Since 2009, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has seen upwards of one hundred cyclists killed in collisions with motor vehicles. Through archival research and keen record-keeping, the advocacy non-profit organizations MassBike and the LivableStreets Alliance have placed the number of fatalities at 105.
We cannot let ourselves become convinced that these incidents are inevitable.
The 105 Report catalogues these preventable incidents and simultaneously presents basic analysis as to the circumstances of the collisions; we intend the report to have dual utility as both an advocacy recommendation and a commemorative memorial. See below for a few example findings from the report.
No two crashes are the same. They span the entirety of the commonwealth, covering all 12 counties and 64 municipalities. The victims represent a variety of ages, races, hometowns and professions hailing from all corners of the world; some were temporary residents of the United States, others had never lived outside their hometowns. Each of them have family who were forced into the inescapable process of grief, who wake up and go to sleep each day with a piece of their world distinctly missing. These aren’t just statistics on a page, they are real, whole lives that have been torn from the fabric of families, workplaces and communities. This is a report about people and how data can show us the humanity within each crash.
The main mission of the 105 Report is to be a roadmap for advocacy, specifically within MassBike and local cycling groups. This report should point advocates in MA towards the people and places associated with fatalities which need the most urgent intervention to save lives. This report is not the final product; data collection will continue and these statistics will change.Read more
By: Jes Slavin, MassBike Communications Coordinator
Ghost Bike Memorial for Charlie Braun
Most bicyclists know of ghost bikes, the white bikes placed at the scenes of a fatal crash to memorialize the victim and bring awareness to the dangers of the roadway. “No more ghost bikes” is a common refrain after a bicyclist gets killed. After a fatal crash, these bicycles are made by friends and family or bicycling advocates as a tangible reminder of a life lost and the work that needs to be done to increase roadway safety.
On October 6, I was riding my bicycle down Elm St in Northampton only to find the road at the intersection of Elm and Woodlawn was blocked off by police barricades. The police told me I could keep riding but had to stay on the sidewalk. As I rolled up alongside the blocked-off roadway, I saw a bicycle laying on the median and a big white X with the word “bike” spray-painted in the middle of the road. A car with a dent in its hood was parked on the center median, spray paint marking the location of each tire. My stomach sank. I later found out that the bike belonged to Charlie Braun, a local musician, and that he was killed in the crash. Two days later, I was included in an email with local bicycling advocates about putting up a ghost bike memorial only to find out that a memorial was already in place. Charlie’s friends and family created a touching tribute to him at the scene, including a white ghost bike. I immediately went to pay my respects to Charlie and view the memorial. As I pedaled up to the intersection police had stopped me at two days before, a heart-wrenching sight of a white bike chained to a “Share the Road” sign greeted me. Flowers filled the memorial during my visit, I cried for Charlie and how preventable his death was. Every time I pass by Charlie's memorial, I think about him and how much work needs to be done to make our roadways safer for bicyclists.
A few weeks after Charlie Braun's death, I found myself laying down a drop cloth in my backyard and shaking up a can of white primer to create another ghost bike memorial. The bicycle, an old cruiser, will become a memorial for Benjamin Kaplan who was only 29 when he died in a fatal bicycle crash in Lenox this past May. I watched as the blue bicycle slowly started to fade to white with each pass of the spray can as if all the color was washing away. I found myself crying as I painted. I thought about how going for a bike ride shouldn't mean losing your life. About how I've been fortunate enough to not need to make a ghost bike for a close friend or loved one. But if we don't increase roadway safety, one day I will or perhaps one will be made for me one day. It's a risk I take every time I leave for a ride, one that I try to tuck away in my mind, but making a ghost bike really brings your mortality into clear focus. After a few days of spray painting off and on, the bicycle was a crisp white and ready for installation. While this was my first ghost bike, I know it probably won't be my last in my role at MassBike. But I do have hope that one day, we will meet our goal of zero traffic fatalities and be able to put the spray paint away.
Throughout the commonwealth, ghost bike memorials honor victims of fatal bicycle crashes. Since some ghost bikes, like Charlie’s, were created by friends & family, while others were created by local advocates or MassBike, we don’t have comprehensive data about these memorials and whether they need maintenance. On November 21, we are celebrating World Day of Remembrance of Victims of Traffic Violence and are working to update our records on ghost bike memorials statewide. We need your help to gather data for our ghost bike memorial tracking, including current photos of the memorials and letting us know which memorials need maintenance or replacement.
