65 Year Old Pedestrian Dies after Tragic Accident with Bicyclist at 13th and I St, NW

Jane Bennett Clark via @JaneBClark

From MPD:

“Detectives from the Metropolitan Police Department’s (MPD) Major Crash Unit are investigating a fatal traffic accident that occurred on Thursday, March 9, 2017 at approximately 6:44 pm.

The bicyclist was traveling southbound on 13th Street, Northwest toward the intersection of I Street, Northwest, when a pedestrian began stepping off the southwest curb in the crosswalk. The bicyclist struck the pedestrian causing her to fall to the ground. The bicyclist remained on scene. DC Fire and EMS transported the pedestrian to an area hospital for treatment.

On Friday, March 10, 2017, the victim succumbed to her injuries and was pronounced dead.

The decedent has been identified as 65-year-old Jane Bennett Clark, of Takoma Park, MD.

This case remains under investigation. The Metropolitan Police Department is asking anyone with information about this case to call the police at 202-727-9099.”

The Washington Post reported:

“Clark was a senior editor at Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, according to the Kiplinger website.”

Kiplinger’s website says in full:

“Senior Editor
Kiplinger’s Personal Finance

Clark covers all facets of retirement and writes a bimonthly column that takes a fresh, sometimes provocative look at ways to approach life after a career. She also oversees the annual Kiplinger rankings for best values in public and private colleges and universities and spearheads the annual “Best Cities” feature. Clark is a graduate of Northwestern University.”

143 Comment

  • I am very sorry for the family’s loss and offer my deep condenlences. While the biker may or may not have had the right of way: This is clear and very sad evidence of why bikers SHOULD NOT be provided with their requested “Idaho stop”. As an only part-time pedestrian, I have nearly been hit several times, when I have had the right of way in the crosswalk, by bikers. BIKERS NEED TO STOP THIS NONSENSE: STOP AT STOP SIGNS AND RED-LIGHT SIGN INTERSECTIONS.

    • I couldn’t agree more. There is a 4 way stop right by my house where I watch cyclists FLY THROUGH on a daily basis. It terrifies me. I am all for biking around, but PLEASE stop at stop signs and red lights. I am always shocked when a cyclist stops for me in a crosswalk, b/c it’s not the norm from what I have experienced. So sorry to read this article today and feel for the family in their devastating loss.

      • Is there more information than in the original post? Is there something that says whether the bicyclist had a red or green light?

    • I couldn’t agree more. I see this happen almost every day. I don’t think it’s fair to criticize all bikers because I most follow the rules- but a decent amount simply do not. It’s a serious problem and it needs to be addressed. Also, whenever I see an almost collision like this the Biker is almost always the one yelling at the pedestrian. It’s crazy.

    • YES. I have had many close calls with cyclists who appear to believe that stop signs and stop lights are only for cars, and pedestrians, psh, pedestrians should just dive out of their way, even if they’re on the sidewalk. Don’t know enough to say that’s what happened here, but if the cops find evidence of that the cyclist deserves to go to jail.

      • Stop signs aren’t for cars in my neighborhood. The majority of cars roll through on the side streets.

        • I’ve noticed much of the same. This isn’t just an issue with bikers.

        • This is true, but also a false equivalence. Rolling stops are common, but rarely done at the speed at which many cyclists fly through stop signs. In addition, cars are much more noticeable than bikes.

          • Cars are more dangerous than bicyclists just by weight/speed alone. This woman’s death is a terrible thing, but a fatality is rare compared to pedestrian/car or biker/car accidents. The reason I do Idaho stops all the time (not at actual red lights, btw) is basic physics. If I literally came to a full stop at each stop sign, it would probably make the drivers behind me homicidal. It takes a lot longer for a biker to build up her momentum once she has completely stopped. THAT SAID, I am always looking out for pedestrians and come to a complete stop when I see them even hinting at crossing. Sometimes, I even have to wave them through, since they are used to bikers not giving them the right of way (which doesn’t say much for my fellow bikers). Those individuals not majorly slowing down at stop signs have no excuse for their bad behavior. This lady was the mother of three children. We should bike or drive around pedestrians as if they were our own brothers or sisters.

          • “more noticeable” – ah, good point – “BUT SHE SHOULD’VE seen it coming!”

          • Over half of fatalities on bikes in DC occur at intersections, FYI.

          • My experience on this is mixed. I bike up Warder in the bike lane every day, and have for many years. On average the speed to which the car to my left slows while rolling the frequent stop signs in that stretch is at or higher than my speed before I brake (because I’m climbing a hill, in part, but they aren’t slowing much below 10mph).

          • Cyclists are also much harder to see (and hear) than cars; very rarely any fair warning when they bolt past. Ya know?

    • An Idaho stop still requires cyclists to yield. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to allow cyclists to slow down and roll through stops, always giving right of way to pedestrians. Coming to a complete stop and then starting up again isn’t just inefficient, it can also be dangerous for cyclists sharing the road with cars. Even if cyclists are allowed Idaho stops, they should under no circumstances fly through an intersection.

      • ah


        By the logic of the original post, we should eliminate all right on red because some people treat is as “proceed as you will on red without stopping or looking”

        • Actually we should eliminate all right on red… it’s not just that *some* people proceed without stopping… in my daily observation it’s *most*. It would hopefully also cut down on the incessant honking from drivers urging those ahead of them to charge through right turns without acknowledging foot traffic.

        • HaileUnlikely

          There is a vast body of evidence from many many studies demonstrating clearly that right-on-red increased crashes at intersections after it was implemented, both multi-vehicle crashes and crashes between vehicles and pedestrians. We have right-on-red today because we as a society have always valued mobility over safety with few exceptions (some exceptions exist, but few), and this is a prime example.

    • My condolences go out to the family of Jane Bennet Clark.
      P.S. You clearly have no idea what an Idaho Stop is

    • This has nothing to do with the Idaho Stop. The cyclist would be at fault for not stopping at the crosswalk if this is how the situation occurred. The Idaho stop is the common name for a law that allows cyclists to treat a stopsign as a yield sign, and a red light as a stop sign. If you are going to run a stop sign, you should be slowing down and assessing the situation, it doesn’t mean barreling through the intersection. A responsible cyclist would treat an Idaho stop as a yield and slow down, of course as with everything there are responsible and irresponsible actors, the irresponsible actors should obviously be held accountable.

