Person hit and killed by garbage truck in Sullivan Square; truck leaves scene

UPDATE: Truck found in parking lot in industrial area along Railroad Street in Revere, towed to Boston as evidence. NECN reports the driver has also been found and is being questoned; Boston Police say no charges at this time. Jesse Haley notes the truck belongs to an East Boston company.

A bicyclist was pronounced dead around 1:40 p.m. after being struck by a large white rear-loading garbage truck at Cambridge and Spice streets.

Police say the truck has lettering on the doors, but no other identifying marks. Police are currently checking recycling and trash facilities in the area to which a garbage truck might head.

Traffic around Sullivan Square is a mess.

Photo of the scene.



    Free tagging: 


    This is terrible

    Condolences to the victim's family and friends.

    Why can't companies use more city-friendly sized vehicles like transporter vans?


    By on

    Nobody said it has to be either or. Nor does using a smaller truck guarantee safer lives of cyclists. Nor does jacking up the cost to deal with a civil service do anyone, including the cyclists, any favors.

    You'd think the view from your high horse would afford you a better vantage than that.

    You have go to be kidding me,

    By on

    You have go to be kidding me, with this ridiculous comment. Those crazy garbage truck drivers taking out cyclists everywhere.

    What a terrible accident, condolences to the family and friends of cyclist.

    "Those crazy garbage truck

    By on

    "Those crazy garbage truck drivers taking out cyclists everywhere. "

    Google "garbage truck" and "cyclist".

    Read about all the city cyclists around the country, killed by garbage trucks.

    Look at the city's dumptrucks. Many of them now have large orange mesh guards on the sides. Guess what they're there for? They're there to keep cyclists from falling into that area and then getting run over.

    Large trucks require the operator to do illegal or unsafe maneuvers to get around in tight city streets, to illegally park, they have larger blind spots, have longer stopping distances, have more crushing force when they run over a person, and they also tend to have an open area between the front and rear wheels where cyclists can get knocked into and then run over, as previously mentioned. The front of the vehicle is also flatter, which makes for a harder impact if the truck hits a cyclist or pedestrian; there's no hood to slide up.

    Big trucks don't belong in cities.

    "Big trucks don't belong in

    By on

    "Big trucks don't belong in cities."
    Good Bye MBTA and school buses, I hope no bars want booze deliveries in town, grocery stores in town... goodbye, Construction vehicles? sorry no room here, Fire engines? no room for them. Somebody call Boston Sand and Gravel and tell them to find a new location.

    There are a great deal of risks associated with big trucks and with bicycles. My point is this is not a frequent occurrence in Boston. An incident occurs and we should just ban trucks in the city? Great idea.

    OK, you're right

    Just because vans may suffice for delivering hair product to salons according to SwirllyGirl, doesn't mean trucks are not vital for many uses, including trash collection. On the other hand, perhaps some enterprising bicyclist can do a human powered trash hauling service. In the mean time, there is a need for trucks and Sullivan Square is a heavy trucking area. Perhaps businesses that attract bicyclists should have instead been located elsewhere in a place more suitable and safe for bicycling than a long-time heavy trucking area.

    Sullivan Square is a Perfect Fail of Shoving Cars into Cities

    We already know that you have no sense of scale or proportion, but an 18-wheeler is far larger than a trash truck. However, the argument that vehicles that are simply are too large to safely navigate a tight urban environment do not belong in that tight environment, except by special permit, still stands. That is called common sense, Sorry if your limited world view can't accommodate the fact that engineers running their own trucking companies can actually do the math and come to that conclusion themselves.

    Of course we all know that people living in Europe are starving in the cities and withering for want of consumer goods because they restrict the times and places that overly large vehicles can operate.

    This area of Sullivan Square isn't exactly tight urban space, though. Once upon a time, it was a thriving transit hub, but then it was fully ripped down and completely committed to the sort of human-hating car habitat that you tirelessly advocate for. Too bad you either can't comprehend or cannot admit that the complete fail that is Sullivan Square is entirely the result of a half-century implementation of your antiquated philosophy of urban design. Places like Sullivan Square are exactly the sort of logical conclusion of raping urban spaces in the name of suburban convenience that have fueled and will continue to fuel the livable streets movement for decades to come.

    Own it.

    Industrial zone

    That area is not designed for cars or bicycles. Its an industrial zone where transport was mainly rail, horse drawn carts, and then trucks. While not well suited to cars, at least occupants have some protection - smarter than choosing to have none.

    You need to get out of Arlington

    By on

    And stop driving all over Arlington, too.

    Seriously - you have absolutely no clue about this area. None at all.


