Bike-Force Trauma

A Cy­clist and a Walker: Two Dis­tinct Perspectives On One Bloody Col­li­sion on the Cap­i­tal Cres­cent Trail

The Washington Post Sunday - - Close To Home -

The Post re­cently re­ceived the fol­low­ing let­ter to the ed­i­tor from Mark Ru­bin of Chevy Chase. Less than a week later the news­pa­per re­ceived the sec­ond let­ter, from Jamie Rat­ner of Bethesda.

Ihit the Cap­i­tal Cres­cent Trail af­ter work to­day. It was crowded in both di­rec­tions with walk­ers, run­ners, cy­clists and rollerbladers. I had been jock­ey­ing for po­si­tion with a fel­low cy­clist when I ap­proached a score of cy­clists and pedes­tri­ans in a semi­cir­cle, all look­ing down. My eyes fol­lowed their hor­ror. A pe­tite wo­man was face down on the pave­ment, with a pool of blood just inches from her head. She ap­par­ently had been hit by a cy­clist.

My worst fear was that she was un­con­scious and bleed­ing out of her ear, al­most a sure sign of se­ri­ous head trauma. It turned out she was awake. I checked out her head wound and saw that she was bleed­ing from the side of her head. She com­plained of slightly blurred vi­sion.

I sug­gested that she slowly move to the side of the road, but com­pet­ing “doc­tors” in the crowd thought it wrong that she move. (Bet­ter that she get run over?) She was up­set, but I’m bet­ting she’ll be okay.

Be­fore I left the scene, the cy­clist who hit her noted that he had given warn­ing be­fore pass­ing, and a wit­ness ver­i­fied that. The vic­tim was wear­ing ear­phones and prob­a­bly did not hear him. Can you re­late?

I can’t help but won­der why traf­fic man­age­ment is not a higher pri­or­ity on the trail.

The only rule I have ever seen is to warn be­fore pass­ing. Here are a few more that should be added to the list: Ev­ery­one must walk, run, cy­cle, etc., sin­gle file. Run­ning clubs in par­tic­u­lar must ad­here to the sin­gle-file rule. No head­phones per­mit­ted (sorry, but they ob­struct hear­ing). Widen the trail; it’s only eight to 10 feet side to side. Re­pair the ex­ten­sive root dam­age just be­low Fletcher’s Boat House. Clean up the loose gravel at the base of the bridge that crosses River Road.

I— Mark Ru­bin

Chevy Chase spinin2003@ya­

K am writ­ing about an in­ci­dent that oc­curred on the first beau­ti­ful evening of spring, Tues­day, March 27, at about 6 o’clock. I went for a peace­ful walk on the Cap­i­tal Cres­cent Trail. As I was strolling to­ward Wash­ing­ton, past the Mas­sachusetts Av­enue por­tion of the trail, I was struck down by a biker.

I lost con­scious­ness, so I do not know how I was struck or any of the de­tails. All I re­mem­ber is ly­ing on the ground sur­rounded by my blood and a crowd of peo­ple. I re­mem­ber an­nounc­ing to them that I was preg­nant (af­ter dif­fi­cult in­fer­til­ity is­sues) and feel­ing so much fear.

I be­lieve the biker who struck me was one of the peo­ple in the crowd, but I am still un­cer­tain about this. As I lay help­lessly on the trail, a won­der­ful wo­man rubbed my back, ap­plied pres­sure to my head, which was cracked open and ooz­ing blood, and as­sisted me in get­ting to a point where an am­bu­lance some­one had called could reach me.

I was taken to Ge­orge­town Hospi­tal. The baby is fine. I re­ceived sta­ples to my head and have a few bro­ken ribs. My body is black and blue and very sore.

Ev­ery­one who has heard this story is in dis­be­lief that I do not know who struck me or why. I was half-con­scious and so con­cerned about my baby that this was the least of my wor­ries. Now that I have had time to ab­sorb the sit­u­a­tion, I ques­tion why this hap­pened and won­der: What if my baby had not made it? Did any­one in the crowd of peo­ple who as­sisted me think to call the po­lice, take down my con­tact in­for­ma­tion and the biker’s, or leave their own con­tact in­for­ma­tion?

How did the biker go to sleep that night not know­ing if the baby or I sur­vived?

I am con­stantly tak­ing walks on the trail and be­ing passed by speed­ing bik­ers who yell at any­one who is in their way. I hope bik­ers will read this and re­al­ize the harm they can cause when they are not be­ing care­ful on the trail. — Jamie Rat­ner

Bethesda JamiePey­serRat­ner@hot­

K Post­script: Jamie Rat­ner was treated and re­leased from the hospi­tal that night and is feel­ing bet­ter ev­ery day. Upon re­flec­tion, Rat­ner, who is a se­cu­rity man­ager at a Dis­trict law firm, is, like Mark Ru­bin, very con­cerned about safety along the Cap­i­tal Cres­cent Trail, which runs from Ge­orge­town to Sil­ver Spring.

Specif­i­cally, she sug­gests no bike rac­ing; speed lim­its for bik­ers; in­creased po­lice pa­trols; emer­gency phone boxes; and bet­ter signs about right-of-way and pass­ing.

She thinks that any rule for­bid­ding head­phones would be un­fair, as­sert­ing that walk­ers and run­ners have an equal right to en­joy the trail. A head­phone ban, she says, would be mis­di­rected, be­cause it should be bik­ers’ re­spon­si­bil­ity to yield to those on foot un­til a bike lane is specif­i­cally des­ig­nated.


When the weather is pleas­ant, the bik­ers and walk­ers are plen­ti­ful along the Cap­i­tal Cres­cent Trail.

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