Cyclist struck at 11th and U St, NW

by Prince Of Petworth February 28, 2012 at 9:22 am 154 Comments

Photo by PoPville flickr user JamesRWarner

A reader writes:

“I was riding the 90 bus this morning and around 9:00am, as we approached the intersection of 11th and U streets, there was a cyclist on the ground, who appeared to have been hit by a car. Ambulance and police were on the scene.”

@DCPoliceDept tweets:

“Pedestrian Struck 11th and U St NW Street Closures”

  • anonymous

    11th street has that great cycle track until you pass Rhode Island, where it vanishes, not to reappear until Florida Avenue. That half mile is a bit dangerous

  • gonzodc

    1. Hope they are alright.
    2. I live right there an have almost killed a few cyclists myself. While we don’t know what happened here, everyone needs to recognize four-way stops/stoplights, especially during rush hour.

  • They have the street blocked off–a disturbing thing to come across. The bike is just mangled. I hope everyone is ok. I just posted a photo to the PoP Flickr pool.

  • Passerby

    I rolled up on 11th slightly before 9AM and got there after the crash/ before the EMTs. It appears that the cyclist was either on U st heading west or was heading south on 11th st and took right on U st. Either way, he was struck and run over by a large flat bed truck. You can see where it happened because his pedals are on the corner and his body is about 20 feet away. While I was there, he was completely unresponsive and looked pretty crumpled. It appeared he was breathing. Hoping he pulls through.

    Side note- he was on a Bikeshare bike.

  • anonymous

    I saw the immediate aftermath of a pedestrian being struck on my walk home from work yesterday near the corner of New Jersey and Mass Ave, NW – near Georgetown Law school. They were working on the victim in the ambulance. I really hope she was okay. The girl who hit the pedestrian was still there and very upset. Anyone know this incident/if the victim is okay?

  • Paul

    I passed through at about 8:50 before EMS arrived. Based on how severely the bike was mangled, this may have been a broadside collision from a vehicle heading west on U. Because it was a CaBi, the chances of the rider having worn a helmet are very low. Very bad scene.

  • anonymous

    My worst nightmare. I always heave a little sigh of relief when I make it safely to work and home on my bike. DC has gotten better for bikers but it still has the most selfish drivers, pedestrians and bikers I have ever seen in my life.

    Thinking good thoughts that this cyclist makes it and will be okay!!

  • Tim

    I saw this first hand. The truck turned westbound on U St. into the cyclist’s path, they collided and the cyclist went down. because the truck bumper is so high off the ground, the cyclist just goes under the truck and gets dragged, rolled and run over by all three axles. the truck is bouncing around noticeably but the driver doesn’t stop until waived down a good 30 ft later. it was an awful slow motion scene of violence. absolutely brutal. the cyclist was conscious and audible when being loaded into the ambulance – let’s hope he’s okay. Thanks to citizens rushing to and staying on the scene – response was quick and the police did a good job controlling the situation and taking statements.

    • Ben

      Holy that sounds horrible.

    • fixit

      so the cyclist was heading south on 11th, and the truck north on 11th – then turned left onto U st?

    • dat

      Wow, that is terrible. I hope he/she is OK.

    • That sounds horrific.

      Hoping the cyclist makes it.

    • jay

      Tim — would you have been able to tell if the truck was making a right on red, or if the light was green?

    • Bruce Deming

      Tim: We spoke last week on the phone. My investigator, Nick, has been leaving you messages in order to obtain a written statement from you and your wife. Can you please give me a call to arrange a convenient time and place to meet? It’s extremely important for th reasons I mention when we spoke. Thank you. You can reach me at (703) 447-0267.

  • Kristin

    I really hope that cyclist was wearing a helmet. Unlikely though, considering most CaBi riders I see are not wearing helmets.

    • Anonymous

      neither do pedestrians and they get hit by cars too.

      • Lauren

        Pedestrians don’t wear helmets because they aren’t traveling at high speeds in extremely close proximity to cars as bikes do!

        • Anonymous

          traveling at high speed? have you actually ridden a bike share bike?
          your sense of importance of a helmet is misplaced. a helmet would not have prevented a bike from getting hit. and most people do not fall on their heads from a bike accident. they injure their knees hands and wrists most often.

          • dat

            Don’t be stupid. 11th street is a huge hill. Its easy to get going 20mph + and yes, cyclists are much closer to vehicular traffic than pedestrians (within 3 feet if they’re in the bike lane).

            As for helmets — I’ve been hit once and I am incredibly grateful for my helmet. I got hit by a driver who ran a red light and proceeded into the crosswalk while I was crossing. I was knocked to the ground and my head smacked into the pavement. If I had not been wearing my helmet, I would have likely cracked my skull and ended up with a bad concussion, if not worse.

            Certainly a helmet will not help in every situation, but their net benefit can not be legitimately disputed.

          • Anonymous

            wow, it’s funny to watch you justify your non-helmet habit. the fact is that helmets save lives. and the law, which states you must wear a helmet, is meant to help save people like you from yourself. you know, not that long ago people used to justify not wearing seat belts too, but anybody with with an ounce of reason wears them now.

            whether this person was wearing a helmet or not, this is a horrible event and I hope they make a full and speedy recovery. my thoughts are with them and their friends and family.

