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Re: Cyclist hit on CCT trail crossing:

The linked Kate Ryan blog puts the location of this incident up by the Bethesda pool where the trail crosses Little Falls Parkway.

This crossing is always heavily contented and the profusion of "stop for this' and 'yeld for that' signs have done nothing to clear up who has the right-of-way.

Thanks, I corrected it. I think that intersection needs a light.

You forgot to mention the numerous times that even slow-moving cars (and their drivers) intimidate pedestrians by trying to push through crowded crosswalks, when the pedestrians have the green light/WALK sign. I see this behavior in downtown D.C. very frequently, almost every day.

A car is trying to make a right turn. That car has a green light but so do all of the pedestrians in the crosswalk. The pedestrians also have a WALK sign. The pedestrians are already in the crosswalk and completely filling it up. And yet, the turning car bumps their way in and tries to force pedestrians OUT of the crosswalk.

I don't mind if someone has a genuine complaint about an aggressive cyclist, but only if they also complain about the numerous aggressive car and truck drivers who engage in this behavior, almost every single day. At a weight of 2 to 10 tons, a car or large truck can be menacing even at 5 mph. That's still enough to crush a pedestrian.

Can you link to a map to that RFK exit to Barney Circle?

Sorry, I see it. I don't quite understand what's illegal, though. I'd like to avoid a ticket - I live near there and bike across the bridge and on the Anacostia Trail and want to make sure I'm not doing anything illegal.

What's illegal is driving on the SE/SW freeway past the PA Ave exit, continuing under PA Ave towards RFK. Drivers can turn left just before the RFK gate and follow a cloverleaf up to light at PA Ave. The traffic backup that regularly occurs on the exit ramp to PA ave should be alleviated when the new 11th St bridges are opened.

Shawn, unless you're riding your bike on the SE/SW freeway, you're good. This is a law that only drivers can really break.

Right, but when drivers break the law, it's a sign that the law *must* be changed. For instance, the "proper" speed limit is whatever speed 80% of drivers feel they can operate their vehicles without losing control. Of course, the fact that a higher speed might endanger pedestrians, cyclists, or other road users is completely irrelevant. After all, there are laws on the books that are intended to keep them the Hell out of my car's way.

When cyclists break a law, it's merely symptomatic of their general arrogant, anti-social behavior.

When I break a law driving it's because the law is unjust; when I break a law cycling, it's because I have nothing but contempt for justice--and my own life.

oboe writes:
For instance, the "proper" speed limit is whatever speed 80% of drivers feel they can operate their vehicles without losing control. Of course, the fact that a higher speed might endanger pedestrians, cyclists, or other road users is completely irrelevant. After all, there are laws on the books that are intended to keep them the Hell out of my car's way.

Incidentally an elderly woman on foot WAS struck and killed yesterday trying to cross River road (not far from where the cyclist was hit).

I gave up on using River Rd as a cyclist years ago the day I was in the left lane (preparing for a left turn) going full bore down a slight grade at about 30 MPH.

A car passed me in the right lane going about 45 MPH (Speed limit is 35!). At nearly the same instant a BMW passed BETWEEN THE TWO OF US going well over 60!

The pressure wave from him nearly blew me into oncoming traffic.

Since that day I've made the tactical choice to use the sidewalk (and accept all that entails) rather then get on the piece of traffic snarled pavement.

The accident (Columbia Island) on the parkway was a multicar accident:

from ARLnow...

