If you have ever seen or at least heard of the 1953 film noir classic, “The Wild One,” starring a brash and anti-authoritarian hero Marlon Brando who rode menacingly into a small California town with his band of outlaw motorcyclists, you might think about comparing it and its existential message to Springfield resident and self-proclaimed urban cyclist, Joshua Diaz, founder of 413 BikeLife. This group of young, mostly high school aged cyclists, while not exactly taking over and terrorizing the town like Brando and his group of rebel motorcyclists, have taken to the streets of Springfield on their bicycles in what Mr. Diaz claims is merely an expression of their dedication, athleticism, and devotion to the art of bicycle riding.
While our roads and highways have experienced a dramatic decrease in traffic since our state began the lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, and commuting to work receded into a distant memory, we are nevertheless seeing a dramatic increase in pedestrian accidents and deaths. This would seem counter-intuitive since fewer cars and people on the streets would naturally appear to result in substantially fewer encounters between people and cars. But data from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation showed that we had 28 pedestrian fatalities in April, one more than in April 2019. This is despite up to a 50% reduction in traffic on major highways.
Most Massachusetts motorists are probably unaware that their vehicle, if manufactured in 2013 to the present, has a black box, similar to those found in airplanes. Called an Event Data Recorder (EDR), these devices can offer valuable information in an accident investigation. However, they can and do, like just about any app found on your smartphone, gather certain private data that is often sold to marketers or others.
This past January two young men in their early 20s who were on their way to an early morning shift for work were killed when their sedan apparently drifted into the opposite lane of traffic and was struck head-on by a pickup truck. Both vehicles sustained heavy front-end damage and the sedan, which ended up in the woods, had a smashed windshield. The pickup truck driver had non-life-threatening injuries.
Two rollover accidents involving tractor-trailers occurred recently on I-291 in Springfield and I-91 with the truckdriver in the first accident suffering serious injuries. State transportation authorities expressed concern about the rising incidences of such accidents, especially in western Massachusetts.