MBTA bus runs red light, nearly squashes bicyclist

Grimlocke reports a near miss with death this morning at Cambridge Street and Harvard Avenue - the same place where another bicyclist died in a 2007 collision.

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What's sad is how often this

By on

What's sad is how often this happens. I once had a bus driver almost run me down on my moped, and when I confronted him he did not say that he didn't see me, he said I should be in the bike lane (which is illegal). So he tried to hit me to send a lesson. Guess what the T did? Nothing? I still see the guy driving the same route every day.

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Actually, mopeds can legally use on-street bike lanes.

By on

From the Massachusetts General Laws:

Chapter 90: Section 1B. Motorized bicycles; operation regulations

Section 1B. A motorized bicycle shall not be operated upon any way, as defined in section one within the commonwealth by any person under sixteen years of age, nor at a speed in excess of twenty-five miles per hour. A motorized bicycle shall not be operated on any way by any person not possessing a valid driver’s license or learner’s permit. Every person operating a motorized bicycle upon a way shall have the right to use all public ways in the commonwealth except limited access or express state highways where signs specifically prohibiting bicycles have been posted, and shall be subject to the traffic laws and regulations of the commonwealth and the regulations contained in this section, except that: (1) the motorized bicycle operator may keep to the right when passing a motor vehicle which is moving in the travel lane of the way, and (2) the motorized bicycle operator shall signal by either hand his intention to stop or turn. Motorized bicycles may be operated on bicycle lanes adjacent to the various ways, but shall be excluded from off-street recreational bicycle paths. (emphasis added)

BTW, have you reported this bus driver to the MBTA?

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Mopeds, but not scooters.

Apparently the law is titchy about exactly what KIND of motorized bikes you can use in the bike land - Mopeds are ok, Scooters are not ok. Frankly until a few of my friends started rival Moped vs. Scooter gangs, I had no idea. I prefer the combustion-free variety myself, for ease of maintenance.

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Ah, moped owners, the ultimate douchebags

By on

It's not enough to be trendy- they've got to do in the environment while they're at it with their Puch. Nothing like putting out more pollutants than 50 SUVs combined.

They're especially fun when they insist on riding in front of you when you're on a bike, choking you with their exhaust. I'd like to take a tube and stuff it into their helmet and their tailpipe, and see how THEY like it.

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We've been over this

By on

It puts out FEWER pollutants because it puts out FAR fewer volume for the same mileage. MOST modern scooters also have 4 stroke engines these days limiting their pollutants because they don't burn an oil/gas mix in a 2 stroke cycle as what most people compare when they talk about "high polluting" scooters. We're also talking about smaller than 0.2L engines for the most part, so the amount of exhaust they generate to go 70 miles is FAR less than a 2L to 5L V6/V8 SUV over the same distance (engines 10-25 times as large).

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Yeah, we have been.

By on

Look, maybe in the People's Republic of Cambridge and the United Somervilles you've got only 4-strokes. Here in Boston, we've got mostly 2-strokes- the 4-stroke vespas and hondas are exceedingly rare. I bike behind them all the time, and I don't need you telling me I'm wrong.

Also, if you had applied that higher education and READ my message- I referred to the hipsters riding around on Puch mopeds. The Puchs and the like are 1950-1970, maybe 1980 technology at best. And when they go tooling down the road, they leave a blue smoke contrail and noxious fumes- and the quantity of pollutants far exceeds the average passenger car or SUV by a factor of 50 or more. That's why California instituted so many emissions limits on garden-implement engines like leaf blowers, weed whackers, and lawn mowers.

http://discovermagazine.com/2008/may/21-two-stroke...

"A single two-stroke engine produces pollution equivalent to that of 30 to 50 four-stroke automobiles. "

http://www.google.com/search?q=2-cycle+engine+poll...

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No, that's just wrong

By on

Up until recently, there were 2 kinds of "motorized bicycles":

1) sub-50cc, under 30 mph = motorized bicycle (doesn't matter whether you would normally call the body shape a "moped" or a "scooter")

2) everything else bigger than that = motorcycle (doesn't matter if it was a "scooter" or "motorcycle" body)

Unfortunately, that set of definitions gave certain scooters a "motorcycle" distinction even though they had no business being on highways and had no business being though of as a "motorized bicycle" because they were a tad too beefy.

