Boston Cyclists Saddened, But Not Surprised By Fatal Accident

A sheet covers the body of a 23-year-old bicyclist killed at the intersection of Commonwealth Avenue and St. Paul Street Thursday morning. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

A sheet covers the body of a 23-year-old bicyclist killed at the intersection of Commonwealth Avenue and St. Paul Street Thursday morning. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

BOSTON — Police are investigating the fifth fatal bicycle accident in Boston this year after a 23-year-old Boston University graduate student and a tractor trailer collided at the intersection of Commonwealth Avenue and St. Paul Street Thursday morning.

The intersection where the crash occurred is busy with cars, buses, MBTA Green Line trolleys, students walking and many cyclists. On the corner is Landry’s Bicycles.

Travis Dawson, a sales associated at Landry's Bicycles, says he's witnessed multiple near misses and minor accidents at the intersection of Commonwealth Ave and St. Paul Street. (Deborah Becker/WBUR)

Travis Dawson, who works at Landry’s Bicycles, says he’s witnessed multiple near misses and minor accidents at the intersection of Thursday’s fatal bicycle crash. (Deborah Becker/WBUR)

The bike shop was closed at the time of the accident. One mechanic inside the store witnessed the crash. Employees said they were shaken, but not surprised by the accident.

“It’s a shame that we all kind of saw something that could happen and weren’t able to improve the intersection before,” said Travis Dawson, a sales associate who has worked at Landry’s for two years.

Dawson listed a number of times employees have witnessed near misses and minor accidents outside the large, floor-to-ceiling store windows.

“Either hear tires screeching outside, somebody yelling at somebody for whatever traffic infraction there might have been,” Dawson said. “In some cases, in a couple of cases for myself actually, seeing a bike collide with a car. Pretty profound instances of just knowing that that intersection is not the best setup.”

Dawson listed several problems with the intersection that makes it difficult for both drivers and cyclists to navigate. For one, he said cars often turn right down St. Paul Street, crossing into and over the designated bike lane, where cyclists may not be paying attention. Another big issue, he said, is the Green Line trolleys running down the middle of Commonwealth Avenue that complicate the intersection.

“Riders like to ride through,” Dawson said. “Cars have a lot to watch out for and they can’t necessarily see everything that’s happening all at once.”

Dawson suggested painting the bike lanes green near the intersection might help create more visibility and clarity. He also suggested that taking out some of the parking spaces on the eastbound side of Commonwealth Avenue and creating a turn lane could help.

“Infrastructure’s one of the things that helps,” Dawson added. “But also, teaching cars to watch out, teaching cyclists, basically having everybody know the same rules and obey the same rules so that everybody knows where to be.”

His advice to cyclists hitting the roads: Be vigilant.

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  • Bob

    Bikers are the ones at fault here. They think they are covered by all the laws of the road but have to follow none of them. I can’t tell you the number of times i’ve seen near misses from idiots on bicycles not paying attention. Darwinism at its finest… hopefully over time we hear less and less of this because the morons slowly get picked off.

    • Felix

      Your comment unfortunately misses the point. In the accident that occurred yesterday, the biker did not break any law. The light was green, he was in the right lane, the tractor trailer was turning right from the left-most lane. And you say it’s the biker’s fault? The truth is that it wasn’t really anybody’s fault, neither the driver or the biker were breaking any traffic regulations, and that was the whole point of this article that the intersection itself is a difficult one.

      • Les

        Bikes are here to stay, yes. I am sorry for this fatal accident. But as I drive around town, I’m told that bicyclists are supposed to follow the same traffic laws as cars. I watch for bikes, I watch all the time. They whizz past me on either side. They don’t see my turn signals. And… on dark rainy nights, are they not aware that wearing black makes them almost invisable to drivers? Then don’t get me started on how many bikes riders have almost run me down in cross walks and then swore at me for being there,

        I rode a bike for years, stopped at traffic lights as other rode threw them, had hand signals ignored when I used them…… This was all before bike lanes.

        I don’t know what happened at St. Paul and Beacon; it’s a bad corner for walkers, too, but I do know that when I drive around Boston, Bikes are the problem I find most frustrating.

        • carandbike

          You’ve never almost been hit by someone (whether walking, riding, or driving) speeding in a car trying to beat a red? Howabout pedestrians that step into the road without looking against the walk light? All modes of transport have their scofflaws… why focus on cyclists?

          • Zingbaby

            Because bikers share the ROAD and angrily demand equal rights to the road – when they do not have equal liability nor any respect for the rules of the road.

          • carandbike

            we ALL share the road… if you want a simple fact based reason why drivers are held to a higher standard for safety and are more liable for traffic infractions it is because the cars/trucks they are driving weigh 2500lbs+, are capable of traveling at a high rate of speed, and can cause significant loss of life and damage to property. It’s why insurance is compulsory.

