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Out-of-Control Truck Seriously Injures Two Cyclists

by ARLnow.com October 14, 2012 at 6:00 pm 11,016 150 Comments

Update at 9:10 a.m. on 10/16/12 — The male victim is recovering from his injuries, while the female victim is still in critical condition in a medically-induced coma, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. Police are still awaiting the result of a blood test on the driver before pressing charges. According to Sternbeck, witnesses told police that the driver did a “burn out” at the intersection before losing control of the truck.

The driver of a pick-up truck lost control and plowed into two cyclists on Four Mile Run Drive this afternoon, police said.

According to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck, the driver was heading eastbound on Columbia Pike, made a right-hand turn onto Four Mile Run Drive, lost control of the truck, went over the median and struck the cyclists. The cyclists were biking in the roadway and not on the adjacent trail, Sternbeck said.

The victims, a man and a woman, were both in their 60s, Sternbeck said. The woman suffered “significant head trauma” and a broken pelvis. The man suffered broken ribs and punctured lungs. Both victims were transported to George Washington University Hospital in “serious” condition.

Charges are pending against the driver of the truck, who remained on scene after the accident, Sternbeck said. Four Mile Run Drive was closed between Columbia Pike and George Mason Drive for much of the afternoon while police investigated the accident.

  • CW

    Ok, sorry to go all Greater Greater Washington on the nitpicks, but this title is misleading and the intro stinks of pro driver bias. The truck was not out of control. Someone does not “lose control” when driving reasonably. There was no medical emergency and charges are pending against the driver. And out of control truck did not do anything. Some maniac ran two people over. Tell it like it is.

    • CW

      It also wasnt just a truck, but appears to be an SVT Lightning, which was basically purpose built for hot dogging and being driven recklessly. I hope they throw the book at this fool.

      Ok, end rant, but people running over cyclists is to me as banning smoking is to steve.

      • Mike Hunt

        yes with riced out tail lights, surprised its not from MD

        • BoredHouseWife

          riced out tail lights?

        • CrystalMikey

          Those tail lights are factory OEM.

          • CW

            Yep, one of the many reasons why I am not a Ford guy.

        • Jack Tors

          Riced out, beaned out. Subtle, but significant points. Well done, Mike Hunt!

      • Bender

        The SVT Lightning is “basically purpose built for hot dogging and being driven recklessly,” so by all means let’s not only prosecute the driver, let’s drag into court the automotive people who designed and built the vehicle.

        But let’s not stop there. This particular road at the intersection of Four Mile Run and Columbia Pike, with its extreme zig-zag configuration, is basically purpose built for losing control and being driven dangerously. This is not a straight piece of road — in making entering the road from Columbia Pike, one makes a hard right onto the road, then the road almost immediately zigs hard to the left and then almost immediately zags back to the right.

        Since the driver went over the median, one can reasonably conclude that, in going through this county-designed accident-waiting-to-happen roadway, he over-corrected in making one of the zig-zags and ended up going over the median. Or perhaps he was unfamiliar with the road and negligently looked down or something just as the road curved severely one way or the other.

        I heard there is a plan to move the intersection to the east, so that the zig-zag curves are not so severe and so it alligns closer with the next intersection just a couple hundred feet down Columbia Pike. So the County is aware that it is a dangerous spot.

        • CW

          It’s 400hp on a rear wheel drive platform with hardly any weight over the rear tires. That makes it inherently not very good at launching, accelerating from low speeds, or cornering. What it is pretty much good at is burning out at drifting, which is what the witness stated that this driver did.

      • CryingWitch-Deux

        I hope the driver gets off on a technicality.

        • CW2

          Do you really have that hope? The two people the driver mowed down are part of my family. I hope they recover.

    • Eye Roll

      Who said the person was driving reasonably?

      Seriously, I don’t get your beef. The title says “Out-of-Control Truck.” I think it’s obvious the truck was out of control–unless you’re implying the driver intentionally did this, which I think is unlikely.

      I think you’re assuming that “out of control” somehow exonerates the driver. It does not. If you’re driving, and you lose control of the vehicle, most of the time it’s your fault. (The exceptions being the rare instances of mechanical malfunction.)

      • CW

        I think that the way the article is written makes it sound like an accident, until you see the mention of charges. It is not an accident when it arises from criminal negligence.

        • Eye Roll

          I don’t think so. It says “the driver..lost control.” I immediately assumed the guy was drunk and/or texting. It’s not that hard to stay in control of an automobile.

          • Mike Honcho

            I’ve lost control of a vehicle. Someone didn’t tighten the lug nuts on the wheel when they fixed the brakes on a company truck. Not unheard of. Mechanical failure does happen. Talk to anyone who has tried to brake in a Toyota.

          • Cletus Van Damme

            I’ve lost control of a vehicle as well. I had new tires put on and not 24 hours later, the beads broke on the front tire causing me to flip end over end in a corn field.

          • Eye Roll

            OK, the two rare exceptions to the norm! I’ve been driving 30 years and have never had either instance happen to me. The odds are that this driver did not experience some event outside of his control. Impossible? No. But unlikely.

