Very Bad Bike Involved Crash at 13th and Florida Ave, NW – Roads Closed

bike crash

A reader reports just after 7am:

“This is the scene at 13th and Florida NW right now. The roads are blocked off and in the intersection there’s a twisted yellow bicycle, a backpack, and what looks like a shirt. There’s a car stopped inside the police tape, too, but I don’t know if it was involved. (I’ve seen some horrible wipe-outs from bikers losing control going down that hill.) I really the biker is okay!”

@DCPoliceTraffic tweeted:

“Update street closures remain in the 1300-1400 blk of Florida Ave NW in both direction pending the investigation”

90 Comment

  • binntp

    Also passed by this scene around 6:30 this morning. Really horrific how mangled the bike was. Fox 5 is calling it a “fatal” accident (no confirmation, just repeating what I saw on their feed). I’ve always worried for cyclists coming south down this hill–because of the grade, it’s harder to come to a stop at that speed, and I’ve seen many just blow through the intersection, as dangerous as that it. Won’t speculate if that was the case here. My condolences to all involved.

    • I ran by at 6 this morning. A cop said the biker was alive but in a coma. Didn’t sound too optimistic though. Hopefully he and fox are wrong…

    • I live at the intersection so I witnessed the immediate aftermath. One thing that is worth noting is it is highly likely that the reason that we are talking about this is because the cyclist was *NOT* wearing a helmet.

      The officers at the scene this morning said the person was in a coma — and they were not responsive at all when they were being loaded onto the back board and into the ambulance.

      • A potentially fatal crash about which we know next to nothing, and y’all are wasting no time saying it must be the victim’s fault. Classy.

  • I heard it may have been auto/bike accident, possibly a taxi

  • DC1

    If I had to guess, the cyclist ran the red light (happens quite a bit at this intersection, because cyclist don’t want to lose the downhill momentum). I’m surprised this doesn’t happen more often at this intersection, I’ve seen plenty of close calls between pedestrians and cyclists refusing to stop.

    I am a cyclist as well and it always sucks reading stuff like this regardless who’s at fault.

    • No one is asking you to guess. Relax.

    • good thing you don’t have to guess. All guessing can do in this situation is cause emotional upset, so please don’t do it.

    • Typical driver behavior: blame the dead cyclist and then claim to be a cyclist yourself.

      • I’m neither a cyclist nor a driver – just a plain ol’ pedestrian! I live on the corner of this intersection and I have to say that yes, many MANY cyclists do blow right through it. But until we have more details about this specific case, it does not good to speculate.

  • That is a bad area indeed. I was in a cab years ago crossing (well in the green) the street when a bike flew out of nowhere and slammed into the back of the cab. Fortunately he was ok, but it was terrifying. Bikers, if you’re going to fly down a hill, make sure you look where you’re going!

    • I’ve seen plenty of biking accidents where cars were at fault: drivers were on their phones, making illegal U-turns or turning without looking. Plenty of times, cabs swing lanes aggressively to pick up a passenger. We can speculate all you want, but we do not know what happened and placing the blame on the biker does absolutely nothing.
      .
      I hope the biker is OK

      • You are also speculating.

      • Unless she’s making it up, Nancy is not speculating since she’s saying what happened to her at this exact location. You on the other hand….

        • Good grief mr./ms. useless! I was just remembering an incident that I still remember all too vividly. Paranoid much?

      • Yeah. Anyone who has ridden a bike in this city–or just walked around with their eyes open–should know that while plenty of cyclists run intersections, even more taxis also do illegal u-turns, merge without looking, stop without signaling, etc. But sure, let’s everyone jump to blaming the victim.

  • Just walked by and the police are still taking photos. There’s a cab within the yellow tape, a small SUV, that has a very large dent in the windshield.

  • I commute through this intersection every day. At the bottom of the hill is a giant unmarked speed bump in the road resulting from a sloppy asphalting job by DDOT. If you’re not ready for it, you will go flying when you hit it. Hope that it wasn’t a contributing factor, because I’ve complained to the city about it multiple times to no avail (of course).

