Bicyclist dies in collision with tractor-trailer on Comm. Ave.

18-wheeler involved in collision. Photo by Mike JuergensTruck involved in collision. Photo by Mike Juergens.

UPDATE: BU Today reports the bicylist was Christopher Weigl, 23, of Southborough, who was pursuing a master's degree in photojournalism at BU. His Web site.

A bicyclist did not survive a collision this morning with a semi at Comm. Ave. inbound at St. Paul St..

At 8:51, Sasha tweeted from a passing trolley:

Body covered by a tarp. RIP. what a bad start to the morn.

Daniel Robert tweets the truck appeared to be making a wide right turn onto St. Paul from the left lane at the time of the collision.

Around the same time, a bicyclist was involved in a collision at North Harvard and Cambridge Street in Allson, but he suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

By coincidence, a City Council committee holds a hearing on making Boston safer for bicyclists today at noon at City Hall.

On Nov. 12, another BU student on a bicycle died in a collision with a 57 bus on Brighton Avenue at Harvard Avenue.



Free tagging: 


At 9am they had the bike &

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At 9am they had the bike & body underneath a white sheet and the EMTs were sort of just sitting around at their truck.

safety hearing at noon at City Hall today

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While this was happening, I was riding with a group including Councillor Felix Arroyo along the SW Corridor. Terrible news to start the day. A co-worker rode past the scene and told us about it.

There is a hearing at City Hall at noon

Thurs., Dec. 6, at Noon
Boston City Hall
5th Floor
Iannella City Council Chambers

The hearing will delve into questions of where and why most crashes are occurring, as well as statistics on the effects of separated bike lanes (cycletracks) and the success of various infrastructure improvements made in other cities.

Thank you!

I'm going to try to make it. Cycle tracks would be great on many of these roadways, as Boston's street plan doesn't work with off-major roadway diversions. It would keep the trucks from treating bike lanes as "instant special for me loading zones" and the "I'm too special to find a parking spot" types out of the lanes, too, which is a serious safety hazard on major routes.


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Does the extra space come from?
1)Boston's road are already dangerously narrow which i think leads to some of these horrific bike accidents.
2)Biketracks would interfere will public transportation, specifically handicapped patrons of the MBTA.
3) Would undoubtedly eliminate on-street parking in a city where free parking is already scarce.
3.a) A reduction in free parking would have a direct effect on small business.


1) these streets are narrow

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1) these streets are narrow because most were not designed for cars. as a visit to the larz anderson auto museum will tell you, many of these streets were built for bikes, not cars. the auto industry managed to swing the tide such that they eliminated the space for cyclists in favor of their cars, but don't be so ignorant as to ask "where does the extra space come from?" when the city has made adjustments in the past.
2) this makes no sense. it is simple to design cycle tracks that do not interfere with handicapped patrons. Many cities still allow buses to enter the cycle track at stops to pick up passengers.
3) uh, wo what?
3a) oh, this is your point, that you haven't actually studied the impact on small business. cyclists are much more likely to stop at a small business and shop than people in cars, but you're not aware of that. The situation is very similar to interstates and small towns. Many towns allowed interstates to come through in a belief that it would increase business, but all it did was allow people to fly through their towns and their businesses suffered. per square foot, access for cyclists is much better for small business than access for cars


built for bike

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Last time I checked, bikes were invented in early 1900s, those streets have been around for quite a bit longer than that.

Youi might want to check again

> Last time I checked, bikes were invented in early 1900s

"Modern" bikes were developed in the 1880s and ladies were riding them fairly soon (before the turn of the century). (I doubt that there were special lanes for the high-wheel bikes of the 1870s). ;~}

Historians of roads are

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Historians of roads are pretty much in agreement that the bicycle played a big role in increasing the quality of paving and road design in the late 19th century

bikes have been around a bit

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bikes have been around a bit longer than that - also... that section of comm ave originally had two 10' cycle tracks on either side of the trolley tracks. the carriage and "bridal" paths were later enlarged to accommodate two car lanes and parking - and the bicycle paths were eliminated.


Ever been in Europe?

They have narrow roads.

They have parking issues.

They have hub/spoke style street plans and not grids.

Why don't you do some googling on Amsterdam, Utrecht, Copenhagen, Tours, etc. and learn how it works.

Funny - we used to get the "but we're not California/Oregon etc." comments when these things were mentioned. Those criticisms were valid - grid systems can put bikes on alternate parallel roadways.

Now that planners are (rightly) looking at European adaptations for our rather European street plan, we get the same "but we don't have space" and "Boston is different and not California or Seattle or Portland" style of arguments. These criticisms are not valid, given the successful experience of European cities with similar limitations.



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in Europe are far smaller than those in the US. Also public transit is much better organized than the MBTA.

The Grass is not Always Greener...

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Yes, Amsterdam is a "bike city" but, from what I recently read (just google Amsterdam and biking), they also have frenzied drivers, dangerous tram tracks that must be avoided, crowded bike lanes which lead to problems and high bike theft. And also this:

The fact is that many of Boston's streets are indeed narrow and those streets are not going to be redesigned any time soon (if at all).

Bike riders simply need to take extra precautions when they ride on those roads, especially around tractor trailers and buses as the driver's visability is hampered by his/her vehicle.

It is not that simple

I take all the precautions I can and on a daily basis I still find myself put into harms way by oblivious drivers who refuse to signal and use mirrors. I do not buy the "driver's visability is hampered by his/her vehicle" excuse. It is the drivers responsibility, by law, to ensure that they are not cutting off anyone with the right of way.

Responsibility works both ways

It is the drivers responsibility, by law, to ensure that they are not cutting off anyone with the right of way.

Avid cyclist here.
First, this sucks. I hate seeing these deaths.

OK, responsibility works both ways. That means cyclists can't blindly ride along cars assuming the cars see them. This is especially true when a cyclist is passing cars on the right because the cyclist is coming out of nowhere with respect to the cars. It's simple defensive riding.

Again, this sucks.

Yes, agreed

It does go both ways. I never assume that a car sees me, rather I assume that they do not see me. And this is why I've only been right/left hooked twice, I've been able to anticipate turns of drivers that don't signal or use the mirrors.

