Accident Involving Bicyclist Near Key Bridge

by ARLnow.com August 8, 2011 at 8:33 am 6,819 55 Comments

(Update at 10:30 a.m.) A bicyclist was struck by a van near the Key Bridge in Rosslyn this morning.

The accident happened on Lynn Street, near the intersection with Lee Highway. Two lanes of Lynn Street were blocked as medics treated the bicyclist and as police took photos of the accident scene.

The bicyclist was taken to George Washington University Hospital with unspecified injuries. So far there’s no indication that those injuries are life-threatening.

  • CW

    That’s a tough intersection for everyone; there’s a lot going on. Stay safe out there people.

  • JM

    Maybe, just maybe, vdot will think about extending the painted bike lane across the bridge over 66

    • Bubba

      The bridges are under DC’s jurisdiction–even close to our side of the shoreline.

      • O.C.

        Sorry Bubba, er. Arlington police officer. The accident was on North Lynn Street at Lee Highway. You own responsibility for that intersection.

        Just like you owned responsibility for securing the park across the street where the person got run over during a concert last month.

        Just like you own responsibility for the “public safety” that leads to bank robbery after bank robbery.

        Just sayin’.

    • bobco85

      I think they would do just fine with having a sharrow for the right lane across the bridge over I-66. That way cars would be more aware that that far right corner of the intersection is busy for non-vehicles. Personally, I hate having that 1 block of “no-biker’s land.”

  • ArlSouthie

    I hope the cyclist is okay.

    This intersection is bad. Drivers are rather aggressive and don’t want to stop for you while you have the legal right of way as in you have the walk sign and are in the crosswalk. In addition, with the one way on Lynn St., drivers are only looking left for the oncoming traffic. I’ve never seen a driver look right and they only stop when someone is approaching from the west.

    Only thing to do is be alert, don’t try to race the walk sign. It is not worth fighting a 2 ton vehicle. And I know, every time you yield to a car, you empower them…

  • Bill M

    This is the worst intersection for cyclists in the Washington area, particularly at rush hours. Three right turn lanes off the GW Parkway, and loads of impatient and inattentive drivers. A pedestrian overpass is long overdue.

  • bobco85

    Which side of the intersection did the accident occur? From the picture, it looks like it happened near the corner where the Mount Vernon trail starts (far right corner).

  • TGEoA

    It doesnt help when some cyclists ignore the lights at that intersection and try and gap the traffic.

    • I got that PMA

      You got that right. I see that all the time. Some of them, might stop and then run the red light.

      • BrownFlipFlops

        True, but some of them stop at the light, and then STILL have close call after close call trying to cross the Thunderdome legally.

    • Charlie

      Most driving in Arlington concerns me. . . cars run red lights, jump out in front of you. Little ticketing done. As far as the cyclists go . . . driving is dangerous enough in Arlington. I think the drivers AND the cyclist need to pay more attention. Cyclists are too vulnerable to bob in and out of traffic, not stop for red lights and expect to stay safe even IF drivers obeyed the laws which they do not.

  • Dan

    There should be a cycle in the light where all traffic lights are red and the crosswalk goes, it’s just too busy and poorly planned, encouraging unsafe behavior from drivers and cyclists alike. Drivers not looking and cyclists trying to speed through

    • BrownFlipFlops

      There IS a cycle in the light where the crosswalk has a “go” signal, but all the stoplights are red. The problem, as many others have stated, is that drivers do not look right before turning right on red there. As soon as the oncoming traffic stops for the red light, people start going, even though they have a red light. That, and many, many cars “roll” that right-on-red, instead of coming to a complete stop. It’s also a popular spot for the old “right turn from the left lane,” so even if you make it past the first line of cars, you’re liable to get it from some taxi swinging wide with a good head of speed.

      There are tons of intersections in Arlington that say, “no right turn on red when pedestrians are present.” Putting aside the confusion caused by what, “are present,” even means (crossing? near the intersection? across the street? half a block away?), this is the one place where that would help, but the ambiguous sign is absent.

