Somerville To Crack Down On Rule Breakers

Written by Boston Biker on Apr 18

I sometimes hear cyclist bitch about enforcement, but its a vital component in legitimizing and normalizing cycling as a part of our transportation infrastructure. Only when we are given the same respect (and responsibilities) as other road users are we going to be treated as a real viable method of transportation. You can argue about what the rules for cyclists should be, but you can’t really come up with a good argument for why cyclists shouldn’t follow the rules.

Thanks Ron for the tip.

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Somerville police are planning to step up enforcement of bicyclist traffic laws in city squares and at busy intersections in coming days, the city said.

“Bicyclists have a right to share the road and they should command respect from other drivers,” said Chief Thomas Pasquarello in a statement. ” At the same time, they need to show respect for the rights of pedestrians and vehicle drivers.”

Per state law, a police officer who views a cyclist making an infraction may demand identifying information from the rider to write a citation. Fines are $20 for a civil infraction, but if cyclists provide false information or refuse to give their name, they may be arrested and fined $50.

Pasquarello said bicyclists should familiarize themselves with state and local traffic laws, which apply equally to motorists as they do to cyclists. (A guide is available through the city’s ResiStat blog. )

“We’re all in this together, which is why we expect full cooperation from everyone on our roads and sidewalks as we work to reduce accidents and improve safety,” the chief said.

A bicyclist was killed when he was struck by a tractor-trailer truck last December in Cambridge. Another was  seriously injured in a collision with a bus in Salem April 9. (via)


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18 Responses to “Somerville To Crack Down On Rule Breakers”

  1. By Grimlocke Von Hecht on Apr 18, 2012 | Reply

    Today’s tally – morning commute:

    9 cars running reds

    17 jaywalkers

    1 car turning into a cyclist

    3 cars parked in the bike lane

    4 bikers almost doored

    2 bikers running reds

    0 bikers going the wrong way

    0 peds hit by bikers

    This is typical of my daily experience. Why exactly are we ‘cracking down on cyclists’ again?

  2. By Michael Blackmore on Apr 18, 2012 | Reply

    “Only when we are given the same respect (and responsibilities) as other road users are we going to be treated as a real viable method of transportation.”

    In my daily life I see dozens of bike rule violations (riding on the sidewalk in business district, running lights and stop signs, riding wrong way up streets, etc.) I almost regularly see whole groups of them in just the few minutes crossing the street to and from work.

    I’m not one for the turn a blind eye because cars do it sounds way too much like grade school rationalization (the other kids were doing it, *pout*)

    I want biking to be more accepted and protected legally with greater city spaces and roads allocated to it. This is an important part of the path.

  3. By Erik on Apr 18, 2012 | Reply

    The only problem I have with this is that it should read…

    “Somerville police are planning to step up enforcement of traffic laws in city squares and at busy intersections in coming days, the city said.”

    Let’s enforce traffic laws and be agnostic as to the vehicle please. It was pleasantly surprising to see most of the comments on boston.com expressing a similar opinion, rather than the usual “if bikes don’t stop at lights I will try to run them over.”

    http://www.boston.com/yourtown/news/somerville/2012/04/somerville_police_to_focus_on.html

  4. By Moopheus on Apr 18, 2012 | Reply

    I wonder how long they’ll keep it up. Cambridge makes this announcement every now and then, and it lasts for about a week or two. Yes, seeing other riders run reds and ride the wrong way is pretty much a daily occurrence. I especially hate riders coming at me the wrong way in the bike lane.

  5. By crankycoffey on Apr 18, 2012 | Reply

    This morning on my cycling commute from Elm Hill to Harvard Square, I got a headache from all the cyclists taunting death.

    We were all young and indestructible once, but now that I’m an old woman, I can’t stand these kids who run red lights without even slowing down to see if someone’s about to crash into them. Although I’ve been known to run red lights when the way is clear, I’d be happy to have enforcement if it makes the streets safer for all of us.

    There was one young lady in particular I really wanted to give a talking to, after watching her dust several red lights in a row including the MIT cross walk on Mass Ave where a ton of students were trying to get across the street, and as several intersections where cars were making turns onto Mass Ave with the right of way.

    So I’ll yell at her here: I don’t care if you get killed when you behave like this. It won’t be the fault of the driver. I do care that I will have to be a witness to your idiocy, and if you do cause an accident, I will have to be a legal witness, which will slow down my commute.

    You are not immortal!