Here’s how you can help:
- Choose a fatal crash site near you to check in on
- Visit the location & check to see if there is a ghost bike memorial
- Fill out our Ghost Bike Memorial Reporting Form with your findings
- Email photos of the ghost bike memorial to [email protected]
With your assistance, we can fill in this critical data to ensure ghost bike memorials across the state are taken care of and properly honor victims of fatal bicycle crashes.Read more
The intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Appleton Street has always been an awkward one, born from 1960s engineering standards. As bicycle and pedestrian traffic has increased over the years, the intersection has become more crash-prone. Attempts to improve the intersection from a 2012 road safety audit failed, and the intersection has stayed mostly the same for over 60 years. As an Arlington High School student, I ride through this intersection every day, and it’s been terrifying.
On May 5th, 2020, Charlie Proctor and his partner Allison were out on a bike ride, heading towards their Somerville home. As Charlie approached the intersection, a left-turning car from Massachusetts Avenue sped through the intersection and hit Charlie. Charlie Proctor was killed.
Since then, several similar crashes with bicycles and left-turning vehicles have occurred, prompting Arlington to look to redesign the intersection. Throughout the redesign process, advocates have been pushing the city to quickly implement a design that improves safety for bicyclists to prevent another fatality or serious injury. Finally, this month, Arlington implemented some short-term measures to increase safety for people on bicycles. I feel so much safer on this new corridor. However, this almost didn’t happen.Read more
As the days are getting darker, MassBike is kicking off another season of our signature #LightsBrigade program and we need your help to distribute free bike lights to help cyclists in your area ride safer.
Earlier this month, we hosted our October Meet-Up where we talked about our Lights Brigade program and the practicalities of bike lights. If you missed the meet-up or want to rewatch the meeting, the recording is now available on the MassBike Youtube Channel.Read more
On Thursday, October 14th at 10am, the Joint Committee on Transportation is hearing bills related to bicycles and pedestrians, including several of MassBike's priority bills for this legislative session about e-bikes and traffic safety. We need your help! By the end of this week, please send the Joint Committee on Transportation members your personal stories about electric bicycles and/or traffic safety to show the impact these critical bills will have for better bicycling across Massachusetts.
Read more below about the specific bills we support. Then email your comments, sharing why you personally support these bills and urging them to be favorably reported out of committee. The formal deadline to support these bills is Friday, October 15th at 5pm, though of course they will accept input from citizens at any time.
Please direct your emails to:
- Rep William M. Straus, Chair - [email protected]
- Rep Marcos A. Devers, Vice Chair - [email protected]
- Sen John F. Keenan, Vice Chair - [email protected]
- Your State Senator and State Representative: https://malegislature.gov/search/findmylegislator
- CC: [email protected] so we can keep track of your testimony
This Bay State Bike Month advocates hosted over 100 events across the commonwealth and got their wheels turning to celebrate bicycling statewide. We are excited to use the tailwinds you all generated as we ride towards better bicycling for everyone in Massachusetts.
The MassCommute Bicycling Challenge celebrated its 27th consecutive year with riders logging trips across the state. Collectively, we rode over 5,000 miles and took more than 700 trips.
We will be celebrating all of our winners at the Bike Bash at Assembly on October 13th from 4:30-6:30pm. The Bike Bash is our opportunity to thank our Bike Month event hosts & participants, acknowledge the generous contributions from our sponsors, and congratulate the MassCommute Bicycle Challenge Winners. We will be hosting a raffle with prizes from Kryptonite Lock, Bern Helmets, and more with a grand prize drawing of a new medium-sized REI Co-op CTY E2 E-bike thanks to your local REI Co-Op. RSVP for the Bike Bash today so you don’t miss out on the festivities.
Congratulations to all of our MassCommute Bicycle Challenge category winners and our prize drawing winners. We are thankful to our sponsors for supplying such great prize packages. Thank you to ValleyBike, BlueBikes, Pedalin’ Fools, Kryptonite Lock, Priority Bicycles, and Axcelis for supporting our prize packages. You can check out the final leaderboards and prize winners below.Read more
The days are getting shorter and it’s time to #BrightenUp cyclists across the commonwealth with MassBike’s #LightsBrigade program. Each year, volunteers across Massachusetts take to our streets and pathways to flag down ninja bikers and distribute free bike lights to keep cyclists safer and legal while biking at night.
For our October MassBike Meet-Up on Monday, October 25th at noon, we’ll be talking all things #LightsBrigade and bike lights. Join our virtual chat to hear about the program from some of our great volunteers and learn how you can get involved with a lights handout in your community.
