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Struck in DC this week: 8 pedestrians, 4 cyclists

On Wednesday's Kojo Nnamdi Show, DDOT Director Gabe Klein said:


Photo by Mr. Dagnino Reloaded.
A lot of my job is to balance competing needs... to balance this right-of-way that we have between cars and cyclists and pedestrians...

You have to realize that the pedestrian is the most vulnerable because they're the slowest and they have no armor. The cyclist is second-most vulnerable. Then you have cars. Then you have trucks and buses. And so you really have to look at the food chain and make sure that you're protecting the most vulnerable people first.

So safety is number one at DDOT. And number one is peds, and then cyclists, and then cars. And a lot of times, when you can slow traffic down and make a more livable city, it's actually safer for the drivers, as well.

Prioritization of vulnerable road users goes by many names, from "feet first" to the green transportation hierarchy. Whatever you call it, it's a sensible policy that a growing number of city and state departments of transportation are adopting.

Since Director Klein has made bicycle and pedestrian safety "number one," we've decided to help make it easier for all of us to keep tabs on this priority by mapping each week's cyclist and pedestrian crashes as reported by Struck in DC, which has been tracking crashes on Twitter since June 1. While it is not a comprehensive listing of all pedestrian and cyclist incidents on our city's streets, Struck in DC does keep tabs on reports from DC Fire/EMS and other sources. If you know of a crash that wasn't mapped here, leave a note in the comments.

Stephen Miller lived in the District from 2008 to 2011 and is now a student at Pratt Institute's city and regional planning masters program. 

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It would be helpful to have relevant information posted along with the 'struck'. For example, did a pedestrian get hit in a crosswalk? Was the cyclist running a redlight or stop sign? Who got the ticket. Additionally, don't motorists get 'struck' too?

by Lance on Aug 8, 2010 11:53 am • linkreport

Yes, the link is to Twitter. Not definitive by a long shot. It would be good to have some kind of (sorry for the ghoulishness) itemized list.

Where can I go to learn more?

by Jazzy on Aug 8, 2010 12:34 pm • linkreport

Lance: It would also be helpful to have information such as:

was the car speeding?
did the driver of the car run a redlight or stop sign?
was the driver of the car using a cellphone illegally?
was it a truck or bus making an illegal turn?

You're right, more information is needed, but unfortunately, all we have is 140 characters on Twitter from DC Fire and EMS.

by IMGoph on Aug 8, 2010 1:55 pm • linkreport

@IMGoph, As it stands, it's no better (or more valuable) than gossip. Actually, it's a 'bad thing' in that it can very incorrectly paint a picture of what's happening. While the new social media can be used for good, this illustrates how it can be also used for bad ... i.e., the spreading of unclear, unverified, and 'probably wrong' claims. I'd say it's not 'worth the paper it's printed on' ... but given it's not even printed on paper ... even that would be giving it too much credit.

by Lance on Aug 8, 2010 2:33 pm • linkreport

The kind of statistical information that would paint a more full picture is only available, as far as I have been able to ascertain, via DC Gov. The most recent information I was able to get was Traffic Safety Report Statistics from 2006-2008. It's a 130-page PDF from DDOT, which I am happy to share.

Reporting/repeating via the Twitter account was a result of lots of people noticing how many "ped struck" and "cyclist struck" were on the @dcfireems stream. "Someone should keep track," was a general consensus, so we did. I doubt what DC Fire/EMS is reporting is "probably wrong."

I'm hoping the Struck in DC blog will be used like http://hollabackdc.wordpress.com/, which posts individual experiences. While such reports are not "official," I don't think they are bad. Quite the opposite, in fact.

by Mazzie on Aug 8, 2010 2:42 pm • linkreport

Lance: I'm curious to know what information you have that would prove that the DC Fire and EMS public information officer is publishing patently wrong information. Do you have that proof?

I submit that you do not, and that your initial comment on this story was meant to be divisive, and potentially blame those who have been hit by automobiles for their own injuries.

I understand that you enjoy often being a contrarian voice in the comments here, but if you don't have even a shred of proof to back up your assertions, I'd recommend not stepping in that pile of crap. It doesn't look good on you.

by IMGoph on Aug 8, 2010 2:56 pm • linkreport

If it were a twitter record of cyclists slow-rolling stop signs,Lance would be defending it as comprehensive, accurate, and unassailable. It's a peculiar blind spot.

by oboe on Aug 8, 2010 6:02 pm • linkreport

@IMGoph

.... While it is not a comprehensive listing of all pedestrian and cyclist incidents on our city's streets, Struck in DC does keep tabs on reports from DC Fire/EMS and other sources.

