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I remain content to await the final results of the investigation but as a daily user of the trail, the "two lane problem" has always seemed the most likely of all the possibilities - particularly given that this accident involved a low-slung recumbent.

It continues to frustrate me that the police are focusing on rejiggering the everyday customs of trail users when, by and large, drivers and trail users had evolved a pretty good set of protocols at this intersection which allowed thousands (and thousands and thousands) of safe crossings for every incident. The problems at the intersection aren't in the quotidian customs, but in the edge cases, when the generally safe practices for one or another reason have failed. Improving safety here has to focus on understanding those edge cases and figuring out how to minimize them.

If true, why did initial reports indicate that the driver was not at fault and wouldn't be charged? It never sat well with me that an 81 year old man pedaling up hill could be characterized as "blowing through a stop sign"

At this point, it seems clear that bike/ped paths that cross multi-lane roads should always have traffic signals. How much evidence of public endangerment is required before this dangerous design is abandoned? Perhaps class action lawsuit is order; we'd just have to figure out who to sue.


That appeared to have been prompted by the driver's claim that he never saw the cyclist. Which may in fact be true, but would not, by itself, shift the blame to the cyclist.

More fundamentally we have a car first / might makes right approach on roads.

The police captain who spoke shortly after the fatal crash amply demonstrated that bias.

A problem with multiple lanes on roads is that many motorists will focus just on their lane and lose sight of the complete picture to the left and right.

Often, when I cross at this intersection, a car will stop and when I proceed cars in the other lane will continue to blow by seemingly never taking notice that I'm now standing in the crosswalk.

Shortly after the fatality at the Viers Mill crossing police did a pedestrian sting. Despite multiple marked police cars in view from the road and a police officer wearing a day glow yellow vest car after car failed to notice anything and continued at full speed thru the crosswalk.


Even worse why did the police initially victim blame by saying he did not stop?

Truth is he may well not have. If the car in lane 1 had already yielded he may have continued with crossing. It really becomes moot.

@Crickey: agreed. My concern is the media or MCPD immediately concluding a result based on incomplete or irrelevant facts.

jeffb: If he is already in the crossing and one car has stopped, its pretty clear that the cyclist has ROW.

IOW, he has no obligation to stop.

I have said it before. Unless the driver is impaired, killing with a motor vehicle is not a serious crime. Even if the driver in this case is charged and convicted, the penalty is likely to be a fine that is less than most of us earn in a week. A human life taken by a motor vehicle operator is worth...apparently, not much.

We have this problem at the W&OD crossings in Reston and further west. If one car is stopped at a crosswalk, the car approaching in the lane next to it should stop. That driver would feel terrible if he/she hit a dog because of a failure to stop. But human beings, especially on bikes, are as Kolo said, worth not much.

It's not quite that bad Kolo. Impaired drivers, or those who hit and run and are unlucky enough to get caught, make up the bulk of those who get more than a fine. But there are a few cases of excessive speeding or other egregious driving who go to jail. Though not for very long.

Has the law that states cyclists must dismount at non signalized crosswalks been changed or does this (very wrong) law not come into play in this situation?

Joe F, is that the law? I was just reading the MD code yesterday and I don't recall seeing that. What I do recall is that there is nothing saying that cyclists have the ROW in such a crosswalk, the way that pedestrians do. Nor are drivers required to stop in the far lane if a cyclist is in the crosswalk (meaning that the driver in this case was not breaking the law). Now this is clearly an oversight because in other places dealing with crosswalks it says "pedestrians and other vehicles like bicycles" or something.

But a cyclist is not required to dismount and walk, it's just that doing so leaves them totally without rights.

This may be a case where a crash happened despite both parties behaving perfectly within the law - which is a sign that the law is flawed.

Put the speed table and stop line 30 feet back from the crosswalk. This will slow traffic before the crosswalk. This will extend reaction time during crossing events. This will expand lines-of-sight so both lanes are visible to the crosswalk user and the crosser is visible to both lanes of traffic.

By traffic signal standards, yellow signs are advisory and white signs are requirements. Most dismount signs are advisory yellow. All Speed limit signs are white. Dangerous curve, reduce speed signs are cautionary yellow. That's the system.

This type of crossing, where there are two lanes going in the same direction, is a special situation and should be approached as such. I propose this heuristic for cyclists. If you don't see the bumper of both cars stopped in both lanes, don't cross.
For example, a much more dangerous crossing exists where the bike path crosses the exit from the GW parkway between the Memorial Bridge and the National Cemetery. At times a tour bus will stop in the right lane and wait for me to cross. Because of the size of the bus I can’t see the right lane and the cars in the right lane can’t see me. I will refuse the kind gesture of the bus and waive it on. I can wait another 15 seconds to cross when I can be sure I won’t be blind-sided. I know I have the right of way but I don’t want to be the subject of debate on this blog after I’m dead.
There are other situations where I will cede my legal rights in the name of self-preservation. One is that I will never pass a dump truck or metro bus on the right at an intersection (even with a bike lane). If these large vehicles decide to turn right, I’m dead, even if I’m wearing a helmet. The details of the tragic death of Alice Swanson eight years ago should be enough to convince all that this is a good idea.
Let’s honor the sacrifice of our fallen comrades and come up with a list of common sense approaches to these special situations. Complaining about the law or even changing the law is only valuable if everybody is aware of the law. If not, as in the case of the CCT/Little Falls Parkway crash, it just is a basis for assigning blame.

Tom has identified a couple of instances in which the danger is real - but also latent, and thus not obvious to the casual cyclist. For that reason his cautionary tips are particularly good ones. That being said, because the dangers *are* latent, they easily overlooked, and so intersections such as Little Falls & the CCT should be redesigned in a way to minimize them. Indeed redesign is a better solution than, e.g., demanding that trail users come to a dead stop before entering the intersection, because that particular precaution doesn't mitigate the actual problem. Indeed it may exacerbate it by giving the (casual) cyclist the impression that when one car stops the cyclist will 1) have the ROW upon entering the crosswalk, that 2) the second lane car will recognize it and 3) it's safe to proceed.

Going from information regarding the last trail death at the Viers Mill crossing the driver got off on a technicality. If I remember correctly that technicality was that the cyclist was riding through a crosswalk without a signal.

That law needs to be changed to give a mounted cyclist the same rights as a ped even if there is no signal. Currently peds and cyclists have the same rights in a crosswalk that is signalized.

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