Articles Posted in Bicycle Accidents

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Vulnerable road users legislation in Massachusetts

The Massachusetts House and Senate have sent a bill to protect vulnerable road users to the Governor’s desk.

At long last, the Massachusetts House and Senate have now sent Gov. Charlie Baker a bill to protect vulnerable road users. One of the bill’s proponents announced the news on his blog, saying the legislation follows 10 years of collaboration among lawmakers and road safety advocates. We encourage readers to call the governor’s office and urge him to sign the bill!

3-Foot Safe Passing Distance for Vulnerable Road Users Proposed in Massachusetts

First, Bill H.5103, protects pedestrians, cyclists and others as vulnerable road users. From now on, drivers must give vulnerable road users at least 3 feet when passing in Massachusetts.

The phrase vulnerable road users would include pedestrians and cyclists, as well as those who work on a public way or utility facilities or are engaged in emergency response services.

Among others, the legislation also protects those operating wheelchairs, tricycles, skateboards, in-line skates, motorized bicycles and scooters, both motorized and non-motorized.

The bill would add language to M.G.L. c.90 § 14, which states in part, “In passing a vulnerable user, the operator of a motor vehicle shall pass at a safe distance of not less than 3 feet when the motor vehicle is traveling at 30 miles per hour or less.” At higher speeds, drivers would have to give vulnerable road users more clearance, starting with a foot for every additional 10 miles per hour.

This language is critical, as it provides a guide for both drivers and those building safety infrastructure to reduce the risk of bicycle accidents.

Statewide Requirement for Truck Safety Equipment to Protect Pedestrians and Cyclists

Starting in 2025, the legislation would require state-owned and contracted-trucks to be outfitted with sideguards, convex mirrors and other equipment designed to protect cyclists and pedestrians from being swept under trucks.

Currently, the City of Boston has an ordinance that requires city-owned and contracted trucks to use this safety equipment. The City Council passed Boston’s sideguard ordinance back in 2014. The cities of Somerville and Cambridge also took steps, but advocates have long pushed for a state-wide requirement. The required equipment will include truck sideguards, back-up cameras, convex mirrors and cross-over mirrors.

Extending Lower Speed Limits to State Roads and Parkways

In 2016, the state of Massachusetts passed legislation which in part, allowed cities and towns to lower the default speed limit from 30 mph to 25 mph on local roadways in thickly settled or business districts. This bill would allow the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) and the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) to establish post 25 mph speed limits when state highways and parkways fall within thickly settled or business districts.

New Reporting for Pedestrian and Bicycle Crashes

The legislation would require MassDOT to develop a standardized form and system for reporting crashes involving vulnerable road users. The reports would be published in a publicly accessible database.

About Breakstone, White & Gluck

Silver-Level Bicycle Friendly Business awardWith more than 125 years combined experience, Breakstone, White & Gluck has been consistently recognized as one of the top personal injury law firms in Boston. We have made a special commitment to encourage safety in Boston through our Project KidSafe campaign, now in its 10th year. To date, we have given away more than 36,000 bike helmets to children and families in partnership with local police departments, MassBike, Massachusetts Safe Routes to School and community organizations. The League of American Bicyclists has recognized our firm as a Silver-Level Bicycle Friendly Business.

For a free legal consultation, contact our personal injury lawyers at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.

 

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Boston bike commuters during Orange Line shutdown

In Boston, cyclists are sharing concerns about bike safety during the Orange Line shutdown.

Boston commuters are taking the Orange Line shutdown one day at a time. Many are biking to work and school, some for the first time – and sharing their thoughts and concerns from the bike lane on social media and local news. In Boston, the mayor even joined cyclists on the road and Tweeted about riding conditions.

It’s nice to see cyclists share information to help each other make the ride safely. A few concerns mentioned: dooring, trucks parking in the bike lane and the need for more protected bike lanes in the Boston area.