    By on

    Sure there are instances where bigger trucks may be needed. But then the truck driver should drive VERY slowly and carefully. Rather than such cautious behavior it is quite common to see such drivers barreling along at high rates of speed. Cars and smaller trucks are even in danger around them, not just pedestrians and cyclists.

    I was with you the whole way,

    By on

    I was with you the whole way, except I thought your last sentence would be "watch out for big trucks."

    My condolences go out to the family and friends of this cyclist.

    Open area between front and rear wheels

    This is a kill zone. It's part of what makes trash collection a more dangerous job than being a police officer (hi Pete).

    The CDC recommends remedial bodywork to cover this area to reduce worker fatality. It would also help reduce pedestrian and bicycle fatality.

    Trash trucks in Boston aren't going out mudding cross country. They don't need the clearance removed by this remedial bodywork.

    Fixing the clusterfuck that is Sullivan Square will take years if not decades. The trucks could be fixed in months.

    This something the City Council could actually help with: pass an ordinance prohibiting waste collection vehicles lacking this worker/pedestrian safety feature from city streets. Retrofit the city's fleet, and make private companies retrofit theirs.

    Too many cyclists listen to

    By on

    Too many cyclists listen to headphones while riding. I bet the cyclist was blaring music.

    Unfounded speculation works both ways.

    Same thing for police

    By on

    Same thing for police vehicles - why the hell did Somerville and Cambridge add a bunch of full sized SUV's to their fleet, when they're dealing with cramped roads already?


    By on

    Ford Explorers are based on the Ford Taurus.

    Police buy them because they've got the same capacity for gear as the Crown Vic, although it's absurd that Somerville police need to carry a crazy amount of gear in their cruisers. It's not like they aren't large enough a city to have a van/truck or two for special incidents.

    Police cruiser gear.

    Radios have a lot of equipment that takes up space, the newer ford "taurus" police package kind of cramps it up a little. The computers also take up some space, and add medical bags, defibulators, less than lethal beanbags or pepperball guns, shotguns, rifles, life rings, police tape, tools, spare tires, etc, etc and it can add up depending on whatyou department needs to carry.

    Somerville and Cambridge have traffic and truck teams which carry a lot of extra crash recon equipment as well.

    The new ford taurus is AWD though now, which is different than the old crown victorias, but is much smaller. The SUV does use more gas either way though.

    First, they're not really

    By on

    First, they're not really "full sized." I mean, they're not driving around in a fleet of GMC Yukons. Second, Ford discontinued the Crown Victoria, so the squad car as we know it is gone. They could either go down to a mid-size, like the Taurus or the Charger (that is NOT a full size, no matter what rental companies say), or up to a small SUV.

    The fact that anyone who

    By on

    The fact that anyone who would post anything besides condolences to the deceased needs to reassess their priorities.


    Unless you want the same accident to occur again (here or elsewhere), we need to talk about what caused it and how to prevent a repetition. Cyclist behavior, driver behavior, and road design are all on the table.


    By on

    To the family and friends of the victim. Their day, weeks, months just became pretty awful, pretty quickly.

    I hope that the truck didn't know that they struck the person.

    To the point of the previous comment of city sized trucks, I can't say that I disagree that some of the trucks are too big. For example, near where I live in in Charlestown, the garbage truck has to stop in the middle of Main Street and then try to back up a side street in order to reach homes up there. The city tries to time trash day with street cleaning day (between April/Nov), to provide more room for error, but it's pretty much a disaster when they try to do this every morning in the middle of rush hour.

    "I hope that the truck didn't

    By on

    "I hope that the truck didn't know that they struck the person."

    They ran OVER a person. Even in a garbage truck, I would think you'd notice that.

    Nevermind that. Why does it matter? That somehow makes it better that someone died?

    You do realize that the reason drivers drive off from hit-and-runs is because under MA law, prosecutors and police have to prove the driver knew they hit someone, right?

    Even when they do get evidence the driver knew, or lied - like with the guy killed in Wellesley (read the transcript between the detectives and the driver) - the grand jury refused to bring up charges. A bunch of drivers saw another driver, who killed "one of those cyclists", and said to themselves "must have been an accident."

    I share your outrage over

    By on

    I share your outrage over this. I don't understand how a person can know that they've hit someone, then find out the person is dead, and go on with their lives as if nothing has changed.

