A bicyclist was fatally struck by a Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) truck in Gaithersburg Monday morning.
Police say the man was struck on Darnestown Road at Quice Orchard Road around 10 a.m. The intersection is located near Quice Orchard High School.
"At this time, we believe that the truck was traveling westbound on Route 28, attempting to make a left-hand turn into that shopping center. The adult male cyclist was traveling in a lane of travel; they collided in the intersection near that shopping center," explained Rebecca Innocenti with the Montgomery County Police Department.
Police said a Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission truck traveling west on Darnestown Road was attempting to make a left turn on a green light into the Shops at Potomac Valley shopping center near Washington Avenue when it struck Malizio, who was traveling east on Darnestown Road in the far right travel lane.
Police spokesman Capt. Paul Starks said the green light was not a green arrow. A sign posted at the intersection warns motorists to yield while turning left on green.
The driver of the WSSC truck was identified as John Phillip Kline, 52, of Hagerstown.
Early this morning a cyclist was struck and killed on MLK Highway near Forbes Boulevard in Lanham County. The driver left the scene.
The hit and run accident happened at about 1:55 a.m. on Martin Luther King Jr. Highway near Forbes Boulevard in Lanahm, police said.
Police were called to the area, and when they arrived they found the victim in the roadway suffering from critical injuries, police said. The victim passed away from his injuries in the hospital soon after, police said.
Police ask anyone with information to call the department’s Collision Analysis and Reconstruction Unit at (301) 731-4422. Anonymous calls can be made to Crime Solvers at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477), text “PGPD plus your message” to CRIMES (274637).
Police say the car involved is described as a black sedan that would presumably have front-end damage, a broken headlamp and a piece of its bumper missing.
The victim’s name has not been released.
It's the second fatal bike crash in the area this year, both hit-and-runs; and the first in PG County since the summer of 2013. At this point, even if the driver is found, it will be too late to do an alcohol test which would be relevant at that time of day.
Taking an incredibly liberal definition of the meaning of "news", much of the mainstreetmediawas reporting on a report released by the Governors Highway Safety Association report that included the fact that cyclist deaths are up 16% over the last two years. This, of course, has been known since the NHTSA reported the 2012 fatalities nearly a year ago (some of the data has been updated since then causing a change of 4 fatalities).
There are a few facts that are being widely reported, and a lot of the context is being left out.
The number of bicyclists killed in motor vehicle crashes between 2010 and 2012 was up 16 percent
That's true. But 2010 had the fewest number of bike fatalities on record. So the first thing to note is that there is some reversion to the mean. 2011 was basically on the trendline, and while 2012 is above it, so were the years 2004-2008.
This two year increase is similar to ones seen from 2003-2005, 1992-93 or 1984-86. When you have an outlier, like 2010 was, it's not unusual to see a short term rise. Unscrupulous people can use that to hide the longer trend as did global warming denialists who liked to claim for many years that, because 1998 was such a warm year, "there has been no recorded global warming for more than a decade," but then 2010 came along and ruined that. Similarly in each of the earlier cases where deaths went up, the number of deaths eventually reverted to the overall trend down. That doesn't mean this will happen again, with more people biking, it's possible we will continue to get more crashes and more deaths, but it isn't yet reason to panic.
Three years isn't much of a trend.
Furthermore, over the same period, injuries were down from an estimated 52,000 to 49,000, a fact which should conteract some of the worry.
I'd be willing to bet even money with anyone that the number of bike fatalities in the US will be lower in 2013 than they were in 2012.
Lack of helmet use is a major contributing factor in fatalities.
This paper is very pro-helmet.
The lack of universal helmet use laws for bicyclists is a serious impediment to reducing deaths and injuries, resulting from both collisions with motor vehicles and in falls from bicycles not involving motor vehicles.
But some of the sources it cites are dubious. For example, Haworth isn't a study, but a report that looks at many other studies including several [Thompson, Rivera, etc...] that have been discredited.
In the paper, Dr. Williams notes that 65% of cyclists were reported to not be wearing a helmet (with another 18% unknown) and that 46% of cyclists reported that they never wore a helmet. Certainly the other 54% only sometimes wear a helmet, which means that the rate of actual helmet wearing isn't too far from 65%. The 65% comes from FARS data, which while significantly better than before 2010, still has some flaws (The form gives those filling it out a choice between several safety features like helmets, lights, etc...And though it instructs them to choose "all that apply" in reality they only choose one.) In addition those that are killed are biased towards those who take bigger risks. So while there is likely a correlation between not wearing a helmet and dying in a bike crash, some of it probably comes from taking higher risks and not wearing a helmet.
