Greater Greater Washington

Bicycling


"It must have been your fault. C'mon. You are a biker."

Getting in a crash is one of the scariest things that can happen to a cyclist. Even worse is when police assume that bicyclists are always at fault, even if they've got evidence to the contrary.


The crash about to happen. Photo captured from MPD surveillance video.

On a pleasant March morning in 2011, I was on my way to work, biking south on 14th St NW in the center of the right lane. As I approached W Street, I looked to make sure I had ample time to cross. The light was green. As I left the intersection, an SUV driver made a left turn across traffic, directly into my path. All I could do was hit the brakes hard.

The next thing I knew, I was on my back in the middle of the street. I tried to sit up, but failed pathetically and landed back on the road. My glasses were in a mangled heap nearby. Seconds later, some cyclists stopped by. None had seen the collision, but they locked my bike at the scene and helped me to a safe place. Someone called an ambulance, which showed up a few minutes later.

In the ambulance, Carlos Carter, a DC police officer, asked me what happened, and I told him. Once the EMTs realized I had hit my head, it was straight onto a backboard and off to the emergency room.

At George Washington University Hospital, an X-ray found that my shoulder was separated and several ligaments were torn. Doctors took me to a CAT scanner to check for broken bones.

During the test, Officer Carter entered the room. He asked me to sign a ticket for running a red light. I asked him to take a look at footage since I was certain I hadn't. He wasn't interested and asked me to sign the ticket and admit fault. I didn't. He left.

Video proves that I was right

Often that would have been the end of the story, but, thankfully, not this one. I was confident that I was right, but after spending a day at the hospital, I began to doubt myself. When the police report was ready, I picked up a copy. Both the driver and another witness said I had run a red light.

Once I was mobile again, I returned to the scene of the collision. I tried to reconcile their version with mine. Was it possible that the light showed red in their direction but green in mine? I watched a few light cycles: the lights turned red at the same time. As I watched the cars roll through, I took a careful look around and noticed a camera with a Metropolitan Police Department label.

The camera was part of MPD's CCTV Neighborhood-Based Cameras program. After calling the department, I learned that I had to file a DC Freedom of Information Act request to obtain the footage, which is erased every 7 to 10 days. Thanks to the careful work of Commander James Crane, Kaylin Junge Castelli, and Ofc. E.A. Hoffstetter, I was able to obtain the footage before it was deleted.

Here is the relevant segment. I appear 32 seconds into the video.

The video was extremely clear: I did everything right, while the driver did something dangerous and in violation of traffic laws. At 9:13:09 am (7 seconds into the video clip above), the light turned green. At 9:13:42 (32 seconds in), I appear on screen, and less than 2 seconds later, I cross the intersection. At 9:13:44.524, the driver made a left turn. 8 more cars pass through the intersection. At 9:14:08, the light turns red.

I was left with the same question I had before: why did the driver turn? She claimed that I ran a red light, which meant she saw me but decided to turn anyway. Or maybe she didn't see me? I was wearing a bright orange jacket, and it wasn't very sunny or dark out. Maybe she had really bad vision, she didn't look, or wanted to hit me on purpose?

I will never really know for sure, but I do know that my shoulder ligaments will never regrow. I really wish she had bothered to look.

MPD refuses to admit its error in crash reporting

Now it was time to take action against the claims that I was at fault. I returned to the Third District police station, where a supervisor told me that only the officer who wrote the report and the ticket could change it. He asked me to tell my story again.

"Wait, you mean, you were biking and you want a ticket canceled?" he said, incredulous. "We all know how bikers behave. It must have been your fault. C'mon. You are a biker."

When I suggested that he review the video, he refused. The supervisor said he'd contact the officer but that I shouldn't expect anything to come of it, as I was a bicyclist.

So I filed an appeal. I scheduled a hearing and brought my evidence, but the officer didn't bother to show up. The ticket was canceled. It took an extra several hours of unnecessary hassle, but it felt great.

However, to get compensation for my permanent injury, my medical bills, lost work, pain and suffering, I had to sue the driver and her insurance company. It's hard to do in DC, which along with Maryland, Virginia and 2 other states, uses the "contributory negligence" standard for liability after crashes. Under that standard, if the victim was doing anything at all wrong, no matter how small, he or she can't collect any damages.

Without the video, it would've been nearly impossible to prove that I did everything right. But thanks to the footage and the work of Patrick Regan and Paul Cornoni of Regan, Zambri, Long, and Betram, I subsequently sued and then settled with the driver and her insurance company, receiving compensation for my permanent partial disability.

I would rather the whole thing never happened, but it's refreshing to know that the legal system can sometimes help hold negligent parties accountable and compensate those that they harm.

What I learned

From this experience, I learned two things. One is that police officers need substantially more training in different types of bicycle-automobile crashes. A driver turning left into oncoming bike traffic is a common form of collision, and that driver is usually at fault. Officer Carter botched the incident report by not asking the right questions.

Once the driver claimed I ran a red light, meaning she admitted to seeing me, the officer should have asked her why she decided to cause a collision, rather than assuming I was at fault. This would have helped him write the correct tickets and prepare an accurate report. And when someone shows up with clear evidence in their favor, he should've admitted his error, apologized, and fixed it.

Second, I learned that if you get hit by someone while bicycling, check for cameras. Without them, you'll have to fight against the assumption that you were operating in an unsafe way, no matter what the driver did.

Zach T. works with unions, nonprofits, and individuals to increase financial understanding and empowerment. He loves bike commuting, playing ultimate frisbee, and baking bread. He is active with Jews United for Justice and other local social justice organizations. He met his partner when she moved into his group house in Mount Pleasant. They now live in Columbia Heights.  

Comments

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You see this all the time. Drivers and even pedestrians often appear to disregard bikes as "traffic" and pull out or cross against the light in front of people on bikes.

It's good that you had the wherewithal to not sign the ticket when the officer presented it to you. Gotta love that procedure - get someone with a head injury to sign something. What? It's good that you got your ticket dismissed but this driver also should have been cited for violating your right-of-way and causing a collision.

by MLD on Jun 27, 2013 10:42 am • linkreport

Zach, I'm glad everything eventually turned out OK for you. Justice for bicycles in DC requires a GoPro, i guess.

Hey GGW, was MPD approached for comment? Curious to hear if the conduct of their folks has or will be looked into?

by darren on Jun 27, 2013 10:43 am • linkreport

It looks like it was illegal to turn left there at all. Did this play a role in the case?

That crash was really bad. Glad you made it out without more serious injuries. I ride that route to work very often.

by Michael Hamilton on Jun 27, 2013 10:43 am • linkreport

Helmet-cams are your friend, to overcome the automobile-driving prejudices of police officers in cruisers.

by goldfish on Jun 27, 2013 10:43 am • linkreport

wow...

by WM on Jun 27, 2013 10:45 am • linkreport

This looks a lot like the close call from Russia:
http://screen.yahoo.com/luckiest-biker-163552787.html

by movement on Jun 27, 2013 10:48 am • linkreport

It looks like it was illegal to turn left there at all. Did this play a role in the case?

Not illegal to turn left - the person is turning into the gas station there. The "Do Not Enter" sign is for the one-way street.

Honestly I think we could easily dig up a dozen cases just like this where drivers claim something like "they ran a red light" and the police just believe them and fail to do the bare minimum of due diligence.

by MLD on Jun 27, 2013 10:49 am • linkreport

Thanks for writing this up. It confirms some bad prejudice that is out there. Also, I think you meant to say that DC is "contributory negligence" not comparative.

by aaa on Jun 27, 2013 10:51 am • linkreport

Not comparative negligence, contributory negligence. Comparative is want we ought to have but don't. It's contributory negligence that says if you were at all negligent in an accident, regardless of how much more negligent the other guy is, you can't recover. Comparative negligence says that if you're only 10% to blame, you can recover 90% of your damages (and the other guy can get 10% from you).

by TM on Jun 27, 2013 10:51 am • linkreport

I've fixed contributory/comparative. That slipped by us in editing, sorry. I also added in a link to a WashCycle article explaining it in more detail.

by David Alpert on Jun 27, 2013 10:52 am • linkreport

@ MLD:It looks like it was illegal to turn left there at all. ... Not illegal to turn left

It is. When turning left, you have to yield to other traffic.

Europe has the rule that all straight going traffic has the right of way over turning traffic. That's how pedestrians get the right of way over right-turning cars. It's also how bicyclists on separated bike paths on roundabouts have the right of way over cars turning off the roundabout.

by Jasper on Jun 27, 2013 10:52 am • linkreport

Ah, I see you fixed it already.

by TM on Jun 27, 2013 10:53 am • linkreport

More evidence that many PDs don't care about safety on the road. In a case where there is clear "he said, she said" on whether its failure to yield vs. running a red light there is outright refusal to even just look at the damn camera.

This also proves we need to mandate helmets because of what happened to your shoulder.

by drumz on Jun 27, 2013 10:54 am • linkreport

It is. When turning left, you have to yield to other traffic.

Yes, I was saying that you CAN turn there, not that THIS turn was legal. Since previously I obviously stated that the driver should have been cited for violating right-of-way.

by MLD on Jun 27, 2013 10:54 am • linkreport

Seriously. I've long maintained that if you want to get away with any kind of crime, the strategy seems to be to put yourself in a car, and your victim on a bicycle. The cops won't ask any questions, and it's unlikely that any sort of trial would result...

I'm pretty appalled that the driver was not brought up on criminal charges, let alone that this ordeal happened to you.

by andrew on Jun 27, 2013 10:58 am • linkreport

How did all that moving in the video around happen after the fact? Was it a wide angle and the moving around done in the editing room?

Glad justice was served.

by jtedc on Jun 27, 2013 10:59 am • linkreport

Europe has the rule that all straight going traffic has the right of way over turning traffic.

Wait. We don't have that rule???

by andrew on Jun 27, 2013 11:00 am • linkreport

Congratulations on your perseverance and maintaining confidence that you were right even as you recovered from trauma and had authorities and witnesses telling you you were wrong. That took strength. Thank you for not giving up. This evidence will help all bikers (and walkers) in the future. (Why didn't the cop know that people making left turns are almost always the ones who cause crashes?)

"...she saw me but decided to turn anyway. Or maybe she didn't see me? I was wearing a bright orange jacket, and it wasn't very sunny or dark out. Maybe she had really bad vision, she didn't look, or wanted to hit me on purpose?"

I have asked myself this question ad nauseum. I have finally decided its because of this:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inattentional_blindness

A little education could go a long way to reduce the prevalence of inattentional blindness of drivers to bikers (and walkers). The "safety in numbers" effect helps reduce it too.

by Tina on Jun 27, 2013 11:01 am • linkreport

jtedc: The camera is on some kind of loop where it turns continuously. I watched the preceding 13 minutes and it constantly is looping up and down and around in the same pattern. I assume that means Zach is lucky that the camera was pointing his direction when the crash happened (though far more unlucky this had to happen to him at all). I don't know if it was timed to be pointing at the lights when they change from red to green, or if that's also just lucky.

by David Alpert on Jun 27, 2013 11:05 am • linkreport

Why is Officer Carter still one of our employees? Is there no way for the people who pay his paycheck, we the taxpayers, fire him for incompetence? How can there be no consequence for his failure?

by JJJJ on Jun 27, 2013 11:05 am • linkreport

Did you file a report with the Office of Police Complaints? It may be too late now, but a good idea for folks who encounter similar situations in the future.

by sbc on Jun 27, 2013 11:07 am • linkreport

This would seem to call for major investigation at MPD. Imagine if this had been a member of a particular racial or religious group? MPD seems to be way behind DDOT and the rest of DC govt.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 27, 2013 11:08 am • linkreport

"Sorry Mate, I didn't see you"

This is making me reconsider my decision to learn to ride a motorcycle.

by Michael Perkins on Jun 27, 2013 11:16 am • linkreport

Wow. Glad you're okay. I am astounded that a police officer would prevent legally binding documents to someone with a confirmed/suspected head injury- make that any serious injury.

This certainly does not excuse MPD's behavior, but the biking community can contribute to a change of behavior by educating the "bad apples." In a car dominant culture, the actions of a minority within a minority may affect public perception.

I echo the calls for broader education of drivers and MPD.

by Andy on Jun 27, 2013 11:20 am • linkreport

Or as my doctor calls them, donorcycles.

by ned on Jun 27, 2013 11:21 am • linkreport

@Andy -the biking community can contribute to a change of behavior by educating the "bad apples."

You mean drivers who cause crashes? And police officers who declare, "you MUST be at fault because of [your chosen mode of transportation]"

by Tina on Jun 27, 2013 11:28 am • linkreport

How is Officer Carter still Officer Carter? His laziness and bias and that of his superiors is shocking.

by rg on Jun 27, 2013 11:29 am • linkreport

drumz:
"This also proves we need to mandate helmets because of what happened to your shoulder."

Not to get in this debate again but i rode out to Reston and back on the W&OD trail on Saturday. I was going up a hill and another cyclist hit my rear wheel real hard. She spilled and hit the pavement hard and shredded her shifter. Again, there are absolutely zero vehicles on the W&OD but there are all sorts of other hazards, some foreseeable and others not, that absolutely justify wearing a helmet. Had I been going downhill when this happened, this could have been a serious crash.

by 202_cyclist on Jun 27, 2013 11:37 am • linkreport

Yes Tina, only drivers are bad. All bikers are complete saints. Do you see grey areas, or are you simply impersonating Michelle Bachman?

by Andy on Jun 27, 2013 11:38 am • linkreport

Many drivers are clueless and dangerous but many of the drivers in the DC area are also very respectful of cyclists. When I stop at intersections, countless drivers defer to me and wave me through the interesection first.

Earlier this week, I rode out on MacAurther to Great Falls. I got a flat tire and one driver stopped to make sure I had everything I need.

As I mentioned before, much of this cyclist vs. driver debate is exaggerated. If drivers simply stopped texting, used their turn signals, and quit the illegal u-turns, they would greatly improve safety for cyclists-- and other drivers.

by 202_cyclist on Jun 27, 2013 11:40 am • linkreport

This certainly does not excuse MPD's behavior, but the biking community can contribute to a change of behavior by educating the "bad apples." In a car dominant culture, the actions of a minority within a minority may affect public perception.

And bike organizations and bicyclists already do educate, A LOT. This has nothing to do with this incident and steps are already constantly being taken to educate people. Not sure why you're suggesting bicyclists do something that they are already doing.

by MLD on Jun 27, 2013 11:40 am • linkreport

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

by 202_cyclist on Jun 27, 2013 11:42 am • linkreport

Congrats, and these efforts should continue. And the burden shouldn't fall solely on the biking community.

I'm not sure why you're immediately so defensive. [Deleted for violating the comment policy.]

by Andy on Jun 27, 2013 11:45 am • linkreport

drumz, I am sympathetic to the view that helmet laws aren't optimal policy but this isn't a good example is support of that position. Had I not been wearing a helmet, I'd likely have sustained a massive, possibly life-changing or ending head wound.

jtedc, As David noted,I think the camera has a pre-set program and physically moves around to capture different angles. It was just good luck/probability that it caught the key facts of this collision.

tina, thanks for the link on inattentional blindness. Very interesting! The most driver-friendly theory in this case is that the driver looked at a cluster of cars that was even with me when the driver looked and didn't see me then. Perhaps the driver then traced the cars with her eyes as they passed, didn't look again, and since they were traveling faster, when she turned after they had cleared, I hadn't yet.

sbc, I didn't file a report but perhaps I should have. Was waiting until the conclusion of the lawsuit to switch to advocacy work (hence this article). I'll coordinate with WABA and get their feedback on next steps.

by Zach T on Jun 27, 2013 11:45 am • linkreport

This certainly does not excuse MPD's behavior, but the biking community can contribute to a change of behavior by educating the "bad apples."

Yes, though there is no monolithic "biking community". You might just as well ask the "driving community" to change their behavior. Or the "walking community".

There will always be a few scofflaws. And suburban car commuters (some of whom have MPD badges) will always take the actions of the few truly shady cyclists to tar the many.

What this anecdote does do is put into stark relief just what unmitigated bullshit the various studies that show "cyclists are at fault in 52% of cases" &tc... are.

by oboe on Jun 27, 2013 11:46 am • linkreport

Wow. He was lucky then that the video happened to both capture his accident and clearly show the light was green (though the traffic indicated the light was green as well).

Strange movement. It seemed like a person was controlling the video, especially in the beginning of this excerpt when it zoomed in on the one car going the the intersection.

by jtedc on Jun 27, 2013 11:47 am • linkreport

@202_cyclist, I think it would be great if the comments in this post were mostly about this post, rather than another go-around on the difference between "it is a good idea to wear a helmet" and "the law says that you must wear a helmet".

by Miriam on Jun 27, 2013 11:48 am • linkreport

I'm not sure why you're immediately so defensive.

Because it's brought up in every thread and helps contributes (maybe unintentionally, I'll grant) to the issue that the police officer had that all cyclists need to do to be safe is just obey the laws of the road. As if most cyclists who are hit are at fault even when there is clear evidence that's not the case.

I'd like to provide numbers on how many times cyclists are at fault in a collision but that's hard to do when the apparent attitude of many (including the police, who's job it is to investigate crashes) is "but cyclists run red lights!"

by drumz on Jun 27, 2013 11:49 am • linkreport

@Andy - Yes Tina, only drivers are bad. All bikers are complete saints. Do you see grey areas, or are you simply impersonating Michelle Bachman?

Why don't you go out and try and tell complete strangers what to do. When you're done with that try and give orders to someone elses dog. See how effective all that is in reducing crashes, like this one, in which the bikers was completely innocent, saintly you might say, while the driver and the MPD acted dangerously and atrociously.

The problem behavior in this story was the driver and MPD, not the biker. But somehow you think the onus to prevent crashes is on people who bike to try and control the behavior of complete strangers who also happen to bike...

by Tina on Jun 27, 2013 11:49 am • linkreport

Monolithic or not, the driving community should change their behavior. Hence my comment that drivers receive greater education regarding alternative forms of transportation.

"All drivers are evil." Can we be friends now?

by Andy on Jun 27, 2013 11:49 am • linkreport

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

by Andy on Jun 27, 2013 11:51 am • linkreport

@Miriam-- drumz brought up the issue of helmet usage. I was not the first person to raise this.

by 202_cyclist on Jun 27, 2013 11:51 am • linkreport

I was being facetious. But its good that we're working through the cycle of things that must be said in a bike thread, even in a case where clearly nothing the cyclist could have done prevented this short of not deciding to ride that day.

Maybe this is also an example of a macro-intentional blindness.

by drumz on Jun 27, 2013 11:54 am • linkreport

I was recently hit (thankfully not anywhere near as bad as this as we were both moving slowly) by a car turning while I was going straight through the light. I got up screaming all kinds of obscenities and he had the gall to say that I had run a red light, and pointed to the red light as proof. I not so kindly pointed out that it had turned red in the time after he hit me, and that we were both going the same direction so he couldn't have had the green while I had the red.

by mfr on Jun 27, 2013 11:56 am • linkreport

Yes, drumz, if you're in an accident/crash, it helps if you're wearing a helmet. The author of this posting has said so himself. Only on this blog is that controversial.

by 202_cyclist on Jun 27, 2013 11:56 am • linkreport

The key part of this story is that Zach did everything right. There is a reason the cops assumed he ran the red light: it happens all too often. I know it can be difficult to give up all that precious momentum at a stop light or sign, but until we as cyclists all agree to follow the rules of the road, we'll always be considered at fault. Nothing gets to me more than some bike messenger wannabe flying past me at a stop. Well, other than someone Salmoning in the opposite lane.

by Brueck on Jun 27, 2013 11:57 am • linkreport

Drumz- where did I say they were at fault in most cases, or in this particular case? The prevailing attitude unfortunately is "cyclists run red lights," and that's likely been shaped by ignorance of other modes of transportation and interpreting the actions of a minority as the prevailing norm.

I think I was pretty clear that the actions of the Department and the particular officer were reprehensible. My point is a constructive solution involves all parties involved.

by Andy on Jun 27, 2013 11:57 am • linkreport

But at the risk of repeating myself, the biggest danger cyclists face, isn't bad apples or lack of safety equipment. It's the apparent willful disregard by the police and many municipal authorities in many jurisdictions to actually design and enforce safe road laws/standards.

This also harms drivers and pedestrians as well (remember when 3 people were struck on the sidewalk and all the MoCo county official could think to say was "wear bright clothing"?). The streets are unsafe, not because of crime but because we are too willing to just write off negligent driving by people.

by drumz on Jun 27, 2013 12:00 pm • linkreport

Re camera: From what Ive seen most of the time these cameras are sitting there alone, but an officer can manually rotate it, zoom etc if hes watching live and sees something of interest. From the movement, it appears someone was manning the camera at the time.

Its pure luck that it was pointed at the scene of the crime.

by JJJJ on Jun 27, 2013 12:03 pm • linkreport

I think I was pretty clear that the actions of the Department and the particular officer were reprehensible. My point is a constructive solution involves all parties involved.

And mine is that cyclists are doing what they need to be doing. It's the police and city council's (not just DC but MoCo, Arlington, Fairfax, LA, NYC, Dallas, etc.) job to actually do what needs to be done to make the streets safer. We have the solutions in front of us: design complete streets, and then enforce the law.

by drumz on Jun 27, 2013 12:03 pm • linkreport

@drumz:

Again, there are no cars at all on the W&OD. Willful disgard by police or municipal authorities did not cause my collision.

Only on this blog is wearing a bike helmet considered controversial.

by 202_cyclist on Jun 27, 2013 12:04 pm • linkreport

JJJJ: It looped through the exact same set of motions 10 times before on the original video. I know it seems weird that it zooms in and out, but it does that over and over on a loop.

by David Alpert on Jun 27, 2013 12:04 pm • linkreport

"But at the risk of repeating myself, the biggest danger cyclists face, isn't bad apples or lack of safety equipment. It's the apparent willful disregard by the police"

Hence my countless statements that MPD and the officer were clearly in the wrong. We are in agreement and can end this merry-go-round.

by Andy on Jun 27, 2013 12:05 pm • linkreport

Again, there are no cars at all on the W&OD. Willful disgard by police or municipal authorities did not cause my collision.

And I'm not going to worry about that right now, (except to be thankful everyone turned out alright) because I think what we're dealing with in this story is a bigger problem that requires more attention than others.

by drumz on Jun 27, 2013 12:07 pm • linkreport

"And mine is that cyclists are doing what they need to be doing. It's the police and city council's (not just DC but MoCo, Arlington, Fairfax, LA, NYC, Dallas, etc.) job to actually do what needs to be done to make the streets safer. We have the solutions in front of us: design complete streets, and then enforce the law."

This is the definition of a "constructive solution that involves all parties."

by Andy on Jun 27, 2013 12:07 pm • linkreport

I have thought about a helmet cam, as well as a dash cam in my car. I had a car accident a few years ago, and to this day it nags at me that I am not entirely sure what happened. I don't think I was at fault, but it would be good to know for sure.

by spookiness on Jun 27, 2013 12:07 pm • linkreport

JJJJ, I obtained an hour of tape and it all zooms/pans in the same pattern so I doubt it is remotely controlled. In fact, they don't even have a central feed and to get the data, someone had to manually access the camera.

by Zach T on Jun 27, 2013 12:08 pm • linkreport

Andy,

Right, but not all parties are here yet. So lets focus on them and not worry about those already at the table.

by drumz on Jun 27, 2013 12:09 pm • linkreport

It's great that you were diligent in getting this issue corrected. You are very lucky to have camera footage; many intersections do not. We definitely need better education within the police force to help combat biases. I think the MPD is improving, albeit slowly, but needs lots of work. Like most gov't agencies, its successes often go undetected, while its failures are amplified.

Personally I'm pretty cautious when cycling around 14th and U area. It's temping to cruise down that steep grade on 14th St, but it's also important to go at a rate of speed that will enable you to stop in time for most erratic driver behavior. I doubt the driver wanted to collide with you on purpose - have you ever wanted to collide with a pedestrian on purpose? I doubt it. Bad driving is always going to be a problem in the city, the best we can do is try to understand where the other person is coming from and keep the law enforcement accountable to everyone's needs.

Glad you're safe and recovering!

by Scoot on Jun 27, 2013 12:09 pm • linkreport

If Zach had died in this crash, "Failure to obey TCD - cyclist" would have been the official cause of the crash. [Unless the Major Crash investigators had gone to the footage] Think of that when you look at fatality statistics.

by David C on Jun 27, 2013 12:12 pm • linkreport

Scary story -- about the clueless driver and the even more clueless law enforcement officials. I got a $212 ticket for running a stop sign in Ga. (I deserved the ticket). I paid the fine and moved on with my life until the following year when I learned that the jurisdiction that issued the ticket also forwarded (unlawfully) my cycling infraction to the state DMV which seeing simply a "moving violation" attached 3 points to my driver's license. When I learned of the mistake, I called DMV to try and get the points removed and they said that was the first time they had seen points on a DL due to a cycling infraction. I called the city PD that ticketed me, the court clerk, and city attorney and all said the case was adjudicated properly and that if I wanted the points removed I would have to get DMV to do it. It took getting a local TV news reporter to look into the bogus points to get the city to admit its mistake and the points were removed the same afternoon that the reporter contacted the city's police chief.

by David on Jun 27, 2013 12:12 pm • linkreport

"Only on this blog is wearing a bike helmet considered controversial."

thats not true - 1. almost everyone here (maybe Drumz too?) wears helmets when riding. I do. 2. OTOH there ARE places where it is controversial - for example the blog Copenhagenize, which considers widespread helmet usage a mark of a bike unfriendly city.

Can we move away from the issue of GGW and its attitude to helmet usage, and return to the issue at hand?

How do we change police attitudes and behavior, and how do we change the contributory negligence law?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 27, 2013 12:13 pm • linkreport

This certainly does not excuse MPD's behavior, but the biking community can contribute to a change of behavior by educating the "bad apples.

[Deleted for violating the comment policy.] The job of the biking community is not to educate stupid and unethical people. If the MPD is incompetent, it is not the fault of lack of initiative within the biking community. It is the fault of poor training programs on the part of the traffic police and the DC city government.

by JustMe on Jun 27, 2013 12:14 pm • linkreport

@Andy -you think bicyclists should attempt to control the behavior of complete strangers who also ride bikes.

the biking community can contribute to a change of behavior by educating the "bad apples."

by telling someone "hey! that light is red! Its against the law to go!" Because ... you think they don't already know?

I am in control of only one person's behavior: my own. Same with you and same with every other adult.

by Tina on Jun 27, 2013 12:15 pm • linkreport

BTW the helmet relevant question here is the helmet cam question.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 27, 2013 12:16 pm • linkreport

Nobody (well, HARDLY anybody) hits someone IF THEY SEE THEM. The reason the driver claimed you ran a light, was simply to avoid responsibility for her mistake.

by John P. Huie on Jun 27, 2013 12:19 pm • linkreport

JustMe- I love how diverting, even slightly, from a sole focus on these evil drivers gets so many in a tizzy!

The biking community should continue to educate its own members and continue to outreach to MPD whenever possible.

It would be great if I didn't have to contact DPW to collect my trash, but city departments aren't the greatest. Welcome to reality.

by Andy on Jun 27, 2013 12:19 pm • linkreport

@202_Cyclist

"If drivers simply stopped texting, used their turn signals, and quit the illegal u-turns, they would greatly improve safety for cyclists-- and other drivers."

It's too easy to get a driver's license in the DC area (and pretty much anywhere, for that matter). As far as I know, you just have to have a pulse and 3 free hours on a weekday to wait at the DMV, and then you can hurl your vehicle around.

Drivers' exams should be really hard. They should be twice as hard (and include manners training) for DC cab drivers. All drivers' exams and police training should include training about bike traffic rules.

by Ronald on Jun 27, 2013 12:20 pm • linkreport

Ronald- do you know how many states require individuals to retake an exam, a refresher course, etc? I've lived in about 7 states and the only exam I took was the first one.

Great point.

by Andy on Jun 27, 2013 12:23 pm • linkreport

While trash collection is very important and I'd certainly want to see improvements in DPW I'd argue that ensuring that police actually know the law regarding traffic and having the care to check their own cameras on an intersection merits something more than a shoulder shrug about beauracracy.

by drumz on Jun 27, 2013 12:23 pm • linkreport

in my experience, 80% of the cops that get assigned to traffic accidents are lazy at best, and more than likely forcefully pissed they have to actually do their job. Expecting them to admit their guilt will only leave you exasperated. 99% of the time, these wastes of public tax dollars will just refuse to do anything to help, and it will result as you experienced, them just not showing up at the hearing, giving you a ticket that is thrown out. Frustrating to say the least, as I know I want some sort of result, or satisfaction from a finding that the cop was wrong.

by Chris on Jun 27, 2013 12:24 pm • linkreport

Put simply, this is a form of discrimination. How can justice only cater to one form of transportation and the other, presumed guilty without do diligence to prove otherwise? I would have filed a complaint against the officer who was in fact too lazy to even see if there was a camera in the vicinity. It's not like the victim lost a bike tire or had a scratched knee. Medical attention was required which means this accident should have been serious enough to the officer to only do what he is called to do, accurately and fairly dispense justice which he failed to do. Therefore, he should be reprimanded.

by adelphi_sky on Jun 27, 2013 12:26 pm • linkreport

WABA does education and outreach. raising outreach by the biker community as in issue implies there isnt enough. Given that A. Much or most of the anti biker views have limited connection to actual biker behavior, or misunderstand it B. That the people most amenable to having their behavior changed are likely already aware of the issues (some have been outreached, and just dont agree) I would suspect that there is a distinct declining return to major increases in outreach by WABA in terms of changing attitudes to cyclists. (outreach is still valuable for direct safety benefits - esp use of lights and salmoning)

The important thing is changing MPD. thats up to Cathy Lanier, and the Mayor and Council

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 27, 2013 12:27 pm • linkreport

@Andy
This certainly does not excuse MPD's behavior, but the biking community can contribute to a change of behavior by educating the "bad apples." In a car dominant culture, the actions of a minority within a minority may affect public perception.

Allow me to rephrase:
"The reason MPD and drivers don't respect bicyclists is because a set of them fail to follow laws. Clearly since we can't convince the majority to respect the laws, the bike community must convince more of the minority to stop being 'bad apples.'"

What's the point of this statement other than to put the onus on bicyclists to "clean up their act" even when in this and many other cases where cyclists have been screwed by police, the cyclist did nothing wrong? The fact that some cyclists behave badly has zero implications for why the police shouldn't do their jobs properly.