      • If the current law requires a full stop at every stop sign, how do you hold irresponsible actors accountable? Say one cyclist blows through a stop without properly yielding to pedestrians or vehicles, and another cyclist comes to a slow roll, lets the pedestrians and vehicles with the right of way to go, and then continues through the intersection without ever coming to a full stop. They’re both guilty of running a stop sign.

    • Oh so you were a witness? I bike all the time and have witnessed on a daily basis pedestrians walk in the walk way when they do not have the right of way at a stop light.

      • justinbc

        Yeah, I’m more often nearly crashed into by pedestrians when I’m walking than by bikers. Most of them are trying to do 2 or 3 different things while walking, at least the bikers are just (usually) focused on one.

    • northeazy

      Amount of pedestrians killed in Idaho by bicyclists: ZERO. But yeah, let’s extrapolate and make assumptions. https://thebluereview.org/7-years-boise-bicycle-crash-data/

    • Too many bikers really don’t seem to understand that it can be very easy for pedestrians to wander into bike lanes, especially if there are no bikes on the road. You see this all the time on Pennsylvania Ave, between the Capitol and the White House. The pedestrian islands in the center of the street are part of the bike lane, but aren’t clearly marked as such. I’ve seen many bikers barrel through yelling at people to get out of the way and it’s easy to imagine an accident happening.

      I totally support bike lanes and making it easier for people without cars to get around, but too many bikers are just assholes.

      • maxwell smart

        “Too many bikers really don’t seem to understand that it can be very easy for pedestrians to wander into bike lanes” – so, it’s the cyclists fault that the pedestrian is in the wrong? Um… okay.

      • I am not sure it matters. If a pedestrian accidentally or intentionally wanders into the bike land that pedestrian is still at fault. It is a lane of traffic remember. Maybe DC gov. should make it more clean on penn avenue to tourists.

        When an oncoming cyclist sees a pedestrian step into a bike lane their options are ( if they cannot stop in time) to either hit the pedestrian or risk serious injury to them selves by either hitting a parked car or side walk curb or swerving into potential traffic . I wrote below about an accident i had trying to avoid a jaywalking family below.

        • A few points. Pedestrians have right of way in all crosswalks. All crosswalks means all crosswalks at all times. Second, a cyclist operating in a controlled manner can stop in less than 10 feet. Key word – controlled. If I never see one more cyclist wearing earbuds, futzing with their phone, running stop signs, running up onto sidewalks at speed, etc. I will die happy. However, I will likely die an angry old man.

  • Tragic. I understand she had the right of way at the intersection and the biker came barreling through. I am surprised this doesn’t happen more- I see bikers shooting through red lights every single day and I hold my breath when I see it. I think the majority of bikers do follow the rules but there’s a decent amount who do as they please- any ideas how to stop this? Should all bikes have to get registered with the District? Would that even do anything?

    • Same as cars doing this, police traffic enforcement is the traditional method. As in, “hey man, you ran a red light and could have killed someone, so you’re getting a ticket.” But, DC police keeps saying they’ve got bigger fish to fry.

    • Pedestrians should have the right to defend themselves against cyclists without punishment.

    • I haven’t read anything about who had the right of way at the time of the accident. I’ve seen cyclists blow through stop signs and red lights, but have also seen pedestrians walk out when the cross walk signal is still red. I wish that everyone was willing to wait just a split second longer and only cross when they have the signal (and I’d still pause a second before crossing because cars don’t always stop). It’s a tragedy regardless.

    • maxwell smart

      Hold the phone here. While this is indeed very tragic and I feel for the family, there is nothing that suggests right-of-way… unless I missed it somewhere. So let’s stop playing the blame game.

      • Pedestrians always have right-of-way. I have near misses all the time even where there are no bike lanes (like the 13th N of Logan Circle). The bikers have kind of reached the limits of their advocacy.

        • Pedestrians have the right of way at crosswalks UNLESS it’s a signalized crosswalk and they’re walking against the light (or the “don’t walk” sign, if applicable).

          • You said what I was saying, but far more succinctly.

          • Not true – in DC pedestrians ALWAYS have the right away. Even if they’re not in a crosswalk or walking against a red hand.

          • Dupont Resident — this topic has been discussed here numerous times with laws cited and that is FALSE. You do NOT have the right to walk in front of a moving car or bike if you have the red hand.

          • As FridayGirl said, Dupont Resident is incorrect. If you are crossing at any point other than a marked crosswalk or an intersection, you do so at your own risk as vehicles have the right of way.

        • First of all, this is a tragedy no matter who was legally at fault, my condolences to the deceased’s family. I gotta push back at something here for safety though.
          “Pedestrians always have right-of-way”
          No, they don’t.
          For a crosswalk without signals, vehicles have to stop and give right of way within the cross walk. But if there is a signal, you can’t walk for a “Don’t Walk” or “Wait” signal. Also, pedestrians only have the right of way in the crosswalk. At any other part of the road, they have to “yield the right-of-way to any vehicle.”
          But ultimately, whenever I am a pedestrian I act like I never have the right of way. Because while I might get a smug sense of satisfaction in being right, that won’t heal my broken back if I get hit.

          • As a frequent pedestrian, I always act like I have the right-of-way… and that every car, truck and bike will ignore it. I’m always watching for oncoming traffic when I cross streets, even when I have the light. After all, I don’t want my tombstone to read, “At least I had the right-of-way” when some Maryland driver runs me over while they’re turning and I’m in the crosswalk with the signal…

        • Not true. If the biker had a green light, then the ped stepping out even in a crosswalk means the biker had the right of way. I’ve had more than my fair share of near misses where a ped is ignoring their do not walk sign and my green light.
          I do not presume to know who was in the right here, but the assertion that peds always have the right of way is simply false.

