Greater Greater Washington

Metrobus hits cyclist, WMATA brushes victim off

Metrobus drivers get a lot of training before they're sent out on the streets of DC. To avoid crashes, WMATA needs to make sure this training includes how to interact with cyclists. And when collisions do happen, WMATA needs to take them seriously.


Photo by Elly Blue on Flickr.

Reader Karen was involved in a bicycle crash when a bus driver trapped her against parked cars. She isn't at all happy with WMATA's response. She emailed in with this account:

I was traveling south on Georgia Ave. on the right side of the right lane around 10:15-10:20 pm on May 5th. I had a red flashing light on my backpack and a white flashing light on the front of my bike and was wearing a helmet. As I approached the 2700 block, I heard four horn beeps directly behind me.
Before I had time to react, a number 70 Metrobus was passing me in the right lane. As the bus passed, it moved further to the right, trapping me between the bus and a line of parked cars. I tried to maintain control of my bike and began braking immediately, but was unable to avoid colliding with the moving bus.
I skidded alongside the bus a few times before flipping over my handlebars and landing beneath a parked car. The bus did not stop. Fortunately, one of my friends was cycling directly behind me, and the incident took place in front of a bar with a patio area, so I had plenty of witnesses who called 911 and chased the bus down the street to try to get it to stop.
DC Metro and Metro Transit Police responded and took statements. I refused the ambulance, but traveled to the ER on my own after the incident to get my right knee checked out. I now have about $500 in medical bills and bike repairs, but WMATA claims no responsibility for the accident and has told DC Metro police that the striking vehicle is "unknown." As such, I have no way of claiming damages, even though I did nothing wrong.
As I see it, the bus driver was poorly trained in the rules of the road, or chose to disregard them (aka didn't care). He honked, so he clearly saw me, which while not illegal, is at best classified as harassment or road rage.
DC law then says that any overtaking vehicle must leave at least 3 feet of space between the vehicle and the cyclist. Since the bus moved into my lane of travel, he did not yield me the right of way. Had I been a car, or had I exercised my right to take the entire right lane when a dedicated bike lane is not available, he would not have been able to pass in the same lane.
Finally, he struck me and continued down the road, which is at best a hit and run, or assault with a vehicle. Despite attempts to chase the bus down the street, which as a driver would be hard to be unaware of (the guys were pretty freaking loud as they chased it, and it had stopped at a red light a few blocks down), the bus never stopped.
WMATA police asked us lots of questions about the bus, what type it was (older model, solid white body, the one that has the steps up, back number ID burnt out, 70 route, at that place at that time) and if any more buses had passed in the mean time (none had). Based on this information, they should have been able to identify the bus in question. I would like to see the proof that they don't have any idea what bus it was, and that an actual investigation was done.
If this was a bus in revenue service, WMATA should be able to use their NextBus data to determine the bus in question. The Georgia Avenue line only runs at 20 minute headways on Saturdays, so it's very unlikely there would be confusion about which bus this was.

WMATA should take complaints like this seriously, and make every effort to find the driver in question so that they can be properly trained on how to interact with cyclists. Bicycling is becoming more commonplace every day in DC and the surrounding jurisdictions, and in fact, the transit agency itself is encouraging more people to cycle.

However, the evidence seems to indicate that many drivers don't know or don't care how to properly and safely interact with bicyclists on city streets. And this response seems to indicate that the agency is not interested in tracking down the errant driver. Even if WMATA can't determine who the driver was in this case, they could speak with all the drivers on the 70 Line that were on duty that night about proper passing of cyclists.

Although, it might be good for WMATA to review their training procedures for cyclist interaction systemwide.

Three times over the last 2 weeks, I have been honked at by MetroBus and MetroAccess drivers passing me while I was in the bike lane or in the right lane of a two-lane street. Most cars, and certainly buses, are loud enough that I can hear them coming as they pass.

We've talked about this recently. Honking at a cyclist is not a sign of politeness; it's aggressive and, at least to the cyclist, feels like an assault.

Imagine you're walking down the sidewalk, minding your own business. Suddenly another pedestrian approaches from behind and blasts an air horn right in your ear. How would you feel? Even if the other pedestrian meant the air horn to be helpful ("hey, I just wanted to let you know I was passing"), most people would find it startling, aggressive, and completely unnecessary.

That's how it is for those of us on two wheels when a multi-ton vehicle sounds a very loud horn right behind us.

If you're a driver, remember, the most important thing you can do when passing a cyclist is to be courteous. If there is room to pass safely, do so without using your horn. You should leave at least three feet of space between your car and the cyclist, and if it's possible, move all the way over into the adjacent lane.

If there is not enough room to pass, wait until there is room. Cyclists have every legal right to travel on roadways in this region. They're not traveling slowly to antagonize you. In most cases, they're traveling somewhere, just like you are.

Many drivers in this region need better training on how to interact with cyclists. Metro's pool of bus drivers is no exception. WMATA needs to make sure their training on this issue is up to best practice standards and that drivers receive frequent updates.

When there is a complaint about driver behavior, or when there has been an accident, Metro needs truly investigate the incident and retrain the driver when neccessary.

Because most bike lanes are sandwiched between the car travel lane and the parking lane where bus stops are, buses and bikes interact on the road frequently. It's all the more important for WMATA to thoroughly train its drivers how to handle these interactions. And when a crash does inevitably happen, Metro needs to take responsibility for the actions of its employees.

Matt Johnson has lived in the Washington area since 2007. He has a Master's in Planning from the University of Maryland and a BS in Public Policy from Georgia Tech. He lives in Greenbelt. He’s a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners. He is a contract employee of the Montgomery County Planning Department. His views are his own and do not represent the opinion of his employer. 

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"Imagine you're walking down the sidewalk, minding your own business. Suddenly another pedestrian approaches from behind and blasts an air horn right in your ear. How would you feel? Even if the other pedestrian meant the air horn to be helpful ("hey, I just wanted to let you know I was passing"), most people would find it startling, aggressive, and completely unnecessary."

In this context, how would you characterize cyclists ringing their bells at pedestrians on sidewalks?

by Mazzie on Jun 7, 2012 10:25 am • linkreport

This is terrible to hear. Why doesn't WMATA do something about this and send a message? They should track down the driver, fire him/her, the driver should be ticketed and the victim should receive compensation for damages. Frankly, the police should step up if WMATA won't. I hope Karen doesn't let this fizzle out without a resolution.

by MJ on Jun 7, 2012 10:25 am • linkreport

Carry an air horn (such as this one:http://www.amazon.com/Falcon-Safety-Super-Sound-Horn/dp/B0000AXTVF/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1339079306&sr=8-4)

Honk back. :)

by Ryan S on Jun 7, 2012 10:29 am • linkreport

"In this context, how would you characterize cyclists ringing their bells at pedestrians on sidewalks?"

as someone who often walks on shared trails, I find it very useful - bikes, unlike cars, are pretty quiet.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 7, 2012 10:31 am • linkreport

The bus driver is in the wrong for potentially causing an accident and leaving the scene, but I'm not sure I can agree with the comparison made.
Imagine you're walking down the sidewalk, minding your own business. Suddenly another pedestrian approaches from behind and blasts an air horn right in your ear. How would you feel? Even if the other pedestrian meant the air horn to be helpful ("hey, I just wanted to let you know I was passing"), most people would find it startling, aggressive, and completely unnecessary.
A pedestrian may want to acknowledge the other pedestrian with some sort of audible communication, but the scale is different if you're walking on a sidewalk. Instead of an air horn, I might say "excuse me" and even may mention the side I am passing on. I haven't seen a consensus for how cyclists and autos should communicate.

by selxic on Jun 7, 2012 10:36 am • linkreport

I sympathize; this has almost happened to me so many times, including on Georgia Ave. with 70 buses. Bus drivers regularly cut me off while biking or squeeze me too close to parked cars. They are the biggest annoyance out there (other than maybe taxis) and bus drivers sometimes seem like deliberate jerks.

But really, this is a structural problem of sharing the streets because the speeds and stopping of bikes and buses don't line up well. It is a constant frustration to let a bus pull to the stop, then cautiously go around it, then 3 blocks later have it fly past (dangerously close), then have it cut you off/stop and you go around it carefully. Then maybe there are 2 buses herded together stopping at the same stop. Etc.

On the other hand, constantly dealing with the same bikes over and over doesn't seem very fun for the bus drivers either.

I am not sure what the solution is other than maybe encouraging bike routes that are not on major bus routes (and Georgia Ave. in particular is not really bike-friendly at all). They really don't play well together.

by jeff gerhard on Jun 7, 2012 10:36 am • linkreport

"This is terrible to hear. Why doesn't WMATA do something about this and send a message? They should track down the driver, fire him/her, the driver should be ticketed and the victim should receive compensation for damages."

This is Metro we're talking about. You can run someone over, get convicted of criminal manslaughter, and ATU 689 will make sure that you still keep your job and gold-plated benefits.

The only people that ATU 689 won't stand up for are those who blow the whistle on safety violations. Do that, and Metro managers will fire you on a technicality while the union leaves you high and dry.

by Phil on Jun 7, 2012 10:43 am • linkreport

Bus drivers feel empowered driving those big vehicles. I've almost been struck by buses as a pedestrian at crosswalks a few times, always because the bus was breaking traffic rules and not yielding to the pedestrian in the crosswalk with a green light! (usually the bus is trying to turn right and thinks his green light trumps mine).

by Gull on Jun 7, 2012 10:44 am • linkreport

@Mazzie

Ringing bells can be obnoxious if the rider never bothers to slow down and expects the bell to be a "get out of my way" signal. Usually I do not find it obnoxious as bicyclists are generally pretty deferential to pedestrians. It is, however, very different from having a car horn honked at you since a horn is MUCH louder (since it's designed to be heard inside another car).

@selxic
Why does a car driver need to communicate with a cyclist beyond eye contact and a wave? When you're walking or on a bike you can easily hear traffic around you - I know if a car is coming up behind me. See above - car horns are extremely loud when you are not inside another car. It's startling and obnoxious behavior to honk at someone just because you're going around, and completely unnecessary. It's not the communication that's obnoxious, it's the volume.

by MLD on Jun 7, 2012 10:46 am • linkreport

Bikes are slow. You throw off the timing of the lights and delay trips. You follow none of the rules of the road (never seen a bicyclist signal a lane change). Want to be treated like a car? Follow the rules of the road like a car.

Get over yourselves.

by Ed on Jun 7, 2012 10:49 am • linkreport

This has nearly happened to me several times on various bus routes. Karen, I can't imagine how scary it was, and am glad you came out relatively unscathed.

I, personally, have filed several complaints with Metro about bus drivers that have run me off the road or otherwise acted aggressively with no response -- ever. I'll admit, I've been bad about following up due to the fact that it takes a lot of time and I've not been injured or harmed. Yet.

Would it be possible to organize some sort of meeting between WMATA and WABA, or cyclists generally (perhaps via GGW) to discuss concerns, improving bus driver training, and coming up with a better system to report incidents?

by Elle on Jun 7, 2012 10:51 am • linkreport

$500 in medical bills and damage to a bike sounds like a very minor expense.

by charlie on Jun 7, 2012 10:52 am • linkreport

I agree that it's rude and aggressive for people in cars to honk at people on bikes. I think it is equally aggressive for people on bikes to honk at pedestrians?

by ZfromDC on Jun 7, 2012 10:53 am • linkreport

I was inside of a bus where the driver started honking repeatedly at two bikers riding to the right of his bus. I asked him why he was honking at them.

He acted offended and explained that he was letting them know that he was there- that it was a warning. While I don't agree with the continued honking since the buses are quite loud and noticeable, I do understand his point of view. Perhaps guidelines should be drafted by WMATA and WABA?

by Mike on Jun 7, 2012 10:53 am • linkreport

This is a great example of why we need trolleys instead of buses, because they cant swerve, drift over, take a tight corner, drive erratically, because they are fixed to the rails! This would help out bicyclists a whole lot!

by CB on Jun 7, 2012 10:58 am • linkreport

@charlie:
For many younger folks that is something like 1/4 of their monthly net, if they're non-profit or service industry possibly even a higher proportion. So, no, it's not catastrophic, but it's a big dent for something that is entirely someone else's fault.

by prognostication on Jun 7, 2012 10:58 am • linkreport

@CB you mean other than the safety hazard of the tracks, of course?

by Michael Perkins on Jun 7, 2012 11:00 am • linkreport

I've never had any issues with metro buses on my motorcycle, but then again, I don't have to hug the "door zone" of the road, so with the ability to position myself on the road where I please, keep flow with traffic or accelerate out of danger, this particular incident would not have happened to me. I always position myself on the road so I have a big space cushion around me. On a bicycle, I realize this is not usually an option and you are at the mercy of drivers seeing you and not hitting you a lot more than I am.

Those metro access vans, I've seen them perform some really inattentive driving. I've seen them texting, on the phone, etc. Inattentive drivers scare me the most.

by Brookland_Rez on Jun 7, 2012 11:00 am • linkreport

Pedestrians are slow. You throw off the timing of the cyclists and delay trips. You follow none of the rules of the sidewalk (how many times have we seen pedestrians walk on the *right*). Want to be treated like a bicycle? Follow the rules of the sidewalk like a bicycle.

by oboe on Jun 7, 2012 11:01 am • linkreport

Try to think of a bike as a slower moving car. But with the added advantage that they're actually easier to safely pass than an old grandmother driving 15mph down Ga. Ave.

Also I'd be willing to debate about bike bells and car horns except when I'm on the trail every jogger has headphones on anyway behooving me to make sure that I can safely pass in case the jogger does anything sudden. Sound familiar?

The least WMATA could do is pay for the lady's ER trip and an apology.

by drumz on Jun 7, 2012 11:06 am • linkreport

Maybe every WMATA driver should be required to view the Chicago Transit Authority's bus and bike training video

by Jim T on Jun 7, 2012 11:07 am • linkreport

@Ed Bikes are slow. You throw off the timing of the lights and delay trips. You follow none of the rules of the road (never seen a bicyclist signal a lane change). Want to be treated like a car? Follow the rules of the road like a car.

Speaking as a neutral party (primary transportation methods mass transit and walking), attend to the beam in your own eye before the mote in your neighbor's.

Motorists by and large do a terrible job of following the rules of the road, and failure to signal is near the top of the list of shortcomings. Given the choice, I would much feel safer getting some number X of random motorists off the street permanently than the same number of random bicyclists.

by cminus on Jun 7, 2012 11:15 am • linkreport

@Michael Perkins: tracks can be avoided, since they tend not to move too much. Erratically or aggressively driven vehicles, on the other hand, are a lot harder to avoid.

by Gray on Jun 7, 2012 11:16 am • linkreport

had I exercised my right to take the entire right lane

There's your mistake. It is pertinently dangerous to hug the side of a lane. That guy that was run of the road by that truck did the same thing.

If you are biking somewhere claim your lane by riding in the middle or 1/3 from the right. This is not to be an ass, this is to force drivers that want to pass out of the lane thereby acknowledging your presence.

