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Boston bike lanes need to be redesigned - they still have a dooring problem

The summary below is an updated and expanded version of what I sent out to some friends who had heard about the accident. I am also filling in more details in this email.

 I was riding on Columbus Ave, on Thursday, 10/27 going in bound having started on Columbus from Ruggles Station

  • I had stopped at the light on Mass Ave and went with the green light.

  • I got past the USES building or Tubman House and had gotten to the corner of West Springfield  on the inbound side of the corner at about 9:15 am.

  • I was staying to the left side of the bike lane practically on the left hand white line to avoid doors.

  • That is when the driver of the red, two door Mini opened up the door. I never had time to react

  • I didn’t hit the middle of the door; as best as I can figure out the edge of the door hit my right knee, probably when it was in the 3 O’clock position

  • I went down like a ton of bricks on my left side, hitting my left shoulder, elbow and left side of my hip and legs

  • I probably skidded on that side (holes in the jacket) and flip over on to my back, probably hitting my head too (wearing a helmet)

  • I didn’t get run over by a car once the door from the parked car had knocked me over and I was down on the ground

  • I got run into by the bicyclist who was right behind me-she went down and into me as well

  • I did bang the heck out of almost all of me

  • A bystander on the street called 911 and Boston fire and Police responded

  • It took me about a minute to get up out of the street – I was pretty fuzzy

  • I think it was the Boston Police or the Boston Fire who suggested I go over to the stoop of the corner house and sit down

  • When I tried to walk over to it is when I began to realize that all was not well

  • Lots of pain in the groin and in my leg muscles leading to the groin; really could put any weight onto the right leg

  • Eventually I figured I should go to the ER and get checked out

  • I got taken by Boston EMS to the Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital

  • Where they kept me in the ER for 27 hours doing multiple X rays and CAT scans

  • The final conclusion of the orthopedic doctors is that I had 4 fractures in areas of my pelvis

  • That they didn’t need to operate and that I would need Physical Therapy and could go home

  • I got discharged Friday afternoon and am home on crutches

  • So unfortunately you can still get doored even riding in the left hand side of the bike lanes

  • Maybe we can discuss this problem at the advocacy training on Dec 17th


Traffic calming in Newton

Following is the email I sent the City of Newton on 10/19/16 relative to the crazy traffic calming measures on Concord Street:

As a driver and bicycle rider, I was alarmed and disappointed to see the "traffic calming measures" on Concord Street between Washington Street and St Mary's Street. I appreciate the concern about vehicular speed on Concord Street. But the already implemented "solution" puts bicycle riders at severe risk, as the newly installed calming measures force cars into the path of bicycles, creating a more dangerous situation than was previously present. I strongly urge that the city take biking needs into account for any of its proposed traffic changes. Ideally, bike riders should sign off on changes like those on Concord Street.

Here is the City's response on 10/31/16:

Thank you for your email to the city of Newton.  We are aware that cyclists do use Concord Street and felt that reducing speeding on the street would provide the maximum safety benefit for all users on the street.  Through the islands, it is anticipated that the bicycles and cars go single file through the roadway. We will certainly keep your concerns in mind with future projects as well.

It sounds like the City's attitude is to force cars and bikes together  and see what happens.


"She was biking too close to traffic"

Almost a year ago, as I was biking my usual route to work from Cambridge to Boston, I was struck by a car. I was riding about 1/3 of the way into the car lane as there was no bike lane on this two-lane thoroughfare in downtown Boston. As bike and car collisions go, this one was really lucky - the car came up behind me and its rear view mirror tapped my handlebars at a pretty slow speed. Of course, this was enough to throw the bike out from under me, landing me in the middle of the road in front of oncoming traffic. But again, I was really lucky because the driver behind me stopped and got out to see if I was ok. This happened in front of a fire house, so all the firemen ran out to pick me up as well (lucky me!). 

I escaped with just scrapes and bruises and a wrist to watch for a fracture, but in the end no issues. Nevertheless, an ambulance was called and I ended up in the ER, where a policeman came to talk to me and write up a report. His questions were cavalier, non-specific and unconcerned. After 5 minutes he handed me a scrap of paper from his notepad with the number of my report on it written in unclear handwriting, and left. 
Since I was pretty much ok, other than still experiencing regular feelings of panic when cars pass too close to me, I didn't follow up with the Boston police. When I started receiving medical bills for the ER I wrote to the police department to get a copy of the report to show my insurance that I had been hit by a car, and that I should not be responsible for the medical costs. In the description of the report, the driver was depicted as a saint ("didn't see anything, when she heard a bump she thought she had hit another car so she pulled over and when she saw the cyclist ran up to see if she was ok") while I was described as irresponsible, having "admitted to have been biking close to traffic". 
Where else could have I been biking other than in the travel lane if there was no bike lane? How can not seeing someone ahead of you in your lane at 8 am absolve you from running into them? The attitude and behavior of the police officer confirmed that in his and the establishment's eyes I had no right to be there and had simply gotten in the way. 

Another perspective to be considered in the effort to achieve safe cycling.

