Monday, February 7, 2011

Collision Coverage: A Brief Look..

Friday I attended and covered the hearing convened by DC Council member Phil Mendelson on how law enforcement is applied to cyclists and pedestrians when collisions occur.

There were more than 20 witnesses (26 by my count, but I had to leave the room to file at one point).

I filed on Friday, wrote up a web piece for Saturday, and filed two more longer form pieces also for air on Saturday.

I will put more extended info here when I get a chance, but confess that right now, as a general assignment reporter, I am all things Pepco (and MOCO, and whatever breaks...)

Did you attend the hearing? Did you find issues clarified or not? Did you get the feeling your needs will be heard and considered? Did you have your perspective shifted at all?

For now here are the pieces filed:


  1. Thanks for posting on this tragic accident. I am an avid cyclist have posted on the Alice Swanson accident several times on my blog. The police did not do an adequate job on the investigation. Alice's mother suggested the formation of a special police unit to work on bicycle accident investigations. There have been several in the Washington DC where the police repeatedly displayed their bias against the cyclist. See my most recent post on the Alice Swanson case at

  2. Hello Mike G, and thank you. My own coverage of bike-related issues has touched on that sense that cyclists--and pedestrians--are assumed to be at fault, and I think the more dialogue, education, and study of this, the better. It is not just a DC issue, I see this in cases around the country.

    Part of it is that we are in the midst of change: we are seeing more cyclists take to the roads, and a change in culture and habits is needed. And people have to be patient and generous with each other, and we all have to take our responsibilities to each other seriously.

    I just keep coming to the conclusion that so much of this is common sense and the ability to stand in the other guys shoes (or driver's seat or bike saddle) is critical. When I was a kid, I remember more than just the gory driver's ed movies about the need to take care on the road. I remember as a small child, getting a fair amount of education on road safety as a pedestrian and as a cyclist. Was I so unusual in that? The teacher in me would like to see more of that integrated into classrooms, and of course we need parents to model the behavior they want to see in their own children. Shameless plug here: I know my colleagues in the traffic department at WTOP urge drivers to take it easy out there, to give each other room, be predictable, etc. and I'm proud of that. The concern is real. And yes, that does extend to cyclists and pedestrians. It's heartbreaking for us as reporters to cover these things over and over again. I've been to too many funerals. I've seen police tear up over the cases in which they've been the ones who had to deliver the news to a family that a loved one would not be coming home. I'd love to never again cover a story of a loss of life on the highways or side-streets. I hope that we all bike/walk/drive as if our lives depended on it. They do.