Hugging the line is dangerous because drivers think they can pass you in that lane, while often they can't. Unfortunately, drivers often get away with minor scratches on their car, while bikers end up with major scratches on their bike and body.

That said, I agree the bus driver broke the 3-feet law, and did a hit-and-run. WMATA should be shamed for their apathetic reaction, and find out who the driver is and suspend him for breaking the law (3-foot rule and a hit-and-run). Also, WMATA should train its drivers better.

@ Ed:Follow the rules of the road like a car.

You want bikers to ignore the speed limit, not stop during turns-on-red, honk at bikers and pedestrians, not indicate turns, block the box, and roll into the right-of-way of pedestrian crossings when making a right turn? Great idea.

How about everybody tries to follow the law period.

It's not a us-v-them. All of us can do better. Don't wait for others. Want a better world? Start with yourself.

by Jasper on Jun 7, 2012 11:17 am • linkreport

Mike
I was inside of a bus where the driver started honking repeatedly at two bikers riding to the right of his bus. I asked him why he was honking at them.
He acted offended and explained that he was letting them know that he was there- that it was a warning. While I don't agree with the continued honking since the buses are quite loud and noticeable, I do understand his point of view.

I'm not exactly sure what the driver's "point of view" is here. Is it that the bicyclists are blind, so they can't see the bus that's right next to them? I think we can assume that there aren't blind people out there biking. I'm not sure how the bus driver could think that the cyclists don't know that the bus is there.

Anybody who thinks that honking at a cyclist is helpful is welcome to come on a ride with me where I drive behind you and honk. I assure you it is not pleasant.

by MLD on Jun 7, 2012 11:20 am • linkreport

Unbelievable.

I had an incident very similar to Karen's last year. A 70 bus overtook me in the northbound 1300 block of 7th Street NW, sideswiping me and sending me flipping over my handlebars. Metro Transit Police took a report (but MPD did not). There were two witnesses; a WMATA claims officer contacted them and they told her that the bus was definitely at fault, and WMATA paid for everything (my ER bill, the damage to my bike, the damage to my clothing). The settlement came quickly and I was given no trouble by WMATA officials. Karen, I'm sorry they're giving you the runaround. Do you know if a claims officer has contacted any of the witnesses?

The only unresolved issue from my incident is that they never identified the driver (I didn't catch the ID number of the bus).

by The Brightwoodian on Jun 7, 2012 11:25 am • linkreport

As a cyclist, I do not mind a short toot on a horn when I am being overtaken by a vehicle substantially wider than most. It registers as a heads-up, in contrast to the long cranky leaning-on-horns of motorists who are frustrated by traffic and prefer to rant at something smaller than their vehicles.

I think driving a municipal bus is a pretty harrowing job, and I do see hot dog bicyclists behave in ways that probably make that job more harrowing. Still, I suspect that most bus drivers who have proven temperamentally suited to the rigors of piloting a 20-ton behemoth through nasty traffic would not knowingly hit a cyclist.

That said, Metro should be able and willing to look into what buses were in the area when the accident occurred.

by cjac on Jun 7, 2012 11:27 am • linkreport

@Ed- Bikes are slower than motor vehicles. Correct. They're faster than peds and runners though, and in an urban setting can often move faster than any motor vehicle.
You throw off the timing of the lights and delay trips. Incorrect. Bikes have nothing to do with the timing of lights. If you think a few seconds of delay is going to force you to miss something important, leave earlier.
You follow none of the rules of the road Hyperbole..last refuge of the desperate.
(never seen a bicyclist signal a lane change) You're not paying attention well enough. Most of us aren't going to take our hands off our handlebars for extended periods of time b/c it's not safe for us with all the considerate drivers out there like you *sarcasm*. I repeat, you're not paying enough attention.
Want to be treated like a car? NO, we're not cars. We're bicyclists. We want to be treated with respect and we want to arrive safely at our destination, just like you do. We'd rather not put up with the stuff we put up with on the daily. We'd like to have some small portion of the roads we pay for carved out for our use, mostly so we can feel safe from 2-ton++ vehicles.
Follow the rules of the road like a car. Again, we're not cars, and again, you're not paying close enough attention.
Get over yourselves. I'll personally "get over myself" when I see the countless vehicle infractions I see daily stop. When I see all the cars yield when they're supposed to, when I see all the cars obeying speed limits, when I see all the cars stop completely at stop signs, when I stop seeing drivers on cell phones and texting, and when all the obnoxious folks like you who think the roads are their own personal freeway get over themselves.
Finally, you really should try biking sometime. Remember how fun it felt to ride when you were a kid? It's better as an adult!

by thump on Jun 7, 2012 11:27 am • linkreport

@Mazzie:
Personally, I am opposed to cycling on the sidewalk. It is generally more dangerous for cyclists (due to turns across the sidewalk), slower than biking on the street, and is illegal where I grew up (Georgia).

However, in general, cyclists are required to sound a bell or call out when passing pedestrians on a sidewalk or share-use path. The primary difference is that a bell is not damaging to one's hearing and is not generally the precursor to being aggressively passed by a multi-ton vehicle.

I understand the comparison you are making, and thought about addressing it in the post.

I can only say that when I cycle on a multi-use path, I generally ring my bell at least 30 yards before passing a pedestrian. If they do not acknowledge my presence, I sound the bell again shortly before passing. I generally use my bell only as a notification, with one or two "brrring-brrrings".

If a group of pedestrians is taking up the entire path or if a motorist is intruding into my path, I will signal more aggressively with my bell, generally a series of "brrrings", or a shout if I believe myself in danger of being struck by a car.

The difference is really in volume. A bike bell is a quiet notification from an otherwise silent vehicle. A horn is a loud sound that emanates from a vehicle that is generally audible even when idling and which is most often used by drivers as an aggressive act ("Hey, the light changed green 0.003 seconds ago! Why aren't you moving yet? HONK HONK HONK").

by Matt Johnson on Jun 7, 2012 11:38 am • linkreport

Shouldn't we operate on the assumption that if we're riding a bike on the road there is a tacit admission that we expect to have cars behind us at some point? If you find yourself driving on the W&OD by all means honk away but if we're on 14th street just lets assume that the cyclist knows that there are cars around him or her.

by drumz on Jun 7, 2012 11:45 am • linkreport

$500 in medical bills and damage to a bike sounds like a very minor expense.

I agree. What about pain/suffering and mental anguish? The only way to hold WMATA accountable is through legal or political action and suing them for $10,000 (rather than a piddly $500) will get their attention (as well as media attention). Bikers need an organization to bring in the cavalry. I think WABA is a great organization but they spend too much of their money on community events and not enough on lobbyists and lawyering up.

Would it be possible to organize some sort of meeting between WMATA and WABA, or cyclists generally (perhaps via GGW) to discuss concerns, improving bus driver training, and coming up with a better system to report incidents?

I like the idea but unfortunately, getting folks together to sing Kumbaya isn't going to work with these clowns. Legal action and pressure from City and County Councils is what's needed.

by Falls Church on Jun 7, 2012 11:48 am • linkreport

I think we are wrongly focusing on the "horn" issue, when the real issue is that a bus driver was negligent, seriously injured someone acking lawfully, and fled the scene. The second important issue is that there are multiple witnesses and a simple way for the WMATA to determine who was the driver, yet seem "unable" to do so.

by SJE on Jun 7, 2012 11:50 am • linkreport

In this context, how would you characterize cyclists ringing their bells at pedestrians on sidewalks?

My opinion is that peds have the right of way in all instances on the sidewalk. If I ride on the sidewalk (which I do sometimes to save time even though it's more dangerous), I don't ring a bell or shout out "left!". The appropriate thing to do is to either wait for the ped to get out of your way or politely say "excuse me, bicycle coming through". If you don't like that, bike in the street where its safer.

by Falls Church on Jun 7, 2012 11:54 am • linkreport

When I'm on a multi-use trail (the MBT) I'm often thanked by pedestrians for alerting them of my presence with my tinkling bell. And I ALWAYS thank them as I ride past if they've stepped out of the way, though I'm not certain they always hear me.

My biggest problem on the MBT is other bikers overtaking me w/o signalling me in anyway.

Hey bikers on the MBT! TELL ME you're about to pass! A bell ring will do fine.

by Tina on Jun 7, 2012 11:59 am • linkreport

Maybe a naive question, but why couldn't the cyclist file a normal hit-and-run report, and press charges that way?

If white honda civic hits my car, and thats all the info I have, I can still file a report.

In my opinion the great thing about this case is that the cyclist knows who "owns" the bus, WMATA. It is up to WMATA to defend, or not defend, their driver. If they are incapable of identifying the driver, the owner, WMATA, is responsible for the damages.

At least if the cyclist files a hit-and-run incident, they can file an insurance claim. I would wager that an insurance agency, when told of the problem, would not want to pay the claim, as they would want the responsible party to cover it 100%.

What am I missing?

by BradK on Jun 7, 2012 12:02 pm • linkreport

I'd be willing to bet most anyone who's ridden a bicycle in the District of Columbia has experienced similar actions from MetroBus drivers. A significant number of them obviously have some kind of issue with bicyclists.

by Vinh An Nguyen on Jun 7, 2012 12:08 pm • linkreport

'What am I missing?"

$500. Too small for insurance. And you don't have "Bike insurance" like you do with a car. It would be either some sort of health insurance. Perhaps general libality but I doubt anyone carries that.

by charlie on Jun 7, 2012 12:09 pm • linkreport

This is terrible - I hope that Karen is able to generate more attention to her case and have it come to some kind of resolution. I laughed out loud when I read a news article a few months ago that WMATA was receiving fewer complaints than normal, I suspected that was because people give up pursuing complaints since they never provide an appropriate response (if they respond at all).

by grumpy on Jun 7, 2012 12:13 pm • linkreport

While I have done my fair share of cycling and I enjoy it I would never ride on a busy thorofare. For years I drove a car to a job not 4 miles from my house simply because there was not a safe bike route. I am all for more bike lanes and better accomodations for bikers because it is an excellant healthy and green means of transportation. That said, as a driver I also understand the frustration of dealing with bikers who do not follow the rules of the road, try to ride in areas that are not safe to do so and who then get angry at the drivers they impede when accidents happen. I am very sorry for this young ladies injuries and definitely think WMATA should show some compassion about it BUT, I'm not sure beyond common human decency what level of recompense should be granted.

This accident situation is one of the reasons cycling magazines often include the advice that a cyclist SHOULD take the full lane and should not allow cars to pass them in the same lane. It may piss the drivers off even more but it is safer.

So I guess what I'm saying is, I can see both sides of this but I think ultimately ones safety is in ones own hands.

by BJ on Jun 7, 2012 12:24 pm • linkreport

This sounds like yet another reason why cyclists, motorists and pedestrians need to learn how to share the road.

No mode owns the road yet @some point, all act like they do.

by HogWash on Jun 7, 2012 12:26 pm • linkreport

@ Jasper

You want bikers to ignore the speed limit, not stop during turns-on-red, honk at bikers and pedestrians, not indicate turns, block the box, and roll into the right-of-way of pedestrian crossings when making a right turn? Great idea."

Save for blocking the box, bikers already do all of these things with common regularity, but you also missed ignoring every redlight they come to, swerve between moving lanes of cars without signaling and jumpting from the street to the sidewalk and back to the street at full speed to avoid said redlights.

People like to make fun of MD drivers as the areas most reckless, law flaunting and self absorbed, but the average MD driver has nothing on the average DC cyclist.

There are literally 50 times the number of trips taken in the District very day by vehicle than there are bike. If you added up the number of cyclists per average day on the streets of DC, it would be approximately the traffic volume Connecticut Ave sees during the day...one street!

I am sorry the bus had the temerity of honking at you but you admitted you lost control of YOUR bike, and YOU hit the bus which was atleast half in front of you at this point (i.e. had the ROW). It wasn't a hit and run, you hit him. You biked into the side of the bus.

You weren't injured. You turned down medical assistance which every bike handbook ever printed tells you not to do. $500 dollars is nothing...it is the base fee for walking into any emergency room in America, which you admit you did later.

Every cyclist loves to run to the blogosphere and tell their one sided story and we are to all take it as gospel, the readership clucking their disapproval on cue but as a daily bus rider in DC I can tell you that atleast twice a week, a bus I am on has to slam on the brakes, or swerve into another lane to avoid a cyclist who blew through their sign or signal, turns onto a one way street, or (my favorite which happened last week) cuts across 3 lanes of rush hour traffic on K street without signaling to make the side access road and came within inches of the bus which slammed on its brakes, full of people toppling about.

Many metro buses have front and side cameras. They should stream all the close calls caused by bikers on their website. I imagine it would be a 24/7 affair.

by Wonderland on Jun 7, 2012 12:26 pm • linkreport

>>>Imagine you're walking down the sidewalk, minding your own business. Suddenly another pedestrian approaches from behind and blasts an air horn right in your ear. How would you feel? Even if the other pedestrian meant the air horn to be helpful ("hey, I just wanted to let you know I was passing"), most people would find it startling, aggressive, and completely unnecessary.<<<

Yes, I know exactly how this feels as, several times daily, when walking local hiker/biker trails, cyclists do this to me with their bike-bells or in shouting "passing on the left" without slowing down and expecting me to leap as far to the right as possible. In most cases, I don’t think they mean any aggressive harm and they truly believe they are being courteous. But to the pedestrian, it is startling, aggressive, and completely unnecessary. This is not to justify what happens to cyclists at the hands of motorists, for the behavior of motorists towards cyclists in this regard is truly unconscionable. I just find it ironic that the author chose to use one pedestrian overcoming another with an air-horn as a notional example of how a pedestrian might feel, instead of the obvious real-life experiences of the area’s pedestrians at the mercy of cyclists who, otherwise, are complaining about motorists doing the same to them.

by roberto on Jun 7, 2012 12:29 pm • linkreport

I agree that a car honking at a biker is no good. However, I wish that cars had a less threatening way of communicating with a biker. I'm pretty good at tapping my horn, but I understand that is still too aggressive an action for the situation. What if cars were outfitted with bells or something similar for this situation?

by movement on Jun 7, 2012 12:31 pm • linkreport

...you admitted you lost control of YOUR bike, and YOU hit the bus which was atleast half in front of you at this point (i.e. had the ROW). It wasn't a hit and run, you hit him. You biked into the side of the bus.

omg

by Tina on Jun 7, 2012 12:32 pm • linkreport

@Wonderland
Err, if a vehicle is passing you the vehicle BEING PASSED has the right-of-way, not the other way around. You are only supposed to pass if it is safe to do so. Seems like you need to read the account again because she didn't "lose control" and "hit the bus," the bus violated HER roadspace and hit her.

As for this @BJ
I am very sorry for this young ladies injuries and definitely think WMATA should show some compassion about it BUT, I'm not sure beyond common human decency what level of recompense should be granted.

