The Urgent Need for Safer Trucking

In response to the tragic fatal crash on the Museum of Science bridge connecting Cambridge to Boston, which killed 24-year old Boston University grad student Meng Jin, MassBike is calling on all municipalities and the state to make roads safer for cyclists by pursuing truck safety measures.

The vehicle involved was a large dump truck. Both the bicyclist and the truck driver, a 50-year-old man from Leicester, were waiting to take a right hand turn. Meng was on his bike when he was knocked down and rolled over by the wheels of the truck. This crash could easily have involved a pedestrian, or a person on a scooter, or a person in a wheelchair, or a person crossing the street, or really any vulnerable road user.

With renewed concern for the safety of bicyclists on Massachusetts roadways, MassBike Executive Director Galen Mook spoke with the Boston Herald on the topic. “Making drivers more aware and more cautious is the No. 1 thing we can do. Just being aware that you’re not alone out there in the world,” said Mook.

In Boston and Cambridge, in the last seven years, 11 of the 17 crashes where cyclists were killed involved large trucks. Along with our partners in the State House and fellow advocacy organizations, MassBike is prioritizing large vehicle safety legislation – with a focus on truck side guards and driver awareness. The currently-stalled "An Act to Reduce Traffic Fatalities" would require large vehicles contracted with the state to have side guards, to prevent a person from getting caught in the truck's wheels.

We don't know if these safety features would have minimized the severity of Meng's fatal crash, though we know any safety measure is worth pursuing for the wellbeing of all of us on the streets. We must continue to push to get this legislation passed through the House of Representatives and onto the Governor's desk in order to prevent crashes in the future.

In addition to legislation, MassBike continues to work to address the issue of large vehicle safety through education, awareness, and advocacy efforts on all fronts, and we are focusing on educational programs aimed at truck drivers. This is especially important as our streets become more complex and challenging for unaccustomed truck drivers to navigate.

Working with The Joe Lavins Fund Steering Committee, (Joe was tragically killed in a crash with a large truck in Porter Square, Cambridge in 2016), MassBike, alongside members of advocacy groups LivableStreets Alliance and the Boston Cyclists Union, created an 11-minute video “Safer Trucking In Changing Cities” (available to view at no cost at here) to provide truck driver education about how to deal with the challenges they face driving in an urban setting.

The goal is to incorporate this video into regular use in the training of truck drivers across the state. We ask you to view this video, and share with those who are behind the wheel of large vehicles, as well as those who bike, walk, and drive around trucks. Together, we can create awareness on all fronts to avoid tragedies like we saw with Meng.

Thank you for your support here, and for spreading the message to your networks.

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