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Bicycle Safety in Boston More Important Than Ever

bicycle-1515716With the longer days, warmer weather, and budding flowers, many winter-weary Bostonians will be choosing to travel by foot or by bicycle during the warmer months this year. In fact, Boston is the leading U.S. city of pedestrian and biking commuters according to The Alliance for Biking and Walking. Unfortunately, bike accidents present a serious safety risk in Boston.

Biking is an excellent form of both transportation and exercise. It is also a great way to get around without the additional cost of gas and harmful carbon emissions of cars. While there are many benefits to using bikes, it can also be an extremely dangerous way to travel without taking the proper precautions.

Bicycles accidents are extremely common. This is especially true when cyclists must share the road with other motorists. It is estimated that 48,000 bikers are injured in motor vehicle traffic crashes, with 743 of them resulting in fatalities, each year.

As more and more Bostonians get back on their bikes this Spring, there is a higher risk for these bicycle-related injuries and fatalities. According to the Cyclist Safety Report published by the City of Boston, Emergency Medical Services reported that there were 1,432 incidents and 8 fatalities between 2010 and 2012, with more than 50% of the incidents involving cyclists neglecting to wear helmets.  In the previous year alone, there were five fatal bicycle accidents in Boston.

Oftentimes, these bike-related injuries arise when motor vehicle operators cannot see the cyclist. Another common cause for bike accidents are when the cyclist runs a red light, runs a stop sign, or rides into oncoming traffic.

In an attempt to create a safer traveling environment for bikers and pedestrians, the Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition (MassBike) has filed two bills in the State Senate and House. The “Vulnerable Road Users Bill” addresses the safety of bikers as well as pedestrians, motorcyclists, road workers, and anyone else at risk on the roads. The bill establishes “minimum safe distances for passing vulnerable users, starting at three feet, and increasing with speed.”The “Bike Lane Protection Bill” calls for making it a statewide ticketable violation to park or stand a motor vehicle in a marked bicycle lane, which is a common endangerment to bikers.

Exploring Boston on a bike can still be an enjoyable outdoor activity if the proper precautions are taken. Here are some tips to follow if you plan on biking in Boston:

  • Always wear a properly fitting helmet.
  • Be visible. Wear brightly colored clothing and especially reflective gear if riding at night.
  • Light up your bike. Use a white front light and red rear light in low lighting.
  • Follow the rules of the road as if you were driving a car. Stop for red lights and stop signs, signal when turning, and look over your shoulder if you plan to change lanes.
  • Watch out for car doors. Stay at least three feet from parked cars.
  • Stay in the designated bike lanes where marked.
  • Share the road. In absence of bike lanes, try to stay on the right third of the right-most lane and bike with the flow of traffic.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a bike accident, call us today at 617-225-2100 to learn more about how we can help.