    • Can people lay off the accusatory nature of their posts? Why so much speculation? Someone may have lost his or her life this morning or has had his life altered forever. Give it a second. You have no idea what happened. Show a little respect and compassion. I’m a cyclist and a motorist, and I can say without doubt that I’ve made mistakes doing both. I guess no one else here has.

    • +1 on that bump in the asphalt. It can really throw bikes out of control. It’s super dangerous.

    • The first time I went down that hill, I hit that bump and flew over my handlebars. Fortunately the car behind me had enough room to stop.

    • I got to agree, that bump is insane. And yes, it’s due to a terrible asphalt/pothole filling job by the city. I won’t even ride my Vespa down this anymore because I’m too concerned about losing control on the bumpy pavement. When I see cyclists bombing the hill I just shake my head – it’s not worth it.

  • 9:44 am and it’s still closed. Seems like a serious investigation.

    • Wow. The intersection has been closed for nearly 4 hours now. I know it caused some issues for parents dropping their kids off at the 2 schools this morning but at least now there should be less traffic.

  • I took a fall on the same hill two weeks ago. There are some hidden bumps toward the bottom of the hill. I was avoiding a car that was pulling out of a parking spot, didn’t think he saw me, so I moved towards the center of the road. It’s quite dangerous because the bumps are pretty hidden. This needs to be fixed. I hope the biker pulls through.

  • So terrible. Hope the reports of the cyclist’s death are premature. I don’t understand those suggesting the cyclist blew through a red light going downhill and was hit by cross-traffic. the cyclist could have been going east or west on Florida, and a car racing downhill ran the light, who knows. The rear wheel is taco-ed, which if anything, indicates to me the vehicle struck the cyclist from behind.

    I really hope there are witnesses, because if the cyclist is in a coma or deceased, he won’t be able to give his side of the story, and the driver’s account of the crash will be the only eyewitness testimony.

  • I saw the street blocked off on my way in to work today, and wondered why it was closed. I bike to work, and I take 11th St. because the hill is more moderate further down, and there is less car traffic, so I can’t speak to the conditions on 13th. At any rate, this is sad, and I’ll be thinking of those involved.

    • +100

      This accident is really maddening. Why? There are dedicated bike lanes on BOTH streets that run along 13th: both on 14th and 11th! As a cyclist, it’s frustrating to see other cyclists make illogical choices. Why risk it on 13th, when the city pours money into alternative bike routes?

      • There are a ton of reasons. Maybe he was going somewhere on 13th? I use to live at the top of the hill and would frequently bike down to u street on 13th because it made more sense.

        Also bike lanes arent always better, sometimes there are slower streets with less traffic that dont have lanes.

        Personally I avoid the 14th street bike lanes because they are super dangerous with cars double parked, people walking out into the street midblock or tons of other obstacles.

        • +1 A lot of the bike lanes in the city are traffic slowing devices. They were put in to wide streets on the theory that by making lanes more narrow they slow car traffic. In these cases there was literally no consideration given to whether it’s actually a safe place to bike.

        • 14th is a bear to bike down. It frustrates me to no end that the bike lane just disappears for a few blocks north of U St, but all the double-parked cars and trucks are so dangerous! Drivers pay no heed to throwing open their doors or wandering into the street to get back in their vehicle, and force bikers into the vehicular lanes.
          .
          I both live and work just off 14th and still find it worthwhile to cut over to 15th much of the time.

      • Maybe this person lives at 13th and Clifton? Or works there? Who knows.

        The 14th street lane ends at FL anyway and doesn’t start up again until Columbia so really 15th or 11th are your options (and the 11th street lane does not exist south of Florida, so if you’re transitioning from 14th to 11th street bike lanes or vice versa to do a cross FL Ave commute you have to ride through this very intersection).

        • I live on 13th and Clifton. If I bike; I immediately go on Euclid or Clifton… NOT 13th!

          • What is your point? We don’t know whether this person was riding on 13th or on Florida when the accident occurred. Are you looking for congratulations for your superior choices when someone may well have lost their life?

          • This is not congratulatory. It’s just frustrating+maddening to me that some choices are clearly illogical, but people go ahead anyways.