      That would be a good place for a “no right turn on red” sign. People just don’t seem to be able to do that maneuver safely there.

      • Aaron

        You’re 100% correct, especially coming off of the highway there, most westbound drivers think that the right-turn-on-red to get to the Key Bridge is an inviolable right.

        The intersection diagonally opposite (southbound Ft Myer turning westbound I-66) became much more manageable a couple years ago after a simple “Yield to pedestrians in crosswalk” sign went up. It’s troublesome to think that the lack of the sign somehow implies not yielding at every other intersection.

      • Tim

        That intersection really should be no right on red. I got hit by taxi (just bumped, not serious) going right on red in that intersection when I was running through the crosswalk. I also saw a car get rear-ended because the right-turning driver stopped for pedestrians and the SUV behind her didn’t. I can’t even count the number of close calls I’ve seen there. It really is only a matter of time before a pedestrian is going to die in that intersection.

        • kc

          Yes. Coming off the bridge into Rosslyn on foot or bike many drivers do not look to their right but only look left to the car traffic . Even when I have a green light I wait until I make eye contact with the driver lest I get hit when they turn right. Have had your experience more than once.

  • Pablo Escobar

    Pablo Escobar despises this intersection and risks his very valuable life every day trying to cross this hydra of an intersection.

  • Josh S

    How do you conclude that it doesn’t appear to be a serious accident without having any word on the cyclists’ condition?

    • Aaron

      The severity of a traffic accident in the Washington metropolitan area is determined by the number of minutes added to the average driver’s commute multiplied by the number of driver’s affected. This is known as the “WTOP Index.”

    • SomeGuy

      One can very easily conclude what an incident “appears” like without having all of the facts. And the author made it appropriately clear that he didn’t yet have all the facts.

  • Ali

    When you only give cars AND bikes AND pedestrians 20 seconds to go through that intersection, it’s going to be dangerous every time. I’ve seen a number of collisions there. Unfortunately there’s no good way of alleviating the issue because if you don’t let pedestrians/bikes cross there (so more people can turn onto the Bridge/GW Parkway in one light…sometimes only 2 or 3 cars can get through due to all the bikes in the morning), they have to cross 3 intersections vs 1.

    • Josh S

      Ideally, I think, you’d grade separate the crossing. Perhaps a pedestrian / bike tunnel.

      • + 1 million

        • Craig H.

          +2 million

      • Ali

        That’s the obvious solution, hence, one that will never happen in Arlington.

      • PhilL

        Bikes are coming and going in too many different directions for a tunnel.

      • Sebastian Melmoth

        that makes too much sense.

  • dcbrewer

    This accident happened right after I crossed the intersection and was headed toward the Key bridge path. I heard a screech and a crunch behind me and looked back to see the cyclist trying to get off the ground. There were a number of other cyclists right around him and the traffic was stopped (a little late!). Hopefully, the cyclist wasn’t badly hurt, but from the sound of the crunch, he may be in the market for a new bike.

    • Rooster

      It’s a beautiful Bianchi bike.

  • Stew Magnuson

    Agree with everyone who said this is a particularly dangerous area for cyclists and pedestrians. Something needs to be done.

  • JL

    As a former bicyclist, I definitely respect yielding to bikes…however my biggest complaint is (more in DC than in VA to be honest) is bicycles not obeying lights–its seriously dangerous, and techinically a bike has to obey the same rules of the road as does a car. Drives me nuts!

    • At Lynn St every biker obeys the light.

      • CrystalMikey

        ^ sarcasm?

        • yequalsy

          I doubt it’s sarcasm. I’ve been commuting by bike through this intersection for years. Even cyclists inclined towards busting red lights don’t do it here — certainly not during rush hour — due to heavy vehicle traffic. The problems with this intersection are well described above. Personally I find that the huge majority of cars turning there watch for and stop for bikes. The really dangerous ones are those that BrownFlipFlops noted. Some drivers — especially cabbies — will swing around at high speed from the middle lane.