          • Anonymous

            Of course it doesn’t prevent you from getting hit, that’s not a helmet’s purpose. It’s there to keep your head from being squashed like a cantaloupe. I was doored a few months ago and ended up falling from my bike and skidding along the road. The back of my helmet ended up with a huge crack in it, a crack which undoubtedly would have been in my skull had I not been wearing a helmet.

          • Anonymous

            I didn’t say i don’t wear a helmet. i’m saying that it’s not the most important thing to be concerned about.

            “were they wearing a helmet?” is THE most asked question when a biker gets in an accident. it’s patronizing as hell and just puts the blame on the injured. it’s ridiculous to approach the conversation about an accident with helmet jibber jabber

          • Anonymous

            “and the law, which states you must wear a helmet, is meant to help save people like you from yourself.”

            Try again. Helmets are not required by law in DC for anyone over the age of 16. Link to text of regulation: http://bit.ly/xeOM31

            We can have a healthy normative debate over the importance of helmets without injecting faulty positive claims.

          • Denizen of Tenallytown

            it’s patronizing as hell and just puts the blame on the injured.

            If you are riding a bike without a helmet, you are a moron. There is no reason to not wear a helmet, including messing up your hair, having to carry it with you after locking up your bike, only taking a quick ride down the block, or not wanting to pay for one.

            If you are hit by somebody, it may not be your fault. If you are hit by somebody while not wearing a helmet, it is your fault you were not wearing a helmet… and you are a moron.

          • Anonymous

            Denizen of Tenallytown,

            thank you for taking the high road and not participating in the patronizing game.

    • Scoot

      If you get run over by an enormous flatbed truck it’s probably unlikely that a helmet will do much good. The bike is made from pretty strong metal and look how mangled it is. Most helmets are made from thin plastic and styrofoam.

      • EdH

        Anonymous, there is no helmet law in D.C. for bike riders if the rider is over 16 years old.

      • Anonymous

        there is an article about helmets in the city paper a few years back where a woman was hit by a city bus, and yes, her helmet saved her life.

        • A helmet is not a save-all panacea, repeat, a helmet will do nothing to help a cyclist run down by a truck hundreds of times more massive than the cyclist. Only in such instances where the top of the head is struck or strikes something does a helmet do much good. in my bike accident, for example, my head never touched the ground or anything else (and yes, I was wearing a helmet). Walked away with a broken collarbone and significant bruising up and down my left side. It’s infuriatingly patronizing that the knee-jerk reaction of anti-bike folks is to immediately ask WAS HE WEARING A HELMET as if a NO answer should be folllowed with WELL HE DESERVED IT THEN!

  • Craig

    Tim, so was the cyclist going down 11th or west on U?

    • Tim

      @Craig – I can’t be sure where the cyclist was heading but he definitely went under the front wheels and the truck was well into the right turn when it struck. from the geometry of the scene, it seems unlikely that the cyclist would have been running the light westbound straight across U st. or also turning right from 11th onto U paralleling the truck – unless the truck over took him in mid turn. this seems like a textbook front-bumper clip – the truck bumper probably took out his rear wheel, bike went down and truck kept going. he was not wearing a helmet.

      • Anonymous

        Sounds like a right hook? :( WE NEED BETTER DEFENSIVE BIKE RIDING EDUCATION IN THIS CITY!! my fellow bikers, NEVER ride up on the right of a car at an intersection … much less a truck! (note: I am not saying that cars don’t need to be careful. it’s just that bikers must bike defensively too.)

        • another guy named chris

          excellent point, this nearly happened to me the other day. You cannot rely on a motorist to signal properly, it’s not safe.

        • dj

          So biking defensively means you must expect people to break the law? And if you bike as though you have the right of way when you *actually do*, you’re blamed for not “biking defensively”?

          What kind of screwed up logic is that? How about we put blame on the driver of the big vehicle that broke the law who was so oblivious to his surroundings that someone had to flag him down after he ran over someone?

          • “So biking defensively means you must expect people to break the law?”

            Yes – that’s the general principle. Biking or driving defensively means that you treat other cyclists or drivers as though they could make a mistake that might put you in danger at any time. But by advising people to bike defensively, no one is trying to lay out a case that the cyclist was at fault. You’re conflating two separate issues.

          • Anonymous

            it’s not about right or wrong, its just about being safe. no one wants to be in the situation shawn was in. no one wants to get hurt. and none of us are going to get everyone else to drive ( or bike) safely. all we can do is try our best to protect ourselves. thats the principle of defensive driving and defensive biking. fault is irrelevant in the moment of an accident.

  • Was the truck turrning westbound on U from the South or the North..i.e, what direction was the truck traveling before it turned?

    • Tim

      @joker – the truck was traveling southbound on 11th and was making a westbound turn onto U St. I was in the car directly behind the truck – there were quite a few cyclists on 11th and I don’t know where the struck cyclist was coming from/going to. we were both stopped at the light at U headed southbound on 11th. I think – but don’t know for sure – that the cyclist was probably continuing to head south on 11th to the right of the truck cab and was probably too close for the driver to see because the cab is high off the ground, the truck’s hood is big and there’s just no line of sight to the three feet immediately in front of the truck. don’t know if the truck had those fish-eye mirrors on the corners…

      • dat

        this seems like a textbook example of why it is often safest for cyclists to TAKE THE LANE.

        Of course, this has the effect of INFURIATING drivers in this city, who will do everything possible to gun it to get around you and then slam on their brakes at the next light 25 feet ahead… wasting their gas and not saving any actual time, since cyclists can travel as fast or faster than cars almost anywhere in this city.