I am a jogger. I was there. About 45 seconds after the incident. Had I been running a little faster or started a litle earlier, I would have been waiting at the same crossing myself, most likely standing next to the woman who was run over by the large crew cab pickup truck. I helped lift the pickup truck off the woman, with about 20 other guys. We pulled her out from underneath the rear wheel and axle, and very shortly afterwards, two off-duty Fairfax EMTs arrived and immediately began giving her medical help. Calls had already been made to 911, by one good citizen, who was relaying the necessary information to them as we were attempting several times to lift the truck. Ambulances and paramedics arrived within three to five minutes thereafter. They were very fast. Please pray, that this unfortunate woman survives and fully recovers. I don’t know who she was, but my heart is praying for her.
After seeing what I saw, and talking to one witness who saw the whole thing unfold, in my opinion, the “accident” happened because of two key human shortcomings. First, was the driver of the original car who decided to be nice, polite, or whatever, and while doing 40-50 mph up the Parkway decided to stop to let the woman jogger cross the road, regardless of what traffic was bearing down from behind. I know the biketrail there has stop signs for bikers and pedestrians, and even says “dismount before crossing”, but I am not sure in VA if vehicles are required to stop when a pedestrian needs to cross, and I am not sure there are signs at that crossing for vehicles requiring such (I’ll check that tommorrow when I run that route again), but if not required, I agree, this is one of the most stupid things a driver can do. Stop on a busy, high speed highway to try to be courteous when it is not required and when other vehicles are coming up fast from behind and not anticipating this. Don’t do it! You may feel courteous, and like you are trying to be helpful, but look at what can happen. This did no one any good!
The second factor that contributed to this terrible incident is speed and tailgating. Note I don’t call this part an “accident”. Driving too fast and tailgating are things that can be prevented, if we only think about it and make better choices. People choose to drive too fast and to tailgate. We have other choices. Even though the driver of the first car decided to stop to let the jogger cross, if everyone else had been controlling their speed relative to their stopping distance with the vehicle in front of them, and paying attention to their driving, there would have been no need for the pick up truck that hit the woman, to have to swerve off the road to the left and over the bike trail where she was standing, to avoid the already stopped cars.
So in my opinion two primary things caused this unfortunate incident that this poor woman jogger is paying dearly for — People doing stupid things and people making bad choices.
Please think about it next time you are out driving.

Good God. That's horrible. I'm surprised, frankly, that there aren't more crashes at these crossings. I think stop lights or grade separation are needed.

Stop on a busy, high speed highway to try to be courteous when it is not required and when other vehicles are coming up fast from behind and not anticipating this.

I blame the park police, who've allowed this two-lane road with a posted speed limit of, what, 35 mph? to turn into a "high-speed highway".

This shit was absolutely inevitable. Of course, if you're a pedestrian or cyclist advocating for lower speed limits--or God forbid, enforcement of the speed limits that are in place, then it's "War on Drivers!"

Does anyone find it maddening the argument that it's totally safe to do 50-60 mph through here, and the reason it's totally safe is because only a lunatic would dare to cross the street because drivers are doing 50-60 mph.


The fundamental problem here is drivers universally going faster than the road conditions safely permit. If everyone was going under 35 mph and respecting the fact that drivers are legally required to yield to pedestrians, there'd be no problem. As a society, we've decided those laws are unenforceable--and that any attempt to do so is nothing but a money-making racket, and WOD.

There's a kind of total epistemic closure here among drivers, where it's impossible to even evaluate this stuff anymore--since the hold the right to egregious speeding and ROW violations sacrosanct.

I also find it maddening.

"...they (i.e. the vast majority of the driving public) hold.."

I think the speed limit on that park of the GW parkway is 40 MPH. I've seen plenty of enforcement, but NOT on Columbia Island. Always wondered because of the conflict of laws there.

It is a nasty intersection, but from that account it wasn't a traditional accident involving a pedestrian -- the pickup truck was tailgating, and after hitting the car lost control and hit another pedestrian.

Grade separation?-- joggers love finding new creative paths in that area. I think the Wash Blvd/110 trail will alleviate some of the problems.


What about installing one of those little at-grade crossings where the pedestrian hits a button, and lights embedded in the road illuminate?

I saw one of these on the stretch of Twinbrook Parkway between the Metro and Viers Mill Road. I can't say I'm surprised we haven't seen more of them, because they seem to work. Knowing the technology exists, and must be relatively cheap, but that local municipalities can't be bothered to install them tells you all you need to know about how serious we are about protecting pedestrian right-of-way. They should couple this technology with red-light cameras to enforce it.

But enforcing pedestrians' ability to cross the road safely might adversely impact auto throughput, so we can't have that.

