Bicyclist dead after collision with 39 bus on Huntington Avenue

The MBTA confirms a bicyclist died after a collision late this afternoon near the intersection of Huntington and South Huntington avenues. MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo said "an active investigation" is underway by MBTA and Boston police. Channel 4 reports it appears the still unidentified bicyclist tried passing the bus on the left, lost control, then slipped under the bus.

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Post updated

By on

Still no name or cause of crash, though.

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Cyclist named

The Herald reports that he was Eric Michael Hunt of Mission Hill, 22.

There is still an oddment here though. All the reports so far refer to the cyclist hitting the side of the bus near the back. Yet, everyone seems to agree that the biker was ahead of the bus. So of course, if the bus overtook the cyclist, the bus hit him and not the other way around.

Is this the T trying to parse the wreck and shift responsibility entirely not Hunt or just some sloppy reporting?

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Latest version

By on

From Channel 5, which reports his bike got stuck in the tracks:

Witnesses said the man was struggling to free his bike when the bus came around the corner heading east. The driver had about 150 feet to react.

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Accuracy, anyone?

Yeah, it probably was just more sloppy, unedited reporting in print and broadcast.

By cracky, when I worked newspapers, not only did we have to put everything important in the first paragraph of 35 words words or less, but we had skilled editors. If we left out any of who, what, when, where, why and how, or even put them too low in the piece, we'd have to fix it and hear about it.

How could all those writers have Eric Hunt extracting his bike from the track, only to have the bus round the corner and him "hit" the back of the bus is beyond me. We're supposedly in a visual age; they should have seen what was possible and reasonable.

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multiple witnesses said he was stuck in the tracks

By on

....and that the bus came along and struck him.

Perhaps someone could explain how the fuck it is that the 39 bus couldn't stop in time- and why the driver isn't in jail right now. here is almost exactly where the cyclist was hit. Notice how far away the turn is?

Why aren't the State Police / AG aren't investigating instead of the MBTA'S OWN EMPLOYEES? Hello, conflict of interest? Just look at the goddamn quotes from the MBTA spokesliars that claim the cyclist struck the back of the bus. HE WAS STATIONARY IN THE ROAD, IN BROAD DAYLIGHT.

The MBTA is such a disaster that you can't even escape its safety problems by not riding it! But hey, SAFETY IS THEIR NUMBER ONE PRIORITY.

I wonder what this security camera captured.

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Let me guess...the cyclist

By on

Let me guess...the cyclist blew threw a red light.

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Let me Guess ... the bus

By on

Let me Guess ... the bus ran a red light or failed to yield on a turn or right hooked the cyclist.

If you read this blog often, you'd know about how cyclists have been documenting misbehavior by drivers on that route who think they can just pull out when the light is red and it doesn't count somehow.

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i was on the 66 bus around

By on

i was on the 66 bus around that same spot once and the driver was driving right behind a cyclist by maybe 3 feet. i asked the driver what he would do if the kid in front of him hit a pothole and crashed. the drivers response was "then he gets killed, its not my problem he should be on the sidewalk"

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obviously ignoring the fact

By on

obviously ignoring the fact that it is illegal to ride on the sidewalks in Boston... I hope this leads into an investigation of the MBTA system as a whole. Tragic accidents like this one should not occur

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Your call

Hardy har. There's the trick. There's no definition of business district. Except for the most obvious, it's a wild card. Does one bodega on a block make it one?

In legal terms, Boston's regulation derives as nearly all other municipalities' do from commonwealth general laws. Look to Chapter 85, Section 11. There you see the model phrasing -- "bicycles may be ridden on sidewalks outside business districts when necessary in the interest of safety, unless otherwise directed by local ordinance. A person operating a bicycle on the sidewalk shall yield the right of way to pedestrians and give an audible signal before overtaking and passing any pedestrian."

That brings up delightful images of Elmira Gulch or such ringing the handlebar bell.

Oh, and it's not quite as silly and archaic as the $1 fine for jaywalking, but the max fine for violation is $20.

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Isn't "business district" a zoning category?

Somerville has a similar law against riding bicycles on sidewalks in business districts, which I think coincide with the CBD (Central Business District) and NB (Neighborhood Business) categories in the zoning code. It's pretty easy to understand that Teele Square, Ball Square, Davis Square, Union Square, and Magoun Square are business districts, as is Broadway in East Somerville.

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Not for purposes

of transportation law.

Look to Chapter 90, Section 1. It includes a vague formula with a veneer of specificity -- "Thickly settled or business district", the territory contiguous to any way which is built up with structures devoted to business, or the territory contiguous to any way where the dwelling houses are situated at such distances as will average less than two hundred feet between them for a distance of a quarter of a mile or over.

Yet if you drive around MA, you find signs THICKLY SETTLED in what seem pretty rural areas. In those cases, that means the speed limit defaults to the commonwealth's 30MPH for inside municipal limits, even where those are not. It's a fungible definition. I'd bet if you ask a city cop, he or she would tell you it's "common sense," which means, "I'll let you know what I think it is, if necessary."

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if you ride a bike in boston....

By on

you know how little regard any of the mbta buses have for cyclists. my guess is that it was an inexperienced rider out on a nice sunny day bike ride and they unfortunately fell victim to the mbta bus's all-to-regular careless driving. my thoughts go out to the family of the victim, hopefully their death with not be in vain and serve as a catalyst for change in boston's streets, which are notoriously dangerous for cyclists.

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You are just plain WRONG!