Which is not to say that helmets don't save lives or reduce injuries. They likely do. But I suspect the lack of universal helmet use is a minor contributing factor to bike fatalities. [I'm working on a post about helmet use coming from my review of FARS data and I don't want to put in any spoilers here, but I have more to say on this]. And it is another jump from saying that helmets save lives to saying that universal helmet use laws save lives, for which the evidence gets even more contentious.
Despite the association of biking with healthy lifestyles and environmental benefits, a surprisingly large number of fatally injured bicyclists have blood alcohol concentrations of 0.08% or higher.
It's higher than it should be, but not surprising unless you think that all cycling is for recreation. It's 28%*, which is lower than the percentage of driver fatalities (31%) and pedestrian fatalities (36%). I'm not sure why anyone would expect cyclists to be significantly better behaved. If anything, the fact that many repeat DWI offenders lose their licenses would cause me to expect cyclists to have more alcohol related fatalities. My analysis of DC area bike crashes shows that cyclists killed in traffic crashes are slightly more likely to be killed by a driver who was under the influence than to be under the influence themselves.
Drunk biking is a bad idea, and we should do more to educate cyclists about it, so this study is good in that regard. But there's nothing unique about their bad behavior.
The media has done a less than stellar job of reporting this, focusing on the more sensational details mentioned above - none of which is "news" but rather regurgitated stats from NHTSA and IIHS.
Martin Di Caro nails it on the fatality rate, which Dr. Williams sort of breezes over, as a critical fact in all of this. Di Caro quotes an advocate from the Alliance for Biking and Walking.
“As the rate of bicycling increases, the rate of fatalities actually decreases,” said Jeffrey Miller, the advocacy group’s director. “As more people are bicycling the overall number of crashes does not keep pace and actually decline in many cities.”
But then he misses it here.
Among the factors the GHSA blames for the increase in deaths (from 621 in 2010 to 722 in 2012) are alcohol and helmet use.
Actually the paper never blames those for the increase, as helmet use and BAC levels in cyclists remain pretty constant over the time period. The only cause for the increase the paper brings up is increased exposure.
And another misleading statement come from Kara Macek, a GHSA spokeswoman.
“We have to look at the numbers. We have to look at where the problem exists. And it exists in urban areas such as D.C.”
That's not what the report says. It says that urban areas have become a larger percentage (69% up from 50% in 1975) of total fatalities. But the total fatalities in urban areas have gone down in the time, even as the population has gone up (and so has cyclist exposure).
NPR has a bad line too.
And a lot of those bikers are male, drunk and not wearing a helmet.
No. A lot of them are male, and a lot of them are not wearing a helmet, but only ~30% are drunk. Fewer than that are all three.
Anyway, the whole thing might result in a good conversation, and many of Dr. Williams recommendations like education, better enforcement, separated bike facilities, slowing down cars and getting fewer road users to get on the road after drinking (and yes, encouraging cyclists to wear helmets) are things cyclists can support, but there's nothing really new about it and a lot of the statistics are presented out of context.
* Williams makes a reporting error here. He says that it's 28% for cyclists 16 and over, but the IIHS says that's for cyclists 20 and over. This is also how FARS reports the data, so it's likely that is what is meant. It's also an estimate done by imputation. "Imputations for missing BACs were provided by the U.S. Department of Transportation's multiple imputation model beginning in 1982." Actual data actually shows a lower rate. For all cyclists 16 and over, only 16.2% have a BAC of 0.08 or higher. For those who are tested, 27% are that high. But there are many where no test is given, it's not reported, it is positive but too low to be measured or blank. I'm not sure how that imputation model works.
By her mother’s account, 53-year-old Tonya Reaves rode her bike everywhere, no matter the time of day. Donna Hill said her daughter used to pedal home when she got off late from her former job at Pizza Hut, and she would frequently bike to her boyfriend’s house or even just for fun.
Although witness accounts in court papers have shifted and are contradictory, two people said that the young woman studying to be a surgical nurse or nursing-home worker ran over Reaves slowly after striking her, inflicting gruesome and fatal injuries.
And about the investigation.
The investigation proved complicated, as witnesses’ stories to police shifted in the days that followed, court papers show.
