Cyclist Hit by Car Near W&OD Trail

No charges in Wednesday incident because of conflicting eyewitness accounts, police say

Update (Saturday): In an email to Vienna Patch, the cyclist maintains he stopped at the stop sign before crossing the street.


A cyclist was struck by a car around 4:40 p.m. Wednesday where the W&OD Trail crosses Park Street in Vienna.

The cyclist was transported to the hospital with abrasions and an apparent bump on his head, but is in good condition, Vienna Police spokesperson Gary Lose said.

A driver heading northbound on Park Street SE stopped to allow the cyclist, who did not adhere to the stop sign, to cross the street, police said. The cyclist was then struck on the back wheel of the bicycle by a car traveling southbound. Cyclists and pedestrians on the trail have a stop sign before crossing Park Street; drivers do not.

Because of differing eyewitness accounts, the investigation did not yield charges.

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J Anderson August 11, 2012 at 07:37 PM
I have been told and it was confirmed to me that those Stop signs on the W&OD are not enforceable in that the NVRPA has no jurisdiction in controlling traffic or something to that effect - this is what VDOT and FCDOT told me. Clearly a bicycle using a multi use path is not a vehicle ... so any argument stating it has to follow automobile laws is invalid. It might be worth having Tim at bikes@vienna do a piece on this. That being said.....the Stop sign is there to effectively institute safety first type messages....and that there is an intersection with a road way and cyclists should be careful. If it is true that the northbound car stopped to let the cyclist cross per the signage, the bicyclist didn't dart out and the south bound car was either distracted, speeding or simply not paying attention - as any attentive driver would have seen that sign in the road, slowed down just in case and seen the rider in the crosswalk.
Rk August 11, 2012 at 08:13 PM
That crossing is a disgrace and cannot believe more accidents have not occurred. When traveling on Park u never know what to expect as you approach that crossing. Some drivers obey the sign and stop "if a pedestrian is in the crosswalk", others just stop if someone is standing or sitting on a bike (bike or on foot should not matter). People interpret the sign or react differently. But i'm not letting the bikers and pedestrians off either.. many do stop, look both ways and precede ONLY when the coast is clear and or drivers on BOTH directions have stopped - smart and safe. Sadly many DO NOT.. they either ride thru with a glance left and right "you see me right, so you better slow down or stop" or do make a curseroy stop and just assume the cars will stop simply because someone wants to cross since alot do.. Not Smart and Dangerous. This leaves the drivers and the pedestrians in quandary. Do I stop my car because someone might step or ride into the crosswalk?, does the pedestrian ASSUME the car going to stop after seeing them?, is the car in front of me going to stop?, is the car behind me going to stop if I stop? This is a dangerous situation. With the high # children crossing there, and bikers who want the courtesy of the road rules (but not necessarily have to obey them themselves) only solution is a Stop sign. I know another Stop sign... but what are you going to do...
Sharon August 11, 2012 at 08:21 PM
A motorist traveling thru the crossing should not stop in ANTICIPATION of a biker coming thru. This is hazardous for bikers in that (1) it creates a false assumption on their part that they don't need to stop because motorists will stop for them; (2) it sets up a scenario for a possible rear end collision; and (3) it creates confusion on everyone's part because there could be a car on the other side that continues to travel thru because no one is in the crossing, thus confusing the biker/walker; the motorist who stopped in anticipation; and the motorist going thru the crossing who has to stop suddenly for a biker/walker who never stopped. Motorists: You have the right of way. Proceed with caution and don't stop unless there's a biker/walker IN THE CROSSING. Bikers/walkers: Obey your stop sign and stop no matter what. Maybe it's not enforceable in a crossing, but a stop sign is a stop sign, and motorists are expecting you to stop. Only other solution: Make every trail crossing a 4-way stop. Not ideal because of what it would do to traffic.
Ron August 11, 2012 at 08:48 PM
The Patch could help with this discussion if they would take a photo of the Stop sign and show everyone the sign below the Stop sign which says it is the law!
Ron August 11, 2012 at 09:43 PM
Had to run an errand, so I looked at the sign. The main sign says STOP. Just below that sign is a second rectangular sign that says "Required by Law"!
David Salzberg August 11, 2012 at 11:17 PM
A bicycle has to follow the traffic laws. They are vehicles, not pedestrians. At most bike path crossing, the bicyclist has to stop at the stop sign. Many do not -- they do not want to lose momentum. However, it is a moving violation.
Dan August 11, 2012 at 11:28 PM
