Massachusetts bears the distinction of being ranked the United States’ third most “Bicycle Friendly State” for 2012. The Bay State placed 9th in 2011, 16th in 2010, and 19th in 2009. The secretary of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, Secretary Richard A. Davey, said that the state’s rising rank over the years accurately reflects the department’s commitment to providing safe and healthy transportation. Massachusetts’ climbing status as a hub for cyclists also substantiates the efforts behind the three-prong policy of the environmental initiative, GreenDOT: 1) Reduce Greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) 2) Promote the healthy transportation options of walking, bicycling, and public transit, and 3) Support smart growth development.
Sadly, with all the new bike paths and community efforts to promote cycling, like Boston’s Bike Week, mishaps occasionally still lead to tragedy.
Wellesley police report that on Friday, August 24, 2012, at around 1:58pm, 41 year old cyclist Alexander Motsenigos, husband of nearly ten years and father to a six year old boy, was struck and killed near the intersection of Weston Road and Linden Street, otherwise known as Wellesley Square. Motsenigos was wearing a helmet. And neighbors have said that the point of the collision, an intersection resting at the bottom of a short but steep hill, was a dangerous place.
Lieutenant Maria Cleary confirms that both Motsenigos and the vehicle were headed north. An
investigation is underway because the vehicle sped off, possibly unaware that someone had been struck. The public is being asked to provide any information. But because there were conflicting accounts of the automobile’s make and model, the police are unable to submit a definitive description.
I drive a lot. But I’m currently looking for a good bike in the interest of diversifying my workouts and getting a little more “green.” And I’m well aware of the friction that exists between
both Massachusetts cyclists and motorists. An article by Bella English, published in the Boston Globe on August 12, makes some practical declarations. Cyclists should have enough sense not to dampen their awareness by riding while listening to music or talking on cell phones. And motorists shouldn’t be so eager to speed by cyclists with only inches of space between them. But these things still happen. Thus, cyclists and motorists are left shaking their fists at each other. Perhaps this is why newspaper man Horace Greeley, philosopher Voltaire, and novelist Mark Twain have all been credited with saying that “common sense is very uncommon.”
Nonetheless, I am a motorist who wants to feel safe on the road, and not at risk of hurting a cyclist. And I’m an aspiring cyclist hoping to avoid any physical harm to myself or someone else’s automobile. Furthermore, I’ve personally seen a collision between a car and cyclist. The cyclist lived. But the suddenness of such a powerful impact, capable of taking so much away in an instant, leaves a deep impression.
So, in the interest of building a motorist-cyclist romance, accommodation, armistice … choose whatever term you will … I’ve swum through the internet, a la Michael Phelps, to find a few points that will encourage driver/rider cooperation, if not harmony.
A tip for cyclists: Ride predictably. Riding in a straight line, rather than weaving through traffic, greatly minimizes any collisions, whether with the body of a car or an opening door.
A tip for motorists: Cyclists are allowed to occupy the full lane when that lane is too narrow to share with a vehicle, when changing lanes to turn left, when the road conditions present hazards, or when a cyclist is attempting to pass another vehicle.
For the full list, you can visit this site. And, as always, if you have any questions or concerns about car injury, Altman and Altman would be happy to help. Stay safe.