It does suck and of course, we don't if it was a driver that illegally right hooked the cyclists or a cyclist that tried to squeeze by as the truck legally turned.

Blind Spots

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Have you ever seen a sticker on a tractor trailer that says "If you don't see my mirrors I can't see you?" or something to that effect.

Blind spots are real and has nothing to do with responsibility. If you are in a driver's blind spot, he or she will not see you and you may be hit.

Aside from that fact, today's case appears that the driver of the truck was already negotiating the turn (he had the right of way) and the bike rider plan ran into him for some reason.

You're right

Which is why I don't put myself in a cars blind spot as I come to an intersection. Despite this, I find many cars that will make the right hand turn when I have the right of way and I can see their face in the mirror. So either they look, see me and still turn, cutting me off illegally or they don't look, turn and cut me off illegally. Either way they are putting my safety at risk and a blind spot has nothing to do with it. And I should mention, there are the good souls that will look, see me and allow to proceed forward before they make the turn. So its not everyone, but I always put myself out of the blindspot and have my hands ready to brake, just in case.

Also when I've been left hooked by drivers, there is no blind spot to deal with. I am on coming traffic that they are illegally cutting across my path. I'm clearly visible to them, so there is no excuse.

As for yesterdays case, yes its pretty clear that the truck was not at fault, no arguments from me here.

Wide Turns Too Wide

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Technically while the cyclist hit the truck, which leads one to presume the truck was already making its turn, it was stated the truck was making a right hand turn from the left hand lane of Comm Ave. That is kind of wrong, no?

Grey area for me

Honestly, I don't know. Yes, turning from the left hand lane, over a right hand lane AND bike lane would seem to be wrong and illegal. But then again, how does a truck like that turn onto this street? Better question, should these 18 wheelers even be allowed on these roads if they cannot navigate the turn properly? Maybe these deliverys need to be limited to smaller sized trucks.

I guess I can only testify to my experience coming to this intersection. It is very easy to come bombing down this part of Comm Ave. from Allston and usually I'm braking a few more cars back when I'm about to come to an intersection with a turning car or hit a red then I normally would on a flat road.

Blind Spots

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Have you ever seen a sticker on a tractor trailer that says "If you don't see my mirrors I can't see you?" or something to that effect.

Blind spots are real and has nothing to do with responsibility. If you are in a driver's blind spot, he or she will not see you and you may be hit.

Today's case appears that the driver of the truck was already negotiating the turn (he had the right of way) and the bike rider, according to witnesses, was coming down the road at "a high rate of speed" and for some strange reason just ran right into the truck.


you're overlooking a major factor here, in that these European cities have had bikes as a major source of transportation for a long time, so people are used to it. Also, and possibly most important, is that those cities aren't full of self entitled assholes.

No matter what provisions are put in, I only see things getting worse because people (in general) care less and less about their fellow people. Look at Black Friday, road rage, etc. Everyone's getting more angry, more in a hurry, more distracted by new fangled smart phones. Add in ever increasing traffic (be it bikes or cars) and it just snowballs.

Make it better?

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So how exactly is this an argument against trying to improve the system? Your point seems to be "it's only going to get worse, so let's not even try to make it better."


it's not an argument against,

it's not an argument against, its a realist observation. Consider that things have already been done to make things better, and yet we have more cyclist deaths now than before these measures were taken.

Not true

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The Globe quoted someone in the Mayor's office as saying bike ridership was up over 30% and bike-related injuries are up 5% from 2011.


'Society is getting angrier' view is cynical, not realistic

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There's large amounts of empirical data collected for more than a half century showing that Americans are trending less violent and more empathetic over time. Arguably, we see more bad behaviour onscreen/paper because some clever people have realized that they can capture eyeballs (and therefore $$$) by appealing to the rubber-necking inclinations of their audience.

(also, your comment that European cities "aren't full of self-entitled assholes" made me laugh out loud!)

Your point that European cities have already gone through adjustments wrt to bike/car co-existense is (as Swirly said originally) actually a great advantage for us here in Boston. We can benefit from their hard-earned knowledge and avoid potentially costly mistakes.

Your other points - that there are more distracted drivers and more vehicles of all types on the roads - are both very true, and are serious problems that probably need to be addressed before we see real improvements in road safety.


Comm Ave is not narrow

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It's 200 feet wide. Brighton Ave corridor is 100 feet wide. Huntington is also wide. Why are we discussing "narrow" streets in this case? The only narrow streets in Boston are in the very old downtown areas (e.g. North End), and there's no reason for a car to be going faster than a bike (~15 mph) on any of them.

Secondly, free parking is detrimental to business. It encourages space hogging, which hurts turnover, which makes it more difficult for people to find a space. Parking should be priced at a rate which results in about 10-15% vacancy at any given time, eliminating cruising, and virtually guaranteeing that you can get a spot when you need it. That's a win-win.

Biketracks and public transit co-exist in many places. Let's learn from them.

This is a tragic event. I hope that people can come together in the meeting today and later to think about what we can do to prevent it in the future. Unfortunately I suspect we're going to see more victim blaming and whining from the usual suspects.

Secondly, free parking is detrimental to business.

In a car:

Passenger: "Hey, that shop looks cool, let's check it out!"
Driver: "Darn, there's no open parking space, we should just keep going..."
Passenger: :(

On a bike:
Biker 1: "Hey, that shop looks cool, let's check it out!"
Biker 2: "Ok, lets pull over at the next intersection!"
Biker 1/2: :)

How do we get this home on bike?

Biker 1: "I want this rad bean bag chair!"
Biker 2: "Too bad its unsafe to try and ride home with it."
Merchant: "We can deliver for $40 if you can't pick it up!"
Biker 1: "Uh, well, we'll just buy it next time we drive by if we have time to stop, a place to park, and you still have it."

Biker 1, Biker 2, Merchant: :(


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You'd think all those non-car owners would just go buy a car, since they already save so much money not buying anything ever.

Mark has basically zero

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Mark has basically zero imagination or ability to work the googletron. People carry stuff like that via bicycle or trailer all the time. He really does have no idea what he's talking about re: bikes, but he can drop a technical terms into a conversation to fool people.

If you can't do it call a

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If you can't do it call a Professional Courier. I deliver all types of items that people say are impossible to move on a bicycle. Everyday, incident free. And then you get to help two small businesses!

