Hey, there! Log in / Register

For second time this month, a bicyclist in Cambridge killed by a truck driver making a right turn

Cambridge Police report a woman bicycling on Hampshire Street died this morning after the driver of a box truck heading in the same direction turned right onto Portland Street, killing her.

The bicyclist, a 24-year-old Cambridge woman, was transported to Massachusetts General Hospital where she later died. The truck operator remained on scene.

On June 7, a woman from Florida riding a Bluebike died in the same sort of crash in Harvard Square.

Neighborhoods: 
Topics: 
Free tagging: 


Ad:


Like the job UHub is doing? Consider a contribution. Thanks!

Comments

My thoughts are with her and her family of this avoidable tragedy.

up
39

.

up
16

That shouldn't be true...but it probably is.

up
32

Need to start piling those things up on the lawn at city hall

up
44

Make the truck drivers who murder other road users responsible for their mayhem.

Maybe they can paint them in prison.

up
82

This was premeditated?

Manslaughter?

up
55

There’s no excuse

up
18

I drive a truck around the city, and know that you always have to check that right mirror for pedestrians and bikes before taking a right, especially in dense urban areas. You have to be sure. Of course I'm assuming he didn't see her. I'd need some evidence of intentionality before jumping on the premeditated train.

up
35

I agree that this person did not plan to kill someone. But we give too much bias towards vehicles. There are cameras and side guards that would prevent death. Greed and selfishness prevents the safety measures.

up
27

With decades of experience here.

What I tell rookies is this: Every accident is your fault. It doesn’t matter what the circumstances are. Your fault, categorically.

Why? “Why” ain’t got nothing to do with it when you die. Your job, your only job, is to always expect the unexpected, always assume everyone is going to do the dumbest possible thing. Until you internalize this, you’re going to get into accident after accident.

That’s just how it is. Who’s at fault is a matter for the insurance companies and your survivors. You have one job, and that is to develop perpetual unerring spatio-temporal awareness. That’s all.

up
173

"fault" is just not the right word to use here. Really, it isn't. "Responsibility", yeah, maybe I can see that. But not "fault".

up
45

Would you ever tell a rape survivor it is their job to "expect the unexpected"?

It's one thing to discuss this with a fellow cyclist in private when you are talking about survival techniques against the distracted and dumb drivers of the world. It's an entirely different thing to be talking about it here where we are talking about public policy and repercussions and fault (in the public/legal sense).

up
84

First, to the family and friends of the cyclist: I am so sorry for your loss. May her memory be a blessing.

We're not really talking about policy here at all, we're talking about the death of yet another cyclist in our city. What's really gross is that the situation is so fraught that cyclists _do_ feel the need to think this way. I completely understand what dan is saying - how could you not feel like it's your fault when we see barely any action taken after so many lives have been lost? I was a daily bicycle commuter, year-round, for 20 years in this city, and only stopped when I woke up in the emergency room with a concussion, a broken helmet, and no idea how I got there. We have built a road system that requires cyclists to take essentially full responsibility for their safety, and we do not build the infrastructure and regulation to keep them safe.

up
34

If you want to stay alive you gotta obey your rules and also anticipate others aren’t going to obey their rules. Rape has nothing to do with it. if you are in a car at a red light and the light turns green, you simply need to wait to see if anyone is gonna run their red light so you can stay alive.

This all being said the trucker is probably at fault and should face penalties…..but this is Massachusetts not Mississippi (which Suffolk County DAs will tell sexual assault victims when they are ready to face a MA justice system)

up
60

but this is Massachusetts not Mississippi

From what I've seen, you have nothing to fear if you kill someone with your vehicle anywhere in the USA. No DA is going to charge you unless you are provably intoxicated because they know that no motorist jury will convict an unimpaired driver for killing a pedestrian or cyclist.

up
26

Maybe the full moon as well.
Your perpetual unerring awareness needs a long rest.

up
34

It should be possible to ride in the city without spending every second being hyper alert for what might kill you should you momentarily let down your guard.

up
79

It also works if you replace “ride” with “walk”. Cyclists are and have been capable of “mayhem, too. So let’s all stop pointing fingers.

up
27

But the number of people who have been killed by a bicycle in Massachusetts while crossing in a crosswalk is exactly zero.