  6. By FedUp on Apr 18, 2012 | Reply

    Do you go after the person dropping a gum wrapper on the sidewalk, or the guy swinging a baseball bat around at people?

    When a little kid gets shot in his park, do we tell parents not to let their kids play in the park? Tell them to wear a bulletproof vest and hand them out/sell them in stores? Lecture them about how to most safely use the jungle-gym? No. We go after the gunmen.

    When a woman is raped, do we report on the length of her skirt and how she was dressed? Speculate on how she deserved it? No. Yet apparently it’s completely appropriate to state whether a cyclist was wearing a helmet, and theorize on excuses for why the driver struck them.

    When a prostitute is beaten and shows up at the police station…do they get arrested for prostitution, or do we try to find the person that beat them and prosecute them?

    When an illegal alien shows up at the hospital, do we deport them, or do we provide medical care?

    The issue isn’t a debate over whether the people running red lights are wrong. The issue is that many of us are completely sick and tired of the police cracking down on people by and large only endangering themselves, while giving drivers a free pass when they endanger other drivers & passengers, pedestrians, and cyclists – or injure and kill them. In other countries, there is a presumption of guilt on the driver and cyclists and pedestrians are treated as vulnerable users. Yet here, we’re expected to go out of our way to be visible, constantly lectured about how to ride as defensively as possible, and drivers are never punished. The police and DA’s never even try.

    I’m sick to death of this victim-blaming bullshit and self-hatred. STOP PERPETUATING THE MYTH THAT CYCLIST’S BEHAVIOR CAUSES THEIR INJURIES. Australia did a study where they provided video recorders to a dozen cyclists and they found that more than 90% of the injuries and near-misses were due to illegal and/or negligent operation by DRIVERS.

    It is completely inappropriate to mention the death of someone struck by an eighteen wheeler which WAS BREAKING THE LAW – the cyclist NEVER did anything wrong, though the police sure have taken their sweet time and have come up with a number of excuses for the driver. His truck was too big. The roads were wet. It was raining. Swamp gas refracted off the weather balloon.

    The rider was hit head-on by a truck in the oncoming lane. The DA and police refuse to press charges and are simply telling us “it’s under investigation” until we go away. How many months does it take to investigate the crash? Where is the justice for a young man killed by someone else?

    2)“Bicyclists have a right to share the road and they should command respect from other drivers.” Oh, I see. So in order to not get left-hooked, right-hooked, doored, clipped, cut off, brake checked…I have to EARN their “respect”? So, does that mean that I have to earn the ‘respect’ of the guy who is trying to decide whether to rob me of my wallet? Hey, how about this? Nothing I do excuses other illegal behavior by others. When I’m in my car and you pull me over for speeding, I don’t get to say “but everyone else was!” or “well, but I saw someone run a red light the other day….” There are limited police resources for traffic enforcement, and drivers in motor vehicles cause the overwhelming majority of injuries and deaths, not cyclists.

    STOP BLAMING VICTIMS.

    Where the fuck is MassBike, Boston Cyclist’s Union, Somerville Bikes, or any of the other advocacy organizations, standing up for our rights instead of wagging their collective fingers at us?

  7. By BeReal on Apr 18, 2012 | Reply

    Dude, just because drivers (of which I am one) behave more often like douche bags than cyclists (of which I am also one) does give cyclists carte blanche to keep being douche bags.

    If everyone obeys traffic laws then everyone wins.

  8. By FedUp on Apr 18, 2012 | Reply

    Hey “Dude”, way to prove my point: we live in a society where putting someone in a hospital is considered “behaving like a douche bag”, not “criminal negligence.”

    NOBODY SAID ILLEGAL DRIVING MEANS CYCLISTS SHOULD BE ENTITLED TO DO THE SAME. However, Somerville PD apparently feels that illegal operation by bicyclists entitles drivers to go a step beyond and actually harm cyclists.

    Asking for prioritized enforcement where it will save injuries and lives is not “excusing” cyclist behavior.

    Objecting to statements by law enforcement that legal operation of a bicycle is necessary to get legal operation of a car is not “carte blanche”.

    Again, Somerville Bikes should be ashamed of themselves for not pointing out how insensitive and backwards this “campaign” is.

  9. By greg on Apr 18, 2012 | Reply

    . You can argue about what the rules for cyclists should be, but you can’t really come up with a good argument for why cyclists shouldn’t follow the rules.

    Unless you’re making a statement that the rules in this case potentially put you in real danger, aren’t implied explicitly by current traffic infrastructure or education, and are horribly cost-ineffective for the city to enforce.