    Having walked across

    By on

    Having walked across Cambridge Street for over 6 years every day, I can tell you that it was not uncommon for large trucks, while heading toward the rotary from the 93 offramp or Somerville, to make a hell of a lot of noise as they rode over the very uneven pavement, (which has to be one of the most heavily used roads in the state in terms of gross tonnage passing through on its way to and from the warehouses and terminals in Chelsea and Everett via Alford Street and 99) - they would always make a regular crashing sound - CRASH CRASH CRASH - especially if they were empty 18 wheelers. Add to this the roar of the diesel exhaust, and perhaps other similar vehicles approaching alongside, would not entirely rule out that the driver in a high cab didn't see, hear or feel anything as a person in a passenger vehicle would. But that's for an investigator to determine.


    Spice Street is an oft-used back entrance/exit to my workplace. Traffic's backing up onto 93, choppers are everywhere. Just horrid. I'm surreptitiously checking on everyone I know in the office who commutes by bike. There's also a Bunker Hill Community College facility on the property, so I imagine students use this entrance as well.

    It's a really awful intersection with people flying off 93 and careening into a right-turn-on-red. Even so, it's probably the "safest" way to get in and out of here via bike, as Rutherford is basically the Autobahn and trying to navigate the Sullivan Square traffic circle for more than one exit is positively harrowing. I've had close calls and honestly I just unclip & walk it through the crosswalk nowadays. I can only hope the safety of this area for all commuters is at least scrutinized following this.

    he just didn't see the bike

    By on

    he just didn't see the bike and was not aware he struck and killed someone. nor does he really care deep down inside. typical hit and run in MA

    anon (not verified) on Thu,

    By on

    anon (not verified) on Thu, 04/03/2014 - 2:52pm, contact police so you can provide your first-hand account as a witness.

    Traffic around Sullivan

    By on

    Traffic around Sullivan Square is a mess.

    Sullivan Square in general is a mess. That entire area needs a massive rethink to make it work better for everyone - drivers, bikers, and pedestrians.

    That was going to happen

    By on

    That was going to happen quickly until Capuano changed his mind and started pushing to keep the area as it is with a giant underpass. Now the whole process is delayed as the debate continues. =(

    Sullivan redesign proposal

    By on

    Thanks for posting that.

    While I think it's good that someone is at least considering fixing Sullivan Square, I'm skeptical for two reasons:

    1) Boston has let Sullivan remain an utter wasteland for decades. Why should we believe that anything will actually change in the near term?

    2) While they claim that "traffic signals will be interconnected electronically", most of Boston's brand new traffic designs are so utterly brain-dead for everyone involved (vehicles and pedestrians included) that I can't understand how anyone thought they were a good idea. 3-minute cycles in pedestrian-heavy areas, lights totally out of sync a short block apart, ...

    it's not the fault of the intersection

    By on

    It's not the fault of an intersection when drivers go through it too fast, run lights, don't yield properly, don't stop for pedestrians, etc.

    It's the fault of the drivers driving dangerously.

    Should intersections be designed well? Yes. But should we shift responsibility away from the people driving? No.

    This is another reminder that

    This is another reminder that all of us----bikers, pedestrians, etc. have to be more vigilant because the drivers won't do it, and clearly the politicians don't give a crap about us.

    What can politicians do about

    By on

    What can politicians do about the crazy drivers in Boston? Unless Marty Walsh starts directing traffic at Sullivan Square, I don't see there being a change. Let's not lump bikers and pedestrians, we are all in this together; MVs, motorcycles, bikes, wheelchairs etc. There is a person controlling each, you don't know what could be going on, texting, talking, vision impairment, mental impairment, physical disability, just plain bad driver, I can go on..... We all need to be vigilant.

    Oddly enough, Walsh is trying to direct traffic.

    By on

    Why, it seems like only a short time ago, there was a thread here about his position on casino locations and the usual suspect masshole scoff squad busily belittled the whole thing.

    I was even guilty of assuming that the Revere location is more problematic.

    But this wretched incident only serves to show what a hell mess an added addled motor load would be in that industrial wasteland of big rigs roaring out of the Chelsea Produce terminal and similar locations.

    You'll have a whole new bunch of money grubbing manics to mingle messily in with the ones we already got.

    Nothing left of the bicycle

    By on

    Just rode past it on the bus. Absolutely nothing left of the bicycle. One can assume that for the cyclist at least it was a quick death, and not drawn out.

    Carbon fork, aluminum frame?

    and pedals for bike shoes with cleats. The bike looked designed more for light weight than high strength. Wellesley crash was worse - carbon fiber frame looked like a broken, plastic, child's toy.

    That wasn't me on the bike -- but it could have been

    Spice Street (connecting to Mishawum Street in Charlestown, to bypass Sullivan Square) is one of my usual bike routes between downtown Boston and Davis Square. Turning left from Spice onto Cambridge Street (becomes Washington St in Somerville) isn't much fun, but it's still better than going around the Sullivan rotary.

