Cyclist Killed On Comm. Ave By Semi-Truck

Written by Boston Biker on Dec 06

Its happened again…

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U-hub reports:

A bicyclist did not survive a collision this morning with a semi at Comm. Ave. inbound at St. Paul St..

At 8:51, Sasha tweeted from a passing trolley:

Body covered by a tarp. RIP. what a bad start to the morn.

By coincidence, a City Council committee holds a hearing on making Boston safer for bicyclists today at noon at City Hall.

More info when I get it:

NPR reports, that a cyclist was in a bike lane when the semi-truck made a right turn and hit him. Was a white male in his 20’s.

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Bostinno reports:

According to Boston Police, at 8:36 a.m., a cyclist was struck by an 18-wheeler at the intersection of St. Paul Street and Commonwealth Avenue, near Boston University campus. Police closed down the 900 block where the accident occurred.

Police confirmed at 9:49 a.m. that the cyclist died as a result of the accident.

People reported seeing a sheet over the bike and the victim at the scene as they passed the accident near Boston University’s campus.

EDIT: A picture of the truck.

EDIT: another image of the scene

The globe reports:

Boston police spokeswoman Cheryl Fiandaca said in an e-mail that the bicyclist was killed and that the department’s Homicide Unit is now investigating the incident. Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley’s office has also sent a prosecutor to the scene, officials said.


EDIT: Heading to this meeting, on bike safety, see you there, more when I get back.

Students name released:

Christopher Weigl (COM’14), a 23-year-old BU graduate student who was pursuing a master’s in photojournalism at the College of Communication, collided with a 16-wheel tractor-trailer at about 8:30 a.m. Witnesses say Weigl and the truck both were traveling east on Comm Ave and collided when the truck made a wide right turn onto St. Paul Street. The accident is being investigated by the Boston Police Department, which cordoned off the area and closed Comm Ave eastbound. No citations have been issued.

“Chris was just a great guy,” says Sarah Ganzhorn (COM’13), a fellow graduate student in COM’s photojournalism program. “He was always smiling. He was just a really chill guy who never had anything negative to say about anything.”

EDIT: More photos:

submit Cyclist Killed On Comm. Ave By Semi-Truck to Add to Reddit.

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Posted in news, video | 104 Comments »

104 Responses to “Cyclist Killed On Comm. Ave By Semi-Truck”

  1. By Dave Belson on Dec 6, 2012 | Reply

    Rolled up on this shortly after it happened, it’s always very sobering seeing a fallen cyclist. My thoughts to this young man’s family.

    The body count in the Greater Boston area is too high this year, I’m not sure what changed to make the streets even more dangerous? Be careful out there my two wheeled friends.

  2. By Jacqueline Little on Dec 6, 2012 | Reply

    It makes my heart stop to see this and know that I have a son that fits that description and I don’t know where he is right now. He is probably at UMASS Boston because it is Thursday but it tears at my heart that another family is losing a loved one in such a tragic, senseless way. My prayers go out to them.

  3. By Deez on Dec 6, 2012 | Reply

    I ride that often and was pretty peeved when I saw the Boston Police installed an electronic billboard that read something along the lines of “Cyclists obey traffic rules”. The sign should read “motorists watch out for bikes”. This is the 2nd death I know of on comm ave this year. Bpd should be issuing tickets to cars driven aggresivley near cyclists rather than target bikes.

  4. By Krista on Dec 6, 2012 | Reply

    Is it normal to send out a homicide unit and a prosecutor to a scene? I don’t remember reading about that for other bikers killed. My sympathies to this young man, his family and friends.

  5. By William Furr on Dec 6, 2012 | Reply

    So sorry for this family’s loss.

    Trucks and buses, semi-trucks in particular, are terrifying to bike near. This just reinforces my fear. Hopefully that fear will keep me alive.

    It blows my mind that the most dangerous thing we do is try to travel from point A to point B.

  6. By Jpod2 on Dec 6, 2012 | Reply

    I feel for this man’s family. It’s a terrible thing. I am not a biker, nor am I an aggressive driver, but I do not think that there is enough room on the streets for both to safely travel, especially with the narrow roadways in Boston.

    @Deez – Many bikers do not follow traffic laws. There are a number of times that I am waiting at a traffic light and the biker comes whipping through the lanes of traffic and then runs the red light, crossing the intersection. I see this happen 9 times out of 10! Bikers should be obeying the laws of the road, so I think the BPD got it right with that sign!

  7. By John_in_NH on Dec 6, 2012 | Reply

    Well it is illegal to turn right in front of a bicycle so there better be some consequences here. I came by this area just after it happened (8:55 ish) and it was very hard. Indeed the white sheet over the bike was pretty striking, though I believe the person had been removed.

    It looks like the truck was turning right out of the far left lane of auto traffic, meaning the cyclist would not have thought anybody was turning even if the truck signaled since he could have been changing lanes. I have known at least 2 other deaths in this exact situation. There have been way too many deaths this year, we need action and misguided health or BPS campaigns to “obey the rules” or “wear a helmet” aint worth shit to this person.

    Very tragic. My heart goes out to the family and friends.

    On an additional note, are there any bike specific elements when somebody is getting/renewing their commercial truck license?

  8. By Gavin on Dec 6, 2012 | Reply

    I was driving past the other way moments after it happened. He wasn’t moving and looked to have suffered massive head trama. That used to be my daily bike ride and that intersection was always one of the scariest. It’s a combination of factors. It’s a downhill section so at this point you are picking up speed, cars turning right are looking for jaywalkers not bikes or are looking for parking. In this instance it’s a Semi turning right from the left lane (I see this all the time here) because it’s the only way he physically can make the turn. When you consider what Comm ave accommodates: a busy college with people jaywalking everywhere, a 4 lane road with cars driving at a high speed, 2 lanes worth of metered parking and the cars slowing down to look for them, the B line, 2 bike lanes, a mbta bus route following the same T line. A BU bus making the same stops as the T line, trucks making deliveries and cars stopping to pickup and dropoff; I think the bigger surprise is that people aren’t dying here every week.

  9. By jthandle on Dec 6, 2012 | Reply

    @jpod2 Go fuck yourself. Someone just died. They were in a bike lane.

  10. By Grim on Dec 6, 2012 | Reply

    Deez is completely correct. Every moment I’m on the road I see motorist breaking the law and endangering cyclists. Accountability must happen, and soon.

    Jpod2, I would love to have a face to face chat with you about this. Feel free to tweet me directly – Grimlocke.

  11. By Jpod2 on Dec 6, 2012 | Reply

    There is accountability on the part of drivers. Drivers get pulled over and ticketed, but not cyclists. Everyone should be held accountable.

    @jthandle – You are obviously ignorant. I wasn’t at all attacking the cyclist, but commenting on the PBD sign. I never once said that the cyclist wasn’t following the rules of the road. It was a general statement on my experience driving next to cyclists – like I said 9 times of of 10 I see cyclists disrespecting the rules of the road. Have some class.

