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Thread: Crash on Patrick at Wilkes Street in Alexandria

  1. #1
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    Default Crash on Patrick at Wilkes Street in Alexandria

    Yesterday, my number came up.

    Heading westbound across Patrick at Wilkes Street I was hit by a driver turning left from Wilkes Street onto Patrick. The driver while turning left hit my rear wheel as I was passing him.



    The driver immediately pulled over and exited his car asking me if I was okay. He apologized for hitting me and acknowledged that he had been looking to his right, checking for red light runners and had not seen me crossing the street. The collision did not knock me off my bike, nor did I suffer any injuries, but I was visibly shaken. The driver continued to ask if I was okay. We exchanged information and checked out our vehicles. The car had no visible damage, but my rear wheel was bent. I was able to slowly ride home, but had to release my rear brake to let the wheel spin. Later I took my bike to Spokes and found out that not only was the wheel bent, but also the frame and my bike rack. Estimated costs for repairs - $900.

    After getting home, I called the Alexandria Police Department to report the crash. As with bobco85's experience, the police would not take a report. I had failed to call from the scene, but also the police would not have responded as there had not been any injuries. According to the police representative, the correct procedure is to exchange information with the other party and handle directly or with the insurance companies.

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    First, glad to know that "your number" was not for a more serious outcome.

    Second, to all, so police statistics on the safety of an intersection or generally how well people drive is based solely on whether there were injuries or not? This means that police statistics are extremely skewed and there are no good statistics on safety anywhere because lots of folks won't call their insurance companies after such events. Great. So even for advocacy, numbers used are skewed - at least that fact can be used, "there were a minimum of 10 car on bike accidents..." since the actual number does not exist.

    This does also explain the repeated question I received when I was in a car crash in Arlington (I had started bike commuting a few months later, partially because I was feeling less safe in a car given the driver hadn't looked at all before attempting to change lanes through me). I called the police to have them come take a report and was asked "is anyone injured?" My response, "I am not sure yet." I was asked that by the cop who arrived too, and replied the same way and added that I am too shaken up to know to for sure. Why did I do this? Many moons ago I was struck by someone running a red light (I was in my car). The cops were not called. I was shaken up and did not realize that I was injured (or that I should have called the police - the lawyer driver of the other car was very forceful) and I was lucky that there were witnesses willing to be witnesses. Luckily the injuries were not serious (although I likely had a mild concussion aside from bruises) and the witnesses were willing to tell both insurance companies that the other driver was at fault.

    The moral? Call the cops and state that you do not know if there are injuries. Seriously. When shaken or full of adrenaline, you are not a good judge of injury.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DrP View Post

    The moral? Call the cops and state that you do not know if there are injuries. Seriously. When shaken or full of adrenaline, you are not a good judge of injury.

    It's really annoying that police in Alexandria wont ticket after a car/bike crash unless there are injuries. Kinda makes me feel like I have license to hit a bunch of people on bikes, as long as I dont REALLY hurt them... *sarcasm* I understand it being a lower tier emergency than lets say a house on fire, but if they have officers available patrolling the streets, they should send one over to take the report!

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    That's terrible news! I'm glad, though, that your body was uninjured.

    Really, this driver did not see you as you were biking RIGHT IN FRONT OF HIM?! And after that, the police still wouldn't take a statement after $900 in damages? At this point, the way the police are acting suggests they think it is perfectly fine to strike a cyclist with your vehicle as long as they're relatively uninjured and you keep the damages below $1,500.

    On a related note, this proves the point that the Wilkes Street Bikeway at US-1/Patrick St should have been realigned so that cyclists can use it was a regular intersection instead of being forced to the side like pedestrians. The driver treated this intersection like a T-intersection and ignored oncoming traffic (i.e., you) when really it should be a 4-way with proper stoplights and signage.

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    Per the VA DMV website, you can voluntarily file a crash report in VA: VOLUNTARY REPORT OF A CRASH FR 200. I do not know if VA has a time limit in which you must file. Some states do.

    Also, after an incident, I'd always call 911 so that no matter what, a record that the incident occurred on the date and time reported is preserved.

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    KLizotte's Avatar
    KLizotte is offline I really need to log off the internet and go for a ride.
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    Wow, I'm so glad you are okay. So sorry about the bike. I think the driver should buy you a new bike because who knows what hidden damage there are. And can you really bend a frame back so that it is like new?

    I noticed the driver did not use his left turn signal. That's a traffic infraction.

    He hit someone. Fraction #2.

    It's great that you have the video. Insurance company shouldn't balk when you tell them that.

    Bruce Deming, the bike lawyer, told us at a crash seminar to never, ever say you are okay because you are not qualified to say yes or no immediately after an accident. Also, call the cops. Insurance companies can refuse to settle without a police report. Hopefully the insurance company will be fair to you and raise the driver's premiums.

    I find it alarming so much damage can occur at such a low speed impact. Yikes!

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    Quote Originally Posted by DrP View Post
    This means that police statistics are extremely skewed and there are no good statistics on safety anywhere
    This is correct. The idea that statistics can be used for advocacy is mostly fantasy because they are so bad. Getting into a fight over how safe particular intersections are based on statistics is a losing battle because the data isn't there. In general, road safety features for cars are dictated by standards rather than how many people have been hurt at a particular intersection. That is what we need to fight for in terms of bike safety: a consistent minimum standard. If you find yourself arguing for the safety of a particular location, you've lost.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bobco85 View Post
    Really, this driver did not see you as you were biking RIGHT IN FRONT OF HIM?! And after that, the police still wouldn't take a statement after $900 in damages? At this point, the way the police are acting suggests they think it is perfectly fine to strike a cyclist with your vehicle as long as they're relatively uninjured and you keep the damages below $1,500.
    The system is built for cars. Cars hit each other all the time, and the system is designed so that insurance makes everything better. The police stay out of it and let the insurance industrial complex sort it out. The reality is that drivers hit SO MANY things that if the police/courts didn't stay out of it they'd do nothing but process auto claims all day. The volume is simply mind boggling. The problem with all this is that cyclists & peds are ignored by the insurance industrial complex (except insofar as they'll lobby against any improvements in the status quo as regards cyclists & peds <HI AAA!>) and the police procedures don't account for that difference. What they should do is come down on a driver that hits a cyclist or pedestrian like the wrath of god, but their SOP is to ignore car things so that's what they do. This is unlikely to really change until we get self driving cars and the insane volume of drivers running into things is reduced to something manageable. (The other option is a change of culture, but I've given up on that and am pinning my last hopes on a deus ex machina as more likely.)
    Last edited by mstone; 08-16-2016 at 08:14 AM.

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    dasgeh's Avatar
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    So glad it wasn't worse.

    It's ridiculous that Alx PD wouldn't take a report. Arlington PD's policy is to take a report if (1) there is injury; (2) there is at least $1,500 in damage (but couldn't it always be that much?) OR (3) if any party involved asks for it. Not all officers follow this policy, so, unfortunately, you have to be ready to insist, and if necessary take the officer's information.

    Alexandria seems to be misreading VA law -- VA requires that a report be taken in situations 1 and 2 above, but does not restrict reports in other situations.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bobco85 View Post
    That's terrible news! I'm glad, though, that your body was uninjured.
    Really, this driver did not see you as you were biking RIGHT IN FRONT OF HIM?! And after that, the police still wouldn't take a statement after $900 in damages? At this point, the way the police are acting suggests they think it is perfectly fine to strike a cyclist with your vehicle as long as they're relatively uninjured and you keep the damages below $1,500.
    I might have gotten them to come take the report if I had called at the scene of the crash.

    On a related note, this proves the point that the Wilkes Street Bikeway at US-1/Patrick St should have been realigned so that cyclists can use it was a regular intersection instead of being forced to the side like pedestrians. The driver treated this intersection like a T-intersection and ignored oncoming traffic (i.e., you) when really it should be a 4-way with proper stoplights and signage.
    BPAC asked for some additional changes at this intersection, but they have yet to be agreed to, though getting a Leading Pedestrian Interval (LPI) might happen.

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