            When is the last time you have ever heard of a cyclist plowing through a crowded market and killing multiple people? Howabout a cyclist mistaking the pedals for the brakes and crashing into a storefront causing multiple thousands of dollars of damage? You haven’t, because it has never happened. Your anger and frustration is misguided by focusing on cyclists.

            I will be the first to admit that there are many annoying scofflaw cyclists out there. One night I was on my bike and I was hit by another cyclist coming the wrong way out of a one way road at night with no lights… was I angry? Hell yes, I nearly pounded him into the pavement (I didn’t, I yelled at him for riding like a jack@$$)… but my thought after was not “gee, ALL cyclists must be like this!” because the simple fact is that they are not. Not even the majority are like that, for if they were I (and many others) would have hung up their pedals long ago. The reason you “think” there are more cyclists like this is because you simply don’t notice the ones that are following the rules. You DO, however, notice the bad ones… so do we all.

          • Zingbaby

            Just because the actual bike itself didn’t cause the death doesn’t mean the cyclist cannot be the cause of a huge, fatal accident. You are just not being honest. Like most cycle-activists you are not being honest.

            I may truly not notice the good ones; but I see enough bad ones everyday. A car may run a yellow-into-red light daily, but I almost NEVER see a stopped car just run through a red light because it looks like no other cars are coming; whereas bikers do this all the time. If you want honest solutions, you need to be honest, period.

          • carandbike

            First of all, you are incorrect; I am not an activist. I own a car. It is garaged in the City of Boston and I pay my fair share of taxes on it. I also commute by bike. Hence my username.

            Second; you are not being honest if you really believe that a bike blowing a light or a stop sign is akin to “a car running a yellow into a red (DAILY)” (and often a completely red) light. They aren’t even playing the same sport.

            Third, get on a bike and ride down one of these bike lanes, obey the laws, and see how poorly you are treated by taxis, cars, trucks, etc… and see how dangerous (a lot of, not all) the people behind the wheel can be. Sure, you’ll see a few jerk cyclists too, but you might finally notice they are far from the majority.

          • Zingbaby

            Well running a yellow-into-red is NOT in anyway the same as going through a dead red from stopped, because with the latter nobody else is expecting it… and to that point, bikers do the former just as often as cars; but stopped cars don’t run through dead red lights. Bikers do this everyday… you are just not being honest.
            As to the danger of being on a bike – I know you are 100% correct. These roads were designed for cars and people in general are idiots and pay more attention to their phones then the road. Bikers unfortuntely stand to lose more in a crash and therefor should at LEAST follow the rules of the road – and they do NOT regardless of how much you want to lie to yourself. They do not. Everyone needs to at least be following the same rules before we can make any progress here.

          • carandbike

            we need to be sure we are talking the same language here;

            Coming to a complete stop at a red, then progressing through if the way is clear (whether by car or bike) is not nearly as risky as running a yellow>red/red light (by car or bike)… and between the 2, the car has the greater burden of responsibility due to size/power.

            Should both be following the rules of the road? I think we both agree that the answer is “Yes”. Do ALL cyclists and drivers flout the law? Again, I believe we agree and that the answer is “no”. But many do (a proportionate amount in both groups, I might surmise).

            So my questions to you are thus:

            Why, when we agree that bikes and cars are both liable and bound to the same traffic laws, is your anger directed at the cyclists, the group who, by fact based observation and your own statement above, is the one who is ultimately more at risk from cars? Why are you putting the onus on the bikes to follow the rules and avoid the distracted drivers when (as we discussed in a different part of this comment thread) drivers are the ones who are likely to cause the most damage and loss of life? Yes, we ALL should follow the rules of the road, but should we not place the greater responsibility on those with greater power (literal, physical power, such as a car)?

            If 2 people get in a fight, and one pulls a gun and shoots the other (who is unarmed) do we blame one who was shot for “being in the argument”? No, we punish the person with the greater power, the gun user, for they are the one who had the greater responsibility and had the power to prevent the situation from escalating. So why do we (you, actually) blame the cyclist for being on the road?

            Your reasoning bikes should stay off the road because a car is bigger and a distracted driver might hit them is akin to saying that we shouldn’t walk outside in case there is a criminal who wants to rob us… a run and hide attitude is not the answer.

            Also, Boston roads were not built for cars. They were built for trollies, bikes, and carriages. The bicycle predates the car by a few decades. Cars are the greater danger and therefor need the greater regulation.


          • Zingbaby

            “Cars are the greater danger and therefor need the greater regulation.” What type of logic is this? If you swim with sharks and get eaten should we therefore regulate sharks or prohibit swimming with them? If you are morally right, do you still get eaten? Look at least for the last several decades you cannot agrue that roads have been designed and maintained for cars; bike lanes are new in Boston as is the wave of bike commuters. “Period.”
            Where I am coming from is this: I’m someone that occasionally bikes and recognizes the dangers and therefor follows the rules; and a car commuter that does NOT want to hit a biker.
            We all know car drivers are terrible in this city; however the cyclists are not only worse, often very young and careless, but they are not honest about it. Most bikers do NOT follow the rules – many serious bikers do recognize and admit this but many are just not being honest. Until both sides are honest we will always get stuck on these blame arguments. There are no licenses, liability insurance, no permanent legal ramifications for breaking rules, no age limit, no required instruction, etc for bikers.

