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“As she passed by me, within inches of my bike, she slapped/sucker punched me across the left side of my jaw”

by Prince Of Petworth May 25, 2016 at 2:10 pm 52 Comments


“Dear PoPville,

Not sending this to start another conversation about safety on the MBT, a trail I use almost everyday, but to ask you/readers to keep an eye out for a woman on a motorbike in the area — or on the trail itself.

Yesterday, while riding home on the trail from work, this woman entered the trail at NOMA. I let her know that it was a bike and pedestrian trail only (even though it’s clearly marked, some think it’s an access road), but she kept going. I decided to call 911 – clearly on a nice day, or any day for that matter, with runners, children, and dogs, a trail is no place for a motorbike. I was on with 911 for a few minutes until I saw that bicycle cop on the trail had stopped her at S Street NE, so I hung up thinking the cop was handling the situation.

She must have recognized me or overheard my conversation, because the moment I passed by, she sped off and headed west off 4th. Moments later I heard the bike’s engine come up behind me while I was riding north on 4th in the bike lane. As she passed by me, within inches of my bike, she slapped/sucker punched me across the left side of my jaw (there were two witnesses to this — one was a lovely woman who turned her car around to make sure I was okay). Shaken, I rode back to find the police officer on the trail and filed a report. He indicated that she was arguing with him about who could use the trail — she suggested that she could because people were also pushing baby strollers.


I’m asking you all to keep any eye out for her, but unfortunately I don’t have a good description of her. African American woman. Small (not quite a Vespa, but not a motorcycle either), black bike, red/reddish orange helmet, sunglasses. The back of the bike was also rigged with a square storage system. If you see anyone matching that description, I would appreciate you letting the police know.”

  • Commentator

    I would imagine that they ran her ID when they stopped her?

    • marybindc

      Right! That was my first thought. Apparently breaking the law and then arguing with the cop about it aren’t enough for him to ask for ID.

      Honest question: do you need a driver’s permit to drive those?

      • General Grant Circle

        Well unsure what the rule is on a Vespa but you generally are not *required* to carry identifying documents

      • Anonymous

        If it’s under 50cc and the wheels are large enough (similar to bicycle wheels), a license is not required.

      • flieswithhoney

        You’re required to at a minimum have your DL for a motorcycle or motor driven cycle (scooter). If you operate either, regardless of the engine size, over 30mph, then you also need the motorcycle endorsement. And, because I hate experiencing this on my commute, neither motorcycles NOR scooters are allowed in the bike lane (the law changed).

        • DCReggae

          As a scooter guy, I ride in the bike lane when there’s tons of traffic, because why the hell wouldn’t I? As a cyclist, what’s the issue? I’m asking non-snarkily and out of curiousity. If it’s because it’s against the law, I get it, but I see cyclists breaking the law literally at every corner and stop light.

          • Brightwoodian

            BAM! Broken window theory. When some laws aren’t enforced or obeyed why should I follow the law when it applies to me.
            Time to start mass arresting those crazy bikers!

          • anon

            the motorized vehicles belong in traffic, and bikes are equally entitled to ride with traffic even if a dedicated lane is present

            The motorized vehicle is subject to the same rules of the road as cars (thus the required DL). It has the capacity to rapidly accelerate and requires greater stopping time. You haven’t stated a compelling reason to use the bike line aside from expedience. If you’re scared of riding a scooter with the flow of traffic you’ve probably chosen the wrong conveyance.

            The fact that bikes routinely break traffic laws has nothing to do with it. Cars and pedestrians routinely break traffic laws too.

          • 20011

            “As a scooter guy, I ride in the bike lane when there’s tons of traffic, because why the hell wouldn’t I?”


          • DCReggae

            lol Nothing too scary about a scooter. Expedience is the only reason for it. Your commute can be 45 minutes or 15 with some creativity.

            As for the broken window theory – ok? You win.

          • 20011

            I’m glad you find it so funny. What’s so hard to understand about the bike lane being for non-motorized vehicles?

          • Brightwoodian

            I was with you anon until you said “bikes routinely break traffic laws has nothing to do with it.” Why does the law apply to a scooter which can brake and accelerate much quicker than car? But the law doesn’t apply to bike when it comes to stoplights or stop signs?