You focused on the idea that bicyclists should change other bicyclists' behavior instead of the idea that the police should change their attitude (for whatever reason). THIS is why people have a problem with what you said.

Then defending yourself with "I love how diverting, even slightly, from a sole focus on these evil drivers gets so many in a tizzy!" only reinforces the idea that you don't think the police or drivers need to change their behavior.

by MLD on Jun 27, 2013 12:28 pm • linkreport

The answer is not in the courts, but in the press. GGW does get picked up by blogs and media, so posting about this here is in fact the best thing to do.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 27, 2013 12:28 pm • linkreport

by telling someone "hey! that light is red! Its against the law to go!" Because ... you think they don't already know?

I am in control of only one person's behavior: my own. Same with you and same with every other adult.

That seems like a rather cynical position, no? It calls into question why organizations like WABA and blogs like WashCycle and GGW even exist in the first place if our words, actions and deeds are useless to change the behavior of others. Why do you comment on here, if your comments are sure to affect the behavior or choices of no one but yourself?

by Scoot on Jun 27, 2013 12:30 pm • linkreport

Imagine this

"Member of ethnic group X is harmed by member of ethnic group Y. Policeman says "you are a member of ethnic group X, so you must be in the wrong" Turns out there is videotape showing member of ethnic group Y is in the wrong.

Response is "well members of ethnic group X often disobey the law, so they should police themselves"

"why are you getting so upset that we are talking about something other than how evil members of ethnic group Y are?"

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 27, 2013 12:32 pm • linkreport

Why do you comment on here, if your comments are sure to affect the behavior or choices of no one but yourself?

Because here you can carefully lay out arguments, have a record of them and can rely on the fact that no one is going to freak out and try to do something crazy.

That's not guaranteed on the street.

by drumz on Jun 27, 2013 12:32 pm • linkreport

Scoot

I can try to influence the discussion of policy. I can and do discuss best biking practices on biking forums. But neither is morally obligatory on me, and in neither case can I be held responsible for failure to persuade.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 27, 2013 12:33 pm • linkreport

I dont consider drivers evil. I AM a driver. Im not sure this driver is evil. But its does seem clear based on the evidence we have been shown, that this driver was at fault. The problem is that LE and the justice system have failed so far.

that is the problem that needs to be addressed here - not WABAs education efforts, not helmets, not infrastructure.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 27, 2013 12:35 pm • linkreport

I'm pretty sure I have officer Carter on film disregarding my request to ticket a large truck illegally parked in the bike lane on 17th. I'll have to check my footage tonight. He couldn't care less b/c it was a bike lane.

Also, this is from the Mt. Rainier, MD listserve this week. The chief posts weekly crime reports. It looks like they've done the same thing as in this situation...cited a cyclist traveling straight through an intersection for "failing to yield" to a left turning vehicle even though it's the responsibility of the left turning vehicle to yield.
Queens Chapel Road and 30th Street: M/V collision – 6:15pm. Officers responded for the report of a pedestrian struck by a motor vehicle. The officers’ investigation revealed that a southbound 1997 Nissan Maxima was attempting to make a left turn onto 30th Street from Queens Chapel Road. The northbound traffic yielded to the vehicle so it could make its turn. As the vehicle was making the turn an oncoming cyclist failed to yield to the Nissan and collided with the rear passenger side door. Both the Nissan and the bicycle sustained damage and the cyclist was transported to a local hospital for treatment of non- life threatening injuries.

I'm interested in others thoughts here, the write-up isn't super clear and the chief has not provided clarification. The ONLY way I could see the cyclist being at fault was if he was riding across Queens Chapel Road, which is not what it sounds like.

by thump on Jun 27, 2013 12:36 pm • linkreport

@Andy -Yes, telling someone "don't do that / do this" is an attempt to control the other persons behavior.

What outreach message to bicyclists do you think would have prevented this crash and others like it?

by Tina on Jun 27, 2013 12:37 pm • linkreport

scoot

if an innocent black person is killed by a vigilante,and the police do not respond, is the proper response to suggest that black people need to educate their community to not commit muggings and burglaries?

If a Jewish person is discriminated against, the state ignores it, is the proper response to tell Jewish people they need to get their coreligionist out of the usury business?

I thought we were over the idea of holding members of a group collectively responsible for each others behavior.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 27, 2013 12:38 pm • linkreport

@Andy

No - I drove an undistinguished lap around a parking lot at a State Police office elsewhere when I was a teenager and presumably will have free reign to drive in any state until I die. I know how bad a driver I was when I was 15, and I'm in the "good" insurance level because I took driver's ed. When I was 14.

Requiring a harder test and re-testing every 10 years could help a lot. Andy, hey, people need to give exams. Jobs!

by Ronald on Jun 27, 2013 12:40 pm • linkreport

@Tina, in future, to demonstrate your willingness to contribute to a change of behavior by educating the "bad apples", I suggest you end each of your comments on GGW with "Also, when the light is red, it's against the law to go!" It worked for Cicero, so it ought to work for you too.

by Miriam on Jun 27, 2013 12:40 pm • linkreport

The MPD should have some sort of civilian oversight or a method to file a complaint. Make sure to file two complaints one against the officer for failing to cancel the ticket and one for the supervisor for refusing to look at the video and dismissing it as you were at fault because you were on a bicycle.

by Norman on Jun 27, 2013 12:42 pm • linkreport

Police incompetence and unconcern is bad -- blatant bias is unacceptable. Officer needs to take up a new line of work, voluntarily or not. I suggest beekeeping.

by Greenbelt on Jun 27, 2013 12:42 pm • linkreport

@Scoot-That seems like a rather cynical position, no? It calls into question why organizations like WABA and blogs like WashCycle and GGW even exist in the first place ...

People who are interested seek information. People willing to receive information notice it when it is made available to them passively. How do you make someone receive information if s/he isn't interested in receiving it?

by Tina on Jun 27, 2013 12:45 pm • linkreport

Ronald- Yup. My mother is the only person I know who has had to retake an exam/go through a refresher course, and that was due to a medical issue.

by Andy on Jun 27, 2013 12:46 pm • linkreport

thump, that certainly sounds like a similar accident. It is highly unusual to ticket the person going straight since there is a strong presumption that the turner is at fault when there is a collision between a turner and someone proceeding straight.

by Zach T on Jun 27, 2013 12:53 pm • linkreport

Two questions

1) Why hasn't the driver been sighted for providing false testimony to the police? Isn't that a crime?
2) Why isn't this assault, or even aggravated assault?

by DAJ on Jun 27, 2013 12:55 pm • linkreport

+1 I can try to influence the discussion of policy. I can and do discuss best biking practices on biking forums. But neither is morally obligatory on me, and in neither case can I be held responsible for failure to persuade.

@Miriam - heehee

by Tina on Jun 27, 2013 12:55 pm • linkreport

Is it MPD's policy to assume that the bicyclist is at fault in all accidents or was Officer Carter one bad apple (or somewhere in between)? From the behavior expressed in this article it seems like its more than just Officer Carter.

by h_lina_k on Jun 27, 2013 1:09 pm • linkreport

the biking community can contribute to a change of behavior by educating the "bad apples."

by telling someone "hey! that light is red! Its against the law to go!" Because ... you think they don't already know?

I'm not so sure about this. Does that mean that drivers should roll down their windows and call out other drivers when they see them committing infractions? When I'm walking, should I scold my fellow pedestrians when I see them jaywalking?

by JB on Jun 27, 2013 1:10 pm • linkreport

The other day, someone made an illegal left turn on red and crashed into me while I was driving my Ford Focus.* Now I see that the cause of the crash was not the other driver’s negligence, but my personal failure to educate members of the Ford Focus Community. After all, other people driving Ford Focuses have run red lights, driven at dangerous speeds, even hit small children, so I really had it coming as part of that Community.

*not really

by Erica on Jun 27, 2013 1:10 pm • linkreport

The biking community should continue to educate its own members and continue to outreach to MPD whenever possible.

Obviously. I mean, when police officers stop and frisk random black folks without cause, the takeaway is that the black community should "educate its members" and do outreach to MPD. After all, everyone with black skin is responsible for that kid that mugged that woman for her iPhone that time.

by oboe on Jun 27, 2013 1:11 pm • linkreport

h_lina_k, I don't think MPD has a formal policy of discriminating against bicyclists but they seem to have a culture of doing so and management is responsible for failing to combat that culture and inclination with training, leadership, and consequences.

by Zach T on Jun 27, 2013 1:15 pm • linkreport

Glad you had camera footage to back up that you were in the right. I was hit by a car in rural MD and while no ticket was issued and it was deemed no fault, I was stopped at a stop sign and the teenage driver cut the corner on a turn and hit me. Physics was my only savior since I was not moving and I only suffered a head injury and collapsed lung, facial lacerations and deep tissue bruising.

Thank you for sharing your experience and for not giving into ignorant police work. All the Best, Karen

by Karen on Jun 27, 2013 1:21 pm • linkreport

I'm sorry this happened to you, but glad it wasn't worse. I had a similar incident happen last Spring, where a driver made a turn across traffic to get into a parking garage... and pulled right in front of me in the bike lane. Without enough time to stop fully, I slammed into the side of the BMW at fault. I held onto the handlebars hard, and ended up shearing my aluminum frame in half in the process. It was the only thing that saved me from flying over the hood of the car at high speed.

Fortunately, the officer that showed up wrote the correct ticket (to the driver) and I was ultimately compensated for my bike and injuries by the driver's insurance company. However, the driver assumed it was my fault and protested every step of the way.

Drivers and cyclists alike need to be careful out there for everyone's sake.

by Ryan on Jun 27, 2013 1:30 pm • linkreport

The police's response and lack of desire to help you is pure discrimination. That's a lawsuit waiting to happen.

by Andy on Jun 27, 2013 1:30 pm • linkreport

Re multiple comments on why the officer was not fired:

I think people are really missing the point here. The incredible part of this story is that MPD released the video at all. The most common outcome would be to delete it and say that it is missing.

As for getting the officer fired, keep dreaming. Officers are rarely fired, even when they knowingly inflict violence against innocent people.

by michael on Jun 27, 2013 1:34 pm • linkreport

Actually helmet cams sound like a great idea if they are not too expensive. Except the rider probably isn't usually looking at a vehicle about to blindside him/her.

by Chris S. on Jun 27, 2013 1:34 pm • linkreport

Wow, that's a seriously upsetting story. Glad to know that justice was served, but it shouldn't be anywhere near that difficult.

I'm glad to have played a small role (by acting in a training video) in educating Chicago police officers about how left hook situations are dangerous and illegal. It sounds like similar re-training is needed for MPD.

And yeah, I've always assumed that turning traffic always yields (unless specifically given a green arrow).

by Payton on Jun 27, 2013 1:36 pm • linkreport

I'm glad you're OK (ish) and that the immediate wrong has been righted. I would also suggest filing a complaint about the "It must have been your fault" officer. That's not appropriate to tell a victim -- and certainly not to state that an entire class of people is at fault and does not deserve the protection of the law.

by Gavin on Jun 27, 2013 1:40 pm • linkreport

Zach T, re camera: Im shocked theres no central viewing location. The cameras Im familiar with in Philly can be pulled up remotely, viewed, turned, zoomed etc. I assume the recorded data can be pulled up remotely as well.

Seems like really bad design. Also, a 7 day delete policy doesnt sound good either.

by JJJJ on Jun 27, 2013 1:42 pm • linkreport

@Chris S.-Some cameras can be expensive. The newest ones are a few hundred dollars, but you can get older models for much less. The peace of mind is completely worth it though.

A UK cyclist who calls himself Traffic Droid has a helmet camera, one mounted on each side of his bars, a chest camera, and a rear facing camera so he can catch all the angles.

by thump on Jun 27, 2013 1:48 pm • linkreport

Does that mean that drivers should roll down their windows and call out other drivers when they see them committing infractions?

Drivers do regularly do this, it just most often arises when the infraction is also an inconvenience -- like for instance when drivers honk at each other for failing to yield right of way or for making an illegal left turn at a stop light or for blocking an intersection or for not observing the minimum speed limit. Drivers also alert other each other when one of their tail lights is out, when they have a flat tire, or when their headlights are off at night, or when their brights are on when they shouldn't be.

But on the whole the experience of driving is rather insulated from the outside world, which makes it less likely that other drivers will alert each other when, for instance, they witness someone in front of them not coming to a full stop at a stop sign. But bicycling on the whole isn't so insulated.

by Scoot on Jun 27, 2013 1:49 pm • linkreport

@thump-do you know if these little cameras can have a wide angle lens attached? That would help get some side view, wouldn't it?

by Tina on Jun 27, 2013 1:53 pm • linkreport

Seems like you were traveling at a high rate of speed. Compare your rate of speed with the other cars. Being a bicyclist and motorist I have seen more times that the bicyclist are at fault- not stopping for stop signs, going through red lights. It's all too common. Once you treat your bike like a car, and obey the traffic laws, including the speed limit- maybe others will treat your case different from the thousands of both-at-fault cases such as this.

You don't have the same type or same braking power of a motorist, and it seems that you were traveling at an unsafe speed for a bicycle. If you were traveling at a safe speed- maybe your shoulders wouldn't have been injured and this could have been avoided. Sorry, but you can't say one person is at fault for this.

by RR on Jun 27, 2013 1:54 pm • linkreport

Although the driver clearly deserved the ticket (and should be held liable), weren't you speeding? Could that have been the 'contributory' part? And while it looks like you may have been going faster than the posted speed limit for motorized vehicles, you definitely were going faster than what is reasonable for a bicycle (which is the legal definition of speeding with the posted signs being just 'advice' for motor vehicles under ideal weather conditions.)

by A neighbor on Jun 27, 2013 1:56 pm • linkreport

Once you treat your bike like a car, and obey the traffic laws, including the speed limit- maybe others will treat your case different from the thousands of both-at-fault cases such as this.

You're going to get a lot of heat from this comment, because people will say that drivers do not regularly obey the speed limit. Which is true, though it does not absolve cyclists from that legal requirement.

Personally I think the cyclist was traveling too fast as well. It does seem like from the video that there may have been a visibility issue from both the driver and cyclists' POV. Riding down that stretch of 14th street I know I've been riding too fast to stop quickly (especially as I use those heavy CaBis now) and this video serves as a reminder for me to slow down a bit.

by Scoot on Jun 27, 2013 1:57 pm • linkreport

So let's ignore the failure to yield. Let's now all claim that he must have been speeding and that absolves the driver of all responsibility once again.

To me it looks like he was in the low 20's on a street with a 25mph speed limit. Besides this is DC where the "real" speed limit is N +11.

by drumz on Jun 27, 2013 2:00 pm • linkreport

Besides the law is already set up so that if Zach was speeding he couldn't have gotten anything from the driver. Apparently the court decided that wasn't the case because he was compensated.

by drumz on Jun 27, 2013 2:01 pm • linkreport

Let's now all claim that he must have been speeding and that absolves the driver of all responsibility once again.

No one has claimed that the driver is absolved from all responsibility.

Also, it does not appear that a court decided anything because as noted in the article, he reached a settlement.

by Scoot on Jun 27, 2013 2:05 pm • linkreport

Except RR who claimed that it was both speeding and some sort of insistence that Zach was riding differently led to the collision, not the car that failed to yield.

So we have a complete and total assumption (zach must have been speeding) vs. what actually happened. I don't find that much better than the police officer who says "but you're a cyclist!".

by drumz on Jun 27, 2013 2:10 pm • linkreport

@RR

Once you treat your bike like a car, and obey the traffic laws, including the speed limit...

I'm sorry, I've been feeling under the weather, so my irony meter isn't as calibrated as usual. Were you being serious, or was that sarcasm? The cyclist was going exactly as fast as every other vehicle in the frame.

I suppose it's possible he was "speeding" since speeding among drivers is nearly universal.

by oboe on Jun 27, 2013 2:10 pm • linkreport

The cyclist is actually going about the same speed as the cars. If you slow the video down you can see this from looking at each frame. It's an optical illusion; the fact that the cyclist is smaller makes him look like he's going faster but that's not the case.

Beyond that, the car failed to yield anyway.

by MLD on Jun 27, 2013 2:10 pm • linkreport

Except RR who claimed that it was both speeding and some sort of insistence that Zach was riding differently led to the collision, not the car that failed to yield.

RR did not claim that the driver was absolved of all responsibility. In fact, RR implied that both the cyclist and driver bore fault:

...maybe others will treat your case different from the thousands of both-at-fault cases such as this.

by Scoot on Jun 27, 2013 2:14 pm • linkreport

follow-up:
some sort of insistence that Zach was riding differently

...and not obeying laws (because of the assumption that all cyclists are inherently reckless) that all of a sudden puts it on him for running into the car.

by drumz on Jun 27, 2013 2:15 pm • linkreport

"You're going to get a lot of heat from this comment, because people will say that drivers do not regularly obey the speed limit. Which is true, though it does not absolve cyclists from that legal requirement."

And no, the heat isn't going to come because cyclists want "special rights" but because the explicit argument was that before this particular cyclist could be treated in a fair and legal fashion, they are required to "act like a car".

I'm not sure there's anyone here who believes that if a car driver came through the intersection going 20-25 mph and was ploughed into by a left-turning vehicle that the driver who was going straight was at fault.

It's basically a desperate attempt to pin the blame on cyclists regardless of the circumstance. Heck, even if the cyclist was going the speed limit, he should've been going slower, and if he was going at a walking pace, he should've been more active in convincing all human beings everywhere who own a bike to obey all laws at all times.

Utter nonsense.

by oboe on Jun 27, 2013 2:16 pm • linkreport

It would be pretty simple to slow the video down and measure how fast the cyclist is going by measuring how long it takes (t) for him to travel a distance (d) which you could then easily measure. Solve for V. V=d/t

Without doing that, I'll give you 5 to 1 odds that he was going slower than 25 mph.

by David C on Jun 27, 2013 2:18 pm • linkreport

As to speed, I did something called "math" to figure out what Zach's speed was.

Using YouTube's time, I measured how far Zach went from the moment the timer read 0:32:00 to 0:33:00 (one second).

At 0:32:00, Zach's front wheel is about a foot north of the white line delineating the W Street bike lane from the W Street travel lane.

At 0:33:00, Zach's front wheel is about even with the stop bar for northbound 14th street.

The distance between those two points is 36.2 feet.

That means Zach was traveling about 36.2 feet/second.

Converting to miles per hour, Zach was traveling 24.7 miles per hour.

The speed limit is 25 mph.

24.7 is less than 25.

Ergo, Zach was not speeding.

Q.E.D.

by Matt Johnson on Jun 27, 2013 2:21 pm • linkreport

maybe others will treat your case different from the thousands of both-at-fault cases such as this.

Which is incredibly patronizing because A: it's not true and B: shows a disregard for both the immediate effects (grievous injury) and the latter ones (outright patronization by the police/authorities to do anything about it).

by drumz on Jun 27, 2013 2:21 pm • linkreport

The Mt. Rainier incident sounds like a situation where the two lanes of traffic going north (in the direction the cyclist was riding) were stopped due to congestion, the stopped cars had made space for the left-turning driver to cut through the mass of stopped cars - and because of the intervening cars, the cyclist, who could bypass the stopped cars on the right, would have had difficulty seeing the car turning left, and the car turning left would have had difficulty seeing the cyclist.

I'm a cyclist, and a driver, but not a lawyer - not sure how to assign fault in a situation like this. But I'd bet that situations like this are common occurrences in DC-area traffic.

by Black Jack on Jun 27, 2013 2:22 pm • linkreport

Automobile braking distance at 20 mph is 40 ft. The car turned in front of the bike when the bike just passed the rightmost crosswalk lines -- about 25 ft in front of the bike. The bicyclist had no chance to stop, and if the bicyclist were a car, the turning vehicle was at fault.

The car turned in front of the bike, and was 100% at fault.

by goldfish on Jun 27, 2013 2:22 pm • linkreport

Doesn't matter. Speed limit is set for the automobiles.

It was an unsafe speed for his type of vehicle. And it was stupid of the car to make a left hand turn at the time she did. End of story. Both at fault, like the thousands of other bike-car incidents. That's why MPD doesn't care.

Maybe he should have went after the driver for not using a turn signal? Or did he not see that intention because he was going too fast?

by RR on Jun 27, 2013 2:23 pm • linkreport

Truly any speed >0 is unsafe when there is a car blocking the lane.

by drumz on Jun 27, 2013 2:25 pm • linkreport

It was an unsafe speed for his type of vehicle.

Why is that?

If that were a car traveling 25 mph, or a motorcycle, would they have not crashed into the left-turning vehicle in the same way? How is that safe?

by Alex B. on Jun 27, 2013 2:27 pm • linkreport

But hey, at least now some are recognizing the intrinsic differences between bikes and cars. Of course next time we have a video of someone cruising through an empty intersection we'll be back to demanding 100% law compliance before turning over 1-inch of asphalt to cyclist use.

by drumz on Jun 27, 2013 2:28 pm • linkreport

@Matt Johnson -"but bikes are different from cars and even though bikers should always obey all laws made for cars they should also behave differently from cars, as in this case, 'You don't have the same type or same braking power of a motorist, and it seems that you were traveling at an unsafe speed for a bicycle.'. So a biker is always at fault, no matter what the circumstances. The police even said so! It must be true. And anyway I'm sure Zack didn't do enough outreach to other bicyclist to tell them they should always obey all laws written for car traffic but at at the same time since bikes are different from cars they should behave differently from cars while obeying the laws written for cars, such as always going slower than the speed limit..." etc. etc.

by Tina on Jun 27, 2013 2:29 pm • linkreport

My outreach will be to tell cyclists to do whatever they want because they're on their own anyway.

by drumz on Jun 27, 2013 2:31 pm • linkreport

I am reminded of the Ideal Cyclist...

by Tina on Jun 27, 2013 2:32 pm • linkreport

The Ideal Cyclist follows all traffic laws. She even follows rules that are not traffic laws but should be.

by Tina on Jun 27, 2013 2:35 pm • linkreport

RR:you do realize that bikes have a fraction of the mass of cars,so they can stop quicker? We're not all hipsters on brakeless fixies.

The driver is 100% at fault. She should have waited for the way to be clear.

by dynaryder on Jun 27, 2013 2:50 pm • linkreport

@oboe et al.
I think we need to distinguish fault and duty, from police prejudice and jury prejudice. We probably can not erase all prejudice, but standards can be set that require the police to disregard their personal prejudices and instead require consideration of all good evidence and nothing else.
So yes, scofflaw cyclists probably help to feed a prejudice that would be there anyway, and at the margin, it would be nice to have less of both. But police policies need to recognize its existence and set up procedures to get to the truth in spite of the prejudice.
Also: even if the author ran the red light, the author should have received a last-clear chance rule instruction and allow the jury to consider whether the cyclist was in plain view and should have been avoided.
By the way since there was an SUV, based on my lifetime experience, we can assume that the driver did not signal left, did not watch the oncomming traffic, and was talking on a cell phone.

by JimT on Jun 27, 2013 2:51 pm • linkreport

bicycle stopping distance: (p. 6-5)

S = V^2/(30*(f+G)) +3.67*V
s=distance (ft); v=speed (mph); f=0.25; G=grade (ft/ft)

which suggests that the stopping distance for a bicyclist at 25 mph, 145 ft, is a good bit further than that of a car, around 40 ft.

This means that the car that turned in front of the bike should have allowed MORE clearance; this puts extra blame on the car.

by goldfish on Jun 27, 2013 2:53 pm • linkreport

A reasonable speed for bicycles on a heavily urbanized street is not 25 mph. It's probably closer to 10 to 15 mph. As evidenced here a bicyclist cannot stop as quickly as a car ... and stands much more to lose.

by A neighbor on Jun 27, 2013 2:54 pm • linkreport

@goldfish - This means that the car that turned in front of the bike should have allowed MORE clearance;

Excellent outreach to all the drivers reading this..

by Tina on Jun 27, 2013 2:55 pm • linkreport

It's great that the video is there. My guess about the whole "red light" thing is that she might have thought she had a turn arrow, or that she was turning as the light went from a yellow to red light. In other words, she might have been confused after the accident, but might recall waiting for a turn arrow or a break in traffic when the light turned red. Or, maybe she saw traffic slowing in the other direction for some reason and assumed they had a red light. Or, she was lying. Either way, I'm guessing the officer had in mind that she was making a left at a moment when straight-moving traffic had to stop.

by Fischy (Ed F.) on Jun 27, 2013 2:56 pm • linkreport

"Maybe he should have went after the driver for not using a turn signal? Or did he not see that intention because he was going too fast?" --RR

And when you see a driver in the oncoming lane waiting with their turn signal on....nothing changes! You just keep driving/cycling, because you have the right of way and they're (supposed to be) waiting for you clear the path of their turn.

The implication that the cyclist should have done anything differently or is somehow at fault--overwhelming evidence to the contrary notwithstanding--is beyond the pale. If this is the level of consideration we're now extending to our DC neighbors, then I can think of plenty of underprivileged or vulnerable populations I should regularly be asserting dominance over and/or condescending to.

by Ryan on Jun 27, 2013 2:56 pm • linkreport

@goldfish

That assumes the weight of the rider is known, the size of the tire, the tread, and the size and materials of the breaks. Not to mention if he had airbrakes. *wink*

by adelphi_sky on Jun 27, 2013 2:59 pm • linkreport

@goldfish & adelphi_sky

It also assumes a 2.5 second reaction time, which strikes me a very, very slow.

by Ryan on Jun 27, 2013 3:06 pm • linkreport

@Fischy -the driver was not turning onto a street -she was turning into a driveway; the color of the light was irrelevant; her duty was to wait for a clearing before making the turn. The light was not relevant to her turn in the sense that her turn was not governed by a traffic light; presence of cross-traffic was the only information needed to govern her actions regardless of the lights' color.

by Tina on Jun 27, 2013 3:09 pm • linkreport

One is that police officers need substantially more training in different types of bicycle-automobile crashes.
This implies that the problem is education rather than intent. My experience with police officers is that they're not at all above simply acting out of malice, for no readily apparently reason.

by Brandon on Jun 27, 2013 3:09 pm • linkreport

A reasonable speed for bicycles on a heavily urbanized street is not 25 mph. It's probably closer to 10 to 15 mph.

While I'm definitely in favor of lowering speed limits on city streets the law is the law. Meanwhile its also the law that if you want to turn across the ROW you have to yield. So yet again, nothing Zach did was wrong and indeed the only reason his bike ride was ill-advised is because of the car that turned too soon.

But next time someone complains about bikes holding up traffic because they're slower I'll outreach to them about this conversation saying that if I go to fast I might be guilty of running into a car that has failed to yield.

by drumz on Jun 27, 2013 3:10 pm • linkreport

It also assumes a 2.5 second reaction time, which strikes me a very, very slow.

Indeed very very slow.

by Tina on Jun 27, 2013 3:11 pm • linkreport

Goldfish,

which suggests that the stopping distance for a bicyclist at 25 mph, 145 ft, is a good bit further than that of a car, around 40 ft.

You are misreading that article. That is about the sight-line distance for stopping. E.g. if you are desiging a trail for riders to use at 25 mph, you want to make sure that a stop sign is visible from 145 feet away. Not that it takes a cyclist going 25 mph 145 feet to come to a complete stop.

There are lots of bike stopping distance calculators on the internet. Try this one: http://www.exploratorium.edu/cycling/brakes2.html

25 mph on dry pavement suggests a stop distance of less than 25 feet.

by Alex B. on Jun 27, 2013 3:12 pm • linkreport

...I still think @goldfishes outreach to drivers that,
the car that turned in front of the bike should have allowed MORE clearance; is very good as a general principle. In the presence of bikes drivers should always allow more clearance (more than they already do; more than they think they need to; just more)

by Tina on Jun 27, 2013 3:18 pm • linkreport

@A Neighbor-I can piss on my bike and the force will make me go faster than 10 mph. I average 15-25 mph depending on where in the city I am. Joke comment...next.

@Tina-Yeah..my contour has a 170 degree (I think) lens. It actually makes things look farther away in video.

Lastly-Can we REALLY assign an equation to the braking distance for Zach in this case? There are hundreds (or thousands) of different brakes and breaking systems that can be configured in countless different ways, not to mention tires w/ different frictional properties that could seriously alter that equation. It would also depend on how much he and his bike weigh. I have two bikes w/ two different set-ups and two different types of tires, and they have huge differences in how they brake.

by thump on Jun 27, 2013 3:23 pm • linkreport

I don't think anyone is suggesting that cyclists be prohibited from riding at the legal limit, but there is indeed a lot to be said for reducing one's speed to a reasonable level to anticipate and react to road hazards. Just because we are on a bike does not mean we should throw all risk-reward calculation out the window.

And as we unfortunately see too often, obeying the law will not always keep us from having a debilitating accident involving a person who did not obey it.

I'll personally watch more cautiously at this intersection, which I frequently ride through, and hope others will as well. There are too many crazy drivers, and not enough good police out there, not to. Good luck to everyone and ride safe!

by Scoot on Jun 27, 2013 3:35 pm • linkreport

Zach could have avoided this crash if he had just made an effort to not be invisible.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2013/02/11/171409656/why-even-radiologists-can-miss-a-gorilla-hiding-in-plain-sight

"The Ideal Cyclist doesn't even ride a bike"

by Tina on Jun 27, 2013 3:38 pm • linkreport

"I don't think anyone is suggesting that cyclists be prohibited from riding at the legal limit, but there is indeed a lot to be said for reducing one's speed to a reasonable level to anticipate and react to road hazards."

indeed there would be fewer accidents on the arterials in Fairfax county, where I live, if everyone would drive on them at 30MPH, 15 MPH below the speed limit, rather than 10 MPH plus over the limit. Of course anyone who responded to a collision caused by someone negligently making a left turn by suggesting that would be laughed out of the County.