So, recently, the law was changed and there are now 3 classes:

1) Same "motorized bicycles"
2) Things that are bigger engines or top speeds than motorized bicycles and max out at 40mph = limited use vehicle
3) Anything bigger than (2) = motorcycle

If a scooter fits the definition of a motorized bicycle (sub-50cc engine and max of 30 mph), then it's allowed to share the bike lane in MA.

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it's even more complicated

By on

My vehicle would be classified as 2) under the new law, but its registration is good through 2010, so I can ride it in the bike lanes as though I were a 1) until the end of this year.

As for the amount of pollutants produced by two-stroke-engine-powered vehicles, yes, they are far better than an SUV in terms of the volume of their exhaust, but they still belch out more unburnt hydrocarbons and particulate matter than SUVs. Compared to an SUV, a two-stroke is better for the climate and the oceans, but worse for the guy on the bike behind it.

I usually commute via bicycle. I don't mind the scooters at all. But the buses scare me.

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This could be a standing headline here at UH

By on

Until the police start enforcing traffic rules for bicyclists in Cambridge, this will be a
regular occurrence.

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How is this about enforcing

By on

How is this about enforcing rules for bikes? This is enforcing rules for red lights (which are for everybody), and in this case it was the bus that failed to follow the law.

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Because most bicylists generally don't obey the traffic laws

By on

Yes, it sounds like the MBTA driver was clearly at fault here. However, the previous comment goes to the larger issue of red light and traffic law violations in general by drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians.

I've lost count of the number of times around here that I, as a pedestrian legally in a cross walk during the WALK light, have nearly been hit by cyclists who are too lazy or impatient to stop their bike and wait for the green light.

Unfortunately, the bike lobby claims the best solution to this problem is to actually ALLOW bike riders to run red lights and stop signs. After all, how dare we actually have police on the street to ENFORCE the law!

And if you still disagree that the previous comment is irrelevant to the topic, look up the word "hypocrisy".

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I've lost count of the number

By on

I've lost count of the number of times around here that I, as a driver, pedestrian, and cyclist, legally drive/walk/ride through an intersection and have nearly been hit by drivers who are too lazy or impatient to stop their car and wait for a green light.

Unfortunately, online idiots claim the best solution to this problem is to actually license/crack down on cyclists. After all, how dare we consider that drivers are licensed and it doesn't prevent them from breaking the law.

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The road test you have to

By on

The road test you have to pass to get a license in Massachusetts is a joke.

Also, having that one test you took when you were 16 be valid for your whole life is a little frightening. Maybe there should be periodic retests every, I don't know, 10 years?

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Not so simple

By on

Cyclists also have the right to use certain sidewalks for both driving and parking (cars don't). Cyclists are not allowed access to certain highways and byways (cars are). The entry cost for a car helps define a price point high enough, yet reasonable enough, for registration/licensing that can justify the cost of the system necessary to maintain the registration/licensing (bikes are much cheaper...unless you think someone should pay $50-$100/yr to license and register a bike like a car...but the bike cost $40 to buy).

And so on, and so on...

Bikes are not cars by any stretch of the imagination except that they share road space. There's no valid justification for treating bikes like cars when it comes to how they use the road. There is pretty much zero added benefit to licensing or registering bikes, except that you would derive some sort of perverse pleasure of retribution when they ignore their rules of the road and would be pulled over for it...which can (and does...ask bikers in Cambridge/Central Square) still happen now even without licensing and registration.

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Yes, please explain...

Please explain how this has anything to do with the fact that I was on a bike? This bus broke the law, nearly killing me. I was stopped, waiting for the green light, and was about to utilize it when Bus 0721 went from a complete stop to roaring through the intersection. What difference does it make that I was not on a camel, or in a carriage, or on foot, or sitting on a magic carpet? Seriously, why do you harbor animosity toward bicyclists, aside from the fact that they're getting to where they need to be in a faster, cheaper, healthier, more socially responsible way, while only breaking the law about half as often as people in cars do?

