Back Bay intersection where bicyclist died was already pegged as most dangerous in Boston for bicyclists

The Back Bay intersection where a bicyclist was hit and killed this morning was identified in a city report two years ago as the most dangerous in the city for bicyclists.

A 2013 report on bicycle safety commissionered by then Mayor Menino found the intersection of Beacon Street and Massachusetts Avenue had more bicycle crashes than any other - and noted it was just two blocks away from the second riskiest intersection for bicyclists:

We found that nearly 60% of all bicycle collisions occurred at street intersections. Of the 7 locations with 5 or more geographically identical collision locations, the top two intersections with the highest number of crashes were in the Back Bay/Beacon Hill neighborhood, with 14 collisions at Beacon St and Massachusetts Ave and 12 collisions at Massachusetts Avenue and Commonwealth Ave (Westbound).

H/t Penny Cherubino.

Ad:

Neighborhoods: 

Topics: 

Free tagging: 

Comments

We are great at gathering

By on

We are great at gathering data and conducting studies in this city. We are not so great at using that information to improve people's lives. Hopefully something actually gets done for once before more people are killed.

up
Voting is closed. 57

I live on the block and I

By on

I live on the block and I hubway from there to work frequently. That intersection is AWFUL. The dedicated bike lane on the Mass Ave bridge ends and basically forces cyclists into the right turn only lane because that is the lane that re-turns into the bike lane after the intersection. So most bikers that are going straight are mixed in with cars going right. And if the light is green, cars do not give a rats ass about checking for cyclists. They just turn right without a thought.

Not sure how to change it unless we drop a car lane and make it a lane for cars going straight, a bike lane for those going straight, a car right turn only lane, and a bike right turn only lane.

up
Voting is closed. 13

Bike lanes may be the problem

By on

Maybe the solution is getting rid of the bike lane is the solution, so bikes have to integrate with traffic and not sneak up on them on the right side and into the cars blind spot. If a car has its right directional common sense says it’s a suicide move to pass the car on the right

up
Voting is closed. 20

LOL

By on

actually thinks trucks use turn signals more than 10% of the time

up
Voting is closed. 12

sneaking up?

By on

Are you sneaking up on cars in the left lane when you are driving legally in the right lane? If she'd been in a car and he did that, no one would question he was at fault. I was in an identical accident 4 years ago but in my car. The only person stupid enough to try to blame me was the other driver.

up
Voting is closed. 19

As a matter of fact there is

By on

As a matter of fact there is no bike lane there. Thus making the intersection the most dangerous in Boston. Thanks for playing though.

up
Voting is closed. 6

driver illegally crossing lanes

By on

The photo clearly shows the driver cutting across other lanes from the left lane in order to make the turn. This is how that guy was killed on Comm Ave a few years ago.

In both cases: too big a vehicle for the roads, so the driver has to operate illegally, and as a result, cyclists die.

up
Voting is closed. 38

Illegal?

By on

How does s/he make a legal turn? It's a truck. You have to move left to turn right or the physics doesn't work. How would you get to say Fenway (where I'm guessing this truck was headed) without making a right turn including a wide swing to the left to navigate said turn?

up
Voting is closed. 12

And even if they do...?

By on

Have lived downtown almost 25 years - have never seen a large truck take a corner at speed - especially one with a load - the physics simply don't work

Look carefully? I see trucks - and others - do crazy things on the highway. But on the surface roads the truckers I see are generally pretty careful - especially when turning corners they seem to always be looking in their mirrors.

Any guess on what happened beyond that is pure speculation - but this particular incident happening exactly this way - repeatedly - tells me there is a problem passing a truck on the right at an intersection, especially for cyclists. I'm not sure how you fix it but "look carefully" doesn't seem to be the solution and "get the truckers off the roads" is impractical. Any further solutions?

up
Voting is closed. 10

As unpopular as this suggestion

By on

may be to many here, perhaps we need to also re-evaluate how and where we provide bike lanes, including acknowledging that there are some places where they would be inappropriate or unsafe.. Nearly all highway features and traffic control devices for motor vehicles are installed or upgraded at locations based on specific objective criteria (referred to as warrants). Yet, at least in Massachusetts, provision of bicycle lanes and other facilities on highway projects are mandated unless the project proponent can clearly demonstrate that provision of such facilities on a specific project is not feasible or practical at a given location (and that is far more difficult than it might sound).

