Rowinsky v. Massachusetts State Police
Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Civil Action No.
State Trooper John M. Walsh;
Joseph S. Lalli, Commissioner of Public Safety;
Jane Perlo, Secretary of Public Safety;
Colonel John DiFava, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police and the
Commonwealth of Massachusetts;
AFFIDAVIT OF DAVID GORDON WILSON
I, David Gordon Wilson, do depose and state as follows:
- My name is David Gordon Wilson, and I reside at 21 Winthrop Street, Winchester, Massachusetts. I am a professor of mechanical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where I have taught for thirty seven (37) years.
- I commute to MIT regularly by bicycle and use a bicycle as a principal means of transportation.
- On Tuesday, November 10, 1998, at about 9:15 PM, I was riding my bicycle lawfully north on Mystic Avenue (Route 28) in Somerville, approaching the exit to Route 93 N on Route 28 along or near Mystic Avenue. Traversing this exit ramp is always difficult, partly because most vehicles fork right on to this ramp, although very few signal their intentions.
- On this night there was little traffic, but there were the headlights of a vehicle several hundred yards behind me. The vehicle was not signaling.
- It seemed quite safe for me to proceed straight across the ramp well before this vehicle came close to me. I accomplished my manoeuver safely and in good time, and noticed that the driver did indeed take the Route-93 ramp. However, he also switched on his loud hailer, and shouted that I should not be in the travel lane of the road.
- I confess that I was highly incensed. I like to think that I am the most law-abiding bicyclist in Massachusetts, and I try to be courteous and responsible at all times. It seemed appropriate at the time for someone to switch on a loud-hailer to thank me for my careful bicycling and for my concern that other road users should know what I was planning to do. To be criticized for the best-possible method of negotiating this exit ramp (I have tried several other methods in the past) was beyond the pale. I jumped off my bicycle and motioned vigorously for him to come over to explain himself.
- The car turned out to be a State Police vehicle, and it turned off the ramp onto the grass verge of the fork to where I was standing. The officer lowered his window.
- I asked him if he had any knowledge of the laws governing bicycling in Massachusetts. I also asked him if he had ever tried bicycling in circumstances where the highway designers give no consideration whatsoever to any other than motor vehicles, and where very few motorists use signals despite a Massachusetts law requiring that they do so.
- The trooper appeared to recognize me, and became very respectful, apologized, and wished me well.
- I subsequently wrote to Colonel Reed V. Hillman, then superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police, being careful not to identify the date or time of the encounter because I did not want the trooper punished. A very courteous and promising correspondence followed, in which Col. Hillman and several people below him in the hierarchy asked for a copy of the summary of Massachusetts laws affecting bicyclists (drawn up by John Allen) and directed that it be copied to and read by every trooper in the department."
- As far as I know, this never happened.
Signed and sworn under pain and penalty of perjury this day of ---, 2001
David Gordon Wilson