I don't have details but a rider was struck and killed literally right in front of my office last night. I work on the edge of the enormous security cordon that has been erected for the big nuclear weapons / power / grandstanding summit, and the police and military presence is overwhelming. I didn't like the random clumps of foreign security personnel wandering around either - and yeah, I can pick 'em out a mile away because once a country hits a certain level of tyranny, its security personnel wind up looking pretty much like all the other hired muscle for all the other police states in the world. You can see the malice in their eyes, and the resentment of knowing that if they walked up to you and slugged you, at least in D.C., they'd get in trouble for it. I know the look. It reminded me of the more authoritarian developing world countries and the police states I've traveled to, and I didn't much like it.
I suspect this poor cyclist, whoever she is, didn't expect to get run over by a 5 ton Army truck when she left work yesterday. This was so needless.
Power is the most dangerous thing in the world, and it's sometimes at its most harmful when it's wielded with good intent. I'm sure the soldiers feel awful about this, and it's not entirely their fault; they were doing a job that soldiers in 5 ton trucks are not suited for. It's the District of Columbia, not Forward Operating Base D.C., and we don't secure the place the way we'd provide hasty security for a firebase entrance, by driving 5 ton trucks across the road to block the traffic. Fuck.
I also suspect this incident will be given the usual full "no big deal" treatment, particularly because we're supposed to politely acquiesce and not notice when half the streets of our fair city are blocked by soldiers, on behalf of foreign grandees.
Plus it was just a cyclist.
If there's anything good to come out of this, some bike commuters in my office are freaked out and are interested in attending any protests or memorial services associated with this latest killing of a cyclist. Despite the fact some limited good may come of it, it shouldn't take homicide to get people interested in protecting their rights as cyclists. I wish very much it had never happened, and that my friend who I hadn't met yet was pedaling her way into work this morning instead of lying on a remorseless stainless steel table in the morgue.
Let me know if you hear about any protests or vigils, willya? I'll be bringing friends.
Update: The cyclist had a name: Constance Holden. She was an artist and an award-winning journalist for Science magazine.
Requiescat in pace.