With respect to driving, we seem to accept that the behavior of 80% of drivers reflects a legitimate evaluation of what is safe.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 27, 2013 3:50 pm • linkreport

What I suspect happened is that the person in the SUV was waiting on the silver car to pass and didn't see the bike a short distance behind the silver car or didn't care to look past the silver car. The bike wasn't in their frame of reference when turning left. So, after the silver car passed, their eyes never looked back down 14th st. to see if any CARS were coming. And judging from the SUV not even breaking until impact, their eyes were on the gas station the whole time.

by adelphi_sky on Jun 27, 2013 4:03 pm • linkreport

Another issue here is that given the amount of traffic in the vudeo this incident appears to have happened during rush hour. Taking a bike out into rush hour traffic is never a good idea. Yes, you sometimes need to use the streets to get to a path, but best to not doit when there is much traffic around.

by A neighbor on Jun 27, 2013 4:23 pm • linkreport

I see no stories above of anyone having a successful experience with MPD, right? I myself have twice tried to engage them when I was assaulted while biking (one woman angry that I was riding in the bike lane through a can of corn at me, hitting me); neither time could they find the assailant even with a licence plate number. The third time, when I was pushed off my bike by a small group of pedestrians, like some recent stories with more serious results, I called 911, but hung up, because the previous hopeless experiences with the police came back to me, and I can't go through that again.
Three people have declared as mayoral candidates. Press all of them on this animus against bikers at MPD.
Please report if you have had a POSITIVE outcome.

by Lisa on Jun 27, 2013 4:24 pm • linkreport

Sorry; "threw" the corn, that is.

by Lisa on Jun 27, 2013 4:25 pm • linkreport

"Taking a bike out into rush hour traffic is never a good idea. Yes, you sometimes need to use the streets to get to a path, but best to not doit when there is much traffic around"

naturally - people who commute by bike should only commute, when its not actually time to go to or leave work. gotcha.

Actually many cyclists find rush hour biking easier, as traffic is slower. Though there is still the risk of people making incorrect left turns. Clearly the right response is to not bike, rather than to ask that the law be properly and fairly enforced.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 27, 2013 4:28 pm • linkreport

Two responses so I'll post both.

Taking a bike out into rush hour traffic is never a good idea. ...so he got what was coming to him. Now before you say "I never said that!" think about what you were implying. That bikes don't belong on the road, at least during rush hour or on busy streets.

or

Taking a bike out into rush hour traffic is never a good idea.
Neither is trying to make a left turn against southound traffic in the morning rush.

by drumz on Jun 27, 2013 4:30 pm • linkreport

Dear "A neighbor": Bikes do not "bike out into...traffic" or not use the streets when "traffic" is around.

We ARE traffic, with the rights to use those same streets we pay for, when we need to use them. We ARE traffic.

by Lisa on Jun 27, 2013 4:30 pm • linkreport

@A neighbor - "The Ideal Cyclist will sometimes drive her bicycle to a street where there are bike lanes to begin her trip and ask a friend to pick her up where the lanes end. She shares the road by vacating it."

by Tina on Jun 27, 2013 4:30 pm • linkreport

Whoa there. Where did speeding come from? Did it really look like he was going 30mph? You have to be going down a bloody steep hill to go faster than the posted speed limit. Or has there been some new regulation on the books that say bikes can only travel 5mph or something that I missed while I was traveling for work?

by h_lina_k on Jun 27, 2013 4:31 pm • linkreport

goldfish:want to lay some scratch on the fact that it takes me 145ft to stop my bicycle from 25mph? I'll use my winnings to buy another bike.

by dynaryder on Jun 27, 2013 4:37 pm • linkreport

This implies that the problem is education rather than intent. My experience with police officers is that they're not at all above simply acting out of malice, for no readily apparently reason.

There are some really good, sympathetic MPD officers. Unfortunately, the majority of MPD officers are essentially suburban car commuters, and exhibit the worst characteristics of that cohort.

by oboe on Jun 27, 2013 4:39 pm • linkreport

Man..for a second I thought @A Neighbor was posting a serious response. S/he has to be trollin'!

by thump on Jun 27, 2013 4:39 pm • linkreport

You know this is a shame. I always think I'd just look like a nut if I ever gave in and bought a helmet mounted camera. But this is just another reason in favor of that.

by cohibiker on Jun 27, 2013 4:40 pm • linkreport

I would be surprised if I was biking faster than 20mph. I think I was probably going approximately 15mph. Does anyone know how wide the crosswalk is that is pictured in the video?

The response to the point that I was going at an excessive speed has been quite convincing. To add to the chorus: I had the right of way, was going straight, and completely in the right. A motorist turned without looking and caused bodily harm. Had I been going 10 mph, or even slower, I still could have been hit this way.

In nearly all cases where a there is a collision between a turner and someone proceeding straight, the person turning is at fault. This is exactly that case.

by Zach T on Jun 27, 2013 4:43 pm • linkreport

@Tina, Wouldn't it be easier to drive to your bike to a path out in Virginia or Maryland and enjoy some safer biking out there?

by A neighbor on Jun 27, 2013 4:43 pm • linkreport

'Did it really look like he was going 30mph? You have to be going down a bloody steep hill to go faster than the posted speed limit.'

Posted limits are for mot

by A neighbor on Jun 27, 2013 4:45 pm • linkreport

I am planning to buy a helmet mounted camera as soon as I get my next paycheck. Any recommendations?

by beehive biker on Jun 27, 2013 4:47 pm • linkreport

@A neighbor -will you come get me and take me to work everyday and take me home? On my schedule? For free?

by Tina on Jun 27, 2013 4:47 pm • linkreport

There are some trails in DC. One can enjoy those (if they avoid the random beatings) but it seems silly to just drive a few blocks and then get on the bike. Why not ride directly from one's house?

Then of course, the actual reason of a bicycle being a mode of transportation that can take you to work, the movies, shopping, any number of places. And since the speed limit is for motorists as is asserted, then a cyclist really shouldn't have to worry about any local street in DC in the first place since no one should be driving more than 25mph.

by drumz on Jun 27, 2013 4:48 pm • linkreport

@thump -maybe so. (@A Neighbor...has to be trolling)

by Tina on Jun 27, 2013 4:50 pm • linkreport

Posted speed limits are for motorized traffic under ideal weather conditions. Actually speed limits are governed by the ability of the driver/rider to operate safely. At 25 mph a car driver could have stopped when the car headed in other direction cut them off. A bike could not stop at 25 mph. Hence it was 'speeding' even if not going 25 (though I'd guess it was going closer to 35 mph in the video).

by A neighbor on Jun 27, 2013 4:50 pm • linkreport

...therefore he got what's coming to him. Serves him right for expecting cars to not suddenly pull in front of him.

by drumz on Jun 27, 2013 4:52 pm • linkreport

@A Neighbor
Another issue here is that given the amount of traffic in the vudeo this incident appears to have happened during rush hour. Taking a bike out into rush hour traffic is never a good idea. Yes, you sometimes need to use the streets to get to a path, but best to not doit when there is much traffic around.

Wouldn't it be easier to drive to your bike to a path out in Virginia or Maryland and enjoy some safer biking out there?

Is this entire line of inquiry and complaint a joke?

Hint: If you're trying to ride your bike from point A to point B to get somewhere you need to go, "driving your bike out to a path" is likely NOT on the way.

Likewise, if you are trying to get from your home to work, riding a bike some other time is probably not going to serve you well.

I thought this much was obvious. But maybe I should just start telling all those people complaining about traffic that they should just start going to work when there's no traffic!

by MLD on Jun 27, 2013 4:52 pm • linkreport

/I'm being sarcastic again. Guessing at the speed limit doesn't change anything about what happened or what should have happened. Because its obvious that speeding bikes is where the traffic problems in the city really come from.

by drumz on Jun 27, 2013 4:53 pm • linkreport

@Tina, invest in a car or use the bus or Metro like the rest of us. Next we'll be hearing from the skate boarders and jiggers who think it's okay to do their thing on the public roads.

by A neighbor on Jun 27, 2013 4:53 pm • linkreport

*joggers

by A neighbor on Jun 27, 2013 4:54 pm • linkreport

A: in the video, the sun is shining. Conditions are obviously ok.

B: The law says that bikes can ride in the road while skateboards and joggers stay on the sidewalk. So yeah.

C: So do you just not like bikes? Does that justify getting hit by a car?

by drumz on Jun 27, 2013 4:55 pm • linkreport

@A neighbor-do you tell all your neighbors how they should live? Hows that go over? sounds a lot like trying to control other peoples behavior.

I love it that it irks you that I ride a bike! i'm going to go out for rides now even when I have no place particular to go to just to piss you off!

by Tina on Jun 27, 2013 5:00 pm • linkreport

Why is everyone consumed with this idea that a car can stop faster than a bicycle? Most bikes can stop faster than or at least similar to most cars(automobile stopping performance varies greatly)

by Richard Bourne on Jun 27, 2013 5:02 pm • linkreport

@Drumz '...therefore he got what's coming to him. Serves him right for expecting cars to not suddenly pull in front of him.'

It really wasn't thar sudden. Look at the video again. Had the bicyclist been driving a car instead he could easily have stopped. Getting cut off like that happens all the time in city traffic. It's the nature of the beast of driving in the city. That's why they say you should always drive defensively and assume the car (or bike or ped) near you is going to make a stupid move. And that's why flying down that hill on a bicycle assuming one can count on no driver, rider, or ped making a stupid move was the ultimate in carelessness.

by A neighbor on Jun 27, 2013 5:03 pm • linkreport

A neighbor, you don't seem to understand right-of-way laws in DC (or the rest of US, and much of the world).

Luckily, DC has our rules posted on the net for review:
http://dmv.dc.gov/sites/default/files/dc/sites/dmv/publication/attachments/dltest.pdf

Here, one is obligated to "yield to oncoming traffic including bicycles."

Yielding, in this context, means that you should not turn if it will cause traffic with the right-of-way to slow (let alone stop!).

A vehicle operator should slow to determine right-of-way but in the middle of a block it quite reasonable and legal to go somewhat faster. You can never go slowly enough so as to avoid risk from drivers changing lanes dangerously, people darting out in front, and otherwise failing to yield to right-of-way. This whole line or reasoning is a red herring.

by Zach T on Jun 27, 2013 5:08 pm • linkreport

Zach, I think you need to take Officer Carter's hand and have him to check out DC's traffic law at: http://dmv.dc.gov/sites/default/files/dc/sites/dmv/publication/attachments/dltest.pdf

Help him to turn to page 44 -- it stated under Left Turn: Yield to oncoming traffic including bicycles.

My BEEF here in DC -- many cars make illegal left turn when the street shows double white (solid) line separating two way traffic -- double white line in middle of the road means the driver is prohibit to make left lane turn. I learned this when I took driving class during high school -- I had the best and excellent driving class (too bad we don't see this anymore). I recalled my teacher told me I could get ticket for making left turn on double white solid line. Unfortunately Ofc. Carter didn't ticketed the driver.

Zach, have you heard back from MPD in regarding your article here? What do they have to say? Especially, I wonder if the Commander of MPD Third District Station. He should apologize to you and post on the station's bulletin board for all MPD Police Officers to read it (and be part of the shift briefing).

by Dave on Jun 27, 2013 5:08 pm • linkreport

Well that's ridiculous.

Do we really have to respond to these arguments.

http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post/18671/the-ideal-cyclist/

by drumz on Jun 27, 2013 5:08 pm • linkreport

Olog-hai are "strong, agile, fierce, and cunning" , and they could withstand sunlight while under the sway of Sauron's will.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 27, 2013 5:10 pm • linkreport

The Ideal Cyclist knows that cars are subjects and not objects. He never suspects criminality because accidents happen. They're unavoidable. It's not blaming the victim if it's a victim's fault and the victim should have known how dangerous it was before he did the thing that he did. After all, if the thing he did wasn't dangerous, how did he become the victim in the first place?

Add: the ideal cyclist rides at a pace slow enough to be able to read driver's minds as to when they plan making a left turn into a drive way. Even at 5mph he understands that the honking behind him is just encouragement for riding so courteously.

by drumz on Jun 27, 2013 5:13 pm • linkreport

At 25 mph a car driver could have stopped when the car headed in other direction cut them off.

The car could stop but the bike could not? Not true.

http://i.qkme.me/3tsxjg.jpg

by Alex B. on Jun 27, 2013 5:13 pm • linkreport

Watching the video, when the bike comes into sight, there's a clear 'guy on bicycle why aren't you slamming on your brakes' thought that I'm sure we all thought when we saw the video. But then we all realize 'well of course he must have slammed on those brakes as hard as he could ..but it's a bike and just can't stop that quickly'.

by A neighbor on Jun 27, 2013 5:14 pm • linkreport

Dave, no contact from MPD so far. It didn't occur to me that they might follow up but I suppose it's possible.

As for A Neighbor, the turn was incredibly sudden. Dangerously, callously, and injury-causing-ly sudden. Giving quarter to this kind of behavior and blaming me as the victim, despite clear evidence I wasn't at fault, isn't just wrong, it's mean. I'd appreciate an apology. It being the internet and all, I won't hold my breathe.

by Zach T on Jun 27, 2013 5:15 pm • linkreport

Cause of course improper left turns never lead to vehicle-vehicle collisions. Right.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 27, 2013 5:16 pm • linkreport

The car hadn't yet started turning when I initially came into sight. Thus no reason to brake.

by Zach T on Jun 27, 2013 5:17 pm • linkreport

Actually by speeding up he could have hit the car and then flipped over to land on his feet just on the other side. Instead you ruined everyone's day by just running into the car and making a poor policeman take a trip to the hospital. And you didn't even sign what you wanted him to sign! There could have been an actual tragedy happening somewhere else in the city!

by drumz on Jun 27, 2013 5:18 pm • linkreport

Oh, and events like this are why I support *more* cameras to monitor public spaces. I'm less supportive of toting around a helmet-cam, since (a) the presumption of guilt is such that I'm sure someone would assume that I doctored the tape, and (b) I shouldn't need to "arm" myself with expensive equipment just to safely use public space.

by Payton on Jun 27, 2013 5:26 pm • linkreport

Wow wow wow. Thank you for posting your account!!!

It confirms the suspicion that the police have been and might always will be pro-driving, until something dramatic happens, I'm afraid. This will set a definite limit on how much progress can really be made. They are at least a third to a half of the equation. People need to realize that. Maybe we should get rid of police cars?

Again, thank you for writing this and good luck on your continued recovery. Now, on to reading the comments.

by Jazzy on Jun 27, 2013 5:28 pm • linkreport

Sorry drumz, and others -- I'm on Zach side! In my view, the driver made illegal left turn when she is not allowed under traffic law! After all, if the driver didn't make the left turn, Zach would not have hit the car.

Zach, don't let others here tell you are at fault. The law is on your side.

by Dave on Jun 27, 2013 5:29 pm • linkreport

No, I'm on Zachs side as well. I even commend him for not cursing at the officer

by drumz on Jun 27, 2013 5:31 pm • linkreport

@A neighbor - fyi: multiuse paths like the type you refer to at 4:43 are more dangerous (greater risk of crash) for biking than riding on the road. I know -its actual empirical data! So it probably won't interest you, or you will refute the entire scientific process from which is was derived -

so for others receptive to this "outreach":

http://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/pdf/10.2105/AJPH.2012.300762

by Tina on Jun 27, 2013 5:32 pm • linkreport

@Dave, no one is questioning whether Zach was at fault. Of course it's the driver at fault given they cut off his right of way. The question is whether he contributed to the problem by flying down that hill.

by A neighbor on Jun 27, 2013 5:34 pm • linkreport

@Dave - The Ideal Cyclist is a satire piece (very funny and well written!)

by Tina on Jun 27, 2013 5:36 pm • linkreport

@A Neighbor, no one was flying down any hills. Please stop repeating that. It just isn't accurate.

by Zach T on Jun 27, 2013 5:45 pm • linkreport

Zach, in deference to what you've been through I won't 'keep saying it'. And I'm sure you're taking that hill a lot slower now.

by A neighbor on Jun 27, 2013 5:49 pm • linkreport

What about suing the police department? (I see others are saying to sue the driver for assault.)

Just curious: Did your compensation have to also compensate your lawyers? How did that work, if you don't mind me asking?

I ask thinking of those who cannot afford to hire a lawyer.

"Why is Officer Carter still one of our employees? Is there no way for the people who pay his paycheck, we the taxpayers, fire him for incompetence? How can there be no consequence for his failure?

by JJJJ "

I'm so with you!

"Many drivers are clueless and dangerous but many of the drivers in the DC area are also very respectful of cyclists. When I stop at intersections, countless drivers defer to me and wave me through the interesection first."

This is true. The overall point of the article to me was that we live in a culture of drivers and police officers who see cyclist's perspectives as less worthy than those who sit and drive behind a wheel. The fact is, it's still ok for car drivers to hit cyclists (and pedestrians).

I'll say it again: in at least one European country if a car driver hits a cyclist or pedestrian, his insurance rates go up. Period. End of story.

As for the police, I'm starting to get tired of hearing people's chirpy throwaway lines of "better education." That's what the PUBLIC needs. I am starting to think that DCPD needs a "better lawsuit."

"If Zach had died in this crash, "Failure to obey TCD - cyclist" would have been the official cause of the crash. [Unless the Major Crash investigators had gone to the footage] Think of that when you look at fatality statistics.

by David C on Jun 27, 2013 12:12 pm"

Exactly.

"non-life threatening injury or condition" should be changed to for the time being, non life threatening, etc...

This is an issue that GGW needs to aggressively take up and doing something about. You have over 185 comments here. Why is GGW not going DIRECTLY, and I mean straight at, the police? Do something different. You'd still make the Washington Post.

by Jazzy on Jun 27, 2013 6:06 pm • linkreport

Zach, I just wanted to say that I'm so sorry this happened to you. I'm glad you're OK and were able to receive compensation for your injuries.

Moreover I wanted to say thank you for writing up your account, especially given how much insane victim blaming BS cyclists inevitably face when they are involved in a crash, even when they are so clearly not at fault (ahem, A neighbor...).

As a regular bike commuter, it's good to know what kind of treatment I can expect to receive from MPD if I'm ever involved in a crash. I really hope that your story will force MPD to address the evident issues it has with discrimination against bicyclists.

by JB on Jun 27, 2013 6:09 pm • linkreport

Of course since none of us can prove the speed (relying instead on reasonable conjecture/math based estimates in the video) it provides a good straw man to to assure the driver and MPD that if they can't have the legal victory they can afford the moral one since cyclists are held to higher standards anyway.

by drumz on Jun 27, 2013 6:15 pm • linkreport

drumz, sorry, I was reading too many comments and got myself confused who I was referring to. But my comment was toward to someone-we-know-who still believe Zach is at faulted.

JB: Another option: if you run into MPD Officer -- ask him/her if they have taken full day refresher training in last two years in traffic and bicycle laws. If the Officer said no, then tell him/her that you won't answer any questions unless lawyer is presented!

by Dave on Jun 27, 2013 6:22 pm • linkreport

This is similar to the interactions I've had with cops in northern VA. They definitely default to blaming the cyclist. They just don't care.

by bikerdave on Jun 27, 2013 6:24 pm • linkreport

http://easycalculation.com/engineering/civil/vehicle-stopping-distance.php

is a car stopping distance calculator. A car traveling 25 mph on asphalt with a coefficient of friction of .75 on a 3% downgrade (my guess for this street) and a reaction time of just 1 second will take 66 feet to come to a complete stop.

There is no way that a car driver could have avoided this collision.

by Wayne Pein on Jun 27, 2013 6:28 pm • linkreport

JB, thanks for your support.

I didn't mean to imply that all folks in MPD treat all bikers badly. The folks in the FOIA office and the ones who dealt with the footage, for instance, were totally great! Hopefully over time that will become the norm. Further, if you ever are in a collision, I hope you get a different officer responding or perhaps Officer Carter gets additional training and is fair-minded, expert, and goes the extra mile for you.

by Zach T on Jun 27, 2013 6:33 pm • linkreport

Good point, Zach -- I will have to hope for an officer more like the ones who handled your FOIA request than like Officer Carter or the 3D supervisor. If not, I think Dave's advice is probably well taken...

This story is just really so eye-opening. I'm not sure how much good it will do, but I have emailed MPD to ask what they're doing to address the issues illustrated in this post. I guess I'm hoping that some amount good can come of all the unnecessary pain and hassle Zach had to go through if it leads to some positive change at MPD...

by JB on Jun 27, 2013 6:48 pm • linkreport

JB, if you get a response from MPD, please let us know what it is!

by Zach T on Jun 27, 2013 7:15 pm • linkreport

I second the rec to file a complaint. While the one occasion I've had to do so was nowhere NEAR this egregious, the staff who handles the complaints are polite, prompt, and thorough. All I needed was an apology and a warning to never do that again (he ignored me when I needed police help, telling me he wasn't assigned to patrol there when, it turns out, he was on an assigned patrol and just didn't care/want the bother), and I got it pretty promptly, plus some personal communication from his higher-ups that assured me they took the situation seriously. Since that time, I've had a few occasions to flag down police who happen by when I need help, and even off-duty, they at least help me call in/get assistance, rather than tell me to bug off and call it in. So, seems like complaining worked.

A training program *sounds* helpful, but it shouldn't be needed in this case. In this case, Zach was traveling in the exact same manner as a car would have been, so well-known principles of traffic law would apply exactly. The only "training" necessary for *this* issue is to tell the officers "who would you cite if both vehicles were cars?" The answer is completely obvious.

by Ms. D on Jun 27, 2013 8:13 pm • linkreport

I note as a pedestrian I must be extra careful crossing streets at 4 way stops. Although cars will stop bikers rarely do, if a car is there blocking the view I have come very close to being run over by bikers. It seems as a transplant from another state that generally all three groups, peds, bikers, and drivers need to pay more attention to markings and signals.

by Jason on Jun 27, 2013 9:29 pm • linkreport

I had a very similar collision a few years ago, and had much better luck with the responding MPD officer. I was riding straight through the intersection at 1st and P NW on a green light and realized, too late to stop, that the SUV preparing to make a left turn across my path was not, in fact, waiting for me to pass. I managed to slow down some, hit the side of the car at an angle, and stay upright; this broke my collarbone, but nothing worse.

The MPD officer actually cited the driver for failure to yield. I remember him patiently explaining, repeatedly, to the driver why he was giving her, not me, the ticket: "Madam, you are obliged to allow all straight-through traffic to clear before beginning a left turn."

It's too bad this officer's competence is apparently not the norm for the MPD.

by A Streeter on Jun 27, 2013 9:57 pm • linkreport

Nearly the exact same thing happened to me on the ride home this evening. Full sunlight, perfect visibility. I was doing about 22 MPH on a street with two lanes in each direction, and a car turning left came within about a foot of t-boning me before slamming on the brakes. Sorry, but there's literally no way that any vehicle operator can "anticipate" a left-cross style collision. Any car coming in the opposite direction could potentially turn left through one's path.

by oboe on Jun 27, 2013 10:30 pm • linkreport

@Jason,

A pedestrian stepped on my foot one time.

by oboe on Jun 27, 2013 10:33 pm • linkreport

What's the name of that police supervisor?

While the police conduct in this case was outrageous, the driver behavior was all too typical. Drivers are looking for big things like other motor vehicles. General inattention means that they unconsciously judge the speed of a bike--if they even see it--based on the speed they expect the bike to be traveling, rather than based on the parallax that our brains use when we concentrate.

Really bright lights, even in the day time, probably do some good.

My guess is that the driver did not see Zach, or misjudged his speed based on a lack of attention, had no idea how the collision occurred, but like most drivers, thought that she was driving safely. If a witness said that Zach ran a red light, that filled the gap for her.

No doubt once she saw the tape she started racking her brain, and with all the inconsistent statements she made to the police, not only was she at fault, but she would probably appear to be such an unreliable witness that her insurance company almost surely saw big-time losses. Be glad she was not under-insured.

by JimT on Jun 27, 2013 10:49 pm • linkreport

Between now and the last time we spoke on this topic I have seen a thousand bikers break the law... flagrantly. In fact I just beeped at one only 4 hours ago and that was a red light he blew while I had the green not just a stop sign. That's why we ALL see MOST bikers that way now. Just as the world views Blacks in a certain unflattering light even though their not all criminals. In fact, I see bicyclists break the law far more than I've ever seen Blacks do so. Unfortunately for the goods ones, each group has fully earned the rep they have. And just as with Blacks, crying foul about it will do absolutely NOTHING to change that fact and anyone with a shred of common sense knows it.

by Mike on Jun 28, 2013 3:07 am • linkreport

Between the beginning of my commute this morning and the end, I saw dozens of motorists break the law... flagrantly. That's why we ALL see MOST motorists that way now. Crying foul about it will do absolutely NOTHING to change that fact and anyone with a shred of common sense knows it.

by Fred on Jun 28, 2013 8:10 am • linkreport

@Mike - Are you a time traveler from 1861?

by Tina on Jun 28, 2013 8:50 am • linkreport

Just moments ago I read a comment by someone going by "Mike" that blew me away with its intentional ignorance and active racism on several levels. "Mike's" comment will be viewed by most of the outside world in a certain unflattering light. Its the type of comment that makes many African Americans see all White people as born and bred racists. Unfortunately there's nothing the "good" White people can do to change that fact.

by Tina on Jun 28, 2013 9:05 am • linkreport

@dynaryder: "want to lay some scratch on the fact that it takes me 145ft to stop my bicycle from 25mph? I'll use my winnings to buy another bike."

You would win this bet. The formula was for MDOT to determine the design distances for a bike to stop on bike trails. Of course you can stop in a shorter distance.

But as a matter of law, a vehicle turning in front of a moving bicycle should allow similar clearance. Which this car driver did not do.

by goldfish on Jun 28, 2013 9:09 am • linkreport

there's a clear 'guy on bicycle why aren't you slamming on your brakes' thought that I'm sure we all thought when we saw the video.

Yes this is painful to watch; but really it is no more than about 1/2 second. It is reaction time.

by goldfish on Jun 28, 2013 9:15 am • linkreport

15mph is not a reasonable speed. That is an incredibly slow speed.

by Greg on Jun 28, 2013 9:18 am • linkreport

Mike's comments are such that they are probably making most of us on here feel uncomfortable at a minimum (and probably enraged at a maximum), however the point he makes that the biking community needs to start exerting some peer pressure on its bad apples is a good one. It's not car drivers or peds who are going to convince a bad apple biker to stop running red lights or speeding or cutting ahead of a line of traffic at a 4 way stop. Short of all out enforcement by the police (which isn't in the cards) the only way that's going to stop is if the majority good apple bikers start exerting peer pressure, and that includes of course, not condoning bad behavior by trying to excuse it away. Then and only then will the biker community's reputation start to improve. It'll be a tough road, but its doable.

by A neighbor on Jun 28, 2013 9:28 am • linkreport

Yes, all the excuses made here were for the cyclist who wasn't breaking any laws/injuring people but instead the police/driver who there have been plenty of comments trying to figure out any sort of loophole that would absolve them of blame.

Interesting tautology here, "bad cyclists get hit because bad cyclists get hit"

by drumz on Jun 28, 2013 9:31 am • linkreport

Now, there is some creedence to the fact that "good" cyclists can educate "bad" ones. However to get there you need a lot of good cyclists. And the best way to do that is make cycling feel very safe and easy. That means protected bike lanes, police who know the law, lower speeds by cars and drivers who actually recognize that you're going to see lots of cyclists on city streets.

by drumz on Jun 28, 2013 9:34 am • linkreport

Mike's comments are such that they are probably making most of us on here feel uncomfortable at a minimum

I think the discomfort comes from the outright racism and not anything to do with "hard truths" about cyclists (which actually aren't true).

by drumz on Jun 28, 2013 9:36 am • linkreport

" It's not car drivers or peds who are going to convince a bad apple biker to stop running red lights or speeding or cutting ahead of a line of traffic at a 4 way stop"

nor is it comments to a message board. The only purpose of discouraging comments to a message board that explain why cyclists do what they do, etc is not to discourage biking behavior, but to dicourage pro-biking policy.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 28, 2013 9:37 am • linkreport

@a neighbor: Short of all out enforcement by the police (which isn't in the cards) the only way that's going to stop is if the majority good apple bikers start exerting peer pressure, and that includes of course, not condoning bad behavior by trying to excuse it away.

Could you please provide some suggestions on effective things I could do to exert peer pressure on those bad-apple bikers?

by Miriam on Jun 28, 2013 9:44 am • linkreport

Usually when drivers want to exert peer pressure on fellow drivers they lay on their horn, curse loudly and then drive aggressively to block that person from doing what they want. Is that what's being suggested here for cyclists?

by drumz on Jun 28, 2013 9:50 am • linkreport

If you time the cars going through the frame prior to the biker, they average about 2 seconds. His time is slightly faster...including his braking. Was he going the speed limit?

by dennis on Jun 28, 2013 9:57 am • linkreport

If cyclists are all good boys and girls for 100 years, the police will eventually treat us equally. Just ask any African-American soldier from the Civil War, Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, etc.

by crin on Jun 28, 2013 9:59 am • linkreport

Better than a helmet cam is running front flashers IN THE DAYTIME. Seriously.

by Crickey7 on Jun 28, 2013 10:07 am • linkreport

@ Miriam

"So, as I pedaled into work with the Hard Drive helmet-cam running Tuesday morning, I tried something new. I said something to another bicycle rider who was rolling through a red light at North Vancouver and Stanton Street.

Traffic, including five other bicycle riders, had stopped for the light. Watching him precede, I shouted out what I was thinking: “It makes us all look bad.”

That's where things could have become a little dicey.

Others in the bike pack could have easily stayed silent or turned on me, telling me to pipe down. The rider could have given my an impolite salute and continued riding -- or confronted me.

None of that happen. The other cyclists literally gave me thumbs up and even joined in, politely encouraging the guy to wait for the green.

In response, he braked and turned around, a little embarrassed, but seemingly OK with being called out."

http://blog.oregonlive.com/commuting/2011/08/with_some_peer_pressure_portla.html

by Scoot on Jun 28, 2013 10:07 am • linkreport

@Mirium '
Could you please provide some suggestions on effective things I could do to exert peer pressure on those bad-apple bikers?'

Use this forum to express that while we feel terrible about what happened to him and that we agree that the driver was in the wrong and that the cop in the scene shouldn't have been so quick to assume Zach was in the wrong, that Zach should have been operating at a much slower speed than he was operating at and perhaps considered the wisdom of putting himself into the middle of fast moving traffic on major rush hour artery.

by A neighbor on Jun 28, 2013 10:09 am • linkreport

Mike's comments are such that they are probably making most of us on here feel uncomfortable at a minimum (and probably enraged at a maximum), however the point he makes that the biking community needs to start exerting some peer pressure on its bad apples is a good one.

While Mike's comments are painfully midguided, they serve a pretty valuable purpose. This nonsense about "collective guilt" among cyclists does have parallels in the dynamics of racism. Is bike hate "the same as" racism? Of course not. But the dynamics are similar.

"Every time I see a police report about a mugging, the 'look out' is for young black males! So sure, many black people may not be mugging people, but the 'black community' needs to start convincing the 'bad blacks' to stop mugging. Otherwise it's perfectly reasonable that cops randomly stop black people, or that 'neighborhood watch' members shoot black teens if they feel even vaguely threatened."