Not this year. Ever.

That's 2 fewer than bicyclists who have been killed by trucks in Cambridge this month. It turns out that people riding bikes don't kill people, just because you were almost hit by one or whatever.

up
36

Who said anything about me almost getting hit? Not pointing fingers and all…

Everyone drove with this level of defensiveness, accident rates would plummet.

up
23

Yes, be aware. Be careful. However, the bicyclist is inherently the vulnerable user by not being the one protected by a metal cage with airbags. We need to change and improve driving culture to respect cyclists. Everyone will be safer for it.

up
34

Victim Blaming 101.

up
46

This tough love speech is only affirming anti bike peoples feelings and not helping anything else

up
25

One of the best things for me about weekend mountain biking in the woods is being able to just RIDE with no need for the constant shoulder checks and hyper-vigilance of city commuting.

I've been commuting by bike for a long time but I had several right hook near misses when I was getting used to city riding. It's possible, with experience, to stay pretty safe, even in heavy, rush hour traffic. But it is challenging and you can never trust a motorist to respect green paint or flex posts. Your fate will always rest in your own hands.

If a parked car has lights on or a silhouette in the driver seat, you need to steer clear to avoid getting doored. If you're approaching an intersection and hear an engine behind you revving, it could be a motorist trying to pass you and right-hook you to beat the light. Don't even mention turn signals, or the lack thereof. They are strictly tools of deception.

The hard part is getting enough experience without getting badly injured or killed in the process. Unfortunately, I've never heard of a city cycling commuter school, probably because it would be a liability nightmare and there are diverging opinions of how to stay safe. So everyone just gets tossed in the deep end and we hope they learn quickly.

up
41

I had heard of them when I lived in Somerville but didn't know they had more advanced offerings.

(201) Adult Road Riding Private Lessons: Want to learn how to safely ride on the road? Adult Road Riding Private Lessons teach you how to safely and confidently bike in the road...

Witnessed a cyclist get right hooked at Mass Ave./Mem. Drive on Tuesday. They had the green light to proceed forward and the motorist had the red to not turn right, they blew through it.

They came from behind the cyclist that was proceeding forward, the stop line is way back from the turn compared with typical scenarios like this. How are they going to expect that? I'm an experienced rider and I ride with expectation to encounter the unexpected, I have that instinct.
Seeing this still caught me off guard.

Its a specific instance I'm bringing up but the world you paint is one that just says "why even leave the house, something might kill you and it'll be your fault."

Again, whatever.

up
54

And way better than the old design, where both lanes had straight-through lights and it was a constant stream of potential right hooks.

The only issue is that the vehicles need to obey the law here.

This would be a good place to have a red light camera if our do-nothing legislature would get off their ass and allow that. Absent that, there should be a permanent Statie sitting around the corner hiding behind a tree writing tickets.

up
24

for 200 feet+.

This allows for safe merging before the intersection and discourages passing on the right eliminating the kill zone.

Then:
Training, training training,
Signs, signs, signs
Enforcement, enforcement, enforcement!

up
11

This doesn't really work for protecting bicyclists. Yes, you prevent right hooks, but you move the deadly conflict point to the place where the driving lane and the cycle lane merge. The correct solution here is large curb bulb outs that force drivers to slow down and meet the cyclist at a 90 degree angle and daylighting that gives the driver plenty of opportunity to see said cyclist before entering the turn.

up
12

I've given up on hoping the police will do something about it.

