Female Cyclist Killed By MBTA Bus On Huntington Ave

Written by Boston Biker on Jun 02

EDIT: The name of the cyclist has been released it was Kelsey Rennebohm, who died late Friday. She was a Seattle native who was enrolled in the counseling psychology master’s degree program at Boston College. (via)



More here

A female cyclist was killed when struck by an MBTA bus Friday night. This is not the first time someone has been killed at this location…its about damn time something is done to make this stretch of road safer for cyclists and pedestrians.

From CBS:

A woman cyclist was killed in a crash involving an MBTA bus Friday night in Boston.

MBTA Police say the accident happened on Huntington Avenue outbound at Forsyth Street.

Investigators say several vehicles were in close proximity to the accident site when it happened and it was not immediately clear which one had collided with the cyclist.

After a thorough investigation, police say they found evidence that the MBTA bus had made contact with the victim.

The bus operator has been questioned. No charges have been filed. The investigation is ongoing.

The victim’s name has not yet been released, but police said she was in her twenties.

With no breakdown lane or bike lane on much of Huntington Avenue, the stretch of road is notoriously dangerous for cycling.

From WCVB:

A woman who was riding her bike was struck and killed by an MBTA bus Friday evening, transit officials said.

The bicyclist, in her 20s, was killed while riding on Huntington Avenue near Northeastern University around 10:30 p.m.

The woman, whose name was not immediately released, was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash on Huntington Avenue at Forsyth Street.

“The bus operator has been questioned as part of this ongoing police investigation,” said spokesman Joe Pesaturo.

He said details of the accident remain undetermined and forensic experts are investigating.

A police spokesman said no citations have been issued and the investigation into what caused the accident is ongoing.

EDIT: update from The Globe

Officials are investigating the involvement of an MBTA bus in an accident that left a woman dead after she fell from her bicycle into traffic Friday night, police said.

“An MBTA bus was involved in the accident,” said Officer James Kenneally, a Boston police spokesman.

The victim was in her late 20s, Kenneally said. He said no charges have been issued at this time.

The accident occurred around 10:25 p.m. on the outbound side of Huntington Avenue at its intersection with Forsyth Street, said Joe Pesaturo, an MBTA spokesman, in an email Saturday.

“The preliminary investigation is focused on an MBTA Route 39 bus that was in the area of the accident at the time the 911 call was received,” Pesaturo said.

Police questioned the driver of the bus, he said.

“Like others, he was interviewed by police,” Pesaturo said.

The accident occurred near the Northeastern University campus, but the victim had no relation to the university, said Renata Nyul, a spokeswoman for the school.

Boston police could not say whether the victim was wearing a helmet at the time of the accident.

Pesaturo would not comment on whether the bus driver was aware of any involvement in the accident.

“Investigators are working to establish facts,” he said.

The intersection where the accident occurred was blocked off by police tape Friday night leaving a stretch of Huntington Avenue closed.

The incident is under investigation by transit and city police.

EDIT: The Mayor has made a comment (via)

“That’s the third accident we’ve had where somebody has lost their life and I’ve asked the transportation department to take a look at that roadway to see what we can do to make it safer for cyclists and automobiles,” said Boston Mayor Tom Menino.

I am glad that at least there is the appearance of action, it will be up to all of us to make sure they follow through with this.

EDIT: The BCU is reporting she may have fallen into the street, I agree with them that bike lanes + reduced speed would go a long way to making this road better.

Eyewitnesses to the crash told the police that Rennebohm appeared to have lost her balance and fallen off her bike from the sidewalk and into the path of a Route 39 MBTA bus, according to Boston Police Department sources familiar with the investigation.

This new information puts a different spin on events for many cyclists who may have assumed that Rennebohm’s injuries were received while riding her bike in the street. At the same time, it doesn’t mean that the instincts of those who are demanding bike lanes on Huntington Avenue are wrong. In fact, the way the accident happened highlights a secondary benefit that bike lanes have for pedestrians—-that of creating a buffer space between moving traffic and people on the sidewalk. It may also, as details unfold, speak to the need to reduce speeds on the street.


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32 Responses to “Female Cyclist Killed By MBTA Bus On Huntington Ave”

  1. By Tony Telesco on Jun 2, 2012 | Reply

    How many more have to die before something is done about this dangerous expressway that threatens the safety of thousands of pedestrians and cyclists every day?!

