Cambridge and Somerville are two communities that are in the forefront of improving pedestrian and bicycling safety by employing the latest technologies designed to reduce serious injuries and fatalities on city streets. These two cities have been chosen to implement new technology in a Smart City Pilot Program that is designed to measure human activity in certain urban areas as a tool for minimizing the risk of pedestrians injured by motor vehicles. These cities are already dedicated to an international project known as Vision Zero whose goal is to essentially eliminate traffic-related fatalities by mid-century.
Cambridge and Somerville, along with other cities and towns across our state, have focused on improving traffic safety by re-designing hazardous intersections, reducing speeds, and installing dedicated bus lanes and separate bike lanes. As a result of these efforts, the number of people giving up their cars and riding bicycles, walking, or using public transportation tripled in these pilot program cities between 2002 and 2012.
Two tech companies, Draper and Miovision, have partnered with the two cities to provide their expertise and technology to design a model multiple or mixed-use corridor between the two communities. Data fusion, artificial intelligence, statistical analysis, signal monitoring, and video streaming are being used to generate information that can be used to identify certain behavior in interactions between pedestrians/bicyclists and motorists.
This includes analyzing traffic volume, risk assessment, counting pedestrians and bicycle riders, and tracking near-miss incidents captured on video. Privacy concerns are a priority with the video streaming as the program has been working to stay within Cambridge’s unique Surveillance Technology Ordinance.
There are high hopes and expectations that the technology in conjunction with dedicated efforts to improve traffic safety will greatly enhance pedestrian safety and confidence, and reduce vehicle congestion all while lowering carbon emissions by encouraging people to get out of their vehicles.
Bicycle Safety Requirements and Suggestions
It is obvious to any bike rider that you are at a disadvantage in competing with cars on city streets. Many motorists ignore bicyclists, travel too close to them, enter designated bike lanes well before making a turn or stop in them to pick up people. By law, motorists must allow a space of at least 3-feet between their vehicle and a bicyclist when passing.
As a bike rider, you can minimize your risk of an accident with a motorist by obeying traffic laws, such as stopping at red lights and stop signs, which you are legally obligated to do since you are considered a motor vehicle. The following are some safety suggestions to follow as well as some of your legal obligations when riding a bike:
- You are required to use a front white light from 30 minutes after sundown to 30 minutes before sunrise—50% of bicycle fatalities nationwide occur after dark
- Every rider up to and including the age of 16 are required to wear a helmet. As an adult, you are foolish not to since you can reduce your risk of a serious head injury by up to 50%
- You are permitted to ride on sidewalks unless signs are posted that ban you.
- When passing a pedestrian on foot, use an audible signal (whistles and sirens are not permitted)
- Using a vehicle to tow you is prohibited
- You must have one hand on your handlebars at all times
- The pedals of your bike must have a reflector, or be around your ankles, if you are riding 30 minutes after sunset to 30 minutes before sunrise, which is visible for a distance of 600 feet from the rear and front.
- Wear bright clothing at all times
- You are required to use hand signals when turning right or left or if intending to stop
- Do not block traffic by riding in mid-lane, and allow traffic to pass if you are unable to keep up
- If you intend to carry anything, it must be in a basket, bag, rack or trailer designed for that purpose
- Walk your bike in a crosswalk
Liability of Motorists
Obeying traffic laws, being considerate to other pedestrians, and using bike lanes will minimize your risk of being a traffic casualty, but you must also assume that motorists will not see you or will ignore traffic laws pertaining to bicycles. A motorist can be found liable for injuries to a bicyclist in these situations:
- Opening a car door into the path of a bike rider
- Traveling too close to a bike rider
- Not yielding to cyclists making a left turn in front of them
- Making abrupt right turns after just passing a cyclist
- Not seeing a cyclist riding to the right and turning into them
- Not passing at a safe distance from the cyclist
You may also have been injured because of poor road maintenance or faulty road design that is the responsibility of the city, county or state.
Proving liability can sometimes be difficult. In many cases, the motorist will claim that the bike rider failed to stop for a red traffic light or stop sign or was riding recklessly through traffic. Be sure to retain a bike accident lawyer from the law office of Burns and Jain if you suffered injuries in a bike accident with a motor vehicle. We can hire investigators to visit the accident scene, locate and take witness statements, and obtain surveillance footage of the accident if available.
Damages in a Bike Accident Claim
If injured as the result of the negligence of a motorist, you can make a claim against that party’s insurance policy if you meet the tort threshold. Massachusetts is a no-fault state, so if your injuries were motor vehicle related, you are entitled to PIP benefits, regardless of fault. This pays up to $2000 if you have private medical insurance for medical expenses and lost income, or up to $8,000 if you lacked medical insurance. If your medical expenses exceeded $2000, were permanent and serious, or you suffered a fractured limb, then you may bring a third party claim for additional compensation. This includes:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Past and future income loss
- Loss of earning capacity
- Permanent disfigurement or disability
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Spousal claim for loss of consortium
Contact a bike accident lawyer at the law office of Burns and Jain at (617) 227-7423 if you suffered serious injuries in a bicycle accident. Our attorneys have decades of experience in pursuing and advocating for the rights of the injured throughout Massachusetts.