  12. By Erik on Dec 6, 2012 | Reply

    “Drivers get pulled over and ticketed, but not cyclists. Everyone should be held accountable.”

    Really? I’ve (personally) seen more cyclists than drivers ticketed in my 8 years in this city.

  13. By Nils on Dec 6, 2012 | Reply

    @Jpod2 – Someone just died in an accident that appears to be 100% the fault of the driver. It strikes me as a piece-of-shit thing to do (and rather irrelevant, besides) to bring up the dubious behavior of other cyclists at this time. I see drivers failing to signal, blocking the bike lane, running reds, and taking illegal right turns on reds onto this road every single day (it’s on my morning commute). I have never once seen someone pulled over for any of this behavior, but I’ve seen cyclists stopped recently by police twice in the last month.

  14. By Jpod2 on Dec 6, 2012 | Reply

    Wow. Are you kidding me? @Deez (above) was the one to start the talking of the dubious behavior of drivers when commenting on the BPD sign. I was simply replying to his comment.

    Plain and simple. Roads were made for cars and there really isn’t enough room for “bike lanes” – which are painted lines on the street. If you ride your bike in seriously congested areas during rush hour in a busy city, then you are really putting your own life at risk. I’ve never seen cyclists ticketed. EVER.

    Also – if you read the comments on any other article about this incident online all the people comment on is “the dubious behavior of other cyclists.” If anything, this incident should bring to light that the roads cannot accommodate cars and bikes. It’s too dangerous.

  15. By jay on Dec 6, 2012 | Reply


    Trucks always go left to turn right–they even have stickers on the back indicating this fact (–so it’s not that unusual to see a semi going into the left lane when turning right.


    It’s more complicated than “four wheels bad; two wheels good.” The main issue is that the vast majority of people on the road, regardless of how many wheels they have, are idiots. I have not had a single day of my 6.5-mile bike commute in which I haven’t seen both motorists endangering bicyclists (right hook, no signal, double-parking, etc.) AND bicyclists endangering both themselves and others (no helmet, wrong way in bike lane (!), failure to stop, riding on the sidewalk, etc.). I don’t want to point fingers either way about this incident until facts have been found, but I think we can all agree that This Sucks, and we’ve had three too many bicycle-related homicides this year.

  16. By Wandering_Woman_On_Wheels on Dec 6, 2012 | Reply

    Ironic that on a day where the City of Boston had already scheduled a meeting today “to explore improvements to cycling infrastructure to make Boston a more livable city”,
    that yet another cyclist is killed by a big rig. I am doing a lot less riding these days, partly due to the dangers.

    Right now my bike is in the shop. I had a flat tire, a $13.00 minor repair…but the wheels need to be trued, an expensive maintenance repair ($65-) necessitated by the fact that I ride on bumpy sidewalks much of the time because I am terrified to ride in the road, with all the carnage in the last year. Boston sidewalks are bumpy and often full of glass and have many other hazards, but seem less frightening to me. I’ll take my chances with a flat, over being flattened.

    So what’s the body count in the last year? Off the top of my head, I can think of 8 people killed (all in Boston except 1 in Wellesley) by large trucks or buses, mostly involving right-hand turns. Mostly young people with bright futures ahead of them. People who were living and loving life, who have families and friends who love and miss them.

    I wish these threads would not degenerate into another “bikers vs. cars need to obey laws” discussion, because the purpose of finding out what happened is not to assign blame but to learn valuable information that can help prevent future tragedies.

    More importantly, a young life has been last, another family is grieving. My heart goes out…

    I find myself on the verge of tears as I plan a route home from the bike shop tomorrow, without actually riding in the streets, and pondering another irony: paved roads were originally made for bicycles.

    Please go gently, folks. I look forward to seeing you on the bike paths.

  17. By z on Dec 6, 2012 | Reply

    “Roads were made for cars.”

    Jpod2, that’s just ridiculous. Cars may have taken over all existing roads SINCE THEY WERE INVENTED, but that doesn’t make other modes of transportation suddenly less valid.

  18. By Fenway on Dec 6, 2012 | Reply

    “Plain and simple. Roads were made for cars and there really isn’t enough room for “bike lanes””

    Actually Commonwealth Avenue was specifically designed for trolleys, bikes (it actually had 4′ wide bike paths as part of the original design in the 1800s!), and horse drawn wagons.

    The whole reason why roads were originally paved with asphalt and pneumatic tires were invented was due to the demands of cyclists (or wheelmen as they were referred to in the era).

    As far as the false argument over space:

    A LIMITED ACCESS HIGHWAY LANE for 55+ mph traffic is a minimum of 11′ wide. A standard bike lane is 5′ wide. Prior the striping of the bike lane each travel lane on (2-3 in each direction) Commonwealth avenue was ~14′ wide, well in excess of what is needed for an avenue WHICH ISN’T A LIMITED ACCESS HIGHWAY and has a typical speed limit of 25mph!

  19. By Nils on Dec 6, 2012 | Reply

    @Jpod2 – Of course I’m not kidding you (I drive a car as well as bike, for the record, and don’t run reds–or even yellows, as that is ticketable where I’m from–in either my bike or car). You are just some troll who pops up to wag a finger before you have any facts whenever a tragedy like this happens, right? Obviously (having lived here for 6+ years), I know this town is full of reckless motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists, but for some reason, the first things that pop up are always “I see bikes run reds all the time; they bring their deaths/injuries on themselves; was he/she wearing a helmet? etc.” which doesn’t strike me as helpful (unless you know this cyclists was running a red without a helmet, say?) I’m not against educating cyclists on safe practices but I’d rather see it coupled with a campaign to educate motorists and to develop better infrastructure. I know I became a MUCH safer motorist after becoming a regular bike commuter. I also know the roads feel MUCH safer (and the drivers are much more aware and cautious) than they were when I first moved here. So I’m optimistic.

  20. By Fenway on Dec 6, 2012 | Reply

    Zoom in on the top left for the cross section of the avenue.

  21. By Fenway on Dec 6, 2012 | Reply

    Pardon my misstatement, 4′ lanes were on the Harvard Bridge, Olmsted indicated 10′ wide cycle paths next to 35′ wide “driveways” (parking included in that dimension) with 15′ wide bridle paths. Street car reservations were 14′.

  22. By jon on Dec 6, 2012 | Reply

    Lets stop feeding this troll.

  23. By Russ on Dec 6, 2012 | Reply

    Jpod2 is not a bicyclist and is making statements
    that those who have more knowledge of and experience with bicycling know to be false. Why is he posting on a board that is “A community for cyclists in Boston”,
    adding nothing but ignorance at a very inappropriate
    time? I hope he can find a more constructive way to
    spend his time in the future.

    I worked near that intersection 20 some years ago
    and there were a lot of bicycles there then. Maybe
    some “Watch out for bicyclist” signage?