        • Yes to TAKE THE LANE, especially on this part of 11th where the bike lane disappears and the lane gets thinner. There is a stop sign every block between Florida and U st here.

          • Anonymous

            yes, take the lane, but do it BEFORE THE INTERSECTION so you don’t risk the right hook. this actually is starting to sound almost exactly like Alice Swanson — red light, truck stopped, biker rides up to the right, and gets right-hooked when light turns green just as he/she arrives at intersection. :(

  • Scary stuff… hope the cyclist is okay. Just a reminder to everyone who uses Capital Bikeshare (and others who bike): I know it’s not easy/convenient/cool to carry a helmet with you, but please wear a helmet!

    • Anonymous

      i agree, but a helmet will only get you so far when you get creamed by a truck. you must also learn to bike defensively.

      • cristi

        And vehicles must learn to not hit people.

  • jen

    traffic is a mess on u st due to this accident.
    just drove by..hope biker is ok!

  • Terrible! I ride through that intersection every day. The bike lanes on 11th Street really need to be continuous, though it may not have helped in this case. Whether or not the cyclist was wearing a helmet is pretty irrelevant when you’re hit and actually run over by a large truck. I wear a helmet but they’re not magical force fields and only protect against very specific types of head injuries. When I was doored years ago, my helmet didn’t prevent my broken collarbone, which bothers me to this day. The unfortunate victim in this case sounds horribly injured or maimed and I hope he’s been stabilized and going to survive at least. Ugh, not good.

    • dan

      I am amazed how many people here claim wearing a helmet is irrelevant when getting hit by a truck/car/whatever.

      If this poor guy’s head wasn’t run over–and it sounds like it wasn’t, because he is still alive–a helmet would have protected his skull as the two additional axles rolled over him and his body slammed repeatedly into the pavement for 30 feet.

  • anon

    i cant tell you how many times i had to swerve from cars who dont check their blind spots for bikes and simply turn into my lane.

    main problem is that drivers in this area are horrible drivers. its amazing how bad they are. i really wonder how they make it so easy to operate a machine which can kill. then add the cell phone convo into the mix and some txting.

    • +1

      • Anonymous

        I think there’s always two sides to this. As a biker, I see other bikers who blow through stop signs, red lights, etc. and make it dangerous for other bikers, pedestrians and drivers. Drivers can obviously be at fault too. Everyone would be better served by using a little more caution.

        • Anonymous

          Are those bikers operating 2-ton cars?

          • No, but they’re operating vehicles on the street that interact with cars, so it would behoove them to be careful and obey all laws. Obviously, that goes for drivers as well. No one knows who was at fault (if anyone was), so trying to assign blame is useless.

          • Mire

            No they aren’t, they’re riding within inches of them.

    • Anonymous

      Agree that there are many, many drivers who turn into bike lanes without looking or disregard bike lanes in general. But there is no bike lane on this stretch of 11th. There is a bike lane on 11th north of Florida and south of RI, which means lots of bikers on the very narrow, busy strecth of 11th street that runs between Florida and S without a dedicated lane. I have often thought to myself that it is a dangerous stretch for bikers.

      Drivers need to be more aware of checking for bikers when making turns, but I also think bikers just need to be aware that the blind spot for a bike is much bigger than for a car. I always look over my shoulder when turning right accross a bike lane, but even after doing that I sometimes need to brake suddenly for a bike that seems to appear out of nowhere.

      Overall, this just sounds like a horrible, horrible accident. I truly hope the biker survives and is somehow alright.

      • Anonymous


      • 11th

        i concur with this as a biker and driver. i try not to ride on 11th south of florida because it just doesn’t feel safe. i spent two years living in the Mekong Delta and biked everywhere and saw more brain on the pavement than i really want to think about. i still always signal every turn and check over my shoulders for a left or a right turn to check for a whizzing motorbike coming close. you have to be defensive. but there’s no 100% guarantee of being safe. hope this person comes through OK.

    • Suz

      Agree that there are many, many drivers who turn into bike lanes without looking or disregard bike lanes in general. But there is no bike lane on this stretch of 11th. There is a bike lane on 11th north of Florida and south of RI, which means lots of bikers on the very narrow, busy strecth of 11th street that runs between Florida and S without a dedicated lane. I have often thought to myself that it is a dangerous stretch for bikers.

      Drivers need to be more aware of checking for bikers when making turns, but I also think bikers just need to be aware that the blind spot for a bike is much bigger than for a car. I always look over my shoulder when turning right accross a bike lane, but even after doing that I sometimes need to brake suddenly for a bike that seems to appear out of nowhere.

      Overall, this just sounds like a horrible, horrible accident. I truly hope the biker survives and is somehow alright.

      • kk

        +1 This is a horrible situation and I hope both parties are alright, the biker physically and the driver emotionally. Regardless of “fault”.

    • Another problem: Un-helmeted cyclists who check their cell phones while riding their bikes (seen it with my own eyes). Cyclists need to signal, and check THEIR blind spots, too.

      Road communication is a two way street.

    • Anonymous

      how does one check a blind spot?

      • Axe

        Driver’s Exam: Failed.

        Hint: most people turn their head.

      • OldTimer

        slow down, take your time, turn your head to actually look if someone is beside you

  • anon

    every driver should be required to take a bicycle rider awareness course.