I completely agree with this point. I cross this area as a bike commuter, among a number of other intersections along the trail. It is common for well intended drivers to see my bike slowing to a stop at the crosswalk and stop their cars to allow me to cross. That's nice and all - - but once that car stops, it puts the biker at an awkward position - - the cyclist is supposed to stop - - but stopping and starting keeps the car waiting for several more seconds -- and almost up to 20- or 30-seconds if the cyclist must confirm that traffic coming the other way is going to stop. I almost feel rude for stopping and keeping the car waiting. (But certainly cyclists must adhere to the rules of the road - - including all stop signs.) Either way, it's awkward and it increases the chances for an accident. To compound matters, cyclists cannot always see the driver or make good eye contact through their tinted windows. Bottom line: As a cyclist I would much prefer drivers to be alert and be careful with their speed at crosswalks - but please keep your right of way when you have it. As often as I cross these intersections on a bike - - I assume many, like myself, are drivers too. I wish the cyclist involved in the accident a speedy recovery.
Wien August 12, 2012 at 02:01 AM
Actually, in many cases, the law states a bicycle should NOT operate like a vehicle. This is where so many people start to make erroneous statements on Patch and other online forums. The general rule is that a bicycle riding on the road should operate and be treated as a vehicle...that's great as a general rule, but there are many times where a bicycle is not to operate as a vehicle, especially on multi-use trails, sidewalks, and off road. One of my favorites is red lights. Everyone on here complains about red lights, but there are specific statutes in most states that allow bikes to proceed through a red light if safe from both sides. Why? Because a bicycle will not trigger pressure sensors in most moderns roads and thus may never get a green light if coming on from a side street. So this is one case where the general public may see a cyclist go through a red light after pausing and run online to moan and complain about "act like a motorist" when in fact the bicycle is following the law. My other favorite is that bicycles can by law "take the lane" (meaning ride in the middle of a street lane) and in many situations, it is safest to do so. Yet people run online and complain that bikes don't get far enough to the right or bikes slow them down. Well (a) they're allowed to take the lane and (b) if they're supposed to be motorists, why moan when they're not riding in a ditch by the roadside?
Wien August 12, 2012 at 02:05 AM
I wonder if every motorist complaining about the law know how many feet to the left they need to be when passing a bicycle. How many feet of space do you need to legally give a bicycle in Virginia, DC, Maryland? (it's very different in most states) Everyone complaining about how bicycles not following the law probably don't know many bicycle and car statutes. Fact is, both sides are usually at fault when these things happen. As a driver, I'm always cautious and able to stop if needed when crossing the W&OD. And as a runner and cyclist, I'm doubly-cautious and able to stop when crossing the road. I can tell you even as a runner, who apparently has the right of way, and stops at every intersection, I still contend with horrible drivers who fly through the crossing and look right at me as they do so...sometimes when I'm standing midway through after another car waves me on. Both sides are to blame. But both sides can be a lot more cautious.
Wien August 12, 2012 at 02:11 AM
DC and Virginia have been considering the Idaho bike stop law; would be interesting to see if that helped or hurt the situation. An "it's the law" sign on a bike path may not be any more enforceable than a parking lot stop sign or a "fire lane" sign in a private shopping center (which isn't enforceable - sadly considering the number of people idling in front of dry cleaners). But ultimately it doesn't matter, because clearly in this case witnesses on both sides differed; one car stopped, one didn't; so it was probably a case of both sides not taking caution. If the cyclist managed to be waved on, made it through one lane, and was struck on the rear tire, then the second car should've been able to stop if operating with caution. And if the cyclist didn't see another car stopping in the other lane, he should've slowly entered the crossing and been ready to make an emergency stop in the middle, even if that means not clipping in. Everyone just needs to operate with caution. As a runner, I'm routinely amazed at the stupid things that automobiles do at W&OD crossings. And as a cyclist, I see both sides do stupid things when at crossings or riding on roads.
David Salzberg August 12, 2012 at 02:12 AM
The problem is not the byciclist that does not trigger the signal, stops, verifies it is safe to proceed, and continues, the problem is the bicyclist that does not slow down at a busy intersection (say courthouse and nutley)...and peddles in front of a car who has the light, I have seen it happen a dozen times. When I am on Airhill, center, park or ceder, I have the right of way over bicyclists. Read Virginia law if you disagree, or get town of Vienna police traffic enforcement.
Wien August 12, 2012 at 02:23 AM