          • carandbike

            Okay, you are either a troll or so beyond reason, so completely grasping at straws that you can’t see the forest for the trees…

            “Regulate sharks”? Are you serious? Of course we aren’t going to regulate sharks, they are an animal and without human reason, intellect, intelligence, and morality and therefore not bound by the same laws and expectations one would expect of a fellow human being… like say, a DRIVER of a car? If there were little human pilots in each shark commanding the eating then sure, you have a point, but that’s loonyville talk right there.

            “‘Cars are the greater danger and therefor need the greater regulation.’ What type of logic is this? ”

            it’s the very definition of logic. It’s why gun licensing is more regulated than for knives. It’s why bus and truck and even pilots licensing is more regulated than cars.

            I think I’m done with you…

            …”Regulate Sharks” indeed.

          • Zingbaby

            Thank you for making my point for me: If you bring a knife to a gun fight, you lose… who is to blame?
            Most of the cyclists in this city are young college kids who don’t pay attention to anything; I don’t want to hit one. Regardless of how careful I am it will always be more dangerous for bikes while they choose to share the road. Cars are already regulated and are already held responsible for breaking the rules… you can BS all you want but most bikers do NOT follow the rules; and that undermines their argument – right or wrong.

          • carandbike

            point + miss = you. Thanks for playing.

          • Zingbaby

            Throughout your entire argument you have not been honest about one simple fact: most bikers do NOT follow the rules of the road. That is why car drivers do not like bikers, plain and simple.
            First, at least be honest about it; then fix it – then at least we are all on the same page. In Boston car drivers are aholes, it’s known worldwide, drivers in the US are more accident prone than ever with young drivers and cell phones… and you choose to willing ride your flimsy bicycle in the middle of this and now _I_ must be regulated? Oh yes you will get a lot of support from drivers this way.

          • rogger2

            I’m with carandbike.
            Your “one simple fact” is actually your biased opinion.
            Can you provide any actual facts that “most bikers do NOT follow the rules of the road”?

          • Zingbaby

            What? Even some daily bike commuters in this discussion have admitted this and I see it every single day with my own eyes.

            Bottom line is, you don’t need to prove anything to me. But if bikers want support from ‘car drivers’ they need quit bullsh**ing and own up to this. We all see it with our own eyes, I don’t think there is a way to statistically prove it but that doesn’t matter.

            Car drivers in Boston suck – heck that is known worldwide. But bikers here are worse, are much less liable for anything, are held to no common standard, are mostly made up of young college age kids (and often much younger) that have no regard for any rules of the road, let alone common sense. We will never have an honest discussion until bikers can at least admit this.

          • Zingbaby

            Your general attitude is: I want to ride a bike now so YOU must be regulated. I’m sorry but that’s wrong.

            Meanwhile you are not even being honest of the fact that most bikers do NOT even follow the basic rules of the road.

            Look, I’d LOVE for the city to be more bike friendly, and in fact I think it would be great if we all only road bikes and we got rid of cars all together. But that isn’t the reality. You can blame car drivers all you want, but you’ll still end up dead unless you regulate yourself and follow the rules.

      • Zingbaby

        His post, I can only assume, was more regarding the backlash and outrage that followed this accident. In many cases the car is clearly at fault. But bikers are not held liable for anything on the road – and you cannot have it both ways.
        If bikers want respect on the road – let them be fined, like car drivers, when they run a red light. If you want equal rights to the road then let’s really make it equal.

      • carandbike

        incorrect Felix… the truck driver was at fault. There are laws in MA that now detail “right-hooking” (what the truck did to the cyclist) as a citable offense.

        • dust truck

          Oh? Have the police issued a citation already?

          • Ribs07

            The police unfortunately are either too lazy or simply do not seem to care either way. I sat at a light (on a bike) with a police officer sitting next to me, a cyclist blew past us and through the light, I asked him why he didn’t do anything, he said what good is it going to do. I come to a rotary at Sullivan square every night, the police stand there holding traffic and waving me on telling me to jump into the cars already in the rotarty with the right of way, I tell them I prefer to wait for an opening. And one of my favorites was sitting at the light (although on the opposite side of the street) where the accident happened. The police officer came down the side walk going the wrong way, ran through the red light, while nodding and smiling to his fellow officer standing on the sidewalk. With this kind of attitude by law enforcement nothing is going to change.

          • Ribs07

            I should have said in the last instance the police office was riding a bike.

    • Eric

      Bob, Bicycles are here to stay.
      Maybe you should try to ride, might help you let go of your anger…

    • Nathaniel Brewster

      I hope you’re joking. The sickening insensitivity of your comment verges on sociopathy.