    I think we should organize a rally this week – get as many cyclists as possible to occupy that intersection for a few minutes to mark the passing of another fallen cyclist, ideally during the evening rush hour commute. We could install a ghost bike at the same time.

    We need to show people that bikes belong and deserve some god damn consideration.

  2. By ghostbike on Jun 2, 2012 | Reply

    There’s a Ghost Bike ready for installation, made by some people on BostonFixed. Need the name of the rider, though.

  3. By matt on Jun 2, 2012 | Reply

    this is a rough section indeed. I cross Huntington every day – usually at Parker instead of Forsythe, but both are treacherous. once I got a skinny tire stuck in the T tracks and went down – luckily no one was around. (these days I ride 2″ Big Apples).

    before agreeing to a rally i’d like to know more about what happened. in particular, were all parties visible and obeying traffic signals? I’m not suggesting that the victim was running a red dressed in black without any lighting at 10:25pm, but I’d like to know that wasn’t the case.

  4. By Lisa on Jun 2, 2012 | Reply

    We need bike lanes on Huntington Ave. Put in a fully separated bike lane with a buffer strip. One lane of cars in each direction would be enough.

    Is this road controlled by the City or the State?

  5. By Fenway on Jun 2, 2012 | Reply

    One travel lane isn’t likely going to happen on Huntington Avenue. It is a major route to the Longwood Medical Area and the roadway was already narrowed when the state funded the streetcar right of way and sidewalk widening reconstruction in 2004.

    Unless you want to screw up the MASCO shuttle buses from Ruggles Station to the LMA, screw up the E line, delay the already frequently delayed 39 bus, endanger the lives of patients in frequent ambulances and runs from the Ladder 26 firehouse…. in other words MAKE CYCLISTS LOOK LIKE THE DEVIL INCARNATE, don’t go doing something as petty as corking that intersection at rush hour!

    Before anyone rushes to street theatrics and activism, please allow the facts of the case to come to light.

  6. By matt on Jun 2, 2012 | Reply

    oh I missed this part:

    >occupy that intersection for a few minutes

    forget it then

  7. By Tony Telesco on Jun 3, 2012 | Reply

    Fenway – think outside the driver’s seat for a minute. The issues you’ve raise are legitimate, but there are a number of infrastructure solutions that could be tailored to the needs of the Rt 9 situation.

    One that comes to mind is converting one of the two travel lanes in each direction into a dedicated bus / bicycle lane. (It would need some sort of physical separation like bollards because MA drivers aren’t deterred by some simple painted lines on the roadway)The 39 would run better, bikes would be safer, ambulances and fire trucks could use the lane in an emergency, and pedestrians would benefit from reduced vehicle speeds.

    Yes – any changes from the status quo will piss off drivers and make them curse the inventor of the bicycle, but our transportation system should not be run to accommodate one class of road user at the mortal expense of others.

  8. By ben on Jun 3, 2012 | Reply

    They’ve released her name – http://www.myfoxboston.com/story/18686300/authorities-id-mass-cyclist-dead-in-bus-accident

  9. By John on Jun 3, 2012 | Reply

    I am at that intersection daily and almost all bike riders zoom right through the red lights like they are racing on a rural road.

  10. By Fenway on Jun 3, 2012 | Reply

    Tony the 60 foot buses sway up to 13 inches. There isn’t enough space on the roadway to incorporate a physical barrier for a bus/bike/emergency vehicle only lane. The other issue is if there is a collision or breakdown. Huntington Avenue is a vital connection without too many viable parallel routes making it hard to reduce capacity any further than it already was 8 years ago.

  11. By John on Jun 3, 2012 | Reply

    Rt. 9 is an emergency evacuation route…getting rid of a lane isn’t going to happen, nor should it. It would only make traffic worse.

    While I didn’t see the crash, I work down there, and bikers frequently make illegal turns over the T tracks and run red lights. Might want to hear what actually happened before we get our pitchforks and torches and start calling for blasphemy

  12. By Fenway on Jun 3, 2012 | Reply

    It would be possible to add bike lanes to Huntington Avenue on most stretches, though there are pinch points that would have be sharrows only. But dropping the number of travel lanes below two in each direction is never going to happen.

  13. By Wandering Woman on Wheels on Jun 3, 2012 | Reply

    I am wondering if she was clipped by one vehicle or doored, which might have thrown her into the path of the bus, or if perhaps her tire got stuck in the trolley track grooves (although it does not appear that her bike is mangled).