Cycletracks on sidewalks

The road is too narrow and the sidewalk too wide: put the cycletrack on the sidewalk. There used to be diagonal parking on the sidewalks on that side of Comm Ave, its so wide.

A cycletrack still would not have prevented this crash. A cyclist riding too fast down a hill to stop in time not to strike a vehicle or pedestrian in a busy area will still hit a truck entering the side street. If this were Amsterdam, cyclists would not be riding too fast for conditions. I hope investigators test the bicycle's brakes if there were any.

Another solution is not have any motor vehicle or Green Line traffic near BU. That would then be safe, leaving just bicycle and pedestrians to injure each other.

Doesn't Work Well

You must not spend much time outside of your little mettle crash helmet bubble ... check out what happens over on Vassar St. at MIT ... sheep wandering into the "roadway" that is clearly marked and reserved for bikes, and then freaking out when they nearly get their precious wool coats fluffed.

People learn - quickly

Vienna Austria has a lot of bike paths on sidewalks and it works really well. Some of the sidewalks are 40+ feet wide leaving plenty of room for two bike lanes. As this foreigner learned quickly, you don't walk in the bike lanes. After a few screwups by me and being politely reprimanded by cyclists (usually with an agressive bell ringing), I learned to stay out.

Speaking of Vienna...if people think Boston is old, Vienna makes Boston look like a new city, and their bicycle infrastructure is amazing. If you want to do it, it can be done. No excuses about being an old city.


Back to the Dutch...

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In Amsterdam, every bike has a bell and pedestrians get alerted if they are in the way.


Especially when the cyclists

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are riding in the wrong direction or don't let the pedestrians know they are approaching. I see that plenty of times on Vassar.


If a Cycle Track

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is installed, ALL bikers should have to pay an annual tax to help pay for the roads they are using.

I do pay

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I pay MA income tax, I pay Federal income tax, I pay property tax, I pay excise taxes on my car, I pay registration fees for my car.

Funding for this stuff comes from these sources that I (that is, we cyclists) pay into.

Really? Again?

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Do we need to go over this every time?

Most road funds do not come from auto/gas taxes. So cyclists already contribute money to road construction. If you want a pay-for-use system, increasing costs for cars, trucks, and parking should be part of the equation.

Secondly, I'd bet most cyclists would be happy to pay an annual excise tax if it meant more infrastructure and respect. The rate is 2.5% of the purchase price in year one, falling to 0.25% in year 5. So the annual bill for most cyclists will be something like $1-2. Put a 10% tax on inner tubes and you'll pull in more revenue.

I will GLADLY pay excise taxes on the use of my bike . . .

but, I have a list of demands:

*All dedicated bike trails (SW Corridor, Paul Dudley White, Minuteman, etc.) shall be 100% passable within 12 hours of a snowfall--I want the snow cleared, and I want them fully deiced.

*Ditto with all the bike lanes in the City--two years ago was ridiculous when, on South Huntington for example, the parking lanes became snow mounds and the bike lanes were impromptu parking lanes.

*Widen the SW Corridor Trail where possible so it can better accommodate cyclists, joggers and pedestrians.

*Re-time the walk time where the SW Corridor Trail crosses Ruggles Street--the walk light should come on no more than 20 seconds after
being pressed.

*Bigger stop signs and flashing red lights for vehicles that blow right through the current Stop signs on Gordon Street and Atherton Street where they cross the SW Corridor Trail.

They do. Constantly.

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They're called income and sales (and other) taxes, which go into the General Fund, out of which the funds for infrastructure improvements come. Gas and excise taxes go into that fund too, but don't come close to covering the subsidies provided to support the infrastructure required to allow automobiles to use the public ways.

road tax for cyclists??

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What amount of our society doesn't already pay for road taxes via fuel? Until there is a HIGH percentage of cyclists, this is a mute point that would cost more to enforce, collect, etc.

cycletracks only make it harder for turning vehicles

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Cycletracks tend to make the presence of bicycles more obscure to turning vehicles and would increase the likelihood that a driver will miss a bicycle.
Most vehicle/bicycle accidents occur at intersections where (unless protected by separate light cycles that bicyclist follow) cycletracks provide little protection.

Citations, Please

I'm willing to entertain that notion - if you can provide some supporting evidence.

Any Statistics?

These are largely opinion-generated pieces that lack any real data on safety issues.

I have biked in cycletracks in multiple cities of Europe and the US and I'm not saying that you are wrong here ... just asking for some data on this that I may not have found or noticed.

Also consider that it should not be the responsibility of cyclists to enable bad driving.

Cycletracks and statistics

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Surely the burden of proof is on those who want to make changes, not on those who want to maintain the status quo. So can you provide peer-reviewed studies that indicate that cycletracks are safer?

Wrong about Burden of Proof

Are "people dying in the streets" and "poor road design" the status quo you desire?

Even then, "not doing anything" is never the default, nor is it a determinant of burden of proof in policymaking decisions. See also "anything put out by most state and federal policymaking agencies in the last thirty or so years".

As to your question, there are plenty of statistics available - let's start in the US with NYDOT:

Do any google search for "cycle track safety" and you will find much more than I can reproduce here. Also, Cycler, above, has provided some additional information.

Look, I bike on that section

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Look, I bike on that section of Comm Ave quite often, so you can bet I'm not happy with a status quo that might make my wife a widow and my kids orphans. But just because a status quo is unsatisfactory, doesn't mean that *any* change is good. This poor kid appears to have been killed in a right hook collision. Some of the cycle track designs I've seen make the cyclists even *less* visible to drivers than before, and might make right hooks more likely rather than less. I'm all in favor of making changes that will improve safety for cyclists (and pedestrians, and for that matter all road users), but let's make sure that we don't make changes that will make things worse.

And I've been to plenty of community meetings where developers have had to prove to a skeptical public that their proposals will lead to improvements, so I'm not sure what you're talking about in your second paragraph.

Right Side of road = BAD

I agree with the anti-cycle track position (in most cases) and I'm generally against bike lanes which run between parked cars and travel lanes. A driver making a right turn needs to completely cut over and cross most bike lanes, and by extension, right side cycle tracks. Anytime you have a larger vehicle cutting across another lane of traffic there is bound to be increase in accidents. (The fault is still squarely on the driver of the car/truck but that doesn't change much.)