          • Simply having the green doesn’t give drivers/cyclists right of way. This is particularly true on right-hand turns through a green light where vehicles must yield to pedestrians. It’s also true when a pedestrians enters the crosswalk with a ‘walk’ signal, in which case drivers must yield until the pedestrians reaches the opposite curb, whether the light is green or not.

          • James W, your repeated muddying of the issue is dangerous. A pedestrian *never* has the right of way at a controlled intersection when there is a “red hand.” Talking about right turn on red isn’t relevant here.

          • I’m not talking about right on red. I’m talking about right on green, turning into pedestrians who have a clear walk signal and who absolutely have the right of way. There’s nothing muddying about that. What’s muddying is saying that vehicles with a green light always have the right of way. They don’t.

      • I wasn’t placing blame. Just stating what I have “heard”- nothing official obviously. In a tragedy like this I don’t really think anyone should be “blamed” necessarily. But obviously this leads to a discussion about the repeated issues with bikers not obeying traffic laws and signals. I simply asked if there were any ideas on how it could be resolved. I’m not sure that it can. One possibility could be that bikers get registered with the district and get mini license plates for their bikes. I’m not sure if some of these stop light cameras would be able to take photos of bikers going through red signals but I think that could possibly make bikers at least think twice before barreling through an intersection. I know that I stop at red lights in my car in fear that the traffic lights have a camera. No one wants to get a ticket.

        • Heard from whom — the police? Eyewitnesses?

        • maxwell smart

          Just stating what I have “heard” – Trump? Is that you?

          • Alright bro- relax. Clearly you are a sensitive biker. I can’t believe I tried to discuss possible changes for biking in the city- the horror!
            For the record- I just heard that from friends who work right there and were at the scene right after it happened. No clue if it’s true or not- never claimed it to be fact.

          • You are “trying to discuss it” by poisoning the well with what you have “heard,” hence why you were compared to Donald “a lot of people are saying” Trump; that move is right out of his playbook.

          • Also out of the Trump playbook is over sensitivity, misdirection by attacking elsewhere, and attacking someone else as doing exactly what you are doing (in this case accusing them of being overly “sensitive”). If you are going to post seriously important facts about a fatal accident that aren’t in the reporting, don’t be surprised that people want to know the source, and not because they have all kinds of ulterior motives or sensitivities.

  • My mom knew this woman. I am so deeply sorry to her friends colleagues and families for their loss. Hoping people in the comment section will be respectful.

  • We don’t know what happened so instead of speculating and assigning blame, how about we express our condolences to the family and save the debate for another day? My thoughts and prayers go out to all involved.

    • Seriously? This is the perfect time for debate and similar stories! The whole point of even posting the story is so that bicyclists will hopefully read it and slow the hell down and start obeying the laws of the road. Yes, we can express condolences, and yes, we don’t know all the details…but I too have BEEN HIT TWICE and almost been hit dozens of times while crossing streets in DC. Bike riders need to stop their dangerous practices and cops need to start ticketing them.

      • What are you talking about? You have no idea who was at fault here. Pedestrians step into the crosswalk against the light all the time (often causing cyclists to have to swerve into traffic or potholes). Frequently peds get mad at me for almost hitting them when I have a green light and they were crossing against the signal. Everyone needs to be more careful in the city (starting with drivers). No one is going to change anyones mind in a thread like this, I wish comments were just closed from the start on posts like this. This is extremely tragic for all involved.

        • If he hit her hard enough to kill her, there’s probably zero chance the biker was going under 25 mph when he did it. Even if the biker had the right of way, if the biker was speeding, that speeding contributed to her death and they should be held accountable for it. I mean, bikers are all about removing contributory negligence, right? How do they like it now?

          • Anonjmous

            If I have a green light, I’ll bike at 25 mph (ok, I’ll try to), and that’s not “speeding” or illegal. If you step out in front of me and I can’t stop / swerve, you’re responsible. No, I don’t know what happened in this situation. And no, I don’t blow through stop lights / stop signs.

          • It was my understanding she died from hitting her head on the ground. You can certainly knock a 65 year old woman over going less than 25 mph. You probably shouldn’t start blaming someone for homicide just cause you have it out for cyclists.

          • “It was my understanding she died from hitting her head on the ground” — Your understanding based on what — talking to the paramedics or hospital staff?

          • ah

            One might reasonably infer that from the police description that being struck caused her to fall. If the injuries were caused solely by the collision the fall wouldn’t be relevant, but the mention of the fall suggests that’s relevant and hitting one’s head could result in a serious injury itself.

            None of that really matters legally – the cyclist hitting her caused her death. But it’s as, if not more, reasonable an assumption as that the cyclist must have been going 25mph+

          • Do you know how hard it is to travel 25 miles per hour on a bike? that a racing bike speed. The average speed a biker travels during the tour de France is 21-25 miles per hour….

          • maxwell smart

            Agreed with Caroline – it’s pretty difficult to bike 25+ MPH, especially in traffic and on DC roads that are riddled with potholes.

          • HaileUnlikely

            Why are we fixating on 25 mph? Because it is the posted speed limit? I don’t think “was the bicyclist in violation of the posted speed limit” is a particularly useful question to spend time dwelling on, other than in support of a dumb legal argument. He was going fast enough that he wasn’t able to avoid crashing into a person with enough force to kill. Good enough. Finally, this is at the bottom of steep hill, not the top of a long climb through the Pyrenees. It doesn’t take a doped up professional athlete to get up to 25 mph going down a hill.

          • @HaileUnlikely I bought up the speed becasue @Duponter made a claim that the biker was most likely speeding based on the fact that the accident resulting in a fatality. While that claim is ridiculous for a umber of reasons, I wanted to correct him that even going down hill 25 miles an hour is VERY fast on bike especially in a city even on a hill.

          • I’m not sure what you’re smoking, but it is not hard to hit 25 mph going downhill. Like, at all.

          • And I don’t really have anything against bikers other than that many are reckless when biking downtown. I see it literally every day. But I also bike and understand not all bikers are assholes.

            I remarked on the contributory negligence issue only because it comes up frequently from bikers who want to make sure drivers who hit them are held accountable and cannot use the contributory negligence law in DC to avoid liability. Well, the same could be true here for bikers who hit pedestrians. Whether 25 mph or not, I could very easily imagine a biker flying through that intersection after coming down the hill and having zero chance of avoiding a pedestrian who steps off a sidewalk in front of them.

