Our network

Deaths On DC Streets Bring Calls For Enforcement | News

Title (Max 100 Characters)

Deaths On DC Streets Bring Calls For Enforcement

WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA) -- A horrible toll on the streets of DC.

In the last year, 14 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.

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 greatergreaterwas.

Councilman Phil Mendelson says he's surprised too: "How could it be that this was ok? That in essence it was the bicyclist's fault?"

Bicyclists do have their critics. "Mostly very dangerous," a cabbie told me on Pennsylvania Ave, NW in front of city hall at the Wilson Building. "They don't stay in the bike lane."

Bicyclists say one solution is simply better enforcement -- more tickets for things like distracted driving. A leader of the police union says that's a good idea, but complains there are just too few officers on the streets to handle it.

Written by Bruce Leshan
9News Now & wusa9.com