  24. By Erin on Dec 6, 2012 | Reply

    I don’t think Jpod was being unreasonable when she said that bikers should follow traffic laws. Deez acts like they shouldn’t have to (as do the majority of bikers). If you want cars to share the road with you, then you have to share the road with them. I’m not commenting on this specific situation, but in general. The notion that bikers are some how immune from traffic laws, while at once entitled to use the roads equally with cars is just ridiculous and obnoxious.

    Deez comment: I ride that often and was pretty peeved when I saw the Boston Police installed an electronic billboard that read something along the lines of “Cyclists obey traffic rules”. The sign should read “motorists watch out for bikes”. This is the 2nd death I know of on comm ave this year. Bpd should be issuing tickets to cars driven aggresivley near cyclists rather than target bikes.

    Cyclists SHOULD obey traffic laws. Do you really not think they should? It’s laughable. How can cars at once obey traffic laws, drive carefully looking out for other traffic, and then just devine when a bike may come flying through a red light. As a driver in DC which also has a huge number of bikers, I’ve many times almost hit bikers who have come flying out of nowhere. I have no interest in killing someone, am an extremely careful driver (I’ve never been pulled over or gotten in an accident in the 12 years I’ve been driving), but it’s not possible to watch for everything you expect to happen AND be vigilant 100% of the time for people breaking the law.

    If I it a car that came flying through a red light, or zipping up on my right side while I was making a right turn with my signal on, or cutting across 4 lines at once, it would be that car’s fault for breaking the traffic laws and putting both of us in danger.

    If bikers want equal run of the roads then they have to stop thinking they are immune from the same traffic laws as cars. That’s not an unreasonable request.

  25. By Jpod2 on Dec 6, 2012 | Reply

    Ignorance at a very inappropriate time? Actually, this a perfect time, in light of this tragedy, to question why the City of Boston (backed by you – avid bicycle enthusiasts) would think it’s actually a good idea to paint lines on a street to designate a “bike lane” when there really isn’t enough room for cyclists to travel there. I feel bad for you. It’s dangerous. And a very reckless decision. I for one, would never think of bike riding down a busy street next to cars. I obviously have a bit more common sense then you do. There’s no need to be offended, that’s just the reality. You come to the defense of the bicyclist so quickly, why? No official report has been released.

    Personally (and I’m not alone here) I think that sidewalks should be trimmed down and bike lanes should be made away from the traffic. A collision between a pedestrian and a cyclist would not be as bad as a collision between a cyclist and a car. And since many bikers tend to ignore the rules of the road anyway, drivers won’t have to worry about hitting any of them because of their stupid mistakes. Am I saying that all car/cyclist accidents are the fault of cyclists? Of course not. There are bad drivers out there and I never denied that. But what you all fail to admit is that cyclists can at time make poor decisions (running red lights, weaving through traffic, ect…) when riding through busy Boston neighborhoods. Take some accountability and stop always blaming the motorists.

  26. By Lee on Dec 6, 2012 | Reply

    @Jpod2–fuck you. you’re on the wrong board-take that shit to the herald

  27. By Erin on Dec 6, 2012 | Reply

    HAHAHA, Lee. That TOTALLY will make people want to be nicer to bikers. You have a different perspective on things? – FUCK YOU.

    Boston, what a friendly non-irrational town. ::Gag:: I’m glad I live in Maryland.

  28. By Grimlocke Von Hecht on Dec 6, 2012 | Reply

    @Jay, I completely agree with you about cyclists endangering themselves. When I see a fixie ride by me and blow through a red light, ears covered by giant cans, I want to scream. However, the many cyclists I see out there with helmets, bright lights, chilling out in the bike lane, being good little doobies should feel confident to ride without the threat of homicidal motorists, and that’s simply not happening right now.

    What I see is this: in general, vehicles that are maintaining speed and following the road have the ‘right of way’. Turning vehicles are required to make sure they have sufficient access to turn. If a vehicle turns in front of you and you do not have time to react and you hit it, it is their fault.

    But not when you’re riding a bike? Why is that?

  29. By Jpod2 on Dec 6, 2012 | Reply

    @Lee – Very classy. You aren’t representing your cause or Boston bicyclists very well.

  30. By Nils on Dec 6, 2012 | Reply

    @Jpod2 and @Erin – The dubious behavior of cyclists is only relevant to the discussions around these kinds of accidents insofar as it is causally related to these accidents. You both seem to be saying “if bicycles don’t obey the same laws as cars in this one situation then they shouldn’t expect not to be killed in this other unrelated situation.” A cyclist running a red while you are stopped usually doesn’t have much to do with them being hooked or doored when they have the right of way elsewhere.

    “You come to the defense of the bicyclist so quickly, why?” Read what you wrote and think about it for a second.

    And then try to be less of an asshole: go lobby for the creation of separated cycle along heavily trafficked corridors to better separate drivers from bikes. That would be more productive, wouldn’t it? We would love to have those too.

  31. By Erin on Dec 6, 2012 | Reply

    @Nils, no that’s not at all what I was saying. I was saying that broadly speaking cyclists have a sense of entitlement when it comes to violating traffic laws. My comments were a direct response to Deez saying that instead of a sign saying Cyclists Obey Traffic Laws there should be one that says Motorists Watch Out For Cyclists.

    Some accidents involving bikes are bikers’ fault and some are cars’ fault, but both should be required to follow laws if they are on the road. Maybe both signs should be there.

    It would be ideal if we could all just squeeze through traffic like the Knight Bus, but tragically, we don’t live in the Wizarding World and have to find a way to coexist sans magic. It would be a great step if bikers didn’t defend their imaginary right to violate traffic laws.

    Again, to be clear, I’m not commenting on this specific situation but on the culture of bikers and their self righteousness when it comes to running red lights, etc…

    Finally, expanding roads to accomodate bikes would be wonderful, except for the fact that we have a $16 trillion deficit and that’s probably not on the top of the to do list. We also all know how Boston does with long term traffic construction.

  32. By Jpod2 on Dec 6, 2012 | Reply

    @Nils – Again… just because you are a bicyclist, does that mean that you even come to their defense when they are in the wrong? You shouldn’t be coming to anyone’s defense yet, because the report has not been released.

    “Try not to be less of an asshole”? I’m sorry that because I don’t agree with everything that you say, that you feel I’m being an asshole. I don’t believe that our city and state currently have the resources and the budget to undertake such a project, as creating newer bicycle lanes. So, it’s not something that I’m prepared to lobby for at this time. Perhaps in the future it is possibility.

  33. By Russ on Dec 6, 2012 | Reply

    Erin is apparently not a bicyclist either and not even
    from Boston (from DC, “Southern efficiency, Northern charm”, and as one who lived near Dupont Circle the
    DC drivers were worse than here – diplomatic plates
    and the short term nature of many residents being
    part of the problem). Do we know what is driving trolls to this board? Or is it just the misanthropic nut-case from Arlington (MA) again.

