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BREAKING NEWS — Bicyclist Dead After Collision With Car

by ARLnow.com May 8, 2011 at 5:37 pm 12,139 32 Comments

(Updated at 9:25 p.m.) A bicyclist was struck and killed by a car near the intersection of Four Mile Run Drive and S. Walter Reed Drive this afternoon.

The driver remained at the scene and cooperated with investigators, according to Arlington County police spokeswoman Det. Crystal Nosal. Police are still investigating the accident — which occurred around 3:00 p.m. — and will release the victim’s name when next of kin are notified.

According to police, the adult male cyclist was turning onto the Four Mile Run Drive access road from southbound Walter Reed Drive when he collided with a car heading in the opposite direction. The man was brought to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Arlington County transportation officials are in the process of planning safety improvements for the intersection, which handles bicycle traffic from the W&OD Trail.

See the police press release, after the jump.

Hat tip to @abend0c4

The Arlington County Police Department is investigating a fatal traffic accident that occurred this afternoon in the 4000 block of Four Mile Run Drive. At approximately 2:56 p.m. on Saturday, May 8, 2011, police responded for a bicyclist that collided with a vehicle.

Investigation revealed that an adult man was riding his bicycle south on South Walter Reed Drive and turned right onto the access road of Four Mile Run Drive. It appears that when he turned onto Four Mile Run Drive, he crossed into oncoming traffic and struck an occupied vehicle. The driver of the vehicle stayed at the scene of the accident. The bicyclist was transported to a local hospital and pronounced dead. He will be identified once the next of kin has been notified.

The Arlington County Police asking that any witnesses of the accident contact the Department at 703 558-2222, or Detective Don Fortunato at 703 228-4197.

  • Shannon

    My thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of the deceased and with the driver. I am thinking it was an accident and I can’t even imagine being in his/her shoes. Great tragedy for both sides.

  • Rick

    It’s a very dangerous intersection with the massive hill and delayed green for those going downhill. It is also very unfortunate someone lost their life on such a beautiful day, doing something they enjoy.

    Personally, I think the next cars vs pedestrians vs bikes debate should be handled in the forum instead of dueling opinions on what will eventually be a full story on someones life and death.

  • MB

    So sad.

  • When did this happen? Our BicycleSPACE ride passed through here sometime around 2pm, so it must’ve been after that.

  • juniper

    I arrived as the ambulance slowly drove away, it actually happened on Four Mile Run Dr on the access road. It was hard to make out how the cyclist and car collided; it did not make sense when looking at the scene. Terribly sad, and as a cyclist I know all too well about the W&OD trail crossing as well as trying to access the service road so that I can get home. I’m still in shock and will be reminded every day as I ride my bike past the scene.

    • MB

      Yeah, I went down to look at the scene to see if I could get an understanding of what might have happened. No explanation was immediately obvious, though. I hope ACPD will be forthcoming with info.

        • NPGMBR

          Seems from the explanation given: The cyclist may have been going too fast coming down the hill. So fast in fact that he had to sing out into the oncoming traffic on the access road to make the turn without slowing down. Then again maybe he made the decision to turn onto the access road at the last minute.

          • citz

            I agree. It is unfortunate but BICYCLISTS really do need to be more responsible just as they EXPECT drivers on the road to be. Just because one is on a bicycle or walking does not give them the full right of way as many of them seem to feel which is exhibited by their actions.

          • dynaroo

            Why does it always matter what vehicle people are using? When two cars collide, one of them was breaking the law or being irresponsible, and you see drivers do that every day too. There are plenty of idiots on bikes and in cars. EVERYONE needs to be more responsible.

  • juniper

    It happened at about 3 pm.

  • Thanks, juniper. So about an hour after our group rode through.

    Sad…I feel bad for the family. But this isn’t my only one of the day. Got back to my apartment building (in Huntington) to find a dead cyclist next to the building.

    • juniper

      Not a good day for cyclists; hopefully this brings about some momentum for improvements.

  • Catalyst

    Very unfortunate, I try to avoid that stretch of the W & OD trail entirely due to the cars in that area.

  • Siddharth

    The cyclist came down Walter Reed full speed and tried to make the turn onto the access road and slammed into the car. Very sad way to end a wonderful day.

    • NPGMBR

      That’s my conclusion as well. I just don’t see any other explanation why he would make such a wide turn onto the access road unless he was enjoying the thrill of coming down the hill full speed. Its very unfortunate but people do unsafe things each and every day. Can’t tell you how many times I cringe (during winter months in particular) when I see someone leave their car running while they refuel. Laziness and stupidity are our greatest failures!