      This accident, as the previous commenter mentioned, was completely preventable. A few changes to the infrastructure (well defined bike lanes, a proper right turn lane, etc…) can help improve the safety and welfare of all — cyclists, pedestrians and motorists.

      It may help to remember that bad decisions are made on bicycles, on foot and in vehicles. A mode of transportation does not hold a monopoly on careless behavior.

      The problem is not as simple as criticizing those who ride bikes.
      There is a need for overall traffic safety education… It’s acknowledging the road as a crowded, multiple use space, and designing it to accommodate all its users, safely and efficiently.

      • Zingbaby

        His post was insensitive but not entirely untrue. Bikers CHOOSE to take a HUGE risk cycling in the city and want to act like that risk does not exist. In a perfect world there would be no risk – we do not live in a perfect world.

        Fact – people are terrible drivers, now more than ever, and cars do not always obey the rules of the road. Young people with cell phones drive unawares of even other cars on the road. Yet when you choose to swim with the sharks and you get eaten – who’s fault is it?

        Drivers are held accountable for breaking rules of the road – where bikers are not and bikers so rarely follow them. You cannot have it both ways. If bikers are to be respected on the roads there needs to be liability on both sides – period.

        In a perfect world blah blah blah – look it IS dangerous to bike in city; these roads were designed for cars and sadly cars are not going away any time soon. You can be outraged and morally right and have the right of way on the road – but you’ll still end up dead when hit by a car regardless.

        • Nathaniel Brewster

          Another utterly unproductive and insensitive comment.

          I’ve seen my fair share of stupidity on the roads — from cyclists, motorists and pedestrians. And, as a bike commuter and competitive cyclist, it frustrates me to no end to see idiotic two-wheeled antics.

          This frustration, however, does not entitle me to adopt the attitude “if you swim with the sharks and you get eaten — who’s fault is it?” Instead, it makes me think of ways to improve the situation for everybody.

          Heed all traffic laws when I commute. Call out other cyclists who are endangering themselves or others. Act respectfully to motorists and pedestrians. Become a steward of cycling — not an absentminded menace.

          The death of a cyclist in a vehicular accident affects many more than just the deceased. Think of the trauma the truck driver has to overcome, the kid’s family, his friends, other students…

          Instances like this should be a catalyst for productive change, not insensitive bickering.

          • carandbike

            here here… well said Nathanial, though I fear on deaf ears.

          • ChevSm

            Amen Nate. Well said

          • ChevSm

            Amen Nate. Well said

          • Zingbaby

            Nobody on either side has argued that it’s NOT a tragedy for ALL parties when someone is killed or injured, and that is not at all the point. Don’t assume to demonize those who don’t agree with your opinion.

            You are apparently that one exceptional biker that obeys the rules of the road, but everyday, all day long, I see bikers that have absolutely NO regard for the rules, and why should they when there is no liability?

            It’s very simple – if you want equal rights to the road – let’s make it equal and give bikers equal liability for breaking the rules. Do you not agree?

          • ChevSm

            Actually Bob said “Darwinism at its finest… hopefully over time we hear less and less of this because the morons slowly get picked off.”

            That sure seems like he thinks it’s not a tragedy that a biker was killed.

            And, the laws are the same for bikes and cars. If you’re riding a bike and you’re stupid enough to run a light and cause an accident you are just a liable on a bike as you are driving a car.

          • Zingbaby

            You obviously don’t live in MA.

          • ChevSm

            I do live in MA. I would say that there is plenty of law breaking by both bikers and drivers. But to say bikers are not liable is just untrue. The laws for bikers are the same.

            What is true is that cops don’t pull over bikers nearly as often as they do drivers but this is slowly starting to change.

          • Zingbaby

            Do you have your ‘bikers license’? …were you required to pass a test or show some credentials to buy your bike and put it on the road?
            And bikers are NOT currently liable in MA.

          • Nathaniel Brewster

            “Let’s make it equal and give bikers equal liability for breaking the rules”

            Yes! I agree emphatically!

            My point is that conscientious cyclists should help police other unaware / irresponsible cyclists. There needs to be a group effort to create better on-road behavior.

          • Zingbaby

            This I agree with. Something obviously needs to change – but we cannot make honest progress until both sides are following the same rules. Too many cycle-activists are dishonest when it comes to talking about ‘rules of the road’. Most bikers do NOT follow them, I’m sorry but they do not, and car commuters see this everyday; and that sadly undermines any argument about biker safety and proposed changes. You MUST realize this. Right or wrong that is a fact.

            On so many levels it would be better if we ALL road bikes and no cars were on the roads at all, but that isn’t the reality. The fact is, cars are getting safer but driving has become infinitely more dangerous for everyone. Again this is largely due to young drivers and/or cell phones but everyone is assuming more risk unfortunately- especially the guy on a bike with no air-bag.

