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Our Boston bicycle injury lawyers have spent years advocating for safer communities for bicyclists that includes traffic infrastructure incorporating protected bicycle lanes. Just as sidewalks establish a safe mode of travel for pedestrians, protected bicycle lanes – those separated from motor vehicle traffic – are the ideal for safe cycling, especially in highly-congested urban areas. Boston bicycle accident attorney

Although Boston officials have outlined a solid vision for how to proceed, the process is moving excruciatingly slow for those of us who cycle daily.

In the meantime, our suburban neighbor, Cambridge, is leading the charge. As reported by the StreetsBlog, Cambridge became the very first city in the U.S. to make protected bicycle lanes mandatory. The only other city with a similar policy is Portland, OR, and that community requires bicycles lanes only on major streets. Continue reading

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Bicycling is one of the most efficient – and cheapest – ways to get around urban cities like Boston and surrounding communities. As noted by the Rice Kinder Institute for Urban Research, the majority of bicyclists aren’t young, wealthy hipsters making their way on two wheels by choice (though there’s nothing wrong with that either). Many include the working poor who bike out of necessity. Unfortunately, Boston bicycle attorneys know these are among the residents for whom bicycling infrastructure – and thus safety – is least accessible. Bicycle injuries for these groups tend to be more common.Boston bicycle injury lawyer

These are sometimes referred to as “invisible cyclists.” Working class. Typically a minority. Often a recent immigrant. Commuting to work. Uninterested in the color or sleekness of bicycle style, as long as it works. For these individuals, bicycling isn’t an environmental cause or an interesting thing to do with friends. It is a means of transportation, cheaper than a car, faster than walking and more reliable than public transit.

Other difference in these two types of bicycle riders:

  1. Can afford living in the priciest part of the city (i.e., owning a car isn’t necessary); lives in an expensive part of the city, close enough to work so owning a vehicle isn’t a necessity; lives near a bike-share station built as a residential amenity because local wealthy residents sustain it financially; Riding is generally easier because bicycle infrastructure is in place.
  2. Lives in a more remote part of town; would prefer to own a vehicle due to long transit times to-and-from work; Living area lacks adequate bike-share, docking stations and other bicycle infrastructure.

Some cities, including Boston, are attempting to make it more equitable. Continue reading

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Many motorists have lamented the cyclists who break laws while riding in traffic, a new study published by the Danish Road Directorate revealed in that country, where cycling is the preferred method of commute, less than 5 percent of bicyclists break traffic laws, compared to 66 percent of drivers.bicycle accident lawyer

So why the disconnect in perception? Study authors opine that when a cyclist violates traffic laws, it’s fairly easy for people to notice. Transgressions by other traffic users, like speeding, are less visible, even though they’re far more dangerous.

Furthermore, a 2017 study published in the Journal of Transport and Land Use asserted that where cyclists do break the law, it’s rational – because it’s done primarily for their own safety, not convenience.

Bike attorneys know these kind of stereotypes are stubborn, but important to challenge not only because they’re wrong, but because they can have real consequences for cyclist safety in Boston and beyond. Motorists who presume cyclists to be scofflaws are likely to exercise less care and concern for their well-being.

More Bicycle Lanes/Cycleways/Bike Paths Means More Law-Abiding Bicyclists

The Danish study utilized video cameras at at numerous intersections in major cities throughout the country, including Copenhagen. Objective analysis of more than 28,500 cyclist crossings revealed that fewer than 5 percent of bicyclists broke the rules when they were riding in bicycle lanes. However, that figure rose to more than 14 percent when there was no safe cycling infrastructure.

Smaller cities, like Denmark, tended to have more scofflaw cyclists, but also on the whole had a lot fewer bicycle infrastructure features. Where cyclists did break the law, the most common offense was cycling on the sidewalk.

Meanwhile, wholly two-thirds of motorists broke the law, their most common offense being speeding. Continue reading

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The “Red Solo Cup” synonymous with “barbeques, tailgates, fairs and festivals” are now being associated with bicycling rights awareness and Boston bike crash reduction.