    • Let’s not turn this into a generalization about bad drivers. For every two drivers (probably) that I see make a foolish or dangerous decision on the roads, I see one bicyclist to the same. I have no idea what happened here, but I’ve seen plenty of cyclists put themselves in very dangerous positions around this town. I really wish the city was more proactive about ticketing drivers and cyclists for their conduct.

    • An

      Evwey biker should be made to take a class on sharing the road with other vehicles.

      This is a horrible accident and I really hope the biker is ok. By no means does this mean that te car drivers are just horrible and bikers are Angels from heaven. I have seen more bad bikers than bad drivers even though there are a lot more cars on dc roads.

      • Anonymous

        Again, there is a difference of 2 tons of metal.

      • dat

        I’ve never seen a bad biker kill anyone…

        I’ve seen bad drivers kill many a cyclist…

        • That line of reasoning makes no sense. On the city streets, bikes and cars interact, so actions by either one could cause accidents or fatalities.

        • anonymous

          People as so narrow minded and lets not even talk about lack of objectivity… Both drivers and cyclists need to be as careful as the other. If you sit on 14th and U for lets say 10 minutes and see how many cars run a red light and how many cyclists do most likely you will see the ration be at least 10 to 1 cyclists running the lights. What kind of arguement is it that because cyclist ride on a light vehicle compared to drivers they don”t have to follow the law? The other day I saw a car having to swirve into incoming traffic to avoid a cyclists who ran a red light; what is a car carrying kids on their way to school was incoming and hit by that car trying to avoid hitting the cyclist? From the reports this guy ignored a red light so he has no one to blame but himself.

      • MyRabbitEars

        FWIW, when my wife got her license a couple years ago (she’d never needed one before coming to the US – I’m not marrying 16 year olds…), there were questions about giving right of way to cyclists and that sort of thing in the book for the written test. I was pleased to see that. Maybe it’s a DC thing?

        It also noted that cyclists can often go the same speed as cars – I was pleased to see – suggesting that drivers shouldn’t automatically assume that cyclists are going ‘slow’ when stuck behind one or when judging whether there is time to make a turn across a cyclists’ path. It said something like, “a fit cyclist may be able to easily exceed speeds of 30 miles per hour” – something that many drivers don’t seem to realize.

    • Sue

      As a responsible driver I would love some public education about how to safely share the road with cyclists, especially since there are more of them now.
      Saying “share the road” doesn’t help, if there’s no information about how to do it.

      And likewise, cyclists should get education about how to safely share the road with cars.

  • KellyClarkson

    Hey all you helmet afficionados – a helmet WOULD NOT HAVE HELPED IN THIS CASE! Just sayin…

    • anonymous

      So what’s your point? That bikers shouldn’t wear a helmet b/c it “WOULD NOT HAVE HELPED IN THIS CASE!” That’s really brilliant.

      • Anonymous

        nope. not the point.

      • KellyClarkson

        No, not the point. The point is when a truck runs over you and mangles you, don’t bring up a helmet as some sort of a panacea that could have somehow helped you in this case. Wear one but don’t expect invincibility. Just like you should always wear seatbelts but they wont save you when you run into a concrete wall at 50mph.

      • dan

        How do you know?

        None of the articles I’ve read about this state whether or not the bicyclist suffered brain damage from being run over and dragged for thirty feet.

        Of course a helmet doesn’t protect the rest of you from getting mangled, but do you really think he did not hit his head at all in the accident?

    • Anonymous

      fucking exactly.

    • For one, you can’t definitively say that a helmet wouldn’t have helped here (it would have been at least one extra layer of protection). For another, why fucking risk it by not wearing a helmet? It’s certainly not going to hurt, and in many many cases, it can save your life. It’s not only Capital Bikeshare riders that are guilty of not wearing helmets, but it does seem to be especially endemic among them.

      • Anonymous

        i also love suggesting to injured people what they should have done.

        • I wish all of the best for the cyclist and hope he makes a full recovery. I certainly don’t wish to imply that wearing a helmet alone would’ve prevented this accident. But I do think this is a good opportunity to remind the non-injured (I hope) cyclists who may be reading this comment thread that wearing a helmet could save their lives. We all make mistakes sometimes, biking, driving, or walking, and having a little extra protection for when those mistakes happen is worth it.

          • Cyclists and pedestrians should be able to travel around the city without wearing full body armor, you know? Why stop at demanding all cyclists wear helmets at all times, how about elbow and knee pads, too? Kevlar boots would protect the feet? Pedestrians should wear such attire when crossing the street, too. I wear a helmet, but I don’t think the punishment for not wearing one should be injury or death. Trucks have to stop right-hooking cyclists, that’s the answer here!

      • KellyClarkson

        Claire – after looking at the accident scene and the fact that a box truck was involved, I can say unequivocally and without any reservation of any kind that a helmet would have done absolutely nothing to protect the rider. Zero, zip, zilch, nada. Im surprised the rider was still breathing and best wishes for a speedy recovery. Did you not take physics in high school?

        • cristovao

          so what exactly is your point again? If a helmet didn’t help in this case, are you saying you should not wear one? It probably did not matter in this case, but to think that is a reason you shouldn’t wear a helmet is daft to say the least. The fact that it bothers you that people bring up helmets is another topic entirely that really shouldn’t make that big of a difference to you. You really can’t argue that you are just as safe without a helmet as you are with one (even if it did not help here) so just let it go.

