“Cyclist hit? Nearly hit? Careless driver on Virginia Ave with DC plates”

by Prince Of Petworth July 27, 2016 at 10:45 am 47 Comments

cyclist hit

“Dear PoPville,

Just witnessed a silver Honda Civic Hybrid either actually hit or nearly hit a cyclist that was crossing southbound in the crosswalk while driving westbound on Virginia Ave NW near 25th Street NW (close to Watergate) around 5:40pm on 7/26. I saw the Civic slam on their brakes and then the cyclist stop and tip over, but couldn’t tell if that’s because they were hit or what.

The cyclist was a young brunette woman, would guess she was in her 20s. I didn’t get as good of a look at the driver, but she had short bob of (dyed?) blond hair, and didn’t even get out of her vehicle to see if the cyclist was unharmed! Took about a minute for the cyclist to gather her things that had been strewn about the road. The she managed to finish crossing the road as she glared at the driver of the car that forced her to wipe out unexpectedly.

The Civic was a few spots up and over in the left lane, but I did manage to get behind her and snap a pic of her license plate when we were still crawling. Tried to get a shot of the driver as well, but didn’t have the chance (as traffic started moving to get onto Rock Creek Pkwy).

I hope the cyclist was relatively unharmed! If she wants it to file a report, here’s the pics I got of the offending driver and the vehicle.

**Before folks chide me- I keep my phone in a dashboard cradle thing, so switching to camera mode and zooming for the tag is easy to do, especially when you’ve been stopped at a light already. Feel free to scold for the sideways shot of the driver, although that was done without me really looking at the thing I was trying to photograph, my eyes were on the road ahead (hence the crappy pic).

If you hear anything from the cyclist- please let me know!”

Ed. Note: If you are the cyclist and want to be in touch with OP please email me at princeofpetworth@gmail.com and I’ll put you in touch.

  • quincycyclist

    Why is the license plate blurred out? I want to see how many tickets this loser has!

  • anon

    I bike, and so am sympathetic to bikers who are affected by dumb things drivers do. But this DC thing of bikers riding on sidewalks (and thus through crosswalks with pedestrians) is a huge problem, not found in other cities. When driving and turning, I am on the lookout for pedestrians crossing in crosswalks, and bikes in bike lanes and on the road. But when a biker moves on a moving bike into a crosswalk, they are often moving too fast to be seen by the driver making the turn in time. I have the same problem with runners who go running into crosswalks. I have run in cities, but I stopped at corners to look for traffic, I didn’t just go running through intersections. And I have not lived in cities before where biking on the sidewalk was allowed, so I never bike through crosswalks as if I am a pedestrian. Bikes belong in the road with other vehicles moving faster than pedestrians. If you must cross at a crosswalk, stop and walk you bike through crosswalks – it is the only safe way to move through them!

    • NearNortheaster

      The victim was outside of the Central Business District, so biking on the sidewalks is permitted.


      • anon

        the commenter wasn’t questioning the legality of riding on sidewalks; rather he/she was noting the inherent dangers to drivers and bikers by doing so.

      • I. Rex

        you’re missing the point. No one knows what happened here, so for all we know the cyclist was going slow, was visible in the crosswalk, and the car was totally in the wrong BUT it is good advice to bikers that if you’re going to ride on the sidewalks, pause at the crosswalks and make sure turning cars see you (I wouldn’t go so far as to dismount at every crosswalk though). As a driver turning you are expecting people to be moving at a pedestrian pace, and it is very dangerous when a cyclist appears suddenly in the crosswalk because they are going at a much faster pace.

    • Multimodal

      No, the problem is that everybody treats bicyclists as if they do not belong anywhere. There is literally no way to win.

      “Ride in the road” = cars do not give you space, cut you off, honk at you aggressively when they cannot pass you

      “Ride on the sidewalk” = what you complained about above, plus can be hazardous for pedestrians

      “Ride in the bike lane” = have to dodge ridiculous number of double parked cars, drivers who open car doors without looking, construction projects that block or tear up the lanes, and dangerous merging into sharrowed car lanes and randomly ending lanes because the bike lane network isn’t comprehensive nor treating as actual transportation infrastructure in this city

      • Former Petworth.

