The deadly right hook. Photo by richardmasoner on Flickr.

MPD has released some information on this morning’s bicycle fatality. As many commenters surmised, the cyclist (Alice Swanson of Mount Pleasant) was headed west on R when she was struck by the truck turning right from R onto 20th. The complete MPD release is after the jump.

This “right hook” is a leading cause of bicycle deaths. This news video says that both Swanson and the truck driver got a green light (and contains some very sad interviews with WABA’s Eric Gilliland and other cyclists). Thanks to commenter Ian for the video link.

According to this article, right hooks often happen after bikes and vehicles stop at stop signs or lights; sadly, no traffic violations are necessary for someone to die.

By the way, we need to stop referring to crashes as “accidents.” As many others have pointed out in the past, calling collisions “accidents” makes them sound completely blameless, like random happenings we can do nothing about. Drivers should be careful enough not to hit people, and we should engineer our intersections so that if drivers have a momentary lapse, there’s as little chance as possible that someone will get hurt or killed.

MPD release below:


WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Metropolitan Police Department is currently investigating a fatal traffic accident involving a bicyclist which occurred earlier this morning at the intersection of 20th and R Streets, NW.

A preliminary investigation into this accident reveals that on Tuesday, July 8, 2008, at approximately 7:37 a.m., an adult female was traveling on a bicycle westbound in the 1900 block of R Street, NW. At that same time, a waste disposal truck that was also traveling in the same direction, reportedly attempted to make a right turn onto 20th Street, NW, when it struck the cyclist.

The victim was subsequently transported to an area hospital where she was pronounced dead. The decedent has been identified as 22-year-old Alice Swanson of the 1600 block of Park Road, NW.

There were no reported physical injuries to the operator of the waste disposal truck who has been identified as 46-year-old Marco Rosendo Flores-Fuentes of Falls Church, Virginia. The truck was owned by KMG Hauling Incorporated out of Sterling, Virginia.

At this time there have been no charges filed in connection with this accident which remains under investigation by members from the department’s Major Crash Investigations Unit.

This is the 20th recorded traffic fatality for the year 2008 as compared to 27 at the same time last year.

Submitted by Officer K. Anderson

David Alpert is Founder and President of Greater Greater Washington and Executive Director of DC Sustainable Transportation (DCST). He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He lives with his wife and two children in Dupont Circle. Unless otherwise noted, opinions in his GGWash posts are his and not the official views of GGWash or DCST.