By on

for you to say that mbta buses have little regard for cyclists. Not only do you not know how strict the mbta is with its drivers, you fail to realize that the majority of bicycle-auto accidents or fatalities are caused by other vehicles. I have been a commercial driver for almost 20 years, averaging about 50 hours per week of driving and can tell you that I have observed countless cyclists doing really stupid things out there. I can tell that so many believe that it is okay to leave their safety in the hands of motorists and many fail to realize that the reality is that autos and bicycles are not a very good mix regardless of all the traffic rules out there. I have observed many cyclists, including on street bike paths, not keeping a straight line and coming way too close to vehicles from behind that they can't see because their bikes do not have any rear view mirrors. I have also seen many cyclists wearing headphones while riding. C'mon, you have no idea what you are talking about.

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mbta drivers

By on

I ride a bike and take a bus. I see a lot of bad operating on both sides, but the mbta drivers have licenses and carry more responsibility. I am a conscientious bike rider and have almost been hit numerous times by the mbta. Over all I think there drivers are terrible and the management sucks while prices keep rising and service continues to fail.

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I've been riding for a long

By on

I've been riding for a long time and i have to agree that there are a ton of idiots on the streets of boston who think they can ride a bike way better than they actually can.

i am willing to bet the train tracks on on that corner play a big part in that. A lot of people go otb because of those.

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if you read my blog...

By Grim on

As someone who has been hit twice and repeatedly menaced my MBTA bus drivers I can safely assure you that you are entirely incorrect in your observations. Both times I was hit by MBTA drivers, it was because they overtook me on a clear road and, while NEXT to me, pulled sharply to the right to enter a bus stop with out looking out for me in their rear view. I was in the bike lane both times, clearly visible to the driver before they overtook me. In the instances in which I have ALMOST been hit, it was because I was stopped at a red light, and as I began to proceed after my light turned green, an MBTA bus ran the intersecting light. You can clearly see it on the video included in the news story I understand that cyclists are guilty of negligent actions on the road much of the time, but I assure you I value my life enough to not be among them, and the fact that I have been so menaced clearly proves that much of the blame lays with the MBTA driver's inattention and carelessness.

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Another 66 Cowboy

In light of the death and major injuries, my experience yesterday seems trivial. Yet, a 66 driver ran me into Route 9 traffic just a little over a block from where Eric Hunt died. You'd think that even the most callous of the MBTA drivers wou have a bit of thought after that horror.

I suppose I should have taken down the bus number and reported it. This has happened so many times, I doubted that doing so has any effect.

In this case, about 1:40 p.m. at the stop where Huntington turns into 9 at the end of Boylston by the Riverway, I was feeling good -- and safe -- after a left from South Huntington. I had arrived at a parting-of-the-Red-Sea moment as the light changed in my favor. Then when I was almost to the middle of the stopped bus, the 66 floored it from the stop without signaling or yielding to me in the right lane. I assume the driver didn't even look. Only my defensive biking and quick reactions for an old guy kept me whole. In retrospect, the 66 could have clipped me and driven me under the rear wheels. I guess the T could report that it was my clumsiness for falling under the bus.

As it was, I could see were the cars where from my side mirror and was able to stay out of their way as well as the bus' by suddenly making my own lane in the middle on a dotted line. It was a nothing event in many ways, but it could have been serious or fatal. The bus driver was reckless and a scofflaw.

Yup, I should have taken the particulars and followed through. I promise myself to do so in the future. I always have pad and pen.

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Yeah -- have been all but run

By on

Yeah -- have been all but run off the road by MBTA buses, caught up & tried to talk to the driver, and then have them yell at me for "being in their way".

In fairness, some MBTA drivers are perfectly responsible drivers, but that's far from universal.

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T driver's record

By on

From Pesaturo: "29-year old bus operator with 2 years of service. Good driving record
with no violations for safety or driving."

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I really hope instead of just

By on

I really hope instead of just shrugging at this death as random, somebody does something to make that intersection safer. As a cyclist I always feel like I'm going to get killed there, especially since, right where the turn lane is located, the trolley tracks are part of the road and just the right width for road bike tires to sink into.

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When I think of why I don't

By on

When I think of why I don't bike, that intersection is what's on my mind.

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When I lived down on the

By on

When I lived down on the other end of S Huntington and biked to work in Brookline, I'd get off my bike at this intersection and walk it across. I have seen waaaay too many people blow that light or pull in the wrong lane for a turn etc. At least if I'm waiting for a cross signal, there's a little more hope the drivers are paying attention.

Side note for all those who will insist that the bicyclist is at fault and the driver did nothing wrong: This is the same route where I was on a bus that got hit by a train because the driver wasn't paying attention enough to see it coming. If the drivers aren't even paying attention to the fucking trains, then can we expect them to pay attention to the bicyclists?

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"Side note for all those who

By on

"Side note for all those who will insist that the bicyclist is at fault and the driver did nothing wrong: This is the same route where I was on a bus that got hit by a train because the driver wasn't paying attention enough to see it coming. If the drivers aren't even paying attention to the fucking trains, then can we expect them to pay attention to the bicyclists?"

I mean, that would be a pretty damning point if the same driver drove all the trips on that route everyday, from the time of you anecdote. So, by your logic, I present the following: One time I saw a guy on a bike, and GET THIS. HE WAS RIDING WITHOUT HIS HANDS! They were just hangin' there by his sides! Can you believe that? No wonder this guy died today! So, I think we can all agree that it was absolutely the biker's fault. Yep. I'm convinced. And, by (for some reason) assigning blame (with no reason) in this tragic accident, I feel better about myself.

Good work!

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That's what they told ME...

By Grim on

When I called about the driver that hit me and then refused to stop and give me their info, or even OPEN THE DOOR and speak to me, the representatives I spoke to told me "she has been with the MBTA for 19 years and we are confident in her abilities as an operator." Don't believe them.

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Bicyclist dead after collision with 39 bus on Huntington Avenue

By on

I was there - it was a clusterfuck. They closed the whole intersection down and would not let anyone, even on foot, get from Huntington to South Huntington. Most of the people on the actual bus and the T had to walk through alleys just to leave the scene. I ended up walking from the scene to Forest Hills as there is still no outbound service (as of 20 minutes ago). Police were everywhere.