          • Nathaniel Brewster

            “Most bikers do NOT follow them [the rules], I’m sorry but they do not, and car
            commuters see this everyday; and that sadly undermines any argument
            about biker safety and proposed changes.”

            I do see it everyday. Whether commuting by bike, by car or by foot. And it’s frustrating!

            You are correct about “cycle-activists” constantly discussing rules of the road. And, as an avid cyclist and cyclo-commuter, I agree that they have done much to build an awareness of cycling in and around Boston (just look at the rise of the Hub Share system). Things have gotten better, but they still have a long way to go.

            The issue, and this is one that is stubbornly difficult to solve, is that the vast majority of people who commute on bikes in and around Boston are not trained cyclists — they’re students or members of the general population who use their bikes to simply get from point A to point B.

            How to “train” these commuters on proper road etiquette and road safety (not to mention enforcing the rules) is a problem that I’ve wrestled with for years.

            As a cycling advocate I certainly do not want to scare people off with the threat of a licensing test (I also know the feasibility of such a process is pretty much zilch). I also don’t want to see people get hit or killed.

            I’m not quite sure what to do. Maybe more media exposure on the realities of commuting? A frank and very public discussion on city-cycling safety? A group of bike-cops enforcing bike-related infractions?

            It’s the cycling-specific infrastructure in established bike-friendly cities like Portland, OR or across the Atlantic in Amsterdam and Copenhagen, and the rapid rise of infrastructure in cities like NYC, that give me hope for the future of Boston area cycling.

          • Nathaniel Brewster

            “Most bikers do NOT follow them [the rules], I’m sorry but they do not, and car commuters see this everyday; and that sadly undermines any argument about biker safety and proposed changes.”

            I do see it everyday. Whether commuting by bike, by car or by foot. And it’s frustrating!


You are correct about “cycle-activists” constantly discussing rules of the road. And, as an avid cyclist and cyclo-commuter, I agree that they have done much to build an awareness of cycling in and around Boston (just look at the rise of the Hub Share system). Things have gotten better, but they still have a long way to go. 

            The issue, and this is one that is stubbornly difficult to solve, is that the vast majority of people who commute on bikes in and around Boston are not trained cyclists — they’re students or members of the general population who use their bikes to simply get from point A to point B.


How to “train” these commuters on proper road etiquette and road safety (not to mention enforcing the rules) is a problem that I’ve wrestled with for years. 

As a cycling advocate I certainly do not want to scare people off with the threat of a licensing test (I also know the feasibility of such a process is pretty much zilch). I also don’t want to see people get hit or killed.


I’m not quite sure what to do. Maybe more media exposure on the realities of commuting? A frank and very public discussion on city-cycling safety? A group of bike-cops enforcing bike-related infractions? 

            It’s the cycling infrastructure in established bike-friendly cities like Portland, OR or across the Atlantic in Amsterdam and Copenhagen, and the rapid rise of infrastructure in places like NYC that give me hope for the future of the Boston area bicycle scene.

      • ChevSm

        I agree completely.

        We cannot have a meaningful discussion by strictly signally out cyclist while ignoring the other users of the road (cars, trucks, vespas, pedestrians, etc.).

        You’re better off ignoring idiots like Bob. There is a special place in hell for folks like him.

        • Zingbaby

          Yeah Bob should burn in hell for not wanting to hit an idiot cyclist than ran a red light in front of him. Good call.

          Want equality – follow the rules of the road and make bikers legally liable for breaking them. HOW can you argue against this?!?

          • rogger2

            It seems like you have more beef with the cops then with the bikers.
            The rules are the same for both but cops just don’t enforce the laws on bikers.

          • Zingbaby

            They are NOT the same at all. You don’t even need a license to operate a bike on the road and you are not legally liable if you run a red light and cause an accident. Not in MA anyway. The bike is still considered a ‘pedestrian’ and the pedestrian always has the right of way.

          • carandbike

            You are completely incorrect; if a cyclist runs a light and causes a collision he/she certainly IS liable… they can be cited and charged with the incident.

            General Laws: CHAPTER 85, Section 11B

            Every person operating a bicycle upon a way, as defined in section one of chapter ninety, shall have the right to use all public ways in the commonwealth except limited access or express state highways
            where signs specifically prohibiting bicycles have been posted, and
            shall be subject to the traffic laws and regulations of the commonwealth and the special regulations contained in this section, except that: (1) the bicycle operator may keep to the right when passing a motor vehicle which is moving in the travel lane of the way, (2) the bicycle operator shall signal by either hand his intention to stop or turn; provided, however, that signals need not be made continuously and shall not be made when the use of both hands is necessary for the safe operation of the bicycle, and (3) bicycles may be ridden on sidewalks outside business districts when necessary in the interest of safety, unless otherwise directed by local ordinance. A person operating a bicycle on the sidewalk shall yield the right of way to pedestrians and give an audible signal before overtaking and passing any pedestrian.