When police arrived at Eighth and S streets NW, they found Reaves’s bicycle in a crosswalk and two apparent witnesses, one of whom claimed to have been on foot while observing a sport-utility vehicle hit Reaves, according to a police affidavit. Both people would later admit to being in the vehicle that hit Reaves and claim that Thomas was driving, although one first pointed to another person as the driver, according to the affidavit.
Investigators tracked down four people who claimed to be in the car during the crash, and all four alleged that Thomas was the driver, according to the affidavit. One person told investigators that the group had just left the New Town bar on U Street and that Thomas had been drinking, according to the affidavit.
But that account was backed up by only one person, who claimed that Thomas was drinking vodka and lemonade and smoking marijuana, according to the affidavit. The two others in the car said that Thomas was neither drinking nor smoking, according to the affidavit.
When police searched the car, a Ford Focus, that they believe was involved in the crash, they found a nearly empty bottle of vodka, according to the affidavit. Police said Thomas did not have a driver’s license.
It's hard to follow, but as I read it the idea is that Thomas hit Reaves by accident. But then intentionally drove forward over her, and that's why it's murder. I'm so lacking in confidence on that that I should possibly end that statement with a question mark .
Since 1987, over 100 DC area cyclists have died in motor vehicle crashes. This map shows where they were.1 And there's just one intersection in the region which had two separate fatal crashes.
In the above map, red pins show crashes in an intersection, yellow in the roadway, black in a crosswalk, blue on the shoulder of the roadway, orange on a sidewalk, green in a bike lane, or white where the location was not available.2
These fatalities have occurred in every jurisdiction, on busy highways and quiet neighborhood streets, and on every part of the roadway from sidewalks to traffic lanes.
The real "Intersection of Doom" is at Gaithersburg's edge
The intersection of Lee Highway and North Lynn Street, where drivers make a right turn across cyclists' path coming off the Mount Vernon Trail, gets much coverage as the "Intersection of Doom." But fortunately, I found no actual bicycle fatalities there.
Nor were there any where the Mt. Vernon Trail connections cross the George Washington Parkway, another harrowing experience for cyclists and a big problem spot that needs fixing. But there was one location where two separate fatal bike crashes occurred.
In 1997, a driver hit 15-year-old Alexis Smith on her bicycle in the crosswalk as she crossed the ramp from Great Seneca Highway to Sam Eig Highway, just west of the end of I-370 in Montgomery County. Then in 2009, another driver hit and killed Codi Alexander, 16 at the same spot. However, Montgomery County wasn't the place with the most fatal bike crashes.
Prince George's has the most deaths by far
Of the seven jurisdictions I looked at, Prince George's had the most fatalities, with 36. Here is the full list:
District of Columbia
Some of the variation might be explained by population and square mileage, but Prince George's County is neither the largest nor the most populous. And comparisons get more complicated because DC's surge of daytime population means that considering its resident population understates the amount of exposure cyclists have there.
Most fatal crashes happen at intersections
If we combine fatalities listed as in the intersection and in the crosswalk, it shows that more than half of all fatal crashes happen at intersections. (Some crashes listed as on sidewalks or in bike lanes also may be at intersections.)1
Where this data comes from
I assembled this list and map from two main sources: media reports and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS). Most media reports are newspaper accounts available on highbeam, which is why they only go back to 1987. These accounts are usually very accurate and reliable. I only flagged one possible error during the review.
However, these are not particularly comprehensive. Only 53% of all fatal bike crashes get reported in newspapers, and usually as only one story about the fatal crash itself. Occasionally a reporter will follow up with a second item once authorities release the victim's name. For a particularly sensational story, there may coverage all the way through a trial and sentencing. Most media accounts, however, just end with a line saying something like, "Police are continuing to investigate the incident."
The NHTSA FARS data, on the other hand, is significantly more comprehensive but riddled with a vast array of errors. It also only goes back to 1994. Some of the errors come from problems with the forms themselves, while people filling them out introduce others.
These errors ranged from trivial cases, such as mislabeling a female fatality as male, to nonsensical cases where a bike fatality was coded as "Safety Belt Used Improperly," to the outright misleading case where a cyclist was mislabeled as a pedestrian. But 98% of the fatalities with media accounts also appeared in FARS.
Still, FARS data under-counts total bike fatalities because it does not include crashes on driveways or parking lots or crashes that don't involve a motor vehicle. I identified 15 such fatalities. In addition, the United States Park Police apparently doesn't submit FARS forms to the NHTSA, as crashes they investigated don't appear. Nor do bike deaths that arise from medical conditions such as heat stroke or from murder (except in the one case where the murder weapon was a car). So while the FARS data is more comprehensive, it is not complete.