  10. By Mark on Apr 18, 2012 | Reply

    It seems to me that an increase in automobile traffic enforcement is never publicized beforehand. The BPD has stepped up enforcement of red-light runners (automobile) in my neighborhood and the Globe or even the Roslindale/West Roxbury Transcript has not mentioned it in any article; why, because it’s normal everyday motor vehicle enforcement.
    The Somerville PD , by announcing this, seems to be trying to educate cyclists, but we should wait and see before we condemn. This time of year, with many new cyclists coming out on the roads, is perfect for cyclist education.
    The BCU, Boston Bikes, Massbike and the MassDOT have tried to educate both cyclists and motorists about the rules of the road when it comes to bikes through the Same Roads/Same Rules and the Give Respect/Get Respect campaigns. Unfortunately, many cyclists still don’t seem to have clue about safe or legal riding.

  11. By Peter Smith on Apr 19, 2012 | Reply

    You can argue about what the rules for cyclists should be, but you can’t really come up with a good argument for why cyclists shouldn’t follow the rules.

    I agree _completely_. I should have just gone to the back of the bus.

    Signed,

    Rosa Parks

  12. By Erik on Apr 19, 2012 | Reply

    The crack editors at boston.com published a nearly-identical story today: http://www.boston.com/yourtown/somerville/articles/2012/04/19/police_crack_down_for_bicycle_safety/

  13. By Moopheus on Apr 19, 2012 | Reply

    One thing people should keep in mind when comparing the scofflaw nature of bicyclists and cars: we’re a very small percentage of traffic. Yes, there are a lot of bad drivers out there (this is still Boston!) but if drivers ran reds at the same rate that cyclists do, there would be accidents at every intersection every day. Cars have a much higher rate of compliance than cyclists. Why? Because drivers know that if a cop sees you cheating the light, you’ll get pulled over. It’ll cost you money, and a ding on your insurance. Get caught enough times, you could have your license revoked. How many times have you seen a cyclist get pulled over by a cop? How many times have you seen a cop watch a cyclist go through a red and do nothing? Sure, enforcement for cars isn’t really very good, but there’s clearly a lot more of it than for cyclists.

  14. By Rebecca on Apr 19, 2012 | Reply

    But drivers do run red lights all the time! When a traffic light turns yellow, the law states that you are suppose to stop if you can safely do so. However, at least here in Boston, cars speed up when the light turns yellow & there are always one or two cars who continue through once the light has turned red when they are following a bunch of cars speeding through the yellow light. In fact if a car driver stops when the light turns yellow, he is in jeopardy of being rear ended by the car following him. I’ve always thought that in NYC car drivers jump the red (start up right before the light turns green, that’s why traffic lights now have blinders on them to prevent this,)and here in Boston, car drivers run a red. This is an important fact that behooves the bicycle rider to beware of, yet I have never heard it mentioned in any safe bike riding tips.

  15. By Boston Biker on Apr 19, 2012 | Reply

    @fedup and Peter Smith

    In no way are you like are a rape victim, or a civil rights fighter. You need to re-assess what you are saying.

    No one is asking you to do anything other than stop at red lights/stop signs. No one is going to take you seriously if you talk like this.

  16. By Peter Smith on Apr 19, 2012 | Reply

    @Boston Biker,

    I’m sorry you find my obvious parallel offensive to your sensibilities. It was you who made the ridiculous statement. Mine is ridiculous too, of course — it was intended as such to ridicule your ridiculous and offensive remark.

    You’re actually saying that people should just obey unjust laws — period.

    Listen, the world is filled with people like you — people who share you opinion of things — people who say we should advocate for change while continuing to obey the letter and intent of the law. That’s good for maintaining the status quo — it’s good for the people in power — but it doesn’t actually lead to any change.

    If you think existing laws are fair — fine — obey them — all of them, to the letter and intent, but don’t harass and throw under the bus those of us who do _not_ believe the current laws are just. It’s really a very simple argument — no need to get all ‘huffy’ (har!).

    Presumably you would have Rosa Parks arrested, too — that’s your prerogative to have that opinion.

    All I’m saying is that I think you might want to reconsider your opinion — I think once you re-evaluate your opinion, you’ll want to get on the right side of history.

  17. By Boston Biker on Apr 19, 2012 | Reply

    @peter

    Thanks for your opinion…I am pretty sure we are not just of different minds on this, but living in entirely different realities. The chasm is so great that I don’t even feel its worth it to try to bridge the gap. Have fun, and happy riding.

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