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Cyclist Injured in Collision with Car in North Reston

by Karen Goff — September 24, 2014 at 9:00 am 1,991 44 Comments

Fairfax County Police A 69-year-old woman on a bicycle was injured when she was struck by a motorist at Wiehle Avenue near Center Harbor Road on Tuesday morning, Fairfax County Police spokeswoman Lucy Caldwell said.

Fairfax County Police said the 17-year-old driver of the car was traveling north on Wiehle Ave approaching the intersection of Center Harbor about 8:40 a.m.

The bicyclist was crossing Wiehle Ave at Center Harbor. The driver had a solid green light and was proceeding through the intersection when the bicyclist entered the intersection and was struck by the driver’s vehicle, the police report said.

The bicyclist suffered serious injuries. Fairfax County’s medical helicopter arrived and flew the cyclist to Inova Fairfax Hospital, where her condition, originally determined to be life-threatening injuries, was upgraded to non-life threatening after a CT scan.

Members of the Crash Reconstruction Unit assisted police patrol with the investigation. They determined that the bicyclist was at fault, police said.

Meanwhile, representatives from the Hunter Mill Supervisors office say they have asked the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) “about the pedestrian, bicycle and motorist issues in the northern area of Reston specifically on Wiehle Avenue, Reston Parkway, Center Harbor Road, and Lake Newport Road.”

VDOT staff will evaluate the information to help formulate recommendations for future safety improvements.

Earlier this year, a teen was killed while riding a minibike at Wiehle Avenue and Reston Parkway.

  • J S Williford

    Sounds like the bicyclist ran the red light into the path of a legally driven car. What kind of safety recommendations will a study produce based on this?

    • Consis Tently-Wright

      Its possible that the 69-year old made a mental mistake or was tired and off balance. Maybe the bike was not maintained properly.

      Also, Its possible that the automobile driver was high/drunk. Perhaps excessively speeding. Perhaps distracted by multi-media devices.Or a combination off.

      Even if we establish who was at fault we will never get back what we lost – you can come up with more laws and regulation, fly-overs, speed bumps etc; chances it will happen again. I depart, quoting Jerry Springer, “take care, and take care of each other”.

      • Mike M

        All things are possible. But the article implies she ran the red light. Is that so hard to believe? I see bicyclists running stop signs in Reston every single day! Do you have other information? Maybe there were witnesses. Bad stuff can happen to people who run red lights and stop signs and it doesn’t matter why. Nature and physics don’t care who was really the better person, for whom they voted, nor how they feel about saving the world. Reality is just that way. We are best to deal with it.

  • S Naski

    As much as I’d like to think that safety improvements would be a help, it’s not going to solve the problem of distracted & ignorant drivers. I live in this area and have watched countless times where my kids, fellow school parents or other pedestrians have been ALMOST hit by a distracted driver. In each case, the pedestrian has had the right of way and the driver ignored them, drove AROUND them or slammed on their brakes at the last minute almost causing an accident. This accident and the fatality this past spring at Reston Pkwy/Wiehle should be a huge wake up call for people to slow the heck down and pay attention to your surroundings.

    • guest

      Um, no. Drivers rule!

    • Mike M

      This accident might be a huge wake up call for bikers who assume the drivers shoulder all the responsibility on the road and that our world that is designed to be auto-centric really is not safe for bikers who assume the world will be as they think it SHOULD be.

  • kcowing

    A large part of your article was written by someone on Facebook. Don’t you cite your sources?

    • Billy Smith

      You do realize that’s a police report right? That’s what’s suppose to happen with this type of report.

    • Karen Goff

      It says throughout the story”Police said so I am clearly citing my courses.” The person who posted this on facebook had the same police report.

  • LaurieTD

    This article uncritically states that the traffic light was solid green. Who made this claim? No police officer was present at the moment of impact. Unless witnesses were interviewed at the scene, this statement came from the driver, who would be violating the law if the light was not green. This claim is unreliable, and I am unwilling to blame the cyclist without more evidence.

    • Billy Smith

      The article recites the police report– the police report made the claim.

  • scout

    The fact of the matter is the entire Wiehle Center Harbor corridor is a risky place if you’re not surrounded by 3000 lbs of metal. I’ve dodged cars daily even when I have the so called right of way. Bicyclists and walkers take their lives in their hands – on what we commonly refer to as the Center Habor Speedway. I don’t see ay skid marks where the driver might have appled brakes? And I’ve witnessed accidents where drivers would rather honk than try to avoid an accident. I hope that there will far more traffic patrols in this area. It is nortoriously dangerous.

    • Mike M

      That intersection has been fatal to at least one motorist.

      You may be part of the problem? Possible? I see far more bicyclists pretending they have no legal obligations than the other way around.

      • Consis Tently-Wright

        All that scout pointed out that there are no skid marks. That likely means the driver of they automobile neglected to hit the brakes forcefully enough. How does make Scout part of the problem?

        Also please take note that the 69-year old is not your typical biker, one would assume the senior got that old by not taking unnecessary risks. So perhaps it was just plain old age or the bike having issues or something I just plain do not know.

        However, in my mind this is not a biker versus car battleground. You seem to have some kind of weird agenda dividing people over an incident that is very unfortunate.

        • Mike M

          Scout is exhibit 1 in my argument. You are exhibit 2. Despite all the reports, you presume the driver was at fault. I know there are many on the W&OD trail who believe everyone is the problem but themselves. When that is the case the blamers are usually the problem. I have seen near miss incidents where the bicyclists flew out in front of a car and there was no chance to even brake.

          • Gary V

            Reston residents usually care about each other…I don’t detect much of a shred of that in what you’ve written…too bad.

          • Mike M

            I find that most Reston residents are of the mindset that assumes anyone who disagrees with them is mean or somehow morally inferior.

            The reality is I am really sick of bicyclists running out in front of me and others especially on the W&OD. I’ve seen a lot of near misses. I don’t want to be there for the strikes. It’s not even about rights and the law. If bicyclists take chances with cars, they are bound to lose. What is so hard about that?

    • Active in Reston

      Agreed. I walk and run regularly in the North Point area. A lot of the trouble stems from drivers ignoring pedestrian crossings in an attempt to ‘beat’ the traffic–completely ignoring ‘right turn on red AFTER coming to a complete stop.’ Often, but not always, these drivers are also on their cell phones. There are only so many things the human brain can do simultaneously and, often, scanning for pedstrians/bike riders drops off.

  • Shamrock

    Not sure what happened in this case, but we all need to be aware when we are out on or near the roads. Driving, biking and walking… There are more of us paying less attention to where we are and lots of attention to an electronic device. Be present and mindful. It is more peaceful and less stressful.

  • Mike M

    The attitudes in here amaze me. So pro-biker! I live near the W&OD and I can say unequivocally that bicyclists running the stop signs will result in a fatality soon. The risk has skyrocketed lately because drivers are now jamming on their brakes at the cross walk and waving bikers on from 75 yards down the trail. I have seen many near misses and a few multi-car pileups at Sunrise Valley and Hunter Mill. I understand someone was seriously injured at Sunrise Valley in July 2013. I walk and bike across the roads and I DO NOT want motorists to stop for me or my kids. I’ve seen some bicyclists stop and point out their stop sign for the motorists. Just because a driver has a need to feel magnanimous on the cheap does not negate my responsibility to STOP at the stop sign. It does not give them the right to stop on a major thoroughfare to wave me on. Oh by the way, it also does not mean that the other lane or three will also stop and play the same foolish game. A few weekends ago, I saw a guy in a red convertible Mercedes jam on his brakes to wave on a bicyclist at Sunrise Valley. The biker zoomed on through and was nearly clipped by a motorist in the closer lane. Undeterred the idjit in the red convertible stayed put and strained his neck to see if he could offer the same “favor” to other bikers further down the road. Unreal!

    At Hunter Mill Road, this behavior is now causing back-ups at rush hour.

    There is a certain moral righteousness at work here both among the bikers who feel they are doing good by biking and are therefore somehow entitled. i think the motorists who stop illegally are also playing the same game of moral superiority on the cheap.

    I can believe the bicyclist ran the red light. i see them run stop signs in Reston every single day. That behavior is what results in this type of tragedy.

    • Kevin

      Mike M, Motorist are required by law to come to a stop when pedestrains have stopped and are waiting on the WO&D or any share path, they are not being magnanimous. And yes, if the other lanes are not clear, the pedstrain is required by law, to wait for the other vehicles to come to a stop as well. They should not be straining their necks looking down the trail, they are required to stop only when a pedstrain is already stopped and waiting to cross. Yes, these laws do slow down the rush hour traffic on Hunter Mill, but if both pedstrain and motorist follow them, nobody will be killed. These laws do not apply if a light is directing traffic, like the 123 crossing.

      • Mike M

        You are absolutely incorrect! Motorists are required to stop only when the pedestrians are in the walkway. THEY are required to stop at the large stop signs. You are flat out wrong on the facts. It must be your entitlement mentality.

        • Kevin

          Not sure why you think I am entitled. Yes, the pedestrains are required to stop at the large stop signs, as I said above. But once the pedestrains are stopped, motorists are required to yeild. Maybe the law has changed? This reference is from 2010,

          http://virginiadot.org/travel/resources/Laws_for_Interacting_on_the_Road_Report.pdf

          page 14. 46.2-924.