The map above includes every bike fatality identified except for one that had an unworkable location description.3
The original version of this post failed to count one Arlington fatality. Part of the reason for this was that the two Arlington County fatalites both occurred on the same day, May 8th, but in different years.
Crossposted at GreaterGreaterWashington
1 Prior to 2001, all FARS location data is reported in the form of road designator and milemarker. Starting in 2001 GPS coordinates are also included. Maryland and Virginia report the road designator by an official route number that may not be well known (Cherrywood Lane in PG County, for example, is MU 40). DC, God bless them, reports the actual name of the street as used on streetsigns. As a result, locations for Maryland and Virginia FARS-only derived data prior to 2001 is approximate.
2 Roadway fatalities are those that occur in travel lanes away from intersections.
3 That one was reported to FARS as being on county road 0123 in Montgomery County, but there is no 123 in Montgomery County. There is one in Prince George's County. So either the county was coded wrong (33 instead of 31, for example) or the road was.
Early Saturday morning, around 2:30am, Tonya Reaves was riding her bike on 8th Street NW near S Street when she was struck by a "light colored SUV". The SUV's driver then fled the scene south in the direction of Rhode Island Avenue
Emergency responders took Reaves to a local hospital where she was pronounced dead. D.C. police are searching for the driver Police said the SUV may have damage to its right front bumper.
The story was reported by most of the localmedia, but the reports don't vary much from that. With all the cameras in this town, I'd be surprised if some footage doesn't exist.
It's the first death of a cyclist in the WAMPA area since the June 14, 2013 death of 9-year old Jahbari Jawon Howe which, sadly, is an impressive streak and the longest since I started keeping record.
Perhaps this would be the first opporunity to install a ghost rack instead of a ghost bike.
Bicycle crashes rose too. While the pedestrian crashes were split almost equally by gender and were distributed across the city, bicyclists involved in accidents were disproportionately male — roughly 77 percent, a figure that was consistent across all three years of the study. And of the 642 crashes involving bikes in 2012, only one happened east of the Anacostia.
The claim that "Most crashes happen through no fault of the driver" is unfortunately stated. There is no ticket issued in most cases, but in almost every case someone* is at fault; and since most crashes involve two drivers there is likely some driver at fault in almost every crash.
The most fatal were crashes involving pedestrians. In the large subset of crashes examined in this table, cars hit people 805 times, causing injuries to 650 victims. Six people died.
*I've heard of crashes that accured because one driver had a heart attack or because a large tree branch fell onto the hood of a car. I'd say no one is at fault in those cases. But they're rare.
Cyclists in a cross-country charity bike ride pulled over for some bicycle maintenance and two of the cyclists were struck by a truck. One of them was killed.
Jamie Roberts was struck in Scott County outside of Lexington, according to a statement from the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults, based in Baltimore and Columbia. She was riding as part of the nonprofit's "4K for Cancer," a group of college students who are traveling cross-country from Baltimore to Portland over more than two months to fundraise and promote cancer awareness.
Roberts was also the assistant sports information director and an assistant coach for Catholic University's women's basketball team for the past three years.
Last week, Keyworth Cleveland Birch was riding on the shoulder of Route 328 in Caroline County, Maryland when he was struck from behind by a car driven by Margaret Ann Satterfield. This happened in the middle of the day and the news reported that the car "veered off the road onto the shoulder". Birch later died from his injuries.
Satterfield was charged with Failure to Control Speed (punishable up to $130 and 3 points), Negligent Driving ($140 fine and 1-3 points), and Failure to yield the right-of-way in a bike lane ($1000 and 3points). But late last week the state decided not to prosecute these charges.
It's possible the state is choosing to pursue harsher penalties or that there are some facts that we don't know (perhaps the driver had a heart attack or something) that would make any charges inappropriate. I've reached out to the State's Attorney for Caroline County and if I hear anything I'll report it. But this should be watched.
Update: According to the State's Attorney, these charges were issued before the cyclist's death.
"Those charges were dismissed to allow the police to conduct a full investigation including crash reconstruction to determine whether more serious charges are appropriate, such as manslaughter. Allowing the original charges to proceed in the meanwhile could implicate some due process and double jeopardy issues. ...the nature of [any new] charges will depend on the final results of the investigation. It may be that they will issue similar or identical charges to the original."