Another Cyclist Struck in Rosslyn

by ARLnow.com August 10, 2011 at 3:43 pm 11,573 72 Comments

Another cyclist has been struck at the intersection of Lee Highway and N. Lynn Street, in Rosslyn.

The cyclist was struck by a vehicle on Lynn Street, just past Lee Highway approaching the Key Bridge, around 3:30 p.m. Only minor injuries were reported, but initial reports suggest the cyclist is going to be brought to a hospital.

This is the second reported bicyclist accident at the intersection in three days. Arlington County is the early stages of designing and implementing safety improvements at the intersection. The project is not expected to be complete until 2014.

  • I smell a traffic circle design in the works.

    • Bluemontsince1961

      I worked one block from that intersection many years ago. That intersection was bad even then. Not as many bikers in those days, but pedestrians took their lives in their hands crossing that intersection.

  • G Clifford Prout

    Please dear god. Not on Penny-Farthing I hope.

  • CW

    What is that…thing…going through the middle of the circled vehicle in the picture? Look very closely.

    • NomNom

      Looks like a person in a white shirt.

      • CW

        Yeah…it is aligned almost perfectly with the road striping behind it…

  • KArlington

    AM: Tired drivers slogging to work + cyclists assuming they have right of way = car/bike accidents

    PM: Tired drivers anxious to get home + cyclists assuming they have right of way = car/bike accidents

    I bike commute and see way too many cyclists taking for granted at the Lee Highway cross streets that cars see them or will stop even if they do see them. Yeah, peds may technically have the right of way but cars have the right of WEIGHT – you have to look the driver in the eye to even think about crossing. Cyclists have more to lose but don’t always behave that way.


      How are we going to get this point across? Perhaps using resources already available and funded for once:


    • yequalsy

      I would clarify that at this particular intersection cyclists tend to abide by the lights but you’re certainly right that neither cyclists nor pedestrians can assume that just because they have the right-of-way that the right-of-way will be honored by drivers. There’s a lot going on at that intersection and sometimes drivers don’t see the cyclist/pedestrians and sometimes drivers are just in a big hurry and fail to give appropriate room.

      That whole stretch of trail and road isn’t great. The intersections at Scott, Quinn, Oak, the hotel, and Ft,. Myer are all a bit tricky, too. (Then there’s the extreme narrowness of the TR bridge bike lane, but that another issue.) Fortunately as far as for as Lynn goes the county is looking at changing it.

      • Ali

        I do give cyclists right of way but I will admit it’s very hard to see them coming up on the right off of the trail.

        • JE

          I come off the Roosevelt Bridge/Lee Highway ramp and make that right onto Lynn to get on the G.W. Parkway N every afternoon. Cyclists are very good about waiting for the signal. But there are so many cyclists that it is difficult to make that right turn. If there was a right turn arrow from the off ramp turning onto Lee Highway that preceeded the green AND if cyclists would wait for the solid green light, then cars and cyclists would each get their turn, eliminating cars trying to turn between the bikes.

        • normal

          Ali, I think that’s the biggest problem. This is about people turning right onto the bridge, parallel to cyclists and peds. Very bad situation for visibility, especially when there are two turn lanes.

    • normal

      Cyclists have the right-of-way whenever the walk signal is on.

  • Brian

    I can’t tell from the picture, but was the cyclist crossing Lynn Street where the Custis Trail meets the Mount Vernon Trail? Or was the cyclist riding down Lynn?

  • Wendy

    Why don’t cyclists stop at stop lights? I see this more and more. It’s very dangerous. I was walking (with full right of way) at Clarendon and Fillmore and nearly got run over by a bycyclist the other day-zooming down the hill.

    • Aaron

      Why do the stop lights even change colors? They’re called STOP lights for a reason, why don’t they jjust stay red all the time so no one would ever be in an accident ever? Why do people riot in London? Why are manhole covers round? So many good questions.