I bike a lot but am not what I call a "spandex cyclist." I wear street clothes, have two baskets on my bike, run errands, commute to work, etc. All around Somerville and Cambridge and into Boston. And I am grateful for your advocacy efforts in support of safe cycling.

That said, my on-the-road experience suggests that you're overlooking a key factor in the mix, which is the behavior of cyclists. Just yesterday, I observed in succession two acts by cyclists that could easily have resulted in serious accidents - both in or near  Inman Square of all places (thinking of Amanda, of course). These accidents would have been considered the fault of the drivers but, in fact, in both cases they would have been caused by erratic and unpredictable behavior of the cyclists. In one, a cyclist unexpectedly cut from the far right bike lane across four lanes of traffic to get to the sidewalk on the other side - it was in a spot just shy of an intersection, just as the light turned green and the cars were beginning to move. In the other case, a very fast moving cyclist came from my right as I moved along in the bike lane on Hampshire Ave (I'm not sure where he came from, to be honest) and as he approached a cross street, a car was already in its right turn onto that street but the cyclist zoomed through in front of the car, swerving to avoid it, which to me was further evidence of the car being well into the turn by this time.

On top of this, just a few hours later, I saw yet another cyclist riding on a busy sidewalk just outside of Davis Square. 

None of these incidents are rare occurrences. I see this sort of thing all the time, as I'm sure the rest of you do, as well.

And all of these incidents are happening in places where city officials and advocates are working hard to improve bike infrastructure, and yet these folks are flaunting those efforts to the detriment of the larger cause. It's maddening, to be honest, and something I think must be addressed for us to make the kind of progress we so dearly need regarding safe cycling.

Thank you.


Camp to Teach People With Disabilities How to Bike

Hi there! I'm a biker and high school student in Cambridge and a friend and I are organizing a camp to teach people with disabilities how to ride bikes. We are looking for volunteer spotters to help out. It's a great experience and you can sign up here. Please share with your networks and friends!


Overcoming Ignorance And Fear

This is my story: http://iamtraffic.org/equality/overcoming-ignorance-and-fear/ .


Jo-Anne's story

August 23, 2011, started out like any other beautiful summer day - I rode my bike to work. After an acupuncture appointment in Copley Square, I started to ride home. As always, I was wearing a brightly colored bike jersey and had both my front and rear blinky lights flashing, even though the sun was still shining high in the sky. I was aware of a car behind me as I descended the hill on Corey Street toward VFW Parkway in West Roxbury, but since I knew I had the green light to cross the intersection, and since there was a hill to climb on the other side, I took advantage of the downhill to gain some speed. The car was behind me for about 1/2 mile, overtook me as we crossed VFW Parkway, then started to slow and turn right into the driveway to the gas station just after the intersection. I was going quickly and was beside the car's right rear quarter panel when it started to turn right. There was nowhere to go so I started to also turn right to try to mitigate the full effect of the impact. I was right hooked, flew off my bike, into the air and hit the front hood of the car before making contact with the sidewalk. I don't remember anything between hitting the car hood and lying on my back, surrounded by many people, including one holding my head steady in his hands. I was shivering, despite the 80 degree temperature so someone else brought a blanket. Then the pain hit - I thought I had broken every bone in both arms. The pain was worse than childbirth!

The fire department arrived, then the paramedics. They bundled me into the ambulance. I was told that the police officer would come to the hospital to speak with me about the crash, but after a 3 day admission, no police officer arrived or tried to call me. I then called and was connected with the officer who investigated all bike/ped crashes in Roslindale and West Roxbury. No response after 3 calls. When someone picked up the police report for me (which was completed without ever contacting me for my statement), I read that the driver had reported "the bicycle was speeding up to pass me on the right" and "I never saw her". Apparently, this was accepted as gospel as the driver was never cited by the police for turning right into me, even though that is specifically precluded by MGL.

After two hospital admissions, one surgery, many months of PT and issues with pain control for my injuries which included a spinal cord injury (central cord syndrome), three ruptured cervical disks (which were surgically fused two months post crash), concussion (which would have been much worse if I hadn't been wearing a helmet), and a shoulder impingement injury, and after being out of work for four months and off my bike for eight months, having to be reliant on my friends for food and help with many things, I was very unhappy with the decision of the investigating police detective who, when I finally spoke with him several months after the crash, told me that I was "lucky" not to be cited for trying to pass on the right. As cyclists know, the only reason I was appeared to be go speeding up as compared with the car is that the driver was slowing down to turn. The driver's insurance, however, did find her liable, which is not usually the case when the police find no liability. After the driver appealed this decision, the case was finally settled with the driver responsible for the crash. Because the driver who hit me had minimal insurance coverage, I ended up with nothing because I had to use the entire settlement to pay off liens placed by my health insurance for the cost of my medical care, which actually exceeded the total amount I received for the settlement. 

The part that continues to irk me to this day is some of the statements made by the police detective:

"Bicycles don't belong on the road. They should only be on off-road bike paths."

"Bike lanes are the reason there are more bike accidents."

"I know that you told me that bikes can pass cars on the right but that law isn't right and I just won't uphold it."

And the best: "The driver didn't see you. She's not at fault."