    It seems that for some reason she “fell” or was propelled into that lane. Somebody knows something and I hope they come forward, even if they were the person who might have accidentally doored her. This is just speculation on my part.

    I also wonder if there were any security cameras or red light cameras in the area that might reveal more information about this tragic event.

    While we all are justifiably angered at the unfortunate circumstance, let’s not forget that sadly, a bright life was lost. Sincere sympathy goes out to her family, friends and loved ones.

  14. By Fenway on Jun 3, 2012 | Reply

    Northeastern University has camera coverage of the area and there are also some city cameras along Huntington Avenue as part of the evacuation route designation. One wonders if the particular bus involved had a door side camera as well.

    I’m wondering if, similar to the last fatality at that intersection, another vehicle bumped her and she fell under or into the bus.

  15. By Paul Schimek on Jun 3, 2012 | Reply

    Here is some more information:
    http://bostonherald.com/news/regional/view/20220603mbta_bus_eyed_in_bicyclist_death_police_probe_2nd_huntington_ave_fatality

    There isn’t enough detail about this tragedy to draw any conclusions (and it might take a while before we know more). However, we do know this:
    * police are saying that a bus was definitely involved, but they only knew this after investigating (presumably from talking to witnesses). This suggests (but does not prove) that the bus driver was not even aware of the collision as it occurred.
    * there is no on-street parking in the location, so dooring is probably not the mechanism
    * the trolley tracks are separated from the roadway here, so I doubt they were a factor
    * it occurred near but not necessarily at the intersection with Forsyth St. The bicyclist ended up “lying on her side, partially on the sidewalk, with her head in the crosswalk on Huntington Avenue”
    * the bus and bicyclist were traveling in the same direction, and at least the bus was not intending to turn
    * the right hand lane here is 13′ wide, barely wide enough for a bicyclist to share with a passenger car, but not wide enough to share with a bus (there is a whole story about how this came to be around 1995-1999 — city promised a 14 ft lane, state changed the plan, pressure and advocacy got the passing lane moved over a bit, but state still refused to widen to 14 ft, in order to make room for planting strip of trees)
    * there is no bus stop at this intersection

    Those facts rule out a bunch of possibilities (including some mentioned here), but don’t let us know how it happened without further info (nor how to prevent it from happening again).

  16. By Sue on Jun 3, 2012 | Reply

    This saddens me and the way the scene has been described so far it’s difficult to say what happened until the investigation is complete. My thoughts go out to her family and friends.

    If this truly is the second biking accident at this location then the city needs to do more to protect its cyclists and community. A bicycle is a vehicle and has a right to be on the road as much as a motorized vehicle.

  17. By phoenixfirebird on Jun 3, 2012 | Reply

    Thanks Paul, for the fact summary. In that article from The Herald, a woman from a cafe nearby stated that she did not see a helmet anywhere, but bike helmets don’t necessarily save your life.

    Someone I know has a sister who moved to JP this year and was enjoying biking more and more. A recent bike accident left her with a brain injury (3 brain bleeds and memory loss). She also has a broken jaw, broken arm and a cracked vertebrae. (She hit a pothole and went headfirst into the ground over the handlebars). She was wearing a helmet. She may never fully recover.

    I don’t know if anyone is responsible for Kelsey Rennebohm’s death, or if it was just a tragic accident. I don’t know if we will feel any better once we know all the facts, but I am sure the facts will bring little comfort to her family.

  18. By Bob on Jun 4, 2012 | Reply

    I believe she was wearing a helmet (I was at the scene after the crash happened). If she got hit by a bus I believe she was side-swiped, and there was a street light near where she was found.

    I think the only thing Boston can do to prevent these accidents is educating bikers on rules of the road, and placing street signs directed at bikers. Examples “Bikers stop here at red light” “Bikers stay in lane” “Bikers do not pass on right”…these rules apply to both cars and bikers, since they are both vehicles.

  19. By Bob on Jun 4, 2012 | Reply

    I believe she was wearing a helmet (I was at the scene after the crash happened). If she got hit by a bus I believe she was side-swiped, and there was a light on the sidewalk near where she was found.

    I think the only thing Boston can do to prevent these accidents is educating bikers on rules of the road, and placing street signs directed at bikers. Examples “Bikers stop here at red light” “Bikers stay in lane” “Bikers do not pass on right”…these rules apply to both cars and bikers, since they are both vehicles.