      • SouthArlingtonReady

        If they start being ticketed you can damn well believe they will stop. Period.

        • donkeybike

          I stop because I have common sense. However, I reject the common misconception that cyclists disobey laws any more than cars do–we’re just more visible. I ride through Arlington neighborhoods every day, and I see car after car roll through stop signs without coming close to stopping.

          • cyclist

            Or pedestrians – I see them jaywalk, cross on reds, and stand in the street waiting for lights all the time.

      • crin

        Manhole covers are round so they don’t fall down the round hole and get wedged in. All the diagonals in a circle are equal, so the cover can never slot down into the round hole. All other shapes have different length diagonals and a cover aligned with any longer diagonal could fall down the hole like a coin going through a coin slot. It would fall until it rotated in midflight, to the point the covers width exceeded the diagonal it was inserted in, and two of its corners wedged itself into the shaft.

        That’s why manhole covers are round.

    • Greg

      Would almost guarantee this cyclist stopped at the red light. This is the one light that cyclists obey. It’s a very dangerous intersection.

      • cyclist

        Yes, it’s smart not to rush through it at the end of the cycle if you’re a cyclist too. Wait for the next one.

    • Yes, every cyclist ignores traffic lights.

      This concept annoys me as a cyclist who does stop at lights. It’s not every single one that doesn’t stop, it’s just the stupid ones without, as donkeybike says, common sense. They make up a small majority of riders and they make all of us look bad. Once someone sees them blow through a light it automatically becomes, “I hate cyclists! They never stop at lights!”

      Better marking of busy bike/car intersections and dedicated bike/ped light cycles would go a long way to reducing accidents. Oh, and drivers putting down their phones and paying attention to their driving would probably help too, but that may be a bridge too far in today’s society.

      • Bluemontsince1961

        “drivers putting down their phones and paying attention to their driving would probably help too”

        +100, Foggy Dew!

  • J

    Theoretically, they could just make it no right turn at that intersection. People shouldn’t be using the two bridges for a shortcut to Georgetown; bridge space is scarce enough for people using it to get to and stay in VA. They shouldn’t be cutting across 4 lanes of traffic to get to the GW parkway entrance there either. And anyone coming north on 110 should can be diverted on Wilson Blvd, make a right at Lynn and go straight through this intersection. Of course, this would cause headaches at Lynn/Wilson, which doesn’t seem ideal either.

  • Lauren

    I REALLY wish cyclists would be more cautious on main roads like this. If there’s a perfectly good sidewalk to use, can’t they use that? I feel like pretending to be a car and drive on lee highway is way too dangerous.

    • REALLY

      I REALLY wish people would realize we’re talking about a designated at-grade intersection where the bike trail crosses Lynn street with a “walk” sign signifying right-of-way for pedestrians and cyclist, parallel with Lee Highway

    • Ali

      They do use the sidewalk there. The problem is not the bikes in the road at this intersection. It’s the large amount of cars trying to turn right while bikes/peds have the right of way.

    • BarryO

      They were using the sidewalk, Lauren. These cyclists were hit in a crosswalk.

    • cyclist


      This is a sidewalk/bike trail we’re talking about. It runs parallel to Lee Highway. The crossing is a pedestrian crosswalk.

    • Jen

      Lauren-cyclists have the right to use the road as much as cars. However, they should also be regulated to follow the rules of the road (ie, stop at lights and signs, signal when turning etc). Cyclists should NOT be allowed on sidewalks because this is dangerous for both pedestrians walking on the sidewalk and cyclists trying to navigate around them.

      I REALLY wish people like you would just accept that cyclists have a right to be on the road.

  • are you kidding?

    pretty sure that this is where the trail crossed Lynn street. Folks turning right not yielding to bikes in the crosswalk.
    Cycling on sidewalks can be dangerous as vehicles turning off the road do not expect to see them there. In this case it pretty much is a sidewalk between where the Mt Vernon trail becomes the Custis trail.