          • @textdoc – it was my understanding based on reports outside of PoP that had reported this first. That is what is still being reported to have happened. I didn’t make it up, unlike Duponter, who decided to assign his own reality to the situation.

          • It is not reasonable to think this cyclist was going 25mph. The victim was hit, and fell, and hit her head. That could have happened at 5mph. The truth is, nobody hear actually knows what happened. Somebody died, and I’m sure the cyclists feels awful about it, whether or not they are at fault. They last thing anyone needs is internet commenters assigning guilt to the situation. We have all seen cyclists act stupid and dangerously, just as we have for drivers and pedestrians. That does not mean this person was. For those saying she was obviously going to too fast to stop, there is no speed slow enough to stop when somebody steps right into your way. Sometimes accidents happen. If it is indeed their fault, I hope the police investigation will sort it out. Stop trying to crucify someone because you want to reassign your frustration.

          • ^grammar mistakes, but the point still stands.

      • maxwell smart

        True. And pedestrians also need to wait until the have a green light to cross the street while also waiting on the sidewalk (not the edge of the curb or the bike lane) to cross the street. And drivers need to share the road with cyclists and leave a safe distance when passing. So basically, EVERYONE needs to obey the laws. Let’s not turn this into the cyclist witch hunt.

        • I jaywalk like a madman when nobody’s coming, because that’s just safer than assuming oncoming traffic will acknowledge traffic control signals. Look at it this way: it’s a lot easier to violate the rules of civilization (not stopping/yielding appropriately) than to violate the laws of physics (you can’t get hit by nothing!)…

          Now, yeah, this depends upon being alert and accurately assessing potential hazards… I have little sympathy for the folks who wander into traffic while staring at their phones! But likewise, I think this makes Idaho stops for bikes (and cars!) a lot more justifiable. You just have to be aware of your surroundings (which so few people are anymore)…

        • I know it’s legal in DC outside the CBD, but cyclists who choose to use the sidewalk need to be respectful of pedestrians who are also on the sidewalk.. I’ve narrowly missed being hit by cyclists (and dirt bikes, for that matter, but that’s another can of worms) who whiz by on the sidewalk from behind with no signal or advance warning when I’m fully aware of my environment. My condolences to Ms. Clark’s family.

          • (I write that knowing that wasn’t the case in this story, but bikes on the sidewalk are a major problem in DC, enough for signage to be posted in Columbia Heights and on 14th Street some years back.)

      • For what it’s worth, I’m a cyclist who follows traffic laws (including stopping at stop signs when there’s no pedestrians or vehicles around), and I use a helmet camera to document my rides just so I have some small degree of recourse for when something bad inevitably happens. In a year of bike commuting, I’ve had clueless pedestrians jaywalk in front of me while texting, almost resulting in collisions, been clipped by cars twice, and have had more close calls with other vehicles than I care to count. I’ll freely admit there’s an element of cyclists who behave terribly, and I’ve exchanged words with some of them before. But considering how you’re operating with the same set of facts that everyone else who read this story is, your anti-bike comments aren’t really relevant. In this case, “the whole point” of this story is to draw attention to a tragic death, not to put blame on either cyclist or pedestrian.

    • We don’t know what happened exactly – except it was a tragedy for all involved, so maybe let’s ease off on the blaming. Lots of people are hurting right now. But wow – I hope I look that good at 65.

  • So sorry for her family and friends. Tragic. I was glad to read that the biker stayed at the scene. I was sideswiped twice in the past (I walk with a cane) and even though I screamed in pain when I hit the sidewalk, the bikers kept going.

    People (bikers, drivers, everyone) need to take responsibility for their actions.

  • My condolences to the family as well. I don’t know the circumstances of this case, but the overall situation with the cyclists is frightening regardless of exactly what happened here: My wife was struck by a bicycle a couple years ago. It was 100% the cyclist’s fault (ripped around a corner on the sidewalk downtown in an area where cycling on the sidewalk is forbidden). As a pedestrian who walks everywhere, I find the situation with the bicycles absolutely terrifying because in our experience there is no enforcement or consequences for reckless cycling whatsoever.

    • maxwell smart

      “no enforcement or consequences for reckless cycling whatsoever” – Honestly I could say the same about driving in DC. On a daily basis, the amount of dangerous, illegal and mind-boggling things I see drivers do – the roads are essentially the lawless frontier. In 6 years of living in DC, I have yet to see someone pulled over for speeding, running red lights, driving the wrong way down 1-way streets, using the bike lane as an express driving lane, driving into on-coming traffic, U-Turns on red lights…

      • Don’t forget cell phones!

        • I would like to see more consequences for reckless driving too. They are in no way mutually exclusive. That said, I have seen lots of people pulled over for traffic violations, including literally yesterday on New York Ave. Have never seen it for a cyclist even once, including the cyclist who struck my wife on the sidewalk.

          • maxwell smart

            Conversely, I have seen days where the cops park at an intersection know for bikers running red lights / stop signs and hand out tickets left & right to cyclists for running said light/sign

      • justinbc

        I think all of those things happen every time I get into a cab.

      • I have been pulled over for:
        – turning left off K st. at rush hour
        – blocking the box and ‘running’ a red light

        therefore, your experience is really very anecdotal

      • I’m not sure how you’ve never seen that. I agree with everything you’ve said for the most part, but I have absolutely seen on a regular basis drivers get pulled over for nearly all of those things. There are also an insane number of cameras that catch people running red lights and speeding in the city. Not bikers mind you, cars.

        • maxwell smart

          Must be solely based on area of town. Connecticut Avenue is my main route and I have never seen anyone pulled over… even when there are cops present.

    • I am very sorry about your wife’s accident but personal stories don’t to accurately sum up or offer conclusions what happens day to day.

      I am a cyclist and I broke 2 figures in my left hand becasue i had to turn my bike into a parked car when a parent and double stroller filled with 2 children tried to run across the street on a cross walk on 14th . They had a do not walk sign, i had a green light. They could not see me in the bike lane becasue of parked cars. Had I been a motorcycle or a small car they would have died. Fortunately i was able to stop in time because I was not traveling that fast. I still have pain in my hand.

