Bicycle Lane Accidents in Boston
Top-Rated Massachusetts Bicycle Accident Lawyers
Over the years, Boston and Cambridge have developed impressive networks of bicycle lanes. Years ago, the cities painted traditional conventional bike lanes. Now, both cities have also added protected bike lanes in many areas (also called separated bike lanes or cycle tracks). These separate the bike lane from traffic with curbing, raised pavement, bollards, flex posts, landscaping or a row of parked cars.
The new bike lanes are designed to protect cyclists, but drivers must still do their part to prevent bicycle accidents and injuries. This means checking for cyclists in bike lanes and intersections, and staying out of the bike lane. Under M.G.L. c. 89, § 4D, the operator of a motor vehicle shall not stand or park the vehicle upon an on-street path or lane designated by an official sign or marking for the exclusive use of bicycles, except in a case of emergency. If a driver does so, they can face a traffic citation and fines.
More important, if you have been injured by a driver in the bike lane, you may be entitled to seek financial damages, including medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering. Consult an attorney promptly if you are in this situation. An attorney can launch an immediate investigation to document the motor vehicle violation, including canvasing for video surveillance from nearby buildings.
Bike Lanes in Boston and Cambridge
In Boston, you will find more than 60 miles of bike lanes, including conventional lanes and now single and two-way protected bike lanes. You can find protected bike lanes all over, running past Christopher Columbus Park into the North End, along the Longfellow Bridge and along Commonwealth Avenue in Back Bay, a multi-phase road improvement project.
Cambridge has also started to install separated bike lanes. One was deployed on Lafayette Square near Sydney and Douglass streets, according to Wicked Local Cambridge. Separated bike lanes can also be found near Harvard Law School. The City of Cambridge wants to do more though. In 2019, the Cambridge City Council passed a safety ordinance which requires new permanent separated bike lanes be built when roads are upgraded. This could lead to a 20-mile network of permanent separated bike lanes.
Research on Bike Lanes
In 2019, the Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reported on two studies focusing on the effectiveness of protected bike lanes, compared to conventional bike lanes.
At the University of Colorado Denver and University of New Mexico, researchers confirmed that protected bike lanes are an important safety tool. They reported that cities with more protected bike lanes per square mile have fewer fatalities and serious injuries. But after studying cyclists in Washington D.C., the researchers advised cities to locate protected bike lanes on roads with fewer junctions or to use raised cycle crossings.
Separately, the IIHS collaborated with researchers from three universities to study the characteristics of locations where cyclists were injured. Researchers studied 604 adult cyclists who crashed or fell on their bikes, then visited the ER in Washington D.C., New York or Oregon.
Compared to a major road with no bike infrastructure, the study found the risk for a bike crash or fall was much lower on two-way protected bike lanes running along bridges or raised roadway. But, two-way protected bike lanes on street level had a much greater risk for bike crashes. Researchers concluded that cyclists traveling on a protected lane at street level are still likely to encounter vehicles at intersections, driveways and alleys.
How Bicycle Lane Accidents Often Happen in Massachusetts
Bicycle accidents in bike lanes are different than other types of bike crashes. Drivers may travel down the road and never really look at the cyclist in the bike lane to their right. They should be checking though – in front, to each side and behind. Bicycle accidents near bike lanes are often caused by a marked lanes violation, when a driver crosses into the bike lane, or a driver’s failure to yield to a cyclist.
Distracted driving and aggressive driving are also prevalent causes. When Massachusetts drivers become impatient or right out abusive, they become more focused on their emotions than driving. This can cause them to veer into the bike lane. There are also times when pedestrians, not cars, are responsible for bike lane accidents.
Pedestrians may step into a bike lane without looking or there may not be adequate street signs to alert them about the bike lane. Then there are dooring accidents. This is when a driver neglects to look and opens a car door right into the bike lane, blocking a cyclist’s path. Someone on the passenger’s side can also cause injury this way. These are very serious accidents which require immediate medical care and reporting to police.
Large trucks can also cause bike lane accidents. Cyclists typically travel level with a large truck’s wheels, leaving them highly vulnerable when drivers neglect to check their mirrors. Cyclists can be hit from the right side with a large truck's freight (which causes 22 percent of all bicycle fatalities, according to 2016 data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration). Large trucks can also cut cyclists off at intersections. These are often called right hook accidents, but they can also happen from other angles.
Contact Boston, MA Bicycle Accident Attorneys – Free Legal Consultation
If you have been hit and injured in a bike lane, Breakstone, White & Gluck can advise you on your legal rights. With decades of experience, our Boston bicycle accident lawyers are skilled at negotiating with auto insurance companies and assisting cyclists in getting the medical care they need. We will not settle; we are committed to taking each client's case as far as we must to ensure you receive full and fair compensation. For a free legal consultation, contact Breakstone, White & Gluck at 800-379-1244 or use our contact form.