          • Zingbaby

            Yeah we all know that is total BS – what happens when you break those ‘rules’ assuming it is EVER enforced?

            **Violations of any of these laws can be punished by a fine of up to $20. Parents and guardians are responsible for cyclists under the age of 18. The bicycle of anyone under 18 who violates the law can be impounded by the police or town selectmen for up to 15 days.**

            How many points does that put on your insurance? (none) …does that go on your record? (no). If there were ACTUAL concequences for breaking these rules bikers might be more inclined to follow them.

            What happens if a car, trying to dodge you, flips over and someone dies? …who is legally liable? In MA it’s NOT the biker.

            Again what type of ‘bikers’ license and/or insurance do you have? It’s not required because bikers are still considered pedestrian and that needs to change.

          • carandbike

            Cite me an example of a car flipping over resulting in death from trying to avoid a cyclist, and then we can discuss that point. The possibility of that situation occurring is incredibly small, though I admit it is not impossible… just so unlikely to occur even a fraction of the amount of times it would need to in order to incur need for licensing/regulation for cyclists.

            I have a MA drivers license and MA compulsory auto insurance and am liable for the damage I could cause if I were in an at-fault accident. In my car, because in my car, I am my many many times over, more likely to cause damage and loss of life if I were to drive irresponsibly or unsafely.

            Bicycles are not considered “pedestrians”. They are vehicles and the fines levied against them for traffic infractions are proportionate to the potential damage/loss of life they can cause.

            I’m ok with that.

          • Zingbaby

            A better example, and partly the reason I feel the way I do. My coworker hit a biker running a red light. The biker fell off her bike and got scraped up but not seriously hurt. My coworker’s car was damaged as was the bike. Obviously the bike was much worse off than the car, and my coworker was fine. My coworkers insurance has NO languange for putting fault on the cyclist and no legal discourse; in this case and he had to pay the deductable and his insurance had to pay the girl for the ambulance ride, bike damage, etc.
            And if you don’t think bikers cause accidents, even if they are not directly involved, you are just not being honest.

          • rogger2

            And don’t forget about those crazy pedestrians. They need licenses too! They’re crazy… all walking out into the road… not looking both ways before crossing the street… not using crosswalks… causing cars to dodge them and flip over and kill people.

            Licensing will not do anything.

    • Bob Supporter

      Sorry guys, i support Bob here… bicyclists never stop at red lights, drive in between cars that are stopped and run over pedestrians in the cross walks. You can make all the “there are the exception riders” comments you want- but fact of the matter is, the rules of the road are rarely enforced on bicyclists and when the police do try to enforce the rules, they just take off because they have more maneuverability. These riders (for the most part) are rude and inconsiderate and give a bad rep to all the law abiding citizens. Question is, how made more need to get squished before the laws change and force them to follow the same rules.

    • Michael212

      Yeah i am also with the above here… something has to change with these bike riders. Although it always saddens me to see a loss of life, i don’t seem to feel as bad knowing its their own stupidity that caused it.

  • Lee

    As someone who commutes on a bicycle regularly this saddens me. On the other hand I witness so many lapses of attention on the part of drivers AND bicyclists alike. It seems that many cyclists feel they have more of a right to not pay attention than drivers. I am not 100% sure that this is an infrastructure issue, a driver issue, or a cyclist issue. It is all combined.
    For those who disdain cyclists i would say, in fairness, there are many bikers who have made this a well-earned reputation.
    Does anybody remember defensive driving from when they first learned how to drive? Think about it – me + bike weighs barely 200lbs. How much does a tractor trailer weigh? Or a car? I know who I am betting on when it comes to bike v truck and bike v car.
    When I am in a car and i encounter a tractor trailer I become even more cautious than I am normally – on a bicycle if I am in a precarious situation I simply stop and watch what’s going on and I think more cyclists and drivers alike need to be hypervigilant about their surroundings while in motion on the roads.

  • anony-mouse

    Passing on the right is only allowed on divided highways.

    Long vehicle drivers DO have special problems when making right turns in tight city streets. While it is good practice to keep as far right as practical and make the turn well INTO the intersection it sometimes is necessary to also “get left” well in advance.

    This can tempt cyclists, motorcyclists and scooter riders to ASSUME that despite a right turn blinker the truck is going to go straight or turn left.

    Traffic light poles, utility poles, mail boxes and decorative trees ALWAYS seem to be on corners of right turns when you are driving anything long.

    Perhaps discarding the “no left turn” restrictions would help ?

    I doubt that forcing those wanting a left turn to make three right turns reduces net traffic congestion anyway, it merely keeps those vehicles on the roads for more distance, time and intersections.

    No right turn rules would make more sense for many trucks, trucks with trailers and buses.

    REALLY three lefts are WAY easier than one right.

    PS I ride bicycles and motorcycles, as well as driving a fairly long trailer rig.