        Well stated. The issue I have mostly as a daily bike commuter is aggressive drivers and honking. The honking can be really unnerving when a car is driving way to close. It happens a lot on the stretch from 11th and Florida to my right turn on R street (a few blocks with no dedicated bike lane). The ridiculous part of it all is that there are stop signs every hundred yards. Ive biked in other cities, other countries, and DC is getting better, but drivers really need to lay off honking at cyclists.

        • C_petworth

          + 1,00000 This happens all the time . Cars honk swerve at a very fast pace around you. And then30 seconds later i find my self breaking right behind that car as we approach a stop sign or red light. I hate the r- Florida stretch on 11th for this reason.

          • Anon

            The honking is why I don’t bike in the city anymore. I just couldn’t tolerate the heart-stopping fear caused by someone honking as they slam on brakes not to rear end me. So instead I just clog up the road 10x more in a vehicle than I did on my bike. There’d be less traffic with more cyclists. Cyclists are not the enemy, but there are too many cretins behind the wheel.

      • anon

        As the original anon from above, I don’t disagree with this – drivers who don’t bike can be hell to bikes on the road But I do think i’m safest in the road when on my bike. I just think drivers need to recognize that bikes share the road with them. How we can accomplish this is anyone’s guess – we’ve got a real lack of civility problem.

      • westbeachcyclist

        Speaking of bike lanes, sidewalks, and construction projects, what is going on with the Death Star Intersection construction project on 15th/Florida/New Hampshire between V and W..?

        • FridayGirl

          OMG I hate that construction area more than anything ever. It’s so confusing and I don’t know that it’s gotten any less confusing even though they seem to be wrapping up the construction?

          • TJ

            They aren’t wrapping up the construction. Just getting started. Pretty sure it could be like this for a couple years or more if pressure on the District’s DOT by the cycling community doesn’t prompt a change.

      • Huma

        +a bajillion

      • Tsar of Truxton

        It is a bit tricky. Really, the best solution is more bike lanes and more enforcement of rules preventing people from blocking said lanes for bikers. I know I will get a lot of flak for this, but when there is no bike lane, and it is outside the CBD (and not in neighborhoods with busy sidewalks, like Logan), I prefer casual bikers (those that can’t/don’t want to keep up with the flow of traffic or at least close) to ride on the sidewalk, especially on main roads and hills (going up). That said, even when frustrated by a slow biker, I would never do the things you suggest happen to you.

        • Cleveland Park runner

          I’m with you there. And especially on roads that are much higher speed thoroughfares. It’s really frustrating driving on the windy Beach Drive before it dumps onto RCP and being totally unable to pass a slow bicyclist because of the curves and traffic. The trails are huge and plenty of room for runners, walkers, and bikers. The road there is for cars.

          • shepherder

            the trails are not huge. they are actually a huge pain in the ass for cyclists. that said, i still ride on them because there are too many road rage commuters in that area. but i don’t think it’s totally crazy for bikes to go in the road.

          • elbeech

            CP runner, don’t forget that you’re driving in a PARK. Yes, one that has been turned into a highway, but it’s still a park. And no, there is not room for all 3 on the narrow, windy path. Especially if you are using a bike to commute, thus replacing a car. Same with sidewalks (which I oppose bikes being on).

          • Anonymous

            Beach drive is a 25mph zone, isn’t it? I wouldn’t call that “higher speed”.

          • flieswithhoney

            You do know that Beach Drive is 25mph and is not a high speed thoroughfare? As others noted, the multi-use path is in horrible shape with bad sight lines and lots of people so I avoid biking on it. I’m sure most drivers that are inconvenienced by driving under the speed limit for a few minutes more than make up for it by speeding later.

