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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Alice Rowan Swanson


A high school classmate of Ms Swanson posted this comment on a DC-area blog:
I went to high school with Alice. She was the sweetest, most kind person I ever knew. She was also incredibly bright. She cared deeply about people, the environment, all things good. She lived her life to better humanity. From what I’ve read and heard about what happened, the accident was due to a traffic situation called a “right hook” and it’s dangerous for cyclists, and trucks have larger blind spots which makes it more dangerous. The truck driver feels terrible about what happened. It sounds like it truly was an accident, and I doubt her family will press charges. Alice was a very compassionate person, and I can’t speak for her, but I would imagine she wouldn’t want the driver to suffer more than he already is with the guilt of running over such an amazing girl that was loved by all she knew. I think she would want everyone to learn something from this incident - to be careful, and aware of what’s going on around you, for motorists to watch out for and always yield right of way to pedestrians and cyclists. I can’t stop crying thinking about this. When I got the phone call, all I could think was, “no, not Alice!” She was such a good person. I always thought she would grow up to be an ambassador in the UN or something, and help bring about world peace or make some huge great difference in the world. Hopefully people will learn from her death, and this will prevent anymore future “right hook accidents”. Hopefully DC and other cities with that traffic situation will change their roads to promote safer conditions for everyone. I just can’t stop crying… July 9th, 2008 at 6:58 pm

I did not know Ms Swanson, nor did I witness the incident, but I do know that a large percentage of automobile-bicycle collisions are caused by auto- and/or bike-driver errors, and are preventable. This fact seems to make Ms Swanson's death even more tragic, if that's possible. Perhaps that is one of the reasons so many people with no direct connection to the incident have such strong feelings about it.

After looking up some accurate bicycle safety information, another reader wrote, "Almost everything I know about biking is wrong." His sentiment is not uncommon. That we know how to ride bikes does not mean that we know how to drive bicycles safely and effectively. A little education would go a long way, but most people never get that education.

The League of American Bicyclists (The League), a non-profit membership organization based right here on K Street, promotes bicycle education through local and regional advocacy groups around the country. The League has developed a strong curriculum called BikeED, and certifies bicycle educators. BikeED, addresses a variety of user groups with age-appropriate subject matter and trains educators in effective teaching styles. Pedestrian and bicycle safety could easily be a required part of elementary school curriculum. It’s a good idea, if you ask me.

1 comment:

Scott the CNC Milling man said...

We have a basic bicycle safety test in our primary schools here in the UK, however it is not compulsory.

Bike there, with directions: