You've probably heard the expression that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. That's especially true when it comes to avoiding traumatic brain injuries or death from a bicycle accident. While many of us grew up riding a bike without a helmet, Massachusetts and several other states now require youth 16 and under to don protective head gear when they ride.
The weight disparity between a tractor trailer truck and a bicyclist is enormous. Should an accident occur, the person on the bicycle is almost certain to suffer serious personal injuries. It was recently reported that there have been five fatal bicycle accidents in the Boston area, each of them caused by a truck, bus or trolley.
Cars and bicycles are sharing the roads more and more often in the Boston area. It was recently reported that there has been a 30 percent increase in bicycling during the last two years thanks to 57 miles of new bike lanes and The Hubway bike share program. According to The Hubway's Facebook page, the program was launched last year and includes a fleet of 610 bikes at 61 stations. Despite the increase in riders, the number of accidents has dropped by 25 percent.
Belmont Street in Brockton, Massachusetts, is a straight road intersected by other smaller roads. The speed limit is 35 miles per hour. For nearly three-fourths of a mile, there is no crosswalk if one wished to cross Belmont Street.
Main Street in Medway is a tree-lined two-lane road. Google maps show that there is a sidewalk on one side of the road and there appears to be a clearly marked bike lane on either side of the road. The road is straight near the portion where it intersects with a cull-de-sac called Thunder Hill Road.
The view from a Google map shows us that Topsfield Road in East Boxford is a small two lane road without much in the way of shoulders. The road winds through a primarily residential area. Any bicyclist riding on this road would need to stick close to the side of the road, but would be forced to share the road with motor vehicles. Conversely, cars would be sharing the road with bicyclists.
Speed limit postings on residential streets in Massachusetts can be as low 15 miles per hour in a school zone to as much as 40 miles per hour or more. Motorists are required to follow the speed limits, but they are also supposed to drive for the existing weather conditions. Drivers should also have safe distances between themselves and the car in front of them so they can stop without running into car in front.
Golden Hill Avenue in Haverhill, Massachusetts, as seen from satellite images, looks like a typical tree-lined road that winds its way through a suburban neighborhood. The speed limit is reported to be 30 miles per hour. A car was travelling on that road, perhaps at the speed limit, when a young boy on his bike exited off Moody Street, to proceed onto Golden Hill Avenue.
A recent news report leaves more questions than it provides answers. Why would a bicyclist be on the road at 2:00 in the morning? Why would a car strike a bicyclist in an intersection with traffic control lights? How could someone fatally strike a bicyclist and then drive away?
More and more often, in all areas of the country, bicyclists are sharing the road with cars and trucks. Massachusetts is no exception.