Articles Tagged with bicycle accidents

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No Turn on Red Sign

The Cambridge City Council has voted to explore making “no turn on red” a city-wide traffic regulation.

Cambridge is now exploring how to implement “no turn on red” traffic regulations citywide, with a goal of improving safety conditions for cyclists and pedestrians. The Cambridge City Council backed the proposal in a 7-2 vote on Monday, November 7, 2022.

With the City Council’s vote, Cambridge becomes one of the first U.S. cities to explore this step. The city manager will now work with city departments to investigate how to execute the regulations. Turns are already banned at 70 to 75 percent of Cambridge intersections, according to news reports, and some of the others may require state permission.

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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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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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