  • Nia

    I wanted to call out kudos to the reporter. This is the only time I
    have ever heard someone mention the lack of cycling infrastructure in Boston. I
    have bike commuted to Kendall Square from JP and more recently Roslindale
    almost every day for the past 15 years and I can say that the entire process
    has become more difficult and more dangerous ever since Menino went on his
    crusade to get off the Worst Bicycling Cities in the US list.

    I would love to see more articles/interviews on the lack of
    infrastructure and what really makes a true bike friendly/safe city. What we
    have in Boston certainly is not. And it is not the fault of the cars or the
    cyclists alone. I have seen truck drivers who hit a cyclist (who was not paying
    attention) cry, I have seen cyclists collide head on on a bike path and I have
    seen cyclists cut off people crossing the street in wheel chair and I have seen
    irate people behind the wheel of cars …..and the list goes on. The point is the
    vehicle does not make the a**hole.

    It is time for Mayor Menino to put some serious effort
    behind real change in Boston biking instead of stroking his ego. We
    can ignore the bike share programs that puts un-helmeted riders who are
    unfamiliar with Boston streets on the road, or the half painted bike symbols in
    the road that are supposed to inform drivers that bikes can take over the lane,
    and even the sad excuse for a bike path – that white painted line that goes
    right through the potholes and the leaf filled sewer drains. What we can’t ignore
    is that this half-cocked feel good cycling program is now costing people their

    Let’s stop arguing about who is in the wrong and let’s work for real change. If you can’t do that then shame on you.

  • carandbike

    This is for those of you who don’t believe the truck driver was at fault; please read the last 2 points very closely… and if you are reading this and an investigating officer, you might want to note the law in this case:

    Motorist Responsibilities (see MGL Chapter 89, Section 2 and Chapter 90 Section 14)

    • Motorists and their passengers must check for passing bicyclists
    before opening their door. Motorists and their passengers can be
    ticketed and fined up to $100 for opening car or truck doors into the
    path of any other traffic, including bicycles and pedestrians.

    • Motorists must stay a safe distance to the left of a bicyclist (or
    any other vehicle) when passing. Motorists are also prohibited from
    returning to the right until safety clear of the bicyclist.

    • Motorists must pass at a safe distance. If the lane is too narrow to
    pass safely, the motorist must use another lane to pass, or, if that is
    also unsafe, the motorist must wait until it is safe to pass.

    • Motorists must yield to oncoming bicyclists when making left turns.
    The law expressly includes yielding to bicyclists riding to the right of
    other traffic (e.g., on the shoulder), where they are legally permitted
    but may be more difficult for motorists to see.

    • Motorists are prohibited from making abrupt right turns (“right hooks”) at intersections and driveways after passing a cyclist.

    • Motorists may not use the fact that bicyclists were riding to the
    right of traffic as a legal defense for causing a crash with a bicyclist.

    • Zingbaby

      Now can you list the rules for bikers? …oh wait – there are none. Exactly the problem.

      • Mr. T

        How much more reasonable do cyclists have to be (including those on this thread and this guy in the shop) and how many more have to die before ignorant drivers like you realize that:

        a) Most cyclist DO follow the rules of the road, as they ARE required to by law (you notice the obnoxious ones way more than those that sit at the red light, just like I notice the doors that swing open in front of me more than the people that look in their mirrors and wait; and

        b) You are driving 5,000 lbs. of steel, so take it easy. It’s transportation, not cage fighting. If we all found our way around the city in individual cars, just imagine how much worse traffic would be – so drivers should thank cyclists, not destain them.

        Most importantly though, RIP to this poor guy, and condolences to his friends and family.

        • Zingbaby

          “Most cyclist DO follow the rules of the road” – sorry you are full of it. That is just not true. You might follow them, but that statement is total BS and many serious bike riders will admit this as well.

          As to me personally I DO take it easy. I do NOT want to hit a biker; exactly why I want them to follow the rules – despite your lie that most do.

        • David C. Holzman

          absolutely right about the impact all those cyclists have, reducing traffic by being on their bicycles. (I interviewed an expert on this once.) Drivers should be grateful when they see a cyclist. Perhaps public service announcements are needed to point that out, because a fairly large proportion of drivers around here have antipathy towards cyclists.

          I wouild urge cyclists to protect themselves by being as visible as possible. I recommend wearing those lime green jerseys that are so bright that airline pilots can see them from the sky during the day, and wearing white at night, along with bright lights. And helmets!!!


    • Driver

      Repeat after me “I will not pass on the right, I will not pass on the right.”

      This is just common sense here, really.

  • Julia

    It is sad that yet another biker died.

    Tractor trailer trucks, however, do not move suddenly. And to state the (even more) obvious, they’re rather big. The presence of a truck that was clearly attempting to make a right turn (and of course from the left lane, how else is he going to turn such a huge truck on a narrow side street) should not have been a surprise to anyone on the road. So either the cyclist was paying ZERO attention and moving way too fast, or he thought he could beat the truck.

