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The meteoric rise of bike share has transformed the streets of Boston in many positive ways with many more bikes on the streets thanks to bikeshare programs like Hubway, now Bluebikes, but they have not been without their share of problems. In the grand scheme, these are good problems to have, but they still must be addressed. Specifically right now, Boston and surrounding communities are being inundated with dockless bikes. This is in addition to the tremendous growth of the city-backed bike share program.

Boston bike accident lawyer

 

Since the the launch of Hubway (now BlueBikes) which expanded from a starting fleet of 610 bicycles and 60 docking stations in 2011, Boston’s bikeshare program has continued to grow to now 1,800 bicycles at more than 200 stations in Cambridge, Somerville and Brookline.

Now, neighboring towns like Arlington and Newton have added their own bikeshare programs, but with the cheaper dockless bicycles of LimeBike, Spin and other dockless bikeshare companies. Along with Arlington and Newton, bikeshare programs now exist in Bedford, Belmont, Everett, Malden, Medford, Melrose, Milton, Needham, Revere, Waltham, Watertown and Winthrop. The bikes cost $1 for every 30 minutes of use, and unlike bikeshare systems used in Boston and other cities, riders don’t have to find a dock to park their rented bikes.

More bicycles in Boston is NOT a bad thing! The question is how these bike access services are going to co-exist and whether the city will embrace the private dockless biking companies (or at least their model) or resist them.

The new bikeshares have created a real problem. Millions of dollars have been invested in the standard bike-share system, with the bright blue bicycles and stationary docking areas growing ubiquitous throughout Boston. Although extremely popular, two issues have arisen that could impact Boston bike share’s future growth:

  • Lagging bike share equity;
  • Swelling numbers of dockless bicycles from private companies sprouting up in communities like Arlington, Medford and Newton, served by Blue Bikes (formerly Hubway).

The sudden explosion of dockless bicycle companies in cities have taken communities like Boston by surprise as they burst onto the stage, and the long-term impact is unclear.

Less concentration (or total lack) of bike share docking stations in outlying communities has been a long-standing problem since the program’s inception. It was always intended to be addressed gradually as the program grew. However, the issue of private companies swooping in with a dockless bike share option seems to have taken everyone by surprise. It’s not just the fact that there is competition. The problem is private investors like Blue Cross Blue Shield have invested in the bicycles, and the docking stations and ant to protect their investment, putting city officials who granted the docked bikeshare programs an exclusive contract in an awkward situation. The question is whether Blue Cross and other companies that have invested in a docked system will have incentive to continue that investment if they are deprived of market exclusivity.

According to the National Association of City Transportation Officials the most recent annual bike share report was the first wherein dockless bicycles were counted, dockless bicycles are used in just 4 percent of rides, but account for 44 percent of all bicycles on the ground in cities, nearly doubling the U.S. bike share footprint. The close of this year will give us a sense of whether these bike companies will crash and burn or adapt and thrive. Continue reading

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In an ideal world, there would not be any serious or fatal Boston bike crashes. While we clearly do not live in a perfect world, and many bike crashes will occur in the greater Boston area each year,  there is no excuse for the driver not remaining on the scene of the accident, regardless of whether the driver believes he was at fault. The actual term is leaving the scene of a traffic accident involving personal injury, but people most often refer to these as Boston hit-and-run crashes.

bicycle attorneyAccording to a recent news article from CBS Boston Local, a 20-year-old woman was riding her bike through a traffic circle when she was involved in a collision with a vehicle that was also in the traffic circle. At this point, the driver in the car that collided with her left the scene of the Boston area bike crash without stopping, or even slowing down to see if she was badly injured. Continue reading

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According to a recent news article from 25 News Boston, police in Newton are investigating an incident in which a bike rider suffered a blowout caused by dozens of thumbtacks that appear to have been maliciously placed in a bike lane.  Authorities are saying this was not the first time this had occurred as there have been a series of similar incidents in recent months.