I dunno, maybe pay for her medical expenses and vehicle repairs since THEIR vehicle hit her? After all, $500 is "nothing" according to several commenters here so WMATA shouldn't have a problem covering it.

"Share the road" goes in all directions. Drivers have to afford the same courtesies and rights to bikers that they afford to other cars. Don't pass someone and squeeze them to the right; with another car the resulting fender-bender is an "oops," with a bicyclist it results in injuries.

Cyclists: rule #1 if you are riding on a street without a bike lane: if a car can pass you without going into another lane, you are TOO FAR TO THE RIGHT. Protect yourself. You aren't doing anyone any favors by giving cars enough space to squeeze by you in the same lane.

by MLD on Jun 7, 2012 12:39 pm • linkreport

Perhaps a naive question, but...

If people are going to ride their bikes on the road, and use them as their primary forms of transportation, then shouldn't they be required to carry some basic insurance?

Under a no-fault insurance system, the bike rides insurance company would pay for these damages, whether or not Metro ever agreed to be responsible.

Now in this case, Metro appears to clearly be at fault, however, there have been cases in which a cyclist hits a pedestrian (when I was in college I remember a girl getting seriously injured when hit by a bike) and even another bike, or a car. In those cases, shouldn't the bike rider have some basic liability insurance?

Which brings me to another point. License plates. My car has a license plate (2 in fact) which allows the police or public to identify it in a variety of circumstances (such as a hit and run accident, running a light, speeding). If I run a red light with a camera, I get a ticket based on that license plate. Why then shouldn't bikes that operate on the same roadway be required to have a license plate?

I hear all the time that "bikes are not toys" they are now a fully fledged part of our transportation system. Fine. Then shouldn't we treat them as such with regards to insurance and licensing?

by dcdriver on Jun 7, 2012 12:40 pm • linkreport

We should all note that the presence of a bike lane on the road has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not the cyclist may legally take the full lane, at least in DC. The cyclist may always take the full lane, even on a one lane road with a bike lane.

I think a cyclist taking the full lane when there is a safe and adequate bike lane is kind of being a jerk, but it's not illegal.

by Jon Renaut on Jun 7, 2012 12:45 pm • linkreport

@dcdriver

there are many different levels of biker and bike user. There ARE children who ride, and also adults who ride occasionally for mostly recreational reasons. Insurance reqs and bike licensing would be unduly burdensome for them (and would likely result in less recreational biking, and negative health outcomes). Maybe you could draw the line somewhere. I dont know how you prove who uses the bike as their principle means of transportation. You could say using it on the road, but what of someone who rides in the street on a suburban cul de sac in a place with no sidewalks - lots of kids and inexpert adults ride on streets in those circumstances. Youd have to define "road" to exclude such situations. And of course most incidents involving peds occur on trails or sidewalks I guess, not on roads.

all in all, I don't know that licensing or insurance reqs really address the problem - but they do serve as obstacles to growing cycling.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 7, 2012 12:56 pm • linkreport

@awalkerinthecity,

I ride my motorcycle occasionally entirely for recreational reasons. I have to carry insurance and register the vehicle. Why isn't it too burdensome for me?

There could be very easy and defined boundaries to the requirement. Like, if you want to ride on a public street or sidewalk, you have to carry insurance etc.

I grew up on a farm. We had farm trucks that while street legal were unliscensed and uninsured simply because by law they didn't need to be if we kept them off the roads and in the fields which is what we did. If cyclists want to ride on trails, great but I too don't see why everyone else who rides a vehicle and who has equal access to the road has to carry the same protections. Why can't I as a driver have legal recourse when a cyclist breaks the law and causes an accident or damage to my vehicle?

Insurance, licensing is equally burdensome on everyone. It isn't a valid excuse.

by dcdriver2 on Jun 7, 2012 1:05 pm • linkreport

"Why can't I as a driver have legal recourse when a cyclist breaks the law and causes an accident or damage to my vehicle?"

You do have recourse, feel free to sue them in small claims court.

The reason bikes are not obliged to carry insurance is that it is difficult for them to do more than a few hundred dollars worth of damage to a vehicle. In a worst case scenario you need to get a body panel, mirror, or window replaced. That is different from the tens of thousands of dollars in damage even the smallest car can do in the blink of an eye.

by Phil on Jun 7, 2012 1:19 pm • linkreport

@ dcdriver2

I am in many ways sympathetic to your point, but I sense a few problems with insuring cyclists.

The first is mainly one of preserving a low-entry point form of transportation; a bicycle can be purchased for very little money and used to get reliably to a job or school at almost zero cost after the initial purchase. Insurance would increase the cost of ownership, substantially and prevent many people from having a reliable form of transportation.

My second rebuttal would be why, if we are going to also license and plate cyclists, we are not doing so for pedestrians, skate boarders, etc. Insurance is intended to mitigate risk, but at some point, the cost of insurance (and the infrastructure to provide and enforce its use) exceeds the risks/costs it is dispersing. Cycling accidents and injuries could, perhaps, be near this tipping point, but I would be surprised if they actually justified/warranted the costs for implementing the system.

by elle on Jun 7, 2012 1:20 pm • linkreport

Much of the responses to the question of bikes being required to carry insurance miss the main point. Bikes are far less likely to cause damage than motor vehicles, period. The number of people injured or killed by cyclists is negligible, period. Cars kill, maim and cause massive damage on a daily basis, period.

by thump on Jun 7, 2012 1:29 pm • linkreport

"I ride my motorcycle occasionally entirely for recreational reasons. I have to carry insurance and register the vehicle. Why isn't it too burdensome for me?"

compare the relative noninsurance ownership and operating costs of a motorcycle to a bicycle.

"There could be very easy and defined boundaries to the requirement. Like, if you want to ride on a public street or sidewalk, you have to carry insurance etc."

that would include 5 year olds riding on the sidewalk in their cul de sac. The net impact would be to make childhood biking prohibitive. For limited benefits. If you look at it from a cost benefit perspective, I think it becomes clear why requiring insurance for cyclists does not make sense, but requiring it for motor vehicles does (of course there will be grey areas).

Now if your goal is simply to discourage biking, because you don't like sharing the road, thats a different issue. Or if your point is to prove that "bikes are toys" in order to avoid sharing the road. I trust those are not your motives however.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 7, 2012 1:37 pm • linkreport

@ Wonderland: You are confusing me and OP. No further comment.

by Jasper on Jun 7, 2012 1:40 pm • linkreport

"I have to carry insurance and register the vehicle. Why isn't it too burdensome for me?"

personally, I wouldnt own a motor vehicle to use occasionally for recreational purposes. I could not make the cost benefit work. Thats different from bikes for two reasons - A. Almost any functioning, safe motor vehicle is going to represent a large enough investment that capital cost will be an issue. Not so for bikes. B. The loss of recreating by motor vehicle is completely a private loss of utility, while the loss of recreating by bike will have impacts on health, especially on childhood obesity

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 7, 2012 1:41 pm • linkreport

Without disputing that the bus driver is most likely at fault and should be taken off the road, and that some of the commenters (esp wonderland) are way off base, some of the comments here highlight why I try to advise fellow cyclists to behave better on the road. We've got it pretty good in DC with all the bike lanes and the cycle tracks.

If we want more respect on the roads, it's acceptable to me to say that we will behave better.

by Weiwen on Jun 7, 2012 1:42 pm • linkreport

After a near-miss with a bus on Mass Ave NW I *always* take the lane. In fact, if I see one in my mirror, I move even further out from the curb than normal so the driver is forced to move into the next lane to pass me. Bus drivers are on a schedule so I am sympathetic to their needs but there's no excuse for hit-and-run. If their schedules are too tight to accommodate a momentary delay from a bike or any other random event then the bus schedules need to be adjusted.

by Bobbi Shaftoe on Jun 7, 2012 1:51 pm • linkreport

"Why can't I as a driver have legal recourse when a cyclist breaks the law and causes an accident or damage to my vehicle?"

You do have recourse, feel free to sue them in small claims court.

First off, insurance eliminates in most cases the need for litigation, which has costs for both parties.

And if the offending rider simply rides off, how do I identify him or her without a license plate?

What if I take them to court, win, and they can't pay or refuse to pay? At least you know the insurance company has sufficient reserves to pay.

Look, nobody is seriously considering requiring a 6 year old to get a bike license and insurance. But, I think anyone over 16 who rides a bike on any public street or sidewalk should have to get a license plate. The registration fee should be pretty cheap, make it $1 a year. It would actually help the bike owner as well if the bike was stolen.

As for insurance, because the potential liabilities are pretty low (but they do exist), the premiums would also be low. The city could set up a single policy for all riders and add the premium (maybe another $1 a year) to the cost of licensing.

Finally, don't underestimate the costs of even minor damage to a car. A broken mirror ran me (my insurance company) over $1,000 dollars because the electronic mechanism had to be replaced. Plus the cost of renting a car for 4 days while it was in the shop. Even a scrape on a door panel can cost a few hundred dollars to be repaired properly.

by dcdriver on Jun 7, 2012 2:00 pm • linkreport

...you admitted you lost control of YOUR bike, and YOU hit the bus which was at least half in front of you at this point (i.e. had the ROW). It wasn't a hit and run, you hit him. You biked into the side of the bus.

Yes, I was riding my bike on the sidewalk the other day at about 20 mph. As I approached a pedestrian, I screamed "ON YOUR LEFT" at the top of my lungs, and gave him a good 3" of clearance. Unfortunately, the pedestrian lost control of his feet and HE hit my bike--which was at least half in front of him--as I passed. As I rode away without stopping, I thought to myself, "I'm tired of all these pedestrians running into me!"

by Oboe's Id on Jun 7, 2012 2:05 pm • linkreport

Uh, Wonderland, if I pass you in a car, and before clearing you, pull back into your (unchanged) travel path, I have broken the law and am at fault for the accident, not you. The same rules apply to bikes.

To add to Walker's last comment, drivers are only required to carry *liability* insurance. What's the "liability" of a biker? Not much. Therefore, requiring bikers to carry insurance that would actually be helpful to them would impose a greater burden on them than motorists. It would also most likely be PROHIBITIVELY expensive. Without the protection of 2 tons of steel, insurance companies are going to be very wary of providing insurance to cyclists sharing the road with bigger, faster vehicles...even those that have a proven track record of safe cycling.

Buses are such a mixed bag. I've encountered some that are almost annoyingly deferential (I stopped behind you at the light because it was red and you are faster than I am...while I appreciate the offer to pull ahead of you, it's best if I stay back here), some that are so-so (don't try to run me off the road/hit me, but block intersections/crosswalks/bike lanes/car lanes unnecessarily - yes, I understand that sometimes there are other buses are cars in their designated space, I am not talking about those drivers), and some that are outright hostile to everyone (other vehicles, bikers, pedestrians, and, most likely, their own customers).

As for the bell, it turns out I might be functionally illiterate and have been following *Virginia's* requirement that I make an audible signal before overtaking pedestrians while biking in *DC.* Honestly, since the bell and the occasional "on the left" is pretty unobtrusive and is actually pretty effective at letting pedestrians know I'm there, I think I'll keep doing it. As someone who walks more than bikes, where cyclists are *legally* sharing the sidewalk/pathway with me, I appreciate the heads-up, so long as it's not shouted angrily.

by Ms. D on Jun 7, 2012 2:06 pm • linkreport

"The registration fee should be pretty cheap, make it $1 a year. It would actually help the bike owner as well if the bike was stolen.

As for insurance, because the potential liabilities are pretty low (but they do exist), the premiums would also be low. The city could set up a single policy for all riders and add the premium (maybe another $1 a year) to the cost of licensing."

I am pretty sure the $1 for licensing would not cover DMV's costs for processing, and that $1 a year for insurance would not cover the insurance co's admin costs.

A subsidy would be required. I would guess the total admin costs would far exceed the benefits to the folks injured by hit and run cyclists, or who sue cyclists and find them unable to pay. Plus it adds a level of difficulty to something one of whose advantages is spontaneity.

Also why make 16 the cutoff? If a 19Yo riding down a cul de sac or on a bike trail presents a risk, why not a 13YO? This seems rather more arbitrary than the current policy of requiring ins for motor vehicles only.

Its also quite off topic, as the OP did not INJURE the bus - and so liability insurance is not relevant.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 7, 2012 2:07 pm • linkreport

Re: licensing for bikes.
I have gone on record as accepting that licenses could be a good thing for bikes: mostly because it will remove the false canard that bikes don't pay for the roads.

However, the main reason we license cars and not bikes is because of their potential for injury. The greater the potential for injury to others, and the greater the skill required to operate it, the more stringent are the licensing requirements. e.g. trucks>cars, and vehicle paid to carrying others > personal use. So, while a bike can damage and kill, it is far less of a problem than a car.

by SJE on Jun 7, 2012 2:10 pm • linkreport

@dcdriver,

Most adult cyclist also have liability insurance. Contra the fantasies of some auto-centrists, bikes can't get vehicle-insurance because they're considered a possession rather than a vehicle.

by oboe on Jun 7, 2012 2:10 pm • linkreport

Once again proving my functional illiteracy...

Please, dcdriver, do tell us about how that cyclist caused you to have an accident?

by Ms. D on Jun 7, 2012 2:11 pm • linkreport

@dcdriver

why not make all people carry liability insurance at all times? I mean people do all kinds of crazy things that sometimes injure other people. People walk into you, they spill their coffee on you, they accidently push you in front of a metro train. Just require everyone who walks on a sidewalk, or rides the metro, to carry insurance (it need only cost a dollar a year) and wear a visible license.

Note - I realize transportation cyclists, riding in highly trafficed roads, present a different usage/risk profile, and it MIGHT be feasible to require licenses and insurance for THEM, IF we could seperate them from all other cyclists - which I believe we cannot.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 7, 2012 2:13 pm • linkreport

I would characterize cyclists ringing a bell for pedestrians "doing exactly what the law requires," since audible warning is required when approaching pedestrians. That said, they should be using the road, not the sidewalk, in the first place.

by Paul Johnson on Jun 7, 2012 2:18 pm • linkreport

@Ed: You're attributing to all cyclists what only a few people do. Though, if you want to criticise, amateur motorists need to clean their own house first: Obey the speed limits, leave more space when passing, don't pass illegally when the solid yellow line is on your side, don't tailgate, don't honk out of impatience (cyclists can hear your car without that). No matter what your mode of choice is, everybody's just trying to get where they're going. Stop seeing the vehicle, start seeing the people.

by Paul Johnson on Jun 7, 2012 2:23 pm • linkreport

@charlie: $500 sounds like a small expense? Want to know how I know you're part of the 1%?

by Paul Johnson on Jun 7, 2012 2:25 pm • linkreport

@Michael Perkins: They're substantially less of a hazard if you're using tires that can handle standard urban road surfaces instead of expecting skinny velodrome tires to be the best tire available for utility cycling. Specialized makes a Nimbus slick available in widths up to 3.5". I run with 2.5" and it's plenty to keep from getting caught in the tracks at most angles in Portland, whose city center is criscrossed with light rail and streetcar tracks.

by Paul Johnson on Jun 7, 2012 2:27 pm • linkreport

@Brookland_Rez: Cyclists in the right lane should be riding in the center of the lane clear of the door zone when there isn't a bike lane or shoulder to take and the lane is too narrow to safely permit a vehicle to pass. This isn't just a good idea, it's the law.

by Paul Johnson on Jun 7, 2012 2:28 pm • linkreport

@dcriver

1. I would like to buy some bicycle insurance like the kind you want to require. Where should I buy it?

2. Perhaps we should require every pedestrian to buy walker's insurance and to walk around with a plate on their rear-end.