Don't think of Bike Lanes/Tracks as separate, think of them as adding another lane to a road. On that part of Comm Ave there are three lanes. Due to poor planning, vehicles in the MIDDLE lane often need to turn right. Vehicles in the RIGHT lane (bikes) are going straight. If you think of it this way it isn't surprising that a vehicle in the right lane is hit by a turn vehicle in the middle lane. A cycle track is simply another lane, irrespective of what type of barrier there is between this lane and others. Worse, a cycle track isn't plowed as often and many pedestrians think it is just an extension of the sidewalk.

John Allen has a good discussion of bike tracks in Cambridge on his site:

Two better solutions:

1. Put the bike (third) lane on the left side of the road as they do along Comm Ave and the Mall. With no parked cars and only a few left sidestreets this is far safer. I enjoy riding in this lane.

2. Keep the road two-lane and make it very clear with signs and markers that the rightmost lane is shared between cars and bike. While this is already the law, increased signage on high traffic roads would help more then adding a third narrow bike.

Comm Ave Back Bay

Once you get East of Mass Ave, the bike lane is on the left.

I like this a lot as it has fewer turning issues involved, the cyclist is very visible to even the laziest drivers, and there are no parked-car issues and the lane can be a bit narrower because of that.

Yeah, it never made sense to

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Yeah, it never made sense to me why they would have it on the left side in downtown but not at the BU side. Clearly, the left lane should always be the bike path.

And then they have that dumb intersection in which they make the bike lane go across the street at the Storrow ramp. The safest way I've found is to stay in the left turning lane for cars rather than switch over at a busy intersection.

Very poor planning in my opinion.

What bothers me about that

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What bothers me about that Storrow ramp is that it's too narrow for a car turning right to pass a bike turning right, even though there's a bike lane immediately afterwards on the bridge.

When they rebuilt it a few years ago, they made a wide ramp, and put in fancy granite curbs. Then they changed their mind, and filled in part of the width with a pile of asphalt.

I follow this logic, but it

I follow this logic, but it assumes that bicyclists and drivers are not actively looking for turning cars/bicyclists in the cycletrack when coming to an intersection. Which in my opinion is a problem with education not with the infrastructure. However, bicycle signals are something that I am strongly for, especially in high traffic areas.

How does that work in this situation?

Lets say the cycletrack was on part of the sidewalk. The tractor trailer truck needs to take the right turn from the left lane to make the narrow corner. Does he have to wait for a right arrow while stopped in the left lane, at which time the cyclist gets a red light, but the truck is blocked from turning right by a vehicle stopped in the right travel lane. Cycletracks are simply still problematic when there are many sidestreets and driveways to cross. The thing we need from Amsterdam are cyclists who ride more slowly, have working brakes, and can stop in time not to hit things.

You almost had me agreeing with you for once.

Up until this BS spewed from your keyboard

The thing we need from Amsterdam are cyclists who ride more slowly, have working brakes, and can stop in time not to hit things.

Crawl back under your bridge.


And there's the problem

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The tractor trailer truck needs to take the right turn from the left lane to make the narrow corner.

If it's too big to make a legal turn, it is too big for the intersection. In most cases, tractor trailers have about as much legitimacy on city streets as railroad cars.

This comes up every time

If it's too big to make a legal turn, it is too big for the intersection. In most cases, tractor trailers have about as much legitimacy on city streets as railroad cars.

Then you'll have to ban all busses from city streets, too, because they have to do the same thing.

The truck isn't doing anything wrong by making this turn.


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City buses are 2-axle vehicles on-purpose, it makes them more nimble than 3-axle buses, even though it costs more in maintenance.

Secondly, city buses are supposed to follow heavily planned routes that do not require them to make any turns they cannot handle...

So are trucks. We've seen how well that works out.

Buses ≠ semi-trailers

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You're comparing 40' long 10-12 ton (or 60' 12-15 ton articulated) buses, which are much more maneuverable and specifically designed for use on city streets, to 60' long 30-40 ton tractor trailers, which are semi attached articulated vehicles primarily designed as long to medium distance freight transport on interstate highways? They're not nearly the same thing.

Buses ≠ semi-trailers

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You're comparing 40' long 10-12 ton (or 60' 12-15 ton articulated) buses, which are much more maneuverable and specifically designed for use on city streets, to 60' long 30-40 ton tractor trailers, which are semi attached articulated vehicles primarily designed as long to medium distance freight transport on interstate highways? They're not nearly the same thing.

Buses ≠ semi-trailers

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You're comparing 40' long 10-12 ton (or 60' 12-15 ton articulated) buses, which are much more maneuverable and specifically designed for use on city streets, to 60' long 30-40 ton tractor trailers, which are semi attached articulated vehicles primarily designed as long to medium distance freight transport on interstate highways? They're not nearly the same thing.

Missing the Point

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It looks like this crash happened when the cyclist either tried to cut in front of the truck or couldn't slow in time to stop before hitting it. It doesn't matter that it was a tractor trailer. It could have been a Mazda.

Turning vehicles

Even when they're in the process of actually making the turn? How does that work?

The way you are supposed to

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The way you are supposed to make a right turn is to yield to approaching bikes, pull into the bike lane so it is clear to new bikes on the way up that you are turning and they will not/cannot go to your right, and then make your turn, yielding to peds. Bikes far enough back can easily swing around to your left. Yield to the ones who would have to stop short if you pull in front of them.

I don't know how a truck like this is "supposed" to do it, aside from using extreme caution and approaching slow enough that the turn is visible before crossing fully into the lane. The way I understand this crash is the driver swung way out, so the biker couldn't see the blinker or that the turn was imminent, and then drove forward fast enough that the biker had no exit route and plowed into the truck.

This crash was so, so scary to many of us who bike that hill because the biker WAS doing everything he was supposed to be doing-- in the lane, with a helmet and a green light (there's no turn on red there, so I assume the truck wasn't turning on the red). That hill is where all of us who commute on Comm Ave make up some lost time if we're running late-- it's straight, generally good visibility, and way fewer crazy jaywalkers than on the straigtaways past the BU bridge. Being able to break for and avoid peds and cars is easily done on that route-- but the truck left no options for the biker to go to either side.

you're confusing on-road cycletracks with paths

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Paths like the SWC create the problem you describe. Cycletracks are superior because the cyclist is fully visible to drivers but still physically protected from drivers intruding into the lane (or blocking it.)