  • Skeptical

    Jesus H. Christ. I live just a short distance away and have walked through that intersection countless times.

    Every part of it is distinctly dangerous, and I’m not sure how much of that can be fixed, though it’s worth trying. I am just so, so sorry to learn that this happened.

  • juniper
  • ArlLady

    I drove by around 5:30pm and saw the unfortunate scene. What a tragic accident. My thoughts and prayers go to the families of the cyclist and driver. 🙁

    • Ellen

      I was looking out the window and i saw the poor boy laying under the car.My sisters and my grand mother were outside playing near by. ;(

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  • Cheeseeater

    We walked by our way to dinner at 5. Full accident investigation ongoing. The bike lay mangled in the street with a helmet and other belongings strewn about. Awful.

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  • Chris

    That part of the W&OD is awful. I go running in that area sometimes, but I avoid it as much as posible, and stick with the Four Mile Run trail, which has fewer road crossings.

    Thoughts and prayers for the cyclist and surviving friends/family, and for the driver of that car.

  • April

    FYI, there are NO speed limit signs installed on the downhill side of Walter Reed Drive Hill. I avoid driving in this area because the reckless behavior by bicyclists is so pervasive it’s scary.

  • Michael H.

    The W&OD Trail crossing apparently didn’t play a role in the crash if the reports are accurate. I think it had more to do with the steep downhill of Walter Reed Drive and the presence of the service road. If a cyclist isn’t familiar with that intersection, he may not think that there’s a two-way service road. Combine that unfamiliarity with the high speed coming down the steep hill and possibly a failure to slow down before the intersection, and you have a recipe for disaster.

    I did many hill workouts on Walter Reed Drive last year. I know how easy it is to pick up speed going southbound. You have to be very careful to start braking early well before you get to the service road. Trying to make that right turn at speed is not a good idea, even if you get into the correct lane on Four Mile Run. There could be pedestrians crossing that service road. You might not see them if you tried to make that turn while still going fast.

    If you are simply riding through that intersection from the W&OD Trail, you will never have to deal with the steep hill. The W&OD crossing is flat. The multiple roads and lanes leading into that intersection can be a bit confusing and frustrating, but I think it’s a relatively safe crossing for those who are riding on the W&OD. It’s the Walter Reed Drive hill that poses some risk if you don’t slow down before the intersections.

    Always sad to hear about any bike crash and death, no matter who was at fault.

    • MB

      Taking the report at face value and making a few more assumptions, yes, I’d say this sounds exactly right. It’s very easy to pick up excess speed on that hill (but it’s also just as easy to control it – so maintain and use your brakes, people). And yes, while the openness of that intersection tends to encourage high speeds by all users, it’s not really an inherently dangerous design. The improvements will encourage slower turns (by vehicles) and make things a bit more pleasant for pedestrians, but won’t really change much at that particular intersection.

      • dynaroo

        Yes, on that steep hill, it could be a matter of not having enough braking power after underestimating the momentum you’d build up.

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  • bob

    My theory re: this accident is as follows: The cyclist may have gone down that hill a hundred times before at high speed and turned onto the access road to burn off that excess speed instead of locking up the wheels at the traffic light. However, this time a car was in the opposing lane and a bad line into and out of a corner at high speed left no room or time for correction. His path exiting the curve took him over the centerline and into the path of the opposing traffic. The vehicle’s driver didn’t see him until it was too late and the rider didn’t see the car until he was well into the turn if he saw him at all. If both vehicles were doing 20+mph closing speed was pushing 40-50mph. He probably didn’t see the car before he entered the turn onto the access road. An unfortunate accident. My condolences to his family and friends.

  • Brookielynn

    I was friends with the gentlemen that died. Fitz was 44 years old; he was a fun loving individual that enjoyed living life and helping others. He was extremely passionate about cycling and automobile racing. He especially enjoyed cycling during this time of year. One of his favorite rides in this area was S. Walter Reed Drive. He rode the hill frequently and loved the challenging climb and thrill of descending. I can only imagine he was loving life at that moment since the weather on Sunday afternoon was beautiful.

    I will miss you my dear friend. :’( My thoughts and prayers go out to his wife, mother, brother and driver of the car.

  • Craig W

    Another cyclist hit this morning, same intersection but over at the W&OD Trail crossing.

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