Articles Tagged with Cambridge

View from Inman Square, Cambridge

View from Inman Square, Cambridge, once ranked the top bike crash site in Massachusetts, according to MassDOT crash data. Photo: 2017, after installation of new bike lanes.

With strong encouragement from local cyclists, the Cambridge City Council voted to expand and update the Cambridge Cycling Safety Ordinance this week. The council approved the original ordinance last year, drawing national attention with an ambitious commitment to build 20 miles of protected bike lanes.

But cyclists felt there was more work to do. They recently asked the Cambridge City Council to prioritize areas for protected bike lane development, add new roads and establish a deadline for improvements.

  • The Cambridge City Council approved a May 1, 2026 deadline for building out Cambridge’s network of protected bike lanes (now 22.6 miles), using either permanent construction or quick-build approaches (Source: Cambridge Bicycle Safety announcement dated October 6, 2020).
  • Protected bike lanes will also be added in more areas, including Broadway, between Harvard University and Kendall Square, and Garden Street, according to according to StreetsBlog Mass.
  • City councilors also voted to prioritize bike lane development in the area north of Harvard Square, directing city staff to develop a detailed plan by May 2021. Hampshire and Cambridge streets, near Inman Square, will also now move up on the work list (Source: StreetsBlog Mass).

The vote comes several weeks after a cyclist was killed in Harvard Square. In August, a large tractor-trailer struck and killed the male cyclist on Massachusetts Avenue, near Brattle Street. Just a year ago, in September 2019, another bicycle accident resulted in a female cyclist’s death in the area.  A devastated family member later wrote a guest column in a local newspaper, urging the city to make safety improvements in Harvard Square.

The City of Cambridge has been studying traffic in congested Harvard Square. After the cyclist’s death in August, a city official stated Cambridge will add a separated bike lane and reduce travel lanes on Massachusetts Avenue, between the Harvard Square Kiosk and Harvard Square (Source: The Boston Herald, August 26, 2020).

Harvard Square is known for historic buildings and iconic shops, such as The Coop, the Harvard University bookstore. Adjacent to Harvard Yard and Harvard University, the square is located at the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue, Brattle Street and John F. Kennedy Street. The MBTA red line stops there and pedestrians and cyclists are in close proximity to motor vehicle traffic, buses and trucks.

Other Cambridge Bicycle Accidents

The Cambridge Bicycle Safety, a volunteer group, has led the effort for expanding protected bike lanes across the city. Its announcement noted this was the first mandatory timeline for building a bike lane network in the United States.

Safety is a leading concern for cyclists in Cambridge. Between residents and commuters, Cambridge has a high number of cyclists. When cyclists have been injured or killed in traffic accidents, many people have felt the impact. There has been a strong response in each case.

In June 2016, a 27-year-old cyclist was tragically hit and killed in a bicycle crash in Inman Square. The woman was struck by a Jeep Cherokee’s open door, then pushed into the travel lane, where she was ultimately struck by a moving dump truck, according to Wicked Local Cambridge. She was pronounced dead a short time later at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Then, in October 2016, a cyclist was fatally injured in Porter Square. The cyclist was struck by a tractor-trailer and a sedan during a morning ride. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

After these crashes, a Cambridge resident campaigned to encourage drivers to use the Dutch Reach method before exiting their vehicles. This method encourages drivers to take a full look at the road from their seat, so they do not risk “dooring” a cyclist.

As a result of his campaign, the state of Massachusetts added instruction on the Dutch Reach method to the state driver’s manual to educate drivers.

Free Legal Consultation – Boston and Cambridge Bicycle Accident Lawyers

Breakstone, White & Gluck is a Boston law firm which specializes in the representation of cyclists who have been injured by negligent drivers. Our attorneys offer more than 100 years combined experience handling all types of bicycle accidents, including truck crashes injuring cyclists, intersection bike accidents, right hook crashes and dooring. We help cyclists obtain compensation for recovery, including for medical care, lost wages and pain and suffering.