  • BAB

    Drive that everyday cyclist zip across withiut any regard for cars. Thought they were supposed to follow the rules of the road? I am sorry someone was hurt but I am also really tired of the cyclist wanting all the road rights and still wanting to break all the rules.

    • Greg

      What rules are the cyclists breaking? Bikes have the right of way over the cars turning right with the light at that intersection.

    • BarryO

      You’re not really sorry, BAB.

  • BlueSkies

    It’s the same old song – a cyclist gets hit by a car, and people start saying it must be the cyclist’s fault because cyclists break the rules.

    Sure, sometimes they do. And sometimes drivers do. In this case, assuming the cyclist was crossing with the light (which the article doesn’t say), it’s the driver’s fault. And it’s not a matter of cyclists *wanting* road rights, as if that’s something a driver could grant as a big gift of generosity – legally, they already have the right to be on the road, just like cars do.

  • BarryO

    It’s fun reading all these comments. Commuting by bike regularly at this intersection I can honesty tell all the angry and raging drivers of cars that a) cyclists are riding from sidewalk-to-sidewalk at this intersection, it is rare if ever that a cyclist is riding along Lee Highway during rush hour; b) a cyclist would have to have a death wish to cross against the light at this intersection; and c) drivers (especially morning rush hour drivers) are incredibly aggressive here…most have been stuck in traffic and despise anything/anyone in their way.

    Oh, and to the folks who paint all cyclists with the break-all-the-rules broad brush: I’ve seen plenty of drivers roll through stop signs, run red lights, speed and weaving while texting…we should then assume all drivers break the rules too, right? Only cars can do a lot more damage.

    • MB

      I’d like a macro to cut and paste your response in the future. it’s the same song and dance every time from drivers who lack self-awareness (or honesty).

      Folks, those those who are interested in what Arlington’s going to do about this intersection (spoiler: not enough), there will be a social meeting of the Arlington Bicycle Advisory Committee at this intersection next month, with County staff on hand. I’ll be sure to get ARLnow the details.

      • kc

        Please do that. I’m not a biker but am a runner and go by that intersection almost daily so would be interested as runners have almost the same issue. Thanks.

      • othersideoftheriver


        I cross at this intersection twice a day, on foot. I’ve had a cyclist friend hit this spring in exactly today’s spot by a car who forgot the “stop” part of “right turn on red after…”

        What I notice, often, is that it’s the first driver in the curb lane who sees the peds and cyclists; it’s the right-turning driver in the middle lane who doesn’t, and then all cars after both of them who can’t see anything except the green light and no movement up front and start honking.

        Want a worse intersection? Try crossing where the red arrow is, WITH the light.

        • kc

          That is another ugly one. I often end up waiting until traffic turning left is clear until I even think about venturing out.

    • Michael H.

      You forgot to mention all the drivers who are speeding on the local parkways, like GW and Rock Creek Parkways. And on the Beltway too, during off-peak hours. Not just 5 mph above the limit. More like 10-20 mph above. And drivers who see pedestrians already in a crosswalk with a WALK signal, then who try to force all of those people out of the way because they want to turn. I see this happen all the time.

      That’s why I don’t understand editorials like a recent W. Post item, saying that cyclists will be welcome on the streets only after they start obeying the laws. If that’s the requirement for being allowed to use the roads, then most drivers would have to be prohibited from using the roads and highways.

      • G


  • CarsSuck

    You people are so pathetic jumping to conclusions and assigning blame to the cyclists right away. Get ALL the facts before pointing fingers. At the end of the day, no matter WHO is at fault, cars still kill everyone. Cyclists and Peds don’t kill drivers. Pointing blame at everyone who’s not in a car only reflects how close-minded your life and way of thinking is. Eliminating Right on Reds is long overdue in our urban environment. It may still work in Fair Oaks, but not in Arlington.