Boston bike crash lawyer A spokesperson for the Newton Police Department has said they are not sure whether someone is on foot when placing the tacks or they are dropping them out of a car window. Police are relying on potential witnesses and other members from the community to provide them with any information that could help identify the person or persons responsible for this concerning series of attacks on bike riders in the Greater Boston area. Continue reading

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Bicycle helmets lower the risk of head injuries to cyclists – in some cases quite substantially. Yet consumers have long been short on information to help them choose the best protection. In fact, a new analysis, the result of a joint project with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, revealed standard bicycle helmet testing by the Consumer Product Safety Commission falls far short in identifying key potential helmet defects. Meanwhile, bike riders have been led to believe they’re all virtually the same, and they’re not.bike injury attorney

One of the biggest discoveries of the new study is the surprising revelation that the so-called “urban-style” helmets assumed to provide more protection because they cover more of the head are actually riskier than so-called “road helmets” when it comes to head injuries. Researchers urged manufacturers of these urban-style helmets to initiate design improvements to bolster rider safety.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports approximately 81,000 people were treated for bicycle-related head injuries in a single recent year. That’s more than for any other sport. It’s also likely a low estimate because it omits those who may have sought treatment at a private doctor’s office. There were also 840 cyclists killed in 2016 crashes involving motor vehicles – the most we’ve counted since 1991.

CPSC Testing Doesn’t Tell the Whole Story Continue reading

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Dooring Accidents in Boston

A dooring accident (not really an accident in the legal sense) occurs when a person inside a vehicle opens his or her door into the path of oncoming traffic. This can include oncoming motorists, bicycle riders and even pedestrians, though pedestrians are not usually traveling fast enough on foot to suffer significant personal injury.

bicycle accident lawyerIn Boston, and other parts of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, dooring is not only negligent, but it is also something for which a person can be issued a civil infraction in the amount of not more than $100 pursuant to Section 14 of Chapter 90 of the Massachusetts General Laws (M.G.L.).  In this section, the law clearly states no person shall open the door of a motor vehicle unless it is reasonably safe to do so without interfering with oncoming traffic, and the statute goes on to say this include bicyclists and pedestrians. This is the specific statute, which prohibits dooring a bike rider, and it was included as part of the legislatures efforts to improve bike safety in our area. Continue reading

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Dooring is a very common way in which bicycle riders are injured in the Greater Boston area.  The really sad thing is every dooring accident is entirely preventable. Even the slightest amount of thought and awareness from motorists would prevent the majority of dooring accidents in our area.

Boston Dooring Accidents As the name implies, dooring involves opening a car door into the path of an oncoming bicyclist.  These accidents most often involve the driver’s door since it opens to the left, but it can also involve a rear passenger who is seated on the driver’s side of the vehicle. In some cases, we have seen passengers in taxi cabs or rides sharing vehicles open their doors into the path of an oncoming bicyclist, causing serious personal injury. Continue reading

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Stunning footage of a cyclist in Queensland, Australia being wiped out by a full-grown kangaroo mid-leap had many riders feeling a bit jumpy, especially given that this was supposed to be a quiet ride along a quaint country road. The Courier Mail, which posted the video, reports the unsuspecting cyclist was laid out when the kangaroo seemingly went on the offensive, leaping from the bush, knocking the cyclist onto her side before hopping away unscathed into nearby tall brush. The entire thing was captured on camera by a fellow rider.

News outlets reported the cyclist was taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital and released with stitches on her knee and sling for her right arm.

Barring any mass marsupial breakouts from the Franklin Park Zoo, a kangaroo “attack” on any Boston cyclist is highly unlikely. However, other animals – primarily, dogs – have proven problematic for regular riders. In these situations, our Boston bike injury attorneys know to help you recover damages.

It seems almost every bicyclist has at least one story of a close call involving a canine. Many cyclists can outrun even a fast dog, but too often, riders are often caught unaware when the dog ambushes from the side or gives chase uphill. These incidents most frequently occur on suburban or rural roads – including those crossing through Lincoln, Concord, Sudbury or Dover, Sherborn, Medfield or Essex, Ipswitch and Hamilton. Conflicts or other incidents with dogs are also more likely to occur on “bike paths,” which are technically multiple user recreational paths. People ride on these paths because they feel safer, but they are also used by joggers, people with pets and small children. A pet owner with a dog leash stretching across the width of the path is akin to a dangerous tripwire for a cyclist. Dog-related incidents are much more likely to happen in this setting than on a bustling Boston street.