Have you read that Twitter thread? or even what Stephen Miller (the blogger) said about 'other' sources? It's hearsay for the most part. Like I said, this is the downside of social media. There's no editor or other person tasked with ensuring accuracy. It needs to be taken with a grain of salt. And something like this 'Struck in DC' does more harm than good by spreading unsubstaniated 'reports'. And btw, of the 19 tweets on there now, only 2 of them are from 'dcfirems' ... which, you're claiming, without any backing, to be the 'DC Fire and EMS public information officer' ....

struckdcRT @ggwash: 8 pedestrians, 4 cyclists @struckdc this week. See the map: http://bit.ly/bWefKZ
about 12 hours ago via web
RT @dcfireems: Walk with Care - Drive with Caution - DC Law Motorists Give Peds right-of-way
about 13 hours ago via web
RT @EZBaratz: After each time I ride somewhere I'm confronted by the inevitability of ending up on @struckdc. I just hope my bike doesn' ...
8:16 PM Aug 7th via Twitter for iPhone
#111 ped struck - Ny Av & N Cap St NW
1:16 PM Aug 7th via web
#110 Ped Struck - Haines Point - DC F&EMS Fire Boat assisting
1:16 PM Aug 7th via web
RT @kateddc: Hey 2 ladies giggling as you cross against the light at 7 & I: it's so funny you almost got run over by a bus! #sarcasm (@s ...
11:10 AM Aug 7th via twidroid
new post: cyclist struck during Critical Mass event in Dupont Circle: http://wp.me/pXPcJ-r
7:15 PM Aug 6th via web
RT @dcfireems: Update - cyclist actually struck car - makes u kinda go mmmmm - anyway EMS evaluated & cyclist refused
5:57 PM Aug 6th via web
RT @bridget_theresa: http://twitpic.com/2c9a94 - Hey @struckdc bike at #criticalmass just got run over by a cab. Check out the tire damage.
5:33 PM Aug 6th via web
#109 dupont circle cab purposefully hit a cyclist. DCFD on the scene and stopped the cabbie. (HT @bridget_theresa) http://twitpic.com/2c9b6y
5:29 PM Aug 6th via Twitpic
new post: dangerous intersection http://wp.me/pXPcJ-k
5:06 PM Aug 6th via web
correction #108 cyclist struck - 5300 Southern Av SE (82 counted twice)
3:00 PM Aug 6th via web
#107 cyclist struck - 5300 Southern Av SE
2:47 PM Aug 6th via web
@bridget_theresa thank you!
12:29 PM Aug 6th via web in reply to bridget_theresa
e-mail us at struckdc@gmail.com!
12:27 PM Aug 6th via web
We can raise awareness and start a dialogue about pedestrian and cyclist issues in DC by sharing experiences.
11:16 AM Aug 6th via web
Dangerous intersection? Close call? Witness or been involved in an accident involving a pedestrian or bike? Email us! Help make DC safer.
11:15 AM Aug 6th via web
#106 ped struck - 7th St & H St NW
11:13 AM Aug 6th via web
#105 cyclist struck - N Cap & H St NW
8:49 AM Aug 6th via web
#104 ped struck - 3200 blk 17th St NW - adult female struck by trash truck EMS transported to trauma ctr - pri 1 - serious

by Lance on Aug 8, 2010 11:50 pm • linkreport

Lance it would be useful to have that information, but I suspect it is not available. Like so much in life, the feed is what it is. Nothing more and nothing less. It's more than gossip though, in that their is a known source of the information. With time the reliability of that source becomes more known.

This, being information, is not a bad thing, unless you think that only you are qualified to judge the validity and value of a twitter feed of this nature, but that others will be easily bamboozled by falsehoods within. Is that what you think?

by David C on Aug 9, 2010 12:00 am • linkreport

Lance: I'm going to assume that you don't know how Twitter works. Going from that (reasonable) assumption, let's start with your assertion that there are "19 tweets on there now."

There are 158 tweets (as of midnight, Monday, August 9th, 2010) in the @struckdc feed. Just because you can only see 19 when you look at the webpage doesn't mean there aren't more. There is a button on the bottom that says "more." Click that, and you'll keep getting more tweets until you reach the start of the feed.