      For ever story where a cyclist is at fault there is one where a car is at fault and vs versa. Same goes for pedestrians vs cars. I have biked, walked and driven in this city for 8 years. Bikers, drivers, and pedestrians are all part of the problem. The police do not enforce bikers breaking traffic laws but they don’t really enforce pedestrians or even cars that much either.

      • I would guess more people get jaywalking tickets in DC than bikers get for anything. I know several people who have received them for crossing mid-block while downtown. The city goes through phases where it focuses on these things and the citations increase, then they lost interest and move on to something else.

        I don’t disagree everyone needs to be more careful, but the reality is if you’re the biker or the driver, you’re able to do a lot more damage to someone than a pedestrian can and when you’re biking or driving downtown at 13th and I during rush hour, you need to slow down and be more careful. Period. I don’t know how many times I’ve been surprised by bikers who nearly hit me because I really just don’t see them as well as I might see a car turning or the like.

        • You raise something interesting when you note that you really don’t see bikes well. I bike sometimes and I’ve noticed this weird phenomenon where pedestrians really don’t seem to see bikes where they would see cars when deciding whether to jaywalk/cross against a light. (I am now talking abstractly, because I have no reason to think that had anything to do with this accident.) I would like if more pedestrians would realize they aren’t “good” at seeing bikes and either look more carefully or not jaywalk. This realization has made me more cautious as a pedestrian. Maybe this issue will resolve as people get used to there being more bikes to look for.

  • This is so incredibly heartbreaking. Jane was such a gift to the world. My deepest condolences to her family, her colleagues at Kiplinger, and her loyal readers, who she personally responded to each month, for decades.

  • HaileUnlikely

    Without judgment on who was at fault for the *collision* (because I don’t have any idea, because it’s a technicality dependent upon a lot of underlying value judgments, and because I quite honestly don’t think it’s even among then ten or so most important questions to ask), I think a good rule to follow when traveling by any mode (tank/car/bike/unicycle/wheelchair/foot) is that when traveling within close proximity to other people, do what you can to avoid being in such close proximity while going so fast that if somebody moves even just a few inches you’ll strike them with enough force to kill them. If you’re within a few inches of striking somebody with enough force to kill them, you’re either too close, going too fast, or both, even if by luck there is no collision and thus nobody dies.

    • The average stride length is five feet. While slowing down and being wary of pedestrians is reasonable, a pedestrian can really come out of nowhere with just two steps. It’s hard to plan for that.

      • HaileUnlikely

        I’ll grant that it’s not literally impossible for a pedestrian to “come out of nowhere” (e.g., emerging from an alley or something) really quickly, but there isn’t any “nowhere” (i.e., hidden place) out of which to emerge at the location in question.

        • Agreed here. It’s not unreasonable to slow the f*** down at an intersection where there are crosswalks if you’re on your bike. That intersection is at the bottom of a hill and I’ll bet every penny I have that biker was flying trying to make that light before it turned red instead of responsibly slowing down to make sure no pedestrians inched their way out as the light was changing.

          • Well, here we are in another pointless argument. So you are now advocating that cyclists have some extra responsibility to slow down at green lights to make sure other people are not doing anything illegal? Nevermind the fact that there are probably cars behind them. With regard to your speeding cyclist comment, I am all for contributory negligence still and you do realize that bikes don’t have speedometers? This is also a pretty flat part of town and it is unlikely the cyclist was going more than 25.

          • HaileUnlikely

            Speaking for myself, in the unlikely event that the perfect anonabeer ever accidentally make a mistake and step into traffic because he thought incorrectly that he had the walk signal (long day, got confused, totally his fault, but didn’t do it on purpose), I’d hope that oncoming traffic would slow down so that they don’t kill him in the unfortunate event that they hit him.

          • Alright, we have moved to ad hominem attacks and completely twisting what people are saying. I of course hope that anyone would slow down at an intersection if they saw that someone was about to step into the intersection. The size and speed of a bike in the city is nothing compared to cars and I don’t see Duponter suggesting that cars need to slow the F down at every intersection just because someone maybe is going to do something (at some point we should just replace all lights with 4 way stops). For the record, despite the weird snark, that makes basically no sense given the comments here, I have accidentally stepped into the street against a walk signal while a ped numerous times (I have even gotten a ticket for it), I would never blame a cyclist going through a green light for “almost hitting me” or in fact hitting me. There is a lot a of crap a cyclist is looking out for on a bike, and no cyclist is trying to hit anything. The odds are in an accident with almost anything (ped, car, etc..) the cyclist is going to get the worst of it (this incident notwithstanding).

          • HaileUnlikely

            I was responding to your comment, “So you are now advocating that cyclists have some extra responsibility to slow down at green lights to make sure other people are not doing anything illegal?” My point was that we should all slow down or move over (car, bike, segway, pogo stick – I don’t care) so that in the event that somebody steps into our path (legally or illegally, purposely or accidentally – I don’t care), even if we can’t avoid hitting them, we don’t incapacitate or kill them, or at least are extremely unlikely to do so.

          • I was responding to Duponter, not you. Duponter’s statement was “It’s not unreasonable to slow the f*** down at an intersection where there are crosswalks if you’re on your bike.” That is every intersection by the way. You cannot effectively ride your bike in traffic with cars if you are doing this. At best this will dramatically increase the road rage of drivers, making things less safe for everyone. Your statement was more measured with qualifiers like “going so fast that if somebody moves even just a few inches you’ll strike them with enough force to kill them” (which I think is a bit of a red herring here, because for all we know, the cyclist was going slow and it was just a very unfortunate event) and “If you’re within a few inches of striking somebody.”