There are also parallels with rape culture and male privilege. "Obviously when a woman gets raped it's the rapists fault...to a point. But if she was wearing a short skirt, or had a drink, or accepted a ride from someone what did she expect?"

"And if a cyclist is riding over 10 mph, wasn't wearing a helmet, or, heck, was just riding in the street, clearly fault runs both ways."

Sure, that kind of thinking is infuriating (and disgusting), but it's what humans do.

by oboe on Jun 28, 2013 10:12 am • linkreport

off topic: Oboe! can you direct me to stuff you've posted before about gentrification and displacement.

that Zach should have been operating at a much slower speed than he was operating at and perhaps considered the wisdom of putting himself into the middle of fast moving traffic on major rush hour artery.

Except that none of that is true so it'd be dumb to acknowledge it as something cyclists "must" recognize in order to begin full penance.

by drumz on Jun 28, 2013 10:15 am • linkreport

The officer who submitted the paperwork for the report should be arrested for fraud, and/or falsifying documents. Honest cops need to hold this guy accountable for his actions. I have no respect for this liar.

by Ben on Jun 28, 2013 10:15 am • linkreport

ZachT. You write that "When the police report was ready, I picked up a copy. Both the driver and another witness said I had run a red light." I read a lot of the posts and they are very hard of the officer. If you have a witness on the scene that is not involved in the crash saying that the cyclist ran the red light what is the officer supposed to do, take the word of the involved parties? The officer did the correct thing on the scene; he located and interviewed a non-involved witness and then cited the cyclist based on the information from that non-involved witness. Regarding MPD's response when the video proved the non-involved witness was wrong, that is the proper subject for the anger expressed in the posts. You guys with the negative comments about this officer owe him an apology.

by DBR on Jun 28, 2013 10:17 am • linkreport

The fact that so many bicyclists do Idaho Stops at stop signs and red lights suggests that this should also be made law in the District and everywhere else. Bicycles ARE different than motor traffic. Idaho Stops are OK if done safely (slow down, look and yield right of way as needed before proceeding on red light or a stop sign). If you disagree, then I ask you...what rational reason is there to force bikes to sit at traffic lights when there is no cross traffic? Should bikes be treated exactly like motor traffic, in all situations, or not? Take into account how motor vehicles are far more dangerous than bikes on the road.

by Dave on Jun 28, 2013 10:18 am • linkreport

I just watched the video -- I commented earlier without having done it. It is unconscionable that the officer wouldn't watch it and change the ticket himself -- but this is not unusual behavior for law enforcement and has nothing to do with attitudes toward cyclists. Law enforcement doesn't like to admit mistakes. Even when DNA or other evidence seems to clearly exonerate a convict or defendant, prosecutors and police continue to fight efforts to dismiss charges.

As far as the driver goes, she was making a reckless turn, hurrying to get across oncoming traffic through what she perceived as a small break. Maybe she thinks bicycles will yield to her in that situation. More likely, she didn't see the bicycle or perhaps saw but didn't appreciate its speed.

It's an important cautionary note. I'm not blaming cyclists here, but we cannot ride with the assumption that we are as visible as cars. In the midst of traffic like that, I can imagine that it's entirely possible for a driver to miss the oncoming bicycle.

Hell, drivers often don't see other cars if they are not looking in the right spot. There are multiple car accidents every day. It doesn't excuse her, but it is a reminder that it is inherently dangerous to ride amongst all those fast-moving steel behemoths. Maybe someday we will have separated bike tracks.

by Fischy (Ed F.) on Jun 28, 2013 10:18 am • linkreport

Zach,

I am glad I could help in this situation and also glad you are alright. That was a nasty accident, so it could have been worse.

As a Police Officer with MPD I commute everyday on my bicycle and am one of the officers heavily enforcing Pennsylvania Ave., NW Bike Lane laws. I am also a standing member with WABA. I have to agree somewhat with you on our officers, however it is also because our officers do not receive enough training in this area IMHO. I wish our department took more time to train our officers on traffic accidents involving bicycles.

We do have a handout addressing bicycle and vehicle traffic accidents, but I really don't know if some members even read it or know about it.

by Ofc. E.A. Hoffstetter on Jun 28, 2013 10:20 am • linkreport

"what rational reason is there to force bikes to sit at traffic lights when there is no cross traffic?"

I dunno. Notwithstanding that bikes and cars are different What rational reason is there to force cars to sit at traffic lights when there is no cross-traffic? What about motorcycles -- are they more like cars or bicycles?

The question isn't whether there is no rational reason to force bicycles to sit there. The question is whether there might be a better reason to let them go ahead, after making sure it's 100% safe. That's arguable, only because it might be safer to let the cyclists get out ahead of the cars rather than trying to start up in the middle of traffic. I sometimes do a right on red and then make a u-turn, because a red light is a red light. If cyclists want to be more like pedestrians, perhaps they need to get to a crosswalk, rather than going through a red light in a traffic lane. That should be allowable.

by Fischy (Ed F.) on Jun 28, 2013 10:26 am • linkreport

@Dave 'If you disagree, then I ask you...what rational reason is there to force bikes to sit at traffic lights when there is no cross traffic.'

Maybe the same reason the drivers are sitting there waiting even though there is no cross traffic ? A sense of entitlement by a biker doesn't do other bikers any good either. Just saying.

by A neighbor on Jun 28, 2013 10:27 am • linkreport

If you disagree, then I ask you...what rational reason is there to force bikes to sit at traffic lights when there is no cross traffic?

It's not all that rational to force any vehicle, whether a bicycle or a car, to sit at a traffic light when there is no cross traffic. It's not rational to force pedestrians to wait for a walk sign when there is no cross traffic either.

Lately some jurisdictions have been attuned to this by using flashing red signals late at night when the road is empty, enabling the road users to treat red lights more like stop signs.

by Scoot on Jun 28, 2013 10:37 am • linkreport

Maybe the same reason the drivers are sitting there waiting even though there is no cross traffic ? A sense of entitlement by a biker doesn't do other bikers any good either. Just saying.

The reason we have stop lights is that drivers were killing each other and non-drivers at a frantic pace. That's why drivers need to sit there waiting even though there's no cross traffic.

When cyclists start killing people--to the extent that it's not national news when it happens--we'll re-evaluate.

by oboe on Jun 28, 2013 10:43 am • linkreport

Based on my calculations using the metadata from the Youtube video and google earth, Zach was travelling at about 23.04 mph.

The distance from the north side of the crosswalk to the south side of the cross walk is about 14.5 ft according to google earth.

Zach's front wheel crosses the plane of the cross walk at about 32.592 seconds in the video.

Zach's front wheel crosses the plane of the crosswalk at about 33.021 seconds in the video.

Speed = distance travelled/time elapsed

Speed = 15 feet/.4101 seconds

Speed = 23.04514 miles per hour.

I would not call this speeding on a 25 mph road. I would call this going the speed of traffic.

by beehive biker on Jun 28, 2013 10:47 am • linkreport

@beehive: Nice work!

by goldfish on Jun 28, 2013 10:49 am • linkreport

This sucks, sorry to hear it.

But signing the ticket is just agreeing to appear in court to answer for it or pay it, not an admission of guilt.

by Kyle on Jun 28, 2013 10:50 am • linkreport

I would not call this speeding on a 25 mph road. I would call this going the speed of traffic.

Sure, but some have already established that because someone ran into him, he was going to fast. It's the "if you get raped your skirt's too short" principle.

by oboe on Jun 28, 2013 10:54 am • linkreport

I would like to share that MPD and Catholic University Police was great in dealing with and tracking down the driver that hit my wife whilst she was on her bike in 4D. A few quibbles with things, (don't say "I don't expect that she will expire" when you make the call to notify a spouse) but overall happy with MDP response. The penalty he got, on the other hand, sucked. She spent 20 days in hospital/in patient rehab and will likely have a permeant foot drop. He got an $1100 fine and a year probation, and kept his license.

by JK on Jun 28, 2013 10:55 am • linkreport

Its almost impossible to tell how fast a cyclist is approaching. Sure, it's easy to tell from the pov of a camera at the side but from straight on it's a different story. Cars typically all drive the same speed on a road making it easier to gauge, but cyclists are all over place speed wise.

by Bob See on Jun 28, 2013 11:03 am • linkreport

"We all know how bikers behave. It must have been your fault. C'mon. You are a biker."

This is how some police officers operate - based on these biased assumptions. Replace "biker" with "black teenager" and the real issue will come into focus. It's so maddening!

by Rejamaphone on Jun 28, 2013 11:10 am • linkreport

@beehive biker:

The Ideal Cyclist knows that cars are subjects and not objects. He never suspects criminality because accidents happen. They're unavoidable. It's not blaming the victim if it's a victim's fault and the victim should have known how dangerous it was before he did the thing that he did. After all, if the thing he did wasn't dangerous, how did he become the victim in the first place?

by Miriam on Jun 28, 2013 11:10 am • linkreport

^Then one should wait until the roadway is clear rather than guessing they can beat the cyclist.

by drumz on Jun 28, 2013 11:10 am • linkreport

@oboe - it's what humans do....I guess some people are more human than others...

by Tina on Jun 28, 2013 11:11 am • linkreport

'I would not call this speeding on a 25 mph road. I would call this going the speed of traffic.'

Posted speed limits are suggestions for cars under ideal weather conditions. Actual speed limits differ based on vehicle and road conditions. Bikes take longer to stop and are harder for other traffic to see. On those points alone it's not conceivable that 25 mph is a safe or legal limit for bikes on this stretch of road. Zach was speeding as defined under the law.

by A neighbor on Jun 28, 2013 11:12 am • linkreport

*joggers

I love that THIS is the correction you felt was necessary.

by David C on Jun 28, 2013 11:13 am • linkreport

Ofc. E.A. Hoffstetter,

It was a pleasant surprise to see you here in the comments. I very much appreciate your perspective and assessment of how we can improve police procedures and training.

Thanks again for all your help obtaining the footage. Without your team's quick action, the footage would have been overwritten and the truth would have never come out.

Zach

by Zach T on Jun 28, 2013 11:14 am • linkreport

Maybe the cop just didn't want to be bothered with it. Maybe he figured that blaming the victim could be as quick as writing a ticket, and would nip it in the bud so the cop didn't have to deal with it as a case. If so, I'd call it business as usual for them.

by tatzanx on Jun 28, 2013 11:14 am • linkreport

1. A cyclist going the speed of car traffic (or more) is going too fast.
2. But a cyclist going less than the speed of car traffic is going too slow.
3. Therefore, it is impossible for a cyclist to go a safe and appropriate speed on the road.
4. Therefore, the cyclist should not be on the road at all.

by Miriam on Jun 28, 2013 11:18 am • linkreport

@A neighbor

Posted speed limits are not suggestions, they are actually legal limits. That is why it is called a speed limit and not a speed suggestion.

As defined by a non-legal standard of how fast he "should" have been going (more like a standard of what is reasonable rather than what is legal), it's possible that he was going too fast. I actually agree with you that 25 MPH is not a particularly safe speed for a cyclist on this stretch of the road. But then again I'm not sure that it's that safe for drivers either. I'm unsure if a driver would have stopped in time to avoid the collision either.

by Scoot on Jun 28, 2013 11:21 am • linkreport

@David C -LOL!

by Tina on Jun 28, 2013 11:23 am • linkreport

Bikes take longer to stop

No, they do not.

[Deleted for violating the comment policy.]

by Alex B. on Jun 28, 2013 11:23 am • linkreport

Posted speed limits are suggestions for cars under ideal weather conditions. Actual speed limits differ based on vehicle and road conditions. Bikes take longer to stop and are harder for other traffic to see.

Someone upthread already disposed of the misinformation that bikes take longer to stop.

I'm curious, if I toss a brick off an overpass and it lands on your windshield, are you speeding? Why not?

by oboe on Jun 28, 2013 11:24 am • linkreport

@oboe-hehehe

by Tina on Jun 28, 2013 11:28 am • linkreport

the biking community needs to start exerting some peer pressure on its bad apples

My theory is that when cycling is dangerous and roads are de facto set aside for drivers and drivers behave as though cyclists don't belong in the road (honking, yelling etc...), your more likely to find bad apples over-represented. They're the kind of people who ignore social norms (or else why wouldn't they just drive?) and rules and social enforcement.

But, when you make roads that encourage cycling and you treat cycling as welcome and even encouraged and when drivers treat cyclists with respect, you get more good apples. The bad apples don't go away, but they become overwhelmed by the good apples. And - maybe - some of them change to more accurately match the norm. Studies have shown that introducing women to an all male work place improves behavior (ethics, work ethic, cleanliness etc...) among the men - and until recently bike commuting has been a mostly male work place. Making roads that encourage women could have the same effect.

So if good apples on bikes is what you want, then support bike lanes, cycletracks, safe driving and laws and policies that encourage cycling. That is much more likely to work then what you've proposed.

by David C on Jun 28, 2013 11:29 am • linkreport

@ David C 'So if good apples on bikes is what you want, then support bike lanes, cycletracks, safe driving and laws and policies that encourage cycling. That is much more likely to work then what you've proposed.'

Well said. And so much more productive than trying to blame the police or excusing the bad actions of the bad apples.

by A neighbor on Jun 28, 2013 11:36 am • linkreport

Well said. And so much more productive than trying to blame the police or excusing the bad actions of the bad apples.

True, too bad in this instance its the exact opposite but its a good general principle.

by drumz on Jun 28, 2013 11:37 am • linkreport

But, when you make roads that encourage cycling and you treat cycling as welcome and even encouraged and when drivers treat cyclists with respect, you get more good apples. The bad apples don't go away, but they become overwhelmed by the good apples.

Another element to this is that some bad apples want to feel like victims to what they consider an inherently oppressive design-enforcement complex, which in their minds rationalizes their bad behavior. So if you level the playing field to make cyclists feel more included, maybe the bad apples will stop feeling like they need to prove something.

Unfortunately, what we have seen in real life does not necessarily support the notion that more apples leads to fewer bad apples. In cities like Amsterdam, red light running is rampant, but it is tolerated by police in the same way that speeding is tolerated by police here in DC. The bad apples don't always become overwhelmed by the good apples. Sometimes the behavior of bad apples is tolerated because there are many more bad apples, which has been the case among the motoring public for some time now.

by Scoot on Jun 28, 2013 11:40 am • linkreport

@David C -My theory is that when cycling is dangerous ...[bikers are] the kind of people who ignore social norms (or else why wouldn't they just drive?) and rules and social enforcement.

Interesting. I think its also people who: 1)can't drive (can't afford the car or the parking, etc.), and/or 2)are just dedicated, for what ever motivation, to bike instead of drive, and have the personality to persevere in the face of bad conditions. Neither of these sets of characteristics need include "more comfortable than average with breaking rules/social norms", well, maybe the latter includes "doesn't care about social norms-dedication trumps it".

by Tina on Jun 28, 2013 11:44 am • linkreport

@Scoot -In cities like Amsterdam, red light running is rampant,

i have biked enough in Amsterdam and this is not at all what I experienced.

by Tina on Jun 28, 2013 11:48 am • linkreport

Interesting. I think its also people who: 1)can't drive (can't afford the car or the parking, etc.), and/or 2)are just dedicated, for what ever motivation, to bike instead of drive, and have the personality to persevere in the face of bad conditions.

Good point. And "cyclist" populations vary by neighborhood to neighborhood. I think there's a bit of a "Three Blind Men & An Elephant" aspect to the question "Who Are Cyclists?"

At the beginning of my commute, the cyclists I pass are as likely to be older black guys 'salmoning' on beater bikes with fishing poles as middle-class white commuter types. In the middle of my commute, it's "utility cyclists" and Lycra-clad patheletes on expensive road bikes. And at the end of my commute, it's almost exclusively Hispanic men on cheap mountain bikes.

So when people exhort WABA (or LAB, or individual cyclists who post on GGW) to "get the bad apples under control!" the ridiculousness of that request is readily apparent. Sub-populations vary according to the local environment, but a "cyclist" is a person on a bike.

by oboe on Jun 28, 2013 11:58 am • linkreport

there are also so many times when biking is just easier than driving.

by Tina on Jun 28, 2013 12:03 pm • linkreport

I find it astonishing that a police officer wrote a moving violation ticket based solely upon an interested party's say-so. I thought they had a policy against doing that.

by Crickey7 on Jun 28, 2013 12:04 pm • linkreport

So when people exhort WABA (or LAB, or individual cyclists who post on GGW) to "get the bad apples under control!" the ridiculousness of that request is readily apparent. Sub-populations vary according to the local environment, but a "cyclist" is a person on a bike.

I'm curious as to what led to your change in perception of the cyclist community given that you have said that "I get the sense that folks who behave like assholes while riding bikes on sidewalks would be susceptible to a public education campaign."

http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post/10269/many-drivers-and-cyclists-still-need-some-education/

If people who ride on sidewalks might be susceptible to a public education campaign then why not people who run red lights?

by Scoot on Jun 28, 2013 12:06 pm • linkreport

Tina, I don't disagree. I was not speaking of ALL cyclists. I'm just saying that when cycling is considered "other" than the people who don't care about rules or are attracted to breaking them will make up a larger percentage of the cycling population than of the general population. There will still be cyclists who ride for other reasons and in other ways.

by David C on Jun 28, 2013 12:15 pm • linkreport

And what are the anti-cyclists on this thread doing to get the "bad apple" motorists under control?

by Fred on Jun 28, 2013 12:17 pm • linkreport

@Scoot,

Wow, I'm flattered--have you got all of my sage musings collated in a kind of lexis/nexus somewhere?

One could argue that folks who ride on the sidewalk (in areas congested with pedestrians, in a way that endangers those pedestrians) are a subset of cyclists. They seem to be a pretty small one--though they have an outsized impact. So conceivably it would be easy to have a targeted campaign to "slow down for peds" or "ride in the street" or what have you. Trying to create a campaign to get the full, diverse population of "people on bikes" to "stop behaving badly" seems a much heavier lift.

Anyway, having spent the last couple of years commuting on the stretch of the Mt Vernon trail between 14th Street Bridge and the Four Mile Run trail, I'm a lot less optimistic about the effects of education cammpaigns. And furthermore, it was just "a sense"--ask me again in *another* two years and I'll probably have a different opinion. :)

by oboe on Jun 28, 2013 12:18 pm • linkreport

@David C- I'm gonna think about that for a while. thanks!

by Tina on Jun 28, 2013 12:23 pm • linkreport

Wow, I'm flattered--have you got all of my sage musings collated in a kind of lexis/nexus somewhere?

Ha!

by Tina on Jun 28, 2013 12:25 pm • linkreport

@Scoot'
Posted speed limits are not suggestions, they are actually legal limits. That is why it is called a speed limit and not a speed suggestion.'

They are the high end speed limits for cars under ideal weather conditions. That's why you can still get a speeding ticket if you're involved for example in an accident during a rain storm and were driving too fast for conditions even if you were under the posted speed limit. [Deleted for violating the comment policy.]

by A neighbor on Jun 28, 2013 12:26 pm • linkreport

re: sidewalk riders who endanger peds: i don't think its even the same people all the time (a defined sub-population). I think it may be something like x/all-bikers, who do it 1 time.

but maybe the prevalence also include the same people all the time

by Tina on Jun 28, 2013 12:33 pm • linkreport

^ strike that -I don't ever ride on the Mt Vernon trail, the sample you're referring to

by Tina on Jun 28, 2013 12:34 pm • linkreport

Neighbor,

It was sunny in the video. What then? Did the police mess up in not citing for speed?

by drumz on Jun 28, 2013 12:37 pm • linkreport

They are the high end speed limits for cars under ideal weather conditions. That's why you can still get a speeding ticket if you're involved for example in an accident during a rain storm and were driving too fast for conditions even if you were under the posted speed limit.

Sure, but your logic does not follow. Just because you can get a ticket for riding under the speed limit does not mean that the speed limit is a suggestion. You can also get a ticket for riding over the speed limit even though conditions warrant it.

by Scoot on Jun 28, 2013 12:43 pm • linkreport

Wow, I'm flattered--have you got all of my sage musings collated in a kind of lexis/nexus somewhere?

@ Oboe

Yes, it's called Google.

Trying to create a campaign to get the full, diverse population of "people on bikes" to "stop behaving badly" seems a much heavier lift.

Actually, I asked whether the public might be susceptible to a public education campaign encouraging them not to run red lights, not a public education campaign to stop behaving badly entirely.

by Scoot on Jun 28, 2013 12:47 pm • linkreport

Scoot, the posted speed limit is theoretically the fastest safe speed that the road was built to permit for cars. It doesn't follow that conditions will ever permit operating safely over that posted speed limit.

by A neighbor on Jun 28, 2013 12:51 pm • linkreport

Scoot, the posted speed limit is theoretically the fastest safe speed that the road was built to permit for cars. It doesn't follow that conditions will ever permit operating safely over that posted speed limit.

Huh? I suspect there may be some flaws in the driver education system if people are being taught that speed limits are nothing more than suggestions. I guess this is a good rationale for being more careful on District roads - if people don't seem to know the definition of a speed limit then I question what other, more nuanced rules they also don't know of.

by Scoot on Jun 28, 2013 1:00 pm • linkreport

Scott, you're playing with words while the rest of us are discussing a pretty serious issue. The posted limit is considered suggested under the law because it is the highest possible safe speed. Maybe I should have said it is a conditional speed limit? Would that have bettered conveyed the idea?

by A neighbor on Jun 28, 2013 1:45 pm • linkreport

I just received an response from MPD to the email I sent yesterday. In my email I sent them a link to and summary of this post, expressed my concerns and asked whether Officer Carter received any punishment or further education based on his handling of this case and what the department as a whole is doing to address its apparent problems with discriminatory treatment of bicyclists. Here's what I got back from them:

Thank you for the e-mail. The Metropolitan Police Department takes bicycle safety very seriously and we have undertaken a number of efforts to address both our training and response to collisions involving bicycles. Over the past few years, we have worked with DDOT (District Department of Transportation), Bicycle Advisory Council (BAC), Pedestrian Advisory Council (PAC) and WABA (Washington Area Bicyclist Association) to revise our training, which has been taken by all officers.

All of our members have either received or have access to a "Guide to DC Bike Laws", which was produced by these three organizations and is designed to help inform both cyclists and law enforcement officers of the rights and responsibilities of cyclists on DC streets. Additionally, we have revised our policies to ensure that injured bicyclists are interviewed prior to making a determination of violation. The training is detailed and includes videos of real life hazards faced by motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians in negotiating the streets together.

The MPD will continue to work with our partners to strengthen our training, awareness and response to bicycle related collisions, and we are encouraged to see the expansion in bike lanes and the increasing numbers of people using this mode of transportation. We thank you for your comments and assure you that we will continue to work improve the safety of bicyclists, motorists and pedestrians alike.

Customer Service - Metropolitan Police Department

by JB on Jun 28, 2013 1:51 pm • linkreport

Maybe I should have said it is a conditional speed limit?

What were the conditions here that demanded that Zach be going much slower than 25MPH?

/aside: when you're going 25mph on a bike you can really feel it. You're very aware of how fast you're going vs. going 25 in a car.

by drumz on Jun 28, 2013 1:53 pm • linkreport

Sounds like all this could have been avoided had your driver done the proper thing which is once the car in front of you passed, to then look again and make sure there was enough space to make the left turn safely. Sometimes I've been waiting to turn left in this situation and it turned out there was a smaller car approaching behind the bigger one I was waiting for!! I will certainly keep all this in mind when I make future left turns while driving.

by Dave on Jun 28, 2013 1:55 pm • linkreport

Thump,

The key words on the report are the part is which all northbound traffic had stopped to allow the person to make their turn.

I live around this portion of Queens Chapel and the Northbound traffic gets very jammed up during rush hour, making. There are no lights here, so people trying to make a left had turn have to wait until the two lanes of stuck northbound traffic open up a lane to allow the driver to complete their turn.

If all lanes of traffic come to a stop, it is for a reason, and that means the people in the bicycle lane must also yield the proper right of way because, at that point and time, it has become an west to east lane to temporarily allow the vehicle to complete the turn and pass. Once the vehicle has driven through it returns to being north going lanes.

If such were not allowed during stop and go traffic rush hour traffic, then no one would be able to make turns there.

by Ray B on Jun 28, 2013 2:02 pm • linkreport

"Speed = 23.04514 miles per hour.

I would not call this speeding on a 25 mph road. I would call this going the speed of traffic."

Around here, that would be obstructing traffic.

by dr2chase on Jun 28, 2013 2:04 pm • linkreport

I don't live in DC (but visit AND bike there often). Perhaps not so much in DC, but here I am amazed at all the pedestrians and bicyclists who do not understand that the right of way rules apply to them too, so they will do unpredictable things including biking the wrong way. Sometimes they will not proceed when they should, in which case I will wait for them and wave them on. I have had some pedestrians start to cross at walk lights right when THEY have gotten a stop signal, and my crossing motor traffic has just gotten a green light - in which case they earn a well-deserved HONK and no-no index finger wave from me (I don't like doing this, but I don't want them to get run down by me or other cars).

by Dave on Jun 28, 2013 2:06 pm • linkreport

Drumz 'What were the conditions here that demanded that Zach be going much slower than 25MPH?'

There were a lot of many ton vehicles operating around him, any of which could at any moment be making an unexpected move. Speeding is when you don't have enough control over your vehicle to even attempt to avoid a collision from one of these expected moves. From the tape, Zach didn't have enough control over his vehicle to make any attempt to avoid the collision. He didn't brake, and he didn't try to go around the vehicle. Why? Because he didn't have time to do any action. Because he was speeding.

by A neighbor on Jun 28, 2013 2:08 pm • linkreport

@a neighbor

Keep up the excellent trolling. We are almost at 300 comments. I wonder what the GGW record is?

by beehive biker on Jun 28, 2013 2:11 pm • linkreport

So if you're rear ended and you never braked to avoid the collision that means you were speeding?

Really? the definition of speeding relies on "could you brake?" There's never a situation where there is literally no time to brake? And you can see his hands grasp the brake on the bike? That's preposterous, because it again puts all the blame on zach when its clear that he had the right of way, ability to react or no.

by drumz on Jun 28, 2013 2:13 pm • linkreport

A Neighbor, would someone operating an automobile at 23 mph under those precise road/weather/time conditions have been "speeding" in your view?

by Zach T on Jun 28, 2013 2:25 pm • linkreport

No, it doesn't put all the blame on Zach, and it doesn't even put some of the blame on Zach. The driver was clearly in the wrong and eventually charged and paid Zach for his damages. But that doesn't negate the fact that Zach could have compensated for and reacted to this other person's negligence had he been moving at a slower rate of speed. And he wasn't the only bicyclist taking that hill as if they had all the protection of someone sitting in a many ton steel car. Look toward the end of the clip and there's someone on a bike descending that hill at an even greater clip than Zach did. Not smart.

by A neighbor on Jun 28, 2013 2:26 pm • linkreport

A: I don't know how you can judge all that based on the video and

B: But that doesn't negate the fact that Zach could have compensated for and reacted to this other person's negligence had he been moving at a slower rate of speed I don't know what you expect reasonable cyclists to do. Ensure they only ride at 15mph? Not ride at all? Read driver's minds to anticipate when they'll turn? Based on what you're saying the only solutions I can come up with is to not ride at all. Which is ridiculous.

by drumz on Jun 28, 2013 2:31 pm • linkreport

@A neighbor, you're outnumbered and not convincing anyone else. We know, you think Zach is at fault for causing the crash by riding too fast and for being there in the first place (on the road, utilitarian biking during peak hours-something no one should ever do).

Fortunately this is a minority view on both points, not just among commentors on this blog but within our written public aims and laws where increasing proportion of biking for utilitarian purposes is our stated policy and Zach was vindicated in the system. Next up: whine about the music kids listen to these days!

by Tina on Jun 28, 2013 2:32 pm • linkreport

Zach, No, someone sitting in a car at that speed is in a far more protected position than you were in. I'm sorry this happened to you but I hope you bring away from this that being legally right isn't enough. I'd hope you'd take this opportunity to warn fellow bikers about the dangers of unexpected moves from drivers and what they can do to compensate for these moves instead of concentrating on affixing blame.

by A neighbor on Jun 28, 2013 2:32 pm • linkreport

@Ray B: If all lanes of traffic come to a stop, it is for a reason, and that means the people in the bicycle lane must also yield the proper right of way because, at that point and time, it has become an west to east lane to temporarily allow the vehicle to complete the turn and pass.

You may be citing a custom that has evolved among drivers attempting to show a reciprocol consideration, but you overstate the case to say that cyclists must also yield. Maryland law simply has no provision requiring people in a bike lane to stop when traffic in other lanes has stopped. To the contrary, the driver of a left turning vehicle has the duty to check every lane to ensure that it is clear.

When informal courtesies evolve among drivers, they do not necessarily include cyclists--especially isolated cyclists. After all, the bike lane isn't jammed full of traffic, so the whole premise for why cars stop to permit the left turn does not apply to the bike lane anyway. This is just a case of autos treating bikes the way trucks treat everybody.

Moreover, had only one auto lane stopped, while traffic in the other did not stop, do you seriously think that in a collison of motor vehicles the left-turning vehicle has right of way over the left turning vehicles?

One might quibble over whether the cyclist is contributorily negligent for now slowing down when the other traffic stops. But that is for a jury in a civil case to decide, not for a police officer.

by JimT on Jun 28, 2013 2:36 pm • linkreport

instead of concentrating on affixing blame.

Because justice has no meaning? Fortunately you're in the minority on this too. Most people think "affixing blame" is an important part of living in a civilized society when one persons actions harm another.

by Tina on Jun 28, 2013 2:37 pm • linkreport

But that doesn't negate the fact that Zach could have compensated for and reacted to this other person's negligence had he been moving at a slower rate of speed.

Which is nice, but utterly irrelevant. Zach could've avoided injury if he wasn't biking at all, too.

What about this guy? http://herndon.patch.com/groups/police-and-fire/p/cyclist-shot-in-herndon-by-stray-bullet

Could he have compensated for someone else's negligence by moving at a slower rate of speed?

And he wasn't the only bicyclist taking that hill as if they had all the protection of someone sitting in a many ton steel car.

The guy in Herndon was riding on a trail as if he wasn't expected to get shot in the stomach. Riding as if he had all the protection of someone sitting in an armored vehicle!

by Alex B. on Jun 28, 2013 2:37 pm • linkreport

"I'd hope you'd take this opportunity to warn fellow bikers about the dangers of unexpected moves from drivers..."

Thanks for the comic interlude. I think we're done here.

by oboe on Jun 28, 2013 2:40 pm • linkreport

Drumz,

No, there are many other alternatives other than 'not ride'.

