Reporting on pedestrian life in the D.C. area

Arlington cyclist gets doored, then hosed

February 16, 2011 - 01:32 PM
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There's a bit of a cautionary tale over on the Bike Arlington forum today.

A cyclist posting only by his user name says he was doored while riding in the bike lane on Clarendon Boulevard near the Whole Foods on Monday. (Happy Valentine's Day, buddy!) A witness called 911 and the driver stayed on the scene, "supremely apologetic," he writes. The cyclist was placed in an ambulance but ultimately declined to go to the emergency room, assuming his injuries were minor. In the meantime, the driver left before the cyclist managed to get his contact information.

As it turned out, Tuesday morning the cyclist went to the doctor and found out that he may have a broken wrist, potentially a costly long-term injury. When he followed up with police to get the driver's name and insurance information, he says he was told nothing could be done for him since he originally said he "wasn't injured." He says a report was never filed.

"I never said I wasn't injured," he writes. "I said I didn't need emergency treatment. Two significantly different things."

Now he's trying to track down the driver to get help with his medical bills, having only a vague idea of where the guy lives and an even vaguer description of the car.

As we've written here in the past -- and as Greater Greater Washington coincidentally writes today as well -- there's some really sloppy report-taking that goes on around Washington when cyclists get hit by cars. In the District, we can say with a fair amount of certainty that many police officers themselves aren't always aware of what they're supposed to be doing in the wake of a crash. Often they never even bother to interview the victim who was carted off to the hospital before faulting him or her for the crash.

A car-on-bike crash is a frightening and disorienting experience for a cyclist, no matter the extent of the injuries, so it's not fair to say the cyclist needs to be aware of all the note-taking going on in the wake of a crash. But if you happen to have your wits about you, you may as well make sure everything goes into an official report, operating on the assumption that you might get screwed down the line.

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