          • This discussion make me sad. People are so sure and absolutest. I also want to preface that what I am about to say with that it has nothing to do with the accident in the article.
            I’m sure all non-sociopathic bicyclist would indeed wish to avoid hitting a pedestrian, if they see it coming. And also avoiding being in accidents themselves. But it’s not always easy. When I bike, I am a law abiding, cautious cyclists (e.g. stop if the light is yellow at all before I get there, signal turns and lane changes, etc.). I’m also slow, rarely exceeding 10-12 mph. I ride my breaks down hills. And I look for pedestrians who might be about to step out, even when I have the right of way (just like a look for cars that look like they might turn without a signal or whatever).
            With all that, I’ve had several very close calls with pedestrians over a decade or so. Some do come truly out of the blue. Like, head turned the other way, having given no indication they are about to start walking into the street. (And of course they aren’t “literally” coming out of nowhere; but the fact that that one pedestrian standing at a corner of the 100s you pass on a ride suddenly decides to cross against the light can very much be “out of nowhere.”)
            I can stop quickly, too, but not instantly. It’s not a matter of inches. A pedestrian can get solidly into the bike lane or street faster than one can stop even at 10mph. I can swerve, but this has limitations: if there is a car in the other lane, or pylons, plus I don’t know if the pedestrian might freeze or run forward or back. I do yell as faster than the bell while I try to stop or move, so sorry to people who feel “yelled at.” Also, if I’m changing lanes (say to pass a car parked in the bike lane), I have to turn my head to check whether I’m clear, just like a car driver checking a blind spot. If you step out right then, we’re probably toast. And I have risked my own life and health avoiding hitting a pedestrian (like swerving without being able to check the lane is clear of cars behind me). With all this, unaware jaywalking pedestrians is still an issue despite much caution.. (As is, don’t get me wrong, bicyclists buzzing pedestrians who have the right of way, which I also certainly have experienced as a pedestrian.)
            I am probably your model slow cautious cyclist and it’s still an issue. Which is why I find the attitude that cyclists should bear the burden of pedestrians crossing against lights frustrating. How slow should a cyclists (who are already generally going under the speed limit, to the annoyance of cars) be going to satisfy these posters. I can tell you from experience, it would have to be under 7 mph (the speed I was going per my computer when I crashed after swerving to avoid a girl who stepped out without warning, I guess, because she saw another pedestrian step off the curb to wait, both while I was maybe three feet away from entering the crosswalk). Should they stop and walk their bikes through green lights because every pedestrian has the potential to walk out into the street? Just, please have a little perspective. Yell your heads off abou bicyclist weaving through pedestrians who have the right of way. But layoff telling bicyclists who do have the right of way to slow down when they are already traveling below the speed limit. And understand that most of us *are* trying to anticipate what cars, pedestrians, and other bicyclists are going to do. For our own sakes, too. But it’s not perfectly possible.

          • Why does it make you sad that many people believe that heavier, faster objects should take some additional precautions to avoid doing harm to smaller, slower ones? We can sit here and agree that a 250 lb. jogger has the same right to the sidewalk as an 8 year-old child, but are we really going to say that there’s no need for him to be extra vigilant to avoid trampling one? I’m genuinely puzzled by the comment that “people are so sure and absolutist” when you then ramble on for three paragraphs about all the obstacles you face as a cyclist (you know, looking over your shoulder or yelling at people and ringing your bell at them so they just get out of the way). What’s sad is that you seem to have no idea how entitled you sound.

      • just a quick fact check: the average stride length is nowhere near five feet… the average man’s stride length is half of that and the average woman’s is a bit shorter yet…

        • that was a weird fact. i guessed they meant that a stride was two steps. like from right foot leaving the ground to and planting right foot again. that could conceivable be five feet, but still seems long.

      • 5 ft??? WTF! no chance

  • This is just so sad. Condolences to all who knew this woman and good on the cyclist for staying at the scene.

    Everyone just needs to slow down. Everyone. I work in Georgetown and drive on K Street near the waterfront everyday. Those intersections are death traps. I have had two co-workers hit by cars in those crosswalks and another co-worker hit a cyclist who barreled through a stop sign.

    Every day I see cyclists literally ride through those 4 way stops without even slowing down. Some will slow when they see cars coming and very, very few actually stop at the stop signs.

    I have learned very quickly that getting upset does nothing. I have had cyclists wave their arm at me while going straight though the stop sign and others look genuinely annoyed at having to stop.

    It’s also terrifying trying to cross those intersections as a pedestrian. Cars are never sure when it’s their turn (I guess people forgot the right of way laws they learned) and it’s like playing frogger.

    You can honk at me if I sitting too long at a stop sign, I would rather be late than dead.

    • +1 to K Street in Georgetown. Ny office is there as well, Even worse are the handful of 3 way stops, where there aren’t streets south of K/. Cyclists traveling east on K don’t have any fear of getting hit, so they fly through those stops like they aren’t there. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had close calls crossing K.

    • Oh yeah, K Street in Georgetown is bad. The worst of all those intersections, however, is K at 29th with the entry and exit lanes from Rock Creek Parkway. There a no left turn sign from 29th onto K that is regularly ignored and the pedestrian crosswalk to cross the RCP entry is sufficiently far setback from the stop sign for oncoming traffic that drivers tend to ignore pedestrians crossing here (it’s also where I nearly got hit once, prompting me to yell at the driver and for him to stop and get out of his car)…

      • +1. There is also a no right turn from K Street westbound onto 29th during the morning rush that is routinely ignored, to the peril of pedestrians and motorists exiting RCP alike.

  • For what it’s worth, the Washington Post is currently reporting:
    “Police have not said whether the bicyclist went through a red light or if Clark stepped into the street against a pedestrian signal. Police said the cyclist remained at the scene and no charges have been filed pending the conclusion of the investigation.”

    • northeazy

      enough of these facts you have here textdoc. Those opposed to bicyclists, and there is indeed such a constituency, need no such facts as to whether the cyclist blew a red light or did the infamous Idaho stop. This collision is prima facie evidence of wrongdoing. Full Stop.

      • I would say that if the collision was such that it killed the woman, it’s unlikely that the cyclist was obeying the speed limit. Not impossibly, but extremely unlikely. And unless we are only going to discuss immutable facts, going with what’s likely is ok. Otherwise there would be no discussion.

