Articles Posted in Bicycle Accidents

Bike lanes in Inman Square, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Bike lanes in Inman Square, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Photo credit: www.bwglaw.com.

Over the past few years, there has been a growing sense of excitement about safer cycling in Cambridge. With a vote this week, the Cambridge City Council has signaled there is more to come.

The City of Cambridge has many bike lanes, but in 2017, city officials accelerated development of protected bike lanes, which place a physical barrier or extra room and road markings between cyclists and traffic. The city did this with a heavy heart, after fatal bicycle crashes claimed the lives of two cyclists in 2016. One of the cyclists was killed in Inman Square in a dooring crash; the other died in a bicycle collision with a truck in Porter Square.

Then, during 2017, the City of Cambridge rolled out new bike lanes in key travel corridors, including Brattle Street in Harvard Square and Massachusetts Avenue, near Cambridge Rindge & Latin, more than a mile altogether. The city finished the year with 25.8 miles of bike lanes, including 4.2 miles of separated bike lanes, according to a report by Wicked Local Cambridge.

Since then, cyclists and safety groups, such as Cambridge Bicycle Safety, have urged the Cambridge City Council to do more. This week, the City Council approved the Cycling Safety Ordinance, paving the way for more protected bike lanes.

The ordinance calls on the city to add protected bike lanes when roads identified by the Cambridge Bicycle Plan are reconstructed. Once complete, the bicycle plan will create an impressive 20-mile network of protected bike lanes.

The ordinance means residents no longer have to lobby for protected bike lanes when roads are rebuilt. Until now, city officials have had to grant permission on a street-by-street basis or not at all.

There may still be some debate though. The city manager can ultimately veto construction of a protected bike lane based on factors such as a street’s physical layout or the costs. If this happens, the manager must document the reason in writing.

Cambridge officials say they are unaware of any other communities in Massachusetts or across the U.S. which have adopted such a far-reaching policy to create protected bike lanes.

We suspect bicycle committees and planners far and wide will be watching. Protected bike lanes improve safety for cyclists, but the impact goes further by giving everyone on the road clear markings to follow. For drivers and their passengers, these markings are visual reminders not to drive, park or open vehicle doors in bike lanes or they could cause a bicycle crash in Cambridge or any other U.S. city.

StreetsBlog reported on a 2012 study on bike lanes published by the American Journal of Public Health. The study found cyclists on streets with bike lanes had a 50 percent lower chance of injury over streets without bike lanes. Meanwhile, protected bike lanes had the potential to reduce injuries by as much as 90 percent, which is a tremendous figure. Even multi-use paths and off-street trails had a lesser impact, reducing injury by 60 percent compared to roads with bike infrastructure.

About Breakstone, White & Gluck – Boston and Cambridge Bicycle Accident Lawyers
Breakstone, White & Gluck specializes in representing cyclists and pedestrians who have been injured by the negligence of drivers and rideshare vehicles in Massachusetts. If you have been injured, the most important step you can take is to learn your legal rights for seeking compensation. For a free legal consultation, contact our Cambridge bicycle accident attorneys at Breakstone, White & Gluck at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.

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Dooring bicycle accident

A passenger nearly causes a dooring accident by opening her car door, without checking for cyclists. By using the Dutch Reach method, drivers and passengers can reduce their risk of causing these injuries.

As April begins, so come more cyclists on the road. Drivers should consider each cyclist a reminder to use the Dutch Reach method and never open your car door without checking. You can cause serious and even fatal injuries to a cyclist. In Massachusetts, you may also be held financially responsible for the tragedy that follows.

At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our lawyers have represented many cyclists injured by dooring accidents and other bicycle collisions in Boston, Cambridge and across the state. We urge drivers to take a few minutes to learn about the Dutch Reach method to prevent injuries.

Lack of awareness causes many injuries. Many drivers park and open their car door automatically, heedless of its risk to passing cyclists or to themselves (or door!) even as the number of cyclists sharing our roads increases by the year. In Boston alone, the city’s bike counting program tracked nearly 40,000 bike trips each day in 2017. During 2019, the concern spreads beyond cyclists as dockless scooters arrive in the Boston area.

What is the Dutch Reach?

Dooring accidents happen after drivers park and exit their vehicles without checking. The Dutch Reach method attempts to slow the process down and give drivers more time to see cyclists and anticipate potential accidents.