You can chose another route with less cars. ride on the sidewalk (very slowly), demand a cycle track be built giving the same north south access (oh wait, there IS one a block to the west). or maybe (which is what I would do) ride down that road at half the speed of the cars so that you can anticipate and react to all errant moves by drivers.

by A neighbor on Jun 28, 2013 2:42 pm • linkreport

@a neighbor

You keep stating that the posted speed limit is for cars and that other vehicles must account for the specific physics of their vehicle. Thus, the speed limit is different for motorcycles, trucks, bikes, etc.

Please provide a citation or link that supports this assertion. If you can't I think we should all agree that Zach was not speeding.

As for accounting for weather variables, it is true that vehicle operators, bikers and drivers, have to account for poor environmental conditions and adjust their speed accordingly. But there is no requirement mandating that the operator of the vehicle take the specific physics of their vehicle into account to comply with the speed limit.

by beehive biker on Jun 28, 2013 2:43 pm • linkreport

I'd hope you'd take this opportunity to warn fellow bikers about the dangers of unexpected moves from drivers and what they can do to compensate for these moves instead of concentrating on affixing blame.

A: "affixing blame" is the reason most places mandate that drivers have insurance. To figure out who is to blame in accidents.

B: we're all well aware of people pulling out in front of us because they aren't paying attention or make a bad judgment. That's not at issue, what's at issue was the hoops zach had to jump through to get justice on this matter all apparently because it was assumed that as the cyclist he was the one doing something wrong (in this case, running a red light, not speeding).

by drumz on Jun 28, 2013 2:44 pm • linkreport

You can chose another route with less cars. ride on the sidewalk (very slowly), demand a cycle track be built giving the same north south access (oh wait, there IS one a block to the west). or maybe (which is what I would do) ride down that road at half the speed of the cars so that you can anticipate and react to all errant moves by drivers.

Or you can just ride down the street of your choosing, well within the conditions set by the law and not worry about people who can declare one's speed "too fast" without any evidence and thus determine that the cyclist must bear an equal burden to all others.

by drumz on Jun 28, 2013 2:49 pm • linkreport

a cycle track be built giving the same north south access (oh wait, there IS one a block to the west)

No there isn't-[deleted] .

by Tina on Jun 28, 2013 2:49 pm • linkreport

@ A neighbor,

Your definition of "speeding" seems to refer to a speed too fast to maintain control of the vehicle. Albeit earnest, that definition is not conventional.

Conventionally, the term "speeding" refers to exceeding the legal limit. Sometimes the limit happens to coincide with the highest safe speed, and sometimes not. Often people are not able to judge the safe speed for given road conditions, which is why legal limits are set in the first place.

In this case I agree with you that the cyclist was probably traveling too fast. But assuming that he was traveling below the legal limit, as law enforcement, judicial bodies and insurance companies are concerned he was not speeding.

by Scoot on Jun 28, 2013 2:51 pm • linkreport

A Neighbor, rather than get into the technical details, the stopping distance for a car at 10 mph is approximately 45 feet. For a bike it is somewhat less. In this case the distance available was about 15 feet. I think we can all agree that traveling at 5 mph or 10 mph or even 15 mph is quite reasonable. All would have resulted in a collision.

Every choice, every day has risks and benefits attached. Riding 10-15 miles less than the speed of traffic is safe and quite reasonable.

I have seen all kinds of people make crazy road decisions regardless of their mode (bike, bus, ped, car, truck, etc). Under almost all circumstances I have been able, through care and experience to compensate. This was not a regular maneuver. It was the scariest and most dangerous thing I have seen a driver do in my thousands of miles of city biking and 10s of thousands of miles of car driving. This is the sort of reckless and crazy maneuver that any reasonable amount of defensive driving, anticipation, caution, or foresight can prevent.

I can't speak for others, but to me it feels like you are saying a direct variant of "yeah but you were wearing a short skirt." I will assume the best, that you haven't quite processed it through, got caught in the heat of the moment (easy on the internet!), or had some other experiences that strongly color your view of this one. I do ask you though, to please just stop for a minute, take a deep breath, and consider your approach.

by Zach T on Jun 28, 2013 2:52 pm • linkreport

Whoops, that should read: "This was not a regular maneuver. It was the scariest and most dangerous thing I have seen a driver do in my thousands of miles of city biking and 10s of thousands of miles of car driving. This is the sort of reckless and crazy maneuver that *no* reasonable amount of defensive driving, anticipation, caution, or foresight can prevent."

by Zach T on Jun 28, 2013 2:56 pm • linkreport

Take the time to count the time it takes for a car to cross the screen. It's about 4 seconds... guess how much time it takes the cyclist in the video to impact the car on the left side of the screen? About 4 seconds... your perception of the cyclists' speed is affected by the size of the vehicle covering the distance. The cyclist was going with the flow/speed of traffic in this instance. Being smaller doesn't suddenly change the velocity of an object... and significantly reduces inertia. To anyone saying a cyclist doesn't have the stopping power of a vehicle... Newton's laws would like to talk with you.

by valarissa on Jun 28, 2013 2:59 pm • linkreport

Also, as noted, there is no north-south bike lane 1 block west (or east, depending on your orientation) of 14th and W. To be precise the 2-way bike lane begins at 15th and V, one block south and a block over. 14th St needs a bike lane to extend to Columbia Heights, but unfortunately even if there were a bike lane this crash may not have been avoided. But on its face I appreciate your support for bike lanes and I'm sure others do too.

by Scoot on Jun 28, 2013 3:00 pm • linkreport

a cycle track be built giving the same north south access (oh wait, there IS one a block to the west)

No one should ride a bike until there are bike facilities but why are we building bike facilities if no one is riding bikes?! Besides, 14th has bike lanes though going down a big hill like that it may be advisable to take the car lane, or something could have blocked the bike lane, or no reason at all and just because.

You can chose another route with less cars.
And those streets are where in central DC?

ride on the sidewalk (very slowly)

So, just walk instead. Also research has indicated that being on the sidewalk can be more dangerous, not less.

or maybe (which is what I would do) ride down that road at half the speed of the cars so that you can anticipate and react to all errant moves by drivers.

Again, you're reducing to absurdity. The only safe speed is that which you can predict everything. Meanwhile going half speed encourages cars to pass you which is also dangerous.

by drumz on Jun 28, 2013 3:02 pm • linkreport

My mistake, no bike lane on 14th at that part either. My point stands, you're much better off staying in the lane going downhill like that than on the sidewalk.

by drumz on Jun 28, 2013 3:06 pm • linkreport

@Scoot -the northern terminus of the southbound 15th St cycle track is U st. North of U its all northbound bike trffic

by Tina on Jun 28, 2013 3:08 pm • linkreport

^ and the northbound bike lane/s on 15th St end at Harvard/the north side of Malcom X, IIRC.

by Tina on Jun 28, 2013 3:15 pm • linkreport

@A neigbor, @ drumz, @Tina et al

The actual nature of Neighbor's suggestions is not off-base, though instead of thoughtful rebuttal I see more sarcasm and derision in the responses.

As a cyclist who rides this route regularly, I would support taking a route that is simply less dangerous, but there aren't many good options. In this part of town you're unlikely to find a road with hardly any cars unless you ride through alleys or other circuitous routes.

I also support the notion of taking a street with a bike lane over one that doesn't have one. Surely I'm not alone in this. I also support the notion of slowing down sometimes.

But realistically speaking, Neighbor, 14th St is a very direct north-south route, is wide and generally has good visibility for cyclists. Riding on the sidewalk is not a very good idea due to the construction obstacles currently there. There is a bike lane on 15th St but it requires "salmoning" (going the wrong way) which in my opinion is not dangerous on this particular lane, but is not necessarily a good habit either.

Without traveling significantly out of the way, there are probably not too many safer routes. 13th St is not bad, but still suffers from many of the same problems as 14th St, with fewer of the advantages. 11th St has a decent bike lane, but is not perfect either.

by Scoot on Jun 28, 2013 3:22 pm • linkreport

...research has indicated that being on the sidewalk can be more dangerous, not less, [than riding on a Rd such as 14th ST NW between Columbia and W].

These persistent assertions are not motivated by a desire for increased safety for bikers. They are motivated by a feeling that bikes are not a legitimate form of transportation, that normal people don't ride bikes and bikes should not be on the road. All three of these sentiments have been explicitly conveyed in this thread by @A Neighbor.

by Tina on Jun 28, 2013 3:22 pm • linkreport

The actual nature of Neighbor's suggestions is not off-base, though instead of thoughtful rebuttal I see more sarcasm and derision in the responses.

The suggestions come from a place that assume that cyclists must have more responsibility than other users (otherwise why have ridiculous assertions about the nature of speed limits and braking distance). To get reasonable responses one must be providing reasonable arguments.

To bring this back to the subject and not focus on tone or arguments about rhetoric. Zach didn't do anything ill-advised much less anything illegal that would put him at fault in the collision. I don't see how one could reasonably claim otherwise.

by drumz on Jun 28, 2013 3:35 pm • linkreport

Tina, I think you missed my posting where I gave riding on the sidewalk (slowly) as a good alternative to racing down 14th Street. So, I don't follow how not riding the sidewalk is my sentiment.. Also, yes there's a cycle track one block west of 14th. It's on 15th and starts a mere couple blocks from where this accident occurred.

by A neighbor on Jun 28, 2013 3:36 pm • linkreport

@ drumz

A neighbor's arguments are reasoned, they are just not that informed. It's at least an earnest attempt to engage in a discussion.

I think in some cases cyclists do have more responsibility than other users, given that we are more vulnerable in the first place and often need to do more (be more visible, ride more predictably, etc) than other road users. It shouldn't be that way, but often it must be to keep ourselves safe. Right now we just can't fully trust other drivers and law enforcement to keep ourselves safe - as drivers have the luxury of doing - so some of the responsibility must lie with us.

by Scoot on Jun 28, 2013 3:49 pm • linkreport

I think you missed my posting where I gave riding on the sidewalk (slowly) as a good alternative to racing down 14th Street.

it's not a "good" alternative. It's a false one. Your assumption is all bikers on 14th street are "racing." To you, that means cyclists should go slow, and out of the way of cars. One a sidewalk, which puts both cyclists and pedestrians at an unnecessarily increased risk of collision. Plus, as was pointed out by Scoot: 14th St is a very direct north-south route, is wide and generally has good visibility for cyclists. Riding on the sidewalk is not a very good idea due to the construction obstacles currently there.

Therefore, riding on the sidewalk is not an option at all.

there's a cycle track one block west of 14th. It's on 15th and starts a mere couple blocks from where this accident occurred.

And Scoot also pointed out: it requires "salmoning" (going the wrong way) which in my opinion is not dangerous on this particular lane, but is not necessarily a good habit either.

I will quote Scoot one more time, as he knows what he's talking about:
Without traveling significantly out of the way, there are probably not too many safer routes. 13th St is not bad, but still suffers from many of the same problems as 14th St, with fewer of the advantages. 11th St has a decent bike lane, but is not perfect either.

Where do you want cyclists to go? Besides into cars, like "normal" people?

by Birdie on Jun 28, 2013 3:52 pm • linkreport

Zach, if the stopping distance for a car going 10 mph were 45 foot this city would be deluged with pedestrians and bicyclists 'down'. Not to speak of shopping center parking lots around the country. I appreciate you may actually believe there would have been no value in slowing to maybe half the speed of the car traffic in that street, but I have to disagree with you on that. As both a driver and a bicyclist I know giving myself more time to react is crucial, especially if you're operating a vehicle where 'gunning it' is not available and your only two options for avoiding someone else's error is to either stop or maneuver around it. Key me ask you a question and please think about it before answering it. When you take that hill now, do you ride any slower than you were riding that day?

by A neighbor on Jun 28, 2013 3:54 pm • linkreport

Reasoned until we're past the point of informing over and over again.

Anyway, I ride defensively and cautiously as well because I know the stakes. But as you say, it shouldn't be that way. Some people think it should but I think its folly to lets those arguments be valid until the magical day when things are alright.

In this case I think cyclists are better off talking the talk even before they can walk (or ride, in this case).

by drumz on Jun 28, 2013 3:54 pm • linkreport

*let me ask you a question

by A neighbor on Jun 28, 2013 3:55 pm • linkreport

So its not just cyclists who should look at the speed limit and immediately ride at half that but drivers as well? I can live with that. Doesn't change the facts of the case though.

by drumz on Jun 28, 2013 3:58 pm • linkreport

@A neighbor -riding a bike on a sidewalk is not a good alternative to riding on a road.

Please read this publicly available study before once again suggesting riding on a sidewalk is a good alternative to riding in the road:

Route Infrastructure and the Risk of Injuries to
Bicyclists: A Case-Crossover Study. December 2012, Vol 102, No. 12 | American Journal of Public Health

Yes, the terminus of the southbound 15th St cycle track is at U ST. (Zach obviously started his trip north of there since he was southbound when the crash occurred north of U St...) I guess he could have asked Scotty to beam him and his bike directly to that terminus.

Again, I am reminded of the Ideal Cyclist, and your response:

@Tina, invest in a car or use the bus or Metro like the rest of us. Next we'll be hearing from the skate boarders and j[o]ggers who think it's okay to do their thing on the public roads.

by A neighbor on Jun 27, 2013 4:53 pm

by Tina on Jun 28, 2013 4:01 pm • linkreport

@Neighbor

Because there is no dedicated lane on 14th St, riding much slower often means drivers will come up behind you and pass you on the left, sometimes dangerously. Like I said before, riding on the sidewalk is not that feasible. If it were I'd bet you'd see more people doing it.

I hate to ride 20+ mph on a CaBi bike with no helmet, but even at that speed the drivers are racing past me - and who would blame them? That's how the street was designed and there is no enforcement of the legal limit. I think despite the various guesses and predictions about the circumstances of the crash itself, the original article is mainly focused on the police response. And that was indeed a very poor response. Had it involved a member of the Council, you can be sure there would be a big internal review of MPD procedures.

by Scoot on Jun 28, 2013 4:07 pm • linkreport

@Drumz 'So its not just cyclists who should look at the speed limit and immediately ride at half that but drivers as well? I can live with that.'

Bicyclists are both more vulnerable and less visible on a road during rush hour. Both are good reasons why the onus is in the bicyclist to slow down, stay to the right , and take great care about all the many ton vehicles around them. Do you agree or do you think just 'being in the right' is enough to counter these harsh realities?

by A neighbor on Jun 28, 2013 4:07 pm • linkreport

So its not just cyclists who should look at the speed limit and immediately ride at half that but drivers as well? I can live with that. Doesn't change the facts of the case though.

Exactly. If the video had shown Zach being "doored", the exact same silly arguments would be thrown out. But the solution there would be to ride outside of the door zone, not to "go slower". Bottom line is this sort of collision is feared by cyclists because going "slower" doesn't address it. You could be riding at a walking pace and still be run over by a left-turning driver who doesn't bother to check for any non-car or truck traffic. (Motorcyclists are commonly subject to this kind of collision as well. I guess they should be on the sidewalk or doing 10 mph as well.)

by oboe on Jun 28, 2013 4:09 pm • linkreport

No, I think its the responsibility of those piloting multi-ton vehicles capable of easily going over 100 mph to recognize that they're in a city with many modes of transportation and operate with due care and according to the law that was primarily written for driver's benefit.

As a cyclist, I'll do my part to keep myself safe. Drivers should do theirs.

by drumz on Jun 28, 2013 4:09 pm • linkreport

As both a driver and a bicyclist

invest in a car or use the bus or Metro like the rest of us

How can both statements be true?

by Tina on Jun 28, 2013 4:10 pm • linkreport

@A neighbor -- bicyclists are vulnerable, therefore the onus is on the bicyclist to not get hurt? Please see oboe's rape culture comment, here:

http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post/19284/it-must-have-been-your-fault-cmon-you-are-a-biker/#comment-190427

by Miriam on Jun 28, 2013 4:12 pm • linkreport

Both are good reasons why the onus is in the bicyclist to slow down, stay to the right , and take great care about all the many ton vehicles around them. Do you agree or do you think just 'being in the right' is enough to counter these harsh realities?

More terrible advice--I'm assuming you either don't ride, or have very little experience riding in an (sub)urban environment.

Cyclist should take the lane, and that positioning allows them to ignore "all the many ton vehicles around them" and focus on the one or two that matter. Get a good strobe light and run with it during daylight as well as night time. Again, speed is a complete non-factor in this type of collision. You could be doing 5 mph; you could be doing 25 mph. An inattentive driver can run you down in either case just as easily. Visibility is the key here. This has been known to motorcyclists for a long time now.

(My point in responding is just to correct the misinformation in case there are other neophyte cyclists who might be taken in. In the interest of safety, it's important that correct information get out there. Not uninformed speculation.)

by oboe on Jun 28, 2013 4:15 pm • linkreport

you could be riding at a walking pace and still be run over by a left-turning driver who doesn't bother to check for any non-car or truck traffic. (Motorcyclists are commonly subject to this kind of collision as well.

As are pedestrians!!

by Tina on Jun 28, 2013 4:20 pm • linkreport

Scoot, thanks for your explanation at 4:07 but I think you're wrong about your assumption on the cop. I think mistakes can and do happen everywhere including the woman driver not seeing Zach and including the cop going solely on the eyewitness account from the disinterested bystander. No one's perfect and the best defense is a good offense which is why the only thing I've been saying all along is that while Zach is not at all at fault, some defensive riding is required by the bicyclists making more and more use of the streets. Running red lights and stop signs and doing crazy things like that 'Bike Ride DC' where street closures aren't pre-arranged have to stop. Safe roads aren't just the responsibility of drivers and the police. Anyone using these roads, including bicyclists, share a responsibility in keeping them safe. Pointing figures at those few who ARE trying to keep them safe (an officer doing his job in this case) is more than a bit hypocritical and laughable. Sadly.

by A neighbor on Jun 28, 2013 4:21 pm • linkreport

@Tina,

As are pedestrians!!

Walk slower!

by oboe on Jun 28, 2013 4:22 pm • linkreport

anyone sincerely concerned about cyclists safety would NEVER suggest: bicyclist stay to the right .

Clearly, @A neighbor, you are advocating the philosophy of "might makes right".

by Tina on Jun 28, 2013 4:26 pm • linkreport

Pointing figures at those few who ARE trying to keep them safe (an officer doing his job in this case) is more than a bit hypocritical and laughable.

Begging the question.

The criticism stems from the fact that this incident fits into an established pattern of public safety officials *not* doing their jobs. Tina raises a good point: if this driver had made the left turn into the driveway and run over a woman pushing a stroller, and the responding officer had brushed it off, would the response have been the same? I'm curious why or why not?

After all, sure the driver made a mistake, but doesn't the woman on the sidewalk have an even higher responsibility to avoid left-turning autos, since she's a) more vulnerable, and b) potentially has a greater awareness of the situation?

by oboe on Jun 28, 2013 4:26 pm • linkreport

I think mistakes can and do happen everywhere including the woman driver not seeing Zach and including the cop going solely on the eyewitness account from the disinterested bystander.

True, but that doesn't excuse one from consequences. And our insurance/justice system is there to ensure that its clear who is responsible in an accident.

I've been saying all along is that while Zach is not at all at fault, some defensive riding is required by the bicyclists making more and more use of the streets.

Again, the only response that I've heard so far is to ride slower but I think its reasonable to assume that one must be pretty much riding at near 0mph in order to avoid this. Making that suggestion unreasonable after all.

Safe roads aren't just the responsibility of drivers and the police. Anyone using these roads, including bicyclists, share a responsibility in keeping them safe.

Most cyclists are responsible. Certainly in this case there is no irresponsibility.

Pointing figures at those few who ARE trying to keep them safe (an officer doing his job in this case) is more than a bit hypocritical and laughable.

Nope, the police were as much a hindrance here as a help. If you have to FOIA for camera footage for your own accident that the police refused to view and then have the gall to assume fault on the cyclist because cyclists are always at fault that warrants calling out, otherwise the police won't get better at protecting those most vulnerable on the streets.

by drumz on Jun 28, 2013 4:26 pm • linkreport

the only thing I've been saying all along is that while Zach is not at all at fault, some defensive riding is required by the bicyclists making more and more use of the streets.

Unless there are two commentors using the name @A neighbor, there are plenty of your own words contradicting this assertion.

Once again: @Tina, invest in a car or use the bus or Metro like the rest of us. Next we'll be hearing from the skate boarders and j[o]ggers who think it's okay to do their thing on the public roads.

Are you backing off this statement now?

Do you now accept bicycles as legitimate modes of transportation that normal people choose, for utilitarian purposes, and that to do so requires riding in the road with automobiles?

by Tina on Jun 28, 2013 4:32 pm • linkreport

I think mistakes can and do happen everywhere including the woman driver not seeing Zach

..."woman driver"?

by Miriam on Jun 28, 2013 4:32 pm • linkreport

' if this driver had made the left turn into the driveway and run over a woman pushing a stroller, and the responding officer had brushed it off, would the response have been the same? I'm curious why or why not'

If the woman with the stroller had been pushing that thing fast enough to crash it into the side of he car and hurt the baby, I think general reaction would have been AGAINST the woman pushing the stroller into a vehicle which had already taken their of way. I'm sure you meant a situation where the stroller got broadsided, but that is not analogically the same as which happened here.

by A neighbor on Jun 28, 2013 4:32 pm • linkreport

Actually, Neighbor - Zach explains pretty clearly the rigamarole he had to endure just to clear his presumed guilt. He is quite lucky the camera happened to be pointed in the direction of the crash or else he'd face not only a ticket but also a lot of medical bills for a collision that legally speaking he probably bore no fault in actually causing (assuming that he was not speeding or breaking any other laws). Instead of the police protecting his innocence, it presumed his guilt and failed a number of its stated goals.

I agree that no one is perfect, but people have the capacity to improve. The MPD has the capacity, to say nothing of the responsibility, to improve significantly. The force needs MUCH more training and oversight in these types of crashes. I can't in good conscience indict the character of a single officer in this mess because he was most likely just doing what he been taught to do.

by Scoot on Jun 28, 2013 4:35 pm • linkreport

Yes, woman driver.

From above:

"I was left with the same question I had before: why did the driver turn? She claimed that I ran a red light, which meant she saw me but decided to turn anyway. Or maybe she didn't see me? I was wearing a bright orange jacket, and it wasn't very sunny or dark out. Maybe she had really bad vision, she didn't look, or wanted to hit me on purpose?"

by A neighbor on Jun 28, 2013 4:36 pm • linkreport

So someone failing to yield which cause someone to run into them is categorically different than someone failing to yield and running into someone?

by drumz on Jun 28, 2013 4:37 pm • linkreport

Scoot, I guess increased surveillance of the public does have its advantages. In times past all the cop could have gone on was the 3rd party bystander's version of events which was that Zach had run that light. Perhaps educating the cop (or rather ALL cops) about the availability of all these surveillance tapes is the way to go rather than chastising him for using a method (eye witness account from a disinterested party) which in times past was the best available means of 'getting to the facts' of an incident.

by A neighbor on Jun 28, 2013 4:43 pm • linkreport

I can forgive the officer for relying first on witness testimony.

It's harder to let him go for his refusal to consider the video evidence and then patronizing remarks to Zach when confronted with said evidence.

by drumz on Jun 28, 2013 4:45 pm • linkreport

@drumz, someone pushing a stroller through a curb cut at a gas station does not have the right of way over a car already in the middle of the road getting ready to enter that curb cut. Like I said 2 very different situations, bad analogy.

by A neighbor on Jun 28, 2013 4:46 pm • linkreport

@drumz, someone pushing a stroller through a curb cut at a gas station does not have the right of way over a car already in the middle of the road getting ready to enter that curb cut. Like I said 2 very different situations, bad analogy.

Citation please.

by Miriam on Jun 28, 2013 4:49 pm • linkreport

Drumz I agree that he should have been open to seeing the video. Alright, have a good weekend.. :)

by A neighbor on Jun 28, 2013 4:50 pm • linkreport

someone pushing a stroller through a curb cut at a gas station does not have the right of way over a car already in the middle of the road getting ready to enter that curb cut. Like I said 2 very different situations, bad analogy.

oh, you are so so so so wrong. See here: http://www.dc.gov/DC/DDOT/Publication%20Files/On%20Your%20Street/Bicycles%20and%20Pedestrians/bike-ped_traffic_reg_summary.pdf

Pedestrians have the right of way on the sidewalk. Parking on the sidewalk is
prohibited. When driving over the sidewalk at an alley or driveway, stop for
pedestrians.

by Birdie on Jun 28, 2013 4:50 pm • linkreport

Yes they do, it's an unmarked crosswalk. The law says a pedestrian shouldn't enter when a driver can't yield but in this instance the driver is stopped and looking for traffic to clear. This includes anyone in a crosswalk.

by drumz on Jun 28, 2013 4:51 pm • linkreport

350 plus comments in, two years after the fact, I am going to assume that it is now ok for me to post this.

I would just like to say that questioning the rate of speed is not, to me, a sign of trolling behavior.

What I mean is, it's ridiculous that we as cyclists have to stop in EXACTLY THE SAME WAY as cars at a stop sign. The Idaho stop is a fine substitute, in my opinion. Similarly, 22 miles per hour in a car is NOT the same thing as 22 MPH on a bicycle. The reason is that the car does not need as much room to come to a complete stop as a bicycle. Therefore, a lower rate of speed on a bicycle would be equivalent to 22 MPH in a car.

It's obligatorily boring for me to have to add: I still feel that the cyclist was in the right, in this case. And the driver clearly in the wrong.

by Jazzy on Jun 28, 2013 4:55 pm • linkreport

nvm, birdie's cite is more applicable.

by drumz on Jun 28, 2013 4:56 pm • linkreport

From Birdie's link:

http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd">
http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml">










by A neighbor on Jun 28, 2013 5:18 pm • linkreport

Meant to cut and paste:

"speed must be controlled to avoid colliding with any person or vehicle"

And in my example with the gas station curb cut and the stroller I am assuming the vehicle has already started its approach to the curb cut wherein the unmarked crosswalk lies. I'm assuming that because to cross 2 lanes of traffic first the driver would have had to already be 'on their way'. Different case from this one where the driver only had to step on the gas and make the turn to obstruct Zach's passage. In any case the point is that a baby getting run over is an unfair comparison to 'how the cop would have reacted'. I bet the cop wouldn't have acted similarly with Zach if Zach had been driving a car when the other driver turned in from of him.

by A neighbor on Jun 28, 2013 5:26 pm • linkreport

*would have acted similarly with Zach.

by A neighbor on Jun 28, 2013 5:28 pm • linkreport

If the woman with the stroller had been pushing that thing fast enough to crash it into the side of he car and hurt the baby, I think general reaction would have been AGAINST the woman pushing the stroller into a vehicle which had already taken their of way. I'm sure you meant a situation where the stroller got broadsided, but that is not analogically the same as which happened here.

Absolutely it's an analogous situation if the car pulls in front of a moving vehicle. Unless you're arguing that, had the driver arrived at the collision spot a split second later, the cyclist would've been absolved, and the driver completely to blame. Which seems like an exquisite case of hair-splitting.

by oboe on Jun 28, 2013 5:42 pm • linkreport

Oh, and regardless of how fast or how slow an oncoming cyclist is going, as a driver, I can put my vehicle in front of them and cause them to crash into me by turning left. Hell, if you're walking past me on the sidewalk, I can step in front of you and cause you to "crash" into me.

The logical endpoint to @A_neighbor's argument is that cyclists should not ride any faster than they could crash into the bumper of a stopped car without injury. And that's not an exaggeration.

by oboe on Jun 28, 2013 5:49 pm • linkreport

someone pushing a stroller through a curb cut at a gas station does not have the right of way over a car already in the middle of the road getting ready to enter that curb cut. Like I said 2 very different situations, bad analogy.

It seems to me this is dangerously misinformed. If there are actually adults who operate motor vehicles who believe things like this, it's no wonder we have the dangerous shared traffic environment we have.

Oh, well I suppose the pram-pusher had better speed up, or slow down, or stay right, or whatever...

by oboe on Jun 28, 2013 5:53 pm • linkreport

I'm astonished to see the AynRandian definition of "responsibility" so freely tossed around, namely that one is only responsible for one's own safety. That would have cyclists strapping IEDs onto their bikes, so as to make them deadlier to drivers, hence getting better behavior from "responsible" drivers.

Once upon a time, "responsibility" meant "to others". It's a driver's responsibility not to run into other things, especially unarmored humans. Choosing to drive a car is a fundamentally selfish and self-indulgent choice -- you conserve your own time, get to sit in a comfy chair, have climate control, a roof, and your choice of music. And in addition to all the goodies for you, you take a large hunk of public space, both in motion, and (often) when parked, and you impose a substantial risk on the public (and your car is noisy, raises dust, and has a number of other costs imposed on other people). There's no way that this is not selfish, and no way that this is not an imposition on other people.

Riding a bicycle is selfish in a tiny way -- you are, after all, saving a little time, and if you are in a collision with a pedestrian, your choice to ride a bicycle brings extra energy and momentum to the collision that otherwise would not be there. But compared to drivers, cyclists are safety experts -- per vehicle, about 15 times less likely to kill. This is hardly surprising; bikes are usually slower (speed kills), always lighter, can more easily miss pedestrians (they're not 6 feet wide, nor are they 12-16 feet long), they can more easily see (nothing to obstruct their vision) and they're not deaf (windows up, radio on, you're deaf). They can call out cautions that are more informative and eloquent than "HONK!"

I look forward to a day, when contributory negligence is discussed post-accident, when the driver is asked "did you really need to use a (dangerous) car for that trip? Wouldn't a bicycle have been adequate?" Because after all, the fact that a car was there at all contributed to the likelihood and severity of the accident -- if nothing else, it is a larger and more massive target for other people to hit.

by dr2chase on Jun 28, 2013 5:53 pm • linkreport

@drumz and Aneighbor: If by curb cut you mean the place where the sidewalk crosses the driveway, that is a sidewalk, not a crosswalk and the pedestrian has the right of way over all vehicles.

A neighbor: I think that you share the perspective of many drivers and are unusual primarily in that you are articulating legal assumptions that characterize how many people behave. I thought drivers who followed your guidelines just didn't "give a damn" but you seem to be articulating a very interesting and internally-consistent set of precepts

You are indeed a useful one-person focus group. I think that MD SHA could learn a lot by speaking with you.

