Cyclists In Tenleytown find drivers, danger

Cyclist Adam White in his driveway, where he was struck Friday morning.

Cyclist Adam White in his driveway, where he was struck Friday morning.  Photo by Dana Gooley

It’s second nature: “Look both ways before you cross the street” is a familiar warning for children and adults. But for bicyclists in Tenleytown, double-checking isn’t always enough.

As he left his driveway Friday morning, Adam White was hit by a driver attempting a U-turn on the street. White, a 20-year-old college student living in Tenley, suffered several minor injuries from the accident. The driver did not stop.

“I got up and looked to see if they had parked or something, but all I saw was them driving away,” White says. “I was like, who does that?”

While this accident happened in White’s own driveway, other accidents of a similar nature are happening around the area.

Austin Ryer, 22, was hit as he crossed the driveway of the Presbyterian church in Tenleytown. Both Ryer and the driver were going less than 5 miles per hour. No one was hurt.

According to the D.C. Department of Transportation’s website, an average of 265 bicycle accidents are reported each year. Not all crashes are officially reported, often because the cyclist does not know how to proceed. The Washington Area Bicyclist Association created a “Bicycle Crashes FAQ” on its website as a resource for D.C. cyclists.

“If you’re a biker, everyone hates you in DC,” says Ryer. “If you’re on the road, you’re too slow. If you’re on the sidewalk, you’re too fast.”

The department’s website has records of more than 56 miles of bike lanes throughout the city and 50 miles of off-road trails. However, the department has not created any bike lanes in the Tenleytown neighborhood.

“I’m up in Brooklyn now, and there are bike lanes everywhere,” Ryer says. “They’re great. They should be put everywhere if possible.”

To White, Tenleytown is bike-friendly, but there’s room for improvement.

“I bike everywhere,” he said. I’m in college, and I don’t have a car. It’s the best way to get around. But without some bike lanes or something, I’m just not ready to share the road.”

This is the first time he has been hit, but White has had close calls. After a narrow miss at the corner of Wisconsin and Nebraska avenues, he started wearing his helmet again. When he was almost hit crossing Macomb Street at night, White purchased reflective armbands and blinkers for his bike. He hopes these safety precautions will help reduce his risk of collisions.

“I’m always careful,” says White, “I’ve been riding since I was a kid. That’s the first thing you learn—look both ways. Now it’s not really enough any more.”

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