    This article points out that all of the fatal bike accidents this year have been with trucks, buses, or trolleys – all BIG vehicles that can’t stop suddenly and have limited visibility. Cyclists (ie, mostly kids on bikes, not “real” cyclists) in the Boston area need to start to do the basic physics – 200 lb of bike+person is not going to win against a vehicle. One of the first thing you learn in drivers ed is that right of way is something you give, not take.

    I wouldn’t ignore the road or play chicken with a truck when driving my car, so why do cyclists keep thinking that they have a right to do so with vehicles? Sure, many Boston drivers are aggressive and impulsive, but for me the most aggravating and nerve-wracking thing about driving in Cambridge and around the Boston colleges is the cyclists. Most of them ride like they own the road, rather than share it with pedestrians and drivers. I am tired of the under-privileged minority stance that the cyclists take when these things happen – they need to start taking responsibility for their actions, and behaving *at least* as well as the drivers (which would actually be an improvement).

    It sounds like the world lost a good kid, due to his own mistake, which is sad and regrettable. But I also sympathize with the driver of the truck – what a horrible experience, and he must be heartbroken.

  • MB

    What a tragedy for both families: the trucker and the cyclists. In the rush to make the City bike friendly we have fallen down on not insisting on good infrasturucture for both cars and bikes. Darn hard to fit parked cars, bikes, trucks and cars all in safely. We have also fallen down on not insisting that bicyclists follow the rules of the road and wear lights. The other day I was making a right off the BU bridge onto Memorial Drive and in the midst of the turn a bike totally out of the blue squeezed between me and the curb to go straight. I almost killed him! I braked and honked. He gave me the finger. What’s that all about?

    • ChevSm

      I agree with your 1st 3 sentences but then you lost me.

      I know there are plenty of bad bikers out there but Boston drivers are
      equally dangerous.

      I go through the exact intersection on my bike everyday and it’s very
      dangerous for both bikers and drivers. It’s a poor design b/c the bike lane ends
      and forces bikes and cars to battle for the same lane. I have had a few close
      calls where cars tried to squeeze by me and make a quick right on memorial drive
      while I was on my bike going straight. Most drivers never look back when making
      a right to see if a biker is in their blind spot. As a result I started to
      ‘take the lane’ so I can make sure I’m seen.

      More awareness and respect from both bikers and drivers would go a long way.

  • Christina

    Firstly, my thoughts go out to this young man and his loved one. I’m his age, and still look at the ghost bike at Northeastern every day. Why didn’t we do something to prevent this accident, even though we all saw it coming?

    This is a policy, planning, and culture problem. We are all so obsessed with the status-quo that we can’t think outside the box (or the 2 lane road with parking). Superficial infrastructure and pointing fingers kills people. There is a serious problem here and we need to fix it.

    We live in a car-centered world that dominates the way we drive on the roads, and the policies and transportation planning that built them in the first place. But if we leveled the playing field, and made the streets accessible to cars, bikes, walkers, and transit, not only would we all be safer on our streets, but more people would have access (ie that enormous number of people who choose not to have a car, can’t afford a car, are too young/old to drive a car)- meaning more economic and community development.

    We built roads for cars, and we always have. We repair roads just to hold even more cars. We need policies that make it possible to plan for transportation projects that have multi-modal access in mind. There should be room for cars, trolleys, bikes, and pedestrians alike. After all, at the beginning and end of every trip, we are pedestrians!

    I don’t disagree that cyclists should be ticketed for running red lights, weaving through traffic at stop lights, and not wearing helmets. I am the biker who stops behind the car that was in front of me at the red light so that those cars who already took the time to carefully pass me, don’t have to do it all over again! Cyclists who get ticketed for breaking the rules of the road should be required to take a training. If bike awareness hasn’t already been integrated into drivers ed. classes at the highschool level- as motorcycle awareness is- it should be! We all need to THINK when we get behind the wheel of something dangerous- drive defensively! Look out for bikes when you turn right. It’s something we aren’t in the habit of doing as drivers- but we need to start, otherwise you’ll be equally responsible for a tragedy like this one. Bikers, don’t try to beat a right turning vehicle, you will lose. Car drivers, you do not own the roads. We all do. And until the policies and infrastructure are in place to make it more obvious for the stubborn, more people’s lives will be cut short because of our intolerance, impatience, and dangerous driving.

    People have this perception of arrogant wild bike riders who put their lives at risk. There will be a whole lot more people riding their bikes for the affordability and convenience as time goes on and as millennials ditch the car (which they’ve done, look at the numbers), so it’s worth shifting your perception of the status quo and begin accommodating your neighbors, patrons, and peers on our shared roads. The benefits (health, safety, sustainability, equity) far outweigh the costs (added time to your commute…frustrating 3 seconds behind a slow bike…).

  • Steve

    Essential cyclist and motorist safety tips (from MassBike’s 2010 Bike Week initiative):


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