  20. By Warren on Jun 4, 2012 | Reply

    Kelsey was my daughter’s best friend when they attended Barnard College together. She was an incredible individual – graduated summa cum laude, taught Spanish for two years in Harlem (NYC) before deciding to attend grad school at BU. She had just confided to another friend the other day how happy she was. This is a girl that really had it together. We know her family and friends and we are all devastated by the loss. Needless to say, we are clamoring for information and that led me to this site. The fact that three bicyclists have now died in this area is very difficult to comprehend. Thanks for sharing details of the lane width and the nature of the area. It helps to understand. And thank you too for the kind words expressed to friends and family. They mean a lot… Be careful out there…

  21. By Jay on Jun 4, 2012 | Reply

    Bob, maybe Boston can educate drivers as well, as they seem to disregard the law as often as cyclists. If not more. And are capable of much more damage.

  22. By Erik on Jun 4, 2012 | Reply

    re: “Bikers do not pass on right”…these rules apply to both cars and bikers, since they are both vehicles.

    Bikes are allowed to pass on the right by law. Not that it makes it wise to do so in many cases…

  23. By Lisa on Jun 4, 2012 | Reply

    With the narrow lanes on Huntington Ave as it is now, and with bike lanes lacking, I urge all cyclists to take the entire right lane when biking this street.

    There is no room to ride to the right of moving cars in the right lane of Huntington Ave. Cyclists are entitled to take the lane under these conditions for their own safety. Don’t risk getting caught between a bus and the curb (which may or may not be what happened in this case).

    Hopefully the right lane of Huntington Ave. will soon be marked with sharrows in recognition of this situation.

  24. By Rebecca on Jun 4, 2012 | Reply

    Today, Monday, I rode my bicycle outbound on Huntington Avenue, from Stuart Street to Longwood Avenue to judge for myself what it feels like to bike on that particular stretch. It was a cold, drizzly, June day at about 9:30 in the morning. At one area, Huntington Avenue divides & one lane dips down into an underpass & the other lane continues at street level. I think that this was the only section of Huntington where I saw a parking lane. Otherwise Huntington was two lanes in each direction with no parking (I recollect). These were wide lanes which in my experience always seem to encourage cars to drive faster. I regularly bike and drive my car on Commonwealth between the BU bridge & Packard’s Corner and the cars there regularly speed by on the generous three lanes they have for traveling on. On streets with two lanes in each direction, and the right lane is insufficiently wide enough for a car to pass a bicycle at a comfortable distance, I try to take the lane rather than allow cars pass me at a distance I would feel uncomfortable with. I tried doing this on Huntington Avenue. At one point, on Huntington, I had a yellow school bus with kids in it, blow past me too closely. The bus barely went into the left-hand lane. I could feel the air pressure as the bus sped past me. Obviously, I needed to claim more of the lane to force cars to pass me entirely in the left lane. It’s a nerve wracking way to bike but I do it, if I have to. Although my biking speed seems to be about 12mph (judging once by a speed monitoring sign in a school zone on Harvard Street in Brookline), I have a right to travel on the road that is the direct route to my destination.

    I stopped at Forsythe Street to assess the intersection where the bicycle crash occurred. A 39 articulated bus lumbered down Huntington, as I stood there on the sidewalk. The sidewalk is very wide. The grounds crew were planting pansies. The young trees and attractive sidewalk at the trolley stop made the area look very pleasant. I got back on my bike & continued down to Longwood. On the section of Huntington Avenue between Forsythe Street & Longwood Avenue, there were two areas where the asphalt street surface had hills running parallel to the street running right down the center, which could be an area where a cyclist could easily crash. There is an area on Commonwealth between St. Paul Street & the BU bridge that has a similar defect in the road surface.

    In my opinion, Huntington Avenue should have one, very wide traffic lane and a decent bike lane. Most people do not like sharrows and ride far to the right which means cars would continue to pass way to closely. I happen to like the sharrow lane on Longwood Avenue in Brookline, but that street is only one lane wide in each direction with a parking lane on one side of the street. Two lanes do not mean it is easier for an emergency vehicle to pass through, since the left lane always fills up with traffic which impedes emergency vehicles. Having one wide traffic lane means that cars could easily squeeze to the left & bicyclists can very easily squeeze to the right making it easier for an emergency vehicle to get through quickly.

    Although Huntington Avenue may have two lanes in each direction for cars because it’s an evacuation route for fleeing Boston, bicycles would also be using that evacuation route & with the region in grid lock in that kind of an emergency it would be far better to be on a bike, so bicycles should definitely be included in an evacuation plan.