          • KellyClarkson

            I’m saying don’t say stupid shit like ‘I hope they were wearing a helmet’. That’s my only point here, hindsight 20/20.

      • Anonymous

        most likely because they don’t own a bike….

  • BWS

    I ride south on 11th through this intersection everyday. I saw the aftermath of this accident this morning. It is hard to tell which direction the cyclist was going, but it looks like he was going south, but in the crosswalk. If the truck was turning right on U St, from southbound 11th, it is quite feasible the cyclist squeaked into the crosswalk while the truck was turning. I see less experienced riders do that all the time at this intersection. There is not a lot of room for bikes, but the sidewalk is never a good option for a fast moving vehicle (bike, moped, segway, etc.) I always get in front of all cars at this intersection to avoid any type of accident that may occur. I at least know I am not in a blind spot. Be safe people. Wear your helmet. Ride smart.

    • Anonymous

      If you didn’t see what happened, I don’t think now is a time to be blaming the cyclist. You do not know him, his experience level, or his biking style. The bike could have been flung anywhere after the accident. Even into the crosswalk.

      • Tim

        I don’t understand what this has to do with anything. if the cyclist was in the crosswalk, the driver should be even more conscious of the cyclist’s location then if he was jetting by in the car lane. the lines of the cross walk are painted on the road to show non-car traffic where to cross and car traffic where to be extra cautious looking out for anyone. the lines are saying “people could be here – watch out!” It’s bad enough when a driver doesn’t see someone – regardless of their mode of transport – in their very near vicinity. Its’ far, far worse when they don’t in cross walks. As others have said, if you are in control of a multi-ton vehicle in the near vicinity of other people, you are responsible for controlling that vehicle. Period.

        • BWS

          Tim – of course the driver should be more aware of people in the crosswalk. No doubt about it. However, based on my experience at this intersection, and at other similar intersections, I see a lot of cyclists (less experienced – bikeshare riders mostly) quickly ride into crosswalks from the sidewalk thinking they are invincible since they are in the crosswalk. That’s just a bad decision. I do not know if that is what happened here, but it is feasible, as I stated earlier. Feasible does not mean that this is exactly what happened. I am merely stating what I have seen at this intersection over the last nine years. My point is that it is safer to take the lane. That is not a malicious act. It’s just the safe choice. Signal to the driver behind you. Give them a thumbs up or a wave when they yield to you. When it’s safe, move to the right and let the car pass. If you are not comfortable taking the lane, then find another route, or walk across the street when it’s clear. In this city, you are just going to have to take the lane sometimes.

          • Anonymous

            Still irrelevant.

  • Anonymous Biker/Driver/Ped

    I came upon this horrifying scene after it happened but before EMS arrived. It did not appear the cyclist was on a CABI bike. He also did not appear to have been wearing a helmet, but as others have already pointed out, a helmet would not have helped in this type of accident. I have no idea who was at fault here, but I hope that one lesson everyone takes from this — cyclists, drivers, pedestrians — is that we all need to be more vigilant. No commute is worth a life, and the fact that you had the right of way will be of little consolation if you are dead or if someone is killed by your car or bike. Be safe, look out for others and look out for yourself.

    • Another Anonymous Biker/Driver/Ped

      A thousand times “yes.” None of us are perfect drivers/bikers/pedestrians/runners/dog walkers. We all get distracted every once in awhile, we’ve all been in the wrong. The best we can hope for is that the other person is paying attention, and the best we can do is pay attention and be courteous as much as possible. We’re all trying to get from a to b safely, a life is not worth proving a point.

    • Anonymous

      Also of little consolation is that drivers aren’t prosecuted for even manslaughter. If you want to murder someone, do it with a car, and you’ll walk easier than if you were drunk and beat someone to death with your hands.

      • Anonymous

        pretty sure this wasn’t intentional and pretty sure most car/bike ACCIDENTS aren’t… it’s why they are called accidents

    • Anonymous

      Very well said!

    • Joel

      “It did not appear the cyclist was on a CABI bike.”

      Photos of the accident, both the one posted above and more posted by Borderstan on their Facebook page, show a CABI bike was the bike struck.

  • Anonymous

    I read a study that says helmet-wearing is basically a wash, in terms of safety. While you are more likely to survive a bike accident without injury while wearing a properly-fitting helmet, you are almost more likely to HAVE an accident, because the helmet reduces your awareness of your surroundings in terms of sight and sound.

    • dat

      This “study” sounds like hogwash. I haven’t seen any helmets that either 1) cover your ears or 2) are visible once they’re on your head.

      That said, I could see them giving careless cyclists a reckless sense of invincibility…

    • Anonymous

      I read a study that most studies are not scientifically sound.

  • mj

    Accidents happen. Hopefully, everyone involved survives without issue.

  • I ride through that area every day as well (on a CaBi, with helmet). When the streets get dicey, I use the sidewalk. Call me an asshole, but I’d rather be an asshole and alive than bike-correct and dead or maimed. Or as BWS says, just get in the middle of the street so they can’t get around you.

    • dat

      You would probably be safer taking the lane (i.e., CAR — BIKE — CAR — CAR) than riding on the sidewalk and through the crosswalks, where cars are not expecting fast-moving traffic.

      • JS


    • Anonymous

      Sidewalk is only safe if you travel at pedestrian speeds when you enter the crosswalk/intersection. If you travel at bike speeds, then you’re actually LESS safe because cars are not looking for something going as fast as a bike to be shooting off the sidewalk.

