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3 of 4 citations upheld against driver in Trish Cunningham fatality

Whitney Decesaris, the driver who hit and killed Trish Cunningham on Riva Road just south of Annapolis had one of her four traffic citations waived, for the odd reason that her driving was actually worse than what she was cited for. 

Decesaris had avoided criminal charges, when a grand jury opted not to indict her, but still received "four traffic citations that would accrue points against her driver’s license and carry a total of $2,000 in fines. She appealed the citations..."

[District Court Judge Robert C.] Wilcox found her guilty of three of the four traffic citations — failure to exercise caution, negligent driving and failure to control speed — each carrying a maximum fine of $500. Saying there was no evidence that Decesaris made any attempt to drive around Cunningham, he dismissed a charge of driving left of the center line and unsafe passing.

If she had tried to avoid hitting her, her punishment would have been worse than for not paying attention and running her down from behind. That seems wrong to me. 

This part is pretty amazing too

A defense witness, Richard Garden, a Severna Park oral surgeon, said he was driving behind Decesaris and did not see the cyclist.

“I really didn’t see the van do anything at impact,” Garden said. “I saw it jerk to the left, but not much.”

Garden said he drives that portion of Riva Road daily, and was talking with his wife by cellphone when the collision occurred.

What??? I wonder why he didn't see the cyclist. It couldn't have been the phone call he was making. 

The lawyer said that the reason that Decesaris fought the tickets was that she wanted her "day in court." She's entitled to that, but I don't buy it, and I found it particularly galling and callous. Especially since her story doesn't match what witnesses said. 

Decesaris wept as she said she saw Cunningham climbing a hill ahead of her mini-van, “swerved to avoid hitting her, and I heard contact with my vehicle.”

Neil Tatterson testified that he was driving behind Decesaris, that he saw Cunningham ahead of them both and that he did not see Decesaris’s brake lights come on before she struck the cyclist. He said Decesaris did not swerve until she hit the bike.

 It's likely she fought the tickets in the hope of avoiding some civil liability. 

Mid City East small area plan

The Mid City East small area plan was recently completed and it includes a few specific bicycle facility improvements. 

The Mid City East Small Area Plan providesa framework for conservation, development, sustainability and connectivity in Mid City East, a mosaic of neighborhoods including Bates/TruxtonCircle, Bloomingdale, Eckington, Hanover, LeDroitPark, and Sursum Corda as well as sections of Edgewood and Stronghold. 

The Metropolitan Branch Trail runs along the eastern edge of the study area, and residents would like to see it improved.

Connection points at T Street, S Street and Randolph Place NE need better signage to identify the trail, enhanced vegetation and maintenance. In addition, residents have expressed major concerns about safety on the trail. Some residents have ceased using the trail because of recent incidents.

And so the recommendation is to "work with DDOT to improve wayfinding to the Metropolitan Branch Trail and add vegetation, lighting, and public art to improve the trail’s aesthetics, enhance safety, and encourage increased use."

Other recommendations were pulled from DDOT’s Mid City East Livability Study which was completed last October. 

At Truxton Circle, the Livability Study recommends:

  • A high visibility crosswalk and bike box across Q Street NW.
  • A painted bicycle crossing adjacent to the Florida Avenue crosswalk.
  • A protected contra flow bike connector from Q Street crossing to North Capitol Street along Florida Avenue and through Truxton Circle Park and behind bus stop.
  • A protected cycle track from the North Capitol Street crossing to and onto a new Q Street bike lane

Truxton

At 5th and Rhode Island the recommendation is to extend the existing 5th Street bike lanes from Rhode Island Avenue to Florida Avenue. These lanes would serve as a substitute to the 6th Street bike lanes recommended in the 2005 Bicycle Master Plan.

The plan recommends changing the lane widths on New Jersey Avenue between N Street NW and Florida Avenue NW to allow for a 13.5 foot wide right-hand lane. Thw lane would be a shared travel lane (sharrows) for cyclists and drivers, and it would connect to planned bike lanes on New Jersey Avenue between H Street NW and N Street NW. 

Girl on a bicycle

See, bicycles can find you love. 

Grosso introduces bill to change car-bike crashes from contributory negligence to comparative negligence

Councimember David Grosso just introduced the “Bicycle and Motor Vehicle Collision Recovery Amendment Act of 2014.”  Grosso writes:

This bill would make it easier for cyclists to get compensation for damage sustained in accidents with cars, by ending the legal use of contributory negligence in automobile-bicycle collisions

Wow. That would be an enormous improvement. WABA, and Shane Farthing in particular, have been working this issue pretty hard for the last few years, and it would be a real victory to see the law improved in this way. 

More from WABA

Cyclist's cameras pick up Hit and Run crash on Met Branch Trail's on street portion

The two videos below show the rear and front camera views of the incidents surrounding a crash between a car and a cyclist along the on-street portion of the Metropolitan Branch Trail on 8th Street NE. I don't see the actual collision as it appears to occur on the opposite side of the car from the camera.

It looks like two cyclists were riding along  (possibly two abreast, though one is a little ahead of the other). The driver pulled up and honked at them twice. When they didn't move over, he gunned it, passed over the double-yellow line and passed too closely to the far cyclist. Then he stopped in the road and when they pulled up beside him - one on either side - he took off again, hitting the far cyclist in the process. Then he left the scene.

Now, cyclists are not allowed to ride two abreast if there is a car behind them, but this road was so narrow that it would have done him no good if they had arranged themselves in single file, but continued to take the lane. And then, it was illegal and unsafe for the far cyclist to cross the double yellow line to pass the stopped car, as it appears he did.

But, those are pretty trivial when compared to the litany of illegal, rude and unsafe maneuvers that the driver took part in. Honking (illegal and rude). Crossing the double yellow line (illegal and unsafe). Passing with less than 3 feet (illegal and unsafe). Hit and run (illegal and unsafe). And there was probably some speeding in there for good measure. 

It's hard to say who's at fault for the actual crash. 

This incident has been reported to the police and better images of the plates show the license plate number clearly. Let's see if MPD follows up. 

REQX might take majority stake in Alta's Capital Bikeshare business

According to an article in today's NY Times

The arrangement would wrest control from Alta, the company, based in Portland, Ore., that has partnered with the city to date, and give it to REQX, a venture formed by some principals of the real estate firm Related and the fitness chain Equinox. REQX would also assume a majority stake in Alta’s other systems, in cities like Boston, Washington and Melbourne, Australia. The agreement could be announced as early as this week, though officials cautioned that a deal had not been completed.

I'm not sure what thtat means. Does REQX take over operations from Alta?

Update: Here's more.

Lollipop style bike parking in Mt Rainier

Turning parking meters into bike racks, not that they weren't already.

Lollipop style bike parking in Mt Rainier

Skate park along NW branch trail

Last time I went by here, this was a basketball court.

Skate park along NW branch trail

Skate park along NW branch trail

New South Dakota Avenue NE side path

I'm not sure how much use this side path gets, but DC is replacing it with a sidewalk. You can see some of the old pavement to the left of the new sidewalk. It was in bad shape for sure.

Not sure if this will still be a bike route as the sign says.

New South Dakota Avenue NE side path

CaBi has new member keys

image from pic.twitter.com

 

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