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39 rerouted

By on

I saw a bunch of them at Rox Xing, presumably going down Columbus to Heath or Centre.

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Death Buses

By on

I can not count the number of times both the 39 and 57 buses have nearly pancaked me. And the 66 and 1 buses are nearly as bad.

The drivers of them are usually deliberately obtuse as they will angrily honk or swerve at cyclists as they pass them with little to no clearance then right as they pass you they dive into the curb which, if you are fortunate enough to survive without getting cheese gratered between them and a parked car, leaves you trapped on the inside of the angled bus.

Frankly there is no room for buses, or anything else that fat, in the city. The MBTA should have restored the A and E lines as they were supposed to and eliminated the buses. This could have been done by banning all parking on those routes and using their out of work snowplows in the summer to remove any illegal parkers. Thus allowing for trolley service and still have room for a bike and car lane.

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I hate to throw my hat into

By on

I hate to throw my hat into the BIKERS V. DRIVERS flame war because both sides are equally misguided, belligerent, and, you know, blinded by allegiance. As one who neither drives nor rides a bike, I will offer this simple observation: I don't think either side is particularly blameless. Beyond that, trying to figure out which group is more commonly at fault is ridiculous. Oh, drivers think bicyclists are rude and reckless? Wait, do you mean to tell me people who ride bikes everywhere think drivers are senseless monsters? Wow! We've certainly learned a lot! Also, the brain is wired to keep grievances front and center in our monkey brains. So of course you're going to instantly recall all those times someone was careless. It's less likely you'll think about boring and pointless most commutes are. The brain does this to distract us from the ultimately meaningless, though soul-crushing things we're forced to trek to everyday. But I digress.

Two things:
1-"Frankly there is no room for buses, or anything else that fat, in the city. The MBTA should have restored the A and E lines as they were supposed to and eliminated the buses. This could have been done by banning all parking on those routes and using their out of work snowplows in the summer to remove any illegal parkers. Thus allowing for trolley service and still have room for a bike and car lane."

I think that's a nice sentiment, but wildly unrealistic. For among other reasons, even by eliminating parking, there still wouldn't be enough room for everyone for long stretches. Also, you know, there are concerns beyond fitting everyone on the road at the same time.

Annnd,
2- This is really sad. Someone died, and someone else (29 years old!) is going to have to live with it for the rest of his life. Turning to the internet to register your disgust for people is kind of a shitty thing to do. None of us know what happened. A lot of accidents (not all, but a lot) have less to do with driving conditions, the (perceived) hostility of motorists towards bicyclists, or the (perceived) negligence of bike riders than it does someones momentary lapse in attention. Maybe the sun was in someones eyes, maybe someone had a muscle spasm, maybe someone was looking at something, maybe someone farted. Maybe this, maybe that. But PLEASE try to remember that by turning the Internet into the bullhorn through which you'll yell and pick fights, you're being a huge dick. That's not to say you shouldn't take lessons from this, but try not to let the tragic death of someone be fuel for your self-righteousness.

Sorry so sloppy.

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well said

By on

I couldn't agree more.

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Thank you!

By on

Very well put!

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I'd love to throw....

By on

As one who neither drives nor rides a bike, I will offer this simple observation: I don't think either side is particularly blameless.

The guy was standing in the street, stopped, MOTIONLESS, trying to pull his bike free from the tracks. The MBTA bus struck him.

Now, you want to tell me how the cyclist is even remotely at fault there, and how the bus driver isn't at fault, for hitting someone standing in the road with a large object?

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Okay

By on

You're sort of implying that the driver saw the guy in the street and gunned for him. That seems...insane. It's more likely that he took the turn around the corner, and hit the kid who was just out of view beyond it.

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All the reports say it was

By on

All the reports say it was the left rear of the bus that struck him, not the front.

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insane...

By on

...like some kid texting his girlfriend in the middle of a subway tunnel and slamming his train into the back of another?

...like some kid slamming her train into the back of another in a broad daylight?

How about the busses that repeatedly run lights, as Grimlocke pointed out, which was backed up by video evidence from the busses' own recorders?

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The back-ends of buses swing

By on

The back-ends of buses swing out during turns, as there is a large overhang between the rear axle and the back of the bus. The descriptions sound like the bus came around the corner, the poor guy was there stuck on the tracks, and the left-rear of the bus hit the guy. The bus driver did not hit him head-on with the front of the bus. The quote from the witness on Channel 5:
"I was coming off the 66 bus, coming down here, and I saw this person get stuck on the tracks. (He) didn't have a lot of time to react," said Joe Leary, a witness.
"It was too late for the driver or him," Leary said. "(I) see a lot of close calls, but nothing like this."

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Still blocked

By on

I just took the 66 from Allston to connect to the 39 at S Huntington. They are still rerouting the 66 and Huntington is still blocked to vehicle traffic heading into Boston. The 39 that was involved is also still here and pulled over and channel 7 is here. It's upsetting to have to stand here waiting on a bus actually and people keep honking angrily because they can't turn right. Cops just commandeered a large platform tow truck.

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passing on the left

By on

wbz tv (.com) says the cyclist was passing on the left, lost control and fell under the bus. Pure speculation, but i bet his bike tire got hung up in the green line track. Sounds like nothing more than a freak accident.

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Those tracks have been an

By on

Those tracks have been an accident waiting to happen to cyclists for years now, so if your speculation turns out to be true it is not at all a "freak" occurence.

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The tracks

By on

They have been there for years and I would say as a biker on that route it's a bad decision to pass a bus by riding in a lane with tracks. I've hit the pavement hard a couple of times by crossing tracks at the wrong angle (both at Packard's corner and at Brigham circle) and it's an instantaneous fall. One second your upright and the next you're wondering how the ground could smack you so hard.

