In some neighborhoods in the greater Boston area, streets were laid out over the course of many years with very little thought as to how they will all work together to keep motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians safe. There are sharp turns around steep hills, two-way streets too narrow for cars to pass each other and a general lack of traffic signals.
According to a recent news feature from Huffington Post, the “National Complete Streets Coalition” is looking at what officials in Cambridge, Massachusetts are doing to help create a new model focusing on safe and responsible street design.
One of the focuses of the new street designs involved reducing the number of car accidents involving bicycles, and, as our Cambridge bicycle accident lawyers know, these changes are much needed. In the Porter Square area, transportation engineers worked to simplify pedestrian and bicycle crossing zones. This is accomplished through use of a large pedestrian plaza with new signals for pedestrians and bicyclists, which are properly timed with motor vehicle traffic signals. New markings were also added to improve bicycle and pedestrian safety.
Another aspect of designing safer roads involved new lighting and improvements to the drainage system. Road drainage is an often overlooked problem leading to more accidents to bicyclists. When the side of a road is flooded, bicyclists are often forced to ride in the travel lanes used by motor vehicles, making accidents more likely to occur.
There is often a lot of friction between drivers and advocates of bicyclists in the placement of bicycle designated travel lanes. Many motorists feel bicycle lanes are unnecessary, slow traffic, and create more problems than they prevent. Motorists also often accuse bicycle riders of completely ignoring traffic laws when convenient while concomitantly complaining about drivers who do not observe bicycle safety regulations.
One way this is being addressed is to let each section of a street have systems that work in their particular area rather than a one size fits all approach, as we have seen in other urban areas throughout the country. Transportation planners believe a properly designed program will enhance bicycle safety without causing any unnecessary hardship for motorists on the road.
Another common cause of injuries to bicycle riders deals with what is known as “dooring.” As its name implies, this involves when a motorist opens his or her door and a bicycle rider runs into the open door and is injured. First, it should be noted, it is up to people in cars to look and make sure opening a door is not going to interfere with a bicycle rider. As long as the bicycle is not in a lane designated for motor vehicle traffic only, it is the fault of the person who opened the door and not the cyclist who was injured by the door.
Unfortunately, not everyone knows this, including some police officers who respond to dooring incidents. There have even been cases where the officer issued a traffic citation to the injured bicyclist who was injured by the door. If you have been injured by a door while riding a bicycle in the greater Boston area, you should consult an experienced attorney to see if you have a case.
If you are injured in an accident in Massachusetts, call the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman for a free and confidential appointment: 1-888-367-2900.
How Thoughtful Street Design Is Helping Communities and the Economy, , March 27, 2015, Huffington Post
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Floyd-Tunnell v. Shelter Mut. Ins. Co. Uninsured Motorist Coverage and Stacking, July 3, 2014, Boston Car Accident Lawyer Blog