But our attorneys do more than represent cyclists. We are committed to improving safety for cyclists in the Boston area. We have long supported local cyclist clubs. And through our Project KidSafe campaign, we have donated 30,000 bicycle helmets to children across Massachusetts, including in partnership with the Cambridge Police Department. The League of American Bicyclists has honored us as a Silver-Level Bicycle Friendly Business.

If you have been injured, learn your legal rights. For a free legal consultation, call our Boston bicycle accident lawyers at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676. You can also use our contact form.

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20 mph speed limit

Drivers, double check your speed next time you visit Cambridge. In mid-November, the city plans a slow down to 20 mph on most city-owned streets. The city says, when in doubt, go 20 mph. 

The City of Cambridge announced the new 20 mph speed limit this week, a decision made in response to residents’ concerns about speeding vehicles and the risk for pedestrian accidents and injuries to cyclists. Cambridge follows Boston and Somerville in pursuing 20 mph speeds on certain city streets. Each city has a VisionZero safety campaign and is working to eliminate traffic fatalities. 

Cambridge first lowered speed limits from 30 to 25 mph on most city-owned streets in December 2016. The Massachusetts Legislature granted cities and towns this authority earlier that year with passage of the Municipal Modernization Law. Specifically, communities were given the authority to lower speeds from 30 to 25 mph in locally-owned thickly settled areas.

In response, dozens of communities adopted 25 mph speed limits to reduce the risk of accidents. Few have pursued 20 mph – yet.

But according to the City of Cambridge’s announcement, the law allows communities to establish 20 mph “safety zones” in the interest of public safety. Cambridge will be installing 660 new “safety zone” signs. 

The City of Somerville has also taken advantage of this provision of the law. Last we knew, the City of Boston – which was the first to pursue 25 mph, then 20 mph speeds – was still working on the issue. Here is our last update on Massachusetts speed limits  (though please note: there may have been additional action since then).

Check a street: Not every street in Cambridge will be impacted. Larger streets like Brattle Street and Cambridge Street will stick with current speeds. Roads under state management – such as Memorial Drive – will not change. You can check out the map here: www.cambridgema.gov/20mph.

It’s worth noting Cambridge’s squares – including Harvard Square, Lechmere Square and Porter Square – won’t see any change. The city lowered speeds to 20 mph back in early 2018.

Cambridge’s Influence on Traffic Safety

Cambridge has been ambitious in making traffic safety improvements. In addition to lowering speeds, the city announced a new City Safety Ordinance earlier this year. The city made the commitment to add permanent separated bike lanes whenever it reconstructs roads identified in the Cambridge Bicycle Plan. With full build out, this would give the city an impressive 20 miles of protected bike lanes. Cambridge Bicycle Safety, a local group, said this could reduce 40 percent of Cambridge bicycle accidents, the one which occur outside intersections.

The city, while committed, does concede there may be cases when these bike lanes aren’t possible due to road conditions.

The bottom line is Cambridge has such a strong influence on transportation in the Boston region, just by virtue of its geography. It borders Somerville, Boston, Arlington, Belmont and Watertown. And because it’s one of the largest cities in Massachusetts, its work to promote safety will be watched across the state and nationally.

Free Legal Consultation – Boston Pedestrian Car Accident Lawyers

Breakstone, White & Gluck has represented accident victims in Boston, Cambridge and across Massachusetts since 1992. Our attorneys are dedicated to our clients and our results. We provide the prompt and thorough investigation required after pedestrian car accidents and bicycle crashes

If you have been injured by a driver, we offer a free legal consultation to advise you on whether you may pursue a financial claim for your injuries and other losses. Consult one of our personal injury attorneys today at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676. You can also use our contact form.

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Local communities are restricting road use to stop the flood of drivers who use Waze and other traffic apps.

