At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our attorneys encourage you to follow the Massachusetts “stay at home” advisory. When you go out for essential errands, the CDC advises you to wear a face mask and follow social distance guidelines, staying at least 6 feet apart from other people.
Yet it is also important to get outside for a few minutes of fresh air each day, even if you just stay in your own yard or walk down the street. With many of us so distressed, this can be hard to do, but if you are healthy and able, we have compiled these safety tips from the CDC, the Massachusetts Covid-19 website and bike and pedestrian groups we support.
Massachusetts Stay at Home Advisory
State officials have advised light exercise, such as a walk or run around your neighborhood, is acceptable but you have to follow social distancing and other guidelines. Playing close contact sports with others is against the state guidelines. Mass DPH Health Advisory: Stay at Home (March 24, 2020).
MassBike issued a COVID-19 safety update, dated April 19, 2020, saying its response has generally been to follow the Massachusetts Governor’s Office and the Centers for Disease Control. Cyclists can ride, “But MassBike certainly agrees with, and wants to reiterate, the official message of #StayHomeSaveLives. We encourage you all to stay home as best you can.”
MassBike’s safety tips included:
- Never ride if you are ill or are experiencing of COVID-19.
- Ride solo or only with others you live with.
- Wear a mask.
- Carry your supplies so you can avoid stopping and and interacting with people.
- Look for a place where others are not riding.
- Ride with caution.
The CDC recommends people stay at least six feet apart, but how can you measure distance when you are moving? That’s a good question and in its post, MassBike mentioned a Belgium study on social distancing on bikes. The study advises people to walk about 12-15 feet away to maintain safe social distancing or about 30 feet for running and slow biking. When cycling fast, bicyclists should keep at least 60 feet apart.
Boston Cyclists Union
The Boston Cyclists Union says yes, cyclists can still ride. If you do, the organization recommends riding alone or only with others in your home. It also suggests wearing a mask to protect yourselves and others. Read the Boston Cyclists Union advisory, April 1, 2020.
WalkBoston released an update on March 27, 2020. It also warned the public to practice social distancing when walking. The organization, active in Boston and across Massachusetts, offers a weekly email newsletter.
Massachusetts City and Town Advisories on Expanded Recreation Areas
Some communities are talking about opening up roads so pedestrians and cyclists have more room to exercise and follow social distance guidelines. In Brookline, the Transportation Board removed parking and traffic lanes and opened up parts of Beacon Street, Brookline Avenue and Harvard Street to pedestrians.
The City of Boston also closed three Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) parkways to traffic, giving pedestrians and cyclists more room. These include the William J. Day Boulevard, Francis Parkman Drive and Greenough Boulevard.
In Cambridge, the City Council was also considering closing roads along Memorial Drive.
In addition to taking COVID-19 safety precautions, cyclists must remember to follow fundamentals, such as always wearing a properly-fitted helmet and using rear and front lights on your bike. If you need a new helmet, supplies or a tune-up, local bike shops are considered “essential businesses” and are allowed to open. Finally, both cyclists and pedestrians can protect themselves by wearing brightly colored clothing or a neon safety vest to stand out. While traffic has decreased on many roads, there are still many drivers out and it’s important to be vigilant about safety.
If you are interested in learning more about bike safety, consider checking out our articles:
Other COVID-19 Resources
CDC Advisory on Protective Face Masks
State of Massachusetts COVID-19 Updates
Consumer Reports, “Bike Riding Safety During the Coronavirus Pandemic,” April 10, 2020
Free Legal Consultation – Boston Personal Injury Lawyers
Breakstone, White & Gluck supports cycling and pedestrian safety in Massachusetts. Through our Project KidSafe campaign, we are committed to protecting children on bicycles from concussions and traumatic brain injuries.
If you have been injured, learn your legal rights. Breakstone, White & Gluck represents those injured by negligence and recklessness throughout Massachusetts, including in car accidents, truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents and pedestrian accidents. For a free legal consultation, contact us at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676. You can also use our contact form.
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.
Breakstone, White & Gluck was pleased to help students at Groundwork Somerville ride their bicycles safely this summer. As part of our Project KidSafe campaign, our attorneys donated bicycle helmets and neon safety vests to 25 students on The Green Team.
