In April of this year, another tragic accident occurred on Massachusetts Avenue at its intersection with Harrison, just across from Boston Medical Center when a tractor-trailer struck and killed a bicyclist who was apparently walking his bike through the intersection when he was struck. There are traffic lights at this intersection and reports did not indicate if the cyclist was crossing on a green light or if he was struck while walking in the same direction as the truck.
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.
With bicycles becoming more ubiquitous and despite cities and towns accommodating riders with specially designated bike lanes, markings, and turn signals at intersections, it is inevitable that accidents will happen. Bicycles are not just for racing or for children and more and more people are using them to commute as well as for recreation or health.
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.
Hit-and-run accidents are irresponsible, insidious acts, especially if the perpetrators flee the accident scene leaving victims seriously injured or even dead. Their failure to come to the aid of a victim and to take responsibility is outrageous to the victim, the victim’s family, friends, and to the community.
A tragic hit-and-run incident occurred in early February in Somerville when a 40-year old woman was struck in the crosswalk at the intersection of Powderhouse Boulevard and Hardan Road by an unidentified motorist in a pickup truck around 7:00 p.m. The woman, a teacher with the Watertown Public Schools, later succumbed to fatal injuries. A companion walking with her was also struck but only suffered minor injuries. The family of the victim and residents of Somerville were left dazed by the incident, with some expressing disbelief at how anyone could flee and not stop to assist a person whom they had just injured.
In early December, two pedestrians were struck and injured by a hit-and-run motorist at the intersection of Cabot and Winter Street in Beverly. The accident occurred around 9:00 p.m. Police later arrested a Boxford man who was the owner and apparent operator of a car that displayed considerable front end damage, prompting police to suspect the young man of having caused the accident. Prosecutors have charged the man with drunk driving causing serious bodily injury, negligent operation of a motor vehicle, and a crosswalk violation. The pedestrians’ injuries were not life-threatening according to city officials.
It is always a sound and commonsense practice to look both ways before crossing the street, even if you are crossing in a marked crosswalk with a green light in your favor. However, there may be certain streets or intersections where you should be especially cautious. In Ipswich, there have recently been two accidents involving pedestrians in crosswalks.
Bicycling has become more popular with millennials as an alternate mode of transportation. X-gens and baby boomers are finding that bike riding is a less stressful way of losing weight and maintaining overall health. Many cities have responded by making their communities more bike-friendly by constructing bike trails and marking city streets for bike lanes among other measures in order to accommodate more riders and to encourage bike riding.
If you are a pedestrian struck by a motorist who was attempting to park or exit from a parking space, or you are a motorist hit by another vehicle that was parking, attempting to park or exiting a parking space, you may have a claim for compensation. Although parking accidents are often low-impact or occur at low speeds, the injuries that can result are very real.
More and more people are using bicycles in urban areas to commute, shop or visit friends and family as well as to exercise their legs and lungs. Lighter bicycles, more gears for easier hill climbing, and no worries about parking, traffic jams, tickets or auto insurance account for some of the increase in usage. However, bicycles and urban traffic also mean risks to bike riders. This fact of city life is no less evident than in the city of Cambridge that has decided to do something about its bike safety problem.