Bring on the cameras.

up
12

An issue I see often traveling the city by both bike and car is the design of moving the bike lanes in and the parking spots out. More often than not if cars are lined up parked you cannot see if a cyclist is in the bike lane and the cyclist cannot see if you are signaling to turn. Several times I have almost hit a cyclist based on this street design and blind spots and other times I have been unable to see cars turning based on the line of cars I was behind while cycling in the bike lane. Some of these lanes allow parking right up to the intersection so it can be tough to see each other.

Honestly, I'm not sure this design has made anything safer.

up
56

Imagine a world in which you fail your drivers' test if you don't look over your right shoulder when you are turning right. We have to use our imaginations in the US.

In Germany, it's how they reduce the number of murderous drivers on the road.

up
49

Well… it’s actually looking way behind over your right shoulder for a biker coming up fast in their lane, and that’s tough at a busy intersection when you’re looking left waiting for an opening. It’s just not a safe situation.

Using the skiing analogy, the person behind has the visibility and therefore is always at fault. Does a car first in line at the light with their blinker on have the right away on a biker who’s coming up 5 cars back in their lane? I wonder what the rule is or if there is one.

up
27

Traffic going straight has priority over traffic turning. Doesn’t matter how far back they are, or whatever.

Also right-of-way.

up
40

Because there's traffic going straight ahead in the bike lane going across traffic from the turn lane. A separate signal for the bike lane helps to ameliorate this but these signals are widely ignored.

If you're driving, you have be looking in roughly three places at once -- ahead of you, in the crosswalk in case of pedestrians, and also behind/to the right (and potentially in a blind spot) if there's someone coming up in the bike lane.

up
36

But there are many, many jurisdictions around the world that use similar designs with fewer problems. That leads me to believe that the issue is primarily with our entitled and distracted drivers.

up
29

I don’t think any single factor explains every accident (contrary to what UHub users seem to think), but I do think it’s telling that so many of these fatal accidents involve trucks. To me that suggests these particular accidents involve visibility or size issues. I’d be curious to hear how other countries with similar infrastructure handle trucks.

up
24

We have truck drivers who have no idea how to safely navigate the city. Killing other road users is one sign, Storrowing is another.

Perhaps it is time for certain areas to require special licensing endorsements for drivers to enter with vehicles that are larger than the road system was built for?

up
39

they probably don't have corrupt state police (duplicative) handing out CDLs like candy in exchange for bottled water

up
29

Many other countries use vans for the majority of what we use box trucks for here.

up
19

If it's a bunch of cardboard boxes and envelopes with mail order stuff, then yes.
If it's a beer truck, no.

up
10

What is hard about paying attention while driving?

And if you can't manage that, maybe not driving?

up
34

You've become so predictable on here that everyone could post your reply before you do. It must really be hard to be such a perfect person as yourself. Your constant virtue signaling must be exhausting.

Guess you've never been in an accident right? Always someone else's fault I'm sure?

Ever trip over something? What is hard about paying attention when walking? Maybe you shouldn't walk if you can't manage that?

Ever bite your tongue? What is hard about paying attention when chewing? Maybe you shouldn't chew if you can't manage that?

Ever slice your finger when cutting something? What is hard about paying attention when cutting? Maybe you shouldn't use a knife if you can't mange that.

Ever misplace your keys? What is so hard about putting your keys where you can find them? Maybe you shouldn't use keys?

up
72

None of the counterexamples you provide result in another's death or injury. Try again.

up
23

All of your examples involve doing harm to oneself. Not to others. So, perhaps not so apt a comparison in this case.

up
13

Overtaking object moving faster - car, bike, runner - has to have some awareness when closing on something.

A car on the highway going from the left lane to the right lane is at fault if it hits another close vehicle traveling in the same direction, but not if that vehicle is many lengths back and fails to adjust speed.

up
10

Stating something as fact does not make it so. Your subject line and last paragraph are false.

The road user changing lanes has a legal obligation to yield to road users continuing straight in their lane. It does not matter if it is oncoming traffic or a bicyclist "5 cars back."

up
11

If you don't know this LAW (not a mere "rule"), perhaps don't drive.

up
17

Just asking an honest question, Rob. Thanks for your kind response, neighbor.

up
11

And if you don’t know this basic law, you shouldn’t be driving. I didn’t call you names or insult you.