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Learn to read. The bus was

By on

Learn to read.

  1. The bus was the vehicle running the red light, not the bicycle.
  2. This wasn't even in Cambridge, so what Cambridge police do is pretty irrelevant at Harvard Ave./Cambridge St. in Allston.

Your bias against bicyclists is palpable and stupid.

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Guilty as charged

By on

Saw "Cambridge" rather than "Cambridge Street". And because every time I try to walk across
Mass Ave in Cambridge, after dutifully waiting for the traffic light, I inevitably miss
getting mowed down by an ignorant bicyclist, by mere inches. And then watch speechless as
same flies through a red light, weaving between cars and scattering more pedestrians.

In ten minutes tonite, in the pitch dark of a late winter evening, I saw at least a half
dozen two-wheeled idiots dressed in dark clothes, with no lights or reflectors, flying around
cars on busy, narrow streets in Cambridge.

So yeah, I wish that anyone over eighteen would be required to register a bike, display
identifying tags, and follow the rules that the rest of us have to. And I wish the cops
would enforce those rules.

So far, counting on Darwinism hasn't worked in our favor on this issue.

Palpable yes. Stupid, not so much.

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Arrrrgghhh - think it through

So yeah, I wish that anyone over eighteen would be required to register a bike, display
identifying tags, and follow the rules that the rest of us have to.

Every time I see this, I fear for the future of mankind. This is clearly a case of "not thinking it through". Besides the bureaucratic nightmare of such an initiative (more patronage jobs, etc.), what exactly would you propose for an identifying tag that you could possibly see, especially from any distance? Why over eighteen? Total waste of time.

And I wish the cops would enforce those rules.

OK, now you're talking - absolutely. Enforce the laws you have rather than dreaming up another set.

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We already have such a system in place for motor vehicles.

By on

Just expand it to include licensing cyclists and registering bicycles. Hardly a bureaucratic nightmare, expecially as you could create a "cyclist" endorsement on drivers licences (or the state-issued ID cards for those who don't have driver licences).

As for the size and design of the registration tag, they already have tag standards for motorcycles. These could easily be adapted for bicycles.

Requiring licensing of cyclists and registration of bicycles does not create additional laws, rather, it insures that the users sharing the public roads are governed by the same laws, regulations, and requirements.

One of the current problems with enforcement of traffic laws cyclist vs. driver is that it is not equal. Unlike a driver, a cyclist is simply issued a ticket. No check on the person's ID, no check of the vehicle, and the infraction does not affect their driving history. In other words, a system clearly biased against the motor vehicle driver.

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Apples and oranges

Again - think it through.

Registration for cars is so different than it would be for bicycles. Registering a car requires insurance, a VIN, manufacturer and model, sales tax to be paid, etc. Ain't happenin', doesn't apply to bikes. And I don't think I'm alone when I say that there's no way I'm hanging some piece o' trash plate on my ti frame. Nevermind that I've got 4 bikes and I need to register each one? For what?

What do out-of-staters do when they visit? Spend a day at the registry so they can go ride on the Cape Cod rail trail? NFW.

But the most compelling reason why registration is such a stupid idea is that it doesn't accomplish anything. Oh, I see, you're going to report some misbehaving cyclist to the cops? I can picture that conversation right now.

"Hello police, I want to report a cyclist that just went thru a red light at Mass Ave. His plate number is something like CX234."

"Sure, we'll get right on it. The hell with rapists, child abusers, muggers, thieves, and dirty politicians, this is important stuff."

Followed by the roar of laughter in the background.
If I called and reported a car going thru a red light, nothing would be done. And you want to report a bike?

And I promised myself I wouldn't get sucked into the rathole of a car vs. bike battle......

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Street vs Ave

So it's Harvard Street in Brookline but Harvard Avenue in Allston. In almost 40 years in this burg, I'm not sure I'd ever figured that out. (Or more likely I knew it, but those particular neurons were taken off life support many joints ago...)