  • Matt

    A helmet absolutely WOULD help in this situation. He still was struck while vertical and then fell to the ground. The helmet would do it’s job protecting your head when it hits the grill, bumper, hood, and then the ground.

    Obviously a helmet is not going to help if you head is run over by a truck tire. But obviously his head was not run over by a truck tire in this case.

  • Very sad story. I hope the cyclist is ok.

  • Debo

    As a cyclist who is just now recovering from a broken ankle w multiple surgeries… I have to say: I have lived in dc my whole life born and raised, was a courier, and ditched my car for the bike right after wasting money on it…. Never have I seen more accidents than this winter including mine. This is a terrible tragedy. It does show that this may not be the fault of DC cyclists but rather of improperly placed bike lanes and negligent pedestrians/drivers. It may be time for these people to take responsibility and be more cautious.
    Cyclist are economic, healthy, intelligent individuals and while drivers may be as well they sure aren’t a living example. Crude, in a rush, speeding and taking up a lot of space to go ten city blocks is fine just chill out. Drive slower, respect bikers/peds/kids, park safely and pay your tickets same with speed cameras.
    My accident was caused by three drunk pedestrians it has left me unemployed, hopeless and in a lot of debt. I was a regular marathon runner averaging two a year and I had just won my
    first sponsor only to be taken from me when I broke my ankle. it has ruined my life/career and I bet the same goes for others that have been injured this winter. So remember when you are driving your BMW to your lawfirm or running across the street to meet yr friends at a bar remember that those cyclists you injured cannot enjoy that luxury. And slow down!!!! Please for the love of god.

    • anon

      Wow…while I sympathize about your situation and the accident that put you there, the unnecessary generalization about DC drivers (ie. BMW driving lawyers, pedestrians running across the street to a bar) is truly a sign of what is wrong with this city. That sort of thing can be caused by anyone TO anyone – not just the so-called yuppies that you seem to elude to in this post.

    • Anonymous

      Couriers are like the pirates of DC streets. Uncourteous, unkempt, and dangerous. Not to mention never on time with anything.

    • I’m sorry about your accident, but your generalizations about DC drivers are biased and really weaken your point. Many of the drivers in the DC area are bad. Almost anyone would admit that. But the cyclists are just as bad. As a pedestrian (I don’t own a car) and sometime cyclist, I can attest to the entitled mentality and lack of courtesy and care that both groups exhibit as they fly down the street to their destinations. The great irony in your characterization is that the supposed attorneys in their BMW’s are probably the wannabe Lance Armstrongs that often make area bike paths unsafe for everyone on the weekends. Being a jerk has nothing to do with being a driver or a cyclist.

      • “Being a jerk has nothing to do with being a driver or a cyclist.”


      • Debo

        Whatever. Lived here my whole life I Know what I’ve seen. I’m just saying that those bike lanes are illogical and I think pedestrians need to be ticketed more. I will continue to dislike yuppies because they have ruined dc. I may be biased but this is the internet do deal with it.

        • Anonymous

          the three tipsy pedestrians weren’t out to ruin your life and it sounds like you’d be the first one in line to retain one of the yuppie lawyers if you had the opportunity for legal action against the drunkards… life isn’t fair and horrible shit happens to good people everyday. you sound bitter. try meditation.

    • Jr

      I sympathize with you regarding your injuries but my question is, what is the correlation between DC drivers and the three drunk pedestrians that caused your accident? While I understand that some DC area drivers have exceptionally bad skills how does your situation add to such a claim?


      • Debo

        The connection between drivers and peds. Both have caused me multiple collisions.

        • Is it possible you’re ignoring the constant variable in all of your accidents?

          • Anon

            That is a fair question.

          • Anonymous

            so on time. SO on time!

  • Erika

    First of all: It goes without saying that I and everyone who walks, rides and drives in this city hope the cyclist will survive this collision. And let’s all agree: there are bad drivers out there, inattentive pedestrians, flippant cyclists and poorly planned streets that put all three at risk.

    I, too, ride through this intersection every day to work, and frequently on a Bikeshare bike. I didn’t witness the accident but I did see its aftermath, and I’m still shaken. Like many cyclists, I use 11th Street to get downtown because it’s relatively traffic free and there’s only one bus (the 64) to watch out for. (Also, the hill headed north is manageable after a long day’s work.) It’s excellent — except for the stretch between Florida and Rhode Island where, as other commenters have pointed out, there’s no bike lane. It is by far the most dangerous stretch on an otherwise well-planned and lovely north-south bike route.

    All of us — bikers, pedestrians, drivers — need to be more careful. But city transportation officials, it’s your turn. This is a heavily traveled corridor for bicycles, and DDOT must make it as safe as possible for everyone on the road. The city must connect the bike lane between Florida and Rhode Island.

  • KenyonDweller

    Shame on you.

  • gringo_locodc
    • If the driver had to look into his mirror to see the cyclist, it would seem that the cyclist overtook the truck from behind and tried to scoot out in front of the truck before it turned.

      • non

        not necessarily. maybe the truck passed the bike and failed to yield to the cyclist. this has happened to me before. you will be surprised how oblivious drivers are to cyclists. thus driver awareness course would do wonders.

      • Sydney

        Did the truck driver use a turn signal?

        • elk

          Unfortunately a turn signal only matters if the parties in question can see it.

