1983 DC Comprehensive Plan banned cars on F and G downtown


There was a lot more willingness to take space from cars then than I would have thought (Beach Drive north of Joyce was to be car-free by 1985)

Most Dangerous roads in DC in 1983

In 1983, Observatory Circle (or Massachusetts Ave) and 34th, NW was the most dangerous intersection for cyclists in DC. Meanwhile, 14th Street between S and Quinc was the most dangerous stretch of road. That's according to a WABA report from that year. 


14th was dangerous because kids with no where else to play would congregate there and ride in the street according to one MPD officer. They tried to designate 13th as a bike route to divert bike traffic after realizing that 14th was so dangerous. Now of course, there's a bike lane on 14th and nothing on 13th. 

At the time there had been 6 fatal bike crashes in the prior 5 years, 4 of them at night. WABA advised people not to bike at night, or, if they did, to use lights.  

WABA supported putting signs up at the dangerous spots and creating "some kind of lane just for bicycles". 

Suitland Road bike lanes are feasible but stalled

image from i2.wp.com

Back in 2014, WABA and Prince George's County advocates asked the county to add protected bike lanes to Suitland Road, with the top priority section being the one from the DC line to the Suitland Federal Center. Part of the section just has one really wide lane and part has shoulders.  Since 2014, there's been some small progress, an opportunity and a problem or two. 

It's not an unreasonable request. Bike lanes on Suitland from DC to Allentown road were included in the 2009 county Transportation plan.

An attractive streetscape with continuous sidewalks, on-road bicycle facilites and pedestrian safety features are needed along Suitland Road. Suitland Road provides access to the Suitland Federal Center, Suitland Community Park and several school facilities.

In the original 2014 statement, the advocates wrote that Suitland Road has "no parking". Unfortunately, that's not true. Sometime in 2016, the Whitehall Square Apartments began aggressively towing cars that didn't have a valid Maryland license plate, which led many tenants to park their cars on the shoulder where it's legal between the cemetery and Arnold Road. As someone who rides this road often, I find this to be not awesome in so many ways. Also, cars are constantly being vandalized, so it's one of those "everybody loses" situations. 

In April 2015, WABA hosted a community walk and in July sent a letter, together with local citizen groups, to SHA. Then in November 2015, SHA completed a feasibility study on a bikeway retrofit. They came up with four concepts, all with bike lanes. One pair adds curbs and gutters to the road and one does not. And then in each pair one has a sidewalk and the other doesn't. In one section the bikes lanes would be 5' and in another there would be a 4' bike lane with a 3' buffer. 

Screenshot 2018-08-10 at 12.45.01 AM

Not what WABA was looking for, but

buffered bike lanes, in which bicyclists are separated from travel lanes by a wide painted buffer, are an enormous improvement from the 18 foot lane speedways in place today. If designed well, buffered bike lanes can easily be upgraded to protected lanes in the future once maintenance-related concerns over protected bike lanes are resolved within SHA.

WABA asked SHA to consider installing concrete barriers between the bike lane and roadway, Without saying no, SHA pointed out that such barriers (or "raised median islands") would present maintenance and operational challenges. 

First, snow removal and street sweeping would require special equipment when the bikeway width inside of the raised island is too narrow for existing street maintenance equipment. Snow removal procedures will also need to minimize the creation of snow banks in the buffer zone. In addition, because melted snow flowing across the bikeway can freeze at night, raised median areas require frequent salting in order to avoid hazardous conditions.

Street sweeping may have to be done more frequently than on typical streets, especially during the fall season, due to the lack of the sweeping effect of vehicle traffic and the canyon profile of a bikeway, tends to hold leaves and other debris.

Another factor that should be taken into consideration is that separating the bicycle facilitieswith a curb or a similar device would effectively convert the facility into a bicycle path. The annotated code of Maryland requires that all bicycle paths be maintained by the responsible political subdivision. Therefore if raised median islands are to be considered SHA would have to enter into an agreement with Prince George’s County for the maintenance of the bicycle path

A few months late, the Urban Land Institute made a set of recommendations to the GSA about the Suitland Federal Center which is along Suitland Road.  They recommended removing the perimeter fence and replacing it with a bike and ped path (fat chance on removing the fence, but the path could probably be put in without it); improving bike facilities on Silver Hill and Suitland roads and adding bike lanes or sharrows on campus. 


During the buildup to construction of Suitland Town Center, which is currently underway, the Prince George's County Planning Board noted that county plans require a bike lane along Suitland Road, but is only requiring the developer to add bike lanes to Huron Road. 

