“I (cyclist) was given a ticket (at the hospital while I was awaiting getting stitches) for changing lanes without caution (I was not changing lanes).” Witnesses Sought

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via google maps

“Dear PoPville,

I was sideswiped by a large black SUV on Water St. near 30th on Friday morning at about 7:45. The driver did stop, but I believe he may have misrepresented what happened, because I (cyclist) was given a ticket (at the hospital while I was awaiting getting stitches) for changing lanes without caution (I was not changing lanes). I am seeking any witnesses to the accident.”

If you witnessed this incident please email [email protected] and I’ll put you in touch with OP. Thanks.

49 Comment

  • Get rid of the bicycle and get a dirt bike or ATV. That way the police will not try to catch you.

  • northeazy

    Don’t pay it. There is nothing they can do. Impound your bike? Boot your tires? I would have spit on the cop who gave me the ticket in the hospital and gladly paid the fine associated with the assault.

    If you insist, challenge it in court. If the ticket was given to you based on the testimony of the driver, but NOT seen by the cop, the judge will throw it out automatically.

    • Isn’t the problem that by ticketing the bicyclist, the cop has now provided the driver (and his insurance company) with evidence to say they weren’t at fault? Medical expenses should be reimbursed by the driver if the driver was at fault.

      Glad you’re okay OP, and keep track of all medical ailments. I was hit by a car a few years ago and didn’t know the extent of my injuries until months later. So much attention was on my broken bone, that no one knew I had torn ligaments all over my upper body until I came off the pain relievers 6 months later. I’m still not quite right!

      • justinbc

        Police officers almost never assign fault in collisions like these, really curious if that’s what really happened. It’s even more alarming if they weren’t actually there to witness it.

      • I can say from experience that insurance companies (or at least Geico) specifically do NOT use police opinion or the issuance of a ticket to determine fault. I once rear ended someone who swerved right in front of me and slammed on the brakes and the police sided with me and issued the other driver a ticket. Geico still tried to find me at fault due to the traditional “if you rear end someone, it’s always your fault” mentality.

        • I think you’re drawing the wrong conclusion. Insurance companies try to avoid paying out money. They will use whatever “evidence” is available to support that position. In your case, that meant ignoring the citation to the other driver. In OP’s case, I’m sure the driver’s insurance company will gladly point to the citation issued to OP to claim no liability.

          • I disagree. My insurance company wanted to find me at fault when I wasn’t. Therefore had I not argued with them, they would have been on the hook for paying for the other vehicle’s damage. I argued that it wasn’t my fault and they eventually conceded, meaning they didn’t have to pay anything.

    • “I would have spit on the cop who gave me the ticket in the hospital and gladly paid the fine associated with the assault.”……classy.

      Keep doing you, northeazy. Happy Monday!!

      • northeazy

        And ticketing an injured person in the hospital for riding a fucking bike is classy? If you roba fucking bank in this city and get shot, the cops don’t arrest you when you are in the hospital. They wait for you. Because ya know, criminal rights. But a cyclist gets hit, fuck him. Hand him the ticket while he is in the gurney. Why do you support bank robbers PetworthGuy?

        • “Why do you support bank robbers” – Legitimately laughed out loud, such sound reasoning….. Talk about jumping to conclusions and putting words in my mouth. It’s neither here nor there, but have you actually every seen a bank robber or witnessed the arresting process? where are you pulling this erroneous BS from? Talk about comparing apples to oranges……Hope this hump day is treating you well Northeazy!! Must be tough to get through each day with so much pessimism and animosity towards everything and everyone.

          • Actually, I do know of one case where the police knew who had shot someone, but the perp had also been hurt in a later crime and was in the hospital. The police did wait for his discharge before arresting him, but I don’t think it had anything to do with “class” or common courtesy. I think it was a strategy to make sure the perp was in someone’s custody as long as possible before having to get all the evidence together.

            I also wondered if the police arrest someone while in the hospital if that means the taxpayers are on the hook for medical treatment. No idea..just wondering. In this case, we probably were in either case because as a gang member, I highly doubt the man in question had group life insurance.

    • You have to pay any parking or moving violations when you get your DC driver’s license renewed (assuming the cop got your correct name).