    “Erin” hasn’t read this board for any length of time,
    which is part of why she is coming off as a total

    Most bicyclist opinions and information I have seen here have stressed and applauded the “Same rules,
    same roads” laws currently on the books here,
    and to summarize some other often expressed board sentiment:

    As bicyclists we are also aware that if we
    run a red light we are at very much at fault and
    at risk. If a car or truck runs a red light
    the risk is not in the same balance. We know
    that 2 tons at 40MPH is very different than
    200 lbs at 15MPH. We’ve probably seen much
    more bad driving than bicycling, though
    we’ve seen both. And we bear the brunt of
    accidents, no matter whose fault.

    We also know that more education is needed,
    for drivers, bicyclists (salmoning, anyone?),
    police, and the designers or our transportation
    systems. And for Erin. And for me, I need
    to learn how to ignore these trolls. Sorry.

  34. By Lee on Dec 6, 2012 | Reply

    @Jpod2–coming onto a community urban bike board immediately after an accident like this with an agenda to trash cyclists isn’t very classy either. When a 23 year old kid dies on the same roads you cycle every day, then you come on here to commiserate and end up having to read the same old crap from people who have never traveled down a busy road in anything but a carbon burning steel cage it can be upsetting so I’ll have to beg your forgiveness.

    P.S. I don’t pretend to represent anyone. I’m too busy dodging you fools to have the time.

  35. By Erin on Dec 6, 2012 | Reply

    Someone posted this on facebook, so I read it. Just because I don’t agree with you doesn’t make me a troll. And, I was simply responding to one comment made by one person.

  36. By Erin on Dec 6, 2012 | Reply

    You guys should make a log in system to protect the integrity of your “community” from the evil non-cyclists out there who happen upon one of your posts in that crazy anarchist world wide web and take an interest in engaging in a discussion.

  37. By Erik on Dec 6, 2012 | Reply

    It’s comments like “I obviously have a bit more common sense then [sic] you do” that gets people calling each other assholes.

  38. By Jpod2 on Dec 6, 2012 | Reply

    Hey… there were a number of people that posted on this subject before I chimed in. I don’t have an agenda to trash cyclists either. I’ve just commented on my experience driving next to them. It’s not pleasant.

    “A carbon burning steel cage”? Are you serious? You could have just said “car”. You live in a city! If you don’t like cars, then maybe someone should have explained to you that there are less cars out in the country before you moved here. I could throw nasty words your way too, but I won’t stoop to your level of childish behavior.

  39. By Jpod2 on Dec 6, 2012 | Reply

    @Erik – Yeah, that line that I said must have been really offensive. So much more offensive then being called a troll, a fool, an a-hole and being told to go f-myself. It’s odd that you didn’t call any of them out for their bad choice in words.

    Honestly, I would have been interested in a well thought and intelligent discussion in this forum about the issue of cyclists and motorists in Boston, but the minute I said something in favor of the motorists I was ridiculed and insulted and told to leave.

    This behavior doesn’t make me want to advocate for cyclists at all. Why would I even lobby at this point for a group of hateful people that attack when their point of view is challenged?

    If you don’t agree with what someone says then engaged them in an educated debate. Don’t insult them.

  40. By Mark on Dec 6, 2012 | Reply

    Perhaps the truck driver had to stop during his turn to wait for pedestrians crossing St. James Street and the cyclist going down the hill hit the side of truck or trailer face first. Everyone assumes the truck hit the cyclist instead of the cyclist hitting the side of the truck/trailer. Brakes and working ones are good to have sometimes.

  41. By Erik on Dec 6, 2012 | Reply

    @Mark: The Boston Herald quotes an eyewitness saying “You should have seen it … [the cyclist] couldn’t react to it.” The same eyewitness later implied the truck was moving when the collision happened. Obviously not infallible, but it’s some indication of what happened.

  42. By Erik on Dec 6, 2012 | Reply

    @Jpod2: The whole *point* of my comment was to explain what prompted those insults hurled at you. I wasn’t ignoring them. You thought people were insulting you “because I don’t agree with everything that you say.” It’s not. It’s because you’re calling them stupid.

    I mean, if you want I can put you both in timeout and turn this blog *right* around, but we’re all too mature for that, right? 😉

  43. By Fenway on Dec 6, 2012 | Reply

    How nice of the pro-car lobby to gleefully dance on the corpse of a cyclist, blaming the deceased in the process prior to a determination of fault. They only wish to further their agenda of not sharing the road or truly improving overall safety of road users beyond car operators. Hence the wholehearted insistence that roads aren’t safe for cycling, so rather than make them safe, just ban cyclists.

    They are not nice people, they do not mean well. They are bad people, cynically trying to secure their own power against challenge.

  44. By Elx3 on Dec 6, 2012 | Reply

    I can understand that some people, being disturbed and overwhelmed by this event, might not be ready to have this forum be used as an opportunity for productive (therefore necessarily two-way) discussion about the problems of allowing roads to be shared by cars and cyclists. And maybe it IS callous to immediately treat this person as a type of statistic for giving rise to that sort of discussion. (Maybe all one wants to do right now is express regret to the family. This person after all is not a “cyclist”. He/she is a person, and probably also drives a car when not cycling.) But given that the article says nothing about the person who has died, I find the sort of gratuitous rudeness of people like Nils and jthandle on this forum, which could otherwise only be justified by a sort of hyper-sensitivity to what happened, distracting as well as destructive to any sort of communal discussion about this event. I assume they are adults, in which case they might try spending more time explaining their feelings and opinions instead of giving way to completely unwarranted expressions of contempt and rudeness.

  45. By Erik on Dec 6, 2012 | Reply

    Really nice (I guess–weird to use that word given the circumstances) article on the victim over at BU Today:

    Btw, it looks like there’s a vigil for cycling victims tonight at 6pm at BU:

  46. By Barbara on Dec 6, 2012 | Reply

    Signage and billboards targeting ALL who use the roadways aware of one another are needed. They are one step towards a goal of zero deaths. These events are happening far too frequently. Awareness for motorists is KEY. Awareness for cyclists is KEY. Awareness for pedestrians is KEY. All must be aware as to avoid events such as the ones today: N. Harvard and Cambridge St. as well as St. Paul St. and Comm Ave

  47. By Justin on Dec 6, 2012 | Reply

    Right, per Elx3, let’s remember that this “cyclist” was also a human being. I’m not pointing fingers. Whether you’re pro- or anti-bike or somewhere in between, it is all too easy to get caught up in the argument and just treat this incident as a statistic rather than a tragedy. I think there’s evidence of this on both sides among these 40+ posts.

    That being said, I have little doubt that both bike and car commuters acknowledge that these type of accidents are unfortunate and, in most cases, avoidable. I’m reading a lot of gross over-generalizations and extrapolations above. People in cars are oblivious to cyclists (often true), and are therefore bad, irresponsible people (not true). Cyclists don’t respect the rules of the road (often true), and are therefore reckless, despicable, and deserving of any injury that occurs to them (not true).

    I’m not trying to be all “let’s just smoke the peace pipe and get along”, but it’s really ridiculous to see this bickering in this kind of a forum. Step back, consider the tragedy, and if you feel compelled to comment on the greater “bike/car” debate in this forum–which is understandable–do so respectfully and objectively. And don’t use this single incident (that’s n=1) as a self-righteous rallying point. Whether the truck or cyclist was at fault, that has no bearing on the 1000s of other similar instances.