People are literally dying out there and we have drivers in 4,000 pound plus pieces of metal who don’t know the driving laws. That is insane.

up
13

But for everyone. For the bike that, yes, cars may be around and trucks are worse. But for people driving cars and Jesus especially trucks, that there might be people in the fucking bike lane and maybe pay attention to that, slow down, and look twice? Also we have to get the distractions out of the vehicles.

up
43

Because the turning car/truck will be meeting the bike lane at closer to a right angle, bikers should be easier to see. Drivers don't have to turn their heads as much, because bikers will be coming from their side, not from behind them.

You're right about parking to close to intersections though. "Daylighting" is the term for not allowing parking within a certain distance (often 20 feet) of an intersection, and best practice is to make it impossible with infrastructure - flex-posts, bollards, curb bump-outs, or other barriers. It is one of the best things we can do for making intersections and crossings safer for all users.

up
22

More caution is needed from both parties. Folks driving are distracted and unpredictable and many cyclist just blast though intersections and red lights as if no rules apply to them. Add in all the delivery scooters weaving in and out from the street to the bike lane and it's an accident waiting to happen.

up
15

When the bike lane is next to the curb, the parking cars have to be 20 feet or more from intersection so that the view is not obstructed. But of course, many people park illegally and obstruct the view. If the lane guards aren't cement, people move them.

But overall this design slows traffic to the speed limit and this gives everyone a better chance to live. Drivers respect other cars more than pedestrians or bikes.

up
16

Having bikes in the right lane seems to be the inherent flaw.

The right side of a car is where the blind spot is. We also pass on the left, traditionally.

So a driver in a car or truck slowing to make a right, a) doesn’t expect someone passing them on the right, and b) may not be able to see them well even if they’re looking.

I agree with previous posts that we can improve drivers Ed and licensing requirements, but that’s a long term or even generational change.

Meanwhile, just like with skiing and boating, the bikes can see the car/truck ahead of them and should yield.

My thoughts are with the cyclist’s family and also the truck driver. But the design of our bike lanes and unrealistic expectations of how fast society changes are parts of the problem here.

up
24

The right side of a car is where the blind spot is.

Blind spots do not absolve the person driving of … anything. That's why you "check your blind spot." It's where you know you can't easily see, so where you slow down and check twice. "I didn't see it" is not an excuse.

Meanwhile, just like with skiing and boating, the bikes can see the car/truck ahead of them and should yield.

But this isn't skiing and it isn't boating. The bike could see the truck, and either assumed the truck would yield because that's the law or perhaps the truck wasn't using a turn signal. In either case, the rule is not that the vehicle behind yields to the vehicle in front, but that the vehicle turning yields to the vehicle going straight. Unlike boats or ski trails, which are wide open expanses with no demarcations (and in the case of skiing, in which basically everyone is going in the same direction), we have road markings which delineate who goes where and when.

up
21

you can introduce highway drivers to Boston culture with electronic signs like: "Wicked Big Stahm Comin' ' you can sure as shit make a sign distilling the cyclist-turning-red issue worded in a way to make everyone understand that drivers don't get to kill cyclists with impunity.

First step is convincing the powers that be that drivers don't get to kill cyclists with impunity. Make it fucking scary for drivers to kill. Because it is scary for cyclists to die.

up
29

In the Boston metro area there appears to be a large number of folks who refuse to act with caution when on sidewalks and in the street. Walking in the middle of traffic challenging car/truck/bus drivers. Bicyclists who ride on the sidewalk assuming they have the right of way. Car/truck/bus drivers who speed up at yellow lights but effectively cross at red lights.

It takes only one of these folks in an encounter with another to result in harm and even death.