A Few Safety Reminders for Driving Near Cyclists in Boston During the Orange Line Shutdown

Right now, drivers should expect to see more cyclists on the road in Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, Medford, Malden and other areas. This is an unprecedented shutdown for Boston’s 125-year-old subway line. Starting on August 19, the MBTA closed the Orange Line from Oak Grove to Forest Hills for 30 days to address a maintenance backlog and make planned construction improvements. According to NBC Boston, this line covers 20 stops over 11 miles, from Malden to Jamaica Plain.

Making this more difficult, the MBTA also closed part of the Green Line, between Union Square and Government Center, starting August 22. This closure is to perform final phase construction work required to open the Medford branch this Fall.

Leave the Bicycle Lane for Cyclists. If you drive into Boston, remember to leave the bicycle lane for cyclists. Never stop and park in the bike lane. When drivers park in the bike lane, cyclists have to make a dangerous choice: they can try to swerve around your vehicle into the traffic lane or move onto the sidewalk. In both cases, they are very likely to crash, even the most experienced cyclists.

Open Your Car Door Safely. Drivers can seriously injure cyclists by opening their door at the wrong time. This was the sad story last month in Somerville, when a driver opened his SUV door into a 72-year-old Somerville cyclist on Broadway, near Teele Square. The victim died the next day, according to news reports. The Middlesex District Attorney’s office is now investigating the fatal bicycle crash.

You can make a point of looking for cyclists by learning the Dutch Reach, a topic we recently discussed in another blog. This approach encourages you to park, then check your mirrors and reach across your body so you have to look across traffic before you open your door.

Drive Safely Through Intersections. Travel slowly and give cyclists extra room, especially when turning at intersections. Remember, a cyclist may have to move out of the bike lane and into the traffic lane to protect themselves. They are allowed to do so under Massachusetts law and they may not have time to use hand signals.

Many bicycle accidents happen at intersections. When you stop at intersections, check your mirrors for cyclists approaching from behind you. Let cyclists turn first so you know they have cleared the intersection safely.

Cycling Safety Resources for the Orange Line Shutdown in Boston

If you are riding, we encourage you to regularly check these safety resources throughout the Orange Line shutdown:

Guide to Biking in the Boston Area During the Orange Line Closure, Mass.gov
This web page offers safety information and resources, including information about free Blue Bike passes.

Boston Cyclists Union
The Boston Cyclists Union is providing cyclists with updates on the Orange Line shutdown, including information on bike repair, Blue Bikes and how you can join a bike convoy to work.

Free Legal Consultation – Breakstone, White & Gluck, Boston Personal Injury Lawyers

At Breakstone, White & Gluck, we fight for justice for those who have been seriously injured or killed by the negligence or wrongdoing of others in Massachusetts. Breakstone, White & Gluck is located at 2 Center Plaza, across from Boston City Hall and Government Center. Our attorneys specialize in representing cyclists, pedestrians and others injured due to negligent driving, and other types of personal injury claims.

Breakstone, White & Gluck has supported local cycling clubs in the Boston area for more than 20 years. For the past 10 years, we have also worked to promote safety in the Boston area by donating children’s bicycle helmets. With this year’s donations, we have now donated over 36,000 helmets to children through our Project KidSafe campaign in partnership with local police departments, organizations, Massachusetts Safe Routes to School, MassBike and other partners.

Learn more about Breakstone, White & Gluck.

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Cycling dooring accidents

Drivers can use the Dutch Reach and reduce their chances of causing a cyclist a dooring injury. This approach calls on drivers to reach for their door with their right hand, across their body so they have a better view of the road and oncoming cyclists.

Drivers are sharing the road with cyclists as we enjoy August here in Massachusetts. Whether you are at home in the Boston area or vacationing on Cape Cod, we hope you give cyclists extra room when you drive and turn through intersections. We also want to remind you to use the Dutch Reach.

What is the Dutch Reach? It is a simple safety approach to help drivers park, look for cyclists and open their car doors safely. The goal is to prevent dooring injuries to cyclists. Using the Dutch Reach can raise your awareness of cyclists and save you from the trauma and shock of opening a car door into a bike. In our experience, we have heard many drivers say they look for cyclists on the road. But this changes when drivers park; many say they never even saw the cyclist coming.