The rider may not have know about the danger of the tracks, or it may have had nothing to do with the situation, I'm just saddened by the untimely death of another rider.

My approach around any motor vehicle is extreme caution. I have ridden that exact intersection with my son in a bike seat behind me, and I'm now considering a different route but there aren't any good alternatives.

Any vehicle that you can't see around needs to be treated with the utmost respect.

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Theres no need for

By on

Theres no need for speculation, the bus cameras will determine who was at fault.

And just to note, passing on the left by a bicycle is perfectly legal if theyre passing a stopped vehicle (if the bus was at a bus stop). It is also legal if the cyclist is preparing to turn left.

Streetview actually shows a cyclist preparing to turn left

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&g...

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FWIW

For what it's worth, doesn't look like the accident was actually in the intersection, but a little further up Huntington on the inbound side. Possible that the biker tried to pass in the intersection, but when they had it taped off earlier tonight, the intersection was open and Huntington was taped about 20 feet inbound (the bus was further up).

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accident

By on

The accident definitely was not right at the intersection - I'd say it was about 50 yards past it, going westbound on Huntington. I didn't see it happen, but walked up towards Brigham Circle not too long after it happened (to get dinner, not to gawk, as at least 100 people were doing). Clearly the Transit Police are investigating, as numerous CSI-style evidence markers with numbers were on the scene.

Someone above suggested the rider may have lost control hitting the T tracks. I'm not trying to be morbid, and it was actually somewhat shocking to me, but there was a large bloodstain (clearly visible from the sidewalk on the northern side of the street) right near the T tracks, in the center of the road.

E-line service is now running on Huntington though - just heard a train go by on S. Huntington.

I don't really have an opinion on the cars vs cyclists vs T vs buses argument, but I will say that that intersection is a shit show. I get on the train every morning at that corner, and have witnessed idiocy from all parties.

Anyhow, super sad...

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The articulated CNG buses on

By on

The articulated CNG buses on the 39 are not camera equipped

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Legal but not necessarily safe

While it is always legal for a bicycle to pass a stopped bus on the left, it may not be a good idea on this street with its trolley tracks in the middle. The accident may turn out not to be the bus driver's fault.

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Agreed. I pass buses on the

Agreed. I pass buses on the left when they are at bus stops, but I would never do it on South Huntington. The tracks are too close to the passing zone, and just not a good idea for a bike.

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bane of my existence

By Paige on

"The bane of my existence" is what my friends and I always half joke about in regard to the 39 bus and the daily battle you will face as a biker with those buses. Hearing of this story puts things in perspective for me and I am profoundly moved to learn of this horrible tragedy, especially because it is the route I take every single day to get to school. While I am not from Boston, I have been biking here for three years, through snow, sleet, wind, rain, you name it. I've been hit head on by a drunk driver and thrown off my bike and somehow walked away okay. I do not know the details of what happened, or who was at fault, but I do know that whether you are an experienced biker or not-- that intersection and all the roads on this side of the water are tricky both on the part of the biker and driver. I do know that the majority of experiences I have had with MBTA buses and especially LMA buses are negative. This situation is ALL the more reason to make the roads safer for EVERYONE! The tracks will always be hazardous whether there are buses running or not. Having bike lanes in boston/boston area needs to happen and the e line tracks need be removed.

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Tracks and bikes can coexist

By on

Tracks and bikes can coexist peacefully. Some cities install rubber along the track, which is pushed when the train goes by put pops up so bikes dont get stuck

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...

By on

"The bane of my existence"

that's funny....that's what me and my friends joke about bikers.

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My heart pours out to the

By on

My heart pours out to the family/friends of the poor dude deceased. The authorities are so kneejerk/reactionary/jerks to overrun the area with authority and shut every thing down for hours as if only if they were there it would have prevented the accident. Urban east Massachusetts is so tense with impatience and ignorance.. (littering, feet on seats, sidewalk spitting, cell phone noise pollution ) that it is so overrated but still a tourist haven. The cops have not enforced moving violations for generations, therefore the moronic driving. It would take all day to get from city hall to the Mass General if you waited for the pedestrian walk lights. This place needs a common sense kick in the ass.

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I grew up in the neighborhood

By on

and know where the accident occurred VERY well, having road my bike, driven, and used street cars/buses on it a million times. YOU HAVE TO BE VERY CAREFUL BECAUSE OF THE TRACKS........not just bike riders but also cars. IT'S VERY EASY TO GET STUCK IN THE GROOVES and once this happens you have a major accident waiting to happen. A busy street, densely populated neighborhood gives little lee-way obviously, and it's difficult for a car to avoid an accident like hitting into a bike rider stuck in the track groove, let alone a bus. NO ONE HAS MENTIONED THE BUS DRIVER, WHO I'M POSITIVE IS SEVERELY TRAUMATIZED ALSO.....this person didn't go to work this morned looking to kill a bike rider stuck in the track groove on S. Huntington Ave! FOLKS GOTTA USE COMMON-SENSE! I also road my bike to work at Mass General every day for years down Beacon St starting at Cleveland Circle, through Kenmore Sq, down Comm Ave, Boylston St, etc., ..... we live in a very urban, densely populated city with a million obstacles that can turn deadly. You have to be HYPER alert, especially riding a bike on the street.

There were far fewer cars on the road when I was kid growing up in JP/Brookline/Brighton/Somerville in the 80's and it was dangerous then, it's A LOT more dangerous now due to the big increase in auto traffic, and the big size of the SUVs many now drive which have a lot of blind spots. On the plus side anti-lock brakes allow for better braking though.

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Killed by the Tracks

By on

I've fallen on those tracks before, you have to be extra careful around them. It looks like this guy thought he could pass, and maybe he could have safely, without the tracks. How many people (in any vehicle) have you seen take risks unnecessary passing, only to get to the next red light a few seconds earlier? I see it all the time.

