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Massbike Executive Director
Tim Baldwin's Statement
about the Dana Laird crash.

[The statement below is from a Massbike Update e-mail message posted by Massbike Executive Director Tim Baldwin on July 9, 2002.]


On Tuesday, July 2nd, Dana Laird was tragically killed on her bicycle in Cambridge. While MassBike has not yet obtained the official police report, the event most likely unfolded like this: She was traveling in a painted bike lane in between parked cars and moving traffic. A driver in a parked SUV opened his car door into the bike lane. Laird tried to swerve to miss the car door, hit it, and then fell off her bike into the travel lane to her left. She was then run over by a bus and died soon thereafter.

Dana Laird was 36, an accomplished individual, and this is a horrible tragedy. MassBike will have more to say about the accident after our Board decides on a course of action (discussion has revolved around addressing unsafe road design, a memorial ride, pending legislation, and possibly starting a memorial fund). If you have thoughts on how MassBike should respond, please email them to There has been quite a lot of discussion already on the MassBike listserve (viewable from the MassBike homepage by clicking "Discuss bicycling in Massachusetts").

Right now is still a time for sorrow, and we are currently trying to contact her family, as it would not be acceptable to do anything without the consent of her loved ones. We have made some attempts through the Texas Bicycle Coalition to locate her parents in Texas, but so far have not been able to find them, Dr. and Mrs. W. Pennock Laird of Dallas. If you or anyone you know has contact information for her parents or other loved ones, please let me know at

There are some initial lessons we can take from the tragedy. First of all, as a cyclist, don't ride in the "door zone". Give yourself at least 4 feet from parked cars (you can read more about this at Second, if you're in a car, be sure to look before you open your car door. This is a local ordinance in Cambridge, but is not a law statewide, and it certainly is not observed. Thirdly, stay alert while in bike lanes. They often can be designed poorly and give a false sense of security, and can encourage you to ride in the door zone. There is no law in Massachusetts that says you have to ride in a bike lane - you can ride as far left as you need to.

I realize that a lot of this advice is easier said than done. Motorists are often impatient and aggressive with bicyclists who they perceive as "getting in their way." I encourage anyone who feels uncomfortable on a bike to take a Bicycle Driver Training Class. There's one scheduled at the end of this week in Northampton starting on July 14. (see for more info).

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