And that seems to be where we stand right now. The county plans on putting bike lanes in, knows that it can be done and has a starting framework for them. So, we still got a ways to go. 

Dockless bikeshare makes transit more equitable

image from wamu.org
A federal report on bikesharing a few years ago included some conclusions about who uses it that spawned several articles on the subject. The report from the Mineta Institute stated that

Data have shown that bikesharing users are more likely be male, Caucasian, wealthier, younger, and have attained higher educational degrees than the general population in which a given bikesharing program resides. As a form of public transportation, it is pivotal that bikesharing serve all socio-economic classes and ethnicities in an urban area.

The last line of that is debatable. Equity is important, but we wouldn't call the bus a failure if rich, white people didn't use it. We should make bikesharing available to all; we should understand why women, POC, less educated and lower-income people aren't using it more and we should make reasonable accommodations to break down barriers to them. It will, for obvious reasons, probably always be true that bikeshare users skew younger. But, without knowing WHY users are predominately male, Caucasian, wealthier and higher educated it's foolish to call changing that "pivotal". 

Anyway it's important to note that some of these imbalances are bigger than others, and that in no case are they exclusive. 

Eric Jafee, writing for Citylab, highlighted a few of the possible reasons why poor people ride less often.

Credit-card ownership, required by some systems, is a non-starter for many low-income city residents. A lack of bike infrastructure in poorer areas certainly doesn't help. There's strong evidence that poor people don't view cycling as favorably as some might expect, which could explain why financial-aid and membership-subsidy programs haven't eliminated the income gap. Cultural barriers may exist above and beyond any money factors.

 The new report points to a more basic problem: Many systems don't make much of an effort to place bike-share stations in low-income neighborhoods. 
That isn't the case with CaBi. While some people complain that there aren't enough stations EOTR, that has more to do with it's location away from downtown than CaBi's lack of effort. There are, at my last count, as many stations in low-income Ward 8 as there are in high-income Ward 3, this despite the fact that beyond Ward 3 CaBi extends into Montgomery County, but that there are no stations in PGC east of the river. DDOT chooses where stations go, and they make an effort (inadequate or not) to place them in all neighborhoods. In fact I've heard as much complaining about this being a waste - putting a station where it is hardly used - as I do that it's unfair. 
Station placement is an issue in some places, but it's not enough to explain the imbalance. Both CaBi and Philadelphia's Indego have shown that, as both have considerable outreach programs, but still see white people over-represented. Even if we take income out of it, white people are still more likely to ride. 
9 percent of low-income people of color, 18 percent of high-income people of color, 13 percent of low-income white residents, and 29 percent of high-income white residents have ridden bikeshare in their cities

Matthew Yglesius, writing for Vox offered another theory. 

Maybe rich people love bikeshare because bikeshare is like vacation travel or theater tickets — a high-end recreational amenity that people spend money on when they have money to spare, but that less-fortunate families find it easy to go without.

It's an interesting idea, but it's built upon some fallacies that make me highly skeptical. 

Bike share also isn't an especially reliable means of transportation....What bike share is good for is occasional recreational riding for someone who's not really counting on it.

I use CaBi all the time. Always for transportation and I find it very reliable. More reliable than Metro. According to CaBi studies, 65% of Members use Bikeshare to get to work.

I'm...a Capital Bikeshare member, because sometimes on a nice day when I'm not with my cycling-averse wife it's fun to pedal. A bikeshare membership is less of a hassle that storing a bike I rarely use. And I'm lucky enough to be able to afford the membership fee pretty easily.

My guess is that I'm a pretty typical bike share member in that regard.

My guess is he's wrong. In fact, anecdotally speaking I've heard more about people buying their own bike after becoming a bikeshare membership. 

Another theory was that POC just aren't as interested in bikeshare. But...

[a study out of Portland State]  shows that residents of low-income, majority-minority neighborhoods have an overwhelmingly favorable view of bike share. What many residents of these neighborhoods lack is not a desire to ride, but information on discount programs, access to safe streets and protective gear, and reassurance about liability and hidden fees.

73 percent of the total respondents and 74 percent of low-income people of color agreed that “bike share is useful for people like me.” Ninety-three percent of all respondents said bike share is good for the city, and 89 percent said it was good for the neighborhood. Low-income people of color agreed with these statements at a rate of 89 percent and 86 percent, respectively.

Low-income people of color were far more concerned than white people about being the victim of crime or harassment while riding a bike. Many also said that access to free or discounted helmets would encourage them to ride.

I don't recall where, but someone asked if instead of pushing bikeshare into poor neighborhoods, would we be better off subsidizing a full-service bike shop? It's true that there still isn't a bike shop east of the river despite the need for one. I'd love to see DC make one work beyond the pop-up bike shop (though those are great). Perhaps they could build space for one within libraries or recreation centers and then hire a vendor. Subsidizing a bike shop in "bike shop desserts" is a great idea. I don't know if it would give better value than subsidizing bike share in those same neighborhoods. We should do both. 

Which brings us to dockless bikes. Pretty early on people began to observe that the users of dockless bikes were different than the users of CaBi. Which is great (or not for some people). 

Spin placed about 7 percent of its fleet east of the Anacostia in September 2017. By November, that number had swelled to about 17 percent, thanks to riders shifting bikes to that side of town. Mobike has counted hundreds of trips per week in Wards 7 and 8. And LimeBike’s numbers show that nearly six percent of all trips start or end east of the River.

People have again tried to hypothesize why this is. If it's hard to determine why POC don't use CaBi, it's also hard to figure out why they do use dockless. 

Besides flexibility, dockless bikes have other features that appeal to this clientele. Anna, who rode to the Georgetown waterfront, said she prefers riding dockless because the bikes are easier to rent than those of Capital Bikeshare.

But that's true regardless of race or income. The same article points out that CaBi has a membership fee and dockless does not, which is a valid point. Whatever reason, it's pretty clear that dockless in DC is appealing to a more racially diverse group of riders. 

Similar to Capital Bikeshare, the majority of dockless bike riders are white, but the Virginia Tech survey found that the second-largest ethnic group of dockless bike riders are black, a distinction with Capital Bikeshare data that shows African Americans are the fourth-largest user group. A larger proportion of dockless bike riders earn less than $35,000 a year as compared to Capital Bikeshare riders.

That's a good thing. If we have a service that is providing transportation options to people in need of them, that's good. All the better that it's a clean, healthy and safe one.

Maybe we don't know why underserved groups prefer dockless to docked. It would be good to know in order to make both programs better, but in the end it might be like Vitamin D. We knew for a long time that eating liver was good for you without knowing that it was because of the Vitamin D, and then it took us time to figure out why Vitamin D was good for you. Similarly, knowing that dockless makes bikesharing appealing to groups that were not responding to docked is reason enough to support the program, even if we don't know why.

This is one reason why expanding dockless is important. It will make our transportation system more equitable and give people more choice. In addition we should try to encourage - and even subsidize - bike shops in underserved neighborhoods. And we should expand CaBi stations into close-in PG County areas while also investing in biking facilities that would make PG County, Ward 7 and Ward 8 more bikeable.

Bike advocacy for me has always been primarily about making biking possible for the people who want it, and bikesharing, both dockless and docked, is something that does that.  

Wells Run Trail, lots of potential but no current plans

Someone wrote to ask me what I know about the Wells Run Trail and if there were plans to improve it. My first response was to look up what the Well Run Trail is and try to at least figure out what state it's in. So, the answer was that I knew nothing about it.

After some research, I can't say I know much more.

I do know this, the current trail, located in University Park, isn't much of a bike trail. It's narrow. It's isolated and small. 


And it's not really built for cyclists - the connection to Adelphi Road is via a set of narrow stairs for example. It does look like a great way to walk to and from the bus stop on Adelphi or otherwise around the neighborhood. 

But it has potential.

Wells Run flows into the NE Branch of the Anacostia passing through Hyattsville, University Park and Riverdale Park on the way. But oddly, it looks like there is an unnamed stream bed that starts from almost the same spot and flows in the opposite direction to the NW Branch. Thus a trail built along Wells Run and the stream bed; using Wells Boulevard, the Wells Parkway and, on the east side, the stream itself, could become a nice east-west connection between the NE and NW Branch trails. Though something would have to be done about the part where it runs down the middle of East-West Highway. I would go from Riverdale Park to University Hills. That would be a very useful connection.


Wells Run and stream bed in blue

If they were to upgrade the current sections of the trail and connect it to Adelphi Road, that would form a very nice 3 miles of connector trail. 

Sadly, such a trail is currently not in the 2009 PG County Bikeways and Trails Master Plan or the 2009 Hyattsville Bike and Ped Plan. In 2010, after residents became concerned that the stream might flood their homes, the three jurisdictions formed an Inter-Municipal Collaborative Committee on Wells Run which would

  • Develop a short-term and long-term stream restoration plan.
  • Develop passive recreational enhancements along Wells Run;
  • Evaluate storm water plans that may impact Wells Run; and,
  • Collect and provide environmental data in support of the above items.