Very sad, but all I can say is... trolley tracks and bicycles do NOT mix. For all those who want to see light rail on every street corner, that is a hard reality; and I don't believe that rubber gizmos over the tracks will solve the problem.

PS: I bike a lot, and drive too, and the inevitable obnoxious comments that happen whenever a bike is mentioned in the news are annoying.

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Tracks not the only issue

There would be less need to be anywhere around the tracks if double parking problems were strictly monitored in the area. I used to work on Huntington Ave. and there were many, many times that cars would take the dead center of the road to get around double parked vehicles and nearly hit off-center head on, with all the slippage that tracks entail. This should be a single lane each way, but they won't set the tracks aside.

That said, the best way that I found to make that left was to pull to the right, dismount, and use the crossing lights to get across the Huntington side of the V. This sets you up on the right side without having to hang around in the middle. Pretty simple.

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Bad Bus Experiences?

By on

I don't know what problems other bikers have had with buses. I've been biking all over Boston for 15 years, and I can't recall EVER having had a problem with an MBTA bus. Crazy car and SUV drivers are something else, but I've generally found the bus drivers to act in a courteous and professional manner.

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Can I have some of your drugs?

By on

They sound like good ones.

Most of the problems I have had are: drivers who refuse to wait 5 seconds to pull over so the bike is clear of the stop; drivers who don't understand the rules of using the racks; drivers who have AN OPINION and somehow forget that their employer has A POLICY and the state has LAWS that conflict with that.

The MBTA does a shitty job of training and education of its front line people when it comes to some pretty basic policies, and this doesn't start or end with bikes. Time for some education - and enforcement - and an end to excusing the drivers when complaints come in about dangerous driving.

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what bus route are you

By on

what bus route are you talking about because the bus drivers on the route of the accidents are not courteous at all.

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In defense of bus drivers,

By on

In defense of bus drivers, it's B.R.U.T.A.L driving a car, let alone a bus with passengers or a large truck, in and around the city. I'm not shocked they don't have the friendly attitude of Mickey Mouse at Disney World and don't hold it against them. You couldn't pay me enough to navigate city streets with a bus full of passengers. And the potential for violence on the 39 is always there due to the demographics. I grew up in JP; I know.

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Friendly attitude is optional

Professional behavior, knowledge of and adherence to the laws of the Commenwealth: NOT optional.

If you are being paid to be an expert about piloting a very large vehicle around the city, you are not being paid to have the attitude that you can use that large vehicle to kill somebody because their right of way is inconvenient to you. If that is the way you think and behave, find a new job.

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Let's not over generalize this

By on

I ride on the same route with the 39, 66, the LMA shuttles, the 1, the 77, 96 etc. I ride year round, good weather and bad. It is wrong to make blanket statements about all MBTA drivers being inconsiderate/dangerous/ and awful drivers (just as it is wrong to say that all cyclists are a pack of law breaking road menaces).

Without knowing the facts of the situation here, people are far to quick to judge. I am currently on the mend from being hit by a car on Mass Ave--so I ride all those buses in question for the time being. No one, Cyclist or Motorist, is going out there looking to kill anyone. If there is a true safety issue with how the road is designed, bitch and complain about that. If a particular driver has engaged in risky driving--report them (regular readers of the UH may have seen a post that proves that this is effective). Let's not engage in a smear campaign against MBTA drivers/Cyclists based on speculation and the comfy anonymity of the Internet.

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02120 - hey I live there too..

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I Bike, Drive, and ride the "T" in Boston, and I have to agree with you completely. Assigning malicious intent to drivers in general is a weak argument. And the knee jerk declaration of scofflaw bicyclists doesn't help solve the problem.

As for the "tear up the tracks argument"... Um. Have you noticed that the tracks were there before you were born and the state is trying to increase the amount of trolley coverage in the Metro area? They aren't going anywhere and you may have to accept it.

Deaths in urban traffic, as a percentage of miles traveled, fall harshly on the bicyclist. The transportation scheme has to be addressed as a whole to help solve this horrible problem. For years and years the Mass Transit system has been stagnant while auto traffic has doubled or tripled. As the resurgence of biking puts more bicyclist on the road, the injuries and fatalities will continue to climb.

Now, obviously something has to change. Car's are not going to disappear overnight. The "T" will need some kind of massive overhaul (and don't forget it's GIANT debt) before it's a beacon of hope. Some creative solutions to road sharing, including - but not limited to - bike lanes seem like the easiest first step.

Keeping my fingers crossed and my eyes open.

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I don't think I advocated destruction of the E-line

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I don't think I advocated "tear up the tracks" of the Green line (perhaps you were referring to a post by someone else). I was suggesting that it would be healthier to focus debate on making our traffic infrastructure safer rather than uniformly assigning blame blindly to either Drivers or Cyclists. Frankly I am counting on the E line being extended to Medford so I can use it my golden years (when it may actually be finished).

As far as just "accepting" the fact that tracks aren't going anywhere, that doesn't mean we can't discuss how we can make things better. The Huntington Ave stretch from Brigham Circle to Northeastern was upgraded. Maybe the section between Brigham Circle to Heath Street can be improved next.

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No, it was a reply

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to someone else.

There is plenty to discuss about the "T".

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Tear up the Tracks?

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Was I suggesting we tear up the tracks? As a biker, I certainly wouldn't mind, but I don't think I was advocating for it either. However... biking through JP got a LOT safer when the tracks were finally paved over last year.

Far better than putting new tracks on busy urban streets is to build REAL rapid transit systems with their own right-of-way. I believe the E line extension to Medford mostly fits this bill. I don't think there are any plans to expand in-street trolley tracks at this point.