The Dutch Reach can also save you from having to pay a costly auto insurance claim and fine. Opening a car door and interfering with a cyclist – or a pedestrian – is a traffic offense in Massachusetts. Drivers can be fined $100 for dooring under M.G.L c. 90, § 14.

Five Years of Encouraging the Dutch Reach in Massachusetts 

Massachusetts added an advisory on the Dutch Reach method to its driver’s manual in 2017, with a push from a local safety advocate following a cyclist’s tragic death. The cyclist was killed in a bicycle crash involving a car door in Inman Square in Cambridge in 2016.  Massachusetts was one of the first states to add this advisory, which calls on drivers to park and:

  • Check your rear-view mirrors.
  • Check your side-view mirrors.
  • Open the door with your far hand. 

Drivers should open their doors with their right hand; front-seat passengers should use their left. When you do this, you have a better chance of seeing cyclists approaching from behind. You become more aware of what’s known as the “door zone” and bike lane. By pausing and checking, you are less likely to seriously injure a cyclist in a dooring accident. 

Watch a demonstration:

 

This approach has become part of the culture in the Netherlands, which has one of the lowest rates for bicycle accidents in the world (Source: National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), Bicyclist Safety on US Roadways: Crash Risks and Countermeasures, NTSB/SS-19/01). Children learn this approach early and it is covered in driver’s education classes.

The National Transportation Safety Board has recommended all states include Dutch Reach advisories in their driving manuals.  As of 2021, Massachusetts, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Washington and Washington D.C. had all done so, according to the Dutch Reach Project.

Share the Dutch Reach Method With Family and Friends

Try the Dutch Reach next time you drive to the local post office or to pick up dinner. Then take time to share the Dutch Reach with your family members and passengers. Sharing the Dutch Reach may just help someone else in your life, especially during August and September, when many of us are on vacation and driving unfamiliar roads. Or we may be moving into new apartments for the Fall semester in Boston and venturing out. Unfortunately, many drivers and pedestrians do not really see cyclists on the side of the road. We are more focused on the cars and trucks in the traffic lane.

Before we sign off, a few more safety reminders for drivers and car doors. Remember, you have a responsibility to close the car door when you take in groceries or unload your car. You should never block or interfere with the bike lane. Cyclists may see your door open yet still be unable to stop. You could cause not one, but multiple bicycle accidents.

Last, use your cell phone with caution. When you park, you may want to reach right for your phone. More and more, drivers are using mobile apps to pay for parking or to pick-up take out or groceries. Someone may be sending you an alert or two.

But think twice and pause. You want to enjoy the month of August and focus on your September ahead. Reaching for your cell phone can be highly distracting as you exit your vehicle – and seriously injure a cyclist.

Learn About Breakstone, White & Gluck

bwg-1200×628With more than 125 years combined experience, Breakstone, White & Gluck has been consistently recognized as a top-rated Boston personal injury law firm. Our lawyers specialize in representing cyclists and others who have been injured by negligent driving in Boston, Cambridge, Quincy and across Massachusetts. If you have been injured, feel free to contact our firm. We offer a free legal consultation and one of our attorneys will take time to review the facts of your case with you and help you determine whether you have a potential legal claim. You can call 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.

kidsafe-1200We also invite you to learn more about our Project KidSafe campaign for bike safety, which we began 10 years ago! To date, we have donated over 36,000 free bicycle helmets to children in Boston and across Massachusetts. Our goal with this campaign is to encourage children to protect themselves by wearing a helmet every time they ride.

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We are excited about the summer of 2022 here at Breakstone, White & Gluck. This is the 10th year of our Project KidSafe campaign. Read about a few of our bike helmet donations to children:

The Bike Connector and Lowell Public Schools

Children wearing Project KidSafe bike helmets in Lowell, Massachusetts

Project KidSafe in Lowell: Breakstone, White & Gluck gave each student at Stoklaska Middle School a free helmet to go with their new bike donated by The Bike Connector.