          • anon

            Maybe because I’ve been the person on the bike, I don’t get frustrated when I’m following a slow going bike – on any road – when driving. I just settle in and pass when road conditions allow. Bikes have a right to be there, and there’s no point getting frustrated at them!
            And, while you might prefer bikes to be on the sidewalk, because they are out of YOUR way, they actually pose a higher risk to pedestrians, who often tend to jump in front of a bike when they get a warning that a bike is about to pass them, and who zigzag on trails without looking to see if a bike is coming up behind them, which behaviors also pose risks to bikers. (Pedestrians and bikers don’t mix so well on the same path.) And when bikes riding on the sidewalks start riding through crosswalks, as the logical way to cross from sidewalk, they post a threat to pedestrians AND to drivers, who don’t see them coming before they are IN the intersection, as i noted above.
            When I was a small child and rode on the sidewalks, I was taught to dismount and walk through crosswalks, probably for my own safety. While i may not dismount all the time if I ride through a crosswalk, depending on traffic conditions (though I tend to ride in the road to avoid doing so), I am always aware of my inherent unsafety vis a vis cars when I am in a crosswalk on a bike, like say where a trail crosses a road in rock creek park.

          • TJ

            You obviously haven’t ever been on the trails. The trails are multi-use paths that are narrow, underbuilt, damaged/falling apart and have poorly-designed sections that are dangerous (see near the Zoo). The MUP also passes through only the southern half of the park.

            Beach Drive isn’t a commuter road. It is a secondary road through national park. Cyclists can use any road in DC, and they in particular have a place on the roads in the park. They also often are traveling at 20 mph or more, close to the 25 mph speed limit.

          • Cleveland Park runner

            I use those trails all the time to run on. Do they get crowded at 3pm on a Saturday? Of course. But so does that road. Think about how your actions affect others, and don’t be a jerk–a lesson applicable to everyone regardless of their mode of transit. We all share the same space. One bicyclist shouldn’t cause a traffic jam, and cars should give the necessary space. And bicyclists should consider using the trails when available.

          • flieswithhoney

            The vast majority of Beach Dr is closed on the weekends so just how long could you be inconvenienced by cyclists while driving on a Sat since it’s blocked off at Blagden? And, logically, crowded trails are even more of a reason to get fast moving bikes away from slow moving people. Sometimes I feel like the only one who drives the speed limit in RCP…

        • shepherder

          “One bicyclist shouldn’t cause a traffic jam, and cars should give the necessary space.”
          This is basically the main fallacy of anti-bike drivers. Bikes don’t cause traffic jams. The incredible amount of cars causes traffic jams. Bikes occasionally temporarily slow up traffic before they get to the next red light and force cars to change lanes.

      • flieswithhoney

        100% agreed.

    • ANC

      +1. I didn’t realize how risky it is as a cyclist, but almost getting hit this way has made me rethink my cycling and driving habits.

      • ParkViewneighbor

        I’m with you here
        Persona non grata anywhere and people wonder why bikers complain !

  • flieswithhoney

    Not the cyclist you saw but thanks for caring, OP.

    • MagGal

      OP here- just glad it seemed she was relatively unhurt!

  • textdoc

    OP, please also contact the police directly in case the cyclist in question doesn’t read PoPville.

    • MagGal

      OP here- I’m hesitant to do that as I didn’t see the initial point of contact (if there was any to speak of). It could’ve just been a situation of the cyclist stopping abruptly and falling over as a result? Hard to tell as I was a few cars back.

      • textdoc

        Ahh, OK.
        Maybe WABA, then?

      • textdoc

        Or you could contact the police and tell them that you’re not 100% sure the car hit the cyclist, but that you want to be listed as a witness in case the cyclist has come forward or comes forward in the future.
        It might be best to figure out which Police Service Area this spot is in and contact the lieutenant in charge of it. I am not confident that OUC (the Office of Unified Communications, which handles 911 calls) would properly direct a call along those lines.

        • MagGal

          Both fair points. I’ll look into it after work.

      • Brentwood

        FWIW, That exact situation happened to me (crossing Queens Chapel on the NW Branch Trail). I’d hit the light and it was flashing for cars to stop, waited (foot down and all!) until everyone was stopped, so I pushed off, and suddenly there was a horn blaring — another car further back hadn’t seen the flashing HAWK light, and pulled into the shoulder and was speeding towards me. The car didn’t hit me, but I was so startled that I lost my balance and went down.
        Jumped up and limped to the side of the road, trying to wave-thanks at the guy who honked — from a full stop it was all he could do to stop the other car and warn me.