Perhaps the greater issue is that when it comes to walking, biking and driving each death is another example of a street culture that is effectively Libertarian: Wherever a person stands, walks, bikes or drives each square foot of street and sidewalk is somehow magically protected from the crushing kill of something bigger. It only takes a car to kill a bicyclists. It takes only a bicyclist to harm (and even kill) a pedestrian.

Imagine if ancient humans had the same attitude to things bigger than them that, as a culture, there seems lots of examples at least in the Boston metro area? Extinction.

up
26

In every mode of transportation I’m always on the defense and assume the worse. If I didn’t - worst case I’m right, but dead so I, ultimately lose. Why people think they’re immune because they’re maybe right is perplexing.

up
21

This city was not created for cars. It was created for pedestrians and horses. There should be less access for cars in the city. Downtown should be limited to delivery, handicapped transport and buses.

We need to stop allowing the auto industry to write our laws.

up
33

Why car culture is bad for society

I believe that there are 2 technologies which have caused more harm than the total number of nuclear blasts. They are television and cars.

A car culture requires sacrificing vast amounts of land to asphalt. All that asphalt is not only scar tissue on the planet but it also contributes to global warming since the asphalt effectively acts as a worldwide battery holding in heat during the day and releasing it at night.

Car culture is a permanent punch to social well being. We are not born with native skills of cooperation, resolving conflicts or creating and maintaining an environment where physical and emotional violence are minimized. But when regularly forced into situations of having to resolve differences the potential of better conflict resolution increases. When we have to deal with each other it's harder to cancel one another. Interdependency is a pain in the butt; but it forces people to work together.

In a neighborhood where residents cannot easily escape to other areas that inability to escape forces people to figure out how to work together. Cars however make it easier to escape.

Jane Jacobs made the point: A neighborhood where neighbors relate to each other more often will be safer than a neighborhood where neighbors ignore each other. Being able to escape makes it easier to ignore the people who are next door or across the street.

So the addiction to cars ultimately weakens the bonds of neighborhoods. Neighborhoods - outside the family - is where we learn to live together. When the needs and demands of living in close proximity can be avoided (by escaping from those needs and demands via cars) then the fundamental social lessons that can be learned from having to live with each other go untaught and not learned.

Car culture is a punch to neighborhoods in other ways. Cars - and SUVs especially - make it much easier to shop at big box stores, such as Walmart. The effects on town commercial areas is documented. Because Walmart emphasizes the one thing that everyone wants - lower prices, the commercial areas of towns die. Without cars and SUVs and their predecessors, station wagons, big box stores would have a much harder time attracting the vast numbers of customers needed to make up for the extremely low retail profit margins that make big box stores work.

So thanks to car we have cities and suburbs scarred with asphalt roads. Parking lots that serve only one purpose of storing vehicles during limited periods of the day, along with roads, depress nature in living as well as contribute to global warming. Cars harm neighborhood integrity by creating of the possibility of escape while also supporting deadly punches to local commercial districts. Which act as another way of weakening social bonds in towns and cities.

As for my being blind. A shallow insult that sets up a conflict with someone who actually agrees with you is not smart.

up
12

bicyclists didn't kill 2 pedestrians careening down the sidewalk. cyclists don't disobey the law more than drivers.

up
16

This city was not created for cars. It was created for pedestrians and horses.

Please, that argument is just absurd, yet people still like to use it.

That was a very, very long time ago. There are roads in European cities that were created well before the Pilgrims ever thought of visiting us, yet they have cars. The roads have been paved and adjusted for cars over the years.

If you want the city to change the use of some roads, write to the mayor. But you're right, she probably gets millions of dark money from the auto industry.

How's that letter coming?

up
15

This city was not designed for cars. There are too many cars to safely operate in Boston. There used to be 900,000 people living here with a booming economy. They weighed less and lived longer. It was the fifties, and there were about 25% of the cars that are here now.

up
13

Not designed for cars? You could make that statement about any city and town in this area. They have adapted. That's a fact.

Your other facts have nothing to do with cars. Yes, people were skinnier then, just watch "Woodstock" and you have to look hard to find cubbies. We've had other booming economies, like the 90s. But, none of that has anything to do with cars.