        Also, even if this woman was totally in the wrong, does it make the behavior other’s are talking about ok? Clearly this story made other people think of bad behavior by cyclists. Why is it wrong to discuss that behavior? Why would we need to wait until we find a situation that directly matches?

        We’ve all see cyclists speed through intersections without yielding and many folks have been injured or nearly injured by this behavior. It’s wrong. It needs to be addressed, and this seems like an appropriate forum.
        I don’t think that the fact that *maybe* this woman was at fault changes that fact.

        • maxwell smart

          It really wouldn’t take a cyclist moving that fast to knock someone to the ground. And I think immediately blaming the cyclist is actually a big problem, as it continues to set up this dialogue where cyclists have to defend themselves. Sure… SOME cyclists don’t obey the law and run red lights. But there are just as many entitled pedestrians and drivers doing similar things. Immediately blaming the cyclists just continues to entitle drivers to run them off the road and for pedestrians to expect the right-of-way, regardless of the conditions.

        • Yes, this is no doubt the “appropriate forum.” This has never come up on here before, and the problem of cyclists terrorizing our fair city will be certainly be “addressed” by a few more comments from people who have no idea what they are talking about.In fact, I think one more wild assumptions or accusation and no one will be injured or nearly injured again!

          • I would say that no more than 20 percent of the time a cyclist will stop at an intersection if there isn’t an actual car present there. Many people here are saying the same thing.
            It doesn’t matter who was at fault in this accident. There are numerous incidents everyday where cyclists fly through intersections without regard for who is in them. It needs to stop. And finding out whether this lady stepped out against a red doesn’t change that.

            And dude, this is PopVille. We are not going to solve all the problems of the city on here and if that were the bar, then why discuss anything at all (no offense, Dan)
            And the reason it’s come up before (and will come up again), it because it continues to happen and because it’s dangerous/annoying.

            And this is about an incident where a bicycle killed a pedestrian. If this isn’t an appropriate time to talk about how we can all be safe what is.

            I mean geez. Why does every thread like this turn into #notallcyclists?

        • “I would say that if the collision was such that it killed the woman, it’s unlikely that the cyclist was obeying the speed limit. Not impossibly, but extremely unlikely.”
          And *I* would say that’s total bunk.
          Oh the Internet where anyone can assert any facts because they feel like “common sense” to the poster or match a posters anecdotal experience, perception biases be darned!

    • Anonjmous

      Apparently current knowledge facts are not worth much to some of the commenters here.

  • Very sad. If nothing else, it should remind bicyclists to slow down and pedestrians to remain vigilant. Not placing blame on either person, just a reminder that situations can change very quickly.

  • I have been a pedestrian and a driver in DC for many years, though never a cyclist. I will posit several principles:

    1) People are, as a general rule, selfish, entitled, easily distracted, and prone to the fundamental attribution error–the belief that we act as we do because of immediate circumstances, while others act as they do because of their nature.

    2) Following from principle 1, people are selfish, entitled, and easily distracted regardless of whether they are driving a car, riding a bike, or walking. We’re all terrible. Our conveyance isn’t the problem, we are.

    3) The bad behavior of other people does not mitigate or absolve our own bad behavior. That there are drivers who run stop signs or pedestrians who jaywalk does not give license to bicyclists to ignore laws, and vice versa.

    4) Following from the above, we should strive to do as little harm as possible. When I drive, I am fastidious about the rules precisely because I recognize the tremendous weight (literally and figuratively) of my actions–moving a large mass of metal and glass at high speeds in an environment crowded with fragile human bodies. I wish everyone did the same. I wish we all tried to take care of each other a little better.

    Because that’s what it comes down to: a question of efficiency (I’m in a rush so I’ll run this stop sign; I’ll lose too much momentum if I stop at this red light so I’ll blow it) versus everyone’s right to move through our city with a reasonable expectation of being free from gross bodily harm or death. We treat traffic infractions as minor, but they never, ever are. What hubris it must take to think that our convenience–getting to our destination seconds faster, or avoiding leg strain–is more important than a literal risk to an actual human being’s life?

    In short, slow the fuck down, everyone.

    • + a million. I think every time PoP puts up a post like this he should paste DC Resident’s comment in the comments section and then immediately close the thread. Although I don’t think the standard should be “literal risk to an actual human being’s life”, IMO that still allows far too much inconsiderate and dangerous behavior.

    • While I agree in principle, the fact that you haven’t been a cyclist is pretty apparent from your response (though not as much as some other responses in here). Everyone seems to think riding a bike is like driving a car. It isn’t. For example, not slowing down is not just a matter of efficiency or avoiding leg strain, it is also an important matter of safety for the cyclist. Breaking means you lose the ability to turn. If you try and turn while you are breaking, you are going to lose traction with the road, slide out, and crash, so you have to keep the bike going straight and upright. Losing the ability to turn means losing the ability to avoid cars AND pedestrians. If you are going at speed, you can swerve, which is what they teach you to do in safety classes. Also, getting up to speed and slowing down are some of the most vulnerable times as a cyclist, due to the effort involved in peddling up and the loss of maneuverability while decelerating.
      That said, there is a difference between that and not looking while approaching intersections. But I feel like a lot of people who rag on cyclists don’t really understand what they are talking about.

      • I’m really struggling with this one: “…not slowing down is not just a matter of efficiency or avoiding leg strain, it is also an important matter of safety for the cyclist.” The law requires cyclists to come to a full and complete stop at red lights and stop signs–not just slow down, but stop. Presumably, cyclists are slowing down and stopping, for example, at red lights and stop signs when there are moving vehicles with the right of way present, right? So is it a matter of weighing some risk (it’s less dangerous to slow down than it is to get hit by a car with the right of way) against other risk (it’s more dangerous to slow down than it is to strike and kill a pedestrian)? You’re right–my lack of cycling experience is a blind spot, but the general principle holds: you sound a lot like every other human on earth, in that would want to privilege your immediate circumstances over everyone else’s (we need a special rule for MY mode of conveyance), and you believe that your actions are a necessary response to circumstances (I HAD to run that red light! It’s dangerous to slow down!) and not the result of an intrinsic selfishness.
        But more importantly, a great deal of this risk could be mitigated by better road design. Improving visibility and creating physical obstacles to speeding, such as curb bump-outs that force drivers and cyclists to slow down at intersections probably would go a long way towards reducing collisions like this one.