3. Where would one attach the plate to their bike? How big would it be. Would it be large enough to actually be read. Would it be someplace where your coat wouldn't cover it up? The technical aspects of this are simply impossible to work out.

4. The primary purpose of tags is for tax collection.

5. What do you do about children on bikes? Do they need insurance too? How much would that cost considering how much more prone they are to crashes?

6. Where is the need for this? Show me cases where people are injured by cyclists and are unable to have their expenses covered because the cyclist doesn't have insurance. Otherwise this is a solution in search of a problem. And forcing cyclists to buy insurance for their OWN protection is both counterproductive and probably un-Constitutional.

by David C on Jun 7, 2012 2:31 pm • linkreport

"That said, they should be using the road, not the sidewalk, in the first place. "

I live in NoVa, where there are many roads whose geometry, traffic volumes, and traffic speeds are such as to make them quite daunting to all but the most confident cyclist, and where, due to the lack of a grid development, there are few alternative routes. This leads to reliance on sidewalks/multiuse sidepaths (which are wider and more smoothly paved than conventional sidewalks) at least at certain particularly difficult spots, or on off road multiuse trails, to which the same audible warning rules apply.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 7, 2012 2:31 pm • linkreport

@ awalkerinthecity:why not make all people carry liability insurance at all times?

This is almost the law in the Netherlands. General liability insurance is baked into car insurance. It avoids (or prevents, take your pick) most liability law-suits. Insurance companies tend to settle things with each other. Most adults have liability insurance even if they don't own a car. It gets pretty much folded in with car, home or health insurance.

It's pretty cheap. I ran a quick quote for liability up to M€2.5 for a family on a insurance website: €60 a year.

by Jasper on Jun 7, 2012 2:42 pm • linkreport

@movement: Well, on motor vehicles, bells are reserved for fire equipment only. In terms of alerting a cyclist of your presence, they can already hear your tires on the pavement. If they're not moving over, you just need to wait it out for a safe and legal opportunity to pass.

by Paul Johnson on Jun 7, 2012 2:43 pm • linkreport

A huge problem with licensing is that the administrative hassle, both for the government and for riders, would almost guarantee non-compliance. Every day, thousands of cyclists stream in to the District from every point on the compass. Some do it frequently; for others, it's a twice a year leisure trip. Still others are visiting from beyond the immediate area. How would they get their licenses? Unless it's at a dozen different locations around the perimeter open at least 12-15 hours a day, you've created a situation where casual cyclists must choose either to disobey the law or not to ride. How would a police officer know someone was licensed? Would cyclists have to wear something, which most would find obnoxious, as well as unpleasant in hot months? A plate on the bike? Difficult to read, difficult to affix to many bikes and for the rider with 3-4 bikes individually (quite common), and maybe 10 for the household, a huge hassle. Plus, what do you do about kids? They outgrow bikes frequently. What's to keep people from stealing them? Counterfeiting them? Just not complying? Who pays for it--the licensing process for drivers costs over a hundred dollars PER LICENSE?

If the benefit were gereat enough, we might be willing to put up with a system that greatly discourages a system of transportation that has enormous benefits for our region, if there were a good enough reason to have it. So far, every reason I've heard has better counter-arguments. It won't aid traffic enforcement--cops are perfectly capable of stopping cyclists now. It won't add much protection for the underinsured, since most either have their own insurance or, if the accident is caused by a driver, that person has auto insurance.

by Crickey7 on Jun 7, 2012 2:46 pm • linkreport

Walker,

As someone who used to ride on the sidewalk along Braddock road in Burke I can say that at least on those sidewalks I never encountered pedestrians either. ;)

by drumz on Jun 7, 2012 2:46 pm • linkreport

@roberto: That said, the rules of the road for multiuse paths is the same as any other road. Pedestrians shouldn't be out in the middle if the edge is clear. That said, if a safe, legal pass is still possible, there's not much reason to slow down.

by Paul Johnson on Jun 7, 2012 2:46 pm • linkreport

@Wonderland: [Deleted for violating the comment policy.] The bus made an illegal pass and tried to occupy the same space as the bicycle. Physics might work on the principal of "who has the most lugnuts wins," but not traffic law.

by Paul Johnson on Jun 7, 2012 2:51 pm • linkreport

@jasper

Homeowners and renters insurance generally covers liability here, but not all renters carry renters insurance (probably most do not) and I dont think its included in health insurance generally.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 7, 2012 2:52 pm • linkreport

Requiring bicycle licensing isn't some crazy, ludicrous idea. In fact, it was tried in LA but this test case proved that the idea is simply unworkable, so it was repealed. Turns out the problem is partly the concept and partly the difficulty of implementation:

http://www.dailynews.com/breakingnews/ci_12504086

by Falls Church on Jun 7, 2012 2:53 pm • linkreport

@ Crickey7:A huge problem with licensing is that the administrative hassle, both for the government and for riders, would almost guarantee non-compliance.

I think DC already required registration of all bikes in the District, whether the owner is a Washingtonian or not. At least, that's what a cop told me 11 years ago. I still have a DC sticker on my bike.

A plate on the bike?

As much as I think registration of bikes is bogus, having tags is not the issue. Motor bikes have tags too after all.

by Jasper on Jun 7, 2012 3:00 pm • linkreport

Jasper, bikes are no longer required to be registered in DC. Motorcycles are significantly different from bikes - in no small part because they usually (always?) have rear fenders where a plate can be affixed. Telling me that motorcycles have plates doesn't tell me where you'd put one on a bicycle.

by David C on Jun 7, 2012 3:10 pm • linkreport

The LA license law was really just bike registration. They did not have plates for sending people photo enforcement tickets.

by David C on Jun 7, 2012 3:11 pm • linkreport

This is insane. They know who the driver is. Send this to Unsuck and Washington Post and see if that will pressure them. If not--lawyer.

by Catherine on Jun 7, 2012 3:14 pm • linkreport

Fortunately, though this comes up pretty regularly from bike-haters, both mandatory insurance and licensing of cyclists is pretty much never going to happen. So we can safely ignore it (or point and laugh at those who seriously propose it, whichever you prefer)

by oboe on Jun 7, 2012 3:15 pm • linkreport

Lots of red herrings above (really, is the honk a issue?) - and some good responses.

Here's my say:

When there's any question that the lane isn't wide enough - take the lane. That's when a lane is a least 14ft wide for side by side sharing of a car and a bike. Measure out 14ft somewhere, and you'll get an idea how rare (or maybe not so rare) that is. Narrower that that is where it's necessary to take the lane.

What seems me to have happened is the bus driver saw room to pass and completely misjudged Karen's rate of speed and returned back to the lane much too soon. And then they were oblivious in their giant vehicle to small people on cycles yelling from behind. Not good bus driving.

Karen, and everyone else, could greatly reduced the possibility of this happening again by riding further to the left. I ride 1/3 of the lane over from the left normally. Yes, it seems less safe until you try it. You'll see cars notice you and pass you when then room to do so. It's much, much safer. The lesson here is to get the cars and buses to notice you.

All this blather above that you're holding up traffic is nonsense: everyone will be stopped at the next red light in urban area, cyclists are traffic just like cars, and when it's safe to pass, a car can go on and pass. The roads are about safe passage, not for holding a continuous race.

Eric W

by Eric W on Jun 7, 2012 3:20 pm • linkreport

@wonderland "You weren't injured. You turned down medical assistance which every bike handbook ever printed tells you not to do."

Bike handbook? What the hell are you talking about? How can anyone equivocate when a person is buzzed by a huge, aggressive bus? At least I know that if I side-swipe your car with my car we can agree that it's half your fault.

by MJ on Jun 7, 2012 3:22 pm • linkreport

I've seen Metro buses barrel through the pedestrian crossing on Wayne Avenue at the Silver Spring metro station even when pedestrians have the "walk" sign, without any regard for the pedestrians who are about to cross. One bus came to close to us once that I was able to pound it on the side as it drove away.

One day a Metro bus is going to injure or kill someone at that intersection.

by DTSSER on Jun 7, 2012 3:23 pm • linkreport

Yes, it was repealed in DC in part because compliance was under 10%, in part becuase it didn't actually serve its purpose of getting stolen bikes returned to their owners and in part because the mechanism for marking bikes had the unfortunate side-effect of voiding the frame warranty.

by Crickey7 on Jun 7, 2012 3:26 pm • linkreport

Crickey7, and it was being used by the police as a pretense to do the old stop and search. "Hey young black male, you're bike isn't registered. Now empty your pockets and let's make sure you don't have a gun."

by David C on Jun 7, 2012 3:42 pm • linkreport

@Mazzie: First, cyclists must yield to pedestrians on sidewalks in DC so any rider that is not is breaking the law.

Second, ringing a bell is not the same as honking a car horn, which is designed to be heard by another driver inside a closed vehicle. Cars announce themselves by their noise while bikes do not.

I think you really mean, how would you characterize drivers honking at pedestrians in crosswalks.

by thatguyben on Jun 7, 2012 3:47 pm • linkreport

@Falls Church I think WABA is a great organization but they spend too much of their money on community events and not enough on lobbyists and lawyering up.

That comment is only partly true. WABA is a great organization, and it is correct that WABA does not use its funds to sue tortfeasors or government agencies, though it sometimes helps members find a lawyer. But it is wrong to suggest that WABA spends its members' dues on community events instead of lobbying. Dues mostly go toward improving the bicycle infrastructure, safer roads, and legal rights of cyclists. Making it easier for a cyclist to bring a case, and fixing the inherent unfairness enforcement procedures, will help more people than taking a case or two a year.

The events generally pay for themselves.

by Jim T on Jun 7, 2012 3:53 pm • linkreport

@jeff gerhard The solution is for everyone to obey the law. It is not illegal to pass a transit bus that is stopped (it is illegal to pass a school bus). It may be frustrating for the bus driver to pass the same bike multiple time, but that is the situation, the cyclist is behaving legally.

by thatguyben on Jun 7, 2012 3:54 pm • linkreport

@Ed

Typical of the myth of the cyclist scofflaw. Sit at an intersection and keep track of all vehicles, bikes, motorcycles and cars alike, that fail to adhere to all traffic laws. You will find that drivers speed, run red lights, roll through stop signs, fail to signal lane change at a higher rate than the cyclists commit the same infractions.

Cyclists do not break laws or violate the rules of the road more frequently than do drivers. You just think cyclists do because breaking traffic laws is normalized among drivers, it is a double standard.

by thatguyben on Jun 7, 2012 3:58 pm • linkreport

@charlie

$500 sounds like a minor expense? What world do you live in that 500 bucks is not much?

by thatguyben on Jun 7, 2012 4:00 pm • linkreport

Not to be dismissive of the political influence of young black males, David C., but that wasn't what clinched it. It was its total ineffectiveness.

by Crickey7 on Jun 7, 2012 4:00 pm • linkreport

clinch it? No, but it was a factor. The city paper wrote an article about it and that played a big part in Tommy Wells' push to change the law.

by David C on Jun 7, 2012 4:02 pm • linkreport

Cyclists do not break laws or violate the rules of the road more frequently than do drivers. You just think cyclists do because breaking traffic laws is normalized among drivers...

This should be stenciled on the rear view mirror of every new car that's sold in America.

by oboe on Jun 7, 2012 4:02 pm • linkreport

@Mike

The driver's point of view is that the bikes are annoying. And since riding a bicycle in the street is legal, that point of view is not relevant.

by thatguyben on Jun 7, 2012 4:05 pm • linkreport

@BJ

There are not two sides of this to see. The bus illegally took the lane from the cyclist, causing her to crash, damaging her bike and injuring her. Anything about the cyclist scofflaws this and the frustrating to share the road that is not relevant.

by thatguyben on Jun 7, 2012 4:07 pm • linkreport

@Wonderland

Is that some sort of a bit? She hit the bus?

The bus passed her illegally.

And again, I challenge you to sit and monitor any intersection in the city and keep track of all driver and cyclist traffic violations. This myth of the cyclist and his two wheeled tyranny is ridiculous. Law breaking is normalized for drivers, take a look around you.

by thatguyben on Jun 7, 2012 4:10 pm • linkreport

The 32 bus westbound on Penn Ave near Eastern Makret cut me off and almost ran me over at about 5 oclock the day before yesterday

by Kolohe on Jun 7, 2012 4:19 pm • linkreport

. Making it easier for a cyclist to bring a case, and fixing the inherent unfairness enforcement procedures, will help more people than taking a case or two a year.

The problem is that any individual case is too small to be worth pursuing even though the sum of all cases adds up to a lot. WABA or an enterprising lawyer should collect evidence showing systemic negligence on the part of WMATA to provide appropriate training to drivers about bicylists and a pattern of disregarding bike incidents. Then package that into a class action lawsuit.

by Falls Church on Jun 7, 2012 4:21 pm • linkreport

@roberto

If you are not staying to the right so the bike can pass you on the left, then you are violating the rules of the road if not the law. Multi use paths have multiple uses, including bikes, peds, strollers, dogs, etc. The bicycle is moving much faster than you, therefore has less reaction time. The bell is a courtesy to let you know the bike is coming and to give you a chance to act predictably. The ringing of the bell is the cyclist's predictable behavior.

by thatguyben on Jun 7, 2012 4:22 pm • linkreport

And I was taking the center of the lane, like Eric W's (good) recomendation above.

by Kolohe on Jun 7, 2012 4:27 pm • linkreport

I agree with Erik W. I was skeptical at first of riding further to the left until I tried it. At first it seemed less safe. Then I saw, almost immediately, how it works and how it increases safety. Don't try to "be considerate" by making yourself smaller in the lane. Make yourself bigger and save your own life. It helps drivers too b/c it can be a life-altering negative experience (for most people) to accidentally kill or permanently maim someone just b/c you misjudged distance and the speed of someone on a bike. Taking the lane/one-third of the lane helps drivers evaluate distance and speed more accurately.

by Tina on Jun 7, 2012 4:30 pm • linkreport

@roberto.

according to the etiquette and safety guidelines of the east coast greenway, which both the MBT and most of the Mt Vernon trail are a part of it is encouraged the ring a bell or provide a "friendly greeting." http://www.greenway.org/rules.aspx.

honestly people walking on trails do tend not to be paying the same level of attention (who can blame someone out for a walk looking at the flowers), walking a dog, or even taking up the whole trail when walking in groups, etc. i often see people texting that are walking like they are bit drunk because they are staring at their phones. and for safety i usually ring the bell (or shout on the left if they obviously have headphones) unless they have made it clear that they are not going to zig zag randomly in front of me.

i dont think any of those behaviors i mentioned are wrong, i just dont want to hit someone when i am biking to work. and i do typically i give a thanks when someone does move out of the way.

by hlinak on Jun 7, 2012 4:34 pm • linkreport

@Kolohe, I guess bus drivers are a special case.

by Tina on Jun 7, 2012 4:36 pm • linkreport

@hlinak -can you please give a bell ring when I'm riding on the trail and you're about to overtake me? thanks.

by Tina on Jun 7, 2012 4:39 pm • linkreport

@dcdriver

Systems for licensing riders, registering bikes and carrying riders insurance have been found not to be worth the money to administer them. There are reasons drivers have to go through that, and that is because of taxation and the fact that the car is many thousands of times more deadly a missile than a bike.

Calls to have cyclists get licenses, register bikes or get insurance are a part of the 'if they would just ____ ' attitude of drivers, which is thin code for 'get bikes off the road.'

See also
http://bicycling.com/blogs/roadrights/2009/10/12/license-to-ride/

by thatguyben on Jun 7, 2012 4:40 pm • linkreport

@dcdriver2

Again, licensing, registration and insurance are about protecting the public.

A driver that has not had proper education on how not to kill people behind the wheel cannot get a license. Bicycles simply cannot inflict that kind of harm.

Registration is the state ensuring the car is street legal and safe to drive. A poorly maintained bicycle simply does not have the potential to kill that a car does.

Insurance is to pay for property damage and injury resulting from incidents. While not free of the ability to damage or injure, a bicycle simply cannot do it the way a car can.

Get license and insurance is code for get off the road, you would just find the next thing to complain about if you got your way.

by thatguyben on Jun 7, 2012 4:49 pm • linkreport

Many of us have similar stories. WMATA has a real issue here with its drivers. Sooner or later, someone--or several someones--are going to get killed because Metrobus drivers repeatedly, purposefully ignore cyclists who are in travel lanes, and literally force them to yield or crash by moving progressively farther into the lane.

by Crickey7 on Jun 7, 2012 4:49 pm • linkreport

@Falls Church

No one ever said bike licensing is crazy or ludicrious, just that it was not required in respect to the damage a car can do or the taxes a car can generate.

Santa Cruz, CA does license bikes. I think it is $3 a year.

by thatguyben on Jun 7, 2012 4:58 pm • linkreport

The other advantage of riding farther to the left is that you stay well outside of the door zone of parked cars..

by Phil on Jun 7, 2012 4:59 pm • linkreport

The other thing vehicle licensing is good for is being able to track you down if you leave your property stored where it shouldn't be for too long

by Michael Perkins on Jun 7, 2012 5:00 pm • linkreport

From my own experience, all bus drivers seem to have a hard time with bikes. I have to ride home every night down Smithsonian Alley, where dozens of tour buses line up every day all spring and summer. Once off the National Mall, I have to contend with Metrobus riders who are mostly inconsiderate at best, dangerous drivers at worst.

Most of the cars I deal with are perfectly courteous.

by thatguyben on Jun 7, 2012 5:05 pm • linkreport

$500 may be a significant amount, but within the context of visiting a hospital (as is the case) and bike repairs, it is not a great financial burden. Either the bike wasn't damaged greatly or it was a relatively cheap bike. $500 is likely the cost of the visit to the hospital and a single Advil that cost $35. The comments that mentioned the expense were framed. It's not a matter of being part of the 1%, not valuing a dollar or a sign of worth.

On the other hand, I think Falls Church's stance is disturbing and doesn't address any of the problems that were presented in the scenario and frankly that is something that is seen too often in these discussions. At the root of many of these issues are a lack of education on both sides. Lawsuits for attention and to rally like minded people won't help relations or improve education more than they will divide people into "right" and "wrong" and potentially separate traffic and inconvenience both "sides" more.

Commenting on this site can be very frustrating when there are some who like to make a point of arguing instead of making a point.

Why does a car driver need to communicate with a cyclist beyond eye contact and a wave?
MLD, I never even said anything about verbal or any other type of audible communication.

by selxic on Jun 7, 2012 5:05 pm • linkreport

"In this context, how would you characterize cyclists ringing their bells at pedestrians on sidewalks?"

My legal responsibility under Virginia or Arlington code (can't remember which).

"Cyclists do not break laws or violate the rules of the road more frequently than do drivers. You just think cyclists do because breaking traffic laws is normalized among drivers."

As an avid cyclist who commutes daily and for recreation, I can say with great confidence that this is inaccurate for any non-speeding/tailgating offense. Cyclists break laws and violate rules of the road far more frequently than do drivers. On every commute, I witness multiple failure to yield, failure to stop, failure to signal, illegal passes, traveling the wrong way on one-way streets, illegal turns. I've even seen cyclists wave off police who lawfully order them to stop at stop signs. This is not to diminish the victim's claim in this case, but just to note that cyclists are really, really bad at following rules.

by Jon on Jun 7, 2012 5:08 pm • linkreport

I can say with great confidence that this is inaccurate for any non-speeding/tailgating offense.

Possibly true, but then if we exclude plants from consideration, elephants eat less than humans do.

Cyclists run about twice as many stop signs and significantly more red lights. They go the wrong way on a one-way streets more often.

But, I doubt they fail to yield any more often and probably less often then drivers. I think they do illegal passes less often and I'm not even sure what an "illegal turn" is.

And I pretty sure drivers break a lot of other laws more often than cyclists. Laws like using a phone while driving, illegal parking and stopping.

But it's all moot, because speeding is the real culprit. You can't just waive that away.

by David C on Jun 7, 2012 5:28 pm • linkreport

Several years ago a bus hit my younger brother at a crosswalk with stopsigns. It scraped him and he got a photo of the bus going off with his cell phone. WMATA basically said well we don't know who it is, tough luck.

So not too surprising. WMATA comes off as fairly corrupt to many of us locals.

by GP on Jun 7, 2012 5:34 pm • linkreport

My experience is that rates of law-scoffing seems to be about the same, with cyclists weighted toward the boneheaded lawbreaking and drivers, toward the dangerous.

Really, any comparison that says that one group breaks the law more often, but excludes the most common illegal activity of the other, is not kosher.

by Crickey7 on Jun 7, 2012 5:34 pm • linkreport

Illegal turn: making a left when explicitly disallowed by a signs. Passing a car on the left and then making a right in front of it (usually at traffic signals). Basically anything that ignores traffic control signs designating what turns are allowed out of whatever lane. I'm not saying I can't relate to the choices, but they're still illegal and often confusing to drivers too.

Go riding on a commute someday and count violations, every one of them, even speeding (but you have to include the 15 mph bike trails along with that). I can guarantee you that you'll wind up with a higher number of violations per capita for cyclists. And it's not close. I saw one cyclist this morning over a 5 mile stretch commit a multitude of offenses; he failed to yield to pedestrians at least three times, passed illegally over a solid yellow line, went the wrong way down one street, sped on the trail, road, and sidewalk (and I know because I was moving at the same pace and I my speedometer said I was speeding by a wide margin), tailgated me for several miles (drafting, against my wishes), cut off cars at intersections with stopped lights at separate intersections, entered an intersection on a red light, never signaled a turn (that's like 15 separate offenses alone). These guys do this every single day, there are lots of them. I have never in my life met a driver who racked up such a variety of offenses in such a short distance.

Drivers commit offenses, but by and large, they're civil and conscientious people. It's just that there are so many of them, you're inevitably going to run into some bad ones. A far higher fraction of cyclists are completely inept. And I say this as a person who bikes thousands of miles a year. I have a much greater fear of cyclists on a per capita basis than I do cars.

by Jon on Jun 7, 2012 6:05 pm • linkreport

I am about to commute home on bike and have to say that a large number of cyclists ride straight through stop signs and cross walks on K St, without visibly slowing. I have also been passed by cyclists on CCT without so much as a warning, almost causing accidents. Fellow cyclists, we have a right to the road, and deserve respect, but we would have an easier time making our case if we were seen to be following the law.

by SJE on Jun 7, 2012 6:31 pm • linkreport

Lawsuits for attention and to rally like minded people won't help relations or improve education more than they will divide people into "right" and "wrong" and potentially separate traffic and inconvenience both "sides" more.

A lawsuit wouldn't be primarily to bring attention to the problem (although it would be a nice side benefit) but rather to get the system changed. There are countless examples where people who are harmed by the government or a corporation are banded together (or a test case is chosen) in a lawsuit to make a real difference. Brown vs. Board of Education is just one example of the power of lawsuits to change society for the better. Class action suits against the tobacco companies is another good example.

The bottom line is that money talks. If you want a dysfunctional organization like WMATA to change you have to sue them (or have congressional hearings) because they're too dysfunctional to change otherwise. A recent analogy is the Department of Veterans Affairs which is too dysfunctional to provide the services and benefits veterans have earned. There is a continual string of lawsuits against the VA demanding that they process applications in a timely manner, diagnosis veterans fairly and accurately, keep track of graves at Arlington Cemetery correctly, etc..

On the other hand, I think Falls Church's stance is disturbing and doesn't address any of the problems that were presented in the scenario

What's disturbing is the utter lack of regard for human life in the scenario. The problem is either a lack of training or a lack of willingness to abide by the rules of the road. Some organizations will never change unless they're forced to by the legal system or political power...WMATA is one of them.

by Falls Church on Jun 7, 2012 6:36 pm • linkreport

It's also worth noting that one of the primary reasons government agencies aren't able to fulfill their duties is they've been drained of funding by cost cutting zealots. The great irony is that they very people who are the first to propose going to war and proudly wear ribbons "supporting the troops" are also the first ones to cut funding for Veterans Affairs. WMATA is in a similar situation having been starved of dedicated government funding while simultaneously getting squeezed by rapidly rising union pensions.

by Falls Church on Jun 7, 2012 6:42 pm • linkreport

WMATA may have service issues that are attributable to the shortage of funds, but this issue is one that's linked to their dysfunctional management style and their collective bargaining agreements. There is almost no accountability for bad employees. It's institutionally organized to protect employees against disciplinary measures, even when richly deserved.

by Crickey7 on Jun 7, 2012 7:00 pm • linkreport

Fellow cyclists, we have a right to the road, and deserve respect, but we would have an easier time making our case if we were seen to be following the law.

I think cyclists should be respectful and courteous to others (which is different than "following the law"). Where I disagree is that by "following the traffic laws" we'd somehow build up a store of goodwill by some "public". In general, the animosity of drivers towards cyclists is born out of inconvenience, and the myth of the scofflaw cyclist is merely a cheap rationalization.

by oboe on Jun 7, 2012 7:19 pm • linkreport

Go riding on a commute someday and count violations, every one of them, even speeding (but you have to include the 15 mph bike trails along with that).

Well, the 15mph speed limit is just a rule, not a law. I'm not sure you can be ticketed for it, and it isn't on every trail, but still, how do you "count" speed limit violations? Is speeding for 1 second the same as speeding for 10 minutes? How you answer changes the count by a lot.

I think of it this way. Freeze every road user where they are and then count what percentage of drivers are breaking the law in that moment, and what percentage of cyclists are doing the same. Even if I run every light the whole way home I won't be out of compliance with the law for more than 5% of my commute, but someone who speeds habitually could be out of compliance 60% of the time. I couldn't hit 60% if I tried.

So I'm pretty confident that if you count it that way, by how many are out of compliance at any one time, cyclists would look like Boy Scouts compared to drivers.

Also +1 on oboe's comment. Getting our compliance to 100% would do little to appease those who complain and that is not a reason to ride politely or safely.

by David C on Jun 7, 2012 8:06 pm • linkreport

"Burdensome", I've seen the "burdensome" excuse trotted out in half a dozen different ways here.

Why does it matter what state you live in? So what if you bike in from Arlington every day. Tens of millions of Americans (including myself) cross state lines every year to hunt and fish, both of which require anywhere from 10 to 100 bucks in licensing, EVERY single year. Are you really saying cyclist don't have the mental facilities, personal responsibility or wherewithal of a bunch of redneck hunters and fisherman? If some random fisherman has to pay $20 bucks a year for the privilege of fishing, I don't think $20 bucks a year is an exorbitant, barrier creating amount for people to pay to register their bikes.

And we've wasted tons of electrons deciding for the DMV that it isn't worthwhile, or requires too much manpower. I renew my registration every two years online, completely automated nary a human touching anything. Are we really saying that bike registration is somehow more complicated than vehicle registration?

I also love the nonchalant claims that bikers could only possibly do minor scratches costing a mere couple hundred bucks to fix.

I've had bikers go the wrong way down a one way street and go flying onto my hood, caving it in. I've been waiting at a stoplight and had a cyclist filter up between two lanes of cars and leave a scratch through to the metal the entire length of my car. I've been t-boned at an intersection by a cyclist who decided redlights were only for uncool people. I am then left with the decision of paying a $500 deductable for the $1,300 worth of work and filing a claim which means my premiums go up the next year, or living with it and driving around with a man sized crease in the side of my car.

If you think a biker hitting your car can only be a couple hundred dollar affair, then you obviously have no idea what you are talking about.

Folks need to quit swinging at every windmill and ignoring legitimate issues for "bike hate". There is no legitimate legal recourse to recover damages from a cyclist other than spending a week of you life and thousands of dollars suing someone (if you were able to track them down and get their info)in small claims court, especially when cyclists can spend 10 minutes on the phone with someones insurance company and have a check in the mail the next day. Not exactly apples to apples.

Like I said before, it doesn't have to be a ridiculous rule. Something along the lines that any cyclist on a DC street (sidewalks can be left out) has to carry some liability insurance, and lets get real here, infants and 10 year olds aren't riding their bikes on downtown dc streets, if they are then they have hideous parents.

And believe me, if the law was passed, there would be 20 national insurers falling over themselves to offer policies for people.

by dcdriver2 on Jun 7, 2012 8:29 pm • linkreport

[This comment has been deleted for violating the comment policy.]

by Paul Johnson on Jun 7, 2012 8:40 pm • linkreport

Really? 20 major insurers would be lining up to provide this insurance? The no-fault, uninsured motorist, and hit-and-run rules alone would scare off ANY insurer except the absolute shadiest, and good luck collecting from THEM. If a driver takes me out while I'm riding (could be as simple as bumping a tire), and drives off, I could cost that insurance company thousands (maybe I break a tooth off), tens of thousands (broken major limb, for instance), HUNDREDS of thousands (head trauma, getting run over by a following vehicle) of dollars in medical bills, because, unlike the driver involved in a hit-and-run, I didn't have thousands of pounds of steel around me when they "bumped" me. I've been in a number of car crashes (from minor bumps in a parking lot to head-on collisions), and walked away without a scratch. I had a bike accident (not caused by a car, but a similar one could easily happen at the fault of a car, without the car being damaged) as a teen and my parents ended up spending a good chunk of change in deductibles and copays fixing my face...who knows what the total bills were. If it's pure liability, it doesn't solve much, since you can always sue and (at least my) homeowner's insurance covers me for that, anyway. I agree with others...I have almost been pushed in front of trains by hapless tourists on the Metro, almost hit pedestrians by their fault while driving or biking, and otherwise suffered actual or theoretical injury to myself or my property by people doing things that don't require testing, licensing, and insurance. Where does your line of thinking stop?

