On Monday, the city of Cambridge was named a Gold-level bicycle friendly community by The League of American Bicyclists, making it the highest rated city to bicycle in on the East coast. The recognition and ceremony comes in observance of National Bike Safety Month.
Cambridge, which is only one of 18 cities nationwide that has received this award, was recognized on its bicycle friendliness, infrastructure, and its investment into bicycle promotion with the establishment of the Hubway share program.
According to city officials, there are three times as many bikers on Cambridge and Boston roads today, than there were only a decade ago. Many bikers cite traffic congestion and the “Green” lifestyle appeal as their reasons for switching to two wheels.
State leaders have shown their enthusiasm for the shift in bike riding, and last fall, the Department of Transportation (MassDOT) announced that by 2030, it wanted to triple the rate of biking, walking, and public transit. Currently over 22,000 people regularly cycle to work around the entire commonwealth. The biggest challenge MassDOT faces is the process it will take to educate people about the rules of the road, and the development of necessary infrastructure to encourage and accommodate more cyclists.
Advocates are pushing for more improvements on safety before encouraging more cyclists onto the roads, based on the rates of bicycle accidents around the city-especially those involving collisions with motor vehicles. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 39 cyclists were killed and 2,100 people sustained non-fatal injuries between 2007 and 2011 in Massachusetts. Five cyclists have already been killed this year.
One of the main issues and causes of accidents between bikers and motor vehicle operators is a failure to observe sharing the road. Many vehicle operators also fail to remember that bikers are vulnerable entities, and have a legal right to space on the roadways. According to state law, all bikers have the right to public ways in the Commonwealth.
Additionally, many bikers are unaware of their legal responsibilities to follow the rules of the road. Like motor vehicle operators, cyclists are obligated to follow and subject to most of the same traffic laws as cars and trucks, including obeying traffic signals and signs.
New legislation being promoted by the Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition known as the ‘Vulnerable Road User’ bill seeks to impose more penalties to people who recklessly kill, injure, or harass a cyclist, pedestrian, or anyone considered a vulnerable party. The bill would subject people who violate laws against vulnerable users to pay double the normal fines.
As the weather continues to get warmer and more cyclists join the roadways, we’d like to remind you that whether you’re a driver of a car or a bicycle, you are responsible for adhering to the rules of the road. Though bike riding is a popular mode of transportation, especially in the city, it is extremely dangerous. The CDC estimates that over 500,000 people are injured each year as the result of bicycle accidents, and an average of 700 people are killed each year.
If you or a family member has been involved in a bicycle accident, call the law offices of Altman & Altman for a free initial consultation. For nearly 50 years, our team of experienced attorneys has been representing clients involved in bicycle accidents, and we have successfully recovered damages such as medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering and other costs related to bicycle injuries. Our attorneys are available around the clock to assist you with any questions you may have about your case.