    • Clayton

      What I don’t get is if one want Bikes to be ‘cars’ — then treat them as such, which means no passing on the left (or only at dotted lines), and everyone moves at 10-17 MPH. Bikers then MUST stop at stop signs, not ride on trails, etc, etc… Conversely, treat bikes as pedestrians, and give ’em the right of way — with the incumbent 30 sec (or so) delay to stop, let them cross and then get on with life. But this ‘in between’ is rubbish, and just asking to get everyone angry. And as an avid cyclist (but also an occassional driver), I’ve seen more than my share of the Conte idiots make bad decisions, be aggressive, and not obey any rules of the road — sometimes we’re our own worse enemies.

      • Thanks

        Thanks for acknowledging that. It’s frustrating as a driver to see people on bikes act as though they’re part of the regular traffic when they can’t go as fast as the traffic. If they could keep up, I would have no problem with bikes being on the major thoroughfares.

        Tangent: Why do I see cyclists trying to ride on the shoulder of GW Parkway south of Alex? They have the Mt. V trail right there! They’d rather force the cars into the other lane than have to watch out for walkers on the trail.

        • cyclist

          The Mt. V parkway is a parkway. It’s not supposed to be a car-clogged commuter highway. It ought to be fine for bikes. The trail is curvey and full of roots and bumps. So some cyclists (not me) who want to go faster and have road bikes will use it instead.

          However, it is illegal for bikes to ride on the parkway and the Park Service is cracking down on it.

      • CrystalMikey

        Clayton, I’m with you. How about giving the bikes/peds a 30 sec window to cross with all autos getting a red. Then the right-turners (in the cars), get their green without having to fight through the ped/cycle crossers.

        • Ali

          I’d like to see something like that as well. But if that were put in place, those trying to cross or turn on anything but green should be ticketed.

        • cyclist

          The County says there’s just too many cars there to allow a pedestrian/bike only part of the signal. Can’t inconvenience all those people in huge metal boxes, you know.

    • Bluemontsince1961


      I’ve lived in Arlington since 1956. We never had right turn on red until sometime in the late 1970s. Growing up, the only time anyone turned “right on red” was when a green right turn arrow was on. Otherwise, everyone stopped until the lights turned green, cars, bicycles, etc. I had never heard of right turn on red until I went to college in St. Louis – Missouri had it back before the early 1970s.

    • Jack


  • the facts

    i am the cyclist who was hit on Monday morning. the facts are simple. the walkway sign was white, meaning that cyclists and pedestrians had the right of way, legally. after i was hit and thrown from the hood of the work van, i made it back to the van. The driver finally got out, and said to me, “i had a green light.” I think that summarizes everything. A driver had a green light, and even though making a turn, and driving through a crosswalk, he felt he had the right to go regardless of what was in his way. By the way, he received the ticket for failure to yield. If cars and trucks do not yield to people in the crosswalk, there is no hope for safe passage. I hope the person hit today is lucky and doing well. having spent four hours or more at GW shock trauma, with excellent care, and bruised and bloodied all over (and for those who care about the bicycle – a bent handlebar – showing the force of the fall — i feel lucky that it wasn’t worse. a trip to the trauma unit shouldnt be the entrance fee for crossing the street.

    • Jack

      Fact bone yields to steel. I think that is what needs to be remembered by cyclists. Right or wrong chances are the guy in the car will only have to visit a body shop not a trauma center. Car, bike, runner whatever, you should always assume the guy coming at you isn’t going to yield until he does. Look out for yourself and assume nothing.

      • fact check

        Fact check: You are correct that bone yields to steel. However, under your theory, one could never cross the walk. One must be able to assume that traffic laws will be obeyed. That is why I make a left turn, in my car, with a left green arrow — because I know cars in the other direction will stop. While I agree one is always driving or riding defensively, there are times when one cannot get out of harms way even when being defensive. Some here want to blame the cyclist regardless of what happened. Too bad.