    Boston’s roads are crowded. (On a side note, whether Comm Ave was constructed originally–in the 1800s!–to accommodate bikes or cars or cattle carts is completely irrelevant and an unproductive line of argument). What it comes down to is that all individuals utilizing the streets–drivers, cyclists, pedestrians–need to be more careful. So I suspect improvement begins with education, especially given the gridlock that is legislation compounded by billions of dollars in debt.

  48. By Russ on Dec 6, 2012 | Reply

    @Elx3 – Again this board is “A community for cyclists
    in Boston”. We have recently had a large uptick in posts
    from some who are not or never have been cyclists in Boston, posting unhelpful commentary (to loosely paraphrase: “I dislike driving near cyclists”, or “Cyclists never follow the rules of the road”, or “We shouldn’t spend tax dollars on improving cycling infrastructure”). If this were “A community for
    discussing Boston transportation infrastructure”,
    and I’m sure such places exist,
    they should feel comfortable posting here.
    But it’s NOT. I could come up with any
    number of parallels where some group
    barges into a meeting of people with
    whom they expect to disagree just to be
    disruptive. How is this supposed to be met?
    (and please, no “it’s the intenet, I can
    spam anyone/anything into oblivion if I want”).

    In general, if a non-cyclist is trying to
    fix a perceived problem of lawbreaking
    bicyclists I’d suggest sending a check
    to Massbike marked for bicyclist education.
    Or taking a ride on the Capitol Crescent
    to find out what this bicycling thing is about

    Sorry again.

  49. By Nils on Dec 6, 2012 | Reply

    @Elx3 et al – The cyclist who was killed was a friend of a friend. I don’t believe I was being gratuitously rude or calling anyone a bad person.

    People who are generally non-shitty can still act shitty. I’m sure you’re all very lovely people and totally responsible drivers and citizens. But all I’m seeing from you today is presumptuous, hateful bullshit–not a coherent second side to the argument.

    Sorry. I shouldn’t feed the trolls, I know. I’m done.

  50. By mouth breather on Dec 6, 2012 | Reply

    This is awful. my thoughts go out to his friends and family.

    If I remember correctly, 3 (or 4?) of the 5 deadly collisions this past year involved large trucks (and 2 in the past couple years involved MBTA buses). I know in other places there are calls for truckers (maybe buses too) to come to a complete stop before turning so that smaller vehicles and vulnerable road users are more aware of their intentions and have a better chance to get out of the way – and to install better mirrors that reduce the blind spots (which you cannot completely eliminate). There’s also the move of banning large trucks in high-conflict areas…

    anyway – I think it’s unproductive for us to pass blame and to start discussing ways to prevent this from happening again.

  51. By Justin on Dec 6, 2012 | Reply

    @Nils Hey, I’m really sorry that you knew the person. It was difficult enough for me just riding by the aftermath today.

    I am a Boston biker, but I’m not on this forum often. I guess I misinterpreted the makeup of this community, and so maybe it is inappropriate to be posing the non-cyclist point of view at this moment.

    It just sucks to see so much mutual hatred and disrespect.

  52. By Aaaron Pik on Dec 6, 2012 | Reply

    I’m really sad to hear about this accident. Be safe out there, everyone, no matter how you’re traveling.

  53. By Tombug on Dec 6, 2012 | Reply

    Bottom to all of this, the police are part of the problem instead of the solution

  54. By Elx3 on Dec 6, 2012 | Reply

    @Russ – I don’t find that there’s any real integrity to your response, and it makes me lose any respect that I might have had (were I a Boston cyclist) for your website. Saying that people should restrict their response to some sort of accordance with your website’s views on the issue is a bit strange. Since no full report had been issued it’s weird that you would immediately “use” this news for a promotion of your political opinions, and censor any counter-discussion. You pretend to be supporting the cyclist, but you’re really just appropriating their death (with no real interest in the details by which it came about) for the purposes of your website. Not sure how I got onto this site in the first place, but feel free to delete my comments if you find they don’t jibe well with your personal views.

  55. By Russ on Dec 6, 2012 | Reply

    @Elx3 – If Justin, for example, wants to say that
    Mayor Menino is confused and bicycles shouldn’t
    be allowed on the streets of Boston as it’s just
    too dangerous I’m okay with him posting that here.
    He is a bicyclist of Boston, and this is his forum.
    I wouldn’t agree with that post, but I’d defend
    his right to post it here. He has some knowledge
    of and experience with what he’s posting about,
    he has read forum posts before, and probably shares our sorry and concern at another life lost while bicycling. A non-bicyclist, from another city perhaps, wouldn’t have Justin’s insights. Why
    would they post? (unless they enjoy trolling).

  56. By Jpod2 on Dec 6, 2012 | Reply

    I am really stunned by the backlash that I have experienced today on this forum. “Non cyclists” are unwelcome here? Then why is it that everyone is allowed to post? Make it private if that’s the case and give people memberships.

    I got the distinct impression that everyone on here looks at drivers like they’re the enemy. They’re not. The fact is that we are all on the road, but the road is small. So what happens now – we just designate some space for bikers and everyone’s happy? Well, that would be great if there was still enough room to drive down the street, but there isn’t and accidents happen. To be treated with such disrespect and rudeness really does not warm me at all to your cause and what you are trying to accomplish here in Boston. I also don’t think that it’s fair to be using tax dollars to pay for bike lanes. Drivers pay an excise tax to drive on Massachusetts roads. Perhaps the same concept should be applied to bikers who need funding for better bike lanes.

    It is very sad that people continue to loose their lives. Be smart and bike safely!

  57. By MC on Dec 6, 2012 | Reply

    Jpod2, it’s not that you’re not a cyclist. It’s your ignorance re: the issues that we find so difficult to comprehend. Simply put, you have not given this as much thought as many of the other folks on this forum. If you had, you’d have been at today’s meeting at city hall, fighting to prevent your tax dollars from being spent on (what you’d probably call) unnecessary modifications to Boston’s infrastructure.

    Drivers are not the enemy. The infrastructure is outdated. It needs to be updated, and current laws – for example, the one designed to protect cyclists from illegal right hooks – need to be enforced.

    Educate yourself, foo’.