          • CEW

            The “middle lane” is a turn lane too. Nothing nefarious there, but it does add more complexity/danger to the intersection.

          • brian

            walkers/cyclists get the WALK light BEFORE traffic get’s the green light there.

  • I have been complaining about this intersection for years – if not decades. All I hever get is a shrug, “yeah, we know its dangerous.”

    When I cross that intersection on my bike, I *always* try to shadow a bike in front of me…. in other words, I try to use another biker as a shield. I HATE that intersection.

    • normal

      The county is working on designs to improve that intersection.

      • J

        Well, I know how the county could free up $200,000 to improve this intersection, where pedestrians actually do get hurt.

      • yequalsy

        Any idea what they’re thinking about doing? Making right on red illegal (red arrow with pedestrians/bikers crossing) followed by a dedicated right turn light (green arrow, with pedestrians/bikers crossing) might help. But that will just extend the light cycles and perhaps cause an even worse backup. Don’t know.

        • normal
          • VDOT

            The project is currently moving through the engineering design phase and is seeking necessary approvals from VDOT prior to beginning the construction phase of the project.

          • yequalsy

            Thanks. I couldn’t decipher all the diagrams but it looks like they’re going to widen a lot of the trail/sidewalks and change the light patterns.

  • yequalsy

    Try and keep up. The intersection in question here is where a sidewalk crosses a road. The sidewalk is bike legal because it’s part of the Custis trail. So the wannabe cyclists — whatever that is — are indeed sticking to the sidewalk.

    • yequalsy

      Hmmm. I was responding to Dr. something or other whose posts seems to have disappeared. Just as well.

  • Andrew

    Why is it when I’m on a bike, all the drivers are idiots, but when I’m driving, all the bicyclists are idiots? Amazing coincidence?

    • amnkle


  • scott

    i know the bicyclist, who was treated at the GW trauma center. I think he is amazingly lucky considering that he was hit by a 4000 plus pound van. In short, no serious long term damage was apparently done. Is it not strange that vdot knows the intersection is dangerous, but is apparently not taking any interim measures to make it safer. Rather, it seems to be saying that all of us have to wait four or so years to be safe. To all cyclists, be careful at the hotel entrance too! And, commenters are correct, having more than one lane being able to turn right is a huge safety issue.

  • Another-rider

    Heads up to all who posted negatively about bicycle riders here…the driver was ciited for “failing to yield”. Drivers are too aggressive in this region. Time for chill pills.

  • Clarendon Cruiser

    The tunnel proposal would be a welcomed addition for runners and bikers. What I notice is cars trying to beat the red light coming down Lynn Street heading into Georgetown.

    Cars coming up the ramp always try to beat out the pedestrians regardless of who has the right of way. I’ve almost been hit twice.

    It would be nice If a Police Car positioned itself there during rush hour in the interim.

  • crin

    Cyclists: take the whole lane. It’s legal and the safest path through this intersection.

    • CW

      Assuming you mean going down Lynn street? But then swerving at the last minute to try to get onto the trail to get over the Key bridge at the intersection where the Mount Vernon Trail on-ramp starts can be treacherous. I usually just like to play it safe and get on the sidewalk for that block, then cross onto the trail/sidewalk going over the key bridge with the light.

  • Crystal

    Just drove over there trying to get home and it looks like the bike got hit around the ramp. I think I know where you are all talking about with the red light but there is no right turn from there, they have a ramp with a yield sign but I’ve noticed that no one in DC MD or VA knows what yield means. However, I’ve also noticed bikers and pedestrians alike who ignore the Don’t Cross Light. So, laws or no, people will be people and make their own rules. Hey, your life is your own business right? No rules for you. Stupid.

  • Crystal

    PS: the radio seems to think it happened ON the bridge so yea, that’s mixed for the cops. Also I’ve pointed this out lots of times but that huge sidewalk? That’s where bikers should be, not on the bridge. Legal or not, it’s safer.


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