I'm not sure if a MUT is passive, but that's reason for hope. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like much has happened in the last 8 years. Which is too bad, that thing could use some stream restoration

A trail along Wells Run, coupled with a utility corridor trail from the Takoma Substation to the NW Branch Trail only blocks from where Wells connects to it, and then continuing north to Metzerott Road, would really tie that whole area together. 

But in short, the Wells Run Trail looks like a pedestrian pathway system, and it will probably stay that for a while. 

Old Diane Rehm and Dr. Gridlock

Cleaning out some old draft posts, here are a couple of links from 2014 that got lost in the pile-up. One is from an episode of Diane Rehm's show and one is from Dr. Gridlock. There's not a lot in these that you couldn't see or hear today.

The Diane Rehm Show is about road safety and a 2014 report from the Governors Highway Safety Association on the increase in bicycle fatalities, which I wrote about at the time. They discuss the Idaho Stop, protected bike lanes, lower speed limits, complete streets, helmets and helmet laws, and scofflaw cycling. 

Interestingly Rehm referred to Klein as "Chief Operating Officer of Bird" but later corrected that to Bridj. It's a funny accident since Bird hiring Klein isn't the craziest thing I could hear (I bet he wished he'd been involved in Bird instead of Bridj, which has ceased operation in the US).

She also has Jason Clark of the Log Cabin Republicans of San Francisco who was an advocate of proponent for Proposition L to "Restore Transportation Balance." It didn't seek balance, but rather cars first.  It failed.

The so-called “Restore Transportation Balance” initiative [has] the intent of rolling back the City’s Transit-First policy and devoting more public space and funding to (free) parking and less to bikeways, transit lanes and pedestrian safety improvements. 

The Dr. Gridlock story covered the usual topics. 

Convenience is Job #1

This weekend a letter to the editor in the Washington Post has prompted a lot of discussion. I'll just say a few things about it, but it's not worth going into the same well-trod territory again. 

The traffic is grueling... The increase in bicycles and scooters complicates matters. Bike lanes make things safer and smoother. But not all bicyclists obey traffic laws, even the big ones — don’t run a red light, stop while oncoming cars have a left-turn signal. 

If by complicated, she means scooters and bikes makes traffic worse, that's probably not true. A bike creates only ~25% as much traffic congestion as a car, so depending on the mode shift (transit to bike, ped to bike and car to bike, etc...) it may be bad or good or a wash. It's true that not all bicyclists obey traffic laws, pretty much like every other group of road users. But it's not clear how any of this is relevant except as a form of pre-confession whataboutism.

And if you ever call out the rule-breakers, you get an earful of pretty foul language as they fly away with their middle fingers held up.

That probably depends on how you call them out. 

But here’s what happened when a rule-abiding cyclist called me out when I broke a traffic rule (a lesser one, in my opinion):

Her opinion is her own, but we - as a District - have actually decided which is lesser and which is not. The fine for running a stop light on a bike is $25, for blocking a bike lane is $65.  So, there you go. 

I pulled over — into a bike lane— so I wouldn’t block traffic on Q Street NW.

If you stopped in a bike lane, you did block traffic.

The other parent took a really long time to pull out, longer than I expected him to take. But the longer I waited, the more I needed to see it through.

This makes no sense to me except maybe that people are irrational about sunk costs. 

One cyclist waited behind me. When it was finally time for me to pull into the spot, she came around to my window and told me that there’s a law prohibiting obstruction of the bike lane. I (pretty sternly) told her I was waiting for a spot and it had obviously taken longer than I had anticipated. She suggested I should have circled the block rather than create what was, in her view, a safety hazard. I told her that’s not the way the world works. But what I meant was, that’s not the way cities work. 

So this is the critical part right here. It would have been consistent to say "Sorry, I didn't know" or "I don't believe in laws" or "I don't follow laws that don't makes sense and this one doesn't." But she doesn't. She thinks following the law is of value (as noted above), she seemed to know she was breaking it and she didn't argue that the law as written didn't make sense. Instead she argued that "that's not how cities work" which is something SHE complained about earlier in the letter. 

The traffic is grueling, made worse by all the people trying to stop to let someone out, to pick someone up or to deliver something right in the middle of the street. 

Which is what SHE did. She's part of the very problem she identified at the start of her letter.

She did concede that she should have apologized. This part is pretty key too.

But not every violation is a hazard. We live in a city where things can’t always be orderly. Better to focus on the violators who are making the roads more dangerous.

