Boston Cycling Injuries
Only about 1 percent of all road trips taken in the U.S. are via bicycle. Unfortunately, those trips disproportionately account for a substantial number of injuries and deaths.
The Boston Globe reported in 2015 that 13 people died while bicycling on city streets over the previous five years. Meanwhile, the City of Boston reports there are more than 1,700 emergency medical services responses to bicycle injuries each year.
At The Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman's BikeAttorney.com, our Boston bicycle accident lawyers recognize that bicyclists sustain the brunt of injuries in crash cases because they are what is known as a “vulnerable road user.” That is, they aren’t protected by a mass of metal and steel. It’s just them against a multi-ton, motorized machine and the unyielding concrete.
It’s unsurprising then that of those injured in Boston bicycle crashes:
- Cyclists account for 98 percent of all those injured in bicycle accidents, even though they account for 53 percent of those involved in such crashes;
- Drivers and passengers account for 2 percent of those injured in bicycle accidents, while comprising 46 percent of those involved.
Emergency Medical Services in Boston indicated that of those bicycle crashes to which they responded, the injury breakdown was as follows:
- 37 percent – No injuries
- 51 percent – Scrapes and bruises
- 9 percent – Serious, requiring treatment at a local hospital
- 1 percent – very serious, involving one or more nights at the hospital
- 2 percent – other
Bear in mind these were only the self-reported crashes. Many more are not reported to authorities.
Boston Neighborhoods With High Number of Crashes
Those areas in Boston with the highest ridership also have some of the highest crash rates. The city reports the most crashes occur in the city’s core center, through Fenway and Kenmore. The areas of Roxbury and Jamaica Plain have high accident tallies too.
The streets identified by the Boston Police Department and city EMS as having the most bicycle accidents annually are:
- Commonwealth Avenue
- Mass Avenue
- Huntington Avenue
- Beacon Street
- Boyle Street
- Dorchester Avenue
The City has recommended prioritizing short- and long-term infrastructure changes to address this problem, namely quickly installing bike facilities on roads and at intersections that have the highest reported number of crashes. This effort involves installing upgraded bike lanes, adding additional signage, reflectors and pavement markings at trolley tracks.
It’s also been recommended that more concerted efforts take place at local colleges and universities, as students account for a high percentage of crash victims.
And to help address the issue of dooring, some 1,825 taxis in Boston have been outfitted with winder stickers that warn passengers not to open their door into the path of passing cyclists. The city is hoping to include an in-transit public service announcement too, although this strategy may need to be revisited with the rise of rideshare services like Uber and Lyft.
Bicycle Crash Types in Boston
According to a recent report by the city, the majority of accidents resulting injury (63 percent as reported by EMS and 91 percent as reported by police) involved a bicycle vs. a vehicle. And in most of those cases (55 percent), it was the behavior of the driver that was the top contributor to serious accidents.
Of those incidents:
- 24 percent involved a cyclist who either ran a red light, ran a stop sign or rode into oncoming traffic;
- 22 percent involved a driver or passenger who opened a car door into an oncoming cyclist (representing 40 percent of all cases where driver behavior is to blame);
- 18 percent involved drivers who didn’t see the cyclist.
Some of the influential factors by drivers that contributed to these crashes:
- Not paying attention
- Aggressive behavior
- Phone/ electronics
- Construction zone
Of those bicycle accidents to which Boston EMS responded in 2009 to 2012:
- 69 percent were transported to hospital via Basic Life Support;
- 24 percent refused transport;
- 6.5 percent were transported by Advanced Life Support;
- 0.5 percent were referred to the medical examiner (fatality).
What Can Motorists Do to Reduce Bicycle Injuries?
Because motor vehicle drivers are the biggest cause of bicycle accident injuries, they are the ones whose road habit changes will make the biggest difference.
The City urges drivers to:
- Stay out of bicycle lanes;
- Always look for cyclists before opening the door of your vehicle;
- Pass bicyclists slowly;
- Give cyclists at least 4 feet of clearance when passing;
- Allow the bicyclist the entire lane if it’s necessary;
- Put down your cell phone;
- Always check your mirrors for blind spots when changing lanes or turning.
If you or a loved one have been seriously injured in a Massachusetts bicycle accident, call our legal team today.
Contact the Boston Bicycle Accident Lawyers at The Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman's BikeAttorney.com.