Bike Safety Advocates Unhappy with Boston Crash Study

Recently, our Boston bike accident lawyers discussed the outcome of Mayor Thomas M. Menino’s report on bicycle accident causes. Mayor Menino commissioned the report to find out more details about bike accidents as part of an ongoing effort to make Boston a more hospitable place for bicycle riders. 1367110_bike_route_sign.jpg

Unfortunately, some bicycle advocates are upset about the outcome and about the lawmaker’s responses to the data published in the report. The problem bicyclists have: the report is “blaming the victim.”

Bike Advocates React to Mayor’s Study on Bicycle Crashes

The Boston Globe reports that bicycle advocates were initially excited on the Wednesday in early June when Mayor Menino’s bicycle safety report was released. Menino has been a friend to bikers, even creating a program called Boston Bikes to encourage bike riding in the city. The hope was that his commissioned report would shed light on bike accident causes and would lead to public education, law changes and enforcement initiatives to make the roads safer for bike riders.

Unfortunately, according to the Boston Globe, some bicyclists had issues with the data that was collected, arguing that it was inaccurate. Others did not like proposals that came out of the report, including a decision that police would begin to cite bicycle riders who run red lights.

The report generated statistics on bike accident causes from several sources including Boston Emergency Medical Services, Boston Bikes and the Boston police. The report allegedly revealed that 28 percent of all bicycle crashes occurred when a bicyclist ran through a stop sign or red light. This was the data with which bicycle safety advocates took issue.

The reality, when studying the 891 crashes with listed causes, was that bicycle riders either ran a red light or ran a stop sign in only 12 percent of collisions with passenger vehicles. This is far fewer accidents than the 28 percent originally stated in the report.

The city did acknowledge that this error was made and updated the figures to reflect the accurate 12 percent number. However, despite the fact that the number of red-light violations by bicycle riders was initially over-inflated, this is an issue that lawmakers have chosen to focus on. This focus will take the form of law enforcement handing out $20 citations to bicycle riders who run red lights.

Advocates for bicycle riders are concerned about the fact that false numbers may have led to the decision to crack down on riders. The director of the Boston Cyclists Union who consulted on the report indicated that the error “is really damaging to the reputation of cyclists everywhere.” The director also went on to indicate that the 28 percent number would suggest a need for a crackdown but that this was not the case.

Finally, bicycle advocates believed that the emphasis on bike-rider helmet use and the statement by Mayor Menino that he might push for a helmet law was a form of blaming the victim. Whether or not someone wears a bicycle helmet, he or she can be seriously hurt if a driver causes a crash and is entitled to the same compensation as any other bicycle rider from the person responsible for the accident. The focus shouldn’t be on adding new burdens onto bicycle riders nor on citing bicycle riders more frequently but instead should be focused on improving overall safety.

If you or a loved one is injured, contact Jeffrey S. Glassman for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights. Call 877-617-5333 today.

Additional Resources:
Seat Belts Still First Line of Defense for Summer Travel Season, Boston Personal Injury Attorney Blog, May 18, 2013

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