          • Bigger Eye Roll

            Something rare has never happened to you and therefore it can never happen to anyone!

          • Jim

            Backup, are we claiming a mechnical failure caused the driver to induce a burnout? Give me a break.

      • R. Griffon

        CW’s right. “Out of control” is generally used for something that is beyond the ordinary control of the driver. Like a brake failure, or someone who drives at a reasonable speed but hits unexpected ice patch. This guy was driving recklessly and hit two people. While not intentional, it appears to be entirely his fault.

    • PattiS

      The victims are the parents of the American Idol contestant from Arlington.

  • Louise

    Why does anyone ride a bike in the road when the bike trail is right there???

    • Bill

      Because when the trail is crowded it can be a royal pain to bike on it.

      • Louise

        More painful than significant head trauma, a broken pelvis, broken ribs, and punctured lungs?

        • Lm

          Seriously, you should retract this comment. Don’t take the ‘they were asking for it’ route.

        • CW

          So by your logic, if you were walking down at the high school track and i ran up behind you and knocked you down, you would have deserved it?

          • Eye Roll

            I’m sorry for these folks’ injuries, hope they recover fully, and hope they throw the book at the a-hole who ran into them. At the same time, Louise has a point. Columbia Pike is a major road, with a lot of traffic. It might be legal, but it’s not wise to ride a bike there. And when there’s a bike path right there, yeah–you do wonder why they chose to be on the busy, high-volume, relatively high-speed major road.

            But in no way does that excuse this idiot driver.

          • CW

            They weren’t riding on Columbia Pike. They were riding on 4MR.

        • UnHappyCyclist

          A. thats not the usual result of riding in the road

          B. There are accidents that can happen on trails.


      • Rick

        I’ll remember that when Four Mile Run drive is crowded, I’ll just drive on the trail!

        • Louise


        • Brandon

          Bikes are allowed on most roads. Cars are not allowed on paths (except special circumstances like emergency vehicles). So your argument doesn’t make a lot of sense. This could have easily been another car… what then? Is the car that gets hit asking for it at fault some how?

          • Rick

            It wasn’t an argument, it was a joke. Ugh.

        • CW

          And then you would be a criminal, unlike these law-abiding citizens. Get it? Or does that nuance go over your head?

          • Rick

            It goes clear over my head.

    • donna

      Maybe they were riding their bikes TO the trail. Or perhaps FROM the trail. But even so, why is this a question?
      A bike is a mode of transport and has every right to be on the road.

      • Rick

        Airplanes are mode of transport. Trains are modes of transport..

        • Michael H.

          And bikes are a mode of transport.

        • Brandon

          Bikes are allowed on roads and trains and airplanes are not. I think you’re just trolling at this point because those are obviously silly retorts.

          • Susan B. Anthony

            Actually, trains WILL be on Arlington roads in the near future. And the county is paying a lot to make it so.

          • DCBuff

            Uh, WE are paying a lot to make it so. ArlCo is not a fairytale land where money grows on trees. Although telling that to the board will get you nowhere.

    • Lm

      Maybe they were turning left. Maybe they had come from a direction other than that of the path. There are a lot of justified reasons, in addition to the fact that riding in the road is perfectly legal.

      • Louise

        All true. And at the same time, it’s also possible that they were riding on the street when they could have been riding on the trail–in which case this probably wouldn’t have happened and they would not be in the hospital. We all see it every day. And it’s dangerous for everyone involved.

        • CW

          You have to be pretty low on the scum scale to think up ways to implicate someone who gets hit by a vehicle being driven recklessly enough to jump across an entire median.

          • Louise

            Didn’t implicate anyone. Said that it may have been avoidable. When I’m on a bike, I take the trail instead of the road as much as possible. Cars are lethal and people around here do not look for cyclists. The trail has its own issues, granted–but it’s still safer than sharing the road with drivers.

          • CW

            This is silly reasoning. I guess if someone gets hurt in a bank robbery it was their fault for working there. Or if the electrician screws up your wiring and you get electrocuted, it was your fault for buying a house. Or a hundred other equally ridiculous scenarios.

          • fourmilerunner

            Right, “as much as possible.” I live on Four Mile Run, believe it or not, I have to bike on the road until I can get to a spot to get on the bike path.

          • Michael H.

            Accidents also happen when people are riding on trails or sidewalks. Many trails still have intersections with roads. There is no way to guarantee safety 100% of the time, and that goes for cyclists, pedestrians, motorcyclists and car drivers. What would lower accident and injury rates are safer practices. First on that list would be safer driving, since cars are by far the most deadly occupants of the roads.

          • Eye Roll

            So by that logic, why not let them ride on I-66?

            Yes, that’s extreme, but you see what I mean; it’s a slippery slope. At some as-yet-undetermined average vehicle speed for a roadway, it should be deteremined that said roadway is too fast and thus too dangerous for cyclists.

            Again: I still hope they throw the driver in jail for a long time and take away his license.

          • HappyCyclist

            And what we have determined as a society is that the limit is limited access highways with speed limits of 55MPH or higher.