Suppose somebody proposed a law that said cities and towns must install traffic signals at every intersection in their municipality, regardless of the traffic conditions or crash history at any given intersection. I think most of us here would agree that enacting such a law would be unreasonable and overbearing. With respect to those who supported enactment of the current Mass. bike facilities requirements, mandating such bike facilities without giving consideration to the actual need for them through the use of objective criteria is no different. Sadly, in their rush to placate the "bike lobby", it appears nobody gave any serious consideration to the implications of not basing proposed improvements on objective criteria.

Yes, I'm all for the concept of giving cyclists equal rights to use the streets and roads (with logical exceptions such as Interstate highways and freeways). What increasingly bothers me, however, is how the cycling lobby continues to push for special exceptions to traffic laws that others must follow, and for special laws that exempt them from responsibility when crashes occur. Hardly following the mantra of "equal responsibility" that they continually preach to the public.

up
Voting is closed. 7

If you can't make a legal turn

By on

Don't turn.

It's not an excuse.

If there is no way for a semi trailer to use the road without breaking laws, semi trailers should be excluded.

Boston should consider identifying the subset of roads and turns possible for semi trailers without breaking the law, mark those, and exclude semi trailers from the rest.

Time to retire this excuse.

up
Voting is closed. 12

Who's at fault?

By on

If a vehicle is making a right turn from a right turn only lane and a bicyclist tries to pass on the right what is a driver to do? How about bicyclists follow the rules of the road and not cut around traffic. Driving in a bike lane doesn't mean you ignore all traffic laws.

up
Voting is closed. 17

You are wrong. Read the law.

https://malegislature.gov/Laws/SessionLaws/Acts/2008/Chapter525
"No person operating a vehicle that overtakes and passes a bicyclist proceeding in the same direction shall make a right turn at an intersection or driveway unless the turn can be made at a safe distance from the bicyclist at a speed that is reasonable and proper.
It shall not be a defense for a motorist causing an accident with a bicycle that the bicycle was to the right of vehicular traffic."

up
Voting is closed. 58

That's not what he asked

He asked:

If a vehicle is making a right turn from a right turn only lane and a bicyclist tries to pass on the right what is a driver to do?

There is a difference.
In your case, the driver sees the cyclist ahead of him and is aware of the cyclist's presence.

In the second case, the driver looks and there is nobody there. He turns, checks the corner again - nobody there. He sees the wheels wil clear the corner and looks ahead to complete the turn. Meanwhile, the cyclist has caught up, misjudges the corner, and....

Certainly anybody can see there is a huge difference between a truck passing a cyclist and the cyclist catching up to a slow truck turning a corner.

And of course, this is all hypothetical. Nobody has any idea what really happened in this case.

My sympathies to the cyclist's family and friends.
Please be careful out there.

up
Voting is closed. 15

Uh

Maybe the truck wasn't able to pass the woman on the upright commuter bike equipped with panniers on that 3/4mi straight before the turn. Maybe she missed her olympic calling and was booking it at 25mph or so.

I'm going to go out on a limb and say she wasn't.

up
Voting is closed. 7

True

By on

We don't know what happened, that's a good point.

It could have been that she rode her bike straight into the side of a truck as it was nearly stationary; or
the truck turned on her and crushed her in a move so common that it got it's own name, "right hook," and is specifically named and prohibited by state law.

Either is equally as likely! We just don't know at this point.

up
Voting is closed. 9

The Driver Must Yield― Pay Attention As You Approach The Turn!

By on

What if there are pedestrians in the crosswalk? Children could be running down the sidewalk, or any number of other conflicts could occur. It's your responsibility to be in control of your motor vehicle! When you're approaching a turn, pay attention to bicyclists and pedestrians who may reach that point of conflict before you actually make your turn.

If you can't be attentive and watch ahead while driving, then please put the phone away!

up
Voting is closed. 40

What is a driver to do you ask?