    Any idea what directions the bike and the truck were each going?

    Could have been me, too

    By on

    I used to bike through Sullivan when I lived in Malden and worked downtown.

    That is one horrendous, scary intersection.

    safer intersections, sideguards

    By on

    that intersection is a mess and needs to be redeisgned for all users in mind. it's just a mess...I understand that boston is improving its strets, but the focus and efforts havene't made it to all neighborhood, including charlestown. i can name 10 dangerous neighbohood interesections that i forsee seeing this type of incident happening....and no its not downstown---where most street deisgn efforts have been made.

    also sideguards on large trucks need to be made mandatory. while we need facts/circumstances to this accident, this could be a wake up call that side guardsare made mandatory beyong the city public works pilot. the reality is that trucks this size will be on the roads, but these guards have and will save lives.

    How terribly sad.

    By on

    My husband's office is on Spice St. and he said that it's tough for cycling around there (from watching, not from cycling).

    I used to work at the

    By on

    I used to work at the Schrafft's Center, and got their via the Orange Line to Sullivan Square Station. Unless you took the free shuttle bus that took you to and from the Center, you were taking your life into your own hands by crossing the rotary as it connects to Rutherford Ave.

    I know there are plans to improve Rutherford and the rotary at least cosmetically, but until someone proposes some serious traffic-taming, that area is going to have a hard time increasing safety and attracting pedestrian and bike-friendly businesses. Changes can't come soon enough. Not sure it would have made a difference in this case, as Spice Street and Cambridge Street form a simple T-intersection that could occur anywhere. But Cambridge Street always has very heavy industrial traffic and cargo loads - 18 wheelers, gas/oil trucks, garbage, tow trucks, etc. - I would never go near it on a bicycle myself. It's a free-for all.

    Used to work in the Navy Yard

    The only other way into Charlestown added two miles, so I'd brave the rotary by bike coming from Broadway in the morning. It was often socked up solid with traffic in the evening, which was less of an issue.

    I still jump on it from time to time to get North, but I have learned to game it. The crossing light on 99, even when it works, is ignored by motorists throttling through. I have found the best approach is to be HIGHLY visible and VERY obvious.

    The new bridge under the Zakim is a lifesaver.

    Swirls , no way , were you a

    By on

    Swirls , no way , were you a welder or something? When that was a working yard, man it was something to see. If you need any 6012 , I got a stash, I could let some go.

    I don't believe that someone

    By on

    I don't believe that someone hit this poor person on purpose. At this point there is no way to tell if it was negligence. I have to assume that it was an accident. Instead of this discussion devolving into a bike vs car flame war, perhaps our collective intellectual energy would be better spent contemplating a better way to accommodate bicyclists on roadways. I have often wondered if there could be a way to dedicate part of an extended sidewalk to cyclists? Maybe double-wide sidewalks where half is for pedestrians and the other half for bikes with a small barrier or groove as a divider? I love to ride my bike(s), but I do not consider them a means for transportation because I don't like to risk my life any more than I have to when I need to travel somewhere. My bike(s) are dedicated to leisure pursuits, I only ride them on bike paths or off road. I wish I could ride to work or on errands but because it is so dangerous I would have to break all kinds of rules to get where I want to go safely and people already hate bikers too much for me to contribute to the negative stereotypes. In my opinion the vast majority of biker injuries are simply accidents and not attempted murder/manslaughter. There has got to be a better way!

    Opinion versus fact

    In my opinion the vast majority of biker injuries are simply accidents and not attempted murder/manslaughter. There has got to be a better way!

    In NYC:

    NYC DOT’s landmark 2010 pedestrian safety study, based on records of 7,000 crashes involving pedestrians, found that motorist behavior was the main factor in 78.5 percent of serious pedestrian injuries and fatalities. A 2012 report from Transportation Alternatives found that 60 percent of fatal New York City pedestrian and cyclist crashes with known causes between 1995 and 2009 were the result of motorists breaking traffic laws, according to data from the state Department of Transportation. And NYC DOT data from 2011 revealed that half of pedestrians killed in city crosswalks were crossing with the signal.

    And truck drivers are often the worst violators.

    By on

    My Inman Square space looks right out on Hampshire St where deliveries to the goon ball deli are a hazard all day, every day.

    It has well marked bike lanes that are poorly understood by many motorists.

    And the truck drivers are generally flailing assholes who just want to make their overloaded routes work cause profit motive.

    It makes for a constantly changing array of challenges in an absurdly busy corridor.

