Bicycle safety in Boston

Boston isn’t the best city for bicycle safety. The legendary craziness of its drivers mostly results in fender-benders when one car hits another, but for bicyclists the results can be far worse. Lanes are narrow and cars often turn without signaling or block cyclists by double-parking.

In 2015, the situation drew public attention when a tractor-trailer truck killed a visiting Swiss doctor riding at Massachusetts Avenue and Beacon Street, one of the city’s busiest intersections. Outright hostility to bicyclists isn’t unusual. Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby responded to Dr. Kurmann’s death by saying, “If you want to ride a bicycle in Boston, you’ve got plenty of great places to do it. Massachusetts Avenue during business hours shouldn’t be one of them.” A group in East Boston petitioned for the removal of all bicycle lanes.

382 bicycle crashes occurred in Boston during the period from 2010 to 2013. These included nine fatalities. Nonetheless, bicycle commuting has grown tremendously in Boston, with commuting tripling from 2005 to 2015. Statewide, bike commuting more than doubled from 2005 to 2012.

Some of the neighboring cities are quite bike-friendly. 8.5% of commuters in Cambridge use bicycles, compared to just 2% in Boston. TheMinuteman Bikeway runs from Bedford to Cambridge, connecting with the MBTA at Alewife Station. At some intersections riders will encounter traffic problems, but work is continuing to improve its safety.

Boston is developing a Bike Network Plan to make streets safer for bicycling and create new bicycle routes. Many businesses in the city are adopting bike-friendly practices. Boston lags behind many other cities in bike-friendliness, but it is making progress.

Want to learn more about your rights and responsibilities as a bicyclist? Please contact us.

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