Please email me so that I can put you in contact with the staff of MD SHA so that they can learn from you. I will protect your anonymity.

by JimT on Jun 28, 2013 6:07 pm • linkreport

Well since the officer said "but bikers always run red lights!" We can assume he would have treated Zach differently had he been in a car.

by drumz on Jun 28, 2013 6:46 pm • linkreport

Calling BS in that traffic camera footage. B. S.

by Guy on Jun 28, 2013 7:12 pm • linkreport

I know a little late, but why does the title say 'biker'? Last I checked bikers get dressed up in leather, ride motorcycles, and hang out in biker bars. True there's no good shorthand way of saying person on a bicycle, and there's a need for it, but biker is already taken. Just saying.

by A neighbor on Jun 29, 2013 11:11 am • linkreport

Cyclist.

by drumz on Jun 29, 2013 11:16 am • linkreport

Agreed. Cyclist is better.

by A neighbor on Jun 29, 2013 11:32 am • linkreport

Why are the culprit / perjurer and the supervisor / co-conspirator not named and shamed as well?

by anon654 on Jun 29, 2013 11:51 am • linkreport

Which is better....bicyclist or cyclist?

by DaveG on Jun 29, 2013 4:05 pm • linkreport

@DaveG Which is better....bicyclist or cyclist?

Probably depends on whether you're more comfortable riding a road bike or a hybrid.

by A neighbor on Jun 29, 2013 4:54 pm • linkreport

I agree with y'all that "cyclist" is clearer than "biker." The title,though, comes from the officer's quote.

by Zach T on Jun 29, 2013 5:25 pm • linkreport

"Calling BS in that traffic camera footage. B. S.

by Guy on Jun 28, 2013 7:12 pm"

Care to elaborate?

by anon234 on Jun 30, 2013 9:57 am • linkreport

Out of curiosity and a cyclist's interest, what kind of brakes were you using? Also, did you exclusively use a front brake? I ride a Surly LHT with V-brakes, and I wonder if it would be better at braking. On the other hand I probably bike much slower than you did, and this is not because I don't want to. :)

by Marcin on Jun 30, 2013 12:54 pm • linkreport

A letter to angie at streetsblog . Organization

What a great story, one that highlights the "Blue Wall" and the incompetence of the Police Supervisor, not to mention the mind-set of the Officer and his poor training.

I have had personal experiences of how, when an officer makes a wrong or uninformed call, the officer not showing up on court day allows the officer to skate while unnecessarily causing considerable trouble for the person charged when the ticket is dismissed for lack of prosecution.

My question to you (Angie): How was the video taken or processed to allow such compelling evidence to be shown so clearly? The camera was pointing at JUST the right places every time. Did Zach T. have to have an expert in video manipulate the image?

Finally, I am a bike rider, and i have learned, over the many years, to look WELL ahead for possible oblivious motorists who do not have a clue that bike riders abound and share the road. I believe this accident was avoidable by better defensive biking. That is NOT to say the motorist was not at fault. She violated a traffic law and lied about it. She skated, too, by not being held legally accountable by failing to yield the Right of Way.

And a last comment. Mentioning the Third District is a useful part of the story. Also part of the story, however, is the PUBLICLY AVAILABLE information about who Officer Miscreant and Supervisor Coverup are. Those pieces of information for my and others' purview would probably have cooled the jets of the D.C. Police hierarchy for the future. Mr. T. through Greater Greater Washington told us Carlos Carter name, why did you not?

Also the video CLEARLY shows Mr. T. struck the left-turning vehicle, not otherwise as you reported.

Comment?

by Gerald Brunner Curtis on Jun 30, 2013 1:06 pm • linkreport

@Marcin - re brakes, unless the brakes are truly terrible or sopping wet, they're all good enough. What limits you on an upright single bicycle (i.e., not a recumbent, cargo bike, or tandem) is weight transfer forward. Max braking deceleration with the front wheel is about .5g (more, and you flip; you can gain a little by shifting your weight back, but not much), max with the rear wheel is .25g (static friction of rubber combined with weight transfer), and combining them doesn't win you much (see Bicycling Science for gory details).

Car brakes can stop you harder, but because since operating them requires moving your foot over there's a little extra time before the braking starts, versus someone with fingertips resting on the brake lever.

by dr2chase on Jun 30, 2013 2:26 pm • linkreport

@dr2chase - I've experimented with different kinds of cantis on my bike, and I was never able to get them to brake very efficiently. I have replaced them with V-brakes and finally I can get somewhat close to the .5g limit you mention. This is not to say that cantis cannot break efficiently, but it is much harder to make them do so, and I was never able to obtain performance as optimal as with V-brakes. I brake with my front brakes almost exclusively, unless there is ice or if, say, I am making a sharp turn on a gravel road.

Watching the video I felt that the braking power may not have been optimal, but, of course, it is hard to judge that just from the video. That's why I am curious what braking setup was used on the bike and if Zach has indeed used a front brake to achieve the maximum braking power possible with his setup. Also, if his front brake was for some reason very weak, it might have helped to use the rear brake too. Let's see if Zach will be able to comment on the details of his mishap.

by Marcin on Jun 30, 2013 2:35 pm • linkreport

@Marcin - I've flipped several bikes with relatively crappy brakes when I was much younger, and I've seen people flip bikes with crappy brakes, so I think it has a lot to do with panic. When I was much younger I would do the hand-ABS trick with some old Mafac centerpulls, and it was easy to get the rear wheel to start to lift off the ground.

One thing to remember when watching that video is that hindsight is a wonderful thing. We don't really experience the world in real time -- there's a moment's lag between the car turning and the oncoming cyclist perceiving it, and another moment's lag before the brain tells the hands that braking would be a really good idea. Add to that, that the cyclist cannot be looking exclusively forward; he's bound to be looking left and right for other problems, and if he happens to be unlucky enough to be looking elsewhere for the half second when the car is beginning its turn, he'll be late to brake.

If you watch a few Russian crash videos, you'll find yourself wondering WTF is the driver doing, can't they see, and "bang!" I've watched accidents occur in front of me (very sloppy "cyclist" "walking" a dog late on a walk signal, cutting in front of a car stopped too far into the crosswalk to see her coming from the side) and by the time I could seem to say anything (like "STOP!") it had already happened.

by dr2chase on Jun 30, 2013 4:14 pm • linkreport

@dr2chase - I think that it really depends on the conditions. On my bike (LHS with Shimano center pull I got initially instead of the stock brakes), I was never able to get even close to flipping despite squeezing the brake to the best of my abilities (I weigh 280lb, maybe that's a contributing factor). I replaced the Shimanos with Tektro CR720, which was some improvement, but still not good enough. I collaborated with my LBS, to no avail (squeaking + inefficient braking persisted). Finally, I replaced my brakes with Tektro M730 V-brakes and and their V-brake road lever, and I got tons of improvement. These brakes can actually stop my 280lb mass + a loaded bike (close to 350lb total mass in some configurations). I still have not ever gotten close to lifting the rear wheel of the ground. Trust me, a fat guy with a loaded bike knows about which brakes can stop a lot of mass.

You misunderstand my intentions, I think. I am interested in the subject not to blame Zach, which I don't. I am really interested in brake dynamics because I actually spent quite some time on arriving at the conclusion that cantis just cannot compete with V-brakes. Also, I have been previously mostly using my rear brake, but after reading Sheldon Brown's (RIP) article on braking, I have researched the subject of braking and retrained myself to instinctively grab the front brake in emergency (it's the instinct now). So, I am really and genuinely curious what was the braking situation. Did Zach have an optimal brake setup with frequently replaced pads? Does he instinctively go for the front brake? Etc. I totally think that the motorist is 100% to blame, no doubts there. Still, I am curious about the details of the accident related to brakes.

by Marcin on Jun 30, 2013 4:40 pm • linkreport

280lbs might make a difference -- normally it makes it more likely the bike will go over, but maybe you really are more mass than the brake was designed for.
I'm 220, normally ride a cargo bike (65+lb) and any cargo tends to ballast me against flipping. Disk brakes, with the main advantage that I won't melt them on plausible descents. The old rim brakes, in a 30-0 maximum stop (in a wonky college relay race called "beer bike") would smell of burning rubber, and another time I got my rim burn-my-finger hot on a 2000-foot descent down a 9% grade.

by dr2chase on Jun 30, 2013 6:06 pm • linkreport

@dr2chase - We probably should take this discussion elsewhere, but oh well.

First of all, assuming the same location of the center of mass, increasing the mass will require increasing the braking power necessary for a flip. More force is necessary to lift more mass. Second, my brakes were quite OK in their categories, if not the top notch, the most expensive models. The narrow Shimano and the wide Tektro cantis are pretty OK in their class. The Tektro V-brakes that I have, with 102mm arms, are perhaps not the most powerful, but they are considered MTB brakes, not cyclocross. You have to remember that I am riding a Surly LHT, which is a touring geometry bike. It is also made of steel and it requires road levers. The steel fork of an LHT expands rather significantly on braking, and a road V-brake lever has a bit more limited pull than an MTB lever, making it harder to set up for maximum braking power. I don't keep my brakes at their tightest to allow some minimal wheel wobble. I could perhaps get my rear wheel to lift up if I pulled my brakes together so much that they would be nearly rubbing on the rim in the released position, but I would still have a problem of a flexible steel fork. So, my brakes are most likely quite OK in their class (I also use the Kool stop pads that have been changed recently), but all the factors that I mentioned will add up to a low likelihood of causing a wheel lockup. Also, when braking in emergency, I do instinctively shift my weight back as fast as my instincts and physique allow for (tested empirically). I don't claim that it is impossible, but with my setup and my weight you will rarely see a wheel lift, and even more rarely an endo flip.

by Marcin on Jun 30, 2013 6:46 pm • linkreport

@Marcin,

Damnit, I know I shouldn't enter this off-topic detour, but...

If you're running modern caliper, cantilever, or v-brakes that are properly adjusted, you should have no problem locking up the rear wheel. Or getting the rear wheel to come off the ground under hard braking.

A decade or so ago when I was younger and stupider, I used to pull a "stoppie" on my road bike pretty frequently (in addition to doing things like progressive bunny-hops onto, then wheelie drops off of picnic tables). If your brakes are adjusted properly, locking up the rear wheel, or causing an endo with your front brake is just a matter of enough brake.

So at that point, stopping distance becomes a pure function of rider skill.

by oboe on Jun 30, 2013 8:06 pm • linkreport

@dr2chase: any chance the beer bike race was the one at Rice?

by Michael Perkins on Jun 30, 2013 8:09 pm • linkreport

It was indeed beer bike, on the old track, back when it was beer, and I could go from thirty to zero in the length of the pit, and we knew that we were going pretty near thirty because we knew what our times were.

@oboe - size matters. Someone who weighs 280 ought to still be able to lock up the rear wheel (because we know that caliper brakes can decelerate a "normal" mass person at .5g on the front wheel) but we don't know if all brakes are equal for flipping someone of that mass. To flip a 200lb bike+person (ignoring delicate issues of weight distribution for now) requires calipers that can exert 100lbs of force (.5g). For a 300lb weight, that much deceleration requires 150lbs of force, and a lighter person will not get the opportunity to test their calipers to that degree -- they flipped at 100lbs of deceleration force.

However, cargo bikes and tandems do provide an opportunity to test brakes at higher forces -- and aren't those more frequently either cantilever or disk?

by dr2chase on Jun 30, 2013 8:49 pm • linkreport

@dr2chace I don't know what the old track was. I rode for the glory of Jones in 1998 and we got to swim in the pool

by Michael Perkins on Jun 30, 2013 9:04 pm • linkreport

Oboe, You sound like you were quite the dare Devil back in the day. Were you a bike messenger by any chance?

by A neighbor on Jun 30, 2013 9:07 pm • linkreport

@MichaelPerkins - it was on the near side of the stadium, with very cruddy pavement in spots.

by dr2chase on Jun 30, 2013 9:57 pm • linkreport

@dr2chase - Of course, I can lock up the rear wheel. I agree, pretty much anyone with any brake can lock up the rear wheel. All my comments were about the front wheel braking, which is the only one that matters in an emergency. BTW, I made at least one "pretzel" rear wheel before I learned about the futility of rear wheel braking (more than 10 years ago).

I still respectfully disagree with you about locking the front wheel. I claim that on many bikes (such as my LHT) with a rider like me and with my load, it is pretty much impossible to lock the front wheel in average conditions. I now also realize that I am thinking about speeds of about at least 10mph or more, as in the accident here. If I was going pretty slow, I could probably lock the front wheel then.

by Marcin on Jul 1, 2013 8:00 am • linkreport

Bike is a Trek 1500 using the stock dual-pull caliper brakes. Pads were reasonably fresh. I tend to agree with Sheldon Brown's approach to braking and heavily use the front brake since it has substantially more power. I also shift back weight to help keep the bike controlled.

by Zach T on Jul 1, 2013 2:42 pm • linkreport

Stinking bicyclist trying to act like cars - " I was in the center of the right lane". WHY ? You're not a car - you see the outcome when you mess with a car.

This is an attitudinal problem that is systemic with cyclists. It doesn't MATTER that you were in the right or had the right of way - you're still going to lose in every single encounter. I ride a motorcycle and I don't have this "get out of my way I have the right of way" attitude because I know it can and will GET ME KILLED.

I am glad you're not seriously injured and glad you beat the improper citation. But to further embolden cyclists into thinking their rights mean a rats ass is just crazy talk. It's like the guy in front of the tank in Tienanmen Square.

by Ron 04 on Jul 1, 2013 6:41 pm • linkreport

@Ron - I like your analogy between car drivers and the tank driver in Tienanmen Square.

by dr2chase on Jul 1, 2013 6:42 pm • linkreport

Sorry to disappoint you, but I'm going to keep right on owning the lane. It works just fine for me, and oddly, drivers seem to like it better when I act like a car. Go figure.

by Crickey7 on Jul 1, 2013 7:00 pm • linkreport

Owning the lane didnt cause the crash, failure to yield did. If Zach had been right more to the right he just would have been struck by the car than running into it. The video proves nothing about where a cyclist should ride. It does prove that someone wasn't paying attention when tey were turning.

by drumz on Jul 1, 2013 8:54 pm • linkreport

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

by A neighbor on Jul 1, 2013 9:38 pm • linkreport

I see the cyclist hitting the back corner of the car. I'm not saying he wanted to get in an accident, but as far as the law goes: "Last Clear Chance." If he was driving a car he'd be liable. If he couldn't stop or swerve as fast as a car, or wasn't observant enough to, where does that leave the advocacy for an "Idaho Stop?" This law relies on cyclists being more maneuverable and more observant than motorists.

by Warren on Jul 2, 2013 1:22 am • linkreport

actually no - if someone turns in front of you - in most states - that's fail to yield right away. Through traffic has the right of way over turning traffic.

But the fact is - fault doesn't matter when its YOUR BONES and your blood. That's what these hot dogs can't seem to grasp.

by Ron 04 on Jul 2, 2013 3:41 am • linkreport

Last Clear Chance is the problem. That needs to go away or be amended because its worthless to assume that Zach could have done anything different to avoid the crash. Much like its worthless to assume that since he's a cyclist he must've run the red light.

Pro-tip, if you're comment can be reworded as "I'm not blaming the cyclist but..." you're blaming the cyclist.

by drumz on Jul 2, 2013 8:53 am • linkreport

But the fact is - fault doesn't matter when its YOUR BONES and your blood. That's what these hot dogs can't seem to grasp.

and

But the problem is youth always thinks youth by its nature eggs people on to take risks. And acting like a car without the benefit of tons of steel protecting you is definitely a risk, irrespective of what is legal or even what is right.

and

I'm not saying he wanted to get in an accident, but as far as the law goes: "Last Clear Chance."

Sorry, but if you're just going to play blame the victim without presenting an honest alternative as to what should happen - be it better enforcement of traffic laws, or banning bicycles from the streets - then you are not assisting in having an honest discussion on this site. These kind of potshot comments have gotten more and more prevalent as this site has gotten more popular and it is really tiring. Many of us here are interested in having informed and engaging discussion on policy. If you think bikes should just go away then come out and say that, but this "tut tut, it's your bones and your blood if you want to get from point A to point B" is bullshit and unproductive.

by MLD on Jul 2, 2013 9:05 am • linkreport

If Zach had been to the right of the lane and going at half the speed he was actually traveling at he wouldn't be looking at years of shoulder problems that will only get worse with age since old injuries tend to act up as we get passed middle age.

No, you're right. He would've been doored, and then the blame-the-victim crowd would've been pillorying him for riding in the door zone. Pure confirmation bias.

by oboe on Jul 2, 2013 9:25 am • linkreport

. I ride a motorcycle and I don't have this "get out of my way I have the right of way" attitude because I know it can and will GET ME KILLED.

This is just a failure of empathy (and I don't mean that in a touchy-feely way). I've spent a lot of time on motorcycles in an urban (and highway) environment and it's delusional to think motorcyclists are immune to these types of crashes. In fact, the "left cross" described here is pretty darned common.

I'm not sure if you operate your motorcycle at sub-20 mph speeds at all times (as you seem to be suggesting here), but otherwise you're looking at your potential future.

Ok, done feeding the troll...

by oboe on Jul 2, 2013 9:32 am • linkreport

Not really for the troll, but he (ok I) did bring up an interesting point about commonalities between cyclist "bikers" and motorcycle "bikers".

Check out this blurb from a law firm specializing in representing motorcyclists who've been injured in crashes, and see if it sounds familiar:

The Left turn in front of the biker case...So, what is the most common scenario or fact situation presented to the motorcycle accident attorney? It is the left turn by the auto or truck in front of the motorcycle scenario that most often presents itself. One well-known attorney who handles motorcycle cases has a slogan: "...because they just don't see you..." Much has been written elsewhere about why drivers don't see motorcyclists. Perhaps it is because the bike is smaller than the automobile or truck. Even with a constantly illuminated headlight, often times the car driver's brain simply doesn't send a signal to the right foot of that driver to NOT accelerate into, or in front of a motorcycle. Even if the driver does see the bike, he often thinks he can complete the turn in time. (And then blames the biker for speeding when he does not complete his turn and collides with the bike...)

The most common excuse by drivers who strike motorcyclists is "He just came out of nowhere!" The most deadly defense to a left turn case is the motorcyclist's own speed. People are always ready to blame the motorcyclist for speeding since, to non-riders, bikes sound like they are speeding when they are idling, or passing you in first gear. Also, unfortunately for our reputation, many bikers blatantly speed and act recklessly or in ways that do not induce the love of the other users of the roadway. So, first and foremost, the motorcycle attorney must combat the assertion that the rider was speeding.

If @Ron 04 saves a tenth of the contempt he shows towards cyclists for his fellow motorcyclists, I'm sure he'll be very popular.

by oboe on Jul 2, 2013 9:44 am • linkreport

I claim that on many bikes (such as my LHT) with a rider like me and with my load, it is pretty much impossible to lock the front wheel in average conditions.

If someone's got a video of them "locking up" the front wheel on dry pavement while riding a normal (i.e. non- recumbent, non-tandem) bike, I suggest they post it to Youtube. Your skills are unique.

by oboe on Jul 2, 2013 9:47 am • linkreport

@MLD 'Sorry, but if you're just going to play blame the victim without presenting an honest alternative as to what should happen - be it better enforcement of traffic laws, or banning bicycles from the streets - then you are not assisting in having an honest discussion on this site.'

But we HAVE been making concrete workable recommendations based on concrete workable things steps we've been taking for decades which WORKED and which the current generation of bicyclists aren't doing or even considering doing. Shall I list out a few:

1. Keep biking as a recreational sport. I.e., don't depend on it to get you to work or anywhere else where you'll be forced to use a road network that has been designed for its highest and most efficient use: motor vehicles in the main right of way and pedestrians to each side of this right of way. Mixing modes of travel which require different rules to operate correctly is an invitation to disaster.
2. Minimize any riding on a public right of way ( street or sidewalk) to only what is required to get you to an off street bike path or similar facility built exclusively for bicycles such as a cycle track.
3. When you are in the non bike exclusive public right of way (for example street or sidewalk) go SLOW and give the right of way to all other means of travel who are the owners of this right of way. Ie You are a guest on THEIR exclusive right of way, acknowledge that and act accordingly watching for all movements by pedestrians on sidewalks and motor vehicles on road and only proceeding safely around then as they allow you to by acknowledging your presence with eye contact.
4. When in a road stay as far to the right as possible while watching for cars getting ready to pull out or for people ready to open car doors. Get eye contact in either case before proceeding.

These simple rules have worked for decades and continue to work well now. You don't like not having 'full rights' to share in rights of ways built for other means of traffic (ie roads and sidewalk)? Then work to get more off road paths and cycle tracks built . Mixing modes of travel on the same real estate will never work because of the inherent differences in the rules of travel which each modes comes with it. Pedestrians on the sidewalk and motorized vehicles in the street works because the two modes are kept separated most of the time and the few instances where they must converge, such as at marked and unmarked crosswalks, the rules for intermingling are few and concrete. Something which isn't possible of the sharing were to be for the roads and sidewalks everywhere.

So, now you have your discrete recommendations. Will you follow them as previous generations before you did?

by A neighbor on Jul 2, 2013 11:53 am • linkreport

No, because those suggestions are patently ridiculous. They basically amount to saying people shouldn't ride bikes and your points rely on false information about what is safest for a cyclist to do AND what the law is regarding the use of streets.

So, no.

by drumz on Jul 2, 2013 12:00 pm • linkreport

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

by A neighbor on Jul 2, 2013 12:06 pm • linkreport

"Keep biking as a recreational sport. I.e., don't depend on it to get you to work or anywhere else where you'll be forced to use a road network"

that has resulted in costs in terms of transportation, housing, environment, that transportation biking can address. (aside from which, even for the goal of recreation, depending on ones location, people often find it convenient to use the road network to access trails.

"Will you follow them as previous generations before you did?"

In fact people DID use the road network to bike on in earlier generations - just not as frequently.

"Mixing modes of travel which require different rules to operate correctly is an invitation to disaster."

In fact current road usage by cyclists has created no disaster.

"Minimize any riding on a public right of way ( street or sidewalk) to only what is required to get you to an off street bike path or similar facility built exclusively for bicycles such as a cycle track."

Most off street bike facilities are NOT bike exclusive, but shared with peds. They also present safety issues of their own, and issues with circuity.

"When you are in the non bike exclusive public right of way (for example street or sidewalk) go SLOW and give the right of way to all other means of travel who are the owners of this right of way."

streets are not like sidewalks and should not be conflated with them. Going slowly on streets is not necessarily safer for cyclists, and can in fact be more dangerous. Similarly its not safer for cyclists to always yield ROW.

"You are a guest on THEIR exclusive right of way, "

That is not law or policy.

"modes of travel on the same real estate will never work "

in fact it DOES work most of the time. If everyone appropriately follows the current law, it should work almost all the time.

While motorist ped interactions, currently, cause a fairly high pedestrian death toll.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 2, 2013 12:09 pm • linkreport

Cool, just remember in future posts to always include "these bikers should get the f--- off the road, because real people have to get places!" That will make it clear who we can just ignore.

Your recommendations are ridiculous and rely on several base assumptions that are wrong:
1. That motor vehicles are the "best and most efficient" use of road space - they are not
2. That the "safest" way to ride on the road is to maximize the speed differential between other traffic and you, and to defer at all times to other traffic - also wrong

In case you're not aware, roads were originally paved because cyclists demanded it. Roads were not initially built for the ease of motor vehicle travel; you are a guest on paved roads that cyclists lobbied to pave. So I recommend you get a bike and start riding with the rest of us. Will you take that recommendation as people generations ago did?

by MLD on Jul 2, 2013 12:09 pm • linkreport

So let's go point by point!

1. Keep biking as a recreational sport. I.e., don't depend on it to get you to work or anywhere else where you'll be forced to use a road network that has been designed for its highest and most efficient use: motor vehicles in the main right of way and pedestrians to each side of this right of way. Mixing modes of travel which require different rules to operate correctly is an invitation to disaster.
Why not? Bikes are an incredibly efficient form of transportation. They're cheap, provide exercise and incredible efficiency of movement. Plus they're easy to park. Meanwhile, we have mixing of modes all over the place trucks operate differently than cars yet they share space.

2. Minimize any riding on a public right of way ( street or sidewalk) to only what is required to get you to an off street bike path or similar facility built exclusively for bicycles such as a cycle track.

Ah the old "don't ride unless there is a bike lane but also claim that bike lanes take away precious space for cars" argument. Never fails.

3. When you are in the non bike exclusive public right of way (for example street or sidewalk) go SLOW and give the right of way to all other means of travel who are the owners of this right of way. Ie You are a guest on THEIR exclusive right of way, acknowledge that and act accordingly watching for all movements by pedestrians on sidewalks and motor vehicles on road and only proceeding safely around then as they allow you to by acknowledging your presence with eye contact.

Shorter: ignore the rules about right of way and be timid as possible. Surely that leads to greater safety and teaches drivers to share the road!

4. When in a road stay as far to the right as possible while watching for cars getting ready to pull out or for people ready to open car doors. Get eye contact in either case before proceeding.

I'd like to see how one rides as far to the right as possible and manages to avoid the hazards of dooring. Plus getting eye contact from ever car on the street is way more important than paying attention to the road in front of you.

by drumz on Jul 2, 2013 12:10 pm • linkreport

And for those times you MUST be on the public right of way for cars, here's a great educational film on how to 'Drive your Bike':

www.youtube.com/watch?v=JdhT3uYM9s4

by A neighbor on Jul 2, 2013 12:23 pm • linkreport

"public right of way for cars"

The only public rights of way for cars in this region are limited access highways. I never ride my bike on them.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 2, 2013 12:26 pm • linkreport

Now you've just outed yourself; it's gotta be oboe just screwing with us.

Also, I hope you'll notice that nobody in that video is even following your suggestions - they're taking the lane and being assertive like a car! And they're not even wearing helmets!!!!!!

This video shows a kinder, more bucolic time when drivers actually used their turn signals and stopped for pedestrians in unsignalized crosswalks. Oh how I wish it were so today!

by MLD on Jul 2, 2013 12:32 pm • linkreport

Yeah, the video says to ride like you're driving which is the opposite of going as slow as possible, getting on the sidewalk, yielding to anything that could possibly enter into your ROW.

I'm being punked.

by drumz on Jul 2, 2013 12:34 pm • linkreport

Money quote "we have to look out for cars just like cars have to look out for us, even though we're smaller".

by drumz on Jul 2, 2013 12:35 pm • linkreport

@MLD,

Watch the video through. They ARE 'staying to the right of traffic' which they say is 'just like cars do'.

by A neighbor on Jul 2, 2013 12:36 pm • linkreport

this driver made an improper left turn. That happens frequently in NoVa, where I live. Given the mix of traffic there, the most common victims of improper turns, are other motorists. They are not able to stop in time, because the physics of autos does not allow them to.

The proper response to them is not to tell them to drive slower, or to avoid the roads. Its to tell people to NOT make improper left turns. That - IE proper driver behavior, which would be necessary even if there were ZERO bikes on the roads, would have solved this problem - and probably most bike-driver interactions.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 2, 2013 12:36 pm • linkreport

"Stay to the right" is very different from "ride on the sidewalk" or "hug the right as much as you can". All slower moving traffic stays to the right whether its a bike, car, tractor, or whatever.

by drumz on Jul 2, 2013 12:43 pm • linkreport

Drumz, and where was 'his lane' in the video? To the right of the right hand lane.

by A neighbor on Jul 2, 2013 1:02 pm • linkreport

The proper response to them is not to tell them to drive slower, or to avoid the roads. Its to tell people to NOT make improper left turns. That - IE proper driver behavior, which would be necessary even if there were ZERO bikes on the roads, would have solved this problem - and probably most bike-driver interactions.

Pretty much this. This accident didn't occur because the victim was on a bike. It occurred because the driver failed to yield to oncoming traffic when turning.

Watch the video through. They ARE 'staying to the right of traffic' which they say is 'just like cars do'.

Suffice it to say you are interpreting it wrong; the video is imploring the bicyclist to ride 'just like cars do,' which means in opposition to your requirements to be deferential to everyone else.

by MLD on Jul 2, 2013 1:03 pm • linkreport

"when we ride our bikes in the street we are just as much part of traffic as the cars"

Yeah, the vid gives it away. Thanks Oboe.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 2, 2013 1:04 pm • linkreport

Yeah, riding on sidewalk is not ideal either. But that was my point, don't ride in the road or on the sidewalk unless it's absolutely necessary since both those rights of way were designed for different modes of travel. Yeah, there'll be times you have to use them, but if you're not trying to use your bike for uses other than recreational use then overall those times will be few and the number of bikes on the roads and sidewalks similarly reduced in number. This formula worked well for almost a hundred years. There's no reason why it can't work now.

by A neighbor on Jul 2, 2013 1:07 pm • linkreport

Look, if you're not going to accept 'transportation' as a legitimate use of a bike then I think we're done here. That's unreasonable and your characterization of bicycles as 'recreation only' for 'a hundred years' is laughably wrong.

by MLD on Jul 2, 2013 1:09 pm • linkreport

A Neighbor

The old way, when bikes were only for recreation, worked well back when everyone took transit everywhere, and cars were for men in gray flannel suits to commute downtown and drink three martini lunches.

Unless we are prepared to go back to that lost paradise, I don't think your proposal is feasible.

by RevisionistHistorian on Jul 2, 2013 1:20 pm • linkreport

MLD, I'm only saying recreational use only because currently bikes (mainly) only have a recreational road network available to them (ie bike paths). If the money and the will can be raised to create a separate non-recreational road network for bikes then their use doesn't have to be mainly recreational. Their use isn't the issue. Their lack of their own rights of way (and relying on cars' and peds' rights of way) is the issue and the problem we face. By encouraging biking (via CaBi and other policies) before having built a separate road network we've put the cart before the horse and created a very unsafe situation in our streets. One which didn't exist 20 years ago or even 10 years ago.

by A neighbor on Jul 2, 2013 1:27 pm • linkreport

Even if you remain convinced that bikes aren't transportation the facts of the case remain the same since the city does consider them transportation and has written that into its laws. This also means the fact that Zach did nothing wrong.

There are actual recreation vehicles that aren't considered legitimate by the city (ATVs for one) but a bicycle isn't in that category.

by drumz on Jul 2, 2013 1:29 pm • linkreport

@A neighbor - the safety mistake was to allow the cars on the streets in the first place "without making provision for separate infrastructure". The roads *were* paved for bikes, the money and the will were both there.