The approach calls on drivers to park and then check their rear-view and side-view mirrors. If there are no cyclists or pedestrians nearby, drivers can turn to open the door with their far hand. In the process, they should get a good look at the road behind them. Both drivers and passengers are advised to follow this approach. By doing so, drivers can limit the risk for injuries to cyclists as well as pedestrians.

Watch this video to learn about the Dutch Reach method. The demonstration begins around the 1 minute mark.

The Dutch Reach method originated in the Netherlands. But Michael Charney, a Cambridge doctor, began campaigning for awareness in Massachusetts in 2016, after the devastating bicycle crash which killed Amanda Phillips in Cambridge’s Inman Square. The 27-year-old was hit by two vehicles, first an open door.

As a result of this campaign, Massachusetts updated its state driver’s manual in 2017, adding instructions for the Dutch Reach method. Dooring has been against the law in Massachusetts since 2009. You can be cited and fined up to $100 per offense for interfering with other traffic, including a pedestrian or cyclist. You can also face a civil claim from the victim seeking financial damages. For years, drivers and cyclists have learned the dangers of dooring crashes after a collision; but adding the Dutch Reach instructions to the Massachusetts driver’s manual now provides clear and concise instructions for how to prevent these crashes.

Following success in Massachusetts, Charney’s campaign has continued, resulting in two other states, Washington and Illinois, adding the Dutch Reach to the state driver’s manual.

Safety Reminders for Traveling Near Cyclists

  • Expect cyclists on the road. Many cyclists will travel in the bike lane or to the right of traffic, but remember that cyclists have the legal right to operate in the traffic lane when they need.
  • Slow down. When you travel fast, you have less time to respond.
  • Follow cyclists at a safe distance. Cyclists should have at least three feet of space when you pass them.
  • The further back you travel, the wider your field of vision.
  • Remember that cyclists may need to leave the bike lane. You need to make sure you can respond if they do.
  • Expect someone may stop unexpectedly, such as a delivery truck or an Uber or Lyft vehicle picking up a passenger.
  • Be careful not to startle a cyclist. Never honk.
  • Approach crosswalks and traffic signals with caution. Cyclists are supposed to stop, but expect there may be times they can’t due to traffic conditions.
  • Use your mirrors. Check for cyclists behind you and next to you, especially before turning or parking.
  • Finally, again, be careful when parking. Use the Dutch Reach method. Be cautious when parking in unfamiliar streets and avoid parking near traffic signals and crosswalks.

About Breakstone, White & Gluck
The Boston personal injury lawyers at Breakstone, White & Gluck represent cyclists who have been injured by the negligence of drivers. We also work to prevent bicycle accidents and improve safety through our sponsorship of bicycle clubs in the Boston area and our Project KidSafe campaign, which has donated more than 25,000 bicycle helmets to children across Massachusetts.

If you have been injured, Breakstone, White & Gluck offers a free legal consultation. Learn more about our attorneys.

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Last month, the City of Everett announced it was joining the Bluebikes regional bike share. This was welcome news for commuters, especially Everett residents who travel into Somerville, Cambridge and Boston. Everett will become the first Massachusetts community to offer both the Bluebikes and dockless bikes.

Everett is also the first community to join the metro-Boston bike share in at least five years. The City of Boston first brought the program – then called Hubway – to the region in July 2011. It began with a fleet of 600 bikes parked at 60 stations within the city of Boston.

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truck driving in Boston Fenway area

A truck travels along Brookline Avenue in Boston last summer, near the site of a fatal truck crash killing a cyclist last week.

It was heart-breaking to watch the TV news coverage last week, the scenes following a cement truck crash which killed a cyclist in Boston’s Fenway neighborhood. The 69-year-old victim, a librarian in Brookline, was hit at the intersection of Brookline Avenue and Park Drive on Friday afternoon.

As State Police investigate the fatal bicycle accident, we should all be concerned about trucks. If you are a pedestrian or cyclist in Boston or Cambridge, you have likely witnessed a truck crash or near crash. Or the sheer terror of having a truck come too close.

At times, is hard not to  travel in fear.  In addition to the cement truck crash, a City of Boston truck plowed over a sidewalk, hit a pedestrian and smashed into the side of Liu Yi Shou Hotspot Boston. The restaurant is located on the corner of Washington and Kneeland streets in Chinatown, near Tufts Medical Center. The pedestrian was treated for non-life threatening injuries while the restaurant sustained heavy structural damage.

Because trucks are heavy-weight vehicles, drivers must be properly trained and use reasonable care when operating. When they neglect to do so, pedestrians and cyclists are in danger. Drivers and occupants of passenger cars are also at great risk. And we have seen trucks damage and leave behind deadly conditions in Boston tunnels.

Our attorneys have extensive experience in investigating truck crashes which have seriously injured or killed cyclists.

Last year, Attorney Ron Gluck of Breakstone, White & Gluck settled a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of a cyclist who was killed by a truck driver in a hit-and-run crash. The driver hit our 38-year-old client at the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Beacon Street. Read about the case in Boston Magazine.

Truck Accident Statistics

  • Nationwide, fatal truck crashes have increased by 3 percent, from 4,704 to 4,213, according to the 2016 Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts 2016 report by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
  • Truck drivers were speeding in 6.9 percent of truck crashes involving a fatality. They were engaged in distractions in 6.1 percent of fatal truck crashes. Failure to yield the right of way resulted in 4 percent of truck crashes resulting in a wrongful death. These were the leading causes; violations were not reported in many of the accidents (2016 Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts 2016).
  • In 2016, 840 cyclists were killed in traffic crashes, a 2 percent rise over 2015. More significantly, this continued a trend of near two percent increases and marked a 25-year high for fatal cyclist accidents in the U.S. Cyclists age 55-59 and 60-64 had the highest fatality rates. (Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration,Traffic Safety Facts 2016 Data: Bicyclists and Other Cyclists).
  • Single-vehicle truck crashes killed 85 cyclists in 2016, just about 10 percent of all traffic deaths (NHTSA  Traffic Safety Facts).

How Cyclists Are Being Injured By Trucks

When cyclists are killed in collisions with motor vehicles, they are most likely to be hit by the front of the vehicle, according to the NHTSA FARS data. Cyclists are hit from the front in 78 percent of all cyclist vs. motor vehicle deaths, including in 89 percent of accidents involving cars and 83 percent of accidents involving light trucks, SUVs, pick-up vehicles or vans.

The numbers change when you look at fatal accidents involving large trucks and cyclists. While 48 percent of cyclists who died were hit from the front of large trucks, 22 percent were struck by the right side of a truck, while 9 percent were hit on the left side. Another 7 percent were by the back of the truck.

Truck Sideguard Ordinances and Legislation in Massachusetts

Some cities and states want to encourage truck safety by passing ordinances that require trucks to be equipped with side guards. This covers the area between a truck’s wheels, where cyclists and pedestrians can become trapped. Two cities in Massachusetts have already passed ordinances for city-contracted trucks and large vehicles. The ordinances also require trucks to use convex mirrors to help them see blind spots.

Boston was the first U.S. city to pass an ordinance in 2014. Somerville has since followed, passing the Somerville Ordinance to Safeguard Vulnerable Road Users. A statewide law could be next. A proposal now on Beacon Hill is asking lawmakers to mandate side guards on all city- and state-owned vehicles by 2020. Contractors would be required to meet the new standard by 2022.

Free Legal Consultation: 800-379-1244
Breakstone, White & Gluck has more than 100 years combined experience representing victims in personal injury, wrongful death and medical malpractice cases.

If you or someone in your family has been injured, contact us today for a free legal consultation at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.

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WBZ-TV News FootageMassachusetts State Police are investigating a tragic crash which killed a female cyclist today in a heavily congested Boston intersection. The bicycle crash happened in the city’s Fenway neighborhood, less than a half mile from Fenway Park. Witnesses described a frightening scene as emergency responders attempted to resuscitate the woman, according to WBZ-TV. The woman was transported to Brigham & Women’s Hospital, where she sadly died from her injuries. The woman’s bike was left crushed in the road as State Police blocked off two traffic lanes to investigate.

The cement truck reportedly struck the woman on Brookline Avenue at Park Drive around 1:30 p.m., according to Boston.com. Just before 4 p.m., State Police reported the woman had died. The cement truck read, “Boston Sand & Gravel Co.” The driver reportedly stayed on the scene and was also transported to a hospital for evaluation. At this time, State Police have not released the name of the woman, the driver or confirmed the cement truck’s owner.