We’ll also discuss Massachusetts laws around bike lights and practicalities around using lights. Come with any questions you may have about bike light usage or our #LightsBrigade program.
This Bay State Bike Month advocates like you hosted over 100 events across the commonwealth and got their wheels turning to celebrate bicycling statewide. From commuter breakfasts (like the one we hosted at CIC Boston shown above) to kids bike rodeos to historic bicycle tours– all the events on the Bay State Bike Month Calendar showed how residents across the commonwealth love bicycling. We are excited to use the tailwinds you all generated as we ride towards better bicycling for everyone in Massachusetts.
Keep the Bay State Bike Month fun going by joining us at our outdoors Bike Bash on Wednesday, October 13th! From 4:30pm-6:30pm, we’ll be partying at Assembly Row’s new Public Lawn (by the PKL courts).
We'll have food provided by The Smoke Shop BBQ and Night Shift Brewing is offering to donate $2 for every drink, so you can grab a brew and support MassBike! To get in the party mood, we’ll be joined by some musical entertainment A Trike Called Funk and Hot Molasses.
We’ll be raffling off prizes from Kryptonite, Bern Helmets, and a grand prize of a new medium-sized REI Co-op CTY E2 E-bike thanks to our friends at your local REI Co-Op. This e-bike makes getting around town breezy fun, with multimode pedal assist, a stable, upright ride, and an integrated cargo-ready rear rack.
RSVP is required to ensure we have enough snacks on hand for everyone. Free bike valet parking will be provided, so roll on down and let’s party!
Our MassBike September Meet-Up is on Monday, September 27th at noon, join us to learn about Cycling Education. From Safe Routes to School to Bicycling Instructor training, we'll discuss what MassBike is doing for cycling education throughout Massachusetts and how you can get involved. So grab your lunch, come with any questions you have about MassBike's cycling education work and any updates about what's been happening in your community.
Join to learn about:
- Safe Routes to School
- Older Adult Education
- Bicycle Instructor Training
MassBike Meet-Ups happen every fourth Monday of the month, these virtual chats fill you in on our work, give you a chance to ask questions, and let us know what you’ve been working on in your community.
Bay State Bike Month is off to a strong start- over 70 bicycling events across the state were added to our events calendar and our first bicycle challenge showed off the variety of items you can carry by bike. Make sure to find an event near you on the Bay State Bike Month Website and don’t forget to share with us how you’re celebrating Bay State Bike Month by tagging us @MassBike on social media. Keep reading to learn about more ways you can find your bike joy this September.
Be a Bike Buddy Challenge | Sep. 12th-18th
Everyone knows that bikes are better with friends! To celebrate Rolling Together Again, be a bike buddy, like Rep Nika Elugardo who shared this photo for one of our 2020 Bike Month challenges, by riding with a friend!
The "Be a Bike Buddy" challenge runs until September 18th and one lucky winner & their bike buddy will each receive a set of MassBike socks in either black or green, a MassBike Buff, and a 2021 Bay State Bike Month T-shirt so they can be bike-twins.
How to Join the Challenge:
- Take a ride with your bike buddy (bonus points if it’s a new rider) & snap a ride selfie of the both of you
- Share your story about your ride with us! Either post your photo and story on social media and tag @MassBike or email your photo and story to [email protected]
Bike Month Celebration: Cycling Legends of the West End Launch Party + Roller Racing
Saturday, September 18th from 4-8pm, join MassBike and the West End Museum for Bike Month Celebration and the launch of the Cycling Legends of the West End Exhibit. The event will feature lots of bicycling fun– including roller racing set up outside the museum so you can race your friends. If racing isn't your thing, join a short bike tour to check out cycling infrastructure near the museum with MassBike.
“Cycling Legends of the West End” spotlights three fascinating characters in cycling history. The exhibit also recounts the invention of the bicycle, its popularization and innovations in the 1800s, the bike craze of the 1890s, and the renaissance of the 1970s. Come celebrate the history of bicycling and the current bike boom with MassBike & the West End Museum!
MassCommute Bicycle Challenge | September 19th-26th
We’re gearing up for the MassCommute Bicycle Challenge, the premier event of Bay State Bike Month, which will be rolling September 19th-26th. Log your trips every day either with your Transportation Management Association (TMA) or with MassBike’s Love to Ride Group and you will be entered to win daily prizes!
If you’re participating with MassBike’s Love to Ride Group, make sure to fill out the MassCommute Bicycle Challenge Entry Form to become eligible for the daily prize drawing.
Stay engaged with Bay State Bike Month by joining our mailing list & following MassBike on social media