No confusion

I understand exactly the situation this person is describing - it usually happens when the cycletrack is separated from the traffic by a parking lane, and when traffic is allowed to make turns at unsignalized intersections.

There was an interesting "fix" for this I saw in France and Spain: cyclist gets a green light when there were no turns or cross-traffic permitted. Cyclist got a red light for full stop. A yellow bike icon meant that a cyclist could proceed with traffic BUT must yield to turning traffic.

Of course, this doesn't work when motorists and cyclists ignore the signals, but it does clearly delineate who has the right of way and when they have that right of way.

Another fix for this is a setup where the cycletrack is in a side area that has parking and access to side streets. In this area, bikes have absolute right of way, but cars are permitted. To make a turn on a small side street, the cars enter at a signalized intersection at a major road (one of those "yellow" bike icon situations) and travel slowly to their turn. I've seen them with vicious speed bumps with flat areas for cyclists in the middle to thwart attempts to get around traffic in the through lanes.

True, but

This isn't California or Portland.

We don't have redundant arterials.

You are incorrect

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The study took as its reference standard a major arterial with parked cars along the edge and no bike lane.

compared to that standard:
"cycle tracks (also known as “separated” or “protected” bike lanes) alongside major streets (about 1/10 the risk)
residential street bike routes (about 1/2 the risk)
major streets with bike lanes and no parked cars (about 1/2 the risk)
off-street bike paths (about 6/10 the risk)"

Control the things you can

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Without knowing the particulars of this morning's awful event, I must nonetheless point out several deficiencies I notice as both a driver and a cyclist in Boston. If you ride, you HAVE TO

  • wear a helmet
  • wear reflective clothing of some kind
  • possess and actually use irritatingly bright, flashing lights front and back (and not just at night)
  • obey traffic laws (NO, YOU DO NOT. IF YOU SAY YOU DO, YOU ARE LYING)

You just have to ride as if most drivers were clueless idiots who can't see you. Because that's what they are.


Strawman Alert

■obey traffic laws (NO, YOU DO NOT. IF YOU SAY YOU DO, YOU ARE LYING)

I do, but I also do when I'm driving and walking.

Can't say the same for a large percentage of people of any mode - pedestrians, drivers, and cyclists - that I see downtown. Jaywalking run amok, drivers illegally using bike lanes for parking and travel, drivers running red lights, drivers blocking intersections and crosswalks, turns on red lights that are prohibited by signage, etc.

This is a strawman when aimed only at cyclists. This is an area-wide problem that starts with a complete joke of a rules test, continues with lack of RMV followup on rule changes through interim testing, and is fueled by the profound lack of accountability in the form of ticketing or consequences for users of all modes including pedestrians. Should I start photographing and counting all the infractions of all modes I see in a single day? Just downtown? I don't think the internets have enough room.

I have to agree

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A lot of bicyclists on Comm Ave run red lights and/or duck around the inside of turning cars and trucks. I'm perpetually astonished that someone weighing 200 lbs would want to play chicken with a vehicle that weighs upwards of a few tons.

The cars along Comm Ave are plenty guilty of heinous and dangerous driving, too, but when you're the smaller and more fragile of the beings, you have to own up to that and protect yourself.

That's not how "yielding" works

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Larger things with the ability to do the most damage are always supposed to legally yield to fragile things, and the onus is on those things to check their surroundings before turning or moving. So on a lake, rowboats yield to canoes yield to sailboats. Cars must yield to pedestrians, etc.

The thing that can kill has as much, if not more, responsibility to double-check before turning, moving lanes, pulling over, etc. A cyclist can literally only do so much to protect him or herself, and in this case, signs point to the light being green (that's a no-turn-on-right intersection, and the cars making a left from the other side of Comm make it pretty tough to do so anyhow) and the cyclist being in the bike lane. Now, riding alongside a truck may be foolish, but it's not illegal, and the truck has the responsibility to check. I posted this same next bit on the WBUR story's thread:

I am the self-righteous person who actually does say something to the cyclists that I see running lights. I said something to a girl who rode through that very intersection, against a red light, just a few weeks ago. I said "you have a red light, you have to stop," and she blithely called back "does it really matter?" Obviously, it does. As a cyclist, I hate it when I see other cyclists breaking the law because it makes the road even less safe for me, the chump who waits at red lights. But putting all the blame on cyclists, who are on a 15-40 pound vehicle, and ignoring the arguably greater responsibility that car drivers, who are in a 2000-4000 pound vehicle, is literally insane.

Nope, sorry

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You cannot rely on other people to protect you. Obviously, they SHOULD follow the rules and be punished by law enforcement when they do not. But it's completely irresponsible to put your own physical well-being and safety into the hands of a random stranger. You need to assume that these Random Strangers are going to do something dangerous that could kill you.

I DO assume that all the drivers don't see me

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I said in my comment that it is foolish to ride alongside a truck. I am personally ultra-cautious, and do my darndest to avoid being in any vehicle's blind spot. I don't filter up through traffic, and I don't run lights. I am certainly not relying on drivers to avoid me - but that doesn't absolve drivers of any and all responsibility to look out for cyclists, pedestrians, skateboarders, etc.

Cyclists do have a responsibility to keep themselves as safe as possible, but putting 100% of the responsibility on the person in the more fragile vehicle is an excuse to avoid having to do the hard work of educating everyone - drivers, cyclists, pedestrians; you know, PEOPLE - about road safety.

That is good.

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I don't think anyone is placing 100% of the responsibility on the bike rider (I would not in any case). As I said in my earlier post, tractor trailer trucks and buses (and also cars, SUVs) have blind spots and folks on bikes should exercise caution since they are the one who will be killed or injuried in an accident. For the life of me, I don't understand why some bike riders do not understand this simple fact. You will be killed or hurt if a car, truck, bus, whatever, hits you. Why not err on the side of caution?

One could be the most responsible driver but there will be instances when a driver will not see you.