Typical broad brush comment; take something stated and use an extreme example that wasn't relevant. I do not recall stating it was law to ride into an intersection without the light. Hence my statements containing "if safe" and "after pausing". What I do recall saying is that most motorists do not know many bike statutes - and that's becoming more apparent with every online article on cycling. Fact is, bikes are not vehicles in many statutes of law, and the "bicycles are vehicles" mantra is something that has been promoted through ease of use to explain general operation. And I don't think motorists want to start asking police traffic enforcement officers about how to operate vehicles in a safe manner. As a driver, cyclist, and runner in Vienna, on and off road, I wouldn't label drivers as the safest, most legal, or most aware group.
David Salzberg August 12, 2012 at 02:23 AM
Here is the problem at bicycle crossings. I see a stop sign for the bath, I assume the bikes have to abide by it. I assume bikes on the path ate vehicles, not pedestrians.
David Salzberg August 12, 2012 at 02:28 AM
I have bicycled around here for years, and drove for years. I was thought in the 1970's and 80's that bicycles have the same rights and responsibilities as cars. Yet, I regularly see bicycles not respecting cars,
Wien August 12, 2012 at 02:30 AM
I cross this crossing 20+ times a week by car, 10 times a week by foot, and 4 by bike. I can assure you there are a few more "disgraceful" crossings within a few miles up or down the trail. This crossing is actually fairly safe, with limited overgrowth, good sight lines in both directions on a straight road, and more warning signs/lights than most. Problem is that both cars and cyclists need to use more caution. Even as a runner I have to assume cars won't stop when I'm in the intersection. It isn't a signage problem, it's a problem of all to not be more courteous and cautious. If you want a stop sign, put one in the Reston area where morning commuters plow through crossings, ignoring foot and pedal traffic alike.
JenniferP. August 12, 2012 at 05:12 AM
How do you know the cyclist stopped at the stop sign? Are you an eye witness?
JenniferP. August 12, 2012 at 05:28 AM
The fact that one car stopped to allow the cyclist to cross DOES NOT reinforce the case that the other driver was negligent. All it tell us is that one car stopped to allow the cyclist to cross. You are making assumptions; hence, your argument is illogical. A few weeks ago, I stopped to allow a car to cross an intersection after it went through a red light.
Ron August 12, 2012 at 12:27 PM
If you want to know the laws governing bicycles, then you go to the VDOT. Here's a direct quote from VDOT regarding bicycles (note that bicycles are governed by the same laws as vehicles: "Laws and Safety Tips The laws regulating bicycling on Virginia's public highways define the rights and duties of bicyclists as well as the motorists with whom they share the roadway. Bicyclists and motorists basically have the same rights and duties, and the laws governing traffic regulation apply equally to both."
J Anderson August 12, 2012 at 09:20 PM
The W&OD is not a public highway and thus VDOT has no jurisdiction and as such a cyclist is not considered a vehicle. The W&OD is owned and managed by NVRPA - who placed the signs there in the name of safety. VDOT and FC DOT have told me those signs are not enforceable...i.e. there is no code LE could ticket a cyclist. I will contact them and ask.... Regardless, one can't just willy nilly blow into the intersection as there is code that does govern that......and anyone who is worried about their personal safety should do whatever they can do to prevent an accident. And if this cyclist was in the cross walk - and a car had stopped in one lane - and then was subsequently hit by a car in the other lane....it's pretty clear to me that the driver was clearly not paying attention.
Bruce Wright August 13, 2012 at 12:33 AM
Actually, if you want to know the laws governing bicycles in Virginia, you should go to the <a href="http://leg1.state.va.us/000/src.htm">online source of VA code</a> (I'm assuming we can use html code in our comments). It's searchable. You can type the phrase "bicycle and pedestrian" and find <a href="http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?000+cod+46.2-904">46.2-904</a> which states: "A person riding a bicycle, ... on a sidewalk, shared-use path, or across a roadway on a crosswalk, shall have all the rights and duties of a pedestrian under the same circumstances." Thus a motorist must yield to a bicyclist in the W&OD crosswalks regardless of the presence of the Stop signs. This is what the code states about bicyclists riding in the road, <a href="http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?000+cod+46.2-800"> 46.2-800</a>: "Every person riding a bicycle,... on a highway shall be subject to the provisions of this chapter and shall have all of the rights and duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle"
Jalia August 13, 2012 at 03:21 AM
The other driver WAS negligent. The cyclist was already in the crosswalk because the first car allowed him to proceed, therefore placing him under the protection of the "yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk".
Ron August 13, 2012 at 09:54 AM