News photos showed the truck crash that killed the cyclist was near a major traffic block, near Emmanuel College, Boston University’s Fenway Campus and the Emerald Necklace walkway. Nearby is Longwood Medical area, including Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Children’s Hospital.

Police focused their investigation on the center of the large intersection, measuring marks in the road, according to WBZ-TV. The bicycle was crushed and the seat was detached. The cement truck remained on site for several hours before being towed away.

About Breakstone, White & Gluck

Breakstone, White & Gluck is one of the most respected personal injury law firms in Boston. With more than 100 years combined experience, our attorneys represent cyclists and their families in personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits. With a special expertise in investigating truck crashes and an expansive knowledge of the trucking industry, our attorneys have a record of successfully negotiating the best financial results for our clients. Time and again, we have effectively presented the evidence and negotiated the maximum coverage on insurance policies. If you have been injured, learn your rights. For a free legal consultation, visit 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.

Breakstone, White & Gluck’s Experience

We invite you to read about one of our recent cases below or in Boston Magazine. Attorney Ron Gluck was recently interviewed about his work for the family of a cyclist who was struck and killed by a truck in Back Bay.

$3,500,000: Truck Collision Kills Motorcyclist; Wrongful Death
$3,000,000: Tractor-Trailer Strikes Car, Severe Orthopedic Injuries
$2,500,000: Car Struck by Truck, Plaintiff Suffers Multiple Injuries

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electric scooter

Electric scooter parked on a sidewalk. Seven scooter companies have expressed interest in coming to Massachusetts, according to the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC).

If proposed legislation passes, electric scooter rentals may soon return to Massachusetts. Bird – a start-up scooter company – flew in and out of the state last year on a failed test run.

Since then, many communities have been discussing regulations locally while waiting for action on the state level. Last month, Gov. Charlie Baker delivered, including electric scooters in his road safety bill, calling for them to be regulated similar to bicycles. Like cyclists, scooter riders would be required to wear helmets to protect themselves from head injuries.

Breakstone, White & Gluck was pleased to support MassBike’s Light Brigade 2018, which delivered bike lights to cyclists who needed a set so they can be visible to drivers. All Photos: Courtesy of MassBike Light Brigade 2018 Facebook Photo Album

massbike-4-1200We want to say job well done to MassBike for helping cyclists ride safely at night in Massachusetts. Over the past few weeks, MassBike has been distributing bike lights to cyclists from near and far, shining a light on the importance of staying visible during these dark days of winter.

Under Massachusetts law, cyclists are required to use bike lights from 30 minutes after sunset until 30 minutes before sunrise.  The front of the bike must be equipped with a white light (visible at least 500 feet away), with a red light or reflector on the back.  Drivers must be able to see the rear light from at least 600 feet away.

MassBike is committed to getting lights to cyclists, reaching across 90 miles with this year’s campaign. Volunteers have given out lights in Boston, including in the Allston, Jamaica Plain and Charlestown neighborhoods and nearby: Cambridge, Lynn, Newton and Needham. Further west, cyclists in Northampton, Holyoke and Worcester also received lights. We’re told there may be more stops.

Breakstone, White & Gluck was a sponsor of MassBike’s campaign in 2017 and 2018. Other sponsors of the MassBike’s 2018 Light Brigade include Digital Lumens, Cycle Massachusetts and Charles River Wheelers.

More questions about Massachusetts bicycle laws? Read our article, “Quick Facts About Massachusetts Bicycle Laws.”

massbike-5-1200

massbike-3-1200  massbike-5-1200-charlestown

Photos: Courtesy of MassBike Light Brigade 2018 Facebook Photo Album

About Breakstone, White & Gluck

With more than 100 years combined experience, Breakstone, White & Gluck is a Boston law firm specializing in personal injury and medical malpractice cases. Our partners founded our firm in 1992 and we have supported bicycle safety the entire way. For more than 20 years, we have sponsored bicycle clubs and organizations in the Boston area (and in some cases, ridden along the way; one of our partners is also a cyclist).

In 2013, our attorneys launched our Project KidSafe campaign, which has now given away more than 20,000 bicycle helmets across Massachusetts. Along the way, we have proudly worked with over 40 community organizations, including Massachusetts Safe Routes to School, more than a dozen police departments and bicycle committees in Milton, Westborough and Framingham. In 2017, we were recognized as a Silver Level Bicycle Friendly Business by the American League of Bicyclists.