  • ah

    This stretch of Virginia is a bit of a mess for all involved.

    There are several crosswalks, marked with big “yield to peds” mid block (after the tunnel) but with fences in the center that limit visibility – so bad for drivers to see when they need to stop and of course bad for peds when drivers don’t stop or see them.

    Then there’s a 5-way intersection with stop signs, and a crosswalk in the mix.

    finally there’s a signalized intersection (where this picture appears to be taken) – crosswalks again, but in that case, drivers aren’t obligated to yield when the signal is green.

    The combination of different cross-walk styles makes for a rather confusing stretch of road.

    • anon

      That confusion is usually the result when the roads are planned for the speed of drivers but not for safety of pedestrians and bikes.

    • MagGal

      OP here. Agreed that this stretch is an utter mess. I drive on it daily and its always hard to see pedestrians crossing in some of the crosswalks. In this case, however, it was the one on the far side of the intersection (past the median fencing), and there were tons of other people in the crosswalk at the time-not to mention cars that had stopped for them. This woman simply wasn’t paying close attention and ignoring the fact that the rest of us were stopped to let folks cross.

  • No Bikes

    I sometimes feel less safe in a bike lane than I do in the street. Especially bike lanes that are on the left side of the road. I don’t understand why they are on the wrong side of the road. Bikes Lanes on the right side of the road along R Street are basically designated park spots for UPS trucks. I generally use bike lanes, but I wouldn’t say they make me feel safer unless they are protected lanes. We need more of those.

    • MagGal

      Agreed for most bike lanes. I’d like to see the city adopt the method they used on 15th between P and U streets. That is one of the few parts of town where I don’t feel like I’m going to get hit, can avoid parked cars/trucks, etc.

      Moving the entire set of bike lanes over to one side of the road, with street parking set away from the sidewalk, seems to work really well there for all parties involved. It takes up the equivalent of a single lane of traffic, but works to keep everyone moving safely! However, I’d like to see safer crossings for pedestrians on that road, perhaps flashing lights or similar?

      • TJ

        My commute home was safer when 15th St. NW was unmarked for bikes and when the right lane was marked with sharrows. The 15ht St. cycletrack introduces multiple opportunties to get left hooked as part of the design, thus requiring more vigilance. I’ve had more close calls with cars on the cycletrack than anywhere else in the city.

    • elbeech

      Agreed, No Bikes. Like the stretch of 11th south of L street. There are so many cars turning into parking garages, turning right, buses, and delivery trucks (especially in the morning), that’s it’s really not safe unless you take the lane. I support bike lanes in general, especially if they encourage less confident cyclists to get out and ride. But the negative side is when they make cars think cyclists either HAVE to ride in them, or that there should be separation on the road. Cars have to share.

  • FB

    Whether the car driver hit or didn’t hit the cyclist, stopping to check on the cyclist would’ve been the right thing. Can I ask, though, which party had the green light?

  • yusef wallace

    Well im not a biker but I work downtown DC. the problem with the ppl that ride there bikes is that honestly you guys don’t pay attention and u dont abide by the rules. You swerve in and out between cars and yall know damn well you hold up traffic. That also go for the ppl who walks everybody think the world evolve around them. Ppl get mad when u try to make a left or right hand turn and the signal tells you to stop and dont give cars a chance to go thru but get mad when u about to hit there ass.

    • Brentwood

      I mean, the world IS constantly evolving. We used to have to ride horses or walk to get places, then there were cars; for a long time you had to hand write stuff and then movable type came along, and now we have computers. We buy food in a store instead of having to grow it, you can fly across oceans… All sorts of technological evolution.

    • shepherder

      whether you mean it or not, the moral of the story is that we need better mass transit infrastructure, as cars are not well suited to a pleasant urban environment. let’s bring in some streetcar specialists (not the h street jokers) and get k street and georgia ave going properly!


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