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Bicyclist killed in collision with National Guard truck near convention center

By Martin Weil and Ashley Halsey III
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, April 13, 2010; B02

A bicyclist was struck and killed in downtown Washington Monday evening by a military truck that was providing protection for the Nuclear Security Summit, authorities said.

The bicyclist was struck by a 5-ton National Guard truck about 6 p.m. at New York Avenue and 12th Street NW.

Maj. Gen. Errol Schwartz, commanding general of the D.C. National Guard, said the truck was "pulling forward" to help block the intersection for passage of a motorcade when the incident occurred. Authorities said in a brief statement that the truck was assigned to the motorcade security route for the summit.

D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier said she had been told that authorities believed the victim to be female. No other identifying information was available.

The victim and the bicycle lay beneath a white tarpaulin at the southwest corner of the intersection as officials gathered at the scene, which is flanked by office buildings.

It was not immediately clear who was being escorted in the motorcade for which the guard vehicles were deploying.

The intersection is about four blocks southwest of the summit site, and was outside the area that was closed to traffic, but at a place where parking was restricted.

A woman who was visiting Washington said she was emerging from a restaurant a few dozen yards from the intersection when the incident occurred.

"It is a horrific thing," she said, declining to give her name. "It happened so fast."

Earlier in the day, traffic in the downtown area seemed to flow without significant incident as the summit began. People stayed home by the tens of thousands, worried by predictions of downtown gridlock.

News that their absence averted serious congestion may lure people back to work on Tuesday.

The barricades that block major downtown arteries won't come down until after the heads of state adjourn and head home late Tuesday, so officials hoped that federal workers again would take advantage of permission to work from home.

People who needed to be in the downtown area were urged to take Metrorail, but transit officials said Metro ridership was 10,000 below the previous two Monday mornings.

Veva Milton reported "no problem" during her drive down 13th Street NW to a garage on Vermont Avenue at 8 a.m.

"It was regular traffic, or maybe a little less," she said.

Evening rush hour usually is shorter and more intense than during the morning commute, and on Monday night traffic more delayed, particularly near the convention center.

If traffic was better than expected, business was worse than anticipated inside the area surrounding the Walter E. Washington Convention Center that was cordoned off to provide security. Some merchants thought they would prosper from the legions of drivers, security and support people drawn to the summit but left to fend for themselves once the meeting doors closed.

Mohammad Rahman said his Subway sandwich shop was "very slow today, very slow, very slow. Just the security persons come."

Michelle Boorstein, Hamil R. Harris, Nicole Norfleet, Ann Scott Tyson and Robert Thomson contributed to this report.

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