  58. By JulieM on Dec 6, 2012 | Reply

    Why is it that every time someone is killed on a bike, comments devolve into shit about how craaazy cyclists are? Fact: it is Boston, and our town is filled with those transporting themselves by foot, car, and bike, often in aggressive, oblivious, and sometimes insane ways. But when a pedestrian is killed, people don’t just go on rants about how they are all reckless with their jay-walking ways. And when a motorist is killed, the comments aren’t all “I don’t know what happened in this situation, but let me take the opportunity to tell you that cars should be off the roads because they all run reds and speed and are on phones and are TERRIBLE.” This only happens when some poor person on a bike dies. I often cuss out bikers who blow through reds(as I do with cars). Who cares. TOTALLY irrelevant to this situation. I passed this scene on the T on my way in to work this morning and it was grim. All anyone should be doing is expressing condolences to the victim’s loved ones. And we should be discussing ways to deal with bike safety and 18-wheelers. Those things have all sorts of blind spots, and there is absolutely no room for error if you are on a bike facing one… They are terrifying on a bike, and quite frankly if I were driving one I’d be terrified of hitting a cyclist. I feel like that is the conversation that should be happening. Oh, and @Nils, if you are the Nils I think you are, HUGS!

  59. By MJ on Dec 6, 2012 | Reply

    My heart goes out to the cyclist and to the driver of the truck. I work for this company but drive a straight truck. I hated the days I had to drive in Boston. Ive seen cars, trucks, cyclists and pedestrians act out illegally. Some of you are acting like this truck took an illegal right turn and purposefully hit the cyclist. I’ve hit cars this way. You put on your directional and have to make a proper wide right turn. Cars and cyclists speed up not paying attention. Lets not make this a finger pointing incident. Unfortunately, someone lost their life and a professional driver has to deal with the death of this young man whether his fault or the drivers. That is why they call them accidents. Everyone blames the truck. Try to get behind the wheel and travel streets to earn your living in a city not meant for tractor trailers. People think trucks are easy to maneuver and stop. An average car weighs 3,000 lbs, that truck completely empty weighs 25,000 lbs but cars, pedestrians and bicyclists expect them to stop with pin point precision when a car cannot. Trust me, professional drivers in tractor trailers are constantly looking at their surroundings because we know, one wrong move can kill. I just wish everyone realized this.
    May he rest in peace and I’m heart sick about his family’s loss. But I also have a weak heart for the driver because even if his is found not at fault, he may never get behind the wheel of a truck again. Very sad day for everyone. Stop pointing fingers, lets work towards a solution.

  60. By Kurt on Dec 6, 2012 | Reply

    What a tragedy. I see both sides of this “argument” because I travel through that intersection every day on my way to and from work–sometimes by car and sometimes by bike. It easy to get mad at other people’s bad driving or riding. Unfortunately, getting made doesn’t help. Take this opportunity to look at your own driving or riding habits and ask whether there’s anything YOU can do be safer. When I drive, I shouldn’t get glancing down at my phone, putting on makeup, or accelerating to make it through a yellow light. When riding, I should stop for red lights, not swerve in and out of the bike lane, and put on my helmet.

    If this unfortunate young man and the unfortunate truck driver had both been focusing 100% of their attention on the dangerous task of navigating Comm Ave, it is unlikely that this sad event would have happened.

    Let’s not make the same mistake ourselves.

  61. By mtalinm on Dec 6, 2012 | Reply

    thank you MJ for your perspective. I was once hit by an 18-wheeler (in my car) who insisted he could not see me and who knows, it may have been true. Such large vehicles must be difficult to operate.

    One thing seems sure – we lack enough information to proclaim, as many above have done, what caused the accident and who was at fault.

    Before y’all flame me, yes I bike to work…

  62. By Pierce on Dec 6, 2012 | Reply

    A thing that seems to evade Jpod2 and so many other non-cyclists is that the vast majority of cyclists are also drivers. We own cars, we use zipcar, we rent cars–most of us drive. WE just also bike too.

    I would never say you are not allowed to read or post on this site, I think your views as a non-cyclist are valid and valuable, but if your agenda is simply to come here, stick your fingers in your ears and shout that we shouldn’t exist, well I don’t know what you think you are going to accomplish. I can only surmise you are looking to piss people off. Oh and surprise, it worked.

    You can be part of the discussion to improve the situation, but if you just want to run your mouth and say bikers should use the roads, that we lack common sense, well I have to think that even you must have better things to do with your life. Go spend your time on something more valuable, we’ll all be better off for it.

  63. By Jason on Dec 7, 2012 | Reply

    I am a veteran bike commuter coming in to Boston from Cambridge, and I can’t tell you how many accidents and near misses I’ve seem from bicyclists passing fast on the right. It’s the most dangerous thing we do.

    The coroner can’t give you your life back just because you were in a bike lane. If you have to pass on the right, go slow.

  64. By mouth breather on Dec 7, 2012 | Reply

    ok – the main things that are now bothering me are:

    what is an 18-wheeler doing on comm ave during rush hour?
    why was he turning onto st. paul street (which is very narrow with low trees – no obvious destinations except maybe a cut-through?)?
    why are 18-wheeler’s even allowed on streets with lots of opportunities for these kinds of conflict? where was that truck coming from?

    I’m beginning to think that maybe that 18-wheeler doesn’t belong there…

  65. By Justin on Dec 7, 2012 | Reply

    @mouth breather: Ya, I don’t have any clue regarding St. Paul. Doesn’t make a ton of sense. As far as 18-wheelers on Comm Ave, though, at least one possible reason would be Shaws, Barnes & Noble, and other big stores along that route. They have to get their shipments, and smaller trucks probably don’t do the trick.

    With that in mind, I don’t understand why non-peak hours wouldn’t be preferable.

  66. By Chris on Dec 7, 2012 | Reply

    According to the channel 7 news – and this matches all of the pictures – the truck driver was turning right FROM THE FAR LEFT LANE.

    That, by itself, is illegal and dangerous at any time – let alone in the middle of rush hour. Write him up for reckless driving, as an absolute minimum – then we’ll discuss the homicide charges.

  67. By Chris on Dec 7, 2012 | Reply

    A semi is literally the most infrequent vehicle on comm ave. It is also the biggest, the loudest, and the slowest vehicle on comm ave. How does this happen? I truly don’t understand. I bike that route every single day. I get cars not using turn signals, but still…. I don’t get it.

  68. By mtalinm on Dec 7, 2012 | Reply

    a semi could only make a right-hand turn at a tight intersection from the left lane. try it from the right lane sometime. it’s not what you think

  69. By Rebecca on Dec 7, 2012 | Reply

    I am a Boston driver and a Boston cyclist. I drive my car frequently down Comm. Ave and I bicycle frequently down Comm. Ave. I have been doing it for decades.

    Sure there are cyclists that blow through red lights. Mostly what I see when cyclists do go through a red is that they stop and then go if they see the way is clear. Why, because they want to get some space between themselves and the cars.

    Bicyclists have a 360 degree field of vision, a car driver’s field of vision is very limited, even more so with doodads hanging from their rear view mirrors or a GPS stuck to their windshield blocking their view.

    A bicyclist that blows through a red light is only putting him/herself in danger. I think drivers are just jealous, because it is harder for them to get away with that particular infraction. ALL the time, all Boston drivers run yellow lights and frequently enter an intersection after the light has turned red if they feel that they should have made the light after waiting an interminable time. That’s why it is never safe to jump a green light here in Boston.