As a driver (and past bike commuter), I am trying to deal with large vehicles (and/or aggressive drivers) coming at me, hoping they do not run red lights or do something out of the ordinary (or illegal). On top of that, I have to keep my eye out for pedestrians and bike riders. If everyone is playing nice, there is no problem but if one of the group decides to do something not nice, then an accident might occur. Plain and simple.

Maritime yield rules

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"So on a lake, rowboats yield to canoes yield to sailboats. Cars must yield to pedestrians, etc."

That's not correct. The more maneuverable vessel yields to the less maneuverable one. Eg. a 15' Zodiac yields to an oil tanker.

Sort of

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We both kind of oversimplified, I certainly did in my original comment (I learned the rules I learned at summer camp, so obviously, not the best :) ).

Sailboats under sail power only, though arguably fairly maneuverable, are always the "stand-on" vessel and have the right of way no matter what (in my understanding of a brief reading of navigation rules). Other right of way priority depends on a number of factors (vessel under command, motorized, etc.).

My general point was simply that with great power should come greater responsibility - if you are driving a thing that can kill someone, you had better be maximum careful while doing so. I think we can all agree that drivers are not exactly maximum careful these days. Now, neither are cyclists or pedestrians - everyone is distracted, hurried, and thinks they have the right to get where they are going as fast as possible, safety (of themselves or others) be damned. It's a bad attitude, and needs to change. For everyone, no matter their vehicle of choice.

Marine right of way

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You're both wrong...... In general, human-powered craft have the right of way over sail-powered vessels and both have the right of way over motor-powered vessels. However, there are some important exceptions. Motor-powered vessels with limited maneuverability or in a restricted waterway have the right of way over other vessels. Think about large commercial vessels in Boston Harbor and fishing vessels with nets or trap lines out. Also, the vessel with the right of way has an obligation to maintain course and direction so that the give-way vessel can safely avoid them. If the vessel with right of way changes course abruptly, she will likely need to do so in a manner that does not interfere with the give-way vessel.

And none of this really applies to bicycles and motorized traffic on Boston's streets, other than every driver and cyclist needs to be aware of each other and work together to avoid any collisions.

OT Kind of Awesome

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Only at Universal Hub could I earn a continuing education credit in right-of-way for boats in a thread about cars and bikes.

Maybe he did check his surroundings

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The reality is, an 18-wheeler can't see much on their right side, probably more so when about to make a turn. I've even seen some labeled on the back <- passing side __ suicide ->

Now, I've seen a lot of 18 wheelers in the side drive like assholes, but given the choice, I'd prefer to yield to them then assume they're going to yield to me.

So it's probably not very

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So it's probably not very responsible to send an 18-wheeler to turn right down St. Paul street. There's basically no way to do it safely.

From the Globe Story

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Stanley Brown was at work at the CVS store at the intersection when he noticed the tractor-trailer making a right turn onto Saint Paul Street from the far left lane of Commonwealth Avenue and then saw the bicyclist racing down Commonwealth Avenue at a high rate of speed.

He said the bicyclist then hit the vehicle.

“It was a loud enough impact that I heard it’’ inside the store, he said.

Passing on the right

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Take this how you will, but it's never a good idea to pass on the right, on a bike, car, horse, scooter, whatever. Why everyone who drives insists on passing on the right, and why we think it's a good idea to run bike lanes over there (next to parked cars, to boot), I'll never know.

I do agree that 18 wheelers in the city are, on the whole, a bad idea. Doubly so when sitting behind one as it makes a 97 point turn.


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35 comments in the thread.

Easiest bet in the world

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Well over. I don't think you'd even have a contest unless you set it at 60-70.

Another sad story to start the morning though. ugh. Our sincere condolences to the friends and family of the victim.

Oh, well...

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chalk up another body to life in the big city.

Anybody get shot last night in the hood?


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we all know the answer to that question is YES!

Who took the under?

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I have a football pool and weekly card game you'll love!!!

Seriously though- RIP to the cyclist and condolences to the family. My above comment is only about UH commenting and in no way meant to trivialize the tragic accident.

I worked in this area for a

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I worked in this area for a couple years. It is a total safety cluster fuck, and it's not just one thing or group. Drivers are reckless and parking in the bike lanes. Cyclists are all over the place like they are riding around back in the burbs. Pedestrians are glued to their phones and iPods and not paying attention and using crosswalks. Traffic signals are often disregarded. Trolley tracks pose a hazard, especially to cyclists. The left turns, where they are allowed, are ridiculous, with cars blocking the tracks. Needless to say I don't miss having to navigate through there anymore. The discussion really needs to be about making that area safe in general, not just safe for cyclists.

I also think that along with infrastructure changes, a big portion of improving safety along that corridor has to be education of all groups. While I was up there, I kept thinking, "why doesn't BU have any kind of visible safety campaign to educate their students who are all over the place in this area not paying attention or heeding either traffic signals, laws, or using any kind of sense of self-preservation. It's not just students. Trucks, cabs, and T busses were huge offenders of being idiots as well, but BU could reach a huge portion of the population that uses that corridor.

I'm not sure when you worked

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I'm not sure when you worked around there, but BU has done a lot to increase bike safety awareness, with posters and educational campaigns and even words painted in the crosswalks asking people to watch for bikes. Check out to see a bit more on that.

There's still a ton that needs to be done, and people need to actually look around at what's happening, particularly in that mess of a corridor.

Sadly, nothing we do in the future will bring this man back to us, but hopefully things can be done to prevent future tragedy.

Maybe now bicyclists will

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Maybe now bicyclists will learn to observe the rules of the road like the rest of us....however I doubt it. Honestly, I have a hard time feeling sorry for bicyclists.


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Well kudos to you for waiting until the details of this came to light before making a hasty statement!


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I have a hard time not wanting to punch you in the head and I'm a nice middle-aged lady.

Unrelated to this crash

The truck was turning right across the bike and right travel lanes, which will have the right of way. It looked as if the truck was already in the turn and the cyclist hit it in the side (face first into the trailer?), unable to stop in time going down the hill and/or not expecting the only turn maneuver possible for a tractor trailer to turn right there. At that time in the morning, the truck driver does not have the opportunity to stop in the left lane and wait for all cars, bikes, and pedestrians to all be clear for 20 seconds.