          • DCReggae

            @20011, thanks, bud. Your response was noted but I was more posing the question of ‘why does it bother cyclists’…

          • Kate

            @DCReggae – Just because you, as a scooter rider, think “lol Nothing too scary about a scooter. “, doesn’t mean it’s actually true. Motorized scooters can go significantly faster than bicycles- increasing the danger that a car might not see you and quickly move across the bike lane, or may make a cyclist who is moving significantly slower nervous when you come up quickly behind or beside them. The purpose of bike lanes is to separate non-motorized and slower bicycles from motorized, faster vehicles. Riding your scooter in the bike lane negates that benefit.

          • anon_z

            I would suggest just googling mopeds bike lanes dc, and you’ll quickly see that mopeds are allowed in bike lanes in dc. Not motorcycles, but mopeds. But MBT seems to have a different set of rules (mopeds not allowed).

          • Christopher

            A scooter is heavier, and can accelerate and break much faster than a bike. I’ve found that scooter people don’t always look for bikers before coming into the lane. I’ve also found that scooter people use the bike lane for short bursts, slowing to merge back in with traffic and then coming back into the bike lane when it suits them. All of this makes scooters unpredictable, dangerous, and difficult to navigate around. So it’s all that, and that it’s against the law. Bike lanes are meant for the safe passage of- bikers. Motorized vehicles in those lanes make biking- less safe.

          • C_petworth

            DCReggae- What do you do when you catch up to a bike going slower then you? A scooter came behind me a few weeks back and passed me in the bike lane because i was (naturally) moving a low slower then it could. This is really unsafe, she was only 5 inches away from me. So either you ride in the bike lane and then when you approach a bike slow down and stay behind it, in which case you are moving probably not much faster then traffic so what is the point. Or you pass the biker putting their safety in jeopardy .

          • PettyShabazz

            Is it in fact illegal for a scooter to use the bike lanes? There seems to be conflicting information here.

          • flieswithhoney

            anon-z, please google “non traditional vehicles in DC”. You’ll find a chart published by DC gov which clearly states that mopeds are not permitted in the bike lane. I tried including the link but my comment was moderated out.

          • TJ

            Bike lanes and cycletracks are specifically designed to offer a buffer to cyclists, who rely solely on muscle power, from much more powerful motorized travel. Your scooter has a motor. It is much heavier than my bike and could strike me at a much greater speed than I am capable of striking you with limited leg power.

          • HaileUnlikely

            Any rationale any bicyclist or scooter rider can dream up regarding why their vehicle of choice should or should not be allowed in a specific facility will invariably be imperfect. If you think it should be ok to ride a moped or a scooter in a bike lane or on a bike trail, don’t waste your breath trying to convince me or anon or anybody else here – take it up with the city council. I don’t have a horse or a bike or a scooter in this race, my opinion is that you should not ride a scooter in a bike lane or on a bike path *because it is illegal to do so*

          • reality

            Keep your motor vehicle where the motor vehicles belong, thanks.

        • flieswithhoney

          Besides it being against the law, it’s incredibly startling when a scooter passes you either in the bike line or just over the line, always without warning. It’s the same feeling when a semi just edges past you on the highway and your whole car shakes. Getting hit from behind by a scooter will hurt a lot more than a bicycle. And in my experience, scooters rarely look before using the bike lane as a car passing line, especially all the riders jumping ahead of traffic on 14th approaching Thomas Circle.

          • annonny

            The reason people love to hate on bicyclists is the enormous double standard evident in every “bike lanes for bikes only” posts above. Ooh, scooters are scary, ooh, scooters go faster than bikes, ooh scooters are bigger and heavier, ooh scooters can brake a lot faster and cause pile-ups….all is true when comparing cars to bikes as well, yet heaven forbid someone suggest bikes stay out of main roads.
            And let’s not get started justifying the ridiculous, chronic, perpetual, and almost sport-like lawbreaking of bike commuters. The only valid comparison would be 80%+ cars and pedestrians running every red light, don’t walk sign, and breaking any number of other traffic laws at all times, which doesn’t happen.
            If you want to bike like maniacs as part of car traffic, don’t be surprised when scooters, segways, hoverboards or horseback riders get in the bike lanes.
            Self-righteous bikers are only a hair less insufferable than vegans.