    I'm too old to want to pedal through that nightmare, I just walk.

    And Sullivan has been hell forever, a shabby relic from a far more brutal and indifferent time when few citizens thought to object to such impositions even if a recourse existed.

    Bike lanes a bad idea there

    There just isn't room for them. They are in the door zone and thus dangerous for cyclists.

    Where would you rather have trucks stop to make deliveries? There are no better alternatives.

    Bad data

    The NYC study uses the wrong data. Hospital ER admissions should be used instead of accident reports which don't include nearly all bike only, bike-bike, and bike-ped accidents. Bicyclists don't report accidents when they are the dumb ass who caused them. This is an example why I take any report put out by the NYC bicycling promotion department.

    The Ozzie study is interesting and reaffirms what I've been trying to tell people for a long time - being seen is vital to safety. Wearing dark clothing or being in blind spots are a major cause of accidents and trucks have big blind spots. People who have little or no experience driving large semi-trailer trucks just don't understand the blind spot problem as well as if they did. So, before hating truck drivers, spend a day in their shoes/seat. You might end up cursing f'ing cyclists constantly trying to pass you on the right where you can't see them or easily judge if they are clear of the back of the trailer.

    And what are the facts in this incident?

    I have no idea.
    Neither do you or anybody else here.

    Before passing judgement, I prefer to know what happened.

    And as you know, I ride as much as most people here, so I do have a vested interest in these things. Until we know the facts (if we ever do know them), everybody is just blowing smoke.

    Look above , now it is a dump

    By on

    Look above , now it is a dump truck, not a garbage / rubbish truck. So now the story changes, and the dump truck specialists can chime in.But one thing hasn't changed , that area has always been a cluster flux. You have to be on high alert , extra sharp level of awareness , expect the unexpected. it used to be a dynamo of trucking and economic activity, before everything started to be emailed. I rolled almost a lifetime through there on 18 wheels as you call it , and it requires your full ,undivided , attention , with all the skizzling being done to shoehorn through, beating lights ,dodging people. But no one goes to work looking to run over someone. It's a tragic shame .

    Both sources that you cite

    By on

    Both sources that you cite are pro-bike, correct?

    And neither show that 60% of the drivers were charged with manslaughter or murder.

    Your bias on the subject is well chronicled here. The point of my post was to do something constructive instead of vilifying one side or the other.

    Extremists on any issue do not help to solve problems, they perpetuate them.

    There are accidents, and there are Accidents

    First, condolences to the cyclist and their family. It's a kick in the gut every time I hear about a cyclist being killed.

    I have to assume that it was an accident.

    In these cases, never assume.

    When a drunk driver kills someone, is it an accident?
    When someone driving 90 mph on a country road crashes into a tree, is it an accident?
    When someone texting on a cell phone, lighting a butt, adjusting the radio and eating a Big Mac runs down a pedestrian, is it an accident?

    Get my point?

    But, we have no idea what happened in this incident, so let's not draw any quick conclusions, shall we?

    Well, by definition...

    By on

    When a drunk driver kills someone, is it an accident? - unless intentional, yes

    When someone driving 90 mph on a country road crashes into a tree, is it an accident? IBID

    When someone texting on a cell phone, lighting a butt, adjusting the radio and eating a Big Mac runs down a pedestrian, is it an accident? IBID

    My father....

    ... who is a retired policeman detests the term "accident" when applied to motor vehcles -- he always said the appropriate term to use was "collision". ;~}

    Fall while free climbing is an accident too

    Falling through thin ice, playing Russian roulette, juggling chain saws, climbing Mt. Everest etc. are all activities prone to accidents. Bicycling in a heavy trucking zone on busy, rough streets is a slightly less bad idea for personal preservation. Driving a car is simply safer due to the steel cage around occupants, and there is no getting around it. Bicycling is like going out walking naked in a snowstorm, playing hockey/lacrosse/football without a helmet/face mask; unprotected. If you are responsible for a spouse and kids, you ought to think about cutting back on bicycling in dangerous roads, sky diving, bungee jumping, motorcycle riding, storm chasing, Alaskan crab fishing, base jumping etc..

    Who knows how thsi happened?

    By on

    Witnesses described the truck. Maybe they can also describe what led to the crash. Based on meager evidence I've seen, it apparently was a "right hook" -- the truck turned right from Cambridge Street onto Spice Street and the cyclist went under its right side. That can happen either when the truck passes the bicyclist and turns right -- clearly the truck driver's fault then -- or when the bicyclist is passing the truck on the right -- much harder for the truck driver to prevent, but entirely preventable by the bicyclist. More detailed comments on how to do that: