Alice Swanson was killed by a private garbage truck while riding her bicycle in a bike lane on her way to work near Dupont Circle. The garbage truck, struck her just before 8:30 a.m. in the crosswalk of 20th and R Streets in NW--just a mile from her office. The truck was owned by KMG Hauling Inc. Both Alice and the truck had a green light, the driver hit her by what cyclists call 'a right hook' meaning that the truck took a right without yielding to her; an illegal act in most jurisdictions. No charges have yet been filed against the driver.
Litigation against the trucking company has been filed by Alice's family.
Alice had recently moved from the Boston area to Washington D.C. Alice was fluent in Arabic and Spanish and was coordinating foreign teachers who wanted to work in the US for IREX. The year before she worked at the Middle East Institute in the publications department. She was a graduate of Amherst College and was originally from Northborough, MA.
Speaking about her love of life, her father was quoted in the Boston Globe:
She is so energetic and enthusiastic. She always wants to explore or travel. She’s got a room full of maps here, world maps and things like that. She wanted to travel.
I just feel that she had so many things that she wanted to do—to help people. Now it’s not going to happen.
In the evening of July 9, 2008, more than 150 people, many holding helmets and leaning on bikes, gathered at for a dedication ceremony. The crowd included several Swanson family members, according to the Washington Post.
"She's exactly the person you want as your daughter -- or niece," said Brookland resident Philip Blair Jr., Swanson's uncle, at the memorial.
Alice's best friend, Emmalie, sent us an email in October, 2008, heres an excerpt:
Alice was born Sept. 15, 1985. I lived with her a co-op our senior year of college, where she was known for rescuing bees and mice. She would have laughed to see that everyone wrote she was fluent in Arabic, because despite years of study she was nowhere close.
Alice loved to travel; she lived in Egypt and Nicaragua during college, and went back to Nicaragua after graduation to do an internship with the council of elders of the village she lived in.
The family has asked that people interested in donating money to a Human Rights Fund started in her name send it to The Trustees of Northborough Unitarian Church, PO Box 143, Northborough MA 01532 for the Alice Swanson Fund.
In late August 2009 the Washington City Paper reported that this memorial had been removed.
The bike’s removal came in response to complaints from Dupont Circle business owners, according to both Anna Shoup, Swanson’s roommate, and the Washington Area Bicyclist Association.
“WABA called me this morning to say that the mayor’s office had taken down her ghost bike, pretty much without giving her family and friends time to put together any sort of response,” said Shoup. Ghost bikes are supposed to remain in place in perpetuity.
According to Shoup, WABA was able to locate the bike today and confirmed to her that the removal had been ordered by the city. Shoup contacted Swanson’s parents today, and learned that they had not heard from the city prior to the removal.
On the anniversary of her death,
signs and sidewalk art appeared remembering Alice and her ghost bike.