And kids ride their bikes in the street in my neighborhood all the time. Even if they stick to the sidewalk, they still have to cross streets occasionally. Sure, it's not "downtown," but motorized vehicles still use the roads in my neighborhood (maybe you live in a car-free neighborhood?).

by Ms. D on Jun 7, 2012 9:19 pm • linkreport

[nerd alert]And we've wasted tons of electrons

Sorry, I have to intervene here. No electrons are being wasted on the Internet. It's the energy carried by the electrons that's being wasted, especially if that energy came from an unsustainable source. [/nerd alert]

Just gotta keep the science straight.

by Jasper on Jun 7, 2012 9:31 pm • linkreport

Oboe: I agree that most animosity comes from drivers who do not understand our perspective and lash out at any one and anything conveniencing them. Cyclists are just a handy target. I also agree that cyclists rights should not be contingent on good behavior.

At the same time, in the real world, we'd have a better position if there was less animosity against cyclists for riding through traffic like the laws didn't apply to them. You say you don't think "we'd somehow build up a store of goodwill": well, I'd like to see the experiment run.

by SJE on Jun 7, 2012 9:36 pm • linkreport

Ms. D,

[Deleted for violating the comment policy.]

Even if you (cyclist) were injured in a hit and run, your personal medical insurance covers it.

What we are all talking about is the situation where the cyclist is at fault, causes an accident, causes damage to someone elses physical property. As it stands today, there is no legitimate legal recourse for recovering damages from that person because they aren't carrying collision, or liability like the vehicle is. I want the same access to restitution when an at fault cyclist causes thousands in damage to my car.

I am not sure what you are talking about.

Insurance is all about the math. Of course insurers would love access to thousands of additional customers needing policies for the bikes. Everyone here says cyclists never break any rules and are never at fault and if that is the case cyclists get to enjoy low premiums and insurers get to enjoy lots of premiums without having to pay out in claims.

This isn't rocket science. A DC road has two disparate modes of transportation that, two vehicles that are legally permitted to use it. It only makes perfect sense to apply the same rules to both. Skateboards aren't allow in the street, little red wagons aren't allowed in the street, roller skating isn't allowed so you trying to come up with exceptions to the rule is just swinging at windmills. If it is legal to ride in/on in a DC street then the same basic legal conveniences and protections should exist for all legally permitted to all vehicles on that street.

by dcdriver2 on Jun 7, 2012 10:16 pm • linkreport

I've had bikers go the wrong way down a one way street and go flying onto my hood, caving it in. I've been waiting at a stoplight and had a cyclist filter up between two lanes of cars and leave a scratch through to the metal the entire length of my car. I've been t-boned at an intersection by a cyclist who decided redlights were only for uncool people.

If you've had that many serious accidents with bicyclists, you should consider whether you're driving differently than everyone else. There have been over 2 million bikeshare trips (and bikeshare users are typically novice urban cyclists, so more crash prone) and only about 20 crashes. Sounds like you've been involved in at least two bike crashes.

So, if the probability of being involved in a bike-car crash is 1 out of 100,000 trips and you've taken 3,000 trips over the past 3 years (I'm assuming both crashes happened in the past 3 years), the chance that you would be involved in two serious bike crashes is 1 in 3.33 million. You are more likely to be struck by lighting than to be involved in two bike crashes over three years.

by Falls Church on Jun 7, 2012 10:23 pm • linkreport

"Well, the 15mph speed limit is just a rule, not a law. I'm not sure you can be ticketed for it, and it isn't on every trail, but still, how do you "count" speed limit violations? Is speeding for 1 second the same as speeding for 10 minutes? How you answer changes the count by a lot."

Well, I look forward to seeing you use that defense when you get clocked and cited on the Capital Crescent Trail.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/05/31/AR2008053102022.html

"I think of it this way. Freeze every road user where they are and then count what percentage of drivers are breaking the law in that moment, and what percentage of cyclists are doing the same. Even if I run every light the whole way home I won't be out of compliance with the law for more than 5% of my commute, but someone who speeds habitually could be out of compliance 60% of the time. I couldn't hit 60% if I tried."

Well, that's not really a very fair metric. I saw a peleton of 50 people run a stop sign today in Haines Point (which I'm sure they did repeatedly), but by your definition, not one of them would be "out-of-compliance". So congratulations, you win by selecting an arbitrarily discrete window of time that can excludes of my observed offenses. That's really helpful.

As for what oboe says; yeah, some people are just jerks and there's no appeasing them. However, some are legitimately and genuinely aggrieved that cyclists flaunt an undeniably high fraction of traffic control laws--often illegally inconveniencing cars. For example, when a slow cyclist rides up around me and stops in front of me at a stoplight or passes me on the right as I'm clipping in, I have an undeniable urge to run them into a parked car in retaliation for rudely getting in my way or forcing me into traffic. If they didn't do this routinely, I wouldn't care. I imagine that a share of car drivers feel similarly, and those are the drivers we can target by being better citizens.

Again, this has nothing to do with the victim in the article, who has my deepest sympathy.

by Jon on Jun 7, 2012 10:42 pm • linkreport

There have been over 2 million bikeshare trips (and bikeshare users are typically novice urban cyclists, so more crash prone) and only about 20 crashes.

I'd love to see a source for the 2 million trips and only 20 crashes stat. There's just no way.

by WestEgg on Jun 7, 2012 10:46 pm • linkreport

I've seen the "burdensome" excuse trotted out in half a dozen different ways here.

Well, that's because it would be a burden. Getting a license and keeping it up-to-date is a burden. It has a cost. And as others have pointed, this has been tried and failed.

What you have failed to identify is the benefit.

If some random fisherman has to pay $20 bucks a year for the privilege of fishing, I don't think $20 bucks a year is an exorbitant, barrier creating amount for people to pay to register their bikes.

Well then you haven't considered the difference between some guy who rides a $50 bike to get to work because he barely makes enough as a busboy at a hotel to get by and a guy who has the time and money to drive around the country hunting and fishing.

Are we really saying that bike registration is somehow more complicated than vehicle registration?

No, but we're saying that the transaction costs of bike registration to DC is probably more than the $1 a year you're proposing as the fee. So it's a revenue loser.

There is no legitimate legal recourse to recover damages from a cyclist other than spending a week of you life and thousands of dollars suing someone

Welcome to our world.

especially when cyclists can spend 10 minutes on the phone with someones insurance company and have a check in the mail the next day

[Deleted for violating the comment policy.]

lets get real here, infants and 10 year olds aren't riding their bikes on downtown dc streets, if they are then they have hideous parents.

But some people do have "hideous parents" who let their kids - gasp - ride on streets. Besides which is it, do you need to be registered to ride on DC Streets or is it now only in downtown. Either way, people let their kids ride on streets downtown too.

Skateboards aren't allow in the street

What is a crosswalk then? Couldn't a skateboarder crash into your car at the crosswalk and cause damage? If the standard is that they can cause a man-sized dent in your hood, leaving you no recourse but to sue, then that is true of pedestrians too.

And believe me, if the law was passed, there would be 20 national insurers falling over themselves to offer policies for people.

I'm sorry, but I have no reason to believe you on that.

by David C on Jun 7, 2012 10:51 pm • linkreport

You say you don't think "we'd somehow build up a store of goodwill": well, I'd like to see the experiment run.

OK, but you do realize that's never going to happen. That's not human nature. No group is particularly well-behaved on the road. So, while we wait for the comet from the H.G. Wells story to crash to Earth and make us all good people, what is your strategy for the real world? Because standing around and telling other cyclists that they need to behave better than everyone else does in the hope that it will change public perception has not been working well.

by David C on Jun 7, 2012 10:55 pm • linkreport

"Everyone here says cyclists never break any rules and are never at fault"

no one here says that.

now you're just trolling - as when you jump from licenses for streets and sidewalks, to just streets, to just downtown DC.

cmon, why not just make it for the one guy who scratched your car downtown?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 7, 2012 11:03 pm • linkreport

there is no legitimate legal recourse for recovering damages from that person because they aren't carrying collision, or liability like the vehicle is.

yes there is. you can sue them.

cyclists get to enjoy low premiums and insurers get to enjoy lots of premiums without having to pay out in claims.

So then what's the point? Look either it will be used often and be expensive and become a burden, or it won't be used often in which case it is just a money transfer from DC cyclists - some of whom are low income - to out of state Insurance companies.

And you still haven't proven this is a serious issue. Not enough to require all the transaction costs.

by David C on Jun 7, 2012 11:08 pm • linkreport

Well, that's not really a very fair metric.

Sure it is. The whole time that the stop-sign running cyclist is in the intersection they are breaking the law because they don't have the right of way. A cyclist who runs stop signs spends most of their ride NOT running stop signs, but a driver who speeds spends most of their time speeding.

What, in your opinion, is a better metric?

However, some are legitimately and genuinely aggrieved that cyclists flaunt an undeniably high fraction of traffic control laws--often illegally inconveniencing cars.

I would deny that it is a high fraction. Can you prove that?

Cyclist bad behavior is no different than any other group of users, so why should the anger of these reasonable people be uniquely directed at cyclists?

For example, when a slow cyclist rides up around me and stops in front of me at a stoplight or passes me on the right as I'm clipping in, I have an undeniable urge to run them into a parked car in retaliation for rudely getting in my way or forcing me into traffic.

You're proving my point, because what you've described is not illegal. And how do they force you "into traffic"? In this example, you're not moving and they ride around you.

by David C on Jun 7, 2012 11:11 pm • linkreport

John, those speed limits on the CCT have never been tested in court, but some think they won't hold up if they are.

by David C on Jun 7, 2012 11:16 pm • linkreport

"John, those speed limits on the CCT have never been tested in court, but some think they won't hold up if they are."

Uh huh. And Arlington is making the same mistake?

http://washingtonexaminer.com/2011/11/letters-editor-nov-30-2011/126758

In fact, according to Arlington county code §14.2-65, they can cite you for whatever speed they think is unsafe.

In Virginia, passing on the right is illegal for cars, and the statute technically applies to bicyclists as well, particularly if they pull out in front of a car or other cyclist. Unless you have an actual case to cite, see §46.2-841 and §46.2-800. A cyclist passing on the left is similarly illegal, see:

http://www.virginiadot.org/programs/bk-laws.asp

And when they try to pass on the right using the extra space on the intersecting street as I'm advancing from a stoplight, they end up pushing me left and into traffic. If I didn't oblige them, and they're going to go into the back of a parked car, into oncoming traffic, or into a curb.

by Jon on Jun 7, 2012 11:42 pm • linkreport

dcdriver, I carried car insurance up until about a year ago, and carry life insurance, health insurance, dental and vision insurance, long-term care insurance, standard homeowner's insurance, and a landlord homeowner's insurance policy currently. I know for a fact that my homeowner's policy with umbrella liability would cover me if I managed to cause a car accident on a bike (or otherwise damage a car), and my health insurance would pay for my rehabilitation. I ALSO know that my life and homeowner's companies asked me if I did anything dangerous, including riding a motorcycle. If riding a motorcycle is dangerous enough to drive up my premiums, with a stellar driving record (every collision, all 2 of them, I've been in in a car in the last 13 years has been the other driver's fault), then I'm certain that a biker's liability policy that would also pay out if a driver bumped my bike tire, causing me to crash, and drove off, would be hella expensive. My homeowner's rates nearly doubled after a burglary, even though I installed window bars, a security system, and got a non-vicious dog (though he barks a lot). Even though I'm part of the 2M+ riders of CaBi who have taken trips without having an accident, absent the 2 tons of steel protecting me from the other 2 ton steel vehicles on the road, I'm certain I'm considered a "risk" to insurance companies who might be put on the hook for my injuries at the hands of unscrupulous drivers.

I have also had many run-ins with terrible drivers committing illegal acts while driving, walking, and biking. Based on these experiences, with 20/15 vision (thank you, LASIK), I find it hard to believe that you're going to get anything smaller than a standard license plate number and general description if someone chooses to ride off. I have been in situations where drivers were harassing me, (as a fellow driver for driving harassment - so sorry for only going 10 over the speed limit - and as a pedestrian for sexual harassment) and still couldn't get their plate number.

by Ms. D on Jun 7, 2012 11:58 pm • linkreport

And Arlington is making the same mistake?

Nope. I remember that. It turned out they weren't cops. They were traffic engineers.

In Virginia, passing on the right is illegal for cars, and the statute technically applies to bicyclists as well,

Nope. From your link "Bicyclists may pass another vehicle on the right or left, and they may stay in the same lane, change lanes, or ride off the road if necessary for safe passing." 46.2-907

If I didn't oblige them, they're going to go into the back of a parked car, into oncoming traffic, or into a curb.

So they try to pass you, but they don't make it and now you're side by side somewhere in the intersection. Is that the scenario? And then you move over into traffic instead of maintaining your line? And you're saying that if you did maintain your line they'd crash? I find that impossible to believe. Why wouldn't they just slow down/stop and fall in behind you?

by David C on Jun 8, 2012 12:04 am • linkreport

@dcdriver2. You are overstating the difficulty of recovering from a cyclist compared with recovering from an automobile driver. You are correct that some fraction of collisions with a cyclist will cause serious damage to a car which the cyclist will not voluntarily pay, requiring you to take her to small claims court which you may be reluctant to do. But a similar fraction of collisions with automobiles have damages greater than the insurance and assets of the driver. Alot od drivers are uninsured, and even more carry to bare minimum, which will not make a victim whole after a very serious accident--even a victim willing to go to court.

That said, I think it would be a great idea to reform the insurance requirements for cyclists. Because cyclist collisions with motor vehicles are lagely governed by a no-fault law ("contributory negligence") what we need is no-fault insurance for cyclists. That would include a requirement that both cyclists and drivers carry the no-fault bicycle collision insurance, and that all auto insurace in the district be required to include such a policy (since everybody must buy it). Then when an accident occurs, each party collects from their own insurance. DC insurance compananies could be required to sell an optional policy to out-of-state drivers and cyclists at the same cost.

@Falls Church: You have not really made a compelling case for a class action lawsuit against the bus company. How many people have had collisions with WMATA? Is the ratio of the cost of a class action lawsuit to a small claim greater than that number? If not, then filing small claims makes more sense.

Given that the facts of every accident must be litigated, and WMATA is liable for the accident whether or not it is also negligent in driver training, I would expect that the class action add tremendously to the cost of the lawsuit, without avoiding the need to prove the facts of each individyual accident.

Your analogy with the tobacco class action lawsuits wouild be for insurance companies, not a class of cyclists to sue the bus company.

