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.
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.