and run, and this falls outside of that definition.

          • Agreed, Anon4This.

          • justinbc

            I honestly don’t think you have a firm grasp on conversation skills, at least not as they apply to online discourse. I don’t know how you read the sentence “How would that be a hit and run if no contact was made?” as siding with the driver, rather than trying to factually establish what the charges against the driver could potentially be. As Anon4This has repeatedly pointed out, your understanding of the charges for hit and run are just patently incorrect, which is what I was pointing out to begin with. I am on the side of logic, not biased to bikers, drivers, pedestrians, or Canadian geese.

          • Hey legal eagle, you may be surprised to know that you can be liable for “causing” an injury via your motor vehicle without literally making contact with the person/bike/car/property that you harmed. Liability isn’t predicated on an actual collision. And liability for leaving the scene of an accident that your actions caused doesn’t require an actual collision either. But stay vigilant for these poor, defenseless cars on the road — they’re being put at such great risk by these pesky cyclists!!

          • You can be civilly liable for basically anything. That wasn’t the issue under debate here, though. Hit and run is a criminal offense, but this does not meet the legal definition of hit and run. There is not really any debate to be had on that one, as the hit and run statute is very specific.

          • justinbc

            He doesn’t get it. He just wants to be angry. Let him roar on.

  • Hmm. Even if there is a witness who has a license plate number, isn’t it true the MPD can’t do anything? I feel like I’ve heard of something ridiculous like this where the police can’t charge anyone unless they saw it themselves. PoP had a story a while back about a woman who had a camera on her car and recorded a maniac aggressively driving around her- the police said, sorry, but we didn’t see it, so we can’t do anything about it…

    • Sounds like lazy police work. So, yes, probably true for MPD.

      • It was explained that MPD cannot do anything since they have no proof of who was driving the vehicle. Video of the license plate would not show the driver clearly.

        • I thought certain moving violations attached to the car, not the driver. Which is why we have speed camera and red light cameras, and there’s no wiggling out of those tickets with an “I wasn’t driving” excuse. I wonder if a mythical MPD officer (a kindly hard working creative one) could fine the car for this.

          • HaileUnlikely

            A speeding/red light camera ticket from a camera is a fundamentally different thing than a speeding or signal violation ticket from a real live police officer – the former is $$$ only (no points on license) and is basically equivalent to a parking ticket, whereas a ticket from an officer is a moving violation and points are assessed against the driver’s license.
            The problem that we have in this situation is that the contribution of the driver’s actions to the bicyclist’s crash is unknown and unknowable. It’s easy to take pictures of people’s cars and license plates, and taking a picture of a car and a license plate doesn’t constitute evidence that the car/driver “caused” a crash any more than my taking a picture of your face and telling a police officer that the person in this photo attacked me constitutes evidence that you attacked me. If the OP had video of the crash there would arguably be much stronger evidence, though legally I’m still not sure if it would change anything from a legal standpoint.

          • @HaileUnlikely, the evidence here is the statement from the witness about the driving behavior that this good Samaritan observed. The driver’s behavior is not “unknown/unknowable;” it is known through the witness.

          • HaileUnlikely

            It’s more complicated than that.

          • HaileUnlikely

            Accidentally posted too soon. Witnesses observed that the driver cut across the lane, and the witness observed that the bicyclist fell. The inference that the cyclist fell because of what the driver did is about as reasonable as it gets, but it is extraordinarily difficult to legally prove it in a way that yield would yield a favorable legal outcome for the cyclist. It is absurdly difficult for a cyclist to recover against a driver even when there is contact. In a case when there is no contact between the motor vehicle and the bicycle, it is even more difficult. I am not trying to defend the driver here by any means, my only intent here is to point out that the deck is really stacked against the cyclist in this situation, because DC’s laws area already stacked in favor of motorists in collisions with cyclists, and because it is much much harder to recover in a non-collision than in a collision.

          • You may be right that the deck is stacked against cyclists because reality is unfair, more jurors are drivers, etc. But as a purely legal matter, given the witness’s testimony about what he observed and the biker’s testimony that avoiding the car did indeed cause him to fall, that should be plenty for a jury to conclude that the car more likely than not caused the fall.

        • Re “the police can’t do anything.” They can’t just pop a ticket in the mail. But, like with any crime, they could investigate and see if they can determine who was driving the car (although there may be a policy no to). It’s just for most traffic violations that would be a ridiculously inefficient use of police resources. Where someone is killed or seriously hurt, it makes sense (and there are likely more serious crimes involved).

    • This cannot be true. If there are witnesses who can testify that it happened, they should not have any obstacles to charging her for whatever laws she broke.

      • Well, look at kken’s story below- looks like he had witnesses, and the police declined to do anything since they didn’t see it themselves. As a biker myself, I’ve taken note.

    • I think (hope) the difference in that case was there was no injury/damages resulting from the incident. I am no lawyer but would think that since body and property were injured here that there are legal grounds for following up. Otherwise, ‘Oh, sorry you were murdered… the cops didn’t see it happen so therefore the killer can’t be charged…’

    • Sorry, but for most misdemeanors, MPD needs to see it themselves. They can accept witness accounts only in felonies (and about 10 or 12 misdemeanors — the list changes).