If you have a few days to spend on this, I would urge you to prepare a guide on how to bring small cases against WMATA for accidents, rather than looking for a lawyer willing to take on a class action.

by Jim Titus on Jun 8, 2012 6:35 am • linkreport

@DavidC,

I get it, I know you feel that cyclists are never at fault and they can never cause any damage to property or person, or ever possibly be the cause of any accident. The Washcycles (and GGW's) archives have plenty of material to prove you wrong. I fully support drivers being responsible for the accidents/damage they cause. It is unfortunate that you think cyclists are somehow an elite group undeserving of the same responsibility.

Ms D,

Yes, your homeowner insurance policy would "typically" cover you if you were on a bike and caused an accident. Renters insurnace does not.

Fallschurch,

I've been involved in 3 accidents with cyclists in DC over the past decade, and try as you might, there is no way you can blame me for a cyclist going the wrong way on a one way street, or my driving through an intersection, fully green for atleast ~20 seconds and a cyclist not even bothering to slow and instead deciding to weave through a 4 way intersection with 6 lanes. I know its hard to fathom, impossible to believe but "gasp" cyclists do dumb irresponsible things too.

"There have been over 2 million bikeshare trips (and bikeshare users are typically novice urban cyclists, so more crash prone) and only about 20 crashes"

20 crashes that resulted in serious personal injury,death or the destruction of the bike. Do you really think that there haven't been any dings, scratches to property, or non-deadly accidents with bikeshare riders? What you are telling us is that bikeshare riders only have serious accidents? The folks here have talked in perpetuity of all the unreported accidents between cyclists and pedestrians so I am not following your logic or argument.

by dcdriver2 on Jun 8, 2012 8:50 am • linkreport

I'm not sure it's such a great idea to mandate insurance. For one, using Oklahoma as an example, people saw their rates go up when Oklahoma started requiring insurance for the first time. Drivers in Oklahoma are pretty solid and safe compared to states that have had insurance requirements for a long time, California, Massachusetts and Oregon being obvious eponymous examples of terrible drivers. Perhaps having the option to not have insurance encourages people to be more mindful drivers.

by Paul Johnson on Jun 8, 2012 9:18 am • linkreport

@dcdriver2: I think it's less that bicyclists never cause damage, just that the damage rarely exceeds what a cyclist can afford, combined with the fact we already have a public method for resolving disputes called courts. Just because you like the private option doesn't mean the rest of us should be forced out of the people's venue.

by Paul Johnson on Jun 8, 2012 9:19 am • linkreport

combined with the fact we already have a public method for resolving disputes called courts.

Many (most?) bicyclists are young and do not have assets. They are judgement-proof: only a fool would bring suit against one.

by goldfish on Jun 8, 2012 9:30 am • linkreport

I know you feel that cyclists are never at fault and they can never cause any damage to property or person, or ever possibly be the cause of any accident

Well, that's actually not my position at all. What did I write that gave you that impression?

I fully support drivers being responsible for the accidents/damage they cause. It is unfortunate that you think cyclists are somehow an elite group undeserving of the same responsibility.

Again, not my position. I think cyclists should be responsible for the accidents/damage they cause. But your solutions will not make that more so; or, at best, will do so only in a minuscule way while carrying a large cost.

20 crashes that resulted in serious personal injury,death or the destruction of the bike.

Actually, none of them have resulted in death or destruction of the bike, and only a couple of those involve serious personal injury. That's 20 crashes reported to CaBi. There have been 40 other incidents where staff found damage that appeared to be normal wear and tear, but it's impossible to know what those were. So 2 serious crashes, and up to 58 smaller ones which might include slow-speed, single bike crashes. That's still a rather low rate.

by David C on Jun 8, 2012 9:42 am • linkreport

What I'm still waiting on is for someone to define the problem caused by "uninsured cyclists". How much money are we talking about? How many crashes where it's relevant? What is the scope of the problem? So far, I have only that dcdriver2 is incredibly unlucky. Maybe if he stopped spilling salt, we could solve this problem.

by David C on Jun 8, 2012 9:46 am • linkreport

Pretty prejudiced and quite inaccurate to think that the majority of cyclists have no assets.

by Paul Johnson on Jun 8, 2012 9:53 am • linkreport

I'm still wondering what the point to registration is, anyway.

I did like the example of fishing or hunting licenses. That, by the way, is a system where the state imposes limits on the amount of use of a particular resource by requiring licenses. It has nothing to do with stray hooks impaling little children and the elderly.

by Crikey7 on Jun 8, 2012 10:06 am • linkreport

Pretty prejudiced and quite inaccurate to think that the majority of cyclists have no assets.

You must have missed the memo: in addition to all being spoiled and entitled rich elitists, every cyclist is also a parasite and outcast, living on the margins of society.

by oboe on Jun 8, 2012 10:22 am • linkreport

@David C
http://www.borderstan.com/03/update-on-biker-injured-in-tuesdays-u-street-accident/

This cabi bike wasn't destroyed? Looks pretty unridable in the photo to me.

I've also illustrated two examples above where an uninsured biker caused thousands in damage to my car, and no way to recover said thousands other than spending a week of my life (worth more in billable hours than the $1,500 it would cost to fix the buckled door) and more money in legal fees than I would possibly hope to recover.

by dcdriver2 on Jun 8, 2012 10:25 am • linkreport

Maybe you shouldn't be driving over bicycles.

by Paul Johnson on Jun 8, 2012 10:26 am • linkreport

Shouldn't your collision insurance have covered that?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 8, 2012 10:31 am • linkreport

You chose not to pursue legal recourse, even though it was available to you. That's your choice. That in no way argues for creating a massive, expensive and unworkable system that would have the primary effect of suppressing development of a transportation system that offers enormous net social benefits.

Just so that your recovery of damages is easier. Not possible, because it already is. Just easier.

by Crickey7 on Jun 8, 2012 10:39 am • linkreport

@Awalkerinthecity,

Sure, it "would" but then I am stuck with having to make a claim and paying the higher premiums associated with it for 3-5 years after, all through a no-fault action.

If another car had hit me like the bike had, their insurance would have paid for the damage (save the deductable) and I wouldn't have been penalized for someone elses actions by having to pay higher premiums for years to come.

by dcdriver2 on Jun 8, 2012 10:41 am • linkreport

If youd walked to your car and found damage from sources unknown you'd have had to file a collision claim. thats why collision insurance exists. We could ask everyone to pay a tax into a fund to pay you, so that you would never have to file a collision claim, I suppose. Creating a costly unwieldy system that discourages cycling seems likes it no more worthwhile as an approach.

I guess since you have such a high billing rate, you can probably afford marginally higher collision rates.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 8, 2012 10:52 am • linkreport

Pretty prejudiced and quite inaccurate to think that the majority of cyclists have no assets.

Never said that: it was a question. But in times past, I was such a person. Most everybody starts out with nothing.

by goldfish on Jun 8, 2012 10:52 am • linkreport

This cabi bike wasn't destroyed? Looks pretty unridable in the photo to me.

Looks can be deceptive, and CaBi hires good mechanics.

I've also illustrated two examples above...

But I'm not looking for examples. I'm looking for analysis. What is the scope of the problem you're trying to fix? If it's a serious problem, surely someone has studied it.

But if you insist on examples only. Can you find some other examples that don't involve me relying on you as the source?

by David C on Jun 8, 2012 11:13 am • linkreport

And now you have a bowl of your very own, and a little treasure chest.

So to speak.

by Crickey7 on Jun 8, 2012 11:14 am • linkreport

no way to recover said thousands other than spending a week of my life (worth more in billable hours than the $1,500 it would cost to fix the buckled door) and more money in legal fees

How do you know it would take this long/cost this much unless you try? I've sued in small claims court. It took more like 10 hours and cost me only a small filing fee, which I was able to recover.

by David C on Jun 8, 2012 11:16 am • linkreport

And again, what is your plan to deal with young cyclists? Are they just banned from cycling? What about people who can't afford to buy insurance? Are they stuck walking now? What about someone with two DWI's who loses their license, now they wouldn't even be able to ride a bike (since I suspect insurance would be hard to get). You're disenfranchising a lot of people here.

Up until now, biking has always been a right - like walking - that can not be taken away. This proposal would change that by taking it away from those without insurance. Are you comfortable with that?

by David C on Jun 8, 2012 11:19 am • linkreport

I've also illustrated two examples above where an uninsured biker caused thousands in damage to my car

If you've managed to collide with multiple cyclists, you really need to take a good look at how you're driving. Perhaps your insurance premiums *should* be going up. It reminds me of one of my friends from high school: he insisted that he was a great driver; just couldn't understand why people kept plowing into his rear bumper.

Of course, anyone who was a passenger in his car could see what a terrible driver he was--only he was clueless.

I've lived in a dense, congested part of the city for years, and never come close to having a collision.

by oboe on Jun 8, 2012 12:02 pm • linkreport

You're disenfranchising a lot of people here.

Since the whole point of the exercise is to get pesky bikes out of traffic lanes (presumably so traffic can flow free and easy) I'm not sure that argument's going to hold much water.

by oboe on Jun 8, 2012 12:04 pm • linkreport

For what it's worth, not all WMATA drivers behave the same way as the one mentioned in this post.

I had a similar accident myself, when I was on a bike riding to the right of a Metrobus and got squeezed between the bus and parked cars. I fell off my bike and was barely scratched, with no damage to the bike, but the driver insisted that we fill out a report and we wait for the police to come.

In the end, nothing happened. The report was filed. The police came. I said everything was fine, and I lost an hour's time waiting around. It was inconvenient but I'm glad the driver followed procedure.

Also, I ride differently now when I'm sharing the road with a Metrobus. I don't try to pass on the right. I actually resort to riding on sidewalks much more, like Florida Ave. between New York and Rhode Island, where the cars rush by, there's no shoulder, and there are very few pedestrians.

I hope the victim of the hit and run gets some relief and that the driver is disciplined and given training on how to share the road with cyclists. I also hope/assume that the cyclist will make some adjustments to help avoid this in the future, like taking the lane or sidewalk when the conditions become too dangerous to hug the door zone on a busy street with bus traffic.

by Ward 1 Guy on Jun 8, 2012 12:54 pm • linkreport

I am really getting a laugh at the continued windmill swinging

"If you've managed to collide with multiple cyclists, you really need to take a good look at how you're driving"

No, reading comprehension is key. I didn't collide with anyone. Two cyclist collided with me. Can't be responsible for the cognitive dissonance that preceeds someone literally blowing through a redlight on a 6 lane road /4 way intersection and caving in my door, anymore than I can be held responsible for riding their bike the wrong way on a one way street.

Clear now?

"And again, what is your plan to deal with young cyclists?"

Young, old, it doesn' matter. I am not saying every cul de sac in DC (are there any) needs liscensed / insured cyclists, but once you've identified where (you could start with main arterials and work down to side streets) it would be required of any vehicle driving in the travel lane. Crossing the street at a cross walk is not classified in any book as "driving a street legal vehical in a travel lane".

In fact, the entire thing is pretty simple. Cycling on sidewalks is already banned in the central busines district. Passing legislation requiring all vehicles allowed by law to drive in the travel lane to carry insurance could too.

Proceed to more windmill swinging!

by dcdriver2 on Jun 8, 2012 2:00 pm • linkreport

David C "No group is particularly well-behaved on the road.... what is your strategy for the real world? Because standing around and telling other cyclists that they need to behave better than everyone else does in the hope that it will change public perception has not been working well".

I'd say that cyclists behave WORSE than drivers on K-St in G'town, where cyclists routinely blow straight through stop signs and cross walks. Not even making an effort to slow or give some indication that they will yield.

Yes, telling cyclists they need to behave better hasnt been working, but I'd says that's because cyclists adopt a knee-jerk "I'm not at fault" attitude. How's THAT working? Not so well, I'd say, judging by the irritated writers here. Fortunately, WABA takes a different approach and has its bike ambassador program.

by SJE on Jun 8, 2012 2:05 pm • linkreport

First of all, I think you're using that phrase incorrectly. I believe you mean "tilting at windmills" which refers to attacking imaginary enemies. Which is not what we're doing here, because we're attacking a real position with which we disagree. I have no idea what "swinging at windmills" means.

but once you've identified where (you could start with main arterials and work down to side streets) it would be required of any vehicle driving in the travel lane.

OK. So your plan is to ban bike riding by kids on some roads, but not others. So where? You keep moving the target. Where specifically? Because whatever you choose, you'll be kicking certain users off those roads. If you're saying in the CBD, then you've just banned kids from riding their bikes in the CBD, where, in fact, people with young kids live.

by David C on Jun 8, 2012 2:09 pm • linkreport

@oboe: Bikes are part of traffic. Don't want to share a general access lane? Get more bike lanes built, make sure they're well enforced and maintained, or take the bus or cab and let someone else do the driving.

by Paul Johnson on Jun 8, 2012 2:10 pm • linkreport

@ David C:

"And how do they force you "into traffic"? In this example, you're not moving and they ride around you."

You try clipping into pedals while not moving. Let me know how that works out. Of course this person

This chain jumped the shark a long, long time ago. I'm riding my bike all over town this weekend in celebration.

by MJ on Jun 8, 2012 2:11 pm • linkreport

If you think cyclists are any better or worse than motorists when it comes to compliance, clearly you haven't spent any time paying attention near a street anywhere in the country lately.

by Paul Johnson on Jun 8, 2012 2:12 pm • linkreport

K-St in G'town

There is no K street in Georgetown.

And just choosing one place where cyclists behave worse is not the point. Drivers behave worse on M Street in SE/SW. So what?

I'd says that's because cyclists adopt a knee-jerk "I'm not at fault" attitude.

No it's because in many cases cyclists know that what they're doing is safe and polite but illegal only because of bad laws. If we passed the Idaho stop, cyclists would be brought more than 50% of the way into full compliance with zero change in safety (or possibly an improvement). It's hard to get people to comply with an irrational law that is not in their best interest.

by David C on Jun 8, 2012 2:15 pm • linkreport

I'm not so sure the Idaho stop is the best option. If it's safe to roll an intersection, then the stop sign needs to be changed to a Yield anyway. The midwest is figuring this out already, Oklahoma has some all-way yields that work just fine.

by Paul Johnson on Jun 8, 2012 2:19 pm • linkreport

I didn't collide with anyone. Two cyclist collided with me. Can't be responsible for the cognitive dissonance that preceeds someone literally blowing through a redlight on a 6 lane road /4 way intersection and caving in my door, anymore than I can be held responsible for riding their bike the wrong way on a one way street.

Fine, we'll do it your way. If people are colliding with you constantly, you might step back and take a good look at why it's happening to you so often. Never happened to me--not even close. In fact, I don't know anyone to whom this has happened to.

Some people are involved in lots of collisions. Others are not. If you find yourself always in the latter group, you might do well to take a good look at what the former group is doing. Just sayin.

by oboe on Jun 8, 2012 2:36 pm • linkreport

If you find yourself always in the latter group, you might do well to take a good look at what the former group is doing. Just sayin.