      • northeazy

        True–but who needs one of the licenses anyway. Passport for life to avoid paying that ticket. My pettiness and rightful indignation knows no bounds.

  • I thought MPD always said something to the effect of — “if we don’t see the infraction, we can’t write a ticket for it.”
    .
    Seems that they were able to in your case, unfortunately.

    • This situation seems to be one where they couldn’t, but the person who rear ended me did get a ticket too. It basically admitted fault, so that’s a smidge different, but the cop was definitely not there when it happened.

      • HaileUnlikely

        Unique circumstances aside, one can basically tell who struck whom in a rear-end crash, unless the apparently-struck vehicle (the one with the rear-end damage) actually backed into the apparently-striking vehicle (the one with the front-end damage) or something. In the case of a sideswipe, things are a lot less clear: maybe one vehicle made an unsafe/illegal lane change, maybe the other did, maybe both did – the physical evidence will look pretty much identical.

    • So we hear on Popville frequently. But like some other things, perhaps it has earned exaggerated/urban legend status.

    • I think the distinction is contact. If there is contact, they can write a ticket even if they didn’t see it. If no contact, no ticket based on eyewitnesses.

  • I rode through with my handlebar cam right after this happened, but it was after the cyclist was already on the ground and being tended to so I didn’t keep the footage. Looks like I was about a minute too late. Seems that the cyclist could fight the ticket…I mean, if it’s just the driver’s word against the rider’s (assuming no witnesses provided a statement that corroborates the driver), it doesn’t seem like there would be a way to determine fault.

    • Sure, but they shouldn’t have to waste their time fighting the ticket. After getting hit and sent to the ER, it’s already an incredibly amount of effort to fight with the driver/driver’s insurance just to get your medical bills coverage. Making the cyclist fight MPD over the ticket is salt in the wound.

      • Well of course that’s absolutely true, but that ship has sailed for this particular cyclist since the ticket already has been issued.

  • If it was a big black SUV maybe it was some sort of law enforcement?

  • Holy crap, glad that, ultimately, you’re okay! Hope your bike’s okay, too.

  • I was hit by a car last October while on my bicycle and ended up in the ER. The car turned into me but I received a ticket. I debated with the officer but to no avail. I think the police department has an anti-biking bias.

  • I would file a report with WABA. They have recommendations on their website for attorney’s that specialize in representing bike accident victims (you). It’s imperative that the driver of the vehicle is determined to be found 100% at fault. Get an attorney, TODAY!! A good attorney will find video of the accident from CCT cameras in the area, so don’t worry about that citation.

  • I’m sorry this happened to you and agree with the other posters that in my experience, police refuse to issue a ticket if they do not witness the driving infraction so it’s unclear how they determined that you allegedly changed lanes without caution. Also, try reaching out to WABA for informational and advocacy assistance. You can also file a FIOA for any city camera footage that may have captured in the incident and call up nearby businesses to see if they have any cameras.

    • And if you are going to FOIA, do it quickly. The city does not keep camera footage for that long unless there is a need to.

    • I didn’t know that about ticket issuance. A van turned left into me (biking straight on a green light) back in 2014 – the cop issued a ticket to the driver based on witness statements. Now (tens of thousands of dollars of medical bills later…) I’m really glad it didn’t swing the other way.
      .
      Good luck to OP, I hope you find witnesses to corroborate your story, because it seems like right now the witnesses that the SUV pulled are corroborating his.

  • I suggest writing your anc member, council member, the district capitan, and local news with the name of the officer and driver. Based on the drivers inconsistent recollection of the facts, it’s likely he or she was also intoxicated.

  • That entire area is chock full of large Black SUVs with those “VA” tags that say “Vehicle for Hire” or something like that. They’re Uber drivers or drivers for VIPs, driving Four Season guests around. They do not pay attention when they drive those gigantic tanks around. Half of the drivers can barely look over the wheel. I’m sorry this happened to you. I sympathize cause I have to put up with those drivers all the time. And, yes, the police do have a bias against bikes. Most of them do not ride bikes, do not live in the city, and probably have an SUV at home.