        • Northzax

          How about a horse? Can I ride my horse in a bike lane? It’s street legal, and not a motorized vehicle? Anyone know? (Just for funsies)

          • Garrett

            As an avid scooter rider, I obey all the traffic laws except when I use a bike lane to get to the front of the line so that I can then disobey the no right turn on red sign. Why? Because I can, and I usually am driving using one hand and drinking a coffee in the other. The DC scooter bylaws are a big grey area anyways. It’s all a grey area anyways. I’m doing my civil duty in trying to give these cyclists something exciting to posts about with their gopros.

  • an

    Police fail here.

    • Anonymous

      how so?

  • ANC

    What a horrible woman! Sorry this happened to you and hope you are okay!

  • SaraEP

    God, some people are so trife and really need to get ahold of their emotional reactivity. Completely unnecessary. Sorry this happened to you – hope your face heals quickly.

  • Brightwoodian

    Wait… Seriously? I love that argument. Of course I can ride my Vespa here! People are pushing baby carriages. What’s your problem cop! Of course I can steal this car. People take their kids on airplanes everyday.
    I love this woman’s logic. She seems quite reasonable. In all seriousness sorry you were hit! hope you’re okay.

    • Truxton Thomas

      I thought the same thing! Baby strollers mean motorized vehicles are okay to use. I mean, people push strollers around in the middle of the street all the time, right?

  • MarkQ

    “I let her know that it was a bike and pedestrian trail only (even though it’s clearly marked, some think it’s an access road), but she kept going.”

    Imagining how this went over in her head. Sometimes you gotta let the police be the police.

    • stacksp

      I’ve learned this as well..

      “Sometimes you gotta let the police be the police.”

      • textdoc

        +1 (alas). Some people have short tempers.

    • PettyShabazz


    • 20011

      Yeah, unfortunately only cars have horns so bikers should keep their mouths shut!


      Criminal apologists

      • flieswithhoney

        Agreed. My voice is my horn on my bike. And, in my experience, police rarely enforce laws pertaining to bike lanes/paths, so it’s up to cyclists to advocate for their safety. Sorry this happened to you, OP. I would have said something similar to the motorcyclist, no doubt.

  • anon_z

    I saw the moped get on the MBT at M Street, and then I passed her as she was speaking to the police officer near S Street. Actually the police officer was calmly speaking to her while she was screaming profanities back at him. Before he had a chance to ID her, she sped off on her moped. Presumably that’s when she assaulted the bike rider on 4th street. So, the police did make an attempt to ID her, but it was before the crime occurred.

    Separately, it is legal to ride a moped in a bike lane. However, apparently mopeds are not allowed on the MBT because…see the photo above.

  • Jamin Jimmy

    The MBT isn’t safe. How much longer are we going to pretend that it is?

  • CapitalDame

    In what world does a baby stroller on a trail = I can now use a motorized vehicle here? I’m sorry this happened to you OP, and if that officer failed to get her ID I would be extremely pissed.

    • HaileUnlikely

      In the same world where it is ok to punch people for reporting you to the police, or the same world as that in which, as they say, snitches get stitches.

  • Glen

    Here’s a link to actual DC regulations: bicycle lanes are open to bicycles and motorized bicycles (classified as 50cc or under), which need a regular driver’s license but doesn’t need an M endorsement. No idea what type of “scooter” it was that the attacker was riding on, but she could have been within her rights to use that lane. Anyhow, the attacker should still be found for attacking the OP.



    • Glen

      Nevermind about the DC regs, it was amended in 2007 to disallow motorized bicycles on bike lanes.


      • HaileUnlikely

        Still not clear on applicability to trails. I assume the big posted sign that says no motorized vehicles is what counts.

    • HaileUnlikely

      Not talking about bike lanes here, talking about MBT trail, which is a trail, which is different from a bike lane. This does not address whether mopeds or scooters are allowed on trails. Off-topic bickering about whether mopeds or scooters are allowed in bike *lanes* was introduced by commenters above for reasons related tangentially at best to anything we’re talking about here.

    • Anon

      flieswithhoney above has posted the 2013 version of the chart. Yours is from 2008. Confusing they are both on official dc.gov sites. They do contain conflicting information on whether mopeds can be in a bike lane. The more recent one indicates not.

      • Anon

        Your comment took a bit to come through, so please disregard the correction.

  • jesse

    I bet the scooter had Maryland plates.

  • Anonymous

    This is deeply troubling. Thank you for posting, and for doing your part to keep this city a safe place. Hope you’re feeling better.


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