Forensic Analysis of a Fatal Dooring

Immediate scene of bicyclist dooring fatality which shows car door opened into "bike lane", bike on pavement, bus in travel lane to left. Police bent over examining crash scene behind yellow crime scene tape.

Bike Lane in Door Zone is Death Lane. Fatality, Cambridge, MA, USA. Photo: Robert Winters.

A Bike Crash Expert Analyzes a Fatal Dooring

Noted bicycle safety authority and expert witness John S. Allen published this pro bono analysis of the dooring death of 36 year old cyclist Dana Laird which occurred in July 2002 in Central Square, Cambridge, MA, USA.  Ms. Laird was biking legally in a city-designated bicycle lane [aka door zone or death zone] when the driver of a Honda SUV illegally opened his driver door obstructing her path.   Additional links are provided as found on the web which further detail the collision, coverage, legal, social and policy issues, implications and consequences.  

Widening awareness that drivers and passengers can exit more safely using the far-hand reach method may have  implications for driver and passenger liability in future dooring cases.  Publicity about successfully prosecutions and liability trials and verdicts will help alert the driving public about dooring and hopefully alter their future conduct.  

Urban cyclists too have much to gain for their own safety from Mr. Allen's observations.

About the Dana Laird fatality
John S. Allen, July 25, 2002

Note:  John S. Allen has an extensive, highly informed and thoughtful bicycle safety oeuvre on the the web which range from consulting and expert crash analysis, mechanical & technical bike issues, and bike safety education, to a comprehensive blog on current bike-safety related events, policy issues, etc.
John S. Allen - Home Page
Bicycle Articles
Bicycle Blog
Bicycling Street Smarts: Riding Confidently, Legally and Safely

Coverage & Opinion: 14 Years ago, Dana Laird was killed, doored by a heedless SUV driver. What have we learned or done since?

Dana Laird d. July 2, 2002 doored in Central Sq by SUV

July 2: Death in Central Square  - R. Winters,  Cambridge Civic Journal

Messenger Mailing List Archives
Natural Cycle -- Re: [messengers] From the July 3 Boston Herald

Dana Laird Day, By Jesse Gordon,  July 20, 2002, Cambridge Chronicle

Boston Globe Obituary for Dana Laird

Wheel fun, or a wheel pain?
Muscular bicyclists take over Boston's streets monthly, but do they rub others the wrong way?
By Johnny Diaz, Globe Staff  |  August 4, 2002
On July 2, 36-year-old Dana Laird was cycling north on Massachusetts Avenue from Central Square to meet a friend at her apartment. In the 400 block of Mass Ave, the driver of a parked SUV opened his door as Laird - riding in a dedicated bike lane - was approaching. She hit the door, lost control of her bike and fell under an oncoming bus, which crushed her..

A dangerous & now deadly bicycle policy
A host of good intentions, but a lack of common sense

Dana Laird  (July 2, 2002, Cambridge, MA)
Dana Laird, a 36 year old doctoral student at Tufts, was killed in front of 501 Massachusetts Avenue when a driver opened the door of an SUV across the bike lane.  She swerved, hit the door, fell, and was run over by a bus which killed her instantly.   BikExprt #1#2#3Boston Phoenix

Boston needs bike tracks DERRICK Z. JACKSON