Commuting is a battle in Massachusetts, full of frustrations and hazards. But residents, communities and lawmakers continue to fight back to improve safety.

On Monday, the state House of Representatives considered a controversial bill proposing new fines for jaywalking and jaywalking while distracted (or as The Boston Globe writes, “Jay-texters”). Meanwhile, WBZ reports communities are closing off roads in response to traffic apps such as Waze and Google Maps.

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Central Square Cambridge
Safety for pedestrians and cyclists is a top concern in Central Square in Cambridge.

Central Square is located around the intersection of Prospect Street, Massachusetts Avenue and Western Avenue in Cambridge. This area is a commuter hub; the Central Square MBTA subway station and bus stop are located here, near Cambridge City Hall. The state of Massachusetts has designated Central Square as an official cultural district, for its mix of theater and arts, restaurants and history. The NECCO building was long part of that history, but these days, 250 Massachusetts Avenue is now the Novartis’ global headquarters. The Cambridge YMCA is there and MIT is nearby.

Over the years, there have been numerous pedestrian and bicycle accidents in Central Square. Central Square was the #1 location for bike crashes in Massachusetts from 2005-2014, according to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT). It was the 5th highest pedestrian crash location. The City of Cambridge has worked to improve safety by improving crosswalks and adding bike lanes across the city. In December 2016, new bike lanes were laid down in Central Square, northbound on Massachusetts Avenue between Sydney and Douglass streets.

We had a fun opportunity to see Inman Square from up high a few weeks ago. Here are some of our photos:

The City of Cambridge has worked to improve safety for cyclists in Inman Square, recently adding new separated bike lanes on both sides of Cambridge Street, from Inman Square to Quincy Street, which approaches Harvard Square. This is .7 miles of new bike lanes with paint, flex posts and other temporary materials to help cyclists stand out. And the new lanes pass Cambridge Rindge & Latin, which serves more than 1,900 high school students. Last fall, the city also banned drivers from making certain left turns in Inman Square, after many years of bike crashes followed by a fatal bike accident last June.

Cyclists riding through Inman Square now have a safer ride home. The City of Cambridge has recently installed separated bicycle lanes on Cambridge Street, from Inman Square to Quincy Street. The lanes are clearly marked, with flex posts creating a barrier between cyclists and drivers.

These lanes should have many benefits. We hope one is to reduce dooring crashes, such as the one that killed Amanda Phillips in Inman Square in 2016. The 27-year-old Somerville resident was riding a bike and collided into a Jeep door which was left open. The impact pushed her into the travel lane, where she was hit and killed by a landscaping truck. The accident happened near Hampshire and Cambridge streets.

Dooring has been against the law in Massachusetts since 2009. M.G.L. c.90 § 14 states, “no person shall open a door on a motor vehicle unless it is reasonably safe to do so without interfering with the movement of other traffic, including bicyclists and pedestrians.”

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Cambridge police officer fitting bike helmets

Thank you to the Cambridge Police Department for fitting bike helmets for the kids at Rindge Tower Apartments. Breakstone, White & Gluck donated the helmets as part of our Project KidSafe campaign.

Just-A-Start, a community development corporation serving Cambridge, treated families at the Rindge Tower Apartments to a Community BBQ with all the best fixings of summer last week. From hot dogs, hamburgers and snow cones to bouncy houses, music and conga lines, the gathering drew more than 150 people from the 273-unit apartment building near Alewife Station.

The Cambridge Police Department participated, distributing safety materials and free bicycle helmets from Breakstone, White & Gluck’s Project KidSafe campaign. Officers distributed and fitted over 80 helmets for children.

College student and moving box

Many college students heading to Boston will be living in off-campus housing. The attorneys of Breakstone, White & Gluck share safety tips and resources.

College students are just days away from starting the Fall semester. In Boston and Cambridge, we urge students to make time for an extra lesson on safe housing. Make sure you understand your rights as a tenant and your landlord’s responsibility to maintain a safe property.

