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Bike Safety in Boston Stressed

There has been a lot more talk about bike safety in recent years than we have seen at any time before.  Much of this has to do with a major change in the way people see bicycles and this relatively new concept of bike culture vs. car culture.

Boston Bike Crash lawyerDecades ago, bikes were pretty much considered something that only kids used.  Yes, there were those who raced road bikes, and there were famous races in Europe such as the Tour de France, but they were nowhere near as popular as they are today. The idea of someone choosing to ride a bike to work was basically unheard of on a larger scale because America was in love with automobiles, and those who did not drive a personal vehicle took a bus, commuter rail rain or rode the T to work in Boston.Over the past couple of decades, the idea of commuting to work on a bicycle went from the fringe to not only an acceptable, but also a preferred means of travel to and from work.  However, while we say preferred, we do not mean that everyone appreciates having all of these bike riders on the streets of Boston and surrounding areas such as Cambridge. It should come as a surprise to nobody that there are still many motorists that absolutely hate bike riders.

One of the reasons for this is because many drivers see bikes as nothing but slow moving vehicles that serve no purpose other than to slow down traffic and make them later for work. However, as our Boston bike crash lawyers can explain, this could not be farther from the truth.  Sure, there is no arguing that a car directly behind a bike will have to go slower, but many who are on a bicycle would otherwise be in a car, and that would mean more cars on the road and thus more congestion.  It could easily be argued that the increased number of bike riders are actually doing their part to reduce traffic, thus making the average commute faster for many drivers.  In addition to the positive effects on the daily commute, by not being in a motor vehicle, bike riders are doing their part to reduce our carbon footprint and hopefully help save our planet, which is needed more than ever. The last thing we want is for cities like Boston and Cambridge to become full of smog and contributing to the destruction of the ozone layer.

In terms of bike crashes, the negative attitude towards bike riders often leads to drivers assuming they have no rights to share the road, and, when accidents do occur, they assume the bike riders were at fault for things such as not getting out of the way of their car. They also see bike riders that routinely run red lights without so much as even slowing down at the intersection and do things like ride on crosswalks as pedestrians when convenient than immediately begin ridding on the road again.  It should be noted that this type of behavior is not appropriate, and it should be stopped. However, it also should be noted that all types of riders do not ride like those who disobey the rules, but those who do are giving everyone a bad reputation.

There is a clearly a lot of room for education on both sides, and there are various methods of giving bike riders and drivers that much-needed information, and some of these methods are about general awareness. According to a recent news article from the Jamaica Plain Patch, Boston recently experienced being a participant in the eighth annual World Naked Bike Ride.  In our city, this involved a naked bike ride starting in Jamaica Plain.

Each year, there have been more participants than the previous years, and there are about 200 riders these days. While, in Boston, a local nudist community promotes the ride, the point of the ride is not about being nude, but about getting the message out and raising awareness of bike safety issues. While this may seem like an outrageous way to get the message out to some, the fact that it is somewhat shocking to the general public makes it more memorable and leads to greater attention from the media, which is the entire point of any public awareness campaign.

However, the reason they choose to be nude was not purely for shock value.  One of the reasons car accidents involving bikes so often result in serious personal injury or even death of the bike rider is the bike riders have virtually no protection from the crash.  Therefore, the image of a naked bike rider is being used to drive home the point that a person on a bike has no protection, so it is important for both riders and drivers to take extra precautions to watch out for each other and do what they can to prevent collisions. On the other hand, there is a also a goal, according to organizers, of increasing bike ridership by giving a graphic example of how free riding a bike can feel. Obviously, you cannot regularly ride a bike naked, but riding a bike does give many riders a sense of being out in the environment that you do not get when driving a motor vehicle.

The ride organizers here in our Boston area did stress that people should arrive at the event clothed go and home from the event wearing clothes, but to ride naked, with or without body paint, from Jamaica Plain through Boston, Somerville, and Cambridge. It should also be noted that ride organizers wanted to stress that nudity was not required, though many riders would be riding nude or with body paint, glitter, or some minimal level of clothing.

From a legal standpoint, nudity aside, this feeling of freedom brings up an interesting point.  Many drivers assume that if the bike rider chooses a vehicle that offers so little protection, it is the rider’s fault if they are injured.  In other words, many people think the bike riders have assumed the risk.  While this may sound like a compelling argument, it is not because Massachusetts has rejected the assumption of risk defense, and a defendant must take a plaintiff as he finds him.   This means that as long as the rider is in a place that does not restrict bike riding, the at-fault driver cannot use the lack of protection on a bicycle as any kind of defense in a Boston bike crash lawsuit.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a Boston bicycle accident, call for a free and confidential appointment at 617-777-7777.

Additional Resources:

Boston’s 8th Annual World Naked Bike Ride 2017 To Start In JP, July 22, 2017, By Jenna Fisher, Jamaica Plain Patch

More Blog Entries:

Damages in Boston Bike Crash Lawsuits, July 8, 2017, Boston Bicycle Accident Attorney Blog

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