In the meantime... I just avoid the couple of blocks from Brigham Circle to Heath Street. They truly are a death trap for bikers.

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Yes, let's end the E line at Brigham Circle

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Sounds like a fantastic idea; rework the tracks and platforms a bit so they can shuffle trains. The E-line runs the same route as the 39, past Huntington is dangerous (cars never stop for people getting off the trains), clogs traffic on that insanely busy stretch of road...and the rails are REALLY DANGEROUS TO CYCLISTS! Nevermind that most people get off at Brigham Circle anyway.

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mbta vs bikes

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I ride a bike and take a bus. I see a lot of bad operating on both sides, but the mbta drivers have licenses and carry more responsibility. I am a conscientious bike rider and have almost been hit numerous times by the mbta. Over all I think there drivers are terrible and the management sucks while prices keep rising and service continues to fail.

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Responsibility?

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The responsibility for safety on the road is shared and personal. If you want to assign the responsibility for your own safety to someone else, then I think you are misguided.

Do not assume that they see you. Do not assume that they can react in time if they do. Do not assume that the brakes are functional. Do not assume that the world will look out for your safety.

Your life is yours alone, so it's up to you to protect it.

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Amen, brother

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This is *huge* - I think a lot of well-meaning people, pedestrians, cyclists, *and* drivers, assume that everyone else is going to watch out for them and behave rationally. You just CAN'T do that. People get distracted, people misjudge things, people don't actually care, totally unexpected stuff happens...I've managed to avoid some hairy situations because I consistently expect people to make the most irrational, ridiculous, (and in the case of drivers, whether I am in a car/on a bike/walking) vehicular-homicide-caliber decisions possible. Frequently, they do. Anticipating *that*, rather than anticipating kindness or alertness or behavior on their part that's going to involve you not getting smooshed, is the realistic and safest choice.

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Bovine Excrement!

It is my responsibility to operate my legs, my bike, and my car safely.

It is the responsibility of the driver of a motor vehicle to operate safely. It is not my responsibility to enable and accomodate poor driving and bad equipment and the ways that the worst-in-the-nation lack of road rules knowledge in MA bleeds into the bus driver population.

Fix the problems. Don't blame the victims.

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???

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I'm not blaming the victims at all.

And of course it's the responsibility of a driver to drive safely (not drunk for example). My point is that these people DO exist, and if you want to be safe as a biker you have to acknowledge this and fit it into your riding style.

I'm alive after riding my bike in traffic since I was 15 (about 30 years or riding) by applying the theory that all people in cars were out to KILL me. I don't put myself into positions that would allow massive vehicles to crush me.

There have been mistakes and accidents, but I'm still alive.

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that spot of road is a nightmare for everyone

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That particular intersection is very bad to begin with, the lanes are simply to narrow and traffic turning there is really sloppy, especially trains and busses. There is little to be done about it, there is simply no space and it is a heavy traffic area. I am sure that paricular turn has a HUGE record of accidents....

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Accidents will always happen

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Where does it say the driver was at fault? He/she wasn't; the poor guy got stuck on the tracks and ACCIDENTLY got hit by a big bus.

MA drivers? You are aware MA has THE LOWEST road fatality rates in the nation, even though we have the 3rd highest population density out of 50 states (NJ+RI have the 1st and 2nd highest pop. density).............and Boston has the 4th highest pop. density of big American cities (behind NYC,S.F., and Chi.). The average Boston suburb has a higher pop. density than inner-city Houston, Atlanta, as examples. And Boston is not laid out in a typical North American grid pattern. The problem isn't locally raised drivers,most of whom would be ticketed every day in L.A. or Indianapolis; it's the folks who're used to less density and/or better laid out street patterns who aren't fully used to the uniqueness (by North American standards) of Boston. The driving culture, and culture in general, of Boston didn't develop overnight and it's mostly a response to the environment.

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in cities, anticipate reckless behavior

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I have taken it upon myself to assume and anticipate that people in cars, on bikes and on foot will do stupid and reckless things: run red lights, blow through stop signs, ignore walk signals, cut me off, etc. In a city, whether it's Boston, NYC or L.A., being alert and on the defensive is the smartest way to be able to react at a moment's notice to save your life and/or the life of someone else. If you choose not to operate this way, then that's your right, but it's not the wisest, in my opinion and experience. I am in no way blaming any victims of accidents who do not follow this way of thinking, merely advocating it. I'd rather be alive than have your attitude of 'it's not my responsibility!'

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I'm scared

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In an attempt to lose some weight and be healthier, I've been riding my bike to work every day this year. I'm one of those cyclists who obeys all the laws – stopping and waiting at red lights and crosswalks, doing the hand signals, bright front and rear lights, the whole routine. The comment threads on UH played a big role in convincing me that a fanatical adherence to traffic laws is the best way to legitimize cycling as a valid form of transportation.

And yet, despite my scrupulousness, almost every day, some driver will try to hurt or kill me. MBTA buses are the worst, with taxicabs a close second. People in BMWs always seem to be endangering me too, for some reason.

What am I supposed to do? I really enjoy being outside on my bike and I'm delighted with the health benefits (I've lost 16 pounds since January - only four more to go!), but I'm terrified of having my life snuffed out by an irresponsible driver.

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Changing routes helps

I've been cycling to work since 1992. Not every day, but a fair number of commutes involving a bike.

What I have found helps is being willing to add some distance to get some peace. This means finding side streets with little traffic, roadways without buses, roads that have some accomodations to cyclists or are nice and wide, etc. I know it isn't always possible (when I worked in Charlestown, Broadway was the best of bad options through Somerville and there was no escaping the Sullivan rotary), but portions of your route may be amenable to tweaking to get around some of the more sticky spots. It pays to leave a little extra time to experiment, particularly now that you are in shape and might benefit from a little extra distance.