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Yes

Yes, that's correct. To make things even more confusing, there IS a Harvard Avenue in Brookline - it's a small side street off of Harvard Street, between Coolidge Corner and Brookline Village.

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True.

By on

How about Brookline Liqours?

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Action Must Be Taken!

By Danimal on

Action must be taken, lest next time it's not a "nearly." How many more cyclists must die before people take action? If the standing government will not defend the people, we must defend ourselves. I encourage people to organize and advocate for our safety, spreading awareness and engendering change.

Ride in solidarity, fellow cyclists. Only together can we survive.

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Remove light, replace with four-way stop?

If red-light running is a chronic problem here, perhaps the city should experiment with turning the light off and installing a four-way stop in its place.

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Oh, God, no

By on

Look, as a resident of one of Boston's more rural neighborhoods, I realize four-way stops can work (we often visit the Dedham Sprawl, where they have two of them right next to each other; and journey through Stony Brook Reservation, where you're driving through the woods watching out for herds of elk when, all of a sudden, boom, in the middle of nowhere, there's a four-way stop). But in a more built-up area? All I can picture is that scene from "Gremlins" when the beasties short-circuit the traffic lights and everybody gets a green light at once.

In any case, a bus driver willing to run a red light is going to be willing to run a stop sign, even if out of simple frustration (Scene on a 34 bus at Forest Hills yesterday: Some woman who couldn't have made it through the intersection went in anyway and then just frickin' sat there when the light changed rather than backing up - and she had plenty of room - essentially creating instant gridlock because our bus couldn't/wouldn't back up and she just sat there ignoring the driver asking her to back up and everybody starts slamming on horns, except the bus driver and then Masshole Lady slowly goes around the bus just as the light changes again and it was just a mess and you could tell our driver was No Longer In the Mood and basically ran a light or two further down Washington, feh).

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Agreed

Yeah, I cross that intersection all the time, and if there weren't the full 4-way red light for pedestrians I'd have to change my route to work. Especially with the huge amount of turning traffic, both from Cambridge onto Harvard and from Harvard onto Cambridge, it's only barely safe for pedestrians as it is.

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Redesign Cambridge street

By on

Redesigning Cambridge street to be more bike friendly would probably go a long way towards improving this intersection. If Cambridge street were narrowed to slow down cars with a wide shoulder for bikes, I don't think that significant delays for cars would be introduced (assuming it was widened again at the end to allow more cars to get through the Storrow Drive intersection). Of course, dealing with the pike on ramp might be tricky, but I'm sure there would be a way to deal with it safely. Right now Cambridge street between Harvard Ave and Cambridge is one of the few streets that I feel terrified to bike on, and it's easily one of the least bike friendly streets in the Boston area.

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Other direction

Unless I'm completely confused, the incident this morning took place in the other direction - the bus was picking up passengers from the stop in front of the Sports Depot (which is where I catch that bus every day) and heading towards Union Square, and Grimlocke was coming out of Franklin Street and headed across the intersection towards Harvard Avenue.

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You are right

By on

Though I still think my suggestion might help here. The number of bikers going through the intersection would likely increase quite a bit if Cambridge St was more bike friendly, and then drivers might not treat it as such a car dominated area and drive a little bit more carefully. Something is making this a particularly dangerous intersection, and I suspect it is more than just the fact that there is a lot of turning traffic.

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Redesign? I'd settle for repaving.

By on

You can redesign all you want - until there is some new pavement down there, you're going to be (rightly) terrified. It is just ridiculous down by the intersection with Lincoln St. where you access the railyard. Some of those holes are easily 8-12 inches deep.

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Repaving? I'd settle for repainting

By on

That intersection has 3 lanes, that become 2 lanes...no wait, 3 lanes, and 1 lane that becomes 2 lanes...no wait, parking cars...no wait, 3 lanes....and Harvard has a bus stop, no wait, turn lane with protected green...

It's a nightmare and to add to the headache, cars in all 3 directions get backed up like crazy, driving EVERYONE to want to blow the light for fear of adding ANOTHER 3 minutes sitting still to their drive.

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Four-way stops in

By on

Four-way stops in Massachusetts, in practice, tend to be more like "four way rolling go".

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