At around 6:16 p.m. on April 24, Steven Fleming found himself with a ripped up hand, a totaled bike, and an ache in his left elbow. He was in a crosswalk on Constitution Avenue near the Reflecting Pool when he says an out-of-town driver hit him head on while making a sharp left turn. The crash, he thinks, is the culprit for a case of bicep tendonitis he’s been nursing for the past few weeks.
This isn’t the first time Fleming has been hit. An 18-year veteran of D.C. cycling, he knows no one can travel through this city without 3,000 pounds of metal crossing into their path.
“You can’t bike in the Washington, D.C. area and not eventually get hit by a car, it’s just going to happen,” Fleming says by phone.
Luckily, Fleming didn’t need to wait an hour like other struck cyclists for a police presence. The crash happened “directly in front of the police officer,” he says, and most of the bystanders were also police. Because it occurred on National Park Service land, the accident was processed by U.S. Park Police. An ambulance was called, and Fleming received medical attention for the gash on his hand and other minor cuts and bruises. Officers also filed an incident report, all part of the standard operating procedures for crashes that occur on park land, according to Sgt. Anna Rose, a Park Police public information officer.
The officers said they could only file an incident report, and didn’t issue a citation at the scene, according to Fleming. However, they said they would be able to provide assistance if additional recourse was necessary to resolve the incident.
“They said there was something on record if I needed to go down that avenue,” Fleming says.
In fact, it might be better to take care of any damages or medical bills from a bike-car collision off the bureaucratic grid. In Fleming’s experience, following up on a police report, or even going to your insurance company, likely won’t lead to any solutions.
“The only way in my entire life that I’ve ever gotten money for a car on bike accident, has been from negotiating directly with the driver.”