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Indeed

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I've tweaked my route a little (Google Earth is great for this), but I can't avoid taking the Mass. Ave bridge and going down Mass Ave through Back Bay. That's the most frightening part of my commute. There are lots of illegally parked trucks and no bike lanes. And people tend to drive like jerks on that stretch.

I take lots of side streets, particularly on the way home, and I've had to deal with drivers who are outraged that I'm taking up the whole lane, preventing them from driving 30 miles an hour to the next red light. But I guess that's their problem.

Also, whenever I avoid a road because I'm afraid of getting hit by a car, I feel as though I'm conceding my rights. Massachusetts law is very clear: bicycles have the rights to all public roads – the whole road. If I'm obeying every traffic law, why should I have to live in fear while reckless drivers, shielded by two tons of steel, can threaten me with impunity?

I should add here that most drivers don't buzz me, honk at me, cut me off, or otherwise make me feel like I'm about to get hurt. But it only takes one incident to leave me shaken for several hours.

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Keep up the good work

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I know that stretch of road well, and here aren't many alternatives. At least the bike lane on the bridge is wide. Some of the side streets work but not for long - there always seems to be a dead end, change of one way direction or another major thoroughfare to cross. It is also one of the busiest North-South corridors for surface traffic.

How far south do you go on Mass Ave?

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not far

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I work in the Christian Science plaza, so I'm only going maybe quarter of a mile down that stretch of Mass. Ave. I also take Beacon/Hampshire St. through Somerville and Cambridge. The bike lane is nice and wide, but I still occasionally get people trying to j-hook me.

Like I said, I'm really enjoying cycling, but many close calls have left me shaken, seething, or both, even though nobody's actually hit me (yet). In addition to fearing for my safety, I sometimes worry that I'm going to completely flip out on some motorist. I've come close. Deep breaths help.

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thanks

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I'll have to try that. I usually cut over from Hampshire to Mass Ave via Vassar St (which has a nice bike path), but maybe I'll try the Charles River bike path instead.

Hereford St. is one-way, so this might be good for my trip home. I'll give it a go tonight.

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no prob.

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sorry, i sent the map to indicate that hereford st is a decent option for your return home to the Mass Ave bridge. The memorial drive bike path isn't wide or smooth. Vassar St. is much better. See you out there.

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Vehicular Style Bicycling

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Eoin,

I would suggest you learn about "Vehicular Style" of bicycling, as initially formulated by John Forrester. There's a TON of material out there, and if you read it and think about it and apply it, you will become a safer, more confident biker.

You can look up the Wikipedia Article, of course.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vehicular_cycling

Here's another good summary
http://www.wright.edu/~jeffrey.hiles/essays/listen...

John S. Allen, a Boston Local, has written extensively on the subject. And about all things bike safety-related in and around Boston. You may be surprised at what he says (for example, Vassar St's bike lane is not as safe as you think). Anyway, just about every bit of road you travel in Boston & Cambridge, he has written about, and I've found his writings to be quite engaging:
http://bikexprt.com/

John Allen has made a widely-used bike training manual, which you should read and apply. If you don't have time to look at a hundred different case studies on his website, this is a nice summary of what you really need to know to be a more effective biker:
http://bikexprt.com/streetsmarts/usa/index.htm

And the way I would summarize it myself: you need to maintain control of the space around you at all times. Use one of the four lanes on Mass Ave, act like another vehicle on the road, don't ride within 3 ft of a parked car (even if there's a "bike lane" there), and you will be a lot happier.

OK, good luck and happy cycling!

PS: John Allen has written about bikes and buses coexisting. One rule: don't pass a bus closer than 5ft. Unfortunately, our friend on Huntington Ave. failed to observe that rule, and paid dearly for it.

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Thanks!

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I've heard of VC and read the wikipedia article and have poked around the section at bikeforums.net, but I hadn't seen these other resources. There's a lot to like about this style of riding, at least as it applies to my route.

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John S. Allen appears to be

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John S. Allen appears to be one of those life-long cyclists who would be comfortable riding on an interstate. He of course assumes that everyone is like him.

His disdain for bike lanes is not substantiated. He claims that bike lanes make things unsafe.....except the numbers show that bike lanes increase the number of riders, and more riders = safer rides. Not all his points are bad, but his general conclusion is "avoid the bike lane." Massbike had a similar policy, but fortunately woke up to the fact that bike lanes encourage more riders, and that's in everybody's best interest.

I give the example of kenmore square. Terrible bike lanes, right in the door zone and with poor visibility. But in the two years theyve existed, I havent read about a single accident there. And yet it's obvious to anyone who frequents kenmore square that the numbers of cyclists riding through the square has exploded in the past two years. So I always prefer bad bike lanes to no bike lanes (but obviously good bike lanes are best). Bad bikes lanes are a good introduction to good bike lanes, because as the number of riders increase, the demand for good facilities is made more obvious.

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Bike Lanes, Good or Bad?

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Want to see what can happen if you put your trust in a dangerous bike lane? See:
http://www.rwinters.com/docs/DanaLaird.htm
(I generally ride that stretch of Mass Ave in the left lane, to avoid getting boxed in like that).

It basically comes down to this: when you ride a bike, you can set up some designated bike space, and follow a set of rules for your designated space, and hope that everyone else follows the same rules. And if they do, you'll be OK. If they don't, you'll end up getting doored or hit or something.

Or... you can drive defensively. Maintain control of your space. Avoid getting yourself into situations where you're at the mercy of others' inattention. That's the way we're taught to drive, and that's the way I believe we should bike as well.

I tend to agree with John Allen on the bike lane front. There are many many bike lanes that are fully in the door zone. And to me, that is dangerous. I won't ride within 3 ft of a parked car, whether or not there's a bike lane painted there.