          On a few occasions I’ve nearly been hooked by turning vehicles that sped up to pass me and then turn. When they signal while they are ahead of me I can slow down/swerve/otherwise adjust to avoid them. If they miscalculate the space/speed and start turning while they are still passing me it doesn’t matter if they signal (unless they have one of those mirror flashers) because I am beside them and can’t see their front/rear lights. All the more reason to never allow yourself to be beside a vehicle when passing through an intersection. Easier said than done in some cases when people are determined to pass, but still something to keep in mind.

  • Ryan

    I always feel kind of bad for the driver in this situation, to be honest. People always say there are so many awful drivers, they’re putting bikers’ lives at risk, etc. But honestly, I don’t put this kind of stuff entirely on the driver. People make mistakes. Millions of cars are on the road every day. A slight percentage will have fender benders every day — thousands of them, across the country. It’s sort of the cost of driving. It sucks for this driver had the misfortune of having his fender bender with a bike. An event that would ordinarily be a total non-event becomes a tragedy.

    • Anonymous

      Based on my experience with flat bed trucks on that single-lane, bike pathless segment of 11th street, I’ll bet that the driver of the truck was pissed about having been unable to pass that bike for the three blocks between Florida Avenue and U Street, and rev’ed up to pass the bike as soon as he was able, miscalcuating the clearance beween bumper and biker – and not even realizing he hit him.

  • anonymous

    I think it is so sad that this thread has essentially turned into a conversation about who is worse: drivers, cyclists or pedestrians. In every group, there are people who are not cautious, courteous or safe. While conversations about how to make DC streets and sidewalks safer are important, I think it is equally important to remember that someone has been seriously injured.

  • renegade09

    These accidents are tragic but avoidable. Two solutions, neither of which are blame-the-victim or assume magical powers of bike helmets:
    1. Separated bike infrastructure: DC has a climate and layout highly conducive to cycling. Reduce bike-vehicle conflicts by proper cycle infrastructure to provide cyclists with safe conduits into the city. By refusing to build this, we are, collectively, choosing to accept casualties and fatalities.
    2. Enforcement. The DC streets are lawless. When will we see meaningful enforcement of traffic law-on vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians?

    • non

      yes, dedicated bike boulevards. we need to separate these bad and dangerous drivers from the rest of the world.


  • shawchica

    I hope the person is okay. not to place blame on anyone but i will say as a driver, walker and biker i am always seeing cars and bikes and walkers roll right through stop signs and not look before turning right. Everyone needs to pay more attention and remember that they are not the only person in this world. I have many situations as a biker and a walker where i have almost been hit due to this, and i am a very safe biker/walker (usually have my dog). I also have almost hit people and bikers when they totally disregard the lights, ect.
    And i will say large cars and trucks are usually the worst offenders (not the only ones) but i get the sense that they feel people will just get out of their way so they do what they want.

  • SeanInNWDC

    ABC 7 http://www.wjla.com just reported that witness accounts said the bicyclist ran the red light and was struct. WJLA also said the bicyclist will be cited.

    • Actually, it doesn’t say that at all.

    • From Channel 4:

      The bicyclist, a 29-year-old Northwest man, is in stable condition, News4’s Pat Collins reported. He was charged with failure to yield right of way and a red light violation.

      • skwirl

        11th and U has a pedestrian signal that changes before the red light does, precisely so that bikes and people can get out in front of, and visible to, traffic. I wonder what the state of the ped signal was. I’m curious to hear if the driver was found at any fault.

  • m

    as a DC biker who used to use 11th st all the time and a big CaBi fan, I am so, so sad about this.

    let’s turn this into something good by using it to start a share-the-road biker & driver education campaign giving CONCRETE tips (eg, always look before turning right). And add some infrastructure (bike boxes? sharrows?) to make 11th st safer on that stretch.

  • imonaboat

    Ugh, how horrible. This sounds like a terrifying scene. I pray the cyclist is somehow okay.

  • Joe Blow

    I drive into D.C. or commute by bike from a ‘burb about 20 miles out. For the most part, D.C. drivers aren’t bad. You should try riding a bike through northern PG County if you think they are bad in the District… What I do see a lot of in the District is poor situational awareness, by both cyclists and drivers. Too much talking on the phone (not the hands free type) and texting; too many cyclists only looking forward, not thinking about whether they are in blind spots or about the likelihood of drivers turning. There is also a lot of bad technique at work by all vehicle operators. Cyclists need to take the lane at intersections, or get up in front of the vehicles so they are prominent. It’s easier to do this if you’re fit and can work into 25 MPH traffic but it’s probably more essential if you’re slow and can’t move fast to evade danger. Drivers need to be on the lookout for bikes – and pedestrians and cars coming out of unusual places. Some of us cyclists who nip in and out of slow cars are doing this because it’s safer to be in the middle of the road among cars, than over on the shoulder, and we’re not trying to either delay cars or to go fast per se, we’re trying to get out of the danger zone faster, and onto a section of road where it’s safer to ride and where we’re not blocking vehicle traffic. The roads around here were laid out around 1790, long before bikes or cars were invented. We gotta cut each other some slack. Bike lanes aren’t a perfect solution either; they create merge zones where bikes have to work into faster moving traffic or make difficult turns across multiple lanes of traffic, and they are also wonderful car door strike zones. Wider shoulders are nice, but they have to be kept open; they’re no good as bike lanes or as emergency bailouts for cars, if double parking is allowed. What might help is better enforcement all around, with particular attention paid to red light running and crosswalk jumping (by everybody), and illegally or double parked trucks and cars.