I propose my own at-grade crossing:

Pedestrian hits the button, yellow lights flash, and 15 seconds later tire spikes pop out of the pavement.

For a lower tech solution, leave a pile of brightly painted bricks on each side of the road and instructions for crossers:
"Display neon brick to cross, throw if car fails to yeild."

@oboe; yes, I've wondered about similar solutions. I suspect it is more expensive than you estimate.

In general more signs, and more aggressive health and safety campaigns, make me very wary.

What is very bad about this intersection are smart joggers usually do wait - and cluster. So a multi-car accident has a high potential for spilling out of roadway into the people waiting -- which is what I suspect happened.

So I'm not sure the problem here is signage. Speed is a problem -- you come off the GW parkway, which should be a 50-60 MPH road, then get slammed with a bad merge, this crossing, and a duck under the bridge. For people going into it the first time, they don't know the exit really can't support those speeds.

What is very bad about this intersection are smart joggers usually do wait - and cluster.

Sure, but the question is, is there really any way to cross an at-grade intersection safely with folks going 50-60 MPH? (in a National Park no less).

As you say above, pedestrians make all sorts of informal crossings here because clearly the existing facilities are inadequate. And yet, nothing changes.

Was it really wrong of the driver to stop to let someone in the crosswalk cross the road? I think it is the responsibility of drivers to avoid hitting people who do that. I once (at this same location) was almost hit by a motorcycle which jumped the curb to stop quickly when the car in front of it stopped to let someone cross. Hope the woman is ok.

Ren, I think the stopper was wrong. The person who hit them from behind was more wrong. I think it's safe to say that everyone shares your concern for the woman who was injured.

+1 for Ron Alford's proposal. It made me laugh despite the very sad circumstances of this incident.

Pickup trucks have poor braking performance as well as poor handling. All that has likely contributed to this besides inappropriate speed and failing to keep a safe distance.

The person who does the rear-ending is ALWAYS at fault, because they were following to closely. There's no debate to be had about that.

Not to be argumentative, because I agree with you, but I do know of one exception and that's when someone's driving without working brake lights. Also if someone suddenly pulls in front of you and then slams on their brakes - which was part of a common insurance scam a few years ago - you're probably not at fault. But both of those are exceedingly rare.

@Washcycle. I'm missing something here.
One of the accounts says that there is a crosswalk. DC law requires drivers to stop at crosswalks to let pedestrians cross. So why do you thin that the car that stopped was contributorily negligent?

Page 34 of the DC Drivers Handbook :

"Pedestrians have the right-of-way within the crosswalks at the roundabout; however, pedestrians may not suddenly leave a curb or other safe waiting place and walk into the path of a vehicle if it is so close that it may not be able to stop."

I meant to high lite the word 'within'. This is the operative term defining the right-of-way.

Jim T, when you stop to allow someone to cross at a crosswalk, you need to do so safely. If the distance to the crosswalk is insufficient for you to slow down at a reasonable rate (i.e. without slamming on your brakes) then you should keep going. Just as you don't need to slam on your brakes the second you see a yellow light. It depends on how far away you are and how fast you're going. A pedestrian waiting to enter an unsignalized crosswalk should be treated like a yellow light.

Plus, they were speeding.

That entire area is begging for some bike/pedestrian overpasses. But there are 5 dangerous at-grade crossings on the Washington Blvd. trail, another one crossing over toward the cemetery, and one heading east to the MVT. So it would be quite expensive to build all of those structures.

I'm not clear on the exact path of the Rte. 110 trail but it seems like there will still be 1 or 2 dangerous grade crossings on that trail.

All of those ramps and turn-offs make it difficult to find a completely safe route for bike/run trails in that immediate area. Have there ever been any good proposals about fixing this situation? Simply re-routing the trails wouldn't help. The best solutions would be overpasses or tunnels, but that would be very expensive.

I hope the woman is able to recover from this incident.

NPS did a safety study of the MVT a few years back. I remember it identified problems, but I don't remember any solutions or know what came of the effort.

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