        • You can actually relate a lot of this to driving a car! Let’s say you’re trying to bang a U-ie in a mid-size sedan…what’s the first thing you do? HIT THE GAS! You can turn tighter at slightly higher speeds. Same with bikes. If I hit a pothole at 2 MPH, I’ll probably get stuck in it and go over the handlebars (your car will likely struggle to get out of it at the same speed)…if I hit it at 10 (and it’s not gigantic), I’ll probably pop right out on the other side.
          As for not slowing down or coming to a complete stop, that’s all on drivers. I’m actually perfectly happy to come to a complete stop at any intersection you want me to, even without a light or sign. But, I risk being run over by an impatient driver if I do so at *many* intersections. Here’s an example…I was riding down the bike lane on 6th St. NE, headed south. Got stopped by a red at Florida. By the time I got to the other side of the intersection, I was probably pedaling along at 8 MPH. Even though I was to the right of southbound car traffic, headed into a further bike lane, a driver in the middle lane who decided at the last minute that he wanted to turn right cursed at me and told me “get out of the street, bitch” and another driver going straight laid on the horn at me because someone turning left prevented her from going around me. And all that went down in less than 30 seconds. People sitting in comfortable seats in effortlessly propelled climate controlled boxes can’t wait 10 seconds to make an illegal turn or 30 to “go faster.” But, sure…cyclists are the problem.

          • You’ve got your physics exactly backwards. Higher speeds require a wider – not tighter – turn radius.

      • These are all good reasons why many cyclists can’t handle mixed traffic. They can’t accelerate fast enough to ride with the cars, and they can’t stop fast enough-or swerve to handle jay walkers (a regular thing in any urban area). Streets should be redesigned to slow down both bikes and cars-urban areas are for pedestrians first.

        • Oh, this I definitely agree with. We should have dedicated bike lanes for sure, and I would love it if we got rid of cars in down town all together.

      • Here’s the deal – if you can’t ride your bike through town in a controlled manner, then don’t ride a bike. “Not slowing down” is a matter of safety because you can’t brake through a turn? Yeah – that’s why you brake before the turn, ahead of the intersection. A lot of people who rag on cyclists in this town ARE cyclists (including myself). I do it every day as I’m stopped at a light watching three or four others simply blow through it like it doesn’t exist, or swerve over into a mass of pedestrians to slip through the crosswalk. The best way to raise the reputation of cyclists is not to post some condescending nonsense about how all those non-cyclists just couldn’t understand… but to master some basic skills and abide by the traffic laws.

    • Thank you for this. More and more, I see people on all modes of travel who routinely put their convenience ahead of others’ safety, this is something we all need to consider as we make our way through the world. Is that 10-second or 1-minute head start worth someone’s life?

  • Very sad. My pal Lucy in Mt. Pleasant was hospitalized after being hit on the sidewalk (from behind) by a cyclist… he did not stop.

  • justinbc

    Someone on Reddit summed it up nicely…
    Pedestrian struck by car in DC? ALWAYS DRIVER’S FAULT, DOUBLE FAULT IF MD PLATES!
    Pedestrian struck by bike in DC? WHOA WHOA WHOA LET’S HEAR ALL THE SIDES!
    I really hope the victim’s family isn’t reading internet comments today.

    • +1 on “I really hope the victim’s family isn’t reading internet comments today.”

      • +1. Or the biker/biker’s family. Regardless of fault, that is a terrible weight to live with for the rest of your life. I feel for both sides.

  • Might be worth reminding younger residents that bike lanes are relatively new, so keep in mind that older residents got used to walking around the city/established patterns before there were any bike lanes. They are kind of an interruption in a way. And going slowly is always a good idea :^) Unless you’re escaping something.

  • So how many of you are going to full-on run me over on the bike if I slow down from 10-15 (under the speed limit) to “look out” for the pedestrian who “doesn’t see me” (despite my *very bright* front strobe engaged even in daylight), at a green light, while I take the lane so as to be further away from the curb? Every one of you who drives is going to say “this cyclist is exercising caution regarding careless pedestrians…I applaud and support that, and won’t honk, carelessly overtake, or hit this cyclist while they exercise this extreme caution at every intersection!”
    Give me a break. I’ve had a driver intentionally hit my back tire, just enough to damage it, because I was sitting in a left turn lane AT A RED LIGHT and she thought I shouldn’t be in a “car lane.” I’ve had drivers intentionally drive into the bike lane while taunting me even when traffic was perfectly clear, just to be a-holes. I’ve watched traffic control officers ask people to stay on the curb and out of the bike lane downtown, and those pedestrians ignore them and stand wherever they felt like. For every story you can tell about a dick of a cyclist, I can tell more about dickish drivers and pedestrians.
    I’m so sorry for this woman and her family. No matter what happened, a family is grieving and someone – who stuck around to take potential responsibility – caused serious injury resulting in death. Several years ago, as I was driving downtown, a kid ran out in front of my car and I was lucky to slam the brakes hard and fast enough to not hit her. It still haunts me that I almost killed a child, even though I wasn’t doing anything wrong in my operation of my vehicle. You can be 100% perfect in your adherence to laws, and something can still go wrong. I wasn’t “an excellent driver” or “doing the right thing” to not hit that little girl…I just got lucky and had good enough reflexes. Any number of exogenous factors could have changed such that she’d now be dead and I’d have that on my conscience (but not my liability). There but for grace, and all that.

    • Thank you for this post. Said much better than I would. Too much certainty and absolutism in these comments. Then it’s followed by the comment below yours. *eyeroll*

    • Life’s too short to listen to every DC resident’s traffic horror stories. Do you really think you’re special here? Apparently you do. I’m not sure if it’s more sad or hilarious when bikers moan about vehicles bullying them off the road and then turn around and moan about pedestrians getting in their way. Some of you guys are special.

  • Cyclists in this city love to choose if they are a vehicle or pedestrian when it benefits them. Where is the outcry for the pedestrian…we should do a walking protest in bike lanes.

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