And vice versa. :)

by oboe on Jun 8, 2012 2:44 pm • linkreport

This chain jumped the shark a long, long time ago.

Well then, that's my cue.

by Ted McGinley on Jun 8, 2012 2:49 pm • linkreport

@David C

"There is no K street in Georgetown"

Funny...I guess the lowes theater under the whitehurst at 3111K Street is floating in midair then?

by Georgetown on Jun 8, 2012 3:20 pm • linkreport

One could pass legislation requiring cyclists who travel on roads to carry insurance, sure. The point many have raised is that it wouldn't work, it would be expensive and have big negative effects and the problem it purports to solve isn't, anecdotes aside, significant. One typically does not pass expensive laws with bad side effects to fix non-problems.

by Crickey7 on Jun 8, 2012 3:24 pm • linkreport

I think the idea of forcing cyclists to have liability insurance (like autos) is a bad idea for all the reasons stated. And that is from someone who's had two mirrors broken off my bikes.

However, it would be nice if there was an insurance package for cyclists that could cover loss and injuries. Given the rates, I can't imagine it will ever happen.

by charlie on Jun 8, 2012 3:42 pm • linkreport

I guess the lowes theater under the whitehurst at 3111K Street is floating in midair then

Touche. I always thought that was Water Street the whole way. And Google Maps doesn't help with the confusion.

Regardless, it's ironic to cite K Street, when suspended above it is the Whitehurst Freeway where almost every driver is speeding.

Also, if you look at the DDOT bike crash map, you'll see that there's only about 1 crash per year on the whole street. So if that's the best example of bad behavior anyone can come up with, then give me plenty of bad behavior.

by David C on Jun 8, 2012 3:46 pm • linkreport

@DavidC There is no K street in Georgetown.

Did they recently change it? I thought the movie theater was on K Street and G'town bank at the corner of Wisconsin and K?

by HogWash on Jun 8, 2012 3:48 pm • linkreport

Chadwick's is on K Street. There's a whole universe down there under the expressway.

by Crickey7 on Jun 8, 2012 4:06 pm • linkreport

There is a K St NW in G'town and I am sitting in an Office at that address right now.

I said that "cyclists adopt a knee-jerk "I'm not at fault" attitude" and you responded that "in many cases cyclists know that what they're doing is safe and polite but illegal only because of bad laws"

Excuse me, but doesnt that make my point about knee-jerk responses?

I AGREE that the current laws are stupid, but failing to obey the law is still still disobeying the law, irrespective of the wisdom of the law. I also agree that we should have a more flexible approach to the law considering safety etc, but the safety argument doesnt hold on that part of K-St: the traffic is slow, there are a lot of pedestrians. When I see cyclists going straight through a cross walk with kids, or making no effort to slow when approaching a stop sign to yield to a car making a legal left turn (happens EVERY DAY), it looks bad.

by SJE on Jun 8, 2012 4:38 pm • linkreport

It looks like Water street is what it was originally named prior to Georgetown getting DC style names. The western most part of it can technically be called either. That's where this confusion comes from.

by alex on Jun 8, 2012 4:44 pm • linkreport

And yes, almost every driver on the Whitehurst is speeding. About the same proportion of cyclists on K-St ignore the stop signs. The difference is that people generally get upset about the latter, but not the former. We are a vulnerable minority arguing that we should be accorded greater rights and protections, and it would help our cause if we tried to follow the laws better.

by SJE on Jun 8, 2012 4:44 pm • linkreport

Bus drivers are supposed to be professional drivers. As such they should NEVER speed, run stop signs, red lights, or break ANY laws that govern our roads.

Regrettably this is not the case. I constantly see Montgomery County Ride-On buses and Metro buses come to a stop in crosswalks at red lights and stop signs, roll through stop signs (going both left and right), and exceed the speed limit.

I assume there are cameras installed on the buses so that a bus driver's behavior can be monitored, but it seems to me this doesn't happen.

What happened to Karen is truly terrifying. She is very lucky to come out of that situation alive.

by Tim on Jun 8, 2012 5:04 pm • linkreport

We are a vulnerable minority arguing that we should be accorded greater rights and protections, and it would help our cause if we tried to follow the laws better.

I disagree. I think it's a bit like a group agitating for women's suffrage telling women they should try to be a bit more rational. After all, naysayers claim women shouldn't have the franchise because they're prone to hysteria, and I know several women who act irrationally. Therefore, women shouldn't be given the vote until they get their act together. And, of course, since you'll always have plenty of people you can point to who fit the stereotype, we can defer that forever.

It's classic out-group dynamics.

by oboe on Jun 8, 2012 5:34 pm • linkreport

I assume there are cameras installed on the buses so that a bus driver's behavior can be monitored, but it seems to me this doesn't happen.

Because it's not really possible to review thousands of hours of footage from a bus camera just to see if a driver sped or ended up in a crosswalk. WMATA runs like 10,000 (yes TEN THOUSAND) revenue hours of bus service a day. Not excusing the behavior, but you can't just "monitor" that.

The buses do have event recorders that take a snip of the video feed when the bus accelerates or decelerates suddenly, and that is checked.

by MLD on Jun 8, 2012 5:34 pm • linkreport

I'm not saying that we shouldnt agitate for our rights. All I am saying is that our cause would be helped if we acknowleged the PR problem.

As for history, women's suffrage took several decades, and was not entirely motivated by principal from the in group. You can say the same about voting rights in the civil rights era. Most of the landmark cases against Jim Crow explicitly chose plaintiffs who were the least threatening to the white power base. Even Jackie Robinson was considered ahead of Satchel Paige in part because of Robinson's clean cut image.

by SJE on Jun 8, 2012 5:58 pm • linkreport

Excuse me, but doesnt that make my point about knee-jerk responses?

Not at all. A knee-jerk response would be hearing about a situation and always assuming that the cyclist was innocent. I'm admitting that cyclists are not innocent in that they break the law, but that usually it is without causing any harm. I'm talking about statistics, and that's very different from knee-jerk.

When I see cyclists going straight through a cross walk with kids, or making no effort to slow when approaching a stop sign to yield to a car making a legal left turn (happens EVERY DAY), it looks bad.

Those things more than look bad, they are bad. But the evidence doesn't support your claim that this is happening every day. If it did, there'd be more crashes.

by David C on Jun 8, 2012 10:47 pm • linkreport

The difference is that people generally get upset about the latter, but not the former.

Bingo.

And, of course, since you'll always have plenty of people you can point to who fit the stereotype, we can defer that forever.

Double bingo.

by David C on Jun 8, 2012 10:49 pm • linkreport

Interestingly enough, several years ago, when I went to retrieve my car from a parking lot and discovered that some DB had hit it, causing major ($2K+) damage to my car and drove off, my rates did not go up, at all (I did make a claim, I was too poor at the time to fix the damage myself). I didn't do anything wrong, I just parked my car in a parking lot, and my insurance company realized this. Yes, I admit that my homeowner's insurance raised my rates for a burglary that I took action to protect my property after, but they also cited the rash of burglaries in my neighborhood at that time when raising my rates (i.e., I didn't specifically do anything wrong, but the general risk to my property had increased...we did have about 15 burglaries in my neighborhood in 4 months). If you've specifically experienced increased insurance rates from a hit-and-run by a bike, I'd love to hear the story. Otherwise, I have my doubts.

by Ms. D on Jun 8, 2012 11:00 pm • linkreport

All I am saying is that our cause would be helped if we acknowleged the PR problem.

I acknowledge the PR problem. But as you pointed out, the PR problem comes more from the irrational behavior of those who get upset about "bad"* biking while being blind to bad driving, than it does from actual "bad" biking. So the solution is not to focus on reducing bad biking, but to focus on the irrational behavior.

Even if we got every cyclist to follow every law, there would still be people who call cyclists scofflaws because of cyclists without helmets, or riding on sidewalks, or passing on the left, or holding up traffic, or riding in a travel lane when a bike lane is "right there" etc...

Why should cyclists have to be held to a higher standard than drivers?

You know what the most egregious example of scofflaw behavior on the road is? It's those bubble-shaped license plate covers that people put on to thwart photo-enforcement. Nothing says "I have total disdain for your laws" like an open and blatant attempt to undermine the ability to enforce them. But no one gets upset about that. They're illegal in DC and I don't think anyone enforces them - even though it would be easy for parking enforcement to do so.

So I tell you what, you know that thing we did to get drivers to all follow the law? Why don't we just do the same thing, but for cyclists. What was that thing we did again?

*much of what is labelled as "bad" isn't even illegal as I listed above. Or when it is illegal, it's not dangerous or impolite. I would rather focus on the things cyclist do that are actually dangerous - like riding at night without lights, wrong-way cycling or turning from the left side of the road - than on PR BS like stop signs (which drivers routinely ignore as well). I will hug the next scofflaw-cyclist complainer who lists only these three items (or at least starts with them) and say "God Bless you" as I do so.

by David C on Jun 8, 2012 11:12 pm • linkreport

@thatguyben

>>If you are not staying to the right so the bike can pass you on the left, then you are violating the rules of the road if not the law.<<

Of course, common sense dictates that peds stay to the right. I'm often walking with a 4-year old, keeping her to the right and me holding her left hand. This puts me more towards the right-center of the trail. I'm hoping you agree that this is appropriate!

>>Multi use paths have multiple uses, including bikes, peds, strollers, dogs, etc.

Nice to see you acknowledge this!

>>The bicycle is moving much faster than you, therefore has less reaction time.

Glad to see you also acknowledge the notion of "reaction time." I just want you to realize that the exact same reaction time applies to the pedestrian when the pedestrian is overtaken by a bicycle moving much faster. In fact, I'd argue the pedestrian has even LESS reaction time, because the cyclist has at least observed, processed, and acted on (rang their bell) in some initial segment of time that the pedestrian did not have.

And perhaps it might be nice for you and other cyclists to acknowledge that the "rules of the road" dictate that the cyclist adjust their speed to the conditions of the trail, including surface conditions, visibility, number of other user types, etc. When and where "peds, strollers, dogs, etc." are likely to be encountered, it is the cyclists' responsibility to operate at safe speeds and NOT hit those other modes.

>>The bell is a courtesy to let you know the bike is coming and to give you a chance to act predictably.

I agree, to an extent. What many of us peds are experiencing is a bit of a disconnect with cyclists on what "predictable" should mean. For many of us, it means the cyclist gets predictably annoyed if the ped doesn't leap immediately to the right, even though a ped holding the hand of a 4-year old occupying the center-right of the trail likely has a slower reaction time and, besides which, has the right-of-way. Plus, the cyclist should be operating at a speed where-in the cyclists' "much faster" speed is safely controlled to a more reasonable speed for executing a safe pass. All too often (again, daily), cyclists passing me have an expectation that the ped yields to the cyclist simply because the cyclist rang their bell. It ain't supposed to work that way, folks.

>>The ringing of the bell is the cyclist's predictable behavior.

...which, unless you are asking peds to walk with one eye over their shoulder at all times, generally comes as a surprise. And often, it is (borrowing, again, the OP's phrase) "startling, aggressive, and completely unnecessary."

by roberto on Jun 9, 2012 2:52 pm • linkreport

@roberto I ring a bell because it is required by law. I don't expect you to move because I rang the bell. If I ring the bell and am intending to pass, it's because there's sufficient room and I mostly don't want you to suddenly wander into my path. (E.g., cyclists live in fear of colliding with clueless joggers with earphones who randomly U turn across the middle of a shared path.) If there isn't room I'll slow behind you and say something like "excuse me" or wait until the congestion clears up. (Hopefully you'll be on one side of the path and that won't prove an issue--I have kids too, and we don't take up more than half of an MUP.) Do all cyclists do that? Of course not. But those aren't the general class "cyclists", those are "jerks on bikes" the same as there are "jerks on foot" or "jerks in cars". Painting an entire other class of people as universally bad is useless rhetoric that stifles useful conversation.

by Mike on Jun 10, 2012 8:04 am • linkreport

@David C - dangerous cyclist ... like turning from the left side of the road

Can you please elaborate?

by Tina on Jun 11, 2012 12:27 pm • linkreport

Tina, sorry. I don't know my left from my right. I meant to say making a left turn from the right side of the road. Some cyclists don't realize they need to move out of the bike lane, though it hasn't been much of a problem here, as near as I can tell.

by David C on Jun 11, 2012 12:47 pm • linkreport

This is awful!! I hope WMATA FIRES that horrible bus driver. I hope the WaPo or other big media outlets like TV pick up this story. That cannot stand.

by Angry Bicyclist on Jun 13, 2012 1:01 pm • linkreport

"I refused the ambulance, but traveled to the ER on my own after the incident to get my right knee checked out."

For cyclists involved in crashes, this is a critical point. You should on general principle never decline medical attention. You may feel fine immediately after a crash, but there may be lingering medical issues which don't show up right away.

In the aftermath of an accident, adrenaline is still pumping through your system, and your heart is likely still racing from the encounter. You may not notice any other damage until after your body begins to calm down.

Going to the hospital right away establishes that you sought immediate medical attention. This is an essential point if your case is ever litigated. Damages for medical issues discovered after the fact are harder to recover as time passes.

Hope you're doing ok Karen.

by Jack Love on Jun 13, 2012 3:16 pm • linkreport

@Angry Bicyclist "I hope WMATA FIRES that horrible bus driver."

I keep reading this as FRIES which, given the tone of your post, is probably also a correct interpretation.

by Jack Love on Jun 13, 2012 3:17 pm • linkreport

Karen, are there any updates on WMATA's response?

I recently was also hit by a WMATA bus, though was less seriously hurt. I had to visit the hospital and - as a bartender - miss a few days of work, and I was hoping that WMATA might pay damages.

by Julia on Oct 4, 2012 2:37 am • linkreport

@Julia:
Karen posted some news recently:
http://khopps.blogspot.com/2012/09/finally-win.html

WMATA settled with her.

by Matt Johnson on Oct 4, 2012 8:39 am • linkreport

I had a similar incident, except I was walking on the sidewalk and was hit on the back of the head by the bus mirror. Metro Transit Police were unable to identify the bus even though I provided the route number, exact time and location. The incompetence baffles me.

While I was on the phone with 911, I waved down a passing police car and told the officers that I had just been hit by the bus. They did nothing.

I was taken to the hospital by the ambulance that 911 sent me. I have a concussion that prevents me from going back to work (can't look at computer monitors).

I would appreciate it if anyone can help by letting me know how to identify the bus number (bus route 32 northbound on Wisconsin Ave NW at level of 1361 Wisconsin Ave NW, near Wisconsin Ave NW & O st NW, between stops 1001355 & 1001406, Friday, November 8th at exactly 5:27 pm).

Thank you!

by Angel on Nov 11, 2013 5:56 pm • linkreport

Security camera footage. You'd be amazed how many cameras there are on so many locations. There's a GGW post about someone who proved that a driver was negligent using security camera footage. But you have to hurry. They don't keep it forever.

by David C on Nov 11, 2013 9:42 pm • linkreport

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