  • Contest the ticket!

    i was hit (or technically i did hit the car) on a bike when he failed to see me and made a left turn into traffic. The driver got a ticket for failing to yield to on coming traffic but i also got a (much smaller) ticket because the cop said I did not have a front light. I was given the ticket at the ER while being processed through the trauma unit. I told the cop I did have a front light, he said that he only saw the back light on my bike flashing at the scene. Well since I hit the car front on, my entire front tire and fork were crushed , by bike was totaled, the front light was smashed as well. I asked the cop if he looked for the pieces of my front light and he said no. I was annoyed. After hitting a car head on I am not sure of any bike lights that would still be in tact and in working order.

    But the point of this whole story is that i simply wrote in and contested the ticket with a page long description of what happened. I got it waved/ dismissed, no witnesses, no court appearance. There were lots of people at the scene who may have given witness statements to the cops but i was hauled out of there in an ambulance pretty quickly so not sure. But i did not need there accounts to get my ticket dismissed.

    • Ugh. That cop sounds awful. I have had two big crashes, and my light was severely damaged in one and smashed to bit in the other (along with my bell).

    • Was this during the day time? DC law only requires lights at night! (I mean…sure, it’s a good idea to have lights at all times, but you’re not breaking the law without them until the sun sets! Probably) Yet another example of cops going after cyclists just because they think they can.

      • Got the parens a little off there. I was trying to say that it was probably ( ) the cop looking for a way to ticket you so the driver was less than 100% responsible, and therefore off the hook. In any case, the simple idea that bikes have to have lights at ALL times is yet another example of putting extra burdens on cyclists. If you’re in a car, you don’t need to have “running lights” during daylight hours. “From civil twilight to civil daylight, and if the operator cannot see 500 feet in front of the vehicle without headlights.” When I’ve forgotten to turn the headlights on while driving in pitch-black night (the city is bright, yo), the only thing a cop has ever done is roll up next to me and tell me my lights aren’t on.

  • Anonjmous

    Ugh. This is one reason I bike with a helmet camera. Not that facts and evidence always win the day, but it’ll at least make my “dear popville” get more hits.

  • Ticketing cyclists based on the word of the driver and “witnesses” by MPD is common. Just a sampling:
    .
    https://ggwash.org/view/31600/it-must-have-been-your-fault-cmon-you-are-a-biker
    http://washington.cbslocal.com/2014/05/20/d-c-police-investigating-100-ticket-for-cyclist-who-caught-incident-on-camera/
    https://struckdc.wordpress.com/2010/11/19/submission-cyclist-struck-at-van-ness-st-and-40th-pl-nw-received-150-ticket/
    .
    I agree with others to get any footage you can ASAP. A lawyer might be a good idea if you are going to incur uncovered medical bills or may have injuries yet to fully surface. Contesting the ticket is a no-brainer (very little evidence against you), but, even if dismissed, won’t push liability onto the driver. That’s what any hard evidence you can get your hands on is for.

    • saf

      Not just cyclists. Many years ago, I was hit by a tourist in an suv on my motorcycle. I was going straight. He turned left into me, then swore I had “just zoomed up into him.” The cops wrote it up that way. They came to interview me in the ER. They also reported “no injuries.” I spent a month on crutches.

    • Wow, that second video is terrifying. That driver is INSANE. After trying to run over the cyclist, he throws the bike across the street and screams like a psychopath about “touching his car.” I hope they throw him in the loony bin.

      • I actually ride that stretch regularly…it happened a block from the MBT (1st & R NE, for those who don’t recognize the intersection on sight), on a low-traffic street with sharrows and lots of speed humps and stop signs. It’s also a decent downhill. Given all these factors (a cyclist will be moving at a decent clip where drivers are slowed down, there aren’t many drivers to contend with most of the time, and there’s no reason for drivers to freak out since the cyclist will be on a trail and out of their way in exactly no time), I’ve always felt fairly safe there. Hopefully you’re right and Mr. Anger Issues was sufficiently punished such that he’s no longer terrorizing R St.

  • Par for the course. I was in a crosswalk where it intersects a median when a car crossed two double yellow lines and sideswiped me when he tried to pass. It was both our faults according to the cop. F.