Breakstone, White & Gluck was pleased to donate 300 helmets to The Bike Connector for donations to students in the Lowell Public School system.

We attended one of the giveaways at the Stoklaska Middle School on May 12th and watched as 50 very excited students got to pick out new bikes, then received a free Project KidSafe helmet. The Bike Connector and volunteers collected and refurbished the bikes so the children have the option of riding to school. The middle school is located on Broadway Street, more than a half mile west of Lowell City Hall.

Massachusetts Safe Routes to School

In June, Breakstone, White & Gluck donated bike helmets to help students at the Nathaniel Morten Elementary School in Plymouth get ready for summer. The local PTA and a bike shop teamed up for this event and Massachusetts Safe Routes to School provided safety instruction. Two of the topics: the importance of wearing their new Project KidSafe helmets and the ABC Quick Check (air, brakes, chain).

We want to mention – this is the 8th year we have partnered up with Massachusetts Safe Routes to School as part of our Project KidSafe campaign. Safe Routes gives our Project KidSafe helmets away to children who need one at bike rodeos and school events, which is a great fit as they teach students about the rules of the road for bicycles. Students leave events with the helmets they need to protect themselves and reduce the risk of injury.

Children receive free Project KidSafe helmets at DIY Bike Rodeo in Medford, June 2022.

Project KidSafe in Medford: Breakstone, White & Gluck donated helmets for the DIY Bike Rodeo with Medford Recreation and Medford Bikes.

Medford Bicycle Advisory Commission

Breakstone, White & Gluck was pleased to continue our partnership with the Medford Bicycle Advisory Commission and Medford Recreation and donate helmets for the children at the DIY Bike Rodeo on June 3rd.

The event was held at Tufts Park, where children had a ½ mile area to practice skills. In addition to a free Project KidSafe helmet, children were also offered free bike lights and safety literature.

Chelsea Bike Rodeo

Breakstone, White & Gluck supported the Chelsea Bike and Pedestrian Committee with a donation to children who participated in the Chelsea Bike Rodeo on June 18th. This was a fun event because children had the opportunity to receive and decorate a free helmet, which we hope encourages them to wear it.

The event was organized by the Chelsea Recreation & Cultural Affairs and Massachusetts Safe Routes to School participated.

Somerville Kiwanis

Kiwanis Club of Somerville

Our support for the Kiwanis Club of Somerville dates back to 2013. There were a few missed years during the pandemic.

So it was great to see the Kiwanis Club members back out at the East Somerville Carnival on June 5th. Members gave away over 200 Project KidSafe helmets to children and other cyclists who needed one, then fit helmets for those who needed help.

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By: Ronald Gluck

Attorney Ron Gluck is a member of the Charles River Wheelers and wrote this article for the club’s monthly newsletter, WheelPeople.

If you witness an accident, let the victim and the police know. The role of eyewitnesses is critical to the outcome of a case involving injured cyclists. In many cases, police receive a version of the incident from both the cyclist and from the driver of the motor vehicle. When these versions conflict, as they often do, it can be a toss-up as to who is correct. That is when an independent witness, who has no skin in the game, is critical. That person’s version of what they saw can be the difference-maker in the case.

Unfortunately, many people choose not to identify themselves as witnesses. Perhaps they are concerned that their involvement will take too much of their time. They may fear that they might even have to go to court someday to testify in the case, or be involved in a deposition. For many people, the default is to stay uninvolved. For the victim of a serious accident, the witness’s preference to remain uninvolved can have life-altering consequences.

What Would You Want if You Were Seriously Injured? What to Consider.

Perhaps one way to think of it is to ask yourself the question, “what would I want a person to do if I were the one seriously injured in a bicycle collision?” The answer is obvious: you would want the person to identify themself and convey to the police what they had observed. Since that’s what we all would want people to do, then adopt it as a policy of what to do in the event that you are such a witness.

