In response to the Longfellow Bridge Video

There seems to be some confusion out there today regarding the laws dealing with bike lanes, sparked by a video posted by a cyclist who had a brief conversation with a State Trooper after observing a patrol car parked in the bike lane on the Longfellow Bridge.

In the video, the trooper informs the cyclist that the road is state and that they “don’t really care” about the bike lanes.

Facts to consider:

  • The Longfellow Bridge is a state road. Bicycles are allowed to travel across and have painted lanes traveling in both directions on the bridge, despite current construction, which allows car traffic only heading inbound. Bicyclists and pedestrians still have access to an inbound and outbound travel lane.

  • Bike lanes are not currently protected by state law. City and towns are slowly adopting policies to make parking or standing in a bike lane a ticketable offense, the City of Boston included, where there is a $100 fine.

  • There is a law stating motorists must not DRIVE in the bike lane, but there is not currently a statewide law pertaining to parking or standing/waiting in the lane.

  • MassBike has submitted proposed legislation that would change this through the Bike Lane Protection Bill, to pass a state law protecting bicycle infrastructure.

So there are really a few problems here. First is a lack of a unified approach throughout the Commonwealth. Some cities and towns have banned parking in bike lanes, and some have not. This causes a great deal of confusion, deters enforcement efforts, and perpetuates general hostility towards cyclists.

Second is the education of our law enforcement as to why this is so dangerous. When a motorist parks in a bike lane, it endangers bicyclists by causing them to merge into traffic. In this particular situation, bridge construction causes the cyclist to head straight into oncoming traffic if the bike lane is impeded.

Third, and the biggest issue at hand is the attitude displayed towards the cyclist. We can get miles of bike lanes and sharrows installed but until the culture changes and the hostility is dealt with bicyclists will still feel as though they are second class citizens; That they don’t matter. We shouldn't be setting up certain road users for failure, as is the case here.

We ask the State Troopers, or any law enforcement officers: Would you send a car heading straight into oncoming traffic without an officer stopping the traffic for them to pass safely? A pedestrian? Why is it that bikes are somehow less important? We’re people, too.

The State Police can and should be our ally. They should be concerned with the safety and well being of all citizens on the roadways, regardless of their chosen method of transportation. Soon, they may be “required to care” by law, assuming the Bike Lane Protection Bill gets passed. While the state might not currently have an obligation to protect the bike lane, they do have an obligation to ensure safety. We need to work as a community to change this sort of behavior and environment on the roadways. No one deserves to feel as though their life is in danger while legally using the roads. We need to cultivate respect between all parties and work on changing the culture, in addition to the laws.

We will be keeping an eye on this conversation as it continues to develop. We have reached out to the State Police and look forward to opening up a dialogue regarding this situation.



Via CBS Boston - A Massachusetts State Police spokesman said in a statement the department is aware of the incident, and invited the cyclist to contact police to discuss the interaction.

After reviewing the videotaped interaction between a bicyclist and a state trooper that occurred Tuesday on the Longfellow Bridge, it is clear that the trooper’s statements regarding bike lanes and cyclists are wrong. Contrary to the tone and content of those statements, the State Police are concerned with, and have a responsibility to protect, the safety of bicyclists. As such, we have a duty to ensure safe conditions along any open bike lanes on roads under our jurisdiction. Earlier this year the Department issued a training bulletin reminding troopers of the rights and responsibilities of cyclists. That bulletin was re-issued this morning. Furthermore, the Department will reiterate to those troopers on the bridge Tuesday our responsibilities to bicyclists, and will counsel the trooper who spoke to the cyclist about the proper way to respond to concerns raised by members of the public.

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