By on

1. Check right mirror
2. Indicate
3. Check right mirror
4. Shoulder check
5. Turn

Pretty simple.
I would have failed my road test in Germany for turning without a shoulder check.

up
Voting is closed. 19

And what's a cyclist to do

By on

A) Pay attention so they can see driver's indication to turn right

B) Do not attempt to pass vehicle on right

C) If already starting right passing maneuver, back off beyond trucker's blind spot

up
Voting is closed. 11

You got point B wrong

By on

A person driving a motor vehicle may not make a right turn if it will interfere with a person riding a bicycle. Even if said person is to the right and behind the car, the person driving must yield right of way.
Of course the practicability of relying on Massholes to drive properly is debatable at the very least.

up
Voting is closed. 23

Mostly Agree

As a cyclist (and pedestrian, and driver) you should pay attention to turn signals. It would be really nice if more drivers used them -- the only thing more common then speeding is ignoring turn signals in the city.

It's fine to past stopped traffic on the right. Never pass moving traffic on the right, especially if the cars have just started moving with a green light. Assume everyone waiting at the light is going to turn right even if they don't have their blinkers on.

up
Voting is closed. 13

Awkward

By on

This isn't the law.

up
Voting is closed. 3

No, it's called

By on

common sense, something that lawyers and legislators seem to be increasingly lacking when they write and pass laws.

up
Voting is closed. 4

You're Got It, Annette― That Is The Way To Fix It

By on

drop a car lane and make it a lane for cars going straight, a bike lane for those going straight, a car right turn only lane, and a bike right turn only lane

... and move the bus stop to the far side of the intersection. When one or more busses are stopped in the right-turn lane, bicyclists are dealt a double dose of danger― no lane to ride in, while motor vehicles are veering around in front of the bus to turn right on Beacon Street.

up
Voting is closed. 22

20 MPH speed bumps, too

People come speeding off of the bridge well in excess of the speed limit. A 20 mph speed bump just as the road gets onto land would force motorists to slow down.

up
Voting is closed. 21

It is not speed, Swirly.

By on

You probably know that the intersection gives no shoulder to a bike on the right hand side of the traffic. The bike lane ends and it is everyone for himself. A cyclist who is on the right, say wanting to go straight, has to negotiate the drivers making the right hand turn. Yes, the law says, they should yield but who wins when and if the collision occurs? It is very dangerous (as the report cited) intersection for cyclists.

up
Voting is closed. 6

THIS is a huge part of the problem

By on

The bike lane on the bridge ends into a bus stop and a right turn lane. Pretty much no where for the cyclist to go.

up
Voting is closed. 4

Cyclists shouldn't have to do this

By on

but when I've been on my bike and run into a situation like that, I pull over onto the sidewalk and walk the bike until I get to another spot safe enough to ride again.

Again, it shouldn't be necessary, but I'm not going to sacrifice my life to make a point about traffic right-of-ways.

up
Voting is closed. 13

Indeed. We were always taught

By on

Indeed. We were always taught in drivers ed that the right of way is something that you give, not something that you take.

up
Voting is closed. 2

An Easy Fix, but...

Not sure how to change it unless we drop a car lane and make it a lane for cars going straight, a bike lane for those going straight, a car right turn only lane, and a bike right turn only lane.

This configuration can work, but cyclists have to take the full lane, and make certain not to pass idling vehicles on the right. Passing on the right in a right turn lane is one of the most dangerous things a cyclist can do, because they are often in the vehicle's blind spot and can't predict when that vehicle will start a turn. When I encounter such an intersection, I either sit behind the idling vehicles, waiting, or, if traffic allows, I pass to the left, with the other vehicles heading straight through the intersection.

Note, I have no idea what happened in this case, and I am emphatically not blaming anybody for the accident. However, the specific danger you've identified is certainly real, and is best handled by cyclists following safe practices. We can complain about drivers not checking their blind spot, but ultimately, cyclists need to be pro-active if we want to survive in dangerous road configurations.

up
Voting is closed. 7

No right turn

By on

That intersection is the worst all right. It's downright terrifying how the bridge lane dumps bicyclists into a car scrum. Honestly, I think the fix is no right turns there for motor vehicles. They can turn at comm ave.

up
Voting is closed. 7

Paging Chris Osgood

By on

Well, I think we have found the first project for our new Chief of the Streets, Chris Osgood.

up
Voting is closed. 10

Vulnerable Road User Laws

We need them and we need them now.

