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Cyclist Dies in Arlington

A cyclist and car collided on the Four Mile Run Drive access road near Walter Reed Drive, this afternoon. It occurred here:

The ACPD news release:

ARLINGTON, Va. – The Arlington County Police Department is investigating a fatal traffic accident that occurred this afternoon in the 4000 block of Four Mile Run Drive. At approximately 2:56 p.m. on Saturday [Sunday, actually – ed.], May 8, 2011, police responded for a bicyclist that collided with a vehicle.

Investigation revealed that an adult man was riding his bicycle south on South Walter Reed Drive and turned right onto the access road of Four Mile Run Drive. It appears that when he turned onto Four Mile Run Drive, he crossed into oncoming traffic and struck an occupied vehicle. The driver of the vehicle stayed at the scene of the accident. The bicyclist was transported to a local hospital and pronounced dead. He will be identified once the next of kin has been notified.

The Arlington County Police asking that any witnesses of the accident contact the Department at 703 558-2222, or Detective Don Fortunato at 703 228-4197.

This explanation makes sense in light of the markings on the road (I visited the scene after I heard the first ARLnow report, in the hope that I could better understand, first hand, what happened). However, it’s not clear to me, as cyclist who has made this same turn, why the cyclist would have taken that path. The report has the cyclist coming down the hill you see in the left corner of the photo (and it’s quite a long and steep hill), and given the position of the collision, apparently deciding to turn after the slip turn lane you see on the left, and coming completely across into the far lane.

The orange markings are all related to the accident. The square that is roughly next to the bus stop sign is where the car stopped. The orange you see on the left side are – I assume – markings for where various pieces of the bike/clothing/etc. were found. Here’s another view (I’m not terribly keen on publishing any close-up photos):

I’m hoping we get more information soon.

In any event, it’s terribly sad.

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18 Comments

  1. Sad. The ~8% would lead to some pretty high speeds on the downhill. Taking the comments at face value, missing the turn might lead to turning wide.

    Alternatively, if the cyclist made the slip lane but went wide or hit sand or so on, one might have a collision relatively close to the intersection. Especially if you allow for some error in where the collision actually occurred.

  2. MB

    Actually, as I think about it more, it’s quite possible that that the cyclist did make the slip lane, went into the car coming the other direction, and was carried back toward the intersection as the car came to a halt (I’m assuming that the comments posted at ARLnow about a smashed windshield are true). Otherwise, it’s just a really awkward line, no matter which turn was attempted.

  3. Debby

    He hit the front driver’s side of the car. There’s damage above/around the wheel and the left part of the windshield is smashed in. I saw it on WJLA news. It’s lucky the driver wasn’t injured.

  4. Debby

    Also, it’s possible for a cyclist to hit 40 mph on that hill — hard to control a turn at high speeds like that. Very sad.

  5. JRH

    Cyclists go scary fast down that hill. I live a block away and witnessed a helmetless, lightless rider get absolutely creamed there one night a few months ago while walking my dog. A woman heading uphill turned left onto Randolph (diagonal side street 1/2 block up from W. Reed – 4 Mile Run intersection), and never saw him coming. He was doing 40 easy, probably trying to make the light at 4 Mile Run, and didn’t even brake. Assuming he lived since I never heard about it in the news. Not sure, but I think soon after that accident they added a sign or two on the downhill warning about speed or the intersection? Will have to check this evening.

  6. Mike Schiller

    I prefer to only go *up* that hill. If I’m coming down I will either use G. Mason or come down closer to Shirlington. Not a place where you want to find out your brakes are shot with the amount of traffic there. Very sad to hear about.

  7. seveen

    I drove by this accident as they were putting the victim on the backboard. I would assume he came down that big hill and could not control his speed and could not make the turn There was a helmet near the bike, it did not look too badly damaged, I asumed he went straight into the windhield of the vehicle. And then people were coming out of their homes to gawk. I was stuck at the traffic light where the lanes had to merge into one becasue of emergency vehicles on site.

    And why are people riding bikes without ID, can you imagine the angst of a friend or loved one when you are going out for “a quick ride” and then do not return? Where is the responsibility in that?!

    Bicyclists, despite having an “equal share” of the road, have to protect themselves and not defy the laws of physics and common sense. I quit riding my bike on the roads here becasue I did not feel safe, I am leery of the majority of riders, especially those who may not be experienced riding in high traffic areas. I am also concerned about the drivers who do not share the road.

    I worry about the arrogance of riders without safety equipment, lights, wearing their MP3 players and the like weaving through traffic, down the middle of the road, on the sidewalks and darting across the roads.

    This is a terrible tragedy for the victim, the family as well as the driver of the car and that family. Hopefully every parent, spouse, child and friend will show the completed article to those they love and reinforce the need for safety — you cannot be too careful, especially as exposed as two-wheel riders are.

    This similiarly applies to people pushing strollers, especially the jogging strollers, whereas you may have a safety strap on some of the strollers; what protects your child should that stroller overturn???