      Regarding a hit and run, it needs to result in personal injury or significant property damage for MPD to follow up. And yes, they need positive identification of the driver (not just the vehicle) or they won’t do anything. For some reason, vehicle ID only counts in traffic camera tickets. : /

      • Well, it appears the OP can positively ID the female driver. They witnessed both the car and driver.
        That will be important when the cyclist makes an insurance claim. Deductibles are expensive and the cyclist should be paying nothing out-of-pocket.

        • This is an interesting thread. OP – can you positively identify the driver from a lineup if MPD were to bring her in? Assuming, that is, that an accident resulting in personal injury is motivation enough to bring in the suspect for questioning.

    • Even if the MPD does not get involved, the biker still has civil remedies. Seems like textbook negligence. Would not be surprised if there were lawyers in DC with experience representing bikers

  • It’s just sad this sort of thing isn’t uncommon. I was at a 4 way stop yesterday afternoon on my bike and I had stopped and a car that was approaching from another direction saw that I was about to go and decided to make it a rolling stop and would have hit me if I hadn’t noticed and come to a complete stop right before they sped in front of me.

  • Thanks to your vigilance. Just this morning I was nearly doored twice within four blocks on 14th St NW (biking south) and then nearly T’ed crossing Rhode Is. Something in the water in the USA.

    • I saw a cyclist (guy on a single speed) nearly get taken out by a Rav4 this morning at 14th and Rhode Island. I was on my bike in the far right southbound lane waiting for the light to turn green on RI Ave… saw a guy riding on the left side of southbound traffic make a quick left at the intersection (in the crosswalk) as a car was starting to make a right turn. Luckily the driver reacted quickly enough to avoid hitting the cyclist. IMO and as a fellow cyclists, I think the guy on the bike would have been faulted if there had indeed been a collision.

      • I sometimes use crosswalks to make left turns, but only from the far right, at slow speed, and basically mimicking a pedestrian in the cross walk. The move you mentioned is dangerous. Good to be predictable. That off my chest, I’m not sure what this has to do with this thread.

    • I commented about this earlier: I truly believe these drivers are annoyed by the presence of bikers and pedestrians. I believe they perceive us as “in their way” and that we inconvenience them unfairly when we expect them to watch out for us. Two weeks after I was hit I saw a biker get nicked and the same driver nearly got me and the dogs I was walking. We – the biker, me and the 2 dogs – were all in the crosswalk at the same time and already halfway across when the driver just decided he didn’t GAF about slowing let alone stopping. This city has a huge problem with concern for others. The basic universal edicts to love thy neighbor, treat others are you want to be treated, and other such adages are either no longer taught or are treated as so much pish posh. It makes me sad, frankly.

  • Prompts to the original poster for reporting this lady to the police. There is no apathy in this town for others.

  • Good luck on having MPD do anything for the cyclist. This exact same situation happened to me last August… lady pulled out in front of me by the Mall, I swerved and went over my handlebars and broke my collarbone. Some nice pedestrians helped me to the side and one gave me the license plate and make/model of car. When I talked with the police, they said they couldn’t do anything because 1. there wasn’t a collision and 2. they did not witness it.

    • But is there no way to find out who the person is to get their insurance? Or does insurance not want a part of this either?

      • File a civil suit!!!

      • No way to tell who was driving. Witnesses didn’t seem to catch it. The car owner should be civilly responsible even if they can’t charge for a crime.
        For the op, if he can give a description of the woman, then they should pursue criminally. Leaving the scene of an accident even if she wasn’t at fault (obviously she was, just saying) is a crime.

  • Hopefully the MPD will write up a report of the incident and include a statement from the witness that includes the make/model/license plate/description of driver of the vehicle, and hopefully the cyclist will get a copy. The cyclist’s health insurance company would likely be interested in that. MPD isn’t going to go after the driver though, and without a police report of the incident, they wouldn’t have anything useful to work with. I’m honestly not sure how much they have even with the police report and witness statement. When a driver (or for that matter cyclist) crashes while making a successful attempt to avoid contact with another vehicle, and the other vehicle leaves the scene, the other vehicle is typically referred to in the police report as a “phantom vehicle,” i.e., a vehicle that was allegedly present and allegedly did something that allegedly caused the driver who ultimately crashed to do something that allegedly led to the crash. It is extraordinarily difficult to pin culpability on a driver/vehicle that did not make contact with any other vehicle or person in a crash.

  • Bless that person who got the details and reported this to the police! We pedestrians and bikers are fed up putting our lives on the line for drivers who are too annoyed by our presence to follow the law! I was mowed down 3 weeks ago in a pedestrian crossing that had signs ordering vehicles to stop. That driver who ran me down did stop (I believe bc she realized she was surrounded by witnesses who were already stopping for me) but she refused to acknowledge me. We shouldn’t have to almost die just to get around this town! I thank God I am well with no broken bones. Others are not so lucky.

Comments are closed.