The laws we have now are too soft and our police forces either don't care enough or do not have the resources to enforce them enough that impacts driving behaviors.

The penalties for driving distracted or negligently do not deter drivers from unsafe driving that puts cyclists, pedestrians and other road users at risk.

This is about pre-venting incidents like this, not reacting to them. I'm sick of these stories coming up.

EDIT: Just emailed my city councilor and state rep/senator, you should too.

http://www.cityofboston.gov/contact/Default.aspx

https://malegislature.gov/People/SearchResults?Input.SearchType=Keyword&...

up
Voting is closed. 22

Such Laws don't fix bad design

A national agenda by the bike lobby doesn't fix a bad intersection. People really don't want to kill each other so higher penalties really don't add deterrence. Its much like how the death penalty was shown not to deter crime either. At some point harsher penalties don't matter and are pointless and you start sounding like a Republican calling for mandatory minimum sentencing.

up
Voting is closed. 8

blah blah blah

blah blah blah motorist not at fault blah blah blah blame cyclists blah blah blah cyclist an illegal blah blah blah motorists can't be expected to pay attention blah blah blah me blah blah can't walk but won't get placard blah blah blah feel the g-forces blah blah.

up
Voting is closed. 26

..you start sounding like a Republican

Right, because states like Delaware, Hawaii, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington or countries like Holland that have successfully implemented these types of laws are just BASTIONS of conservative thinking.

up
Voting is closed. 15

And what were the results?

Did the law actually change anything? With studies done with death sentences, it was found that they didn't change behavior.

Those places are just vulnerable to the bike lobbyists.

up
Voting is closed. 3

Translation

"I don't set out to kill anyone but shit happens, I guess. Anyway, I'm driving a car so I'm more important then anyone not in a car. If people can't stay out of my way I can't be held responsible for what happens."

up
Voting is closed. 22

Taking licenses out of the

By on

Taking licenses out of the hands of people who can't operate a motor vehicle without killing someone isn't asking much. It is disgusting that the privilege of driving is given more importance in this country than the lives of innocent people.

up
Voting is closed. 11

Yup!

By on

I'm currently stuck living in California (one more year!), which is a "pedestrian right of way" state. Cars must always yield to pedestrians.

This means there are: a) 40 mile an hour roads where a crosswalk appears out of nowhere right out of a curve: you would not have enough time to see the pedestrian and apply the brakes to come to a full stop in order to save the pedestrian's life, even if you were obeying the speed limit and paying full attention to pedestrians and b) pedestrians who assume that "right of way" means they can run out from behind a panel van without looking or climb over a planted road divider and jump in front of your car without harm, because the legal right of way somehow supercedes the laws of physics and creates a magical shield around their body.

I'm all for obeying the law, but when someone in all black clothing on a poorly lit road jumps out of the bushes at you like a deer, or when the state paints a crosswalk randomly on a road (in some places, not at an intersection or even where there's a sidewalk) without considering driver's sightlines and lighting because "cars should stop," there's not much you can do but slam on the brakes and hope for the best.

up
Voting is closed. 6

Perhaps we could coordinate

By on

Perhaps we could coordinate an act of Civil Disobedience.

I'm pissed that cars get 15ft of space, while sidewalks are in shambles. I'm pissed that roads get plowed, while sidewalks are neglected, often forcing people to walk/roll in the road. I'm pissed that vehicles park on handicapped spots and bike lanes, and when you alert police, they just shrug.

Bicyclists and pedestrians deserve as much attention and safety as cars do. The bias towards cars is bullshit!

up
Voting is closed. 48

You ARE getting your money's worth

For the excise taxes, registration fees, inspection fees, bicycle driving license fees, tolls, and gas (road usage) tax on your bicycling. If you want to suggest a funding model where you contribute more to services for your bicycling for equal treatment of your ~2% mode share (in Boston, 0.6% nationally), then go ahead. For now, cyclists like the free model, much like free content on the Internet which they feel entitled to. Maybe China is the place for you then! No copyright protection and lots of (but plummeting) bicycling!

up
Voting is closed. 4

WRONG

99% of the population is pedestrians for at least part of the day. A vast majority of cyclists own cars and drive. Everyone who had a job (a majority of adult cyclists) pays taxes that are used for roads.