          “path users must stop and proceed to mark cross walk, motorists must then yeild to pedestrains, pedestrains cross when cars have stopped or it is clear.”

          I was a little surprised when I first read this as well, do you have other sources that are more current? I also thought it was as you described before I read this several years ago. Hence, my comment about the need for education so we all have a common understanding when we meet at the intersections of life. Mahalo

          • Greg

            Actually it says nothing in there about the cars having to stop. If there is a stop sign there for the cars then the cars must stop and then yield. Otherwise the pedestrians and cyclist must wait for the way to be clear before proceeding. Also that is for areas where the speed limit is 35mph or less. I’m not sure what the speed limit is there since it has been a while since I was up that way. It also says “At all times, the path user shall proceed across the roadway with caution and only when vehicles have stopped or it is clear for the bicyclist/pedestrian to cross.” I take that to mean that if the cars are not stopped you have to wait as a pedestrian/bicyclist.

          • Kevin

            it says “… the path user must stop and proceed to the marked crosswalk. The vehicle shall then yield the right of way to the path user…”, I guess it is in the definition of “yield” the right of way, I took that to mean the vehicle should stop. Sunrise Valley is 35 mph, Hunter Mill is 25 mph. Yes, if cars do not yield, it is unlawful for the trail user to cross, they must stop and wait for cars to yield or for it to be clear. That’s the logic in the law, there’s no way a car can hit a pedestrian if you follow these laws.

          • Mike M

            Let’s agree on this much:

            1) The law is poorly written.
            2) Motorists are NOT to stop at the crosswalk and look up and down the trail.
            3) Pedestrians must stop at the stop signs.
            4) Pedestrians are not to proceed into the road when it is not clear.
            5) Motorists are not to wave pedestrians through stop signs.

            That’s been the problem.

            I don’t agree that the law requires drivers to stop for pedestrians at the stop sign. That’s not really what it says.

          • Kevin

            Definitely agree with 1-5. Pedestrians need to stop. I would like to know what “… the path user must stop and proceed to the marked crosswalk. The vehicle shall then yield the right of way to the path user…” means. What does “yield the right of way to the path user…” require a vehicle driver to do, any law enforcement that can help us here?

          • Myron Rosmarin

            Kevin, you are correct to point out that what is needed here is a definition of the word “Yield”. I took this definition from the Virginia DMV Driver’s Manual.
            http://www.dmv.state.va.us/webdoc/pdf/dmv39.pdf

            “Triangle (Yield): You must slow down as you come to the intersection. Be prepared to stop. Let any vehicles, pedestrians or bicyclists safely pass before you proceed.”

            The important points about a Yield sign as opposed to a Stop sign is that you are required to stop at a stop sign but you must only be prepared to stop at a yield sign. In particular, you have to be prepared to stop if there is a reason to stop such as someone who is trying to cross at a crosswalk. If there is no one there, you don’t have to stop. Unlike at a stop sign where you have to stop even if no one is there.

            I agree with Mike M that it is incorrect for cars to stop at the trail crossings when no one is there. But if someone is there and is trying to cross, the yield sign requires the vehicles to stop and yield the right of way to the pedestrian or cyclist.

  • Josh

    Ban all bicylclists from the streets of Reston…nobody wants to see these fat 50 year old Lance Armstrong wanna bees in Spandex….and all they do is [email protected]^& up traffic, get on the W&OD or the sidewalk, and if you are in the road obey the laws like a car. I was hit in a cross walk on a bike at 14 and cited because a car has the right of way…not some dork who wants to get his pedal on

    • Mike M

      May you live to be 50! (And never wear spandex.)

  • Scout

    So, as drivers we can BE right or DO right – when we are behind the wheel we are surrounded by 3000 lbs of metal – walkers and bikers – not so much – I for one am not interested in being right and doing harm to my fellow citizens so I will grant other people – including other drivers – the right of the away – I do not want to be responsible for harming, maiming or killing other people in the name of Being Right.

    • Gary Voegele

      Thank you for your kindness. It seems that some of the respondents here pay no attention/don’t care what 3000 lbs. of metal can do to unprotected citizens.
      Gary Voegele

  • Can’t we get along

    Let me just, wow. Amazing responses with so little data. Hope all recover after the accident and everyone remembers we’re all neighbors and someone’s family member – even when we’re in those cars and on those bikes. Oh, and human flesh doesn’t do well going from 0-40 mph quickly.