Most likely the truck had to stop in its turn to yield to pedestrians crossing the sidestreet. During that time the cyclist could not stop and hit the side of the truck or trailer.

doesn't sound like an

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doesn't sound like an intersection designed for truck turns... it should be a candidate for restricting truck traffic or re-engineering

like the rest of us?

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Like the woman who passed me on my right as I was making a left turn (Kneeland onto Washington) with a cellphone stuck in her ear and a joint in her other hand?

Like the woman who almost hit me head-on in her attempt to make a left turn onto the JWay and then starting screaming and beeping at me?

Like the taxi driver who made a U-Turn in front of me at the Rose Kennedy greenway (which I was prepared for as I was 20 yards away) and who then decided to make a 2nd u-turn causing me to crash into his door and who then ripped off a nice F bomb at me?

Like the man who came up behind me whilst I was hauling 50+ pounds in a trailer, on an uphill heading towards Jamaica Pond, in the bike lane heading straight. He wanted to bear off to the right. I guess I was just too slow for him so he leeeeaaans on the horn, right (and I mean RIGHT) behind me. I virtually fell off my bike I was so startled. the rest of us.

Make it a mall

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Comm Ave should be closed from Kenmore to the BU bridge and made into a pedestrian mall.


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We could also shut down all the streets in a 5 block circumference around your house. Good luck carrying your grocery in a snowstorm!

If your notion of a good plan

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If your notion of a good plan is to go grocery shopping in a snowstorm using a car ... maybe it's time to re-examine your priorities.

Not a bad idea, so long as

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Not a bad idea, so long as you maintain trolley service on the surface or put it underground with stops at Hinsdale St. (the new BU East), BU Central, and BU West, with a portal at about St. Paul St.

But vehicular traffic would need to be rerouted somewhere -- Comm. Av. is too major a road to ignore and leave to the rest of the grid in the area, which is a bit limited anyway due to the river, the Pike, etc. I guess you could have it go from Kenmore up Deerfield St. to a deck on top of Storrow Dr. (it would be crazy to merge Comm. Av. traffic into and then out of Storrow Dr. so quickly) thence to University Rd. with lanes for Comm. Av., the bridge, and Carlton St. as you like. Can't put it on the far side of the bridge due to the Pike, unless we're doing something about that too.

Nope, accidents on trolleys too.

Can't have them either. No truck deliveries to BU or any area businesses - all has to be delivered by bicycle. Students moving in and out of dorms have to carry furniture and belongings blocks away to where motor vehicles are again allowed.

Typical Mark troll. Like

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Typical Mark troll.

Like there's no middle ground between a long-haul freight vehicle and a bicycle. Cargo vans exist for a purpose, and companies that don't use appropriate cargo transport are just putting profit before human life.

As a driver

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I concur. Well, maybe not that stretch, but...

I don't think there's a reasonable solution that involves keeping a subway, pedestrians, bicycles, and multiple car lanes / car parking on the same road that would statistically reduce the number of these deaths. However, I wouldn't mind seeing a program that closes Comm Ave. or Huntington to car traffic occasionally to see what happens.


You are absolutely right about the number of distractions there.

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Well said. The distraction factor for all users in that area is very high, and I'll add one thing that you left out: next time that you're down there, stand on the sidewalk and watch the drivers. You will notice that many of them, of both sexes but particularly the guys, are spending a lot of time checking out the coeds walking down the sidewalks. I have noticed this phenomenon on Storrow Drive as well, by the "BU Beach". On the next warm spring day, go over there an look at the amount of lane drifting (usually toward the "beach", as driver hands naturally follow their eyes) that happens. You will see what I'm talking about.

Unfortunately, there is not much anyone can do about these distractions - it's a city, and we are all in the uncomfortable position of relying on others around us to not do dumb things that endanger others.

no one in boston has ever

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no one in boston has ever gone to court for killing a cyclist. we could start there.

How do you know that the

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How do you know that the drive of the semi is from Boston? He could be a trucker from Alabama for all any of us know.
As a pedestrian, I've had cars gun it for me while legally crossing in crosswalks in Kenmore Sq. and by the Public Garden. I've witnessed cabs causing trouble for cyclists on Mass. Ave. fairly frequently and always see delivery vehicles and regular passenger cars double-parked in bike lanes along Mass. Ave. Can't speak for Comm. Ave. where the cyclist was hit, but on Mass. Ave. it's crazy dangerous for cyclists. Plenty of license plates I observe are from out of state, it's not just the Massholes causing problems.
Very sad for the cyclist.

Bowling for Students

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When I was an undergrad at BU, and a large lecture/event would let out such that 50 people were crossing the street at once, I often saw some jerk in a car gun his engine and speed up to the group. I called it "Bowling for Students," and it was downright terrifying to be in the street when it happened.

There are a lot of issues...

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...and I'm not sure this is one of them in today's crash, but please, for the love of god, stop wearing headphones while cycling.

I just can't understand it... when I bike, hearing is so goddamn essential to knowing what is happening around me. Equal to sight in importance.

It's right up there with not wearing a helmet and blowing through red lights in terms of idiocy, and especially along the college commuter routes, you see it every day.

I've been riding my bike with

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I've been riding my bike with earbuds for about 6 years and I've never not been able to hear cars coming and I've never been in an accident. The only time I've been actually is because a driver was not paying attention and it wouldn't matter if I had headphones or not.

This is what we're talking about

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when we say bicycle riders think they're above the rules that regular drivers obey.

Apparently this is not a rule

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Apparently this is not a rule that "regular drivers" follow either, based on the signs on the Mass Pike recently: See here

Yes I see those signs all the time

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so because there are a lot of asshole drivers (who are also in the wrong) that means cyclists can do it? Please.


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Oh, so you've never driven while listening to the radio, eating breakfast, or futzing with your GPS to see where the next turn is? What a paragon of vehicular virtue you must be.

Ah, yet another bicyclist

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who thinks they are above everyone else. God I wish they'd just ban bicycles already, you people are nothing but a nuisance.

Ban Cars

After all, the roads around here were not set up for them, and motor vehicle use results in far more deaths in a year than cyclists cause in 100 years.