          • Wow. You know almost nothing about the situation. Not even whether the biker was biking on Florida or 13th. You don’t know his origin or destination. But you are willing to go on the Internet to say that someone who has reportedly died was “clearly illogical” but he went “ahead anyway.” That would be cold even if you knew all the facts.

          • No, @Jo. The message was intended for all the other cyclists reading this comment section– who insist that their 13th Street commute is safe, when all the evidence points otherwise. I am genuinely upset that there was another road fatality a block from my house (I hope that explains why I am ranting)!

      • HaileUnlikely

        “Pours money into…?” Paint is cheap, and there is no evidence that the bike lines made out of paint improve safety at all. The 15th Street cycletrack is a different story and is pretty excellent, but the bike lanes installed by painting a single line up the side of the road cost next to nothing, and while they may actually improve safety, there is not yet any credible evidence that they do, thus I find no basis to call a cyclist’s choice to use the road without the bike lane rather than the road with the bike lane illogical. (I think somebody has to be out of their m*f* mind to ride down that hill, but that’s not responsive to what you said and is another matter altogether.) And hell, we don’t know whether the cyclist was even on 13th or whether the cyclist was on Florida.

        • No, the 15th St. cycletrack isn’t excellent. It is roughly on par with the former share lane on the right and may be more dangerous. I use it daily and have had more close calls with cars turning left illegally or into alleys without stopping for bike traffic than all my close calls combined cycling elsewhere in the city. I also have to avoid pedestrians standing/darting into the cycletrack and on two occasions have had cars come up behind me while in it.

          I use my bike as a primary mode of travel daily and year round. I am glad the city is attempting cycling infrastructure but do not be fooled that the cycletrack or bike lane you are using is somehow safer than simply riding with traffic in the street.

          • Disagree. The 15th St cycle track is excellent. There are always going to be dangerous situations but I feel very safe cycling on 15th st vs other cycle lanes. My daily route is through Q and R.

      • I was riding my bike on 11th street down the hill in the bike lane and a driver going the other way turned left onto Florida and slammed right into me. Bike lanes are nice, but they do not prevent distracted drivers from hitting cyclists.

      • I take 13th St. exclusively to get downtown b/c my job is at 13th and Penn. and 13th actually connects with Kansas (I’m coming from Takoma). I’m not going to go a block further to 14th (which has way too much traffic), or shimmy through several side streets to get to 11th. 13th has hardly any traffic and connects to a bike lane after Logan, and the worst part is this hill. I take it slow and hog the entire lane to avoid the SEVERAL life threatening bumps on the way down the hill.

      • No buses on 13th and traffic is a lot slower due to all the stop signs, which is why I use it instead of 11th or 14th for my bike commute.

      • Bike lanes only give cyclists and drivers a false sense of security. Cyclists can go on any road they want, but should observe the rules of the road like any car. To somehow blame the cyclist by saying he/she should have gone on roads with bike lanes is absurd. As if that would have prevented any issue. Bike lanes are not the solution to bike-car issues. Give me a break.

  • HaileUnlikely

    Washington Post is reporting that the crash occurred at 3 AM. They were also reporting that the cyclist was conscious and breathing. However, the police typically do not keep a road closed for investigation for 7 hours unless a person died or is thought to be in danger of dying. Let’s just hope he makes it and is not permanently disabled.

  • According to WaPo, “the crash happened around 3 a.m. …”, which suggests it wasn’t a morning commute mishap as I think we were assuming.

    • People who work restaurant/service industry jobs may very well be commuting to/from work at 3 am.

      • +1 This is who is most in danger on the roads and most needs better bike infrastructure. I see a ton of service industry people bike commuting at odd hours.
        .
        That, to me, is the most sickening thing about the churches in Shaw opposing bike lanes: They pretend to be the victims, when in fact they are wealth people from the suburbs forcing service workers who can only commute by bike into the street and to their deaths. They think it’s better poor people die than they walk an extra block when they drive into the city for church.

        • Blithe

          I think you’re making a lot of assumptions here…. Rather than let loose with my own set of assumptions, I’ll simply say that different people have different needs, and it is the job of a city to safely accommodate the multiple — sometimes conflicting — needs of its populace.

          • Yes alof of assumptions sure.