And it's the cars that are dangerous, not the bikes -- look at how both bikes and cars do with pedestrian collisions -- cars kill over 3000 per year, bicycles kill about one.

by dr2chase on Jul 2, 2013 1:33 pm • linkreport

"Their lack of their own rights of way (and relying on cars' and peds' rights of way) is the issue and the problem we face."

except roads are not cars right of way. They are shared by cars, trucks, motorcycles, amish buggies, construction equipment, etc. (with exceptions - limited access road with no bikes or buggies, parkways with no trucks) Sidewalks are not pedestrian only but are shared by bikes, segues, runners, etc.

And what problem exactly do we face? In general the system of sharing the road allows cyclists considerable access, with minimal safety issues - and those safety issues would be far less with proper behavior on parts. While most of us support more bike infrastructure A. Thats only happening because we already have cyclists who DO use the roads, who lobby for it B. Sharrows are an important means of growing cycling, and may well be useful on roads where it will never make sense to have seperate infrastructure. Ditto Bike lanes, which you do not mention.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 2, 2013 1:35 pm • linkreport

" By encouraging biking (via CaBi and other policies) before having built a separate road network we've put the cart before the horse and created a very unsafe situation in our streets."

Data for the unsafe situation, please? Can you show me data that shows a spike in accidents since CaBi has started?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 2, 2013 1:36 pm • linkreport

Bike lanes are simply formalized enforcement of the old rule ( as shown in the video) that when a bicycle MUST be on a car's ROW that it stay as far to the right as possible.

by A neighbor on Jul 2, 2013 1:42 pm • linkreport

Question for all:

What part of the road should a Segway use? Sidewalk? Bike lane? Motor (travel) lane?

by DaveG on Jul 2, 2013 1:46 pm • linkreport

@a neighbor - that "as far right as possible" is not even current law -- the word is "practicable", which has legal and practical significance. And current law is not old law -- that oddity occurred as cars became more popular.

See here for a detailed rundown of the history of that very "rule": http://iamtraffic.org/equality/the-marginalization-of-bicyclists/

Given how many times it has been shown that you misunderstand actual law, actual safety, and actual history, have you considered reexamining some of your opinions?

by dr2chase on Jul 2, 2013 1:46 pm • linkreport

Dr2chase beat me to it, that's not the what the law says. Plus bikes aren't required to use the bike lane, nor are all bike lanes on te right side of the street

by drumz on Jul 2, 2013 1:50 pm • linkreport

"Bike lanes are simply formalized enforcement of the old rule"

Then how does a bike lane differ from a Sharrows?

In neither a sharrows, nor in a street without bike markings, are cars excluded from any part of the street. A bike lane does exclude motor vehicles and is bike only infrastructure, in a way that most off street bike trails (which allow pedestrians, runners, in some places skateboarders, horse riders, etc) are not.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 2, 2013 1:53 pm • linkreport

daveG

Thats debatable. What speed do Segway riders typically move at?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 2, 2013 1:54 pm • linkreport

Segways certainly don't belong in the roadway or on a sidewalk. Maybe in a cycle track or bike path.

by A neighbor on Jul 2, 2013 1:55 pm • linkreport

@A neighbor: Segways belong in a transitional zone.

by Gray on Jul 2, 2013 1:58 pm • linkreport

what do you mean by a bike path?

Can you name a bike path (other than the three cycle tracks) in the greater Washington area?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 2, 2013 2:00 pm • linkreport

There's a whole network of them around the metro area mostly maintained by NPS. Yes, they also serve other recreational users such as walkers.

by A neighbor on Jul 2, 2013 2:04 pm • linkreport

Trails are meant for a mixing of modes but roads aren't. Gotcha.

by drumz on Jul 2, 2013 2:05 pm • linkreport

"Yes, they also serve other recreational users such as walkers. "

Leaving aside the "recreational" (you might want to take a look at the MVT or WOD at rush hour on a weekday, esp on days the weather isnt so nice) that means they are not "bike paths". They are multiuse trails. In many places there are LOTS of walkers, etc, which introduces significant safety issues.

So, again, please name one actual "bike path" other than the L Street, Penn Ave, and 15th street cycle tracks.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 2, 2013 2:08 pm • linkreport

BTW, in NoVa many multi use trails are NOT run by NPS. W&OD is the NVRPA, CCT is FFX county Parks, etc.

[Deleted for violating the comment policy.]

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 2, 2013 2:12 pm • linkreport

Drumz, can you explain why you think it's any better to mix modes of travel on a bike path than it is in an automobile lane? I don't think it is. But maybe you can convince me otherwise.

by A neighbor on Jul 2, 2013 2:13 pm • linkreport

Drumz, can you explain why you think it's any better to mix modes of travel on a bike path than it is in an automobile lane? I don't think it is. But maybe you can convince me otherwise.

You're the one who suggested cyclists should mix modes by using 'bike paths'...

by MLD on Jul 2, 2013 2:15 pm • linkreport

I think its fine to do so on both. Then again, I consider bikes transportation and ride my bike (mostly) like a vehicle and ignore those who yell at me to get on the sidewalk.

by drumz on Jul 2, 2013 2:16 pm • linkreport

Lance was David's alter ego, right? You honor me, but no.

by A neighbor on Jul 2, 2013 2:16 pm • linkreport

Good for you Drumz! I'd luv to ride with you. ;)

by A neighbor on Jul 2, 2013 2:18 pm • linkreport

"You honor me, but no. "

over 400 comments and still going. Such troll- er, such successfully provocative posting, is worthy of honor. It truely shows what an internet commnent board is capable of.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 2, 2013 2:20 pm • linkreport

Feel free, I used to live in Burke and rode my bike around there, usually just for exercise since there wasn't anything in the area for me to ride towards except the grocery store/barber shop. The first time riding in DC (on Cabi) made me realize how much easier it is to bike in the city. All it takes is the gumption to do it.

by drumz on Jul 2, 2013 2:23 pm • linkreport

"These kind of potshot comments have gotten more and more prevalent as this site has gotten more popular and it is really tiring. Many of us here are interested in having informed and engaging discussion on policy."

This. There are serious discussions to be had on biking policy - including helmet laws, serious discussion of vc vs segregated infrastructure, legalizing bikes on genuinely debatable roads like GWNP, sharrows vs bike lanes vs signage, etc, etc. A suggestion that biking for transportation is a bad thing cannot reasonably advance these discussions. It is certainly not advancing the discussion of this particular accident.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 2, 2013 2:31 pm • linkreport

I try not to engage. Engaging indicates there is some kind of debate as to the rights of cyclists to use the road, or that we are there on some kind of probationary basis.

I'm asking no one's permission, nor do I need to earn anyone's respect. I'm there to use the road like everyone else. Get over it.

by Crickey7 on Jul 2, 2013 2:41 pm • linkreport

I try not to engage. Engaging indicates there is some kind of debate as to the rights of cyclists to use the road, or that we are there on some kind of probationary basis.

Well, said. I think the latter half of this thread is more about attention-seeking than honest discussion of the issues.

by oboe on Jul 2, 2013 3:02 pm • linkreport

Since Segways are motorized I say they should be in the motor travel lanes only. Others may disagree...actually I'm not 100% sure how I feel about the issue so I may change my mind on this.

by DaveG on Jul 2, 2013 3:04 pm • linkreport

Since this should be addressed before it gets out of hand (in this thread? No!)

http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/citydesk/2013/04/26/the-answers-column-how-are-segways-regulated-in-d-c/

by drumz on Jul 2, 2013 3:07 pm • linkreport

@drumz - "I consider bikes transportation and ride my bike (mostly) like a vehicle and ignore those who yell at me to get on the sidewalk."

That's right, because if you biked on the sidewalk, you'd get yelled at to ride in the road...as you generally should :-)

by DaveG on Jul 2, 2013 3:09 pm • linkreport

@DaveG,

if you biked on the sidewalk, you'd get yelled at to ride in the road...as you generally should :-)

Hopefully the money and the will can be raised to create a separate path network for pedestrians--until then they should refrain from walking places for transportation. Their lack of their own rights of way (and peds' rights of way) is the issue and the problem we face. By encouraging walking before having built a separate path network we've put the cart before the horse and created a very unsafe situation in our streets.

Until then, if pedestrians insist on dangerously walking on paths where bicycles have the ROW (due to their greater speed and danger) they should make sure they should walk single-file, stay as far to the right of the sidewalk as possible, and keep at least one foot on the edge of the sidewalk.

by oboe on Jul 2, 2013 3:16 pm • linkreport

@drumz - thanks for that link!! I, too, am wondering just how Segways got limited to private property in Britain :-D

I also have a problem with Segways stopping anywhere in the roadway (including the bike lanes) to gawk at the sights...thus impeding other roadway users...thought that sort of thing was prohibited except in emergencies.

by DaveG on Jul 2, 2013 3:20 pm • linkreport

Re; people using bicycles for interstate commerce and general economic activity (commuting to work across state boundaries) upon the network of public roadways-

"You are a guest on THEIR exclusive right of way, "

This is wishful thinking not based in our reality of laws, policies and public priorities. It does convey an attitude of entitlement however.

For example, on Rte 1/RI Ave southbound between Hyattsville and North Brentwood, in the vicinity of the bridge over the Northwest Branch, there is a big sign on the righthand side next to the road with an icon of a bicycle and the words "May Use Full Lane".

I love that sign. I love it even more now, knowing that it makes the blood boil of people with an attitude like @A neighbors! :-)

by Tina on Jul 2, 2013 3:50 pm • linkreport

Tina, That sign wouldn't make my blood boil, or my blood pressure rise. I just know that as a responsible bicycle rider I will continue to observe the general notions of safe bicycling which I outlined above and which have served us well for 100 years. And seeing Zach run into that turning car in the video validates my belief that I am correct. Others are of course free to believe and act otherwise. It's their lives and their safety at stake. Let's just not later regret these decisions by hoping stupid illegal moves like that of the driver in the video will somehow disappear because of law, fiat, or wishful thinking. The negligent and the law/rule breakers have been with us forever and will still be there as we continue to head down whatever road it is our different modes of travel are taking us. Take care while riding.

by A neighbor on Jul 2, 2013 4:05 pm • linkreport

@AWitC -LOL!

by Tina on Jul 2, 2013 4:14 pm • linkreport

"I just know that as a responsible bicycle rider I will continue to observe the general notions of safe bicycling which I outlined above and which have served us well for 100 years."

A. They were not the rules for 100 years B. To the extent they were, they did not serve us well. C. If you were really a regular recreational rider, I suspect you'd know that many multiuse trails in the region are not owned by NPS.

An actual historic approach that did serve us well is honesty and good will.

"And seeing Zach run into that turning car in the video validates my belief that I am correct. Others are of course free to believe and act otherwise. It's their lives and their safety at stake. Let's just not later regret these decisions by hoping stupid illegal moves like that of the driver in the video will somehow disappear because of law, fiat, or wishful thinking."

We can certainly reduce stupid illegal moves by better enforcment, which is the subject matter of this thread. except to the extent that the thread has been diverted - by someone repeating almost every antibiking cliche in the book.

However DESPITE the issues with LE, biking is still, on the whole, safe. People who ride, on the roads, for transportation, are still actuarially better off (due to the additional exercise) than people who refrain from doing so.

The constant focus on the dangers of biking only serves to reduce the amount of biking, and this has been shown to lessen biking safety (and it certainly means less bike infrastructure)

That of course MAY be the goal of someone who has said "get a car or take metro like the rest of us" and who may well see bikers in the road as an obstacle. There are many dangers to riding on trails - including poor design, issues with maintenance, ice, leaves, etc, conflicts with peds, and of course issues with cars at trail crossings (which has been a huge issue on the W&OD. Someone concerned about bike safety would not mostly concerned with pushing cyclists off roads but would address those other issues. Someone concerned with the obstruction bikes present to motor vehicle traffic might well focus on that though.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 2, 2013 4:21 pm • linkreport

Walker, I have no goal or agenda other than to keep myself personally safe whenever I am on the road in whatever mode of travel I am in. This blog meant to discuss issues and the various and sometimes opposing views of the different people posting. It's not going to set public policy or directly influence those charged with setting public policy. It's discussion for the sake of self education and self reflection on our views. I've learned from you that some riders see this as a 'us or them' win or lose situation. I hope you've learned from me how those of us who aren't out there riding to make a statement practice what WE consider safe riding options.

by A neighbor on Jul 2, 2013 4:49 pm • linkreport

"Walker, I have no goal or agenda other than to keep myself personally safe whenever I am on the road in whatever mode of travel I am in."

A. I do not believe that you are not posting for the reasons I said above. B. If your goal is your own safety, you wouldnt leave the house. Youd drve a Hummer, and always very slowly. Time, cost, etc are parts of transportation choices, not only safety, and that is entirely rational.

" This blog meant to discuss issues and the various and sometimes opposing views of the different people posting. It's not going to set public policy or directly influence those charged with setting public policy."

We have had visits from members of local legislative bodies, etc. I do believe that we have an influence on public policy. Thats the reason to post here. If I want to discuss the safest way to cycle I go to a cycling website, not focused on policy.

" It's discussion for the sake of self education and self reflection on our views. I've learned from you that some riders see this as a 'us or them' win or lose situation."

Im not sure what you mean by that. I am a driver as well as a cyclist. I see grey areas all the time. I am simply responding to your incorrect statements which are either ignorant or dishonest.

" I hope you've learned from me how those of us who aren't out there riding to make a statement practice what WE consider safe riding options. "

The very fact that you think anyone who rides in the street, or for transportation, is someone trying to make a statement is illuminating.

I do not think your opinions are charecteristic of most cyclists who ride recreationally, or even of most non bike riders.

And I learned about folks like you and their motives when I first explored the internet. What you are doing is common internet behavior, and has nothing to do with cycling, driving or transportation. You are a pro at it though, and I can only presume you learned it in some discussion of something other than transportation.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 2, 2013 4:58 pm • linkreport

Also the way you describe cycling isn't the safest way to do it. This has been shown in many studies. Individually the best way to make yourself safe is to ride boldly and confidently. At large the best way to making cycling safer is to ensure there are lots of cyclists and one way to do that is make sure the police know how to properly respond to collisions rather than rely on discredited tropes about speed or behavior.

by drumz on Jul 2, 2013 5:00 pm • linkreport

excellent sleuthing. fair results. death for you would have been a circus with the elephant disappearing. The time I got hit, fortunately no injuries, cops immediately assumed biker fault, but insurance co. gave me money to wipe liability. Driver just killed a ped close to me last week, he got a ticket for "failure to exercise proper care". You're dead, they're efficient at cleaning up the mess. Blame the dead. BE CAREFUL!!

by steppen on Jul 2, 2013 5:26 pm • linkreport

Wow. I guess if it's okay on here to call someone a troll (by posting a link to the definition of Concern Troll.). Then it's okay to point out that there appears to be rampant paranoia being exhibited by those unable to win their arguments. Again, I don't view this as a us or them situation. We are all sometimes drivers and all sometimes riders. I guess the purpose and occasions we choose to ride (by necessity/desirebilty vs. recreationally) might shape our opinions somewhat, but this attitude of 'let's flood the roads with bikes so we can have control" is just plain not the kind of argument I'm going to involve myself in. That's paranoia. Is there an Internet term for that?

by A neighbor on Jul 2, 2013 5:30 pm • linkreport

"And seeing Zach run into that turning car in the video validates my belief that I am correct."

For all X, "X validates my belief that I am correct."

-- A neighborhood troll

by anon123@anon.com on Jul 2, 2013 5:34 pm • linkreport

Zach, name names! The driver / perjurer, the co-conspirator / perjurer, the station supervisor...

NAME AND SHAME.

by anon123@anon.com on Jul 2, 2013 5:37 pm • linkreport

"Wow. I guess if it's okay on here to call someone a troll (by posting a link to the definition of Concern Troll.). "

I am not calling YOU a concern troll. However concern trolling does exist, and language oozing with concern "I only want you to be safe, darling" does not invalidate an alternate reading of the supposed concerns. The record is above, anyone can see your posts and judge.

"Then it's okay to point out that there appears to be rampant paranoia being exhibited by those unable to win their arguments."

Again, anyone can view the claims made above (for example that transportation cycling is a new thing, that riding in roads is a new thing, etc) and judge them for themselves.

"Again, I don't view this as a us or them situation. We are all sometimes drivers and all sometimes riders."

No, a few people are not drivers, and MANY are not riders.

" I guess the purpose and occasions we choose to ride (by necessity/desirebilty vs. recreationally)"

thats a false distinction. Riding to commute or for errands still has benefits in health and enjoyment. Many who ride for recreation dont want to put their bike on a car to get there.

"might shape our opinions somewhat, but this attitude of 'let's flood the roads with bikes so we can have control""

its flood the roads with bikes to make them safer for cyclists (And incidentally for drivers and peds, since bike lanes can be traffic calming) - and also to reduce pollution, and strengthen our cities. but I think you have laid clear the crux of the matter. You dont want a lot of cyclists on the roaads - this isnt about safety, its about 'taking control' and "making a statement"

" is just plain not the kind of argument I'm going to involve myself in. That's paranoia. Is there an Internet term for that? "

cycling advocate.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 2, 2013 5:38 pm • linkreport

Walker, the fact you believe you need to advocate for cycling validates my point that you think it's an us or them proposition. I don't see it that way. Sorry. The way things have been for a hundred years works fine and there's no need to change it.

by A neighbor on Jul 2, 2013 6:10 pm • linkreport

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

by oboe on Jul 3, 2013 7:33 am • linkreport

To address Oboe's comment (which has been deleted), okay my last response was a bit simplistic. But earlier I was asked to make my specificity recommendations, which I did and which some posters argued/debated intellectually and honestly. But some posters basically dismissed out of hand any reason to hold on to any these things from 'how we do it now' as being antiquated and not in line with how they'd like to see things in the future. When one party to a debate pushes the most simplistic and radical 'solution' reflecting their hopes and values, the other tends to push back equally simplistically and radically opposite. Because the debate has become confrontational.

As I expressed earlier in this thread, I do believe some changes can be made to facilitate bicyclists being able to use their preferred mode of travel to go where they want to go. And as I said I think the biggest stumbling block to their doing so is their having so few dedicated ROWs for their means of travel. I don't believe mixing the modes of travel is wise or safe but that doesn't mean I wouldn't support the creation of more cycle tracks including the inversion of some roads to exclusive bicycle use. I would also make a differentiation between a road and a street. A road historically was a means to get from to Point A to Point B, while a street was a more multipurpose space where people gathered to sell and exchange things primarily and traveled through it only secondarily. The mixed use I am against is on roads. I.e. On 'major thoroughfares'. Eg., 14th Street is a major thoroughfare, 17th Street in Dupont is not. Mixing All modes of travel (including peds) on the same real estate works well in a shopping center 'parking' lot and without much signalization (and best without any) because no one rushing through it and all are equal. The problem of mixing occurs (IMHO) when the focus shifts to 'how do I get through here as quickly as possible?" and speed increases (while time to react decreases), and less true interaction (such as visual clues) between the travelers is possible. So, I don't think we'd need a lot more dedicated 'roads' for cyclists to solve our current problems, just enough that they'd have exclusive ROWs to get to all major destinations .... In the same way that we don't need super highways to run through a city for cars and trucks to have sufficient infrastructure ...

by A neighbor on Jul 3, 2013 9:37 am • linkreport

"Walker, the fact you believe you need to advocate for cycling validates my point that you think it's an us or them proposition."

I dont understand the logic of that. Someone advocates for something does not mean they exclude grey areas or compromises.

" Sorry. The way things have been for a hundred years works fine and there's no need to change it. "

The way things have worked for a hundred years is that the law has allowed cyclists and drivers to share roads (excluding limited access roads) and we have left it up to individual cyclists to determine for themselves what route makes sense for them, taking into account their own ability, confidence, and comfort level with traffic speeds and conditions. All thats changed is that there are more cyclists around period. I see no evidence of a significant increase in the proportion of cyclists who ride in traffic on the least bike friendly roads.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 3, 2013 9:51 am • linkreport

"The mixed use I am against is on roads. I.e. On 'major thoroughfares'. Eg., 14th Street is a major thoroughfare, 17th Street in Dupont is not. "

at least here in the suburbs, and I think on parts of DC, there are roads where traffic conditions and speeds are such, that the local authorites allow left turns only on designated left turn signal. Had such a signal been in place, its unlikely (barring much more egregious driver behavior, like DUI, which can be deadly on a quiet side street, or even on a sidewalk) that this accident would have occured.

However DDOT did not choose such a signal, presumably because it does not see 14th street that way. My impression of that area is that 14th street is very much a place for "gathering and exchanging things" and is becoming more so every day.

I am far from an extremist. I agree with you that some roads cycling should be banned on (interstate highways, possibly even limited access parkways with slower speeds than interstates) and others where riding in traffic is definitely something that only the bravest riders can do, and at their own risk (there are a few arterials here in Fairfax I would put in that category. But 14th street just doesn't seem like one. That you put it in that category does not seem consistent with your current assertion that you accept street riding. It seems more consistent with your earlier assertions that people should take their bikes to trails in Virginia or Maryland when they want to ride, that people who ride for transportation are "making a statement" and that folks who need to get places should buy a car or take transit "like the rest of us"

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 3, 2013 9:59 am • linkreport

I'm curious: Is there anyone here who can do the difficult work of figuring out how any of the anti-cyclist "100 years of status quo" arguments we've heard here don't apply to, say, motorcycles? This kind of accident happens all the time to motorcyclists--in fact, at a higher rate than bicyclists. There's no way that motorcycles are going to be as safe as being in a car, so why pretend they're cars? Motorcyclists should put their motorcycles on trailers and drive them to the racetrack if they want to recreate on them. Otherwise, they should never exceed 5mph and ride in the gutter, cautiously checking for any movement of cars in the door zone (who presumably also have the ROW when pulling out or opening the door).

Anyway, what @AWITC said: cycling in a vehicular manner is a damned safe activity. People have done it for more than 100 years in the urban environment with great success. We're going to continue to do so. At this point, we're just arguing about how to make riding in the (sub-)urban environment more attractive to newcomers. And increasing those numbers (which is pretty much inevitable) will only serve to increase safety, and to drive legal and policy changes to support more cycling.

by oboe on Jul 3, 2013 10:03 am • linkreport

@Walker 'Had such a signal been in place, its unlikely (barring much more egregious driver behavior, like DUI, which can be deadly on a quiet side street, or even on a sidewalk) that this accident would have occured.'

That was a gasoline service station entrance the diver turned into and not a cross street, so there wouldn't be a traffic light there. However, I believe there's a double solid line down the center of 14th at that point which would make the left turn completely illegal. Not that I think most drivers around here even know that you're never supposed to cross a double solid line.

by A neighbor on Jul 3, 2013 10:22 am • linkreport

Oboe - these guys gathered a lot of history on the various permutations of the law: http://iamtraffic.org/equality/the-marginalization-of-bicyclists/

There was a recent study of per-trip mortality rates done by some guys at Simon Fraser U in Canada. Among other things, they found that motorcycles are much more dangerous (about 25x higher risk per trip than a bicycle, where a bicycle's per-trip risk is only 1.5x to 2x the risk in a car, even given crappy Canadian and US infrastructure and practice): http://www.sfu.ca/sfunews/stories/2013/bc-could-halve-traffic-deaths-study.html Your motorcycle proposal has more than a little merit.

Oddly enough, I am a fan of separate infrastructure for bicycling, provided that we do it right, instead of just afterthoughts, GTFOOMW (OO="out of") lanes, and bicycle ghettos. The Dutch statistics are pretty compelling -- huge ride shares, huge safety. But if a "neighbor" is proposing this, he's failed to communicate that idea very effectively. It's hard to imagine that he's really studied the problem, given how wrong he is on safety, current law, and history.

I have my own blog, I think I should prepare the "crapload of bicycle references" page. I stumbled across some interesting studies either done or in progress at the Florida DOT; one showed (with sound methodology and many datapoints) that drivers give you less room if you're wearing lycra (more or less, I'm paraphrasing.) The Iamtraffic guys mentioned above are good on history, but their study design is very weak (few points, atypical cycling).

In the long run, I don't think the answer is VC, I think it is Dutch. How we get from point V to point D, I cannot quite tell, though I suspect we start in very dense places and work outwards.

by dr2chase on Jul 3, 2013 10:34 am • linkreport

And yes, 14th is designated as a thorough fare in DC even if it supports local commercial areas on each of its flanges. It serves the same purpose to us in the city as your parkways do to you in Fairfax. An easy way to tell a thoroughfare in DC is to see if there are signs designating it an 'Emergency Snow Route'. I believe another way to tell might be that the streets will sport US or DC designated route numbers. Yeah, things look different in DC than in Fairfax, but these roads are really no different for us than the main roads, highways, and parkways you have out there. And unprotected bicycle traffic no more belongs on them than it does on you main roads, highways, and parkways. The solution is simple (though costly and will take time), build some cycle tracks alongside these thoroughfares or in adjacent streets. Like Oboe mentions above, the problem is that bicycle traffic has increased of late. And it's no longer possible to 'share' these thoroughfares in a way that permits them to keep doing their job as ROWs for cars. Speed would have to slow to a crawl to allow them to accommodate all these new bike riders and that would mean these thoroughfare would stop being thoroughfares for automobiles. Yeah, bicyclists say they want that, but I don't think they'd like the result when it actually occurred because of all the negative spinoff s such as stalled traffic, traffic spilling into neighborhood streets, dangerous conditions for pedestrians, etc. a good example of what continuing down the current path (in microcosm) is what happened in Georgetown after Wisconsin was narrowed. It was pure bedlam and of course the result if extremely poor planning bases on myopic views of where we're going as a city.

by A neighbor on Jul 3, 2013 10:39 am • linkreport

@A neighbor - "I believe there's a double solid line down the center of 14th at that point which would make the left turn completely illegal. Not that I think most drivers around here even know that you're never supposed to cross a double solid line."

I have never heard such a thing. All a double yellow solid line means is no passing.

by DaveG on Jul 3, 2013 10:39 am • linkreport

It also means stay on the right side of the line(s), but you may turn left across the double solid yellow lines unless specifically prohibited. In fact, I don't ever recall seeing a double white line anywhere, so I have no idea what that could possibly mean.

by DaveG on Jul 3, 2013 10:42 am • linkreport

Like Oboe mentions above, the problem is that bicycle traffic has increased of late. And it's no longer possible to 'share' these thoroughfares in a way that permits them to keep doing their job as ROWs for cars. Speed would have to slow to a crawl to allow them to accommodate all these new bike riders and that would mean these thoroughfare would stop being thoroughfares for automobiles. Yeah, bicyclists say they want that, but I don't think they'd like the result when it actually occurred because of all the negative spinoff s such as stalled traffic, traffic spilling into neighborhood streets, dangerous conditions for pedestrians, etc. a good example of what continuing down the current path (in microcosm) is what happened in Georgetown after Wisconsin was narrowed. It was pure bedlam and of course the result if extremely poor planning bases on myopic views of where we're going as a city.

Has this happened? Certainly the data on wisconsin showed that there was no real impact. Would traffic be better if all the cyclists in DC were instead in Cars?

by drumz on Jul 3, 2013 10:46 am • linkreport

@DaveC

http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_do_two_solid_yellow_double_lines_mean_on_the_road#page1

Though you've prompted me to research it and it seems like at least some US states allow crossing the double solid center line for purposes of getting to a driveway on the other side. Te international standards though is that you may not cross it for any reason other than in an emergency situation.

by A neighbor on Jul 3, 2013 11:19 am • linkreport

@DaveC 'In fact, I don't ever recall seeing a double white line anywhere, so I have no idea what that could possibly mean.'

Centerline markings in the US used to be white (and still are overseas). At some point in the US they started using yellow to denote traffic in opposing directions on either side of the line(s). Not all roads use the yellow though. Pennsylvania Avenue down between the White House and the Capitol is a good example of where they retained white because yellow would be too obtrusive on this landmarked viewshed.

by A neighbor on Jul 3, 2013 11:27 am • linkreport

"Like Oboe mentions above, the problem is that bicycle traffic has increased of late. And it's no longer possible to 'share' these thoroughfares in a way that permits them to keep doing their job as ROWs for cars. Speed would have to slow to a crawl to allow them to accommodate all these new bike riders and that would mean these thoroughfare would stop being thoroughfares for automobiles. "

which makes your alleged concern for cyclist safety sound more and more like concern trolling. if the concern is cyclist safety, why does the volume (which makes cyclists safer) matter? Why mention whether the ROWs are doing a good job for cars? Note well, for someone operating their motor vehicle properly, the cyclist in the opening post would have created no problem.

What happened was someone had an accident on street where you find cyclists annoying, and so you started trying to make the case that no one should bike there (or on any street, or for tranportation purposes, or in DC - the point kept changing) for the sake of their "safety"

This is common 'those frigging suicidal cyclists are getting IN MY WAY' We've all heard it a thousand times, in different variations.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 3, 2013 12:00 pm • linkreport

re double yellow lines

On a suburban arterial, you wouldnt have a double yellow line to prevent access to the gas station - youd have a median in the center of the roadway, or a physically seperated service lane. or not infrequently BOTH.

14th street has neither. Because 14th street is NOT a suburban arterial, its a city street. however its numbered, or designated for snow emergencies, its physical charecteristics - which determine safe operation of motor vehicles, proper speeds, and multimodal opportunities - are those of a city street.

That you want or need to use a city street for the functions of a suburban arterial requires compromise. Thats a tradeoff for the benefits of urban living. If you want a through route that is functional for autos in the way a suburban arterial is, you need to either move to the suburbs, or to one of those parts of DC that has that kind of roadway.

It no more makes sense to try to pretend that a city street in the L'enfant city is like a suburban arterial, than it does to build a limited access highway through such an area.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 3, 2013 12:06 pm • linkreport

"In the long run, I don't think the answer is VC, I think it is Dutch. How we get from point V to point D, I cannot quite tell, though I suspect we start in very dense places and work outwards."

My understanding is that even in the NL some cyclist ride on roads (leaving aside very quiet local streets which serve as last miles between cycle tracks)- because there are rural areas without bike infrastructure, and there are riders/racers who go too fast for the cycle tracks.

And the way they GOT to their current level (and in Copenhagen) was by a high volume of cyclists BEFORE they built all that infrastructure. The way you get from VC to Copenhagen is the way we are going - you encourage ALL kinds of biking - elite riders, suburban immigrants on beaters, long distance commuters in lycra, and urban utility cyclists. And provide a multiplicity of routes - Trails, cycle tracks, bike lanes - but also sharrows and share the road signage - and legal and LE and education to make it easier to ride on ALL roads (except those limited access highways where its not legal) and even support sidewalk riding where its appropriate. And support things like bike share, BTWD, etc, to get more folks of all kinds on wheels.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 3, 2013 12:11 pm • linkreport

so, the bottom line is you dont like more cycling on streets like 14th, because it leads to (or acts as) "traffic calming" which you dont like.