In my experience, the existence of bike lanes has encouraged drivers to act in harassing and inappropriate ways when I'm riding with traffic. They see the bike lane as a convenience for drivers, not a facility to improve bikers' lives. There are a million reasons that even a safe bike lane can be blocked, and thus a million reasons why a biker might not be riding in the bike lane --- in addition to the need to prepare for a left turn. The stretch of Mass Ave from Central Sq. to Harvard Sq. is particularly bad in this regard: there is actually NO bike lane, but many drivers believe that bikers are "supposed" to ride in the 2ft between the solid white line and the parked cars, thereby leaving "their" lane to drive however they like. The EXPECTATION of a bike lane actually makes the drivers more dangerous to bikers on that stretch.

Another poorly designed bike lane is the new on on Columbus Ave in the South End and Roxbury (Northeastern U area). The street is wider than needed for the cars, and some time ago, planners decided to build a cobblestone median with that extra width. All fine and good. But when they decided to put in bike lanes, did they REMOVE the median, move car traffic toward the center and add a bike lane on the side? No... they just painted a "bike lane" that is fully in the door zone. That is just irresponsible, and makes it harder to bike on Columbus Ave.

To its credit, the new bike lanes on North Harvard St (Allston) are wonderful. But that's because planners actually removed on-street parking to create them (as well as a left-turn lane).

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That's a <em>style</em>?

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I thought that was the only logical way of avoiding getting creamed while riding in the city...

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so this morning....

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So this morning as I was riding southbound down Mass Ave. past Newbury street. I was in the right lane, following the right tire track of the car in front of me, and a white van blows past me, literally six inches away, laying on the horn the whole time. It was by far the closest I've come to getting killed on my commute. My mind was filled with a vision of police walking up my porch steps to deliver the news to my wife.

Of course there was a red light ahead of him, so I rolled up next to the van and yelled at him, asking if he likes scaring people. He told me to get out of the way. I memorized his license plate number (Massachusetts plates 187-163; the van said "MW Inc." on the side). And he gave me an "oooh I'm scared" look.

What Would John Allen Do? I can't find an "MW Inc." in Boston. Should I shell out the 30 bucks for a reverse lookup of his plates? Then what?

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Heh. I'd be lying if I'd say

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Heh. I'd be lying if I'd said that slashing his tires didn't occur to me. I also bet this tool might come in handy for dealing with motorists who don't think we belong on the road. But it's probably not worth it, right?

Right?

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At least report the incident

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At least report the incident to the police. Even if they dont do anything, I think having this guy written down somewhere might be useful next time he's reported.

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Ride with your u-lock on your shoulder

No, seriously. I've got a u-lock with a long cable and it fits very snugly over my shoulder. Whenever I ride with it, I experience a severe drop in the amount of crazy drivers & even pedestrians. It might be sheer coincidence but if I was a driver (or even pedestrian -- been multiple times people try to steal my bike...as I pedal away way faster than they can run) seeing that piece of steel slung around someone's shoulders would make me think twice.

Oh, and take a picture of the car's plates if you've got a camera phone. Did that once and the driver instantly rolled down his window and apologized and listened to me (seemingly genuinely) as I explained that he's got a big huge vehicle that could cause serious damage to me and should chill out.

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Jerks on the Road

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What happened to you is what happens when you don't control your space and someone else takes it for you. The problem is, there was not enough space for the van to pass you safely. But you still left him enough space to pass you dangerously --- which he did.

If there is not enough space to pass safely, you should ride in the CENTER of the lane (or even left of center), thereby deterring any serious attempts to pass you at all. Every now and then, someone will get huffy about that and start honking. You can choose to either ignore it (probably the best thing). Or if he decides to tailgate, you can slow down to increase your safety, because biking at 20mph with an SUV 2 feet behind you really is not safe. If you like, you can bring him to a full stop and waste his time for a couple of minutes, although the cops don't recommend that.

In my experience, cops (even Cambridge cops) are useless in these situations. They have no idea what it's like to ride a bike, and tend to have the attitude that you should keep your "toy" off the streets before someone kills you. Don't even bother reporting this stuff to the cops, it's a waste of your time.

Once, I encountered a particularly egregious driver. First he cut in front of about 12 cars at a stop light (rush hour traffic). Then he started tailgating me and honking (I was going the same speed as traffic, this WAS rush our). I eventually stopped him and kept him there for a few minutes, long enough to let him calm down a bit. He resented that, of course, because he was in such a hurry, and he told me he was going to be late for work. But his lack of free time did not stop him from reporting me to the cops, who pulled me over to lecture me about the incident. As I said, cops are useless...

So many traffic safety problems REALLY ARE about people who are impatient, stressed and in a hurry, taking risks with their own and others' lives to get somewhere a few seconds faster.

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What's worse is a large

What's worse is a large number of bike cops ride on the sidewalks, even in super busy areas. Can't really blame them since their bikes are huge and heavy, they should have some cops with road bikes to get a real idea of how it is to ride in the city.

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tragedy

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fyi- i know eric..and he wasn't an inexperienced bicyclist. this is an unfortunate tragedy that's cause should be addressed by the city of boston. I have spent many years walking those streets and know how dangerous it can be. the family has had past tragedies and it is devastating to have another strike them so deeply. my thoughts and prayers go out to my friends.. and their family.

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I wonder

How long until scul or other metalworkers on bikes weld that f*cker to the tracks?

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Stop for red lights

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I was driving toward Fenway from Brighton and a young woman is riding her bike in the bike lane and as I am waiting for the RED light she rides past me on the right and goes right thru the RED light. She did not get far because just as she enters the intersection she is hit by another cyclist. Throws her five feet into the intersection. When I lived in Hawaii they gave cyclist traffic tickets for going thru RED lights. Follow the rules of the road.

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.

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.

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Many cyclists get into a road rage...

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Many cyclists get into a road rage intolerant of other road activity that get in their way.

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