Cars cause far more damage to roadways due to the fact they are 100x the weight of a bike. If you want to continue with the stupid "you get what you pay for" attitude then you should start writing checks to cyclists since they are saving you (car drivers) money by traveling in such a way which causes the least amount of road damage and traffic.

up
Voting is closed. 33

This is the world's stupidest

By on

This is the world's stupidest argument. Considering my bike weighs 0.7% of an average car (and thus contributes that amount of "road damage" per mile) and I ride 5% as many miles as the average driver in a given year, I would calculate my road use liability to weigh in at a whopping 0.035% of a car's on yearly basis.

If the average driver getting 25mpg uses 400 gallons of gas, they will pay $100 each year in gas tax. That means a "fair" amount for a biker to pay would be 3.5 cents per year. So, yes, you're right, we aren't pulling our weight. Would it make sense to do it as a monthly installment of 0.3 cents per month?

Indeed, if all 20,000 or so area bike commuters paid their share, it would add literally hundreds of dollars to the road budget each year!

up
Voting is closed. 13

Question

Can we vote on which half of the pothole we get to fix with that windfall?

up
Voting is closed. 8

Do you have a macro that auto types all of that?

By on

The logic in your word salad has never been true, and will never be true. Since 1947, roads have been subsidized by bonds, property taxes and general funds. Everyone pays for the roads, I cycle to work 5 days a week and then when I get home to my house in Hyde Park ( part of Boston, if you are unfamiliar with all the neighborhods of this almost world class city). I'll sometimes get into my 2 ton Hyundai Deathmobile and drive around to various establishments. I'm fairly certain I'm not alone, I currently only have anecdotal evidence, since I decided not to use google. I have two brothers who own bikes and ride them, they also own 3, 2 trucks and 3 houses between them. Then my dad, owns another two houses in Boston and another 3 vehicles. There are other friends of the family who also follow this hateful way of life. A small sample size I know, but it's almost like there is a whole planet full of people out there who sometimes do more than one thing in their life. People who sometimes walk out their door and don't immediately climb into a car and rage incoherently at every 10 second delay. It's so very hard to believe that you are a real person, but how is it that you can look at someone on a bicycle and assume that they contribute nothing to the world around them, Did a pack of spandex wearing freds impale your parents on Aero bars one tragic pre-triathlon evening? Oh, and have you ever dreamt of electric sheep?

up
Voting is closed. 8

And what exactly is your beef here Mark?

By on

You object to people being held responsible for their actions? Or do you simple refuse to acknowledge that operating a vehicle brings with it the "burden" of doing so safely?

up
Voting is closed. 3

It might not have prevented

By on

It might not have prevented this accident, but Boston really needs to repave Mass Ave through Back Bay. It's scary biking there because I have to dedicate so much attention to rough pavement instead of watching for traffic.

up
Voting is closed. 10

Earbuds

By on

If people want to talk about safety lets talk about driving and or biking while having head phones on / ear buds in. For drivers in MA it is illegal, although seldom enforced. For bikers, common sense would also dictate that it should not be allowed or practiced; however it is by many. Depriving yourself of one of your senses while operating a powerful vehicle or operating amongst them is insane. The last time I saw it enforced was on an episode of CHIPS when I was a kid. Ponch & John knew the laws and enforced them.

up
Voting is closed. 7

More or fewer accidents with bike lanes on Mass Ave?

So, have the bike lanes on Mass Ave increased the number of bike accidents, injuries, and deaths, or decreased them? Any cycling advocates have the answer?

NYC recently took away bike lanes on an avenue because it was dangerous like this, where the lane disappeared to a sharrow situation. If the data shows increased accidents from putting bike lanes on Mass Ave, removing them is the way to save lives.

up
Voting is closed. 4

How about we remove car lanes

By on

How about we remove car lanes since car drivers keep killing pedestrians and cyclists? Why are we fine with car drivers killing 30,000 people per year in the US?

up
Voting is closed. 19

What?

I don't think accidents have gone up but if they have it's only because far more people use the road now then before. (AKA, incidents per cyclist is down.) In your twisted logic they should close the interstates too since there is far more accidents compared to the smaller roads they replaced.

up
Voting is closed. 8