Woman Hit by Cyclist on Four Mile Run
I think we need to stop saying "on your left" to pedestrians, period.
Many peds don't know what that means, and instinctively move TO the left when they hear it.
We also need to slow down when passing.
I often say "bike passing" to peds.
And please call your passes further back. If someone is going to turn and say "what?" when you have signaled further back, you will have more time to react. If the sequence is (a) signal (b) unanticipated response from pedestrian (c) collision, then you are calling too close. You call needs to far enough back that when the pedestrian "reacts," you can respond appropriately.
Note that the article describes the incident as on 4MR, not W&OD, and on a hill. If that is accurate, I know that spot. Very dangerous and hard to maneuver. I was using 4MR to bypass the traffic lights on W&OD, but have since decided that it puts me too close to pedestrians.
This is very sad news.
I hope the woman can recover.
I usually say "passing on your left" instead of just "on your left." But even then, I slow up because I know some people will still get confused. If they move suddenly to the left or even the right, I will be prepared to avoid a collision. Having to slow up for a few seconds does not bother me. Colliding with someone would bother me, regardless of who is at fault. (This doesn't change my statements on the jaywalking thread, though.)
The thing is, no matter how careful you are or how slow you pass, there isn't really a defense for someone doing something totally unexpected. Thats why we have rules (paths and roads), so that everyone can use them safely. Disobey the rules (through ignorance, inattention or deliberately) and bad things can happen, as this lady found out. *shrug*
The section that goes under Columbia Pike? I see people on bikes dismount there b/c they're freaked out by the steepness (and narrowness and the wall at the bottom). Unfortunately, this is a situation where it's not a place to pass going really fast OR to move in any direction suddenly. I'm really careful there with people walking toward me b/c they're usually looking at their feet, not up the hill.
Originally Posted by rcannon100
I was through that section about 7:25, saw the police, fire, and ambulance and someone standing on the access trail coming down from 4 Mile Run Drive to the 4 Mile Run Trail. No sign of the injured parties. As usual the comments to the Arlnow.com article assume all kinds of things not in evidence and need to be taken with several grains of salt. I ride the 4MRT just about every weekday morning at about this time and there are generally very few trail users at all. The downhill here is steep with a pair of sharp turns if you are coming from the 4MRT (one before the slab bridge and one after) or just the one after the slab if you are coming down from 4 Mile Run Drive. In either case you really need to be riding your breaks in the first place and shouldn't be going very fast.
I still prefer this route heading east to playing stoplight roullette on the W&OD from Columbia Pike to Shirlington Road where you have to deal with many more times the number of pedestrians and riders plus the auto red light runners. This time of year it's especially pleasent to be in the shade on a 90°F day.
Last edited by consularrider; 06-11-2012 at 10:37 PM.
This is why I use a bell. It can be heard from MUCH further away. It does not require understanding or translation. It is a universal sound that means bicycle approaching. I can ding it with enough distance that even if some confused soul pulls a Crazy Ivan, I will have more than enough distance to weave or dump the brakes.
In order for someone to hear and understand you saying "on your left", you have to be too close to them for it to be worth it anyway. And when they don't hear or understand you, they will just do exactly what happened today. You're essentially sneaking up on them and speaking. Of course they turn around say "huh?".
From the sounds of it, the cyclist was not acting recklessly and was in fact being responsible. It is just a terrible accident that probably could not have been prevented (other than using a bell instead). The speed of the cyclist could have been 10, 15, or 20 and the result would have been the same. You can not stop a bike going down a hill in that short amount of time and even a low speed hit is going to knock down a 70yr old woman.
Another example of why we should follow the Dutch example and segregate the bike trails from pedestrian trails and the streets. "Like with like" I say.
And how will we manage that, in practical terms? Will there be a segregated bike path leading to every destination? If not, how do people on bikes get there?
Originally Posted by KLizotte