      • Jen

        Jack, shame on you for lecturing the cyclist hit and injured on Monday morning. Do you not have any empathy?

        The facts-I’m glad to hear you’re doing ok and the damage to your bike can be fixed.

    • bobby

      Pretty sure the law says bikes are supposed to be walked across the xwalk, not ridden.

      • are you kidding?

        pretty sure you don’t know what your are talking about either

      • Mcleaniac

        bobby – do everyone a favor: stay out of the driver’s seat until you are more than “pretty sure” about the rules of the road.

      • crin

        “pretty sure” means “I don’t know what I’m talking about.” I would put up a cyclist’s knowledge of the traffic code against a driver’s anyday.” Cyclists tend to know the code becuase their lives depend on it. Drivers tend to only have a vague notion of the code because it’s been 20 years since their brother taught them to drive and their lives virtually aren’t at risk.

    • MB

      Hi. Sorry to hear that you got hurt. I’d like to use your story to help illustrate why we need Arlington (and others) to do more at this intersection. Can you drop me a note? Use comments [at] blacknell.net. Many thanks and I hope the healing process is easy.

  • Narlington

    if you ride a bike and want to cross against the light you are going to get hit by a car it will hurt.

    • cyclist

      Thanks for your contribution, completely irrelevant though it may be.

  • Eric Scharf

    Like a number of the commenters, I cross this intersection twice a day, as a bicycle commuter. What I haven’t seen anyone comment on is an even more dangerous daily occurrence than the drivers turning through the crosswalk while people are in it. I routinely see drivers on Lynn Street blowing right through the red light while approaching the Key Bridge. I’ve seen pedestrians in the crosswalk have to dance around drivers who’ve ignored the red light in their rush to make it to the bridge. Arlington County ought to post a police car at this intersection periodically, to catch and discourage the red-light runners.

    • Joe

      You’ll get a huge fuss from the rank-and-file if you try to get ACPD to do traffic enforcement here. It’s too hard. Much better to do “enforcement” on Sunday mornings on George Mason Dr. Just sayin’.

  • 2Wheels2Go

    Maybe enforcement would cause a traffic problem, which would lead to news coverage, which would lead to a demand for a solution. Not such a bad result for one afternoon’s worth of traffic.

    • wonder

      I wonder whether arlington county, or VDOT, is obviously negligent in failing to address the problem, which they likely have had notice of for years. While they may be working on a solution, they seem to have done nothing in a temporary sense to make the intersection safer? So they know it is dangerous, and can say only we’re working on it? What about the pedestrians and bikers who need to cross this year, and next?

  • Biker

    I too cross this intersection twice a day. The light was, I believe, reset not too long ago so that the ped crossing light turns green about 5 seconds before the people coming off 66 onto Lee get their green light. This is helpful because the cars turning toward Key Bridge will NOT stop unless you are actually blocking their path (and even then not so much sometimes…as we see here). I can see why it’s frustrating for drivers because at peak rush hour (830 say?) there are enough bikers and pedestrians to completely prevent any cars from turning during certain cycles. That being said, there are some really aggressive drivers that will mow you down and will not stop for anything. I’m not really sure what the solution is, but it is a difficult intersection for pedestrians and bikers to cross safely.

  • crin

    Cyclists: take the full lane. It’s legal and the safest path. If you use the crosswalk or hug the curb, you’re too close to cars that run the right turn, you’re not visible, and you have no escape time or route.

    If you take the full lane (which is legal), you’re 8-10 feet further from the front bumper of a car that runs the right turn. That 8-10 feet buys you: visibility, time, maneuver space, and maneuver options.

    I bike that route everyday and have never had a problem taking this approach.

    • wonder

      can you further explain how to do this, when going towards DC? what full lane are you referring too? Thanks.

  • Pablo Escobar

    Hopefully this doesn’t go to 3 for 3 tomorrow.

  • AR

    Commenter bait.


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