Boston and Cambridge have more than 40 colleges and universities. Because of a shortage in dorm space, many students end up in off-campus housing. Unfortunately, some find themselves dealing with unresponsive landlords who want to collect rent, without doing the work to maintain a property. If you are in this situation, it is important to remember that if a landlord is charging you rent, you have the right to a safe and sanitary apartment.

When a landlord is unresponsive and negligent, it can lead to many problems. It can result in sanitary issues, such as mold, rodents or a bug infestations. It can also lead to broken equipment (for instance, a broken smoke alarm, which needs to be addressed right away).

Porch collapses and fires are two of the most common and serious types of premises liability accidents. As a result of landlord negligence, over the past 10 years, five college students have died in off-campus fires in Massachusetts, according to the state’s website.

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20170726_dedhambikerodeo-2-960-lr (1 of 1)We want to share a few photos from our Project KidSafe campaign.

Dedham Bike Rodeo. Breakstone, White & Gluck was pleased to donate 120 Project KidSafe bike helmets to the Dedham Bike Rodeo on July 26. Attorney David W. White participated in the event, fitting helmets for children who needed one. We always enjoy this event because we get a chance to talk to children and parents about bike helmets and bike safety. It was one of the first events we donated helmets to in 2013, the year we began our Project KidSafe campaign. The rodeo is organized by the Dedham Police Department and the Dedham Parks and Recreation Department.

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Mattapan on Wheels. Breakstone, White & Gluck also donated helmets to cyclists at the 7th Annual Mattapan on Wheels event on July 22. We are told 130 cyclists took to the Neponset Trail to raise funds for a youth bike summit and many had no helmet or needed a new one. Participants could choose their destination and ride along the trail to Pope John Paul II Park, Carson Beach or Castle Island. This was the first time we donated helmets to this event and we are told every helmet was put to use.

25 mph speed limit sign in Boston, MassachusettsOver the past year, Boston, Cambridge and several other communities have lowered default speed limits from 30 to 25 mph, with a goal of creating safer streets for pedestrians and cyclists. Now it is Quincy’s turn.

Last week, the Quincy City Council passed a measure establishing a speed limit of 25 mph, unless another speed limit is posted. The previous speed limit had been 30 mph. Once Mayor Thomas P. Koch signs the new law, officials will decide on an effective date.

In January 2017, the City of Boston dropped its default speed limit from 30 to 25 mph.

Lowering the speed limit was a key part of the Vision Zero Boston campaign, which was launched by Mayor Marty Walsh in 2015. The goal is to end traffic deaths and serious injuries in the City of Boston by 2030, through a combination of efforts, such as reducing speeds, eliminating distracted driving, and improving infrastructure for safer riding, walking and cycling.

While lowering speed limits was a critical step, the City of Boston was unable to act right away.

First, the city had to obtain approval from the state Legislature and Gov. Charlie Baker. Baker signed the Municipal Modernized bill in August 2016, which gave Boston, as well as cities and towns across the state, authority to reduce the default speed limit on local roads. 

So far, these communities have reduced speed limits:

  • Boston
  • Cambridge
  • Somerville
  • Arlington
  • Newton
  • Randolph
  • Scituate
  • Quincy (approved by City Council)

Source: The Boston Globe.

Benefits to Slower Speed Limits
There is strong evidence that slower traffic means safer streets. An excellent example is New York City. In 2014, the city lowered speed limits to 25 mph on 90 percent of its streets. Over three years, traffic fatalities have decreased 23 percent and fell to the lowest number in the city’s history in 2016.

Boston city officials say that when crashes happen, faster vehicles are likely to cause the most serious injuries and fatalities. According to the City of Boston website, at 20 mph, there is a 17 percent likelihood that someone will be seriously injured or killed. At 40 mph, there is a 79 percent likelihood. Slower vehicles can be stopped more quickly, and the slower speeds allow for longer reaction times.
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