Friday, March 22, 2002 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Bicycle and pedestrian safety expert struck and killed by bus

The Associated Press

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ST. LOUIS — One of the country's top experts on bicycle and pedestrian safety died when she was struck by a tour bus while crossing a downtown intersection.

Susie Stephens, 36, of Winthrop, Wash., was struck shortly after 8:30 a.m. yesterday. The Vandalia Bus Lines driver told police he did not see her as he made a left turn.

Stephens, a consultant, was in town to help stage a conference on innovative approaches to transportation sponsored by the U.S. Forest Service, said William "Bill" Wilkinson of the National Center for Bicycling and Walking in Washington.

Wilkinson had hired Stephens to help his staff at the two-day training conference for forest rangers.

"Susie is phenomenal with people," Wilkinson said. "She was one of those people who was a bright light in any group."

Wilkinson said his staff members, who did not witness the crash, told him Stephens was returning to the Adam's Mark Hotel from making photocopies when she was killed.

Police are investigating. No charges have been filed.

Stephens lived in a northcentral Washington mountain biking town of about 700 in the Cascade Range. Friends said she was not married.

Last year, Stephens started a consulting business. Before that, she was managing director of Thunderhead Alliance, an international organization of bicycle advocates.

She also had been executive director of the Bicycle Alliance of Washington and head of the Northwest Bicycle Federation.

Friends called her a passionate cyclist who commuted to work on a bike, pedaled Seattle's hills for years and rode in bike tours in Australia and New Zealand.

"When she found a cause to take up, look out. She was like gangbusters," said Louise McGrody, alliance program manager.

As head of the federation, she helped push bike safety laws under the Cooper Jones Act through the Legislature in 1998. The act was named for a 13-year-old Spokane boy who was killed by a negligent driver during a bicycle race.

She also led a team of advocates on a tour across Washington to talk to people about transportation alternatives.


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