  • Myron Rosmarin

    Here’s what we know: a 69 year old woman ran a red light. We don’t know why. Any speculation as to whether it was deliberate or accidental is grossly unfair and it would be wrong to do that. We also know that a 17 year old had the green and was not cited for any wrong doing. To speculate whether that young adult was doing anything other than driving safely would also be wrong and irresponsible. If the police on the scene didn’t have a reason to suspect wrong-doing – why on earth would you do that here?

    Here’s something else we can infer: two individuals will be dramatically affected by this incident. They both deserve our compassion, not our scorn. There is no reason to believe either of them deserves anything less than our sympathy and warmest well wishes that they both can heal from this unfortunate event.

    As for all of the bicyclist vs car debate – let’s be clear about this: some cyclists break rules. So do a lot of drivers. For every cyclist that runs a red light, there are a hundred or a thousand drivers who are texting, drunk or stoned, putting on their makeup, driving too fast, eating, or driving with a dog on their lap. The fact that cyclists run red lights doesn’t mean they deserve to get hurt any more than drivers who are guilty of much worse.

    • Mike M

      Forget what they “deserve.” Let’s accept the reality of what happens given the fact that bicyclists have nothing between them and the vehicle that clobbers them.

  • cosmo

    It really appears to me that bikers want all the rights that vehicles have but also the ability to pick and choose which laws they follows. It doesn’t work that way. I see bikers all the time in the right-of-way who come to a red light, slow down just enough to see the coast is clear, then just bolt through the intersection. It’s gotten so bad on the W&OD trail that the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority last year issued an RFP to find a mediator to talk to bicycle groups and find out why they refuse to stop at stop signs. I don’t know what’s come of that effort, but it’s ludicrous that our tax dollars have to fund such a project. Absolutely ridiculous.

    • Kevin

      Cosmo, Everyone on the road should follow the law. But your rage seems to be aimed at bikers. Have you tried driving 55 mph on the Toll Road? Have you ever seen a moving vehicle change lanes or turn without a signal? There are lots of road users that pick and choose which laws to follow. We really need better education and enforcement for all vehicles (that means bikes as well). By the way, is traffic law enforcement also an absolutely ridiculious use of our tax dollars in your mind? I’m guessing the mediator was part of an educational initiative, which we need for all road users. The relative laws here:

      http://virginiadot.org/travel/resources/Laws_for_Interacting_on_the_Road_Report.pdf

      To summarize this document,
      Bikes must follow the rules as Motorists.
      Motorists shall always yield to pedestrians, unless a light or law enforcement is directing traffic.
      Motorists shall be aware of shared use path crossings, if a stop sign is located on the path, the path user must stop, the motorist shall then yeild the right of way to the path user.
      Path user shall proceed across the roadway with caution and only when vehicles have stopped or it is clear.

  • Chistera

    A fairly common problem on my bicycle commute is cars’ stopping in the middle of travel lanes to be “polite” and let me proceed. (I am already stopped and on a sidewalk or median waiting patiently for car traffic to clear.) This often results in a stupid stand-off between me and the car driver, each wondering what the other is about to do. I just keep waiting until the driver decides to move or gets honked from behind. But I can easily imagine that a major bike trail like the W&OD crossing a major roadway is just an accident waiting to happen, even if the bicyclists have their own stop signs on the trail

    • Myron Rosmarin

      The law is clear on this subject. Cars are expected to yield to bicyclists and pedestrians in the crosswalk. That means they have to stop when bicyclists or pedestrian are present and wsiting to cross. Otherwise, they don’t have to stop. At the same time, pedestrians and cyclists are required to stop before crossing. If a pedestrian or cyclist is waiting to cross and a car stops to let them cross, the car is doing exactly the right thing. If they don’t stop, the fine can be from $100 to $500 for failing to do so.

      • Mike M

        Myron, you aren’t listening. Pedestrians are not to cross until it’s clear. One car stopping doesn’t make it clear. When one person stops, there is no guarantee the others will. I use the trail daily. I don’t want do-gooders to stop. I’ll wait and be safe thank you.

        • Myron Rosmarin

          Mike, I’m a frequent user of the trail too and I’m well aware of the problem you’re describing. I’m simply stating what the laws and expectations are. I don’t fault you for being careful and waiting until the coast is clear. I also don’t fault drivers for stopping. In fact, I’m very appreciative to the cars who stop for me and make it a point to wave “thanks” to everyone of them.

          • Mike M

            They shouldn’t stop.

      • Mike M

        Your interpretation is not correct. But the law is poorly written.

  • Chistera

    And let me add that although I’m terribly sorry for the bicyclist and wish her a speedy recovery, I truly feel terrible for the 17 year old driver. What an awful way to start your driving “career.” I hope the driver will find emotional support to recover from this awful incident.

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