    As for the couriers – I used to think they were just asses, and maybe they are, but they’re asses with a technique. What they do tends to get them out of danger zones really quickly. Some may be mere idiots but most of them are just hustling to get out of cars’ blind spots and out of the way of traffic. I’m not justifying it but I’d probably ride like that if I spent 8 hours a day in traffic…

    Finally, everybody on bikes or in cars needs to chill the Eff out and take it a little easy. Driving or riding is only safe if we all follow the rules of the social contract, do our best to follow the laws, and mutually look out for each other a little bit. You’ll get to work eventually; make it your top priority to get their without killing yourself or somebody else. Life’s too short to squander just to get to work a little earlier.

    • “We gotta cut each other some slack.”


    • Thanks, Joe. This is the most thoughtful response today. And dear cyclist at the center of this discussion, peace, comfort, and steady healing.

  • To those of you who suggest that a bike helmet would not have mattered, let me ask you this: if you were being dragged along a paved street by a truck, would you want your face directly on the pavement, or would you want to have a helmet on, which would provide some protection by raising your face, nose, lips, or ears, off the road? There are alot of injuries that are sustained in an accident like this. A helmet may not have prevented the most serious injuries in this accident, but it is ridiculous and irresponsible to suggest a helmet prevented nothing.

  • skwirl

    This is very sad and I hope there is an update with good news.

    I pass through 11th and U on my bike commute as well and saw the aftermath. The officer directing traffic seemed very concerned for us as bicyclists. It’s also important to remember that bicycling is so safe that people who cycle have longer lifespans than people who don’t. Cycling in the city also becomes more safe as more people ride bicycles, because cars become more attentive to them as regular road users, however there are more stories like this because there is larger proportion of road users on bikes. Automobiles are the #1 cause of accidental death in America. Vehicle-related deaths also often outpace (or are neck-and-neck) with firearms-related deaths for on-duty police officers (http://www.odmp.org/search/year?year=2012). Thankfully, all of these preventable deaths are slightly down this year, and, for better or for worse, rising summer gas prices will continue this downward trend.

    Bicycle Safe has a really great resource on defensive bicycling here: http://bicyclesafe.com/ I’m glad for all of you who are bicycling out there with me, if only because you’re helping make us all safer!

    • RyanD

      This is very sad indeed. Thank you for the link to the http://bicyclesafe.com/, its a terrific resource about bicycling in the city (or anywhere for that matter). These are good tips for doing things which make it so that you don’t do something unexpected on a bike (and that others can anticipate what you will be doing). My mantra when biking is “don’t be unexpected” (which would mean understanding the law, follow a predicable path, be visible, etc).

      Perhaps this case is one of a bicyclist running a red light, or an negligent driver right hooking the bicycle (#6 on that website).. but I it could just as easily have been something like #5 on the website (“You stop to the right of a car that’s already waiting at a red light or stop sign. They can’t see you. When the light turns green, you move forward, and then they turn right, right into you.”) where no-one broke the law and things didn’t turn out well. I feel the bicyclist and the driver, there are plenty of non-obvious ways to get yourself or someone else injured without being in the wrong.

  • Ryan

    So now media is reporting that the biker ran a red light. Is this where all the people who previously said this is just another example of reckless DC driving return and say they made a mistake? Or is this where all the people who defend bikers running through red lights (god forbid they lose momentum) admit maybe that’s not such a good practice? Yeah right!

    • crin

      This is where the reports on TV don’t square with the eyewitness accounts posted here which describe a possible right hook (cyclist wanted to go straight, truck turned right over the cyclist). Here’s how this scenario developed. Truck right hooks cyclist. Eyewitnesses do not stay on the scene to provide information to the police. Cyclist is unconscious and/or in shock in an ambulance. Police collect a statement from the truck driver that boils down to “he came out of nowhere” or “I never saw him.” With no statement from the cyclist or eyewitnesses, cops wrap things up with a tidy ticket to the cyclist based on only the driver’s point of view. Convenient and efficient.

      It bears repeating that Alice Swanson was killed by a right hook from a garbage truck at 20th and R. The initial police report cited her. The follow up investigation blamed the accident on the fact she was wearing flip-flops.


      It’s a known fact that in this town, cops don’t get the cyclist’s side of the story or eyewitness accounts before they write tickets and assign blame. I’ll wait for the cyclist’s story before I start eliminating plausible versions of what happened.

      • Until you know that happened, it makes no sense to blame the driver.

  • The streets are dangerous out there whatever you’re on. Which is why I always assume they don’t see me. I always assume the worst of drivers and I’m usually not surprised by their actions. I hope this person is ok.

  • Ryan

    You’re not going to wait and get the cyclists’ perspective. There’s nothing anybody can say that will ever convince you he wasn’t at fault, right?

  • dj

    If some oblivious driver is so out of tune with his/her driving environment that they need to be be flagged down by other people after having run over a human being AND a bike, there is one (and only one) person to blame.

    • So in your kind, the driver will always be to blame. Good thing you’re not letting facts get in the way of your desired narrative. Hopefully the police put more thought into their investigation of the incident than you did.

  • anonymous

    Helments should be worn in cars at all times, because people sometimes die from head injuries sustained during car accidents. Right? In fact, if you ride in a car and don’t wear a helmet, you are a moron.


Subscribe to our mailing list