            There is legitimate debate about certain limited access highways with lower limits, like GW parkway. I personally won’t bike on a country road with a 50 MPD speed limit or above. There are also specific issues relating to lane width, available places to path, etc.

            None of that applies to this road – and had the driver been driving as is proper for this road, there would have been no accident.

    • CW

      Answer #1: Because the trail has its own dangers. Lots of them. Many people avoid that section of trail and take the road because of all the dangerous, strangely regulated cross street intersections.

      Answer #2: The same reason why people walk around perfectly safe streets carrying firearms or why people get drunk at 10 AM – it is their legal right to do so. God bless America.

      • Hollywood


    • Streetcar Sally

      Exactly. That’s the reason why we need a streetcar on Col Pike!

    • drax

      Louise, read the friggin’ article. They were on the trail. Not that it matters.

      • drax

        Never mind, I read your comment backwards.

    • concerned

      The couple in question live in a nearby neighborhood. They take bike rides together most weekends. They exited the trail to cross columbia pike to enter their neighborhood.

    • GodFilasDisgruntledNanny

      One can only imagine… these are the same
      people who park their cars at angles
      to occupy two spots.

    • Mick

      I don’t know why anyone takes a bicycle out on a roadway with vehicles, period.

      The mismatch is too great

  • southarlingtonmom

    I was right there when it happened and it doesn’t matter whether they were in the road or on the path. Anybody who would deny cyclists and pedestrians their legal right to the road and blame them for somebody else’s deadly carelessness has to be a real winner. Whether the path was there or not, doesn’t matter, this idiot took off, purposely squealing his tires and leaving a plume of black smoke, while i was at the intersection waiting for a large group of cyclists and pedestrians, including several young children, to cross the road. Being as there is a crosswalk from the Carlton condos to the trail only about a hundred feet from where the loser turned – there is no excuse to have picked up any speed at all from the turn he made – since bike path or no, people are crossing the road there all the time to get to the bus stop. I hope this guy is never allowed to drive again as long as he lives and he is lucky somebody on scene didn’t beat the crap out of him before the cops got there.

    • CW

      I am sorry that you had to witness this and I appreciate your sharing of the account here.

      I hope that you shared that account with the police and will be willing to reiterate it in a court of law if asked. Given your sentiments expressed here, i suspect you would be eager to, and those of us who wish for shared roadways would be in your debt.

    • R. Griffon

      You absolutely owe it to those victims to contact the police and testify in court to what you saw. Not trying to be pushy, but it’s the right thing to do.

    • Ralph

      Please consider testifying.

    • GFsFemaleCanine

      Perhaps you will be a witness “with prejudice”.

      Certainly hope you’re not on the jury!

    • Luckeej

      I know the people injured in this accident

    • Luckeej

      southarlingtonmom, can I contact you. I am a friend of the family who was injured and we would like to speak with someone who witnessed the accident. Please email [email protected] thank you

  • Rick

    This guy should have his license revoked for the sole reason he tried to drive fast on Columbia pike…

    Even after all my pro-vehicle posts, I do wish these people well and a speedy recovery. People shouldn’t have to be seriously injured doing the things they love.

  • MC

    There have been too many of these incidents, where reckless drivers have hurt pedestrians and cyclists. I hope these drivers face every legal wrath. I’d welcome having Arlington being known as a place people should be afraid to drive a motor vehicle if they don’t want to obey the road laws here.

    • Michael H.

      I wish every place would be known as a place where car drivers are afraid to drive if they don’t want to obey road laws and even basic safety principles. I didn’t witness this particular accident but I see drivers speeding into right turns on red lights without even slowing down, blowing right through red lights, ignoring stop signs, trying to push pedestrians out of crosswalks when the pedestrians were there first and on and on and on.

      I see cyclists and pedestrians breaking laws too, but from some of the comments you read on other articles and websites, you’d think that only cyclists break traffic laws. Plenty of car drivers break laws and do so every single day. For example, how many drivers actually obey the speed limits on their daily trips? The percentage is pretty low.

      • Louise

        Exactly my point, Michael. Drivers–especially in this area–are reckless. So many of them are not paying attention, are not driving safely, are not looking for pedestrians or cyclists, or even other drivers.

        Yet, time after time, I see cyclists choosing to ride their bikes on the road, even when there is a perfectly good bike trail (and I understand the crowding issue–however, I see this a lot when the trail is *not* crowded) RIGHT BESIDE THEM. I’m not saying this happened in this particular incident–I’m saying I see it. A lot.

        Never said, never implied, never even considered that cyclists don’t have a right to be on the road. They do! And they are everywhere. More power to them. That being said: If I have a choice between riding my bike on a road v. riding on a trail, I choose the trail. It is safer. There are (almost) no cars on the bike trail. And if I see a cyclist choosing to ride the road instead of a trail right beside him (most annoying example is the Rock Creek Parkway), I think his choice is selfish and dangerous.

        • J

          Without disagreeing on any particular point, I have to ask: Why are you posting this here? Are you so desperate for an audience that you wait until two 60-year-old people are maimed to make a point about behavior you see as “selfish and dangerous” that (a) by your own admission, may not have any bearing on the story, (b) also by your own admission, is entirely legal and (c) does not affect your life in any meaningful way?

          • Louise

            Nope. Not desperate. Just making a connection and trying to think of ways to prevent this from happening again and again and again and again . . . no different from ATP below wondering about helmets.

          • CW

            “Ways to prevent this from happening again”. How about arresting reckless drivers on the spot, impounding their vehicles, and punishing them so severely that everyone they have ever met thinks twice about pulling that sort of stunt? Wouldn’t that be a way? Or should we just punish law-abiding citizens?

          • Louise

            Who is advocating punishing law abiding citizens?

          • CW

            You, by suggesting that the solution is to take away rights that a group already has in place.

          • Louise

            CW–where did I suggest taking away anyone’s rights? I have no idea what you are taking about, yet again.

          • CW

            You are stating that cyclists would be wiser to ride only on trails, thereby effectively forfeiting their legal right to exist on the roads. You refer to exercising those rights as being “selfish and dangerous”. So yes, you are doing that.

          • cyclist

            Jeez, CW, dial down the outrage.

            Nobody is saying that bikes should be banned from the roads, just that everyone is wise to do what’s safe in a given circumstance.

        • Michael H.

          The Rock Creek Park Trail is a poor example to bolster your argument. That trail is not really wide enough for two-way bike/pedestrian traffic. Riding a bike on certain sections of that trail is not really safe for nearby pedestrians.

          My point was not to say that the cyclists should have been on the trail. As others have pointed out, Four Mile Run Trail and other trails have frequent intersections with roads. So even if cyclists stay on the trails, they are still at risk from reckless car drivers. A good example is the area south of Memorial Bridge, where the Washington Blvd. Trail and the Mt. Vernon Trail cross the GW Parkway and Washington Blvd.

          That said, it is often safer for a cyclist to be riding in the road (except for certain high-speed roads). This is because many drivers may not be looking for cyclists on sidewalks and trails at intersections.

          Even if your points were valid, your repeated emphasis on the fact that the cyclists were in the road has the effect of blaming the cyclists in this case. This is true whether that is your intention or not. You keep bringing up this point when the focus should be on the recklessness of the car driver.

        • Michael H.

          The answer is not to require or suggest that cyclists always ride on trails. The answer is to get more car drivers to behave responsibly and lawfully. Look at how often we see articles on ARLnow about car drivers flipping their vehicles over, crashing into parked cars, crashing into buildings, hitting pedestrians and hitting cyclists. The problem is not cyclists riding in the road.

          • Michael H.

            Less than a day later and we see three more serious accidents involving cars. I’m not on a crusade here. I’m simply pointing out that far too many drivers drive recklessly and aggressively, resulting in frequent injuries and deaths, locally and nationwide. The significant dangers posed by such behavior is in some sort of blind spot among many. It’s as though such injuries and deaths are acceptable, but if a pedestrian or a cyclist causes an accident, it’s time to ban walking or cycling.

            That’s a bit of an exaggeration, but not much. Just read through comments on traffic articles, on this site, on the Washington Post site, on Yahoo News or almost any other news site.

        • CW

          Louise, what you are doing is stereotypical, textbook victim-blaming, and it is disgusting. It is the same as saying that a person who has been robbed/raped/murdered “shouldn’t have been in the bad part of town”. It is a shift of the blame from a criminal perpetrator to an innocent, law-abiding victim, and it is pretty low.

          • SelfCleaningOven

            Without better means of policing the motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians there will continue to be innocent victims peppered
            in with the gross violators of the law.

            I support full enforcement of the law when motorists are at fault.

            However, the penalties of being a scofflaw bicyclist are far more profound:

            1) Immediate injury (perhaps worse).
            2) Continuous tension between motorists and cyclists possible leading to future (avoidable) incidents.

            When people let their emotions drive, the results can be fatal.
            I believe there is a such thing as bicycle rage that is very similar to driver rage, and the law needs to address this so
            peaceful coexistence can prevail.

          • CW

            Explain to me how this applies to this situation. Where is the evidence? The fact that you and other people are even mentioning “scofflaw cyclists” where there is not a shred of evidence or ever hearsay that these victims did one thing wrong shows your bias and agenda.

          • MangledJustice

            To address the original post and to stiffarm CW with flying elbow:

            I will never be afraid to drive in Arlington because I have Newton’s 2nd law of motion on my side. As long as I can maintain my innocence in a court of law, there is nothing to fear.

            200 lbs of raging aluminum don’t stand a chance.

          • Quoth the Raven

            How can you stiffarm someone with a flying elbow? Isn’t that a bit of a contradiction?

          • CW

            If you maintain your innocence because you did not break the law, then I don’t disagree with you. Are you saying that you will go out and seek to run over people breaking the law, or run over people abiding the law, such as the victims here, and maintain your innocence through your legal prowess?

          • South Awwlington

            I think everyone on this blog should take a chill pill and do some work today instead of going psychotically back and forth at each other every minute.

        • arachne

          Hi Louise,

          Thanks for sticking up for the legal right of cyclists to be on the road. I wanted to answer your implied question about why cyclists might choose to ride on the road versus a trail. Please bear in mind, that I am one kind of cyclist only – I don’t speak for all cyclists and there are as many good, bad and ugly cyclists as there are drivers.

          That being said, I’m an extremely experienced and mostly safe cyclist. I sometimes bike commute on either an inexpensive hybrid or an old but faster road bike. I also train for triathlons on a road bike or a tri-bike. Each bike handles differently and I ride differently on each. I wear a helmet and a mirror and typically signal my intentions to pedestrians, cyclists and drivers. I’m not afraid to occupy a lane if it’s the safe thing to do. In return to holding up a car for a few seconds, I’ll hammer it to get past the danger (typically opening doors, grates on the side of the road etc.) and back into the right side of the lane. I blow kisses to kind drivers who wait for me to pass instead of turning in front of me, or let me got at an intersection. I stand up for myself as a cyclist, take responsibility for my own safety, show courtesy towards my fellow commuters in their cars and hope that they have an awareness of the size and momentum differential that could end up with a scratched up car for them and yet put me in hospital or worse.

          Here are the things that factor in when I have the choice between a trail and a road:

          1. The trail is always a multi-use trail. Not a bike trail. It seems like a picky distinction, but on the road there are cars and busses and bikes and *in general,* I know how they’re going to act. On a multi-use trail, there are bikes, runners, walkers, parents with strollers, kids with training wheels, dogs on retractable leashes, rollerbladers – each one of whom could be experienced or a newbie, courteous to let me know they’re coming or acknowleding me calling out, or completely oblivious to others on the trail. It’s a highly, highly, highly unpredictable environment.

          2. The trail may be clear now, but I know it’ll get crowded further/later on for all sorts of reasons (time of day, intersection of trails, proximilty of a village center etc.)

          3. The above crowding and unpredictable mixed use leads to a very herky-jerky ride. As you know, when you get on the bike and get up to speed, it’s tough to have to slow and regain that momentum frequently because we have to do it without the benefit of an engine other than our legs and heart and lungs. Yes, we have to slow and speed up on the road too, but typically, it’s a less interrupted, smoother ride.

          4. The trail may not go where I want it to. Either into my neighborhood, or a more direct route to my destination. I LOVE riding my bike, but I do want to get where I’m going as quickly and with as few turns as possible – just like when I’m driving. Maybe I’m unusual in this, but there are times in my car that I chose a route because it gives me more right hand turns or fewer stop lights. That sort of issue factors in for cyclists too.

          5. A lot of the trails around here are gorgeous and a pleasure to ride on. A lot also have tree roots growing through them or riddled with wide cracks (Custis trail was chronic for years, Rock Creek Park is terrible), making a very uncomfortable and pinch-flat inducing ride. Or they’re narrow (RCP in particular). So when I hear that there’s a “perfectly good trail” next to the road, I have to laugh and remember how my ass felt last time I rode that particular trail.

          6. Some trails (Mount Vernon Trail for instance) only have limited entrances and exits, so I have to go on the road to get there. For instance, I have to ride a mile on the roads to get to the MVT near my house. I could ride on less busy and grate filled roads to Four Mile Run to get to MVT, but it’s not nearly as direct and FMR can be fairly narrow underneath the bridges and to get there I have to either climb a bigass hill or bike past the sewerage plant. I can’t hold my breath that long!

          I hope that outlines some of the things that go into a cyclist’s decision about what route to take. We are unbelievably fortunate in Northern Virginia to have the trails we have and I can attest to the increase in bike commuters using those trails as I sit in my car waiting (sometimes not very patiently) to turn onto Key Bridge as 10-20 riders cross N Lynn St. Oy! What a pain that is. But I also look at them on a glorious Fall morning and regret my decision to drive instead of bike.

          Cheers. And here’s hoping this couple recovers quickly and the police are able to quickly ascertain what happened and file appropriate charges if dangerous driving or cycling was involved.

          • SomeGuy

            Excellent comment, arachne.

          • Ren

            Great comment

          • fourmilerunner

            Louise isn’t listening.

          • Louise

            Louise has a job . . .

          • Best description and explanation of the dynamics of the relationship among cyclists, drivers and pedestrians I’ve read in a very long while.

          • Louise

            Thanks, Arachne, for your insights. I am not a big road cyclist–I prefer mountainbiking–so I appreciate what you have to say. What you say at #3 and #5 are where we are going to disagree. A mixed use, shared bike trail, with some roots and or ruts, is still a place without cars and drivers, and is therefore safer for the cyclist–and safer for drivers. It may be more INCONVENIENT for a cyclist, but it is safer. Cyclists who prefer to use a road that is beside a mixed use trail are putting themselves at an unnecessary risk.

          • HappyCyclist

            “Cyclists who prefer to use a road that is beside a mixed use trail are putting themselves at an unnecessary risk.”

