In the last year, fourteen pedestrians and two bicyclists have been killed in encounters with cars and trucks. The reported injuries are far higher: 435 bicyclists and 755 pedestrians in 2010. Some of the victims complain the police have done far too little to stop the carnage.
We’ve told you before about Alice Swanson, the 22-year-old bicyclist crushed and killed in Dupont Circle by a garbage truck.
Her mother, and a parade of other witnesses, asked a DC Council committee for more rules, more cameras, and more penalties to protect pedestrians and bicyclists.
A ghostly white bicycle chain is all the remains of the memorial that once marked the spot on Dupont Circle where Alice Swanson died. But her mother continues to wage a long campaign she hopes will protect more bicyclists from collisions on DC’s streets. “There are no fender benders in vehicle-human collisions. It’s hard steel against human flesh,” Ruth Rowan told the hearing.
Despite the garbage truck driver’s felony record, and a long history of accidents and traffic citations, DC police concluded that Alice Swanson collided with the truck, somehow throwing her body up and over the hood and into the path of the front right tire.
Critics say MPD investigators have a history and pattern of siding with drivers over bicyclists. “I can’t tell you how terrible it is to lose a daughter in so senseless a way. To have the police falsely blame the victim is to be victimized twice,” says Rowan.
Unfortunately, it’s par for the course. When I got hit, the State Department (which is doing a bang-up job in Egypt, huh?) claimed “a jogger collided with one of the U.S. Department of State, Diplomatic Security Service’s official vehicles.” A cursory examination of my physique puts the lie to the first claim, and simple common sense takes care of the idea of somebody on foot “colliding” with a moving vehicle.
I’m not sure what the cops can do to prevent these things from happening. They can’t force people to be better drivers. But it would be nice if they refrained from handing out trumped-up jaywalking tickets to the victims.
And then there’s this:
Advocates say it appears the driver of a National Guard truck that crushed bicyclist Constance Holden was never cited either.
“The National Guard said that they were sorry. But that is all that’s happened,” says David Alpert of Greater Greater Washington.
More than I’ve ever gotten.