It's true that not every violation is a hazard. If you allow your driver's license to expire by one day and then drive anyway, that's not a hazard. But there's no way for her to know how dangerous stopping in a bike lane is because, as far as I know, no one has studied it. We know that bike lanes make roads safer for cyclists and drivers (and discourage sidewalk cycling too), so we could surmise that removing one by blocking it makes it less safe. In a Colbert-esque truthiness sense, that certainly FEELS true; but honestly we don't know.

What we do know is that it inconveniences cyclists (and other road users who have to adjust). It does so for the convenience of the driver who is stopped. When you break the law and inconvenience others for your own convenience, that may not be hazardous, but it is without a doubt rude and selfish. We should probably not do that. 

Better to focus on the violators who are making the roads more dangerous. (I’d start with the cyclists, but that’s just me.) 

I'm not going to go into it, but that's just stupid.

Still, if we’re going to cite everyone who double-parks for a couple of minutes (with her signal on, to warn everyone behind her),

Double-parking is legal (most of the time). Stopping in a bike lane isn't. 

no one will ever get a delivery again. Or be able to drop off a child at a downtown school. 

That's not true. Obviously you can make deliveries and drop kids off at school without breaking the law. And if we can't then let's change street design/space and/or the law to make it work.

I've said this before and I'm sure I'll have reason to say it again, the primary cause of roadway deaths is that too many people put their own convenience ahead of the safety of others and themselves. 

NPS wants to fix all the things you hate about the Potomac section of the Rock Creek Park Trail

Screenshot 2018-08-05 at 12.59.54 AM

The National Park Service has created a concept design for access and safety improvements to the Rock Creek Park Trail from Virginia Avenue to the Tidal Basin Bridge. There are a lot of components to this project and I think it will make many people happy. From north to south

Virginia Avenue NW intersection improvements - This won't really impact trail users, but it will resurface the road, improve the crosswalks, repair the cobblestone median and repave a sidewalk to nowhere. The repaving of the road and repair of the median will happen all along the Parkway.

Trail widening and waterfront improvements - The project contemplates the widening of the trail from Virginia Avenue, NW to Ohio Drive, SW to 14 feet in most locations, with a width of 10 feet in locations constrained by important trees or other landscape features. It will also be resurfaced with a consistent porous asphalt pavement along its length, much of which currently surfaced with variable materials.  Even the cantilevered balcony in front of the Kennedy Center will get a real trail surface. And they want to replace the wooden benches with narrower ones to widen the trail from 6 functional feet to 14. Hooray! The portion of trail from the John Ericsson National Memorial, just south of the Lincoln Memorial, to the Tidal Basin bridge will not be widened, but will also be resurfaced with porous pavement. It won't be widened though. They also want to install improved signage all along the trail. 

Screenshot 2018-08-05 at 1.10.53 AM

Trail tunnel under the Roosevelt Bridge - This is pretty exciting too. At the Roosevelt Bridge, trail users currently use a six-foot-wide sidewalk that runs through an existing tunnel shared with vehicular traffic. NPS is planning to construct a new trail tunnel through the non-historic TR Bridge abutment, which would accommodate a 14-foot-wide trail with 12-foot vertical clearance. There are two trail alignments through the abutment, one that goes through aligned with the abutment and the other at an angle to the abutment, making for a straighter trail. And y'all, they're recommending the one with the straighter trail. They're also recommending the one with an arched roof instead of the square one. So, what you see below and at the top.

Screenshot 2018-08-05 at 12.59.54 AM

Belvedere improvements - The Belvedere is that weird overlook thing that the trail passes around just south of the Roosevelt Bridge. It's kind of an annoyance and, since it's no longer the turnaround for Constitution Ave, it serves no transportation purpose. The proposed design will realign the Rock Creek Park Trail around the outside of the site, and provide landscape improvements in preparation for a future memorial.

Screenshot 2018-08-05 at 1.09.50 AM

Screenshot 2018-08-05 at 1.22.50 AM

With all the improvements to the Rock Creek Trail north of Virginia Avenue (the part along Rock Creek), these improvements will make it really hard for trail users to find anything to complain about. 

DDOT: cyclists should just stick to the sidewalks at Minnesota & Pennsylvania

Earlier this summer, as they have the last few summers, DDOT did a series of visits to high crash intersections and one of the intersections they visited was Pennsylvania and Fairlawn Ave, SE. Though not named, this intersection was partially included in the scope of the 2015 Pennsylvania Avenue-Minnesota Avenue, SE, Intersection Improvement Project. I ride through these two intersection frequently, and there a mess, so I'm glad to see them reviewing them; but there are some mixed messages here. On the one they're studying Penn & Fairlawn as high crash and reporting the Penn & Minn as high crash too; but on the other they're saying this area is fine for cycling. 