The Green Team is Groundwork Somerville’s environmental youth employment program, where Somerville youth work to make positive social and environmental change, while gaining valuable job training and career skills. The students spend summers working across the City of Somerville, building gardens, cleaning up rivers and engaging the community about ways to protect the environment and cultivate agricultural and forestry resources. The students rely heavily on their bicycles to travel between sites and bicycle safety is a priority.
Among The Green Team’s projects: developing The South Street Farm near the Cambridge border and participating in the planning of Somerville parks. If you shop at the Union Square Farmer’s Market or the Mystic Mobile Market, you may have bought produce from The Green Team gardens.
Breakstone, White & Gluck is pleased to support Groundwork Somerville. We encourage you to visit their website at www.groundworksomerville.org.
Breakstone, White & Gluck and Project KidSafe in Somerville
Breakstone, White & Gluck is committed to children’s bicycle safety. Over the past four years, our attorneys have donated over 10,000 bicycle helmets to children across Massachusetts through our Project KidSafe campaign. We have partnered with Groundwork Somerville for the past three years, donating helmets and safety vests.
We have been active in Somerville all four years of our safety campaign, also donating helmets to The Kiwanis Club of Somerville’s Bike Safety Day and helmets to every 5th grader who completes CYCLE Kids, which teaches bicycle riding and nutrition skills. In 2016, we were pleased to donate over 400 children’s bicycle helmets in the city. Read recent coverage in The Somerville Times.
For cyclists, this is one of the best weeks of the year: Bay State Bike Week. It started Saturday and runs through next Sunday, May 17th.
May is National Bike Month and Bay State Bike Week is how we celebrate in Massachusetts. This is a truly statewide event, with groups organizing gatherings, rides and photo exhibits throughout Massachusetts. These events are a great way to learn about cycling in Massachusetts, as well as safety. There are some groups working hard to prevent bicycle accidents in our state and this is the time to see their work.
Bay State Bike Week is a partnership between the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT), MassBike and MassRides. If you are a cyclist, check out the list of events.
Here are a few events of note. Watch for us! We may be participating in a few.
A few events to watch:
Cambridge. This will be a busy week in Cambridge, with a wide range of events, from pancake breakfasts to lunches with the Cambridge Police Department and city planning staff, where cyclists can ask questions. On Saturday, cyclists gather for a two-hour ride in honor of the late talk host Tom Magliozzi of Cambridge, who was best known for hosting Car Talk on NPR alongside his brother.
There are also bicycle maintenance workshops throughout the week, where cyclists can take home a few tips for free.
Waltham. Waltham is hosting its Second Annual City of Waltham Bicycle Update on Wednesday at 6 p.m., at the Government Center Auditorium on School Street. With more than 60,000 residents, large employers and colleges, the city is looking to encourage safe cycling as an alternative form of transportation.
Lexington. Free bike safety checks will be offered throughout the week. On Friday, a light breakfast is free on the Minuteman Bikeway, near the Lexington Depot. Then Richard Fries, executive director of Mass Bike Director, will lead a bicycle convoy from Lexington to Boston City Hall.
Bike Friday at Boston City Hall. On Friday, the commuters will ride in from all over for Bike Friday, where they are rewarded with a free breakfast. This is a popular event organized by Boston Bikes. It is held once a month in the summer and will be one of the last events of Bay State Bike Week. Attorney David W. White will be out with our Project KidSafe tent as the cyclists pull in.
Somerville Bike Day. For the third year, we will join the Somerville Kiwanis at the city’s annual Bike Day at Argenziano School on Washington Street. We will donate 120 new helmets and help fit the helmets for the children. Children will receive a free bicycle inspection, reflectors, and safety pamphlets and get to test their skills on a bicycle obstacle course. The Somerville Police Department will be on hand to register bikes for children.
Western Massachusetts Events. There will be commuter breakfasts, mayor’s rides and photo exhibits in Westfield, Amherst, Springfield and Northampton.
Cape Cod Events. There are several rides and interesting events in Cape Cod this week, but one of note is the Cape Cod Summer Citizens – Bike Safety Outreach Program. Each year, thousands of international students arrive on Cape Cod to arrive in work and travel programs. They primarily have to travel on bicycles and this program starts this week. This program provides education to all cyclists throughout the busy tourist season.