Second, the two tweets that you're seeing that have the exact letters "@dcfireems" aren't the only ones related to the DC Fire and EMS twitter feed. Nearly every Struck in DC tweet that starts with a number (like the one that says "#104 ped struck - 3200 blk 17th St NW - adult female struck by trash truck EMS transported to trauma ctr - pri 1 - serious" is a direct quote that has been copied and pasted out of DC Fire and EMS' twitter feed into the Struck in DC feed.

Third, if you require "backing" that the DC Fire and EMS twitter feed is coming from the agency itself, and not some snot-nosed, pajama-wearing kid in his mother's basement, passing along unsubstantiated reports with cheeto-stained fingers, I offer you these stories from reputable news sources DCist and The Washington Post. You'll note that both attribute this information to Alan Etter, who is currently the Vice President of University Relations & Public Affairs at UDC. His bio also states that he was the "public information officer for the DC Fire & EMS Department for nearly nine years before coming to UDC." Mr. Etter was quoted as saying, "I know there are services that describe events as well -- these will be OFFICIAL updates and will -- hopefully -- offer useable details" (note, I didn't capitalize the word "official" there, that was in the Washington Post story. Now, since he's no longer running the twitter feed, I don't have unassailable proof that it is still run by the public information officer, but I would assume that the duties would have been handed down to his replacement.

It took me a couple minutes on Google to look that all up, Lance. You could have done the same, satisfied your need for an authoritative voice to assuage your fears that we're just making shit up here, and saved us all a lot of time.

Please, come up with a better argument why this is all a bad thing. You might as well just start shouting "you damn kids get off my lawn" while you're at it now too.

by IMGoph on Aug 9, 2010 12:13 am • linkreport

I would be curious to know how old Lance is.

by ontarioroader on Aug 9, 2010 12:46 am • linkreport

Thanks for taking that pile of shit on, IMGOPH.

On another note, I think that ped safety is critical but also a red herring. Where is the conversation about fluidity, pace, and priority. I'd bet my gonads that Planning is talking about how quickly they get cars to move. And freely relegating pedestrians to whatever flow happens after that. Why does it take me ten minutes to walk five crosswalks across a circle? Why do they eliminate crosswalks at some state street Intersections? Why not just stop the traffic and let us walk?

This question is about the kind of city we want to live in. This question is about how we invest in cars and ignore walkability. Despite our investment and priority contributing to horrible air quality, burgeoning traffic problems, wars driven by disproportionate and unethical consumption of fossil fuels, and the industy-led deference to cars.

by John on Aug 9, 2010 8:47 am • linkreport

Lance - I'm looking forward to your new policy of not posting anything about proposed development projects other than verified information from official sources. I know how you detest reading opinions and rumors about development.

by tt on Aug 9, 2010 9:22 am • linkreport

There was another cyclist accident where a car hit a cyclist at Florida and North Capitol on Wednesday night. The cyclist required elbow surgery after the collision.

by Geoff on Aug 9, 2010 9:28 am • linkreport

John, it sounds like you're saying that roundabouts are a bad idea. If so, I agree! They suck. Walkability is extremely important, and on this blog, I find, often takes a back seat to bicycling. Which is a huge mistake. Cycling's important, but walking should come first.

Washington Circle is impossible to get around. There are no official ways to allow pedestrians through. You are just taking a chance.

by Jazzy on Aug 9, 2010 10:44 am • linkreport

@IMGoph, You could have done the same, satisfied your need for an authoritative voice to assuage your fears that we're just making shit up here, and saved us all a lot of time.

That's not the issue here. I'm not saying you or anyone else is 'making up' anything.

The point I am trying to get across is that raw, unprocessed data is valueless ... always has been and always will be. And it doesn't matter how fast you can spew it out. And when it's given a bit of 'officiality' by being posted then it becomes dangerous because it suddently means 'something' to someone ... and will be used to 'prove a point' ... when in reality it can't.

Are you following at all?

by Lance on Aug 9, 2010 2:12 pm • linkreport

Lance said: The point I am trying to get across is that raw, unprocessed data is valueless ... always has been and always will be.