In the 2015 study they write of biking

The majority of cyclists currently use the sidewalks and crosswalks on the south side of Pennsylvania Avenue, SE, for two main reasons. The vehicular traffic is heavy during peak hours and bicyclists feel more comfortable riding on sidewalks rather than in the roadway. Although sidewalks and crosswalks are present on both sides of Pennsylvania Avenue near Minnesota Avenue, SE, bicyclists prefer to ride on the south side because continuous sidewalk and curb-cuts on the north side at the area west of the northbound I-295 on-ramp are not available.

I'll note that since 2015, the curb cuts on the north side have been greatly improved so that may have changed. But then they conclude:

No major bicyclist safety concerns were identified in the field observation or from the accident history.

I'm sorry, what? They just said that most cyclists ride on the sidewalks because the street is uncomfortable, and that's not indicative of a safety concern?

Anyway, despite the facts that (1) this section - from 295 to 27th Street - represents a gap in the bike network between the Sousa Bridge and the Great Streets bike path on Pennsylvania Avenue and (2) it has two dangerous intersections within it, the 2015 doesn't include any bike facilities. Just stay on the sidewalk they say to the chagrin of 90% of Washington Post commenters. 

It does recommend some good changes at Minnesota Avenue though. The preferred alternative would take out the slip lanes between the two avenues and rebuild Twinning/L'Enfant Square somewhat, while widening Minnesota into a 5 lane road through the intersection and making L'Enfant Square one-way. It extends the median to keep cars from crossing Pennsylvania or attempting U-turns. It adds bumb outs and wider sidewalks too. It's not bad, but the idea is that cyclists will just ride on the sidewalk. 


As one who uses these few blocks regularly, I'll say the road is terrible. The sidewalk is terrible and this design doesn't make it much better. The Sousa Bridge is a major bike route and there needs to be some better connection through this area. 

I'd like to see a protected bike lane on both sides.

On the south, I'd start it just under 295, where the pyloned no-man's land is.

Before that cyclists and cars would share the SW ramp.

I'd reroute the SE ramp to connect to Fairlawn here, which would reduce a lot of conflict on Pennsylvania. 

I'd narrow the median and remove one of the lanes for the turn from Penn to 25th to create room for the protected bike lane and then on the other side of 25th I'd widen the sidewalk to make it more of a path as there is past 27th and I'd tie the bike lane into that - perhaps with some space designated for cyclists. 

On the north side, I'd again add a protected bike lane (or bike/bus) - at least till Fairlawn -  and I'd take out the slip lane from Penn to 295. 

Pennsylvania is going to become more important as a bicycle route in the future, and if a trail is ever built along the old rail line through this area (preferably with a bridge over Pennsylvania) that only becomes more true. It's just not in keeping with our goals or values to say that cyclists should stick to the sideawalk through this area. 

 Of course, I guess we've made progress since 1982 when this was written:


Ghost bikes - Stories behind the Statistics

A few years ago, I created a map of all the fatal multi-vehicle bicycle crashes I could find at the time. In researching it, I stumble on some interesting stories - some for fatal crashes and some not - so I pulled them out and have made a longer post of them. Here are some of those stories, though not all of them are traffic crashes. 

Wolf17 year old Denis Wolf of Silver Spring and his friend Glen Edwards were riding on route 28 just west of Germantown when driver Washington Giddings struck Wolf from behind at high speed. Wolf was sent 54 feet from the point of impact and died that day, on Aug 25, 1974. Giddings admitted that he'd been drinking and was sentenced to 30 days in jail. In 1977, a new 1.5 mile hike-and-bike trail along the Northeast Branch from Old Riverdale Road to Calvert Road in Riverdale was named the Denis Wolf Trail by M-NCPPC after Wolf's family raised $3,000 for the trail. [The trail was extended and now we just call it part of the Northeast Branch Trail, I'm not sure the Wolf name was dropped intentionally or with permission].  The money the family raised was used for a rest stop, along the trail just south of Campus Drive, built in the late 1980's and still called the Denis Wolf Rest Stop. 