    Why do we have articulated buses on our city streets? It is irresponsible for the city to allow them. Huntington Avenue in its present configuration, is a street on which only the most advanced bicyclist should ride. The street is a direct route to a University, Colleges, Museums and the hospital district and should be a route that is safe & feels safe for all levels of cyclists. The city can do much, much better than this. If they have to go at loggerheads with the state since it is a state road, than so be it. It’s a fight worth having.

  25. By matt on Jun 5, 2012 | Reply

    just a few hours after this a friend of mine who commutes from Boston to Norwood daily was creamed by a (probably drunk) driver on a wide-open stretch of 1A in Norwood. He’s in the ICU right now with many broken bones but should make it. coverage, in case this doesn’t make the front page of bb.org:

    http://www.necn.com/06/02/12/Man-faces-charges-in-Norwood-Mass-hit-an/landing.html?blockID=718422&feedID=4206

    http://boston.cbslocal.com/2012/06/02/doctor-injured-in-norwood-hit-run-driver-thought-he-hit-something/

    http://norwood.patch.com/articles/charges-filed-in-hit-and-run-that-left-bicyclist-hospitalized

  26. By Fenway on Jun 5, 2012 | Reply

    “Why do we have articulated buses on our city streets?”

    Because of high demand bus routes along corridors which don’t have promised light rail connections along the Silver Line and #39 running the ‘suspended’ E line to the Arborway (thanks to all the business demanding ‘the right to double parking’ for their customers).

    If articulated buses didn’t exist, there would be even more traffic on the roads, making a bad situation even worse. But the articulated buses wouldn’t be necessary if the state and a few vocal political operators (snobs in the South End and JP not wanting centenary and the ‘right to double park’ infringed) hadn’t prevented rail based transit routes from running through dense corridors.

  27. By Wandering Woman on Wheels on Jun 5, 2012 | Reply

    J.P. Patch and Boston Cyclists Union articles:

    ‘It’s Hard to Ride on Huntington, But We Do It Because We Have To’
    http://jamaicaplain.patch.com/articles/huntington-is-dangerous-essential-for-bikers?ncid=newsltuspatc00000001

    and poll:
    Bicyclists — How dangerous is Huntington Avenue compared to the rest of the city?

    It’s clearly the city’s most dangerous street for cyclists
    8 (19%)
    It’s among the city’s most dangerous streets
    28 (66%)
    It’s about the same as anywhere downtown
    4 (9%)
    I don’t find it particularly dangerous
    2 (4%)
    I’m not sure
    0 (0%)

    Total votes: 42
    This is not a scientific poll

    Cyclist in Huntington crash may have “lost balance”
    http://bostoncyclistsunion.org/uncategorized/cyclist-in-huntington-crash-lost-balance/?utm_source=Union%20Rider%20Vol.%203%20Issue%206%20-Week%20of%20June%204&utm_campaign=UR%203.6&utm_medium=email

  28. By Paul on Jun 5, 2012 | Reply

    I discovered this site while trying to find more information about what had happened to Kelsey. I am the Superintendent at the property where she resided. Kelsey always had a smile for everyone she’d meet and though I didn’t know her personally, she was a very positive presence at the complex for the last year or two that she was here. This tragedy has really affected me and I wanted to express my deepest sympathies to her family and friends…as a Father myself, I cannot begin to imagine the pain of your loss. My heart goes out to you- I am so sorry.

  29. By Ghost Bike on Jun 5, 2012 | Reply

    Kelsey’s ghost bike will be placed at around 8-8:15PM Thursday, at the intersection of Huntington and Forsyth. There will be a short ride to Chestnut Hill Reservoir to follow. Anonymous RSVP via poll is requested for logistics planning.

    http://tinyurl.com/kelseyride

  30. By daisy on Jun 5, 2012 | Reply

    Huntington Avenue was reconstructed in recent memory and the City–the Menino administration–eliminated parking which has resulted in excessive vehicle speeds. Menino’s project–part of the Boulevard Program–also refused to put bike lanes or wide curb lane outside the storm drain zone. Thanks.

  31. By Friend on Apr 11, 2013 | Reply

    Bob, I know it’s been almost a year but I am a friend of Kelsey’s and you are the first person that has said they were at the scene that I know. I know this is a public forum but this site would not let me reply to you directly…if you can figure out how to do that I would greatly appreciate connecting with you.

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