Two Crashes Draw Increased Attention to Suburban Bike Accommodations

The first victim was Sean Kavanaugh, 61, of Carlisle. He frequently rode and commuted in and around Metro Boston. He frequently joined group rides with the Monsters, a group anchored in neighboring Concord.  

He has been a longstanding Pan Mass Challenge rider, raising tens of thousands of dollars as a member of the Flames team. His page from that charity event is posted here.

Reports indicate that as he rode eastbound and downhill along Trapelo Road in Waltham on Wednesday, Aug. 17, a negligent driver of a westbound pickup truck suddenly turned left and struck this husband and father of three broadside. The impact moved him roughly 20 feet before he came to rest beneath the vehicle. The driver, as yet unnamed, stayed at the scene. The office of Middlesex District Attorney Marian T. Ryan stated that the driver would be charged, but has yet to specify what those charges would be.  

Much of those charges depended on whether Kavanaugh would survive such a violent trauma. Medical teams rushed him to Lahey Burlington where he remained with a fractured skull and multiple left leg fractures. Latest reports indicate he has not suffered spinal injuries. Although his condition had improved he remained in the intensive care unit there.

As MassBike pursued information on Kavanaugh, reports came in on a second vehicle crash involving a Mark Himelfarb, 57, of Westford. This event occurred on Virginia Road, a popular bicycle route in Lincoln, near the Hanscom Air Field. Unconfirmed reports indicate the eastbound cyclist rode uphill from the airfield towards a 90-degree left turn to Old Bedford Road. There is no intersection, just a left turn from Virginia Road on to Old Bedford Road. The speed limit on the road is just 25 mph. An SUV reportedly struck the cyclist near that turn, which has a stop sign for westbound traffic on Old Bedford Road. MassBike has not been able to determine which direction the SUV traveled.

The SUV struck the bicycle and rider with sufficient force to kill him. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Although the driver remained at the scene and police impounded the vehicle, no charges have been filed as of this writing.

A father of two, Himelfarb worked at iRobot and had planned to join his son for a lunchtime ride. He never arrived for that ride.  

His obituary is published here.

Earlier this year another crash involving a motor vehicle killed a cyclist in Lincoln. Eugene Thornberg of Wayland died along Route 126 of injuries sustained on June 16. No charges were filed against that driver. The speed limit along that stretch is posted at 30 mph.

Family and friends of Thornberg will be hosting a ghost bike installation ceremony on Saturday, Sept. 10. While the Town of Lincoln will allow the ceremony to happen, officials will not allow the ghost bike to remain in place permanently.

All three of these crashes were along routes popular for commuting, training and touring cyclists. There are no bicycle lanes or markings in any of the three routes.

MassBike will continue to seek more information on these tragedies.

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