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Attorney David W. White and his wife Denise Murphy recently enjoyed a visit with Boston Police Commissioner William Gross and Superintendent Dennis White, the Commissioner’s chief of staff. The visit was to thank the Boston Police Department for supporting Breakstone, White & Gluck’s Project KidSafe campaign for a third year in 2018, helping us get 160 bicycle helmets to children who needed one in Boston.

We are pleased to partner with the Boston Police Department. In the city of Boston, when families get the opportunity to meet a police officer, they quickly come to respect them and the importance of wearing bicycle helmets. Then, what’s great is we see families – parents and children – committing to protect themselves. And it has a ripple effect on neighbors, friends.

Boston Police Department bike safety and bicycle helmet donation from Breakstone, White & Gluck of Boston

Attorney David W. White with Boston Police Commissioner William Gross and Superintendent Dennis White, the Commissioner’s Chief of Staff. In 2018, Breakstone, White & Gluck was pleased to partner with Boston Police Department for the third year through our Project KidSafe campaign and donate bicycle helmets to the Boston Police Department to distribute to children who needed one (Photo courtesy: Boston Police Department).

easthampton

Breakstone, White & Gluck’s Project KidSafe campaign donated nearly 200 youth bicycle helmets in Westborough this year. Our attorneys are committed to preventing head injuries and for 5 years, have partnered with the Westborough Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Committee to bring helmets to children who need one. (File photo: From a May 2016 Project KidSafe event in Western Mass).

We are glad the weather held off!

For the fifth year, Breakstone, White & Gluck and our Project KidSafe campaign donated nearly 200 children’s bicycle helmets in Westborough. Last Spring, about 100 helmets were distributed by the Boroughs Family Branch of the YMCA of Central Massachusetts. The helmets went to children who needed one at the annual Healthy Kids Day. But thanks to Mother Nature, giving away the rest was more challenging.

First, unseasonable weather forced the the Rotary Club of Westborough to cancel the Spring Fest. On Saturday, it looked like the back-up plan – to hold a Fall Fest – was also in jeopardy. But we are happy to report the skies cleared enough for activities to go on. Our thanks to members of the Westborough Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Committee, who were out fitting our Project KidSafe helmets for the kids and talking to families about the importance of wearing them.

Wearing a helmet is critical for cyclists of any age. A helmet can limit the impact if a cyclist falls and significantly reduce the chances of a head injury. In Massachusetts, cyclists under 17 are required to wear helmets when they ride. The Boston personal injury lawyers at Breakstone, White & Gluck began our Project KidSafe campaign to put helmets on more children and to encourage children and families to wear one at all times. Our lawyers have represented many cyclists who have suffered head injuries in bicycle accidents over the years, and we know that cyclists can protect themselves by wearing a helmet, which is in good condition, meets safety standards set by the Consumer Product Safety Commission and properly fits.

That’s why Breakstone, White & Gluck founded our Project KidSafe campaign in 2013. As we near the end of 2018, our attorneys are proud to have donated over 20,000 bicycle helmets across Massachusetts. We have partnered with more than 40 organizations over the years and it’s one of our priorities to support local bicycle committees, which are making Massachusetts safer one project at a time. In Westborough, the committee has worked to improve pedestrian and bike signals and supported construction of bike paths. The Westborough Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Committee’s website provides resources for cyclists who want help getting around.

Read about the Westborough rotary’s Fall Fest in the Community Advocate newspaper.

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Dooring bicycle accidentA recent New York Times article on dooring injuries shows the risks to cyclists continue, even after advocacy efforts in Boston and other cities.

At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our attorneys represent cyclists who have been seriously injured in dooring accidents. While many dooring accidents happen in urban areas such as Boston, Cambridge and Somerville, dooring can happen in any community in Massachusetts. When drivers or passengers open doors without checking, cyclists can suffer devastating injuries, including broken bones, facial fractures and head injuries. Dooring crashes can be fatal.

Dooring crashes do not always make the news in Boston. But they are happening, more than any other type of bicycle accident. In fact, in November 2016, The Boston Globe reported cyclists faced a 225 percent higher risk for dooring than any other bicycle accident injury.