Let’s look at what is really involved in terms of your time and the interruption in your life if you became a witness in a case that eventually went all the way to trial.

First, at the scene you may be a first responder and can provide comfort to the cyclist and be the first to call 911. Then, after identifying yourself to police, you would briefly give your statement and the police may ask you to submit a written statement which you could do from your home. Many months later, you may be contacted by an attorney to briefly discuss your observations over the telephone and then, perhaps, in the next year you may spend an hour or two giving your observations in a deposition which these days is often done by Zoom.

Although many people feel nervous when being questioned by attorneys in the course of litigation, the fact is that a witness who is simply volunteering their observations, and who has no rooting interest for either side, is treated with great respect by attorneys. The attorneys will always help accommodate a witness’s schedule to make the deposition convenient for them. And, if the case ultimately goes to trial and you are called to testify in court, the attorneys and the judge will go out of their collective way to accommodate the schedule of the witness if at all possible. The testimony would take an hour or so of your time.

Having done all of that, over the course of 2 to 3 years, the witness would likely feel good about their participation in the process. They would feel good that they helped the victim achieve justice. They would feel good that they stood up and made their voice heard.

One Witness: “It Was the Right Thing to Do.”

Recently, a witness to a serious collision stepped forward and made his name known to police at the scene. He did not know it at the time, but the driver of the vehicle that struck the cyclist would present a version of accident that was designed to help him escape liability for the collision. The witness told police what he had seen. He then wrote out a statement and gave it to the police. The cyclist, who suffered a brain injury, and who had little recollection of the incident due to the brain injury, achieved justice in the end largely because of the courage and selflessness of the witness to step forward. When I asked the witness why he had stepped forward and spent his time making sure that police understood what he had observed, he replied simply, “it was the right thing to do.” Yes, the right thing to do. Many people live by that credo. This is one more way, in the bicycling and motor vehicle context, that we can all bring it to life in the name of seeing that justice is done.

Enjoy riding and stay safe.

If you have questions about a particular incident or more generally about the subject matter of this column, feel free to contact Ron Gluck at gluck@bwglaw.com.

About Ron Gluck
Ron Gluck is a founder and principal at Breakstone White and Gluck in Boston. Throughout his 35-year legal career, Ron has represented seriously injured individuals in a variety of cases including cycling accidents involving catastrophic injury and wrongful death. Ron is a member of the Charles River Wheelers and regularly writes The Gluck Legal Takeaway column for the monthly newsletter, WheelPeople.

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Ebikes, also known as EAPCs- electronically assisted pedal cycles, have become very popular over the past 10 years. The Industry is exploding with new models and new users.  In Massachusetts bikes fall into the Ebike category if they are motorized but the motors have a maximum speed of twenty-five mile per hour. Massachusetts restricts use of these bikes to people who are sixteen or above.  Operators of Ebikes must have an operator’s license and an  Ebike may require registration depending on its maximum speed. All riders must be helmeted.  Insurance is not required.  Ebikes may not be ridden on bike paths in Massachusetts.

For certain insurance purposes, Ebikes are treated differently than ordinary bicycles. As an example, whereas riders of bicycles who are hit by a car or truck are entitled to personal injury protection benefits which cover medical bills and lost earnings.

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Bicycle Accident

What to do after being in a bike accident.

Developing a habit of riding a bike can be good for your health, your bank account, and even the environment. However, be extra cautious whenever you are using that two-wheeler because a bike accident can be devastating.

The aftermath of an accident can leave you shaken and bewildered. You may get disoriented from the incident and become unsure of what to do next.

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Attorney Reza Breakstone at bicycle helmet donation event in Mattapan. 2021-07-24-mattapan-on-wheels-350-3 2021-07-24-mattapan-on-wheels-350-4 2021-07-24-mattapan-on-wheels-350-5 2021-07-24-mattapan-on-wheels-350-6 2021-mattapan-on-wheels-350-1-3

On Saturday morning, Breakstone, White & Gluck was pleased to join the cyclists who came out for the 11th Annual Mattapan on Wheels Bike-a-Thon.