            I was at some of those public hearings on the lanes in shaw and (some) church members referred to biking as a hobby or lifestyle choice or spandlex clad etc etc. Biking isnt always a ‘choice’ for many its their only way towards a livelihood.

          • HaileUnlikely

            The people who need to bike from point A to point B for their livelihood have been around forever. The city is very obviously bending over backwards to accommodate the spandex-clad hobbyists. A protected bike lane would do a lot of good. It is unfortunate that the city didn’t put one in a long time ago, before the spandex-clad hobbyists arrived.

          • Spandex clad hobbyists are simply bringing awareness and giving voice to issues that have existed for a long time. As one of this spandex clad hobbyists I could care less if there were bike lanes for my own benefit. Frankly I avoid streets with bike lans because they have a lot of slow bikers and I ride the speed of traffic or faster. The main people who benefit from bike lanes are people who uses bikes out of necessity. And those who ride at odd hours benefit most, because they are at a much higher risk.

          • The city is bending over backward for the hobbyist as evident by the forums, town hall’s and discussions announced on this very site. From their perspective, hobbyist are out on Sunday mornings during church service.

          • Haile, how many spandex clad hobbiest do you honestly see biking around DC? Spandex clad hobbiest tend to go out of the city for long stop-free rides (and maybe Hains Point or Rock Creek). Such a tiny fraction of the people you see riding on city streets.
            .
            You also seem to have only two categories: “need to” bike and hobbyist. But there are those who choose to bike as their transportation but not as a hobby. My bike has been getting me from point A to point B in this city for 10 years. Sure, I *could* buy a car and drive, but that doesn’t make it a hobby. Further, the city (as others are) is actively encouraging people to cycle *as transportation* for reasons entirely unrelated to bending over for hobbyist.
            .
            n.b. I can’t really speak for west of the park. Maybe there are loads of spandex clad hobbiest flooding the streets there and I just don’t know it.

          • HaileUnlikely

            Jo – I follow, and basically agree. I am just saying that the whole hullabaloo about UHOP vs cyclists has the appearance of the city bending over to accommodate the wishes of the young white newcomers, and whether that is what is actually happening or not, sometimes the optics still matter. When I said I wish they put a bike lane in there a long time ago, I sincerely meant it. It would have met a legitimate transportation need then just as much as it would now, and if done 10 years ago, would not have had the appearance of being done for the express purpose of appeasing and attracting the gentrifiers.

        • Clearly making a bunch of assumptions regarding the churches that oppose bike lanes that limit or eliminate their park near their church. For them once they lose their parking, they lose their members and with no membership, they lose their church like church on H St that was just uprooted. Its a rolling effect…

          • Firstly they arent losing “their” parking.

            Second on some of the DDOT alternatives presented we are talking about a small handful of spots.

            VS

            The safety of all users moving through that corridor.

          • As others have said it’s not “their” parking. And I think it’s completely fair to say churches oppose bike lanes because they have no compassion for the poor.

          • HaileUnlikely

            Let’s not get into this here. I’d happily go back and delete my comment above if I could. This is a thread about somebody who is quite possibly no longer with us. Let’s not stray this far from the actual topic.

          • It’s a matter of opinion Ryan. I am not on either side and have no vested interest but I can understand why they feel that way. They are not trying to get caught up in the gentrification/ political tug of war and I can hardly blame them. Often you lose.

        • stay on topic, please. save the church argument for another post

    • Oh that certainly makes the case different. There was so much police activity when I walked by at 8 AM that I assumed it had happened rather recently. 3 AM is dark out but there is plenty of light at that intersection.

  • I walked by at around 9am (roads were closed but they let us use the sidewalk) and while the bike was gone, there was a suv cab within the police tape with, basically, a windshield that was badly smashed where the cyclist likely hit it. Really sad.

  • Scrillin

    I live at the top of the hill, and I drive and walk places about equally.

    It seems like there’s way fewer bikes going down the hill than on 14th or 11th, because it is so ridiculous.

    I have been almost hit many times by people (mostly taxis and ubers) blowing through the red light when they’re on Florida, though.