Boston Bicycle Accident

Image Courtesy of Peter Cheung

The #redcupproject is an international movement, coordinated in memoriam of Washington D.C. cyclist Dave Salovesh, an advocate recently killed in a bicycle crash when the driver of a stolen van barreling down the road at twice the posted speed struck him and a pedestrian. The #redcupproject in Boston took off with the help of cycling advocates like Peter Cheung, organizer of the Boston Bike Party and leader of Boston’s ghost bicycle project, which honors cyclists who died in Boston bicycle accidents.

As explained in The Boston Globe, the red cups are filled partially with water and lined in a row within existing or makeshift bicycle lanes, alongside traffic where most cyclists ride. At every location – from here to San Francisco and in countries as Spain, Denmark, Australia and Mexico – the cups were smashed within minutes.

The message: How incredibly vulnerable bicyclists are riding alongside moving traffic, separated only by a painted road line. 

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A fatal bicycle crash in Fenway killed a much-loved children’s librarian from Cambridge, sparking renewed calls to action for city leaders to take the lead on better cycling safety throughout Boston.Boston bike attorney

As our Boston bike attorneys understand it, 69-year-old Paula Sharaga was struck by a cement truck driver near the same area where a 24-year-old Boston University student bicyclist was killed in November by a dump truck.

Tragedy in Fenway: Bicyclist Dies in Crash With Truck

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“Urban roads aren’t meant for bicycles,” was the headline of a 2015 Boston Globe editorial by long-time columnist and WBUR commentator Jeff Jacoby, following the 13th tragic bicycle crash death in the city in five years.bicycle accident lawyer

“That number is sure to rise if Boston keeps encouraging people to ride bicycles where bicycles don’t belong,” Jacoby wrote, adding that if people want to ride bicycles, “Massachusetts Avenue during business hours shouldn’t be one of them.”

As longtime Boston bicycle attorneys and cycling rights advocates, the fact was then (as now) MGL Ch. 85 s. 11B legally gives bicyclists the same right to the road as motorists, with few exceptions. But we’ll give the writer this much: Boston roads weren’t meant for bicyclists, at least in the 20th Century (though cyclists were the driving force behind the first paved roads in the U.S., before cares become commercially available 110 years ago). American traffic engineers throughout the 1900s, however, made cars the priority, building wider lanes that encouraged higher speeds.

This, combined with the fact none of us alive today remember life before automobiles likely fuels drivers’ sense of roadway space entitlement. Regardless of who was here “first,” the fact that something has been done a certain way for a century doesn’t mean it should stay that way – particularly if it is proving inefficient and especially if it isn’t safe for others sharing that space lawfully.

Leaders with both The City of Boston and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation don’t appear to be heeding critics like these, instead recently pledging further commitment to the cause of multi-modal traffic infrastructure that offers more options for safe access. Continue reading

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As far as busy biking corridors in Massachsuetts go, Inman Square in Cambridge may easily score No. 1 for the most bustling. It’s also a dangerous mess, resulting in numerous car accidents and bicycle crashes – most causing serious injury and a few resulting in tragic deaths.Boston bicycle accident attorney

Although city officials have made some improvements in recent years, Boston bike injury attorneys know Inman Square (where Cambridge Street and Hampshire Street intersect at an oblique angle at which three other streets also intersect) continues to be one of the most chaotic thoroughfares to navigate.

In general, diagonal intersections are known to be more dangerous. One study published by researchers at Harvard three years ago concluded they are 37 percent more crash-prone. Some are advocating for a redesign that incorporates a newer traffic safety solution known as a “peanutabout.”  Continue reading

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Electric scooters will be rolling into Boston this spring as part of a pilot program approved by city council, now meeting with three separate companies: Lime, Bird and Lyft. Unlike Blue Bikes, e-scooter services wouldn’t be limited to a single company. Their presence – just like that of any other alternative transport mode that’s smaller, slower and non-reliant on fossil fuels – will make city streets cleaner, less congested, safer and more accessible to a broader range of travelers. Long-term, it also drives down costs for road and bridge repairs (more frequent with heavier traffic) as well as emergency response resources for serious injury crashes (you’d much rather your bike get hit by an e-scooter than a dump truck).escooter

Boston bike attorneys know that much of the vexation around e-scooters is two-fold: Bold guerrilla marketing and confusion about they are supposed to fit into the traffic matrix. Bird’s dockless e-scooters showed up unannounced on Cambridge and Somerville sidewalks overnight last summer, taking motorists, cyclists and pedestrians by surprise (never a good thing in traffic) and sparking ire among city leaders who weren’t given the chance to weigh in first. Technically the service wasn’t operational in Boston, but a few made their way across those borders (to the chagrin of the mayor, who warned the company if they were found lying unattended they’d be hauled to a tow yard). Bird, a California company, used the same strategy in other cities with mixed success. It only lasted about two months in the Boston suburbs before caving to pressure and packing up.