Our law firm gave away helmets to cyclists of all ages who took the ride as part of our Project KidSafe campaign to protect against head injuries. Attorney Reza Breakstone was out fitting the helmets at our Project KidSafe tent.

Mattapan Food and Fitness Coalition (MFFC) and the Vigorous Youth host the popular event each year and with Mother Nature on their side, there was a strong turnout, with 106 cyclists participating.

The goal of the Mattapan on Wheels event is to have fun and encourage cycling. Cyclists are given all the tools they need to participate. They can sign up to borrow a bike from the Blue Bikes rideshare or Boston Bikes, a City of Boston program.

Breakstone, White & Gluck also donates helmets, so this is truly an event open to anyone who wants to come out and try cycling in this part of the city or along the Lower Neponset River Trail.

Participants had their choice of bike routes. The 8-mile family ride traveled out to Tenean Beach in Dorchester. The 10-mile intermediate ride encouraged both sightseeing and riding on city roads. Cyclists were introduced to the new protected bike lanes along Cummings Highway and American Legion Highway.

The experienced ride was a scenic 13-mile route to Wollaston Beach in Quincy.

About Breakstone, White & Gluck and Our Project KidSafe Campaign

Breakstone, White & Gluck is a Boston personal injury law firm. We founded our Project KidSafe campaign in 2013, with a goal of encouraging cyclists to wear a helmet every time they ride. By taking this important step, you can focus on enjoying your bike and protect against the risk of head injury.

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Quincy Police bicycle helmet donation

Left to Right: Quincy Police Officer Christopher Bulger, Attorney David W. White, Quincy Police Lt. Robert Bina and Quincy Police Officer William Mitchell.

Breakstone, White & Gluck is pleased to continue our partnerships for bike safety with local police departments in the Boston area.

As part of our Project KidSafe campaign, Breakstone, White & Gluck will donate children’s bicycle helmets to 11 local police departments during 2021.

In June, our attorneys were pleased to deliver helmets to the Quincy Police DepartmentLynn Police DepartmentNorwood Police DepartmentBrockton Police Department and Randolph Police Department. We donate the helmets, but each department decides the best way to give them away to children in their community who need one – or who need a new one – to ride safely. The police departments may organize a bike rodeo, safety event or set up a table at a community festival. Or officers may keep the helmets on hand to give away as they come across children who need one.

Attorney David W. White gathers with members of the Lynn Police Department.

Attorney David W. White visits with Lynn Police Chief Christopher P. Reddy and his officers in mid-June. As part of our Project KidSafe campaign, Breakstone, White & Gluck was proud to donate children’s bicycle helmets to Lynn PD again.

 

Attorney David W. White of Breakstone, White & Gluck delivers free children's bicycle helmets to Norwood Police Chief William G. Brooks.

Norwood Police Chief William G. Brooks with Attorney David W. White. Breakstone, White & Gluck donated bicycle helmets to Norwood Police to give away to local children who need one.

 

Brockton Police Department receives donation of children's bicycle helmets from Boston law firm of Breakstone, White & Gluck

Brockton Police Chief Emanuel C. Gomes and his officers receive a bicycle helmet donation from Breakstone, White & Gluck and our Project KidSafe campaign.

 

Attorney David W. White delivers free children's bike helmets to Randolph Police Chief Anthony Marag

From left: Attorney David W. White delivered bicycle helmets to Randolph Police Chief Anthony Marag for the department’s bike safety event on June 26, 2021.

 

Read about our donation to Randolph Police.

Breakstone, White & Gluck

Breakstone, White & Gluck is a top-rated Boston personal injury law firm. Through our Project KidSafe campaign, our lawyers have donated more than 33,000 bicycle helmets to children across Massachusetts. We are committed to encouraging children to protect themselves and during 2021, we plan to make donations to local police departments, community organizations, bicycle committees and Massachusetts Safe Routes to School.

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