Now you have another letter to write if you want to change things. Get busy.

Cars are bad for Boston. Driver's need to start paying their fair share of taxes to provide for safer streets.

up
19

The problem is that everyone goes to the same small peninsula at the same time. Also, back when there were 900,000 people, those were the children of Catholic families. They didn't own cars or drive.

What's stopping a global trader who can work from noon to 8 a couple of times a week from doing that? What's stopping a willing medical team and a willing patient from conducting a procedure at 7 PM? Fill in the blank with any other prominent industry in Boston, and correct me if I've grossly misunderstood how your profession works.

If people didn't change jobs so frequently, I'd like to see a census of every working person within 60 miles of Boston who comes to Boston for work. What days? What times? Why? Can you do different times? Do you not want to? Is the boss telling you that doesn't work? Is sitting on the Distressway and sitting through three light cycles really what you want instead of just doing something a little bit differently? Why are we all beating our heads against the wall on purpose?

If I had hard data telling me that this is where people all need to be, all at the same time, to have a functioning society, then I'd never breathe a word about traffic again. I liked living in Boston among winners and smart people. I accepted congestion as a price for getting to play in the tournament with everyone else, where the prize is living somewhere decent on this planet where I can get by knowing only English.

I wouldn't force any of that upon a defenseless embryo. I hope with all my heart that Boston figures things out sooner rather than later.

cin, Will:

Where are you getting the figure of 900,000?
Boston topped out at a little over 800,000 in 1950. It might have gone up some from there, but couldn't have been very much before reversing to a little under 700,000 for the 1960 census.

What does that have to do with booming economy with less cars?

less cars is my entire argument. pick a tangent why don't you.

I didn't fact check her population count.

up
10

Unacceptable and shameful.

up
10

Hey, we've got a great idea! Let's delay the implementation of the Cycling Safety Ordinance, because some people (including some of us!) who really love their cars don't ever want to be inconvenienced, not even for a second!

up
40

Cambridge should either rename Vision Zero to Vision Two (and cross their fingers that it doesn't need to be renamed again this year) or start to take safe infrastructure and traffic enforcement for these multi-ton vehicles seriously.

up
19

Now that Boston has largely solved the rampant murder problem, how about Boston/Cambridge take serious steps to solve the cyclists killed by car problem?

up
18

I found that I just could not trust my reflexes, having the multiple sclerosis sponsored “dizzies”. Riding on country roads is one thing. Riding in metropolitan areas quite another. I miss it terribly, but it is safer for all involved.

up
17

A 24-year-old woman who was killed near Kendall Square on Friday as her bike crashed into a box truck making a right turn.....

Wow, really?

up
33

I read people here asking how on earth they're supposed to know there's a bicycle on their right. Do they think that, if they pass a bicycle on their right side, by the time they reach the intersection, since they can no longer personally see the bicycle, the bicycle has dematerialized? Most people acquire object permanence well before they're a year old.

up
19

From places far less urban, densely populated and with heavy traffic. Example: By far, most students come from small suburban town sprawl, even rural areas. Very few raised in places very urban and densely populated. Even most major American cities have much lower population density than Boston/Cambridge/Somerville. I can attest, being raised in such an environment, you take some chances, and figure out all the shortcuts to get from A to B. But, you also are generally aware of surroundings, and potential dangers. And you don't trust the other person will do the right thing. I grew up riding a bike all over Boston, and even NYC, specifically midtown and downtown Manhattan. Don't expect the world to be a perfect place. Expect the unexpected.

As for truck drivers: Most around here are familiar with driving in a place like Boston/Cambridge. But working long hours, starting work very early in the morning (like construction workers) no doubt at some point they're going be tired and prone to making a mistake.

Has anyone had eyes on an actual police report of the facts or an accident investigation report?

up
13

Of course not!!!

Facts might get in the way of ideologies!!!

up
19