Advocates for Boston bicycle safety are applauding the new statewide measure that bans drivers from “standing” or parking in established bike lanes. As our Boston bicycle injury lawyers know, this practice puts cyclists in grave risk because it forces them into moving traffic in order to avoid the stationary vehicle in their path.
The measure was initially part of a larger bill that had numerous other bicycle safety components. Unfortunately, this larger bill didn’t pass, but bike advocates know this is a start. Safe biking can’t be achieved simply by creating bike lanes. Those lanes have to be policed and the laws enforced so that it’s safe for cyclists to use them.
Boston Attorney Andrew Fischer Bikeattorney.com was part of that team of advocates who helped to draft the bike land protection law, as well as other proposed legislation.
“This is only one piece of a larger vision of bicycle safety legislation we are working on in an effort to reach Vision Zero: No more bicyclists killed by motorists,” Fischer said. “We are re-drafting the other parts of our bicycle safety package, with some new additions, to be filed in the 2017 session.”
In the meantime, this new prohibition on parking in bike lanes should help ensure cyclists are safer, though of course they can’t let their guard down as there will certainly be violators. As explained by the executive director of the Boston Cyclists Union to The Boston Globe, when a bicyclist is stopped in a bike lane, it can be extremely dangerous. The brief action of a cyclist pulling out and around a parked car and into busy traffic has the potential to result in serious injury or death. This is a fact often overlooked by careless motorists whose only motivation is typically just convenience.
The new measure, dubbed, “The Bike Lane Bill,” was signed into law by Gov. Charlie Baker earlier this month. In addition to disallowing drivers to park their car in these lanes, the measure also prohibits them from pulling over into the bike lane even momentarily, say to drop off a passenger (the “standing” practice we mentioned before). Baker too underscored the peril cyclists face when they have to swerve into traffic because of a careless motorist’s failure to keep the bike lanes clear. The measure is one more way in which cyclists are gaining traction as a legitimate road user in the view of the public. For example, we wouldn’t tolerate vehicles parking in the turn lane. Why? Because it’s intended for travel. The purpose of bike lanes is also travel, and no one is allowed to simply park casually in them.
The new state law will result in a $50 fine for violators, though tickets aren’t considered moving violations. Individual police agencies, cities and other municipalities will have a great deal of discretion over the degree to which they enforce the measure. As it stands, Boston already forbid parking in bike lanes. The city imposes a $100 fine for such a violation.
Here, enforcement will be key to seeing results.
If you or someone you love has been injured in a Boston bicycle accident, call for a free and confidential appointment at 1-888-789 BIKE (2453).
New law bans parking in bike lanes statewide, Jan. 17, 2017, By Steve Annear, The Boston Globe
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World Day of Remembrance Personal for Our Boston Bicycle Injury Lawyers, Nov. 27, 2017, Boston Bicycle Accident Lawyer Blog