Commuters across the state have been pedaling their way to work, the grocery store and other destinations all week as part of Bay State Bike Week and the Mass Commuter Challenge.
Commuters pledged to step out of their cars from May 17-21 and pedal 175,000 miles to workplaces from Worcester to Boston to Plymouth and across the rest of Massachusetts.
The challenge was organized to promote a healthy, non-polluting and sustainable means of transportation. Breakstone, White & Gluck supports this mission but hopes the Mass Commuter Challenge also highlights another important point: that as more bicycles take to the road, drivers and bicyclists must be more aware of each other for safety’s sake.
There are far too many bicycle accidents taking place on the roads today. In 2008, 716 bicyclists were killed across the country and an additional 52,000 were injured in traffic crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The NHTSA numbers show that 69 percent of bicycle accidents occured in urban areas and 28 percent of accidents occured between the hours of 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. The majority of the accidents occured in June (9 percent) and September (12 percent).
What Drivers Can Do to Improve Safety
The laws have changed significantly in the last year. Drivers have many more responsibilities to avoid injuring bicyclists. The first step is to be aware that you need to check twice for a cyclist. When overtaking cyclists, you cannot turn right unless there is adequate room, and you must yield to on-coming cyclists when turning left. When passing, you must do so at a safe distance. And remember to pay attention even after you turn off your motor vehicle’s engine. Under Massachusetts bike safety laws, motorists and their passengers can be fined up to $100 for opening car and truck doors in the path of a bicyclist.
A final tip: Put down that cell phone and concentrate on the road!
What Bicyclists Can Do to Improve Safety
Bicyclists can remember that bright colored reflective clothing and helmets save lives. Massachusetts only requires individuals age 1 to 16 to wear helmets, but we advise adults to wear them as well to avoid head injuries. Cyclists must obey the same rules as automobiles when on pubic ways. One of the biggest causes of accidents to cyclists: traveling the wrong way on a one-way street.
For more information about events in Boston and the Springfield area, visit www.masscommuterchallenge.org or www.massbike.org.
For assistance with cases involving bicycle accidents or motor vehicle accidents resulting in personal injury, contact the Boston personal injury lawyers at Breakstone, White & Gluck at 800 379 1244.