            There are risks on trails, including the roots and ruts that can cause a dangerous fall, pedestrians (one was KILLED accidentally by a cyclist near that location) and dangers at intersections.

            We should bike where we are most comfortable, and depending on how we bike different facilities will be safer for us – I personally like trails – but this “Cyclists who prefer to use a road that is beside a mixed use trail are putting themselves at an unnecessary risk.” is not true for all cyclists on most roads.

          • Mick

            I’d say the closer cyclists put themselves to moving cars, the more risky.

            A collision between the two is too one-sided and matters of right of way are cold comfort after a serious injury.

            As to the pedestrian killed on the bike trail, I think she walked there with some expectation (how reasonable, I don’t know) that bicyclists would not be traveling that fast. I stopped walking on the trails around Bluemont years ago, as so many of the bicyclists acted as if this mixed-use trail was their personal race track. I wasn’t comfortable with cyclists rushing by at 30+ mph while screaming “On your left” in a tone that clearly meant “Get Out of the Way!”

            Relatedly, I recall joggers who insisted on jogging though crowds of people along the Tidal Basis during the heights of Cherry Blossom seasons past. Less chance of injury; it was mainly my nose that was offended by their B.O.

            Basically, many people in this region are very poor about sharing, think their rights are always primary.

            Hence, rude and aggressive drivers on the roads, bicyclists speeding along trails, or joggers pushing through throngs of Cherry Blossom watchers.

            I actually recall seeing a young couple with a full cart in a grocery store rush by an older women with a handful of items to get ahead of her.

            The local lament about “oblivious tourists” is actually their pique at not being able to bully through this or that situation. The summer tourists are as oblivious as they are immovable, causing no amount of annoyance.

            You can see behavior around these parts that would cause fist fights 90 miles to the west in the the slower-paced rural areas, where courtesy is still valued.

            Knowing the mindset of metro area people, I’d as soon jump in the tiger’s cage at the National Zoo as take a bicycle out on the area roads. I’m with Louise, who, I think, has a good sense of the risks involved.

    • GF

      I think that all cyclists should be required to get a license
      just like drivers and they should be prosecuted to the fullest
      extent of the law for traffic violations and accidents.

      There is a glut of cyclists that are ignorant about traffic laws
      and they required remedial training.

      We can simply enforce our existing laws when it comes to motorists – take their privileges away.

      • YTK

        My best wishes for a quick recovery for those two and a long incarceration for the driver. Back in the olden days of Arlington (50’s, 60’s) bike riders WERE required to get a license, which they had to display on their bike.BEFORE they were issued that license, they had to learn the rules of the road, courtesy signals, etc. Now they just get on their bikes and take off.. I had one friend get thrown off her bike by some guy in lycra speeding by her with no intent to give the right of way or slow down. Her bike was to damaged tor her to ride home — a kind woman (stranger) drove her home. Another friend (male, pedestrian) was almost blown away by some fat a**ed laughing woman doing at least 30mph on her bike (on the sidewalk on Walter Reed Drive, near the Col Pike Library). It appears that despite the responsible people who DO obey the rules of the road/sidewalk when biking around cars and pedestrians (who DO have the right of way on the sidewalks as well as when properly crossing a street) — too many people ride their bikes the same way that people like that Pickup driver drive……

      • Steve

        How the hell can licensing cyclists do anything about getting plowed over by a maniac who lost control of his car? Absolutely nothing, and this is victim blaming at its worst.

  • ATP

    Were the cyclists wearing helmets? I am especially curious about the woman because it says she suffered serious head trauma in addition to her other severe injuries.

    • Michael H.

      Helmets can’t protect against high-speed collisions with cars. Helmets can help in less serious accidents, but they won’t really hold up if a car strikes a cyclist at high speed.

      Focusing on this fact also tends to come across as blaming the victim. Again, if it is proved that the driver was reckless, then the driver is to blame, not the cyclists. Given that charges are pending against the driver, I would place all of the blame on the car driver for any injuries suffered by the cyclists, regardless of whether they wore helmets.

      • SomeGuy

        Michael H., I understand you’re on a crusade here, but ATP’s question didn’t place any blame. It struck me as an innocent and reasonable one for understanding the situation.

        I get that you’re pro-cycling, and in fact, I am too. But that chip on your shoulder isn’t furthering your cause.

        • CW

          It struck me as a way to potentially find some blame to place on the cyclists.

          “Oh, they were riding on the road? No wonder they got hit.”

          Now, similarly:
          “Oh, she wasn’t wearing a helmet? No wonder she has head injuries.”

          Implicit in both:
          “They DESERVED it.”

          • SomeGuy

            I understand that the tone of this discussion has predisposed you and Michael H. to think that. And that’s what I’m pointing out to you both.

            I, for one, am also curious to know if the head trauma victim was wearing a helmet because it helps to inform (anecdotally) just how much safety a helmet can be expected to provide.

            It’s only an unreasonable question if you choose the context the way you did.

          • person

            they were both wearing helmets and only on the road to get from one trail to another. if a truck is flying over a median though, helmets only do so much. but definitely were wearing helmets. good attitudes towards cyclists are a great way to start keeping them safer too.