    If you are a cyclist, and cross at the same time with pedestrians going in the same direction, giving them priority of course, and have seen with absolute certainty that there are no car drivers about to run their yellow or red light and enter the intersection, then it is safe for a cyclist to proceed before the light turns green.

    Car drivers are generally allowed to turn right on red. And they do so, in a continuous stream, even when pedestrians have a walk signal. On some streets downtown it is impossible to cross at a walk signal without waiting for a few light cycles or a bunch of pedestrians to boldly step off the curb and make their way across. I’m thinking Atlantic Avenue where traffic is getting on or off the Expressway, or Huntington Avenue at Longwood Avenue.

    Car drivers fiddle with their car radios, cell phones, cups of coffee, eat their take-out food while driving on these streets. I have had many, many long, chatty phone calls with friends only to discover at the end of the call that they were driving the whole time. That makes me very angry. They are a tremendous hazard to cyclists.

    ALL the time cars will speed up to pass a cyclist only to right hook that cyclist right away at the intersection. Car drivers all the time open car doors from within the car without looking for cyclists and even open car doors to enter the car when they clearly see a cyclist coming.

    Cars regularly speed down city streets. In Europe, the speed limit in the city is 18 mph. We need to stop prioritizing cars in our public space. Cars should not be given multiple traffic lanes and parking/ storage lanes on city streets. We should not be ensuring the smooth flow of car traffic above people on bikes or on foot.

    Historically, streets have been public spaces and cars were merely guests. Car drivers are bullies and react in an abominable, knee jerk rage when they see any public space being taken back from them and proportioned in a more equitable fashion.

    My pet peeves about cyclists? Passing me on the right in a bike lane and biking towards me on major city roads. Those are the only things that I can think of at the moment that affect my safety, oh and biking on busy sidewalks in business districts, why would they just not get off and walk, and riding through a throng of pedestrians in the crosswalk.

    I have NEVER felt endangered by a cyclist during the 40 years I have been driving a car. I do think I am a better driver because I bike here regularly and I think I am a better cyclist because I drive a car all the time here in Boston. Though I have to break this bad habit of speeding up when I see a yellow light whether I am driving or biking!

    Why my tirade on the day of this tragedy? I am sick and tired of the whining and the nasty comments that are incredulously said after a bicyclist is killed and wanted to give a perspective on the real culprits of danger, the 4,000 pound car!

  70. By Michele on Dec 7, 2012 | Reply

    I drive this road every day and when I saw the ambulances yesterday morning I knew in an instant exactly what had happened.

    Painting a green path down the side of the road does not make a bike lane! The way the road is designed here leaves no room for error, for the drivers or the cyclists, and with that many people someone is always going to make a mistake.

    Rather than focusing on the mistakes people make I think it would be more useful to pressure the city to redesign these intersections so that they can be navigated more safely. Why do I have to cross a busy cycle lane to get over the BU bridge? Can we have turning lanes to tell drivers when to go and when to have cyclists go?

    I fully support cyclists on Commonwealth Ave but it cannot be beyond the wit of man to design this stretch of road safely. Driver or cyclist error can never be eliminated completely and the consequences of a momentary lapse in your attention or field of vision on this part of road is horrendous.

    Such a sad death.

  71. By Erik on Dec 7, 2012 | Reply

    So…if a vehicle’s size prevents it from making a legal turn, is it allowed to make that turn? There’s a pervasive attitude that practicality trumps the law (and safe driving) in our fair city. Semis making turns from the left lane. Buses taking the right-of-way when turning and merging. Delivery vehicles parking in bike lanes, traffic lanes, and no-stopping zones. Taxis overflowing out of taxi stands blocking traffic.

    All of these actions seem to present a serious hazard, particularly to cyclists. But the attitude of “I need to do this, and so I’ll do it and everyone else can just deal with it” is so pervasive that it’s a wonder why we have these rules.

    Many of these drivers rightly point out that the only way they can do their job is by breaking these laws. Cyclists often focus on improving cycling infrastructure, but as incidents like this illustrate, improving motor vehicle infrastructure (e.g., more loading zones) can help cyclists stay safe as well.

    Oh, and enforcement. We need that too. Rebecca says motorists are jealous that cyclists get to go through reds with impunity. Well, it’s only because most motorists don’t have the balls to try–there’s effectively zero traffic enforcement outside of meter maids and targeted stings.

  72. By Justin on Dec 7, 2012 | Reply

    Thought I’d share my experience of biking through the intersection this morning around 8:50. I pulled up to the red light with approximately 5 other cyclists. There was a small cluster of flowers on the sidewalk off to my right. Ironically, there was a Ross truck (not an 18-wheeler, a smaller trailer) waiting in the left lane with its right blinker on. Immediately on the other side of the intersection, there were two taxis blocking off about 15-20ft of the bike line, forcing all 6 cyclists to make our way out into traffic once the light turned green. Within moments of returning to the relative safety of the bike lane, some oblivious person opened her car door fully immediately in front of the cycling pack.

    So I guess this experience kind of serves as a representative example of what’s wrong with the infrastructure and what effect that has, from the cyclist’s point of view at least.

    @Erik I understand your frustration, and I think that’s an interesting connection you make between the delivery trucks, buses, and taxis all feeling like they need to occupy the bike lane in order to do their job. Honestly, I don’t blame them for that specifically (I blame taxis for a lot of other things as they are clearly the most reckless and disrespectful drivers, as a group, in Boston) as I think many of us would probably be forced to do the same if employed in that position. For example, what do the taxis do if not occupy the bike lane? Try to find a parking spot (impossible)? Sit in the middle of the car lane (no better)?
    Just not pick up fares on Commonwealth Ave (that sounds profitable)?

    I suspect that I am way behind the curve in this argument, but as Erik said, it all comes down to infrastructural changes. I enjoyed reading what you had to say, Rebecca, but I think we’re well past modeling Boston after a European city or any city where car traffic isn’t heavily relied upon. If widening bike lanes, putting them on the other side of parked cars, or moving them to the sidewalks is not structurally or financially feasible, then clearly the city has to start addressing the issue from another angle. More designated loading zones, more taxi stands, and steep fines for anything from blindly opening your car door to traffic violations (cyclists and drivers). I still remember my first ticket for driving 85mph on Rt 2. I was 16, I almost pissed myself, and it cost me $350. That’s deterrence.

  73. By Rebecca on Dec 7, 2012 | Reply

    Cyclist have been ticketed lately for going through red lights. Historically, bicycles had existed in a grey area. Many cyclists have a closer relationship to pedestrians. We can hop on and off our bicycles easily and become a pedestrian. Car drivers can’t do that! The speed of many cyclists generally are more similar to the speed of a jogger. Pedestrians all the time, here in Boston at least, cross a street whether or not they have a green light if no car is coming. Better to do that then wait for the light and have all those right-turning cars endangering the pedestrian. I will say that car drivers speed through yellow lights with impunity even though the law states that you are required to stop if it is safe to do so. Never, ever have I heard of a driver getting a ticket for speeding up to make it through a yellow light!