  8. James

    I live 3 minutes from where this happened and saw the aftermath as I drove past(around 3:40pm yesterday)When I saw the damage to the car and the bicyle helmet I knew right away that there was no way a person could survive that type of accident.

    I would agree, a bicycle could easily get up to 40 mph coming down that hill, and if the victum had not hit the car, they would have definitely have hit the curb and been thrown from the bike.

  9. Deb

    I ride down Walter Reed every day on my way to work. My top speed, back when I had a working bike computer, was 37mph. 40 is definitely possible, since I don’t ride skinny tires.

    So sad to hear about this and my heart goes out to all their friends and family. I hate hearing about these tragedies no matter what, but it really does hit home when it happens somewhere I ride by daily.

    Thanks Mark for gathering all this info.

  10. brian

    I think he took the exit ramp and just lost control.

    It doesn’t look like he tried to turn right after the exit ramp.

    Could have flatted in the turn and just went straight out of control.

  11. Lilian

    My husband, baby and I were walking up Walter Reed Drive hill as the cyclist, now identified as Fitzgerald Pollard, was riding down the hill. We all mad brief eye contact and then I heard what sounded like two cars colliding. We went down the hill to see if he needed assistance, to find that he was deceasd. I won’t write the gruesome details of the state of his body. He did hit the rear view mirror, landed on the windshield and fell back on the road. I wanted to hold his hand as I would hate to die alone with a lot of people staring at me, but I was wearing my baby and Mr. Pollard’s body was in bad shape. We gave our account of the accident to the police on the scene. My husband and I are still in shock and very sad. We can’t imagine what his wife/family (if he had one) must have felt on Mother’s Day. More so, I still don’t understand why he took such a wide turn, unless he was compensating for the high speed. He looked like an avid biker. He was in full biking gear, high end racing bike, helmet…

  12. s

    is a ghost bike going to be put up?

  13. oboe

    @seveen:

    I worry about the arrogance of riders without safety equipment, lights, wearing their MP3 players and the like weaving through traffic, down the middle of the road, on the sidewalks and darting across the roads.

    I’m trying to imagine using the death of a cyclist (or a driver for that matter) as an opportunity to air out my petty grievances against cyclists. Just can’t imagine being such a shallow, unfeeling, sociopathic dirtball.

    why is it that when a driver flips their car, you never see a bunch of cyclists descend like a flock of crows to caw about “arrogant” drivers who can’t be bothered to obey the speed limit, and deserve whatever they get.

  14. MB

    Thank you, Oboe. (And to most of the rest of you, too. But definitely Oboe.)

  15. brian

    7 has a point.

    I’m not sure how many joggers understand “on your left” with there ipod cranking.

    tonight, some ?ipod?(she had earphones) wearing woman was jogging in the LEFT gutter, and just continued her jog to the right lane without any concern.

    I saw this, was about to say “on your right” but that wasn’t going to work, since she was cutting that off VERY FAST.

    I shrugged my shoulders and threw a stop signal to the rider(s) behind me saying “what the hell”..

    the rider behind me shouted out to the woman, “look next time honey” (or something very similar).

    albeit, it might be rude, but she never looked for crap.

    and i have proof

  16. Brookielynn

    I was friends with the gentlemen that died. Fitz was 44 years old; he was a fun loving individual that enjoyed living life and helping others. He was extremely passionate about cycling and automobile racing. He especially enjoyed cycling during this time of year. One of his favorite rides in this area was S. Walter Reed Drive. He rode the hill frequently and loved the challenging climb and thrill of descending. I can only imagine he was loving life at that moment since the weather on Sunday afternoon was beautiful.

    I will miss you my dear friend. :’( My thoughts and prayers go out to his wife, mother, brother and driver of the car.

  17. seveen

    Oboe – you missed the point… It was a general comment not a specific dagger thrown at this victim. I do not have “petty grievances against cyclists.” Nor am I a “shallow, unfeeling, sociopathic dirtball.” As a police officer who has witnessed what happens when people, cars, bikes and pets, in any combination meet, it is never a pretty sight. I have the same issue with idiot drivers doing 5 other things while driving, pedestrians violating bike path rules or not using common sense by reading texts while walking. And yes, the arrogant (or perhaps clueless) bicyclist that rode without a helmet and any safety gear between the lines of cars in rush hour traffic this morning not 1/4 mile from where Mr. Pollard passed away last weekend. I also get upset with myself when I fail to yield the right of way or take a yellow light. As much as I would love to tell you off as you so uneloquently tried to do in your response; I will not. I hope you continue to be a role model for bicyclists, drivers and pedestrians alike and think a bit longer before you “write a check your mouth can’t cover!”

  18. seveen

    I am sorry for the loss of Mr. Pollard’s life on Sunday afternoon. As well as for his friends, family and that of the vehicle driver and his family. A huge tragedy for so many. Hopefully this loss will serve as a teaching point for people using the roads, sidewalks and bike paths. I think Lilian offered the best thought,wanting to hold his hand “I would hate to die alone with a lot of people staring at me.” To the friends & family of Mr. Pollard, I am sorry for your loss and may the good memories comfort you

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