        • Mick

          Any deviation seems impertinent if not downright transgressive to those with a single agenda.

          I think we all know of the dinner guest who goes on a bit too much and then says “That’s not what I mean,” when others have the temerity to offer a different view or, gasp, switch topics.

    • Michael H.

      Car drivers strike pedestrians in accidents and yet no one asks about whether the pedestrian was wearing a helmet.

      • drax

        On the other hand, we ask if people injured in car accidents were wearing seat belts….

        • Louise


        • HappyCyclist

          (caveat – I wear a helmet when cycling)

          but seat belts are legally required, and studies strongly support the benefits.

          helmets are NOT legally required for adult cyclists, studies support their benefits somewhat more weakly, and there is a real possibility that too strong a focus on helmet usage results in less cycling with a net negative impact on public health (due to more cardio vascular and related illness)

          • drax

            Yes, helmets aren’t seat belts, but my point is made.

          • HappyCyclist

            not really

            the point remains – we ask about helmets when someone is hurt biking, but not when they are hurt as pedestrians.

            There are many sources of head trauma injuries – including IIUC driving WHILE wearing full restraints. We ask about helmets for a subset of those activities, which tends to get folks thinking how dangerous those activies are – which means fewer folks doing them – in the case of cycling, that means more CVD, but it could also mean worse safety results for cyclists, due to the safety in numbers effect.

          • drax

            And my point still remains.

            Maybe we should ask about pedestrians wearing helmets. You think so? Go ahead.

            Or maybe you think we should never ever ask about seat belts. You think that?

          • nom de guerre

            Here’s an interesting article from today’s WaPo regarding the use (or non use) of seatbelts among police officers.


    • Kindness5

      I know she was wearing a helmet. And I believe strongly that it is why she is still with us today. Her family has hopes of a full recovery, but at this time it is hope which is carrying us through. Both riders were wearing helmets and take safe riding quite seriously.

      • southarlingtonmom

        Hello Kindness5,
        I’ve been checking back hoping for good news on your sister’s recovery. We were heartsick to see this happen and it could have easily been my family that was hit during the driver’s reckless and inexplicable stunt given a few feet or seconds difference. You are all in my prayers.

        • Luckeej

          arlingtonmom please contact me at luckee[email protected] I am a friend of the family that was injured. We would like to talk to someone that was at the scene of the accident.

  • ArlDon

    All would do well to start obeying traffic laws, whether motor vehicle or bike. I see cars routinely making turns into the cyclist right of way along Four Mile Run Minor and Major when the cyclists have the light. I also see many cyclists blowing through these intersections when they ‘look clear’ but against the light…and you can forget cyclists actually stopping at the intersections of trails and the cross streets, esp. Mason and Walter Reed. There are STOP SIGNS at these crossings, and they are routinely ignored by cyclists, especially the fast racing groups and commuters. I’ve almost had my car hit by a bike because of this. Not defending the driver in this case at all, but cyclists have just as much responsibility on the road and especially in this congested and dangerous area. I frankly see cyclists take chances more than motorists. I’m on that path every day, often twice a day, and live there as well. Amazing how people ignore the signs and warnings and lights. SMH.

    • GodFilasActuary


    • Bender

      There is no “cyclist right of way,” there is a cross-WALK in the PEDESTRIAN right of way.

      When a motorist prudently looks and sees no one in the cross walk or at the corner about to cross, it is reasonable for the driver to make the turn. But when a cyclist comes zooming up and rides through the cross-WALK, it is the cyclist who creates the danger because the cyclist was not there, he was not visible, when the driver began his turn.

      Obeying the rules of the road mean that a cyclist WALK in the cross-walks, both for his own safety and so that drivers can see them in time.

      • HappyCyclist

        which again is why many cyclists prefer to ride in the road, where they are more visible.

      • cyclist

        Cyclists using a pedestrian walkway have ALL the rights and responsibilities of pedestrians, by state law, Bender. And there is no law that requires them to dismount from their bikes either.

  • South Awwlington

    I assume we will be posting the mugshot as part of the update?

    • CW

      Considering this person’s reckless behavior nearly killed two people, I’d be all for making the public aware of this menace to its safety.

  • bobbytiger


  • ArlingtonCyclist

    I missed the accident by a couple of mins. It wasn’t pleasant in the slightest to roll up the trail to see it.
    Instead of arguing who was at fault, let’s spare a moment thinking of the cyclists, their families and the emergency services who were there. I saw one officer slumped over his patrol car. It must have been a horrid call to get.
    Be safe fellow residents. I was nearly hit myself on my rider yesterday in Old Town by a car pulling out without looking. These accidents happen WAY too often.

  • JnA

    Common sense to use trails that parallel roads, especially with increased traffic on roads.

  • GodFilasServant

    “The cyclists were biking in the roadway and not on the adjacent trail,”

    Nuff said.

    • Indeed

      …where they have every legal right to be. The driver, on the other hand, didn’t maintain control of his vehicle which he’s legally obligated to do.

