On Bike to School Day, car-bike wreck demonstrates risks of city biking

WASHINGTON – A bicyclist was injured Wednesday morning near Observatory Circle providing a grim example of the dangers riders face navigating urban streets on International Bike To School Day.

The cyclist was injured by a hit-and-run driver at 7:15 a.m. Wednesday on Massachusetts Avenue NW at Observatory Circle. Metropolitan Police are looking for a blue Crown Victoria believed to have D.C. plate EN 3514.

Police say the cyclist was talking and conscious when loaded into an ambulance. He was taken to George Washington Hospital. No addition information on his condition was immediately available.

At least nine bicyclists were killed on area roadways in 2013. AAA Mid-Atlantic advises drivers to slow down, share the road and never honk at cyclists. Drivers should check mirrors and blind spots before turning, changing lanes or opening car doors.

“It’s so dangerous on Massachusetts Avenue, we go on the sidewalk,” says Theo Shephard, who was biking past the accident scene shortly after the unnamed bicyclist was struck.

Shephard and her husband William Shephard have had a combined four encounters with cars over the years. Their injuries ranged from being knocked unconscious to a leg cut that required stitches.

“I’ve been hit twice by car doors and knocked off my bicycle,” she says.

People exiting parked cars “fling them open right in front of you,” says William Shepherd. “Be careful.”

Wearing brightly hand-painted helmets, the Shephard’s also think good bike helmets are a necessity for city cyclists.

“For Bike Month, we are hoping that bicyclists will be good stewards of the sidewalks when they choose to ride there, and will yield to all pedestrians,” Daniel Hoagland of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association tells WTOP in an email.

“WABA recommends that adults ride in the roads largely because drivers behave far more predictably than pedestrians do, and more predictable behavior is safer,” he says.

Even riding on sidewalks can prove challenging. Cyclists can be hit while pedaling past driveways, alleys and parking lots.

Sidewalk cycling is prohibited in some locations such as in Alexandria and D.C.’s downtown business district. Find a comprehensive list of biking rules here.

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