On July 4, 1987, Robin Royle was bicycling on Wisconsin Avenue near the Capital Beltway in Bethesda when she was hit by a driver who moved into the right lane to pass another vehicle. The driver, David Henry, carried her on the car's hood for nearly a half-mile, then dumped her body and fled. He was charged with manslaughter by automobile, homicide by automobile while intoxicated, driving while intoxicated, leaving the scene of an accident, possession of marijuana and possession of cocaine. He plead guilty to manslaughter by automobile and DWI and was sentenced to 5 years in county jail for manslaughter, with all but 1 year suspended, and a concurrent 1 year for DWI. He served only 3 months. 

On May 12, 1991, 10-year old Dewayne Hawkins was riding a bicycle on the shoulder of Route 301 when the driver of a vehicle swung across two lanes of traffic with the intention of running down. Moments earlier the driver had earlier hit, and lightly injured, another cyclist. The driver hit Hawkins and left the scene. Five days later Hawkins died from the injuries he sustained.  When apprehended later, the driver, Kathlynn Ann Najera, told the police she ran down the bicyclists "to teach the world a lesson."  She was charged with first-degree murder and a count of assault with intent to commit murder. After a psychological review, she offered an Alford plea, meaning that she admitted no guilt, but she agreed that prosecutors had enough evidence to convict her of first-degree murder in a trial. In exchange, the state agreed that she was suffering from acute paranoid schizophrenia at the time of the crash. She was deemed criminally insane and was committed to a mental hospital. She was eventually released, but in September of 2009 was arrested again for assaulting an individual. She was committed again and released in 2010. 

In August of 1991, during a charity ride from the West Coast to Washington called Bike-AidAndrew Appleton, 24, of Acton, MA and Holly Ehret, 21, of Sonoma, CA and two others were hit from behind by a tractor-trailer truck in Fauquier County, Virginia. Andrew and Holly didn't survive the crash. They were one day away from finishing the ride. The driver, Alvin Lee Harris, had approached the group from behind intending to move over and pass them, but then another car moved into the space to his left and he was going too fast and was too close to stop. Harris was ticketed on charges of reckless driving and driving with defective brakes. It's unclear what his final penalties were, but there is no criminal record for him in Virginia. 

On October 9, 1994, Patrick Andrew Flanagan was on a Sunday morning ride when he was stuck by a vehicle on Clopper Road near Gunners Branch Creek near Germantown. The driver, Mehraban Khodayar Demhri, stopped after the collision and spoke briefly with a witness, who was in another car and had stopped at the accident. The driver then returned to his vehicle and drove off.  He was arrested four days later based on an anonymous tip. He was charged with five counts including felony manslaughter and failing to remain at the scene of a personal-injury accident. He pleaded guilty to only the hit-and-run charge and was sentenced to six months in the Montgomery County jail and to 200 hours of community service. He served his time in a pre-release center that allowed residents to leave during the day.

On April 2, 1997, Judith Marie Flannery a six-time American and four-time world champion triathlete was struck head-on by a car that crossed the double yellow line. She died instantly. The car was driven by a 16-year old, unlicensed driver named Timothy Rinehart under the supervision of his father Ronald. Ronald was drunk and admitted he'd been drinking since early in the morning. Timothy was charged in juvenile court of seven charges including reckless driving and driving without a license, and was found guilty on all but the most serious charge of manslaughter. He was sentenced to perform 300 hours of community service, write an essay and not seek a driver's license without a judge's permission. His father was charged with nine offences including homicide, manslaughter by automobile, homicide by motor vehicle, driving while intoxicated, contributing to rendering a child in need of assistance, and several traffic violations. The homicide charge was dropped before trial began, and then the prosecution was unable to prove that Ronald grabbed the steering wheel at any time. As a result he was found guilty of only the three minor offenses of permitting an unauthorized person to a operate motor vehicle; permitting a vehicle to be driven by an unauthorized person and permitting a vehicle to be driven in violation of title. He was fined $500 and told not to drink in front of his son.

On October 8th, 1997 Alejandro Jose Grant was bumped by a left turning vehicle near Riggs Road and University Boulevard in Langley Park. The driver, 19 year-old Estrella Mariano Enriquez, stopped to check on him and he accosted her, shouting and cursing at her before pulling out a gun, shooting her in the head and riding away. He quickly ditched his bike and led police on a foot-chase that lasted several blocks. He was arrested and then charged, indicted and eventually found guilt of first-degree murder. When asked about it, Grant  - who had been arrested for assault on three prior occasions - claimed that it was the second time he'd been knocked off his bike that day; that he found the experience frightening and that he wanted Enriquez to feel the same fear. At his sentencing he said he "didn't really feel like living" and asked the judge to impose the death penalty. She gave him a sentence of life in prison plus 20 years instead. Not to be denied, Grant took his own life less than two days later. 