As a meteorologist who prefers the raw data, I disagree with this claim. Sure, most people won't understand the raw data, but that doesn't mean it's valueless.

by Froggie on Aug 9, 2010 2:22 pm • linkreport

@Froggie, You make a good point. So, I guess I need to clarify my 'gripe'. Unprocessed data isn't valueless to you because you have the knowledge to process it AND the context in which to process it. But what if you didn't have meteorlogical training? Or, what if you received data such as 'there's a storm out there' ... without any indication of 'where', 'what kind', 'what time', etc.? Do you see how for most people in most instances having raw data out there could lead to wrong conclusions ... and therefore wrong reactions?

by Lance on Aug 9, 2010 2:27 pm • linkreport

And let me caveat that ... not only 'raw' data ... but most certainly 'incomplete' data ... strewn with data of questionable origins and veracity (eg., the tweets not coming from the EMS guy.)

by Lance on Aug 9, 2010 2:30 pm • linkreport

@Lance, @Froggie:
I agree. Precisely because Metro made available to me raw, unprocessed data was I able to write these posts on ridership patterns:
http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post.cgi?id=4068
http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post.cgi?id=4079

by Matt Johnson on Aug 9, 2010 2:30 pm • linkreport

@Matt, and that was some fantastic analysis you did based on your expertise and THEN presented it in an organized and logical fashion. And THAT was valuable. Just throwing it out there without the extra effort on your part would have been useless ... and even dangerous ... because people tend to think 'if it's on the Internet it must be true'.

by Lance on Aug 9, 2010 2:57 pm • linkreport

@Lance:
How would putting the number of patrons traveling from the north mezzanine at Anacostia to the south mezzanine at Union Station on the internet be dangerous?

And, by the way, it would be true. Despite being on the internet. It just wouldn't be analyzed or modeled.

Remember, if Metro took your approach, they wouldn't have provided the data to me in the first place, because I might not have as much expertise and giving out the raw data might be dangerous because I might analyze it and put it on the internet.

by Matt Johnson on Aug 9, 2010 3:05 pm • linkreport

@Matt ... Because:

"A lot of my job is to balance competing needs... to balance this right-of-way that we have between cars and cyclists and pedestrians..."

Since Director Klein has made bicycle and pedestrian safety "number one," we've decided to help make it easier for all of us to keep tabs on this priority by mapping each week's cyclist and pedestrian crashes as reported by Struck in DC, which has been tracking crashes on Twitter since June 1.

I may have my differences with how Director Klein has handled the streetcar initiative in DC, but I still think it's unfair to judge his success in 'balancing competing needs' based on this raw data dump ... I guess it's the ominous 'to help make it easier for all of us to keep tabs on ... ' part that I'm particularly offended by. Raw data, people with no training or experience in how to use that data ... are being incited to 'keep tabs' and 'pass judgement' on someone. Yeah, call me old fashioned if you like ... but I thought that kind of uninformed rallying had gone the way of the McCarthy Hearings and Salem Witch Trials ... Obviously not. While Social Media may have a lot going for it, this is a weakspot of it ... Actually, it's more than a weak spot. It's a danger.

by Lance on Aug 9, 2010 5:58 pm • linkreport

Lance: At 2:12 pm, you said:

The point I am trying to get across is that raw, unprocessed data is valueless ... always has been and always will be.

Thankfully, others have pointed out that raw data is anything but valueless.

I think I follow what you're saying. You fear anyone but the priests of the Temples of Syrinx from having access to the music.

I also appreciate how you've invented a corollary to Godwin's Law. People who want data so that can fashion it into useful information, like a map, are worse than Hitler Joe McCarthy. Got it.

I follow perfectly. Thanks for opening up my eyes. I'm ashamed at how ignorant I was before. Being schooled by you here, being flogged intellectually by your brilliance, has made me see the error of my ways.

Oh, and get off my lawn...

by IMGoph on Aug 9, 2010 7:01 pm • linkreport

> was the car speeding?
> did the driver of the car run a redlight or stop sign?
> was the driver of the car using a cellphone illegally?
> was it a truck or bus making an illegal turn?

I might not trust that kind of thing from an as-it-happens Twitter feed even if were posted by Walter Cronkite.

Eyewitnesses may disagree and the stakes are high. The best you could get would be the result of an official investigation.

by Turnip on Aug 9, 2010 9:02 pm • linkreport

The StruckinDc.wordpress.com blog has some interesting stats. The plurality of pedestrian accidents 2006-2008 were in a crosswalk where the pedestrian had the signal, or in a marked or unmarked crosswalk with no signal.

Out of the 592 accidents, 195 were jaywalking. there are also something like 150 that were unknown or "other."

by lou on Aug 10, 2010 11:57 am • linkreport

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