I'm hopeful that my story and those of others will spur some action in the tragic deaths recently in Cambridge and Lincoln and yesterday's critical injury in Dorchester. I applaud Wellesley police and Middlesex DA for bringing the death of a cyclist to trial a few years ago and am incredibly frustrated that the driver was acquitted by a jury, despite the proof and law to the contrary. I am upset that no charges have been brought in the deaths of several other cyclists in Boston and Cambridge over the past several years. It's time to do more!

Thank you, MassBike and Richard Fries, for taking this on!


Holding Drivers Accountable

Well written. Thank you Richard. After suffering a devastating run in with an irresponsible motorist last July, who also was not charged with negligence, it angers me to see the apathy when it comes to enforcing making motorists responsible for their actions. I am happy to say that although my accident caused me significant physical, emotional, property and financial loss, I am fortunate enough to still be here. I have been able to return to work and riding my bike. When I went to the police department in the town where the accident occurred to retrieve the accident report, I was made to feel that it was all my fault, even though there were witnesses to support me. I was traveling at 23 mph after assisting at a women's road riding clinic. A woman in an SUV passed me and without notice, took a right hand turn directly in my line of travel. I had no time to respond other than to try to turn with her. Thank god for cyclocross! The impact still broke my collarbone, tore my shoulder, and split my helmet in half. I was treated and released from the hospital and sent home. A week later was when the severity of the hit to my head declared itself. I was out of work for 6 months. I still have issues with balance and vision. I have returned to riding but with a fear I never had before. I was cautious before but now am super vigilant and assume everyone is either out to run into me or cut me off. It stinks to feel that way. The animosity I have encountered from motorists is unimaginable. I try to educate motorists but in the end, the cyclist is the bad guy no matter how skilled we are. I believe this is because motorists are hardly, if ever, held responsible for negligence. Not only was this woman not charged, she did not carry insurance and it has been a battle going through the insurance company of the owner of the car. At this point, I would have even been grateful for an apology for such impatience and negligence on her part. This woman can go forward without any responsibility whatsoever, while I am working just to get my feet back on the ground physically, emotionally and financially. Thank you for the hard work you do with the Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition. Kindest regards, Lori Cooke On Jun 27, 2016, at 14:55, Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition wrote: Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition Lori -- In the wake of the tragic loss of Amanda Phillips in Cambridge last week, MassBike has sent the following letter to Middlesex District Attorney Marian T. Ryan. While we continue to work diligently to improve our roadways and pass new laws, we cannot expect to see change unless we enforce existing laws. Copied on our letter to Ms. Ryan, we have reached out to Cambridge Acting Police Commissioner Christopher Burke, Cambridge Mayor E. Denise Simmons, Attorney General Maura Healey, State Rep. David M. Rogers, State Sen. Sal DiDomenico, State Sen. Patricia D. Jehlen, State Rep. Timothy J. Toomey, State Rep. Marjorie C. Decker, and State Rep. Jonathan Hecht to ensure that charges are filed against the motorists involved. June 27, 2016 Middlesex District Attorney Marian T. Ryan 15 Commonwealth Avenue Woburn, MA 01801 Ms. Ryan, I write to you today on behalf of thousands of bicycle riders in Massachusetts. At MassBike we work tirelessly to make our streetscapes safer and healthier for all users. Without enforcement of the existing laws, however, we can never succeed. For this reason we are asking that your office bring charges of vehicular manslaughter or negligent homicide against both drivers, whose actions led to the tragic and unnecessary death last week of Amanda Phillips in Cambridge, only the most recent death of a cyclist by a reckless motorist in Middlesex County. We seek more information regarding the June 16 collision that killed Eugene Thornberg in Lincoln. In both instances no charges were filed. Opening a car door into a cyclist without first looking is negligent and a violation of law. [See MGL c. 90 sec. 14, near the end of the very long first paragraph] When a driver does so and the victim dies, that is negligent homicide or manslaughter. Likewise, when a driver runs into a cyclist and hits her from behind, if the cyclist dies, that is negligent homicide or manslaughter. These are the facts that lead to the death of Amanda Phillips. In our work to improve safety we often refer to the “Five E’s”. The first four are education, engineering, encouragement, and evaluation. But the critical fifth “E” is enforcement. For too long there has been little or no enforcement in such circumstances involving bicycles. This failure to enforce such laws leads to institutionally blaming the victim. Without enforcement, motorists will continue to operate with the same negligent and reckless disregard for the safety of bicyclists that has led most recently to the death of Amanda Phillips, a 27-year-old graduate student. We believe to use the term “accident” in this circumstance is both harmful and wrong. With enforcement, these crashes can be prevented. But we need enforcement to do so. We can think of nowhere else than Massachusetts - which serves as the world’s college town - where such enforcement is appropriate and overdue. I await your comments. Thank you for giving the consideration it deserves. Richard Fries, Executive Director We encourage you to attend the Vigil for Amanda Philips this Wednesday at 7pm. Ride safe. support our work Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition http://www.massbike.org/ MassBikeLogo_color_gear.png Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition · 50 Milk Street 16th floor, Boston, MA 02109, United States This email was sent to cookeloria@gmail.com. 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