WASHINGTON - A group of bicyclists held a “Ride of Silence” to honor the memory of a fellow cyclist killed in D.C. last Saturday after he was struck by a driver making a right turn across a bike lane.
Now, they are also demanding changes that could affect anyone who drives and bikes in the District.
A ghost bike memorial for 36-year-old Jeffrey Hammond Long has been set up in the 2100 block of M Street in Northwest D.C.
Friends said Long was on his way to yoga when he was fatally struck. They claim he was riding in the bike lane where he was supposed to be.
“He was traveling westbound on the M Street cycle track, which is a protected bike lane,” said Rachel Maisler of the D.C. Bicycle Advisory Council. “There are physical separations between the cyclists and the cars, and a truck making a right turn collided with him and cost Mr. Long his life.”
But some said it was only a matter of time for a tragedy like this to occur as they believe the bike box near the traffic light is not well-marked or maintained, and the person who has the right of way is unclear.
“The lane kind of ends and then there's dashed lines for the cars to get into right turn lane, and as a cyclist, that’s confusing,” said Maisler. “As a driver, that's confusing. Nobody really knows what to do. I think there could be clearer messaging. I think there could be more enforcement.”
In the middle of rush hour on Thursday, dozens of cyclists and a police escort rode down busy M Street to the spot where Long was killed.
The bicyclists are concerned especially after the city launched an effort called Vision Zero a couple years ago – with the goal to eliminate traffic deaths in D.C. by 2024.
However, data shows the city has not been seeing a decline. There have already been 19 traffic fatalities this year, which is already one more than all of 2017.
A little more than two weeks ago, a 19-year-old man was killed along H Street after investigators said his bike tire got caught in a DC Streetcar rail as he was riding over it. He fell over and was hit by an oncoming bus.
The District Department of Transportation is evaluating the crash involving Long on M Street to see if any changes should be made.
It is not clear if the driver will face any charges.