Now, instead of the mayor basically shouting e-scooter companies off his city lawn, they’ve been welcomed with a seat at the table for a chance – with the city’s blessing – to try again. (Cambridge may soon do the same, which is good news because better connectivity boosts use rates with dockless systems.) Continue reading

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UPS is piloting a new electronic bicycle delivery program in Seattle – one of the nation’s most traffic-congested cities – a move Boston Bike Attorneys realize could ultimately drive down carbon emissions, expedite package delivery, encourage better biking infrastructure and make the community safer for cyclists. UPS is one of an increasing number of on-demand delivery services that has seen a boom as a result of proliferation of e-commerce behemoths like Amazon. The success of cargo e-bikes over the next year will be measured by a collaboration between the Supply Chain Transportation and Logistics Center and the University of Washington’s Urban Freight Lab, which has sectors that specialize in environmental and civil engineering.Boston bicycle delivery injury

City officials say they are looking forward to learning the results of the study, given the mass of large trucks that clog the city’s center. It’s not the delivery giant’s first foray into e-bike deliveries. The company has reportedly already begun testing e-bike delivery programs in 30 cities worldwide, including Portland, Oregon in 2016. Those tests involved the use of tricycles that were electronically-assisted, a wagon situated over the back two wheels holding the packages. Obviously these vehicles aren’t able to carry the same number of packages as the over-sized brown trucks that barrel through the streets every day. However, they are safer for other road users and do less damage to the already-taxed and aging infrastructures in so many cities (particularly in older cities like Boston).

The pilot bicycle delivery test in Seattle, which started last month, uses detachable containers that carry up to 400 pounds of packages, presorted per route and neighborhood, returning them once empty. In working with the city’s department of transportation, the bikes will reportedly operate within designated bike lanes, as well as on sidewalks (the wisdom of which our Boston bike attorneys question, but presumably the post-program analysis will clearly show the potential for problems, which includes the possibility of collisions with pedestrians and other sidewalk users – particularly given that part of the test area is in a college town).

It is expected to shrink delivery costs for UPS by reducing the amount of gas and automotive maintenance required, as well as eliminating the need for double handling of packages. The company is also testing approximately 9,300 low-emission vehicles worldwide.
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Sometimes even the most committed bicyclist commuters consider the sight of snow a good enough excuse to find an alternative means to travel. But there are many reasons cyclists find to keep pedaling. Some have noted that keeping up on their daily treks despite the cold overall keeps their immune system virile, their bodies overall healthier. It also remains for many the fastest way to their destination. Whereas a bus or the T might take 45 minutes to travel, a cyclist can often make it in half the time. As Boston bicycle attorneys know, in cities like this where cycling is increasingly common, you’ll notice those bike lanes stay busy, with riders layering up their clothing and some fattening up (their bike tires that is).  Staying safe though can be another matter.Boston bike attorney

An estimated 40,000 bicycle trips were made in Boston every day, according to official counts in 2017. Cycling slips off a bit in the winter, but the reality is biking infrastructure isn’t appreciably worse in the winter versus the summer. The only thing especially perilous about riding in the colder months is the same thing that is dangerous about cycling in Boston every other day: How other road users behave toward you. Primarily, that means careless or inattentive drivers, though pedestrians and other cyclists sometimes pose a risk also.

Of course, that doesn’t mean it’s wise to head out into a blizzard or ice storm or when the snow becomes virtually impassible. Not only are you more likely to get stuck, motorists are going to have a tougher time seeing you than they do normally. Even if you’re wearing all kinds of reflecting and contrasting gear, drivers may have difficulty slowing or stopping in time to prevent Boston bicycle accident by the time they do see you.

In general, winter weather bike riding in Boston requires bicyclists to be cautious and alert, dress appropriately and to maximize visibility, ride slowly and be especially careful on roadways and at intersections already known for their danger. Continue reading