On September 5, 1998, Kap Joo Kim hit 14-year old high school freshman Kevin Mackey with her Dodge station wagon while he rode his bike on the shoulder of Dufief Mill Road and then drove away. He died three days later. After several months of searching, Kim surrendered to the police after her son saw a report of the accident on television news. She claimed that she had fallen asleep behind the wheel and didn't realize she'd hit anyone when she swerved onto the shoulder. Because she wasn't speeding or drunk, only tired after a 12 hour shift, she was only charged with leaving the scene of an accident involving bodily injury or death, negligent driving, failure to remain at the scene and provide information, and unsafe lane change which got her 6 months in in the county's pre-release center (a dorm-like facility where inmates work or seek treatment during the day and return at night) fined $1500 and ordered to perform 250 hours of community service. She originally appealed her case, and then withdrew the appeal. 

On April 15, 1999 Roseller "Larry" Enguillado ran a red light on the George Washington Parkway at Slater's Lane in Alexandria and struck Walter "Skip" Walsh an EPA employee on his way home from work. Enguillado, a civilian employee of the Department of Defense, was charged with reckless driving and failure to obey a traffic signal. He was sentenced to 45 days in jail and two years' probation and was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine. Enguillado's lawyer had tried to argue that Walsh was partly to blame because he was not in the crosswalk. Later, reporters at the Washington Times investigated the 3-second yellow light at the intersection and found that 20 vehicles were running that light every 30 minutes. The reports led Rep. Dick Armey to call for an investigation into accusations that local governments were shortening the yellow light cycle to increase fines. AAA's Lon Andersen supported the investigation. The light at Slater's did not have a camera. Hearings were held later that year, but nothing came of them.

On January 10th, 2002 Walter Penney, a man known for volunteering as a coach in youth sports leagues, was biking on the Sligo Creek Parkway when a driver coming the other way crossed the median and hit him head on.  Penney died that day. The driver, 23 year old Scott Andrew Davis, was charged and convicted of Vehicular Manslaughter. He was sentenced to 7 years, with all but 3 years suspended, a $1500 fine and 240 hours community service. Davis had been familiar with the court and criminal system before (drug, alcohol charges, failure to pay child support, burglary) and continued to be in trouble with the law afterward. While in jail, he was twice charged with disorderly conduct and destruction of property and then possession of marijuana as well as assault and theft. He was found guilty on drug charges in 2007 and 2009. He was arrested in 2008 for assaulting a corrections officer and then that same year plead guilty to assaulting one man and killing another in a bar fight.  He was sentenced to 36 months in jail. Since being released he has been charged numerous times with excessive speeding and driving on a suspended license or no license. In 2017 he was pulled over for driving on the wrong side of the road. In January of this year he was pulled over for DWI and in March, again, for driving on a suspended license.

On September 22, 2002, Eberhard "Ed" Irmler was fatally struck by a 76-year old Bethesda woman driving a minivan who ran a stop sign on Peach Tree at Barnesville Road in Montgomery County, MD. Irmler, 50, was a highly regarded federal government economist who lived in the District. There is no record of the driver being charged. 

On March 26, 2004, David Van Keuren, a 63 year old historian at the Naval Research Laboratory, was struck and killed by a dump truck as he biked in the 1300 block of South Capitol Street on his way to work. The driver left the scene, but according to one report, was located by the police. The driver was reportedly never charged. 

Mark Creasy was riding his bicycle along Marina Drive on Daingerfield Island on May 25, 2005 when he was attacked by Andre Suggs and strangled to death during a robbery. A witness on the riverbank heard several screams and went to investigate. The witness saw Suggs sprawled over Creasy's body, confronted Suggs and then rode off on his own bicycle to seek help. Suggs followed the witness on Creasy's bike before fleeing into the woods. Less than an hour after the slaying, Alexandria police arrested a naked Suggs about a half-mile away when he crossed the parkway at Bashford Lane. A U.S. Park Police affidavit said Suggs bit one of the arresting officers and screamed, "AIDS! AIDS! I got AIDS! Just before his arrest, Suggs had assaulted a second male bicyclist on the Mount Vernon trail and taken his bike. He was also accused of assaulting a third bicyclist, a woman who was hit in the head while riding on the Capital Crescent Trail near Georgetown, a week earlier. Her bike was stolen as well. He was charged and plead guilty to second-degree murder. He is serving a 30 year sentence with a release date of 7/16/2031. In 2016 he moved to vacate his sentence. 

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