It’s important for riders to watch for dogs and ride cautiously to outrun them if one gives chase. Most bicyclist injury claims that are dog-related aren’t the result of an attack or a bite. Injury is typically the result of a chasing dog getting caught in the bicycle spokes or wheels, causing the bike to crash. If a cyclist is injured after a dog gives chase or collides with a bike, it is often negligence by the dog’s owner – more precisely, the failure to exercise control over that dog  – that is to blame. Through our years of experience as bike attorneys, we know what type insurance coverage may be available and how to secure you damages caused by an unleashed dog.

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Every time you are on the road, regardless of your mode of travel, there is a potential for an injurious accident. Bicyclists are much more likely to be seriously injured in a collision than occupants of cars or trucks as a bike offers scant protection from a forceful impact. Even low-speed crashes can result in major injuries for someone on a bicycle.  It’s true that most crashes are the result of some type of negligence, meaning one or more of those involved breached their duty to use reasonable care on the roads. Enforcement of speed limits, anti-distracted driver laws and impaired driving statutes is important. But another effective way to reduce the odds of a serious bicycle accident is to invest in good traffic safety infrastructure. Well-designed bike lanes are an integral part of this.

As explained by the National Association of City Transportation Officials, a bike lane is a portion of the road designated by striping, signage and pavement markings that give bicyclists preferential or exclusive use. The goal is to create some degree of separation between cyclists and motor vehicle traffic so those on bikes can ride at their preferred speed without worrying (too much anyway) about conflict with motor vehicles. It creates better predictability of movements between both drivers and cyclists.bicycle accident lawyer
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2018 National Bike Summit., with Senator Markey’s office. From left to right, Galen Mook, Vivian Ortiz, Tom Francis, Senator Markey, Massbike Exec. Dir. Richard Fries, Bikeattorney Andrew Fischer and Jon Terbush

The annual National Bike Summit in Washington, D.C. this month presented a key opportunity for bicycle safety advocates to press Congressional leaders on the importance of investing in bicycle infrastructure and continued efforts to unify local, regional and national forces in furthering bike-related projects and programs.

Boston bike attorney Andrew Fischer was present and actively involved with a group of MASSBIKE representatives. The three-day conference concluded with a full day of lobbying. In addition to meeting with Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass), Fischer and the team met with the staffers of Elizabeth Warren and Reps. Joe Kennedy III, Seth Moulton, Michael Capuano and James McGovern. Primary goals included outlining critical concerns of the cycling community and advocating for peak priority in larger urban planning actions.

The two main takeaways from the Summit:

  • A proliferation of dockless bike share businesses springing up in urban areas like Boston but also in gateway cities like Worcester, Springfield, Lawrence, Lowell, New Bedford and Fall River. There is a push toward extending greater accessibility and connectivity of cycling networks, particularly in law income areas, which are vastly underserved. (Fischer was struck by the data revealed on this front, allaying previous concerns these business models might undercut further expansion of traditional municipal dock-based bike share services.)
  • At the time of the conference, the first week in March, federal funding for bike infrastructure appeared threatened, as part of the budget cuts for mass transit and transportation funding for big cities, particularly in the northeast and on the costs. We though we would need to work with our allies in the Massachusetts delegation to protect this funding, which remains essential in the fight to continue our campaign for  safer streets in Boston and throughout the Commonwealth. However, bicycle infrastructure funding was included in the budget that passed two weeks after our return from Washington. This allows us to continue to advocate for improved bicycle infrastructure.

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Rome wasn’t built in a day, and our bicycle infrastructure won’t be either. Yet with each victory, we are closer to the reality of safe streets. So it was welcome news that the Cambridge City Council voted recently to keep the protected bicycle lane on Cambridge Street, despite some vocal, if not broad-based opposition.bicycle attorney

It is regrettable that this has become such a contentious issue, with some residents and business owners railing against the loss of nearby parking and narrower traffic lanes. They pleaded passionately for officials to have the lanes removed.

As staunch supporters of better bike access and improved safety for all road users, we do believe in the effectiveness of protected bike lanes. However, we also understand that the process of creating new and better road systems will inevitably involve some trial-and-error. It’s important to carefully weigh everyone’s concerns and help find reasonable solutions and compromise where that is possible. Continue reading