Just the facts ...

Ah, yet another anonymous blowhard

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I wish Adam would ban anonymous commenters, personally. You're just a nuisance and the blather you post isn't usually worth reading.


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Someone is particularly colon crucified today.

Very sorry for the bike

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Very sorry for the bike rider's family and friends. RIP. Terrible this time of year, especially.

I've lived and bicycled in European cities [visited Amsterdam multiple times], was born and raised in NYC and Boston [city, not suburbs], and YOU MUST ALWAYS PAY CLOSE ATTENTION TO YOUR SURROUNDINGS AND ASSUME THE 2000LB + INTERNAL COMBUSTION ENGINE VEHICLE DOESN'T SEE YOU OR WILL BEHAVE ERRATICALLY. It's all well and good to say people are 'supposed' to do this or that, follow the law to a T, etc., Reality check: Human beings frequently behave erratically, take risks, become self-absorbed, are moody, enraged about this or that, are drunk and/or high on this or that, and all the while driving or bike riding. This is a big city and densely populated urban area, pretty crowded and built up by the standards of many other comparable American big cities. And reality is there are many bike/motor vehicle issue and problems in Europe,also. It's not all a bed of roses like some try to portray.

I take issue with some posters generally always dissing the van drivers, the delivery people, and so-on. These people have a job which they undoubtedly need to survive, they provide a VITAL service by delivering the goods we all expect and require, are usually under a lot of pressure to deliver their goods as quickly as possible [some actually get paid by how much and fast they deliver,by commission, as of course do bike couriers]. IT IS NOT A SIMPLE THING TO MANEUVER many of these delivery trucks in a densely populated, built up urban environment.

Riding a bike in big busy place like here is inherently dangerous. If you value your life and well being, the ultimate responsibility is on your shoulders, not the strangers also sharing the streets with you. There's almost negligent room for error in a bike/motor vehicle accident for the bike rider.

18 wheelers belong on highways, not on city streets.

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Boston is a city that just isn't built for 18 wheelers. They have such large blind spots and turn radii which make them dangerous not only for bicyclists but for pedestrians. Our narrow and non-orthagonal roads are not conducive to trucks meant for the open highway, and our streets and sidewalks are full of pedestrians and cyclists.

I strongly support a ban on 18 wheelers in the densest areas of the city at least during daylight hours as they do in many European cities built on the "cow path" model of city planning.

Yes this would require unloading the trucks in a suburban location and doing the in-town delivery with smaller trucks and vans.
Yes it might require more frequent deliveries, but with more efficient vehicles it might not cost much more. Fedex and UPS do just fine delivering goods with more reasonably sized vans which don't endanger the human beings in their path. They don't fit in loading zones either, so they always block the street. It's a matter of the right tool for the job, and it's not fair for companies who want to default to using the same delivery methods downtown that they'd use in Needham to externalize their costs in human lives (two now already this year).

Yes, there are some things that absolutely can't arrive on a smaller truck- steel girders or long sewer pipes. But those things are infrequently needed and can be delivered with an escort or in the middle of the night when there aren't many people around. But there's no reason that DD or CVS need a full sized 18 wheeler to deliver cups and shampoo.

What will you do

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if DD's doesn't deliver your coffee and donuts in an 18-wheeler? We can watch the price of lots of items go way up. Or we can watch about 15 box trucks all double parked on one block Comm Ave at the same time making deliveries. I guess we should go back to railway cars. Too bad we got rid of a lot of that infrastructure.

How do inappropriately sized vehicles make for cheaper delivery?

It might if all deliveries were made between 2 and 5 am. Otherwise,I don't think you are considering all the different variables here.

I have a friend who owns his own small trucking business who found out that IF he went to vans he would have to hire more people ... but his insurance costs dropped, his fuel costs dropped tremendously, parking fines were reduced, and his ability to be flexible and make timely deliveries got him more customers.

I don't know if that calculus would work for DD or if they have even bothered to do the math, but it seems like FedEx and UPS have come to similar conclusions.

seriously comparing a dunkin donuts delivery to UPS?

I know it seems like Dunkin Donuts are on every street corner, but realistically, they make FAR fewer stops and deliver FAR more goods per stop than your neighborhood fedex guy.

By the way UPS and FedEx both use AASHTO WB-67 trucks, which are the largest trailer trucks you are going to see on the road that aren't tandem.

Except that UPS and FedEx

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use the larger trucks only for through terminal to terminal deliveries. They don't use WB-67s to make local deliveries on city or residental streets.

And there is no legitmate reason why DDs, CVS, or other companies need to use 48 and 52 foot semis to make local deliveries on city streets either.

No they dont have to

But they dont have bakeries in the city I assume and it would be less efficient to use multiple small trucks when you could use one big one.

Of course, IMO, dunkin donuts sucks and anyone who gets coffee there is a clown.

If say CVS is making deliveries to boston from Woonsocket, doesnt it make sense to hit 5 stores with one truck rather than 5 dirvers going to 5 stores with little single units?

Lets just make it clear that the operations of FedEx are nothing like CVS or Dunkin Donuts.


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But the cost of those 5-axle trucks is being foisted on the city.

They do thousands of times the damage to the roads as a car. Why should the city be subsidizing the operations of DD? Right now, DD and CVS don't care what damage they do to the city's roads, nor do they care about the danger they cause to the city's residents, because they have no motivation to care.

If they paid the true cost of operating those trucks in the city, then maybe they'd take more care about how they do deliveries.

So, run the big truck from Woonsocket

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to a local distribution center in the Boston area. And you don't need multiple small trucks to make the local deliveries. One driver goes out, serves two or three stores, goes back for another load, then services two or three other stores, goes back again, etc.

sounds efficient

I hear all that real estate for a distribution center is cheap.

THis is a tragic accient, no doubt, but it easily could have been a small van and it would have been the same result. The demonizing of trucks here doesnt make sense.

So you want all deliveries,

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So you want all deliveries, in smaller trucks, and only between the hours of 2am to 5am? LOL! This is just priceless!

reading comprehension?

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that's not what she said at all.... she said that other than between the hours of 2am - 5am there were more variables to be considered in the comparison than the previous commenter was accounting for.

Not everyone's

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choice,even if it's your choice.