Thursday, July 10, 2008

Cyclists gather to mourn Alice Swanson

WABA called a press conference yesterday at 6:30pm to call for a full investigation into the death of cyclist Alice Swanson. Alice was killed while riding her bike to work on Tuesday, July 8. A garbage truck turned right into her path, trapping her underneath. No charges have yet been filed against the motorist.

Hundreds of cyclists gathered at the corner of Connecticut and R streets where a white bike, also known as a ghost bike, was placed in honor of Alice. It was a sobering event, as Eric Gilliland of WABA said, a reminder of how vulnerable we are when riding our bikes.

This type of crash is known as the right hook, when a motorist turns right into a cyclist who is proceeding straight. As the Wash Cycle noted back in February of this year, "Seattle is looking at ways to make bike lanes safer, specifically how to avoid right hooks."

There are many blind spots on large vehicles and cyclists need to be careful when riding near them, especially on their right side. However, shouldn't a motorist always be aware of objects surrounding their vehicle? Does having a "blind spot" excuse the motorist from taking full responsibility for their actions? A similar crash occurred in Vienna in August of 2005 when David Marsden was killed by a large truck turning into his path as he crossed a side street in a crosswalk. No charges were filed because the motorist claimed he didn't see the bicyclist.

We hope the DC police spend the time necessary to find out the cause of the crash and file appropriate charges. There were several witnesses.

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