      So in a way you’re right – there is indeed “nuff said” in the article to determine who’s at fault. The driver should be on his way to jail.

    • cyclist

      The cyclists were cycling legally, on a roadway, as was their right.

      Nuff said.

  • Litpusher

    I live in the condominium building where this accident happened. When I ride my bike, I prefer the trail (safer), but I have to ride down this block of Four Mile Run Dive in order to get to the trail, even though it is parallel to the road. There is an embankment between the road and the trail, and the best trail entry points for this stretch are either Columbia Pike or George Mason Drive, each one block. It is very likely that these two cyclists were planning to get on the trail when this reckless driver crashed his vehicle. There is a set of stairs available for pedestrians who use the trail, but that will not work for cyclists or baby carriages.

    • John K.

      Why not use the Four Mile Run trail behind the condos and then cross over to the W&OD on one of the short links? (I ask that with curiousity, not accusation!)

  • Mike Honcho

    Humor is anathema to arlnow commenters. Way too serious. The level of journalism expressed here scores a 1 out of 10. Minimal data, and no investigation.

    • South Awwlington

      Haven’t you heard? BethesdaNOW.com is the new darling. We just bait here with known sensitive articles.

      I’m surprised the Streetcar wasn’t blamed as the cause.

    • Wrong Season

      “Humor is anathema”

      Nah, anathema season has passed……it is now fall.
      No more sneezing !!

  • Mike Honcho

    I stop for deer. Pedestrians have the right of way

  • Ren

    Does anyone know how the victims are or if they need help with anything? I’m a cyclist with a dependent person and dog and no local family and I wonder what would happen to them if something happened to me, especially as I suspect that these victims could have been each other’s dependents. Just thought I’d ask.

    • Kindness5

      Thanks Ren! I am the sister of the woman who was struck down. At this time she is still at GW and it will be several days until the damage can be assessed. Family is pouring in from all corners of the country. Thank you for your concern and kind wishes. Thank you to all of the posters for keeping the issue alive.
      Many lives are about to be changed…our family…as well as the family of the driver.
      I know how heartsick we are at this time, but my heart also goes out to the driver. Prayers for all.

  • W&OD Rider & eyewitness

    All you who are siding with the driver of that truck need to hear the facts. I was there at the scene of the crime when it happened. That truck driver, while heading east on Columbia Pike was stopped at the traffic light. He then, at the drop of a hat or as a race car driver would take off when the checkered flag drops, decided to hotdog it by laying on the accelerator and screeching his tires while leaving a trail of white smoke from the burning rubber as he turned right onto Four Mile Run road. It was at that time he started fishtailing out of control, recklessly causing the accident that severely injured 2 innocent bystanders. He has no one, or the traffic engineers, to blame for his actions but himself. He chose to do what he did and now he must suffer the consequences. I hope I am selected for jury duty when it comes time for this man to be judged by his peers (me).

    • Paparazzi

      That certainly fits with the style of the truck……doesn’t look like the sort of vehicle driven by a “staid driver”……just sayin’…….

    • Luckeej

      I am a friend of the family that was injured and would like to speak with someone who saw the accident. Please contact me at [email protected] of you can.

  • concerned

    Dear Kindness5,
    I hope you realize that all of your sisters neighbors are concerned and more than willing to help in any way you & your family need. I have been very worried about them overnight, and a bit disgusted with the comments on this thread. I am more concerned about the needs and health of this wonderful couple than the rants of everyone about bicycle/vehicle safety, especially people who tried to blame the cyclist for being on the road. How would you feel if you were victims family & friends and you see this and are trying to figure out what happened.

  • bobbytiger

    “Charges are pending against the driver”. I sure hope so.

  • justin

    I thought Arlington County was so bike friendly?!

  • curious

    Just wondering if there are any updates on the victims condition and/or if charges were filed yet?

  • person

    i know these two cyclists and they were only to be on the road for a section of it, they do the same ride regularly and always wear their helmets and were very safety-attentive. it is also completely legal to ride bikes on the road and this should not even be part of a conversation. doing “burn outs” to look cool in your show-off truck is the point to be focused on here. in addition, they were riding bikes as a way to avoid using gas because petrol reserves running out are going to cause a lot more violence and pain down the road. people need to start demanding that cyclists have the right to be on the road and not be blamed for drivers being impatient or reckless. updates on the two people are not going to be put out here because of legal concerns and also, as shown here at some points in this thread- people have a hard time understanding that these are real peoples lives that have been effected/ devastated (not to mention their families and the people they helped at work everyday) and its better for them to have some privacy from the people who speak without sensitivity. thank you though to all the people who have been saying kind things and focusing on being concerned for the wounded and the behavior of the truck. please share the road. we all pay taxes to make the roads there and they are not legally or functionally only made for cars- no matter where a bike path is or what the choice of the biker is, they have the right to be there and trucks do not have any business spinning their wheels to look cool if they are endangering people. there are many people who are deeply aching with pain and sorrow because of that drivers actions. please respect that and keep unkind words to yourself.

  • person

    ps- litpusher you are correct


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