  • I’ll refrain from speculating as to the causes here, but I will say that generally speaking this intersection is very dangerous for cyclists for two reasons that could easily be fixed.
    .
    First, the bumps in the asphalt. There are two virtually invisible and very large bumps right at the bottom of the hill. They are right in the middle of the street and could easily throw an inexperienced cyclist off their bike or send them flying out of control.
    .
    Second, eastbound cars on Florida turning right on red and northbound cars on 13th turning left often don’t see or underestimate the speed of cyclists coming down the hill. For eastbound traffic on Florida there should be a “no right turn on red” sign. For northbound traffic there should be a left turn arrow so they do not turn when southbound traffic is going. This would be easily accomplished changing only the light fixture because there is already a left turn only lane.

    • Wow. Your suggestions are really, really good. You don’t try to change anybody’s behavior (i.e., tell bikers to go elsewhere) and you’ve offered ideas that could be implemented easily, today, and inexpensively if the city were motivated to change this unsafe intersection. Bravo!

      • Here is the problem: you are relying on the city to fix this! This bumpy road issue was reported to Vision Zero’s website in July 2015 (see comment below).
        The ugly truth is that people have to make decisions for their own well-being, not rely on the city to put more signage, resurfacing projects, red light enforcement, etc.
        Of course, any improvements to the road would be very welcome!

        • Wait what? You want someone to go out there and repave the road themselves? How do you expect someone to do something about “two virtually invisible” bumps when the first time they realize they are there might be when they wipe out? The idea about getting the city to fix it is so that some other person doesn’t get caught unawares.

          • My point: bikes need to avoid this intersection altogether. DPW is not going to save the day. The lesson here is that the city has been ignoring this pavement issue for quite some time — and I wouldn’t bet my life on this 13th Street route… or any route full of holes, bumps, steep downhill grades and traffic.

          • ^sorry, meant DDOT

    • Those seem like excellent suggestions! You ought to consider putting them on the Vision Zero map: http://visionzero.ddot.dc.gov/VisionZero/ DDOT is going to review the suggestions, identify problem areas, and then (hopefully) implement changes.

      • I’ve reported the bumpy asphalt to 311 repeatedly, my requests get “closed” with no action.

        I ride a motorcycle, and have nearly bit it a few times because it’s no safer at slower speeds. I’m small in comparison to both my bike as well as other people who ride, so I don’t have the same body weight to compensate for the rough road, but I can’t be the only person who has this problem.

        • The SeeClickFix 311 reporting system is abysmal. They just closed out hundreds of old tickets in the area I watch even though many/most were still unresolved.

          But I’ve spoken to some of the DDOT transportation planners who will be working on VisionZero implementation and I get the impression that the map I posted will be getting attention from some of the people who can actually get something done.

  • I agree with this bumpy asphalt problem. Crazy! It also causes unsuspecting drivers to swerve to the right, and that poses safety issues with any bikes passing on the shoulder.

  • So how can we help address the issues at this intersection, particularly the bumps in the asphalt, which the comments make clear are a big issue? Emails to WABA? Other ideas?

    • This has already been reported..
      Safety Issue 517
      Safety Issue: Other Biking Issue
      Comment: Southbound 13th street is a VERY rough surface with numerous asphalt heaves. This is a very dangerous intersection for bikers coming down the hill.
      Date Submitted: Jul 01, 2015

      • I’ve reported this a number of times and nothing has been done about it. Plenty of others have as well. Since those 311 records are public when somebody is injured there they should have no trouble at all suing the city.

  • Mustache House* guy checking in. We got woken up by a bit of commotion around 3am.

    From what I could see in the immediate aftermath it really did look like an accident — the cabbie was clearly distraought and stayed on the scene. He was speaking to officers without counsel at 8am when I headed to work.

    I would also echo that that road needs fixing — I get worried about stopping my car going down that hill due to the bumps and the momentum, especially in any kind of incliment weather. They really need to re-bed that road.

    Furthermore, as someone who crosses 13th street at that intersection multiple times a day I will also say it is very hard to judge vehicle speeds on that hill in either direction. Florida Ave also has it’s dangers — not the least of which come from emergency vehicles using it a high-speed cross-town route.

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