Thats an okay argument to have, but it doesnt belong on a thread about bike safety.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 3, 2013 12:14 pm • linkreport

"And yes, 14th is designated as a thorough fare in DC even if it supports local commercial areas on each of its flanges."

Im not sure what you mean by flanges. Where on 14th street, from downtown to Columbia Heights is there NOT commercial and or high density residential?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 3, 2013 12:16 pm • linkreport

@walker ' if the concern is cyclist safety, why does the volume (which makes cyclists safer) matter? Why mention whether the ROWs are doing a good job for cars?'

Cause like I said I don't view this as an us or them situation, and I'd hope our transportation planners don't either. Everyone's safety and commuting/recreational needs need to be accounted for. Given that biking makes up less than 3% of the commuter traffic and will never be able to serve the vast preponderance of commuters who don't have the luxury (read money or circumstances) to live within a biking commute time, I think my idea of separate thoroughfares for people waiting to commute by bike is more than 'compromising' in nature. I'd guess most people would view that 3% as a number not significant enough to bother doing anything to accommodate and, more likely, just be concerned with banning them outright. And I hear that movement is afoot in at least one Councilmember's office. I think if anyone is one sided here it is you. You've expressed opinions that indicate that you believe your commute mode is holier than others' commute modes and that alone justifies it getting privileged accommodations. There's just one slight problem with that. Most of us, actually the vast majority of us, don't agree that you chosen mode of commuting is at holier or possible than others means. In this vast metro area we have people (many) with 50, 60, or more round trip commutes, we have people choosing Metro, MARC, or buses, we have service people working at all hours of the day and night (and commuting from all types of inaccessible places), we have workmen with trucks carrying their tools and others driving your food to your supermarket or getting your kids o school on time, and the list goes on and on. Unless you are able to see that your specific bicycling needs and desires are just a very tiny piece of the big picture, and that balancing the needs and desires of all citizens is what s needed, then there's really no point in discussing this matter with you.

by A neighbor on Jul 3, 2013 12:34 pm • linkreport

" Everyone's safety and commuting/recreational needs need to be accounted for. Given that biking makes up less than 3% of the commuter traffic and will never be able to serve the vast preponderance of commuters who don't have the luxury (read money or circumstances) to live within a biking commute time, I think my idea of separate thoroughfares for people waiting to commute by bike is more than 'compromising' in nature."

But again, thats not what THIS thread is about (nor is what most of your earlier posts were about) We have discussions of the optimal allocation of road space and compromise among modes, and undoubtedly we will again. This however is a dicussion of an issue with safety and law enforcement. One definition of an internet troll is someone who insists on diverting a discussion to THEIR preferred topic.

"You've expressed opinions that indicate that you believe your commute mode is holier than others' commute modes and that alone justifies it getting privileged accommodations. "

I mostly commute by transit. Yes, I do think that we should keep autos off the metro tracks, but thats not about holiness. I occassionally commute by auto. More than I commute by bike, so far.

I do not consider biking holy (and I dont know where I have suggested so - I would consider your statements - lacking quotes - that I so consider to definitely be trolling, BTW) I consider it very desirable for many people - and one that has postive externalities for society. But that does not mean its holy, or for everyone.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 3, 2013 1:01 pm • linkreport

By flanges I mean on either side of it. Ie like where in the suburbs you would have separate shopping/commercial areas on either side of a 'highway'. Though a little different in the city, the shooting areas on either side of a designated thoroughfare are similar to these separate shopping centers in that they are separate sub elements of a larger shopping district. Yes, there are ways to cross from one shopping/commercial area on one side of the street to get to the other (like in the shopping center example), but crossings are limited with the priority being given to the throughput traffic. Contrast this to a street like 17th in Dupont where there is a unified shopping/ commercial area comprising both sides of the street.

by A neighbor on Jul 3, 2013 1:01 pm • linkreport

*shopping (and not shooting ... D@mn spell check)

by A neighbor on Jul 3, 2013 1:02 pm • linkreport

@A neighbor - you're not making any sense. If it's luxury to be able to bike, does that mean that we're in much worse shape than the Dutch? If it's a luxury to be able to bike to work, why is the trip share lower (around Boston) in those towns with a higher median or average income?

And you say holier-than-thou as if it were an epithet, instead of a plain objective fact. Yes, in fact, cyclists are holier than drivers. Consider:

A cyclist is far less likely to kill another person -- that's better, right? A cyclist inflicts less annoying noise and dust on other people -- that's better, isn't it? All those wars in the mideast that we've gotten involved in, and all those people we've pissed off enough that they became terrorists -- I'm pretty sure that had something to do with oil, which we mostly care about only because we use it to fuel cars. More biking = less driving = less money spent buying oil from (or driving up the world market price to) people who don't much like us -- that better, isn't it? And climate change, from CO2, a large chunk of which comes from driving cars instead of biking -- so once again, that's better, isn't it? And speaking historically, all those years we were laying down interstate roads and driving more and more, and (oops!) burning leaded gasoline, that in turn provoked a nationwide, decades-long crime wave; if those people who had been able to ride bikes, and done so, much less lead, much less crime -- that's better too, isn't it? Cars are also just plain scary and intimidating in a way that bicycles are not; on a well-used multi-use path near here, people commuting on bikes fail to scare dogwalkers, parents with kids, joggers, and rollerbladers off the path -- we do in fact "share". Can you imagine a road with cars on it, sharing the road with that same mix? How come cars are unable to do that? That's the whole reason we're at 1-3% for bicycle ride share -- not because the other 97% is unable to make bikes work, but because cars, especially cars driven by people in a GTFOOMW-honk-honk hurry, scare people off the roads. Isn't it better to not be so terrifying that you intimidate almost everyone else off the roads?

So unless your notion of "holiness" is indifferent to killing people, unnecessary wars, scaring people, provoking crime and destroying human potential, and slowly screwing up the climate, then yes, cycling is holier than driving.

Do note, it was you that brought this up.

You're also playing the standard part-for-whole-for-parts argument style -- contractors need cars and trucks because they cannot care their stuff on bikes (perhaps true), therefore we need cars and trucks, therefore *I* need my car. That doesn't follow at all.

by dr2chase on Jul 3, 2013 1:05 pm • linkreport

" (and commuting from all types of inaccessible places"

I thought this was about DC law enforcement and policy. Are you suggesting that DC should discourage biking on 14th street for the benefit of commuters from outside DC? I cant really speak to that, as I am not a DC resident (though I do commute by metro)

"I'd guess most people would view that 3% as a number not significant enough to bother doing anything to accommodate and, more likely, just be concerned with banning them outright. And I hear that movement is afoot in at least one Councilmember's office. "

since even suburban jurisdictions like Fairfax are encouraging more cycling, I doubt very much that will get anywhere in DC. I wonder which CM that could be?

There are many compromises to accommodate the auto - one is allowing autos to on all roads in DC. That seems like a huge compromise right there. If cyclists are a small percent of traffic in DC then they also dont take up much road space. So their presence on roads and strets is not a big issue for drivers. DC also has several high volume roads where cyclists are not allowed - I395 for example, I295, I 695, the Whitehurst, etc. That is, indeed the compromise.

DC had a mayor (fenty) attacked for over favoring bike lanes. His successor, Mayor Grey, has not reversed the probike policies, and has even advanced them (if not as fast as some here would like). I see no prospect of any viable candidate for mayor in DC adopting the policy you suggest of banning bikes from roads where they are now legal.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 3, 2013 1:09 pm • linkreport

"contractors need cars and trucks because they cannot care their stuff on bikes (perhaps true), therefore we need cars and trucks, therefore *I* need my car. "

even if it did - I need my car (at least while I live in a car dependent part of fairfax) but the presence of cyclists on the roads here (There are a few) does not in the least prevent me from owning or using my car. Similarly the presence of lots of cyclists in DC does not prevent me from driving in DC. In fact its hardly even an annoyance - certainly no more so than pedestrians, double parked delivery vehicles, heavy traffic, motorcades and festivals, etc, etc. All of which are part of urban living.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 3, 2013 1:12 pm • linkreport

http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post/19156/community-stories-show-the-shift-to-a-walkable-lifestyle/#comment-188976

and now

"we have workmen with trucks carrying their tools "

A neighbors rhetoric is very similar to that of the commenters in that thread. Perhaps they read the same things, I dont know.

Once again, the presence of cyclists does not mean one can't drive kids to school, or that grocery trucks can't deliver to supermarkets. Supporting more cycling, including transportation cycling, including on streets, including on roads, does NOT mean there should be no trips by any other mode, or even no auto/truck trips. Thats a straw man, and the constant repetition of it here(whether by different people, or the same person) does not make a strong case - and calling those who correctly show the weakness of that case, whether by calling them radicals, holy, or whatever - well, it may convince some I suppose.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 3, 2013 1:24 pm • linkreport

@dr2chase - "And you say holier-than-thou as if it were an epithet, instead of a plain objective fact. Yes, in fact, cyclists are holier than drivers."

If by "holier than" you mean more vulnerable than, then yes.

Pedestrians, bicyclists, skaters, etc. are all vulnerable roadway users in comparison to motor vehicles (I consider the sidewalk, side path, etc. to be part of the overall roadway or complete street if you will). This concept of the "vulnerable user" should be enshrined into law where it hasn't been already.

by DaveG on Jul 3, 2013 2:49 pm • linkreport

@A neighbor -

Yellow lines indicate the left-hand side of the portion of the roadway that is going in your direction as you drive (a car, a bike, whatever). I.e. the center of the roadway. And by the same token, the right hand side of the same roadway portion will be marked in white. You'll observe this situation on any urban or rural freeway, or any urban street or road, at least in the US.

Since many rural highways are double yellow striped down the middle particularly in hilly areas, yet people are allowed to make left turns as needed, I don't know that this no-left-turn-across-double-lines situation applies anywhere in the US (I have little to no knowledge of European or other international highways).

Since we are only discussing DC and other US roadways here, international rules of the road are moot for purposes of this discussion.

by DaveG on Jul 3, 2013 3:12 pm • linkreport

BTW Neighbor your wiki answer says "don't cross." That doesn't mean "don't turn."

by DaveG on Jul 3, 2013 3:22 pm • linkreport

Like Oboe mentions above, the problem is that bicycle traffic has increased of late. And it's no longer possible to 'share' these thoroughfares in a way that permits them to keep doing their job as ROWs for cars.

Just to clarify: the fact that bicycle traffic has increased is anything but a problem. The increase has actually made cycling safer, and the greater number of cyclists has made it more likely that the few remaining paleo-drivers get it drilled through their thick skulls that the "job" of DC's streets is not anything close to "ROWs for cars".

Never been a safer--or more enjoyable--time to be a transportation cyclist in DC. Hooray!

by oboe on Jul 3, 2013 5:00 pm • linkreport

Oh, and anyone who has cycled in DC for more than a few weeks understands that as bicycle traffic increases, it becomes more possible to "share" these thoroughfares--not less. Which of course increases the number of cyclists. Which makes drivers behave better. Rinse. Repeat.

by oboe on Jul 3, 2013 5:03 pm • linkreport

The mode share of biking trips in DC is higher than 3%. But using the figure of 3% of commuters in the metro area, estimating that to be about 1 million people, 3% is 30,000 people on any give day. That's a lot of people riding bikes.

by Tina on Jul 3, 2013 5:35 pm • linkreport

So needs of 30,000 trump the needs of about 1 million? I don't think so. And it's attitudes like Oboe's which could easily sink the rights of other bicyclists. Luckily his kind is the exception and is dying off quickly. Most cyclists are good people who know their means of travel is no more 'holy' than anyone else's and that and that most drivers are no different from them.

by A neighbor on Jul 3, 2013 8:30 pm • linkreport

I'm a driver. I do not find my needs harmed when others bike.

I don't see anything in Oboe's post indicating he finds biking "holy". He's simply clarifying that its possible to share the road, and that this is a cycle that leads to MORE biking. Nor is there anything in his stand that will lead to less rights for cyclists.

Right now Fairfax is studying CaBi for Reston. They want an increase in biking mode share for Tysons. NYC is embracing Citibike now that its opened. Cities are competing to get to higher and higher bike friendly status.

This tide is rising.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 3, 2013 8:45 pm • linkreport

"Just to clarify: the fact that bicycle traffic has increased is anything but a problem."

Its been good for cyclists. Its good for cities. Its good for the planet. None of which has anything to do with holiness.

" The increase has actually made cycling safer,"

without making it less safe for others.

" and the greater number of cyclists has made it more likely that the few remaining paleo-drivers get it drilled through their thick skulls that the "job" of DC's streets is not anything close to "ROWs for cars"."

Its ROW for cars AND trucks AND motorcycles AND bicycles.

Never been a safer--or more enjoyable--time to be a transportation cyclist in DC. Hooray!

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 3, 2013 8:48 pm • linkreport

I'm thinking of putting a sticker that says "this bike fights terrorism" on my bike? Think that would be better than "this bike fights global warming" ?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 3, 2013 8:51 pm • linkreport

I don't follow how riding a bike can fight terrorism. Were it not for the oil revenues, who knows if the Saudis, UAE, etc. would be as included as they are to be our allies in the war against terrorism.

by A neighbor on Jul 3, 2013 9:11 pm • linkreport

So glad you got compensation, though I hope it wasn't something ridiculous, as that hurts the cause as well. Many people behave downright sociopathic when they get behind the wheel of a car. I ride in the country and stay far to the right and most every ride some nut tries to see how close they can come to me though there is plenty of room and no traffic. No doubt, some have been seriously hurt or worse by these criminals. That woman states she saw you, yet we know the light was green, and that means that for no good reason she decided to force you into a life threatening situation. She should serve time. The cop should be disciplined or fired for shoddy investigative work, as well.

I'm curious, who was the "witness" that corroborated that you ran a red light, and what was their motive?

by Joseph Blough on Jul 4, 2013 2:39 pm • linkreport

@A neighbor - So needs of 30,000 trump the needs of about 1 million? I don't think so.

I don't think so either. That's not the point. You are asserting that utilitarian bicyclers have no rights, in essence that on a daily basis 30,000 people commuting to work in our region should be ignored and/or not accommodated and even shunned with doing everything possible to make their travel more difficult. No, the needs of bicyclers should not trump those of car drivers- but car drivers needs also should not trump those of bicyclers. This is a basic concept you have expressed deep rejection of and an impossibility of considering - even though its a reality that you live in! Whats going on? You live in a reality and curse it everyday? that sounds like a miserable way to live.

by Tina on Jul 5, 2013 11:46 am • linkreport

a neighbor

you did not get the reference huh? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/This_machine_kills_fascists

But Im okay with a "this bike fights global warming" sticker instead.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 5, 2013 12:47 pm • linkreport

http://bike.bedope.com/

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 5, 2013 12:50 pm • linkreport

Tina, I have no objection at improving the commute for bicyclers. I've already said I believe we need more dedicated ROWs for bicyclists. It just has to be a balanced approach to providing more bicycle infrastructure and not done at the expense of the 97% who are using other means of travel. Walker above argued that by increasing the number of cyclists in our roads, the speed at which cars can travel will slow and that that will make the roads safer for cyclists. And that is bad policy because it means that 97% (or whatever the share of drivers is) of commuters are prevented from traveling at their most efficient rate to provide for the needs and desires of a mere 3% of commuters.

by A neighbor on Jul 5, 2013 12:53 pm • linkreport

Walker, Cute stickers. The no emissions one reminded me of some cyclist who'd affixed a tail pipe to his rear for some biking event which was covered in the papers last year. Most of these stickers seem to be for somewhere else (eg NYC). Don't we have any DC specific ones?

by A neighbor on Jul 5, 2013 12:57 pm • linkreport

that sounds like a miserable way to live.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0C7AYsfB_dM

"Walker above argued that by increasing the number of cyclists in our roads, the speed at which cars can travel will slow and that that will make the roads safer for cyclists."

No, I said it could in some instances act as traffic calming. That makes the roads safer for cyclists, for pedestrian, and also for drivers (not all of whom want to speed) Also traffic calming, does not necessarily increase drive times for a number of reasons.

You would be more persuasive if you actually quoted, and fairly charecterized, the positions you disagree with.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 5, 2013 1:05 pm • linkreport

"Tina, I have no objection at improving the commute for bicyclers. I've already said I believe we need more dedicated ROWs for bicyclists. It just has to be a balanced approach to providing more bicycle infrastructure and not done at the expense of the 97% who are using other means of travel."

adding bicycle infrastructure AND making sharing the road more feasible, IS balance. There will never be enough off road trails and cycle tracks - and certainly not without the critical mass of bikers first.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 5, 2013 1:08 pm • linkreport

@ a neighbor - beside being wrong on history, law, and safety, you're also wrong on what people "want". People don't choose to use a road in some platonic ideal transportation system, they have to take into account how other people use the road, and their choices are influenced by how road use is subsidized.

Right now, where you are (assuming you're not also wrong about the "neighbor" thing) the bike share is 3%. If gas taxes were raised high enough to actually cover the costs of maintaining the roads and funding the wars fought because of that oil, that number would probably go up. If we dialed the road use laws back to where they were about 100 years ago (back before "jaywalking" -- people can cross the road wherever they want, and if a car hits them, it's the driver's fault), that might cause even more people to stop driving because of the higher cost of insurance and risk of incarceration. You make the assumption that the status quo is "fair", even though in other countries, with different policy choices, they end up with ride shares 10 times higher, in some cities almost 20 times higher. What makes you so sure that our choices are the fair ones, and theirs are the unfair ones?

Cars, carelessly used, scare many people off of bicycles. It's been studied, those people exist: http://bikeportland.org/2012/07/18/psu-research-delves-deeper-into-four-types-of-cyclists-74938 . Our car-happy culture (the one that you think is just fine and completely fair) does a tremendous disservice to those people who might ride, but are terrorized off the roads -- they die 2-5 years sooner than they otherwise would: http://bikeportland.org/2012/07/18/psu-research-delves-deeper-into-four-types-of-cyclists-74938

by dr2chase on Jul 5, 2013 3:58 pm • linkreport

I'd just like to see driving treated like any other thing people do, and not get special treatment.
e.g.
1. A usage tax that reflect the cost of using the road, just like most other usage taxes are supposed to work. e.g taxes on using an airport. Enough of the billions in subsidies.
2. Sales tax on gas, like every other thing we buy
3. Pollution laws. People fought for years to close the Alexandria power station, but cars are the #1 cause of air pollution in DC (IIRC). If a factory caused as much pollution, would residents just shrug? Recent research has shown that leaded gasoline is strongly linked to violent personalities.
4. Death and injury caused by the car would be seriously investigated like death and injury caused by anything else, like a gun. Why do VA police arrest a man for accidently shooting a cyclist, but seem less interested if the cyclist was injured by a car?
5. Licensing would be taken seriously. A criminal conviction forfeits the right to own a gun, and in some places the right to vote, serve on a jury etc. The law says you can't be trusted. But you can still drive. So we don't trust you to vote, but we allow you to pilot a 2ton vehicle at high speed. This is despite the fact that there is a constitutional amendment protecting guns and that more people are killed by cars than guns. How about those who kill or seriously injure with cars have their license immediately suspended, just like the police lose their gun when they shoot someone, pending an investigation.

This all sounds shocking and reactionary. I only put it out there to show how far we currently subsidize cars, treating them as a special case. Lets at least think about scaling back the subsidies.

by SJE on Jul 5, 2013 4:25 pm • linkreport

The claim that it's because of our oil usage that we fight wars is pretty bogus. We fight wars because we are the planet's peace keeper. We'd have been in Iraq and Afghanistan even if that wasn't were the oil was. If for no other reason than to keep the peace in the Middle East and protect the democracy of Israel we'd be there. Actually, there being something in those sands to sell us (ie oil) is a huge part of helping that part of the world maintain prosperity and peace. How long do you think the moderate government of that region would stay in power if their many millions of people had nothing to trade for hard currency. No, using oil doesn't cost us, it saves us, and the rest of the world from instability that otherwise most likely would be there.

Ad the oil itself is used for almost anything we consume except for food. Most oil doesn't go into gas for your car. It goes into making products including your bicycle tires and probably most other components of your rides.

And as for the canard that our policies favor cars, it should also be pointed out that e gas tax revenues not only support nearly all the infrastructure used by cars, but heavily subsidize mass transit and even your bike lanes. I've read the justification for taking car generated tax dollars to subsidize mass transit and bike infrastructure is to keep the volume of cat traffic from continuing to grow. Ie it's cheaper to keep some people off the road by subsiding another means of travel for them then to further fund road construction. And that may be true. But that doesn't negate the fact that the car generated revenue is the cash cow that keeps it all going. You kill that engine (literally) and you've killed the golden goose for all modes of travel.

by A neighbor on Jul 5, 2013 5:12 pm • linkreport

aaaand wrong on revenues and expenses, and wrong on foreign policy. If we focused on "keeping the peace", we'd have done something about the Congo, and Rwanda, and various other wars in places that don't have oil. The original inspiration for Al Qaeda attacking us was to get our military out of Saudi Arabia (where Mecca is).

Car-related taxes cover 51% of expenses. They are not a cash cow. See, for example: http://dc.streetsblog.org/2013/01/23/drivers-cover-just-51-percent-of-u-s-road-spending/

If you're wondering why people disagree with you here, it's because every single last one of your assumptions about how the world works is wrong. You are wrong on the history of traffic laws, wrong on current traffic laws, wrong on safety, wrong on demographics, wrong on foreign policy, wrong on the arithemetic and accounting of road taxation and expenses. It doesn't matter how sound your "logic" is, if you start with such a crazy set of assumptions.

by dr2chase on Jul 5, 2013 6:36 pm • linkreport

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

by A neighbor on Jul 5, 2013 6:53 pm • linkreport

A neighbor: you are completely wrong on gas taxes, sales taxes etc. For example, gas tax doesnt even remotely cover the costs incurred by cars, and has not done so for decades.

I don't go into the foreign policy issue, because its controversial and is not necessary to make my point. The US has many reasons for its decisions.

by SJE on Jul 5, 2013 8:33 pm • linkreport

@ a neighbor -- that link does not prove your point, because road construction is funded by other than gas taxes. The money sloshes around a lot, but in the end, more is spent on roads than is collected in gas taxes. Locally (I'm in Massachusetts) most of the roads (by mileage) are paid for with property taxes. The state takes care of highways, the feds take care of interstates (mostly, in both cases).

by dr2chase on Jul 5, 2013 9:34 pm • linkreport

A neighbor: the Denver Post article only says that the money collected from the gas tax does not all go to roads. That is correct (and something I personally oppose). It does not follow, however, that the gas tax even covered roads even if it was all put towards roads. All the evidence points otherwise. e.g. http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post/11871/inflation-not-bike-sharing-is-why-the-gas-tax-isnt-enough/

Think about it: gas is really cheap in the USA compared to every other country. Do you think they are all rabid socialists gouging the poor driver? (Actually, Britain does, but other European countries not so much).

And, even if the gas tax covered the costs of roads, why is gas not subject to sales tax? I pay sales tax on a rain coat if my kid walks to school, but no sales tax on gas if I drive him there so he doesnt need the rain coat. ....etc

by SJE on Jul 5, 2013 10:45 pm • linkreport

I forgot: most local roads are funded through property taxes. State and Federal roads are through a combination of gas taxes and raiding general revenue. A lot of the infrastructure was built on the cheap in the 1950s and is failing. Not only does the current tax not even pay for current construction, there is a huge unfunded liability: hundreds of billions to replace bridges etc.

by SJE on Jul 5, 2013 10:49 pm • linkreport

Closer to home: see Maryland's 2012 transportation budget, which covers all state roads. http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/pubs/budgetfiscal/2014fy-budget-docs-operating-j00-maryland-department-of-transportation-overview.pdf

In 2012, gas tax brought in $734M, out of the total $2,830M revenue. MDOT spent $2,864M. So the 2012 gas tax covered 25.6% of MDOT expenditures. Barely a quarter. So much for Neighbor's idea that it is the golden goose.

Does it even cover roads? Lets take out aviation, ports and WMATA costs (bikes are so small they don't even make it) which account for 31% of MDOT costs (see page 13). Lets say 33%. So, 25.6% of in the income divided by 66% of the costs: Gas tax therefore covers about 39% of road-related costs paid by MDOT.

Where does the money come from then?
Top source of was "corporate income, registration, misc MVA fees" (795). "titling taxes" were 632. So the state is already not collecting most of its transportation income as a user fee (gas tax) but through various other taxes on other activities. You do far more to pay for the roads when you buy a car than through the gas tax.

Estimates for 2103 put the gas tax at 18% of MD revenue.

As for 2013, Maryland now uses the gas tax to also pay for WMATA, bikes etc. But the gas tax still does not even cover the road fees. And it is still not subject to regular sales tax.

Therefore, while gas tax may be diverted to other purposes, it does not follow that the gas tax is either the golden goose or that it even pays for the thing it is meant to cover, the roads.

A Neighbor, over to you for your rebuttal. I may have made some minor accounting errors, and welcome your corrections since you clearly believe I am wrong.

by SJE on Jul 6, 2013 12:18 pm • linkreport

Sorry, Estimates for 2103 put the gas tax at 18% of MDOT revenue. i.e. transportation budget, not the entire state budget.

by SJE on Jul 6, 2013 12:21 pm • linkreport

"You kill that engine (literally) and you've killed the golden goose for all modes of travel."

I fail to see how trying to make it safer to ride a bike on 14th street means no "killing" auto travel, gas tax revenue, etc.

It does not. I drive in places people bike. Its not that big a deal really.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 6, 2013 12:27 pm • linkreport

I don't know if this has been said yet, but if you ran a red light, that means that the car turned left on a red light, which is also illegal. So, whoops. Even without all the other problems with their version of what happened, even if you *had* run a red light it would have put the driver at least partially at fault.

by Cayen on Jul 8, 2013 10:50 am • linkreport

What about criminal charges against the driver for reckless driving? Or was that too much to expect?

by Dominic on Jul 9, 2013 8:01 am • linkreport

What about criminal charges against the driver for reckless driving? Or was that too much to expect?

That's just crazy talk. Unless you're absolutely plastered on alcohol or doing 35 mph over the posted speed limit, you are by definition not "recklessly driving" and can run over whomever you want.

by oboe on Jul 9, 2013 2:51 pm • linkreport

gd pigs. we pay their salaries. i want that bastard at the station fired.

by NE John on Jul 9, 2013 3:23 pm • linkreport

glad to have read this. I was just in an accident myself and ended up with head and shoulder injuries. The driver and I were both issued tickets, mine for hazardous driving. I have no memory of the accident or the few days following. The only witness to the accident heard the accident happen then saw the aftermath. I am off to challenge the ticket next week but lack any real evidence or memory of the event. Any advice?

by MB on Jul 11, 2013 9:17 pm • linkreport

@MB

If you experienced bias from the police I would suggest that you participate in this story collection that WABA is doing:

http://www.waba.org/blog/2013/07/share-your-stories-of-police-bias/

by MLD on Jul 12, 2013 8:22 am • linkreport

I was involved in similar accident in Chattanooga, TN, a biking haven, many would say. I was doing 25-30 mph coming off an incline when a driver pulled in front of me from a side-street parking lot while making full eye-contact with me...it was almost as if it were deliberate. I t-boned the car, did a face plant on his hood or windshield, and flew end-over-end still in my clips. (This was told to me by someone who heard me yell just before collision and witnessed.) The driver sped away before anyone could see his tag. I suffered several serious facial injuries including a broken tooth and injuries similar to this poster, including a separated shoulder that was hideously out of place. I had no insurance that would cover my bills (no VA emergency center in the city) nor, was the driver ever found. The police initially hunted for the driver and thought he was apprehended, but, air-tight alibi proved him not to be the one. After that, despite a clear description of the car, and my assurance I could identify the driver ("Hell...he might be from Georgia.") I never heard from the police again despite my several calls to the investigative officer. I wish they would have at least tried instead of saying it was impossible to find this person.

by Mike on Jul 18, 2013 12:24 am • linkreport

Its called respect people. In this case the biker had some and the driver and officer didnt. End of debate.

by David on Jul 26, 2013 4:04 pm • linkreport

I'm not insinuating that you did anything "wrong," and I agree that the driver was at fault per se, but I am very confused as to why you chose to hit your brakes rather than swerve. It may have saved your shoulder. Even a hard bank right following the curb cut, after braking straight, would have shed more forward velocity and greatly improved your impact angle, if you would have impacted at all.

We can argue all day about fault and liability, but incident avoidance by all means available should be the main focus of any urban cyclists' training, as it is for motorcyclists. Those of us who commute the same routes everyday can get lazy and forget the importance of constantly assessing our maneuvering opportunities, and even those who do are not always practiced at avoiding panic and making the split-second decisions that are inevitably required in any cyclist's career.

by AP on Aug 7, 2013 3:48 pm • linkreport

I remember something similar to this happening to me the intersection of Shady Grove Rd. and Oakmont Ave. in Gaithersburg. I was going westbound towards Rt. 355. As I was approaching the intersection of Shady Grove Rd. and Oakmont Ave., I looked to see if there were any vehicles in the eastbound left turn-only lane. There was one vehicle about to move into the left turn-only lane, from the straight lane. So I thought it was safe to continue through the green light since the straight traffic has the ROW despite the left turn signal. As I was going through the intersection the driver 'hit the gas' to make the signal, and nearly broadsided me. I stopped in the intersection because I knew at the rate of speed that the driver was going, they were going to hit my back tire if I continued. I got their attention by yelling 'STOP!!!!!!' at them, at the top of my lungs. Then I continued on to my destination. It was on a clear day, and I had a hi-vis yellow windbreaker on.

by Christopher on Nov 28, 2013 1:57 pm • linkreport

To AP I would say, "you had to be there", and, I am not a commuter. At the speed I was going, and with there being only about 10 feet of space between myself and the auto as he suddenly lurched in my path, "swerving" was not an option. If I had that opportunity, the 8-9 inch island curbs would probably had thrown me uncontrollably into the front or under the car anyway. As someone who has raced bikes, and regularly ride in large groups at speeds 30-35 mph with wheels being less than a foot apart for the most part of a couple of hours and more, I can assure AP if "swerving" were a viable option, I would have taken it. In fact, after this experience, I think I would advise someone in a similar predicament as mine, to T-bone the car as I did and let the tire and frame take the brunt of the impact, rather than slam sideways into the car and fracture every limb and also receive the injuries I did in addition.

by Mike on Dec 1, 2013 10:02 pm • linkreport

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