Did you look at the two new photos posted. Why does the sign say "Required by Law"?
J Anderson August 13, 2012 at 11:18 AM
Ron - I"m just telling you what I was told by the authorities that presumably know what they are talking about. And as I said I have contacted them all as such to ensure I"m not talking out of line. Bruce Wright as posted a reply to this also and he has more knowledge than I do. In fact he was on the email I sent to VDOT et al. We are not saying it's not important to stop but we aren't sure there is actual code that can force someone to stop and be ticketed if they don't. But there is code that says they can't just enter the roadway either.
Ron August 13, 2012 at 11:41 AM
Let's think about what you just said. "there is a code that says they can't just enter the roadway". That can only mean STOP! Doesn't common sense tell us that if they just can't enter the roadway, they would have to do something and STOP comes to mind first?
J Anderson August 13, 2012 at 12:00 PM
Ron - Uggggh. We are talking two different things. One is actual State Code about Pedestrians (and anyone acting as a Pedestrian). It can be found here....mid way down. http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?000+cod+46.2-924 The "Required by Law" sign is what is in question...as it's NOT VDOT code - but something NVRPA is attempting to control - and thus what 'law"? So is the STOP sign for walkers, runners, rollerbladers also or just for cyclists? Why would you place a stop sign when existing code already exists let alone the fact there are those signs in the middle of the road telling drivers to stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk. Why aren't there STOP signs at other cross walks around? What is happening is that drivers are confused...as most likely don't consider a bicyclist in a cross walk a pedestrian....they view them as a vehicle but vehicles aren't allowed on the W&OD....etc etc etc. I will say for the THIRD time - I have reached out to VDOT et al for clarification as clearly it's confusing. When I hear back I will post up. Does anyone listen anymore? I didn't write the law, I didn't say I was for or against those signs. I simply stated fact. And this fact/confusion is leading to people getting hit and likely A LOT more almost getting hit. I am pretty sure I also said that no one should just enter the roadway willy nilly.....that is plain foolish. Have a nice day.
Ron August 13, 2012 at 12:27 PM
I agree that this is going nowhere. By the way, there are the same type of pedestrian signs just one block away at the intersection of Locust and Park Streets. With this, I am dropping out of the discussion. I intend to try to avoid that crossing at all costs.
Tim Fricker August 13, 2012 at 06:43 PM
Jeff - we'll all be interested in hearing what you learn from VDOT and other authorities. It seems from what has been written so far that the stop signs on the W&OD are a well-intentioned attempt to encourage cyclists and other trail users to stop before crossing roads, but they are not legally enforceable. It would be interesting to know if collisions have decreased at trail crossings since the stop signs went up, in which case perhaps they have done their job, despite the legal muddiness of their use. I've said it before, and I'll say it again... there is plenty of blame to go around. There are plenty of cyclists who ride unsafely, and plenty of drivers who do the same. Pointing fingers gets us nowhere. We need to try to work together to find solutions that make the roads and trails safer for all. That's a major part of what the Vienna Bicycle Advisory Committee and Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling are trying to do. If you'd like to be a part of the solution, I suggest you come to a meeting of one or both of these organizations. Meeting times and locations are on their websites: http://www.viennabac.com http://fabb-bikes.org
Tim Fricker August 13, 2012 at 06:48 PM
I had to look this one up, as I honestly didn't know, but Wien is correct, essentially, about red lights. State law says: "B. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, if a driver of a motorcycle or moped or a bicycle rider approaches an intersection that is controlled by a traffic light, the driver or rider may proceed through the intersection on a steady red light only if the driver or rider (i) comes to a full and complete stop at the intersection for two complete cycles of the traffic light or for two minutes, whichever is shorter, (ii) exercises due care as provided by law, (iii) otherwise treats the traffic control device as a stop sign, (iv) determines that it is safe to proceed, and (v) yields the right of way to the driver of any vehicle approaching on such other highway from either direction." http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?000+cod+46.2-833
J Anderson August 13, 2012 at 07:23 PM
Tim.....that code was added during 2010 I think.....yet we still have a 2 ft law as well as a law that does not prohibit tailgating of a cyclist.
J Anderson October 01, 2012 at 03:54 PM
UPDATE - I've engaged NVRPA and in fact they themselves are trying to figure this out. VDOT themselves told me they do NOT put such signs on trails they manage - like the Fairfax County Parkway trail.


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