    Nor have I heard of a driver being ticketed for being a distracted driver. Distracted drivers are a deadly threat to cyclists and pedestrians.

    The tractor trailer truck driver was executing his turn correctly, I took a lot of photos at the scene that can document this. However, tractor trailer trucks do not belong on city streets. They need to be banned from them. Let them unload their goods onto smaller delivery trucks at the trucking areas at the exits of our freeways. Looking into the open backs of trucks when they are unloading, I have noticed that they are less than a quarter full.

  74. By Matt on Dec 7, 2012 | Reply

    As a biker from Belmont to MIT (every day now for nearly 4 years)….this kind of accident is truly a biker’s worst nightmare. He was traveling down the bike path, going with traffic, and had a green light ahead of him. Meanwhile a huge truck is sitting in the far left lane, attempting to turn right. The truck driver is likely looking in his right side mirror, or even worse looking behind him directly, and only looking for cars. Maybe the light turns yellow, or maybe he just sees a small opening, so he guns it to make the turn when he can….and never ever sees the biker. The biker has no chance, and barely even sees what hits him. By the time he knows what’s going on, it’s over. Just terrifying.

  75. By Matt on Dec 7, 2012 | Reply

    And by the way, maybe the top 3 dangers (as I’ve seen them) involve things like this:

    1) Is a car that passes you and then cuts you off to turn right. They either think they can easily make it, or don’t care, or never even saw you.

    2) A car coming the othe way wants to turn left. There’s traffic stopped in the direction you are biking, but one car creates a gap so the other can can make their turn. They never see you, and turn right into you.

    3) Traffic is stopped, and a frustrated driver sees a side street and says, “Screw it, I’m getting out of this jam,” and they gun it and never stop to look for a bike.

    Bottom line, the scariest is when you bike by a side road – can be a full intersection, or just a road that goes off to your right.

  76. By Alan (Uncle Robot) on Dec 7, 2012 | Reply

    After 40 years of urban cycling – 25 in Boston – and habits of paranoid defensiveness and maximizing my visibility, this manslaughter terrifies me. I know that nothing I do would have saved me. I say manslaughter as that truck driver should have slowed to a crawl before making the turn. We need a Critical Mass ride down Comm Ave – imagine a thousand cyclists owning the road.

  77. By Rachel_on_a_bike on Dec 7, 2012 | Reply

    2 deaths within 2 miles of my apartment in 1 month. This is very sad, and my heart goes out to this guy’s family and friends.

    On my ride to work this morning, I ran into a cyclist riding head-on on the wrong side of the road, as well as a driver who cut me off to take a right turn without a blinker (both incidents on Longwood Ave.). This one, short 3 mile ride shows that both riders and drivers sometimes ignore the rules of the road. I don’t think anyone here is arguing that cyclists shouldn’t obey the laws, but I think we’re arguing that drivers too have some responsibility to bear if we’re to share the road. I think @Erin finally arrived at something constructive, by saying “Maybe both signs should be there.” She’s right, the faults in these kinds of run-in’s can lie on both sides, and it seems to me that both sides need to take ownership of the problems to make riding and driving in Boston a whole lot less stressful for everyone.

    Have the findings of the investigation from the last crash in Allston come out yet? I’m also curious how the meeting yesterday went and what’s going into make our streets safer. I am admittedly fairly new to this blog, but do they typically have those kinds of meetings during the day, when most commuters probably can’t be there?

  78. By mouth breather on Dec 7, 2012 | Reply

    @justin – back in HS I used to work at a grocery store in the midwest (which has way more space on the roads) – and even they received their shipments after hours because an 18-wheeler would have caused problems for people getting in and out of the parking lot. maybe it’s the blue laws around here?

    anyway – I think only one of the fatalities this past year actually involved a car – and that driver was drunk. the rest appear to be trucks (of varying size) and buses (even the death in wellesley it was a full-size pick-up). and it seems like fatalities in other years almost always involve conflict with larger vehicles. remember that doctor who was killed on his scooter a few years ago? dragged under an 18-wheeler. the recent death near MIT? 18-wheeler. two recent deaths with MBTA buses (one was clearly just a horrible accident)… and the south boston incident the truck wasn’t even supposed to be on that street. There have been many conflicts with cars this past year, but it appears you’re more likely to survive with a car. I’d be very interested to see the statistics for ped/cyclist deaths in the boston area over the past decade or so and see just how many of these involved large vehicles.

    I think the bike-related fatalities in NYC this year also mostly involved large trucks and municipal vehicles. even in meccas like copenhagen, their fatalities almost always involve large trucks (often clipping corners and riding over cycle tracks). I know Dublin, Ireland, has completely banned large trucks from the central city for this reason.

    so – I think a couple things – educating cyclists about the dangers of larger vehicles (don’t play leapfrog with a bus!), and figuring out a way to get these larger vehicles out of places they can do the most damage – clearly they’re the most dangerous thing out there – even if the driver was being as safe as he could have been, comm ave is no place for an 18-wheeler.

  79. By sunfighter17 on Dec 7, 2012 | Reply

    I have been biking in Boston for over 42 years. My only accident involving a vehicle was last year when I was doored by a passenger in a cab in the travel lane. I attribute my safety to strong legs, awareness of the rules of the road, willingness to take the lane when necessary, and a high degree of paranoid alertness.

    I came across yesterday’s tragic accident scene on foot about 20 minutes after it happened. It seemed to me that a cyclist should have been able to avoid hitting the huge truck unless he was going way too fast and not paying attention. A tweet told me he was not wearing a helmet. But later I read comments by the victim’s roommate that he was not a crazy cyclist and took safety seriously. Then, today I read that he _was_ wearing a helmet. So, now I’m even more disturbed and I really want to know exactly what happened. This could have happened to me.

    I don’t believe there are any signs regarding bike laws anywhere in the city. In Allston, we need signs in Portuguese and Spanish.

    I also just want to say that I’ve never seen any real traffic enforcement by Boston Police in 40 years. Boston seems to have a “don’t tread on me” philosophy regarding enforcement, perhaps going back to Sam Adams’ time.

    At this year’s Bike Summit, I was dismayed to hear city officials object to the demand for more enforcement with a comment that “that would be too heavy-handed”. This attitude needs to change if we want our streets to be safer.

  80. By Erik on Dec 7, 2012 | Reply

    Classic, classic BPD…the day after this incident, the head of the BPD’s bicycling safety unit is quoted saying “we want there to be some bite to [fines for cycling illegally].”

  81. By Alan (Uncle Robot) on Dec 7, 2012 | Reply

    My letter to the Boston Globe:

    Thanks to Brian McGrory for writing about the tragic death of bicyclist Chris Weigl, but no thanks for his suggestion that Chris may have been partly at fault for “rushing”. I agree that too many cyclists violate the laws and common sense but as an urban cyclist/commuter for over 40 years – 25 in Boston I know that nothing would have saved me from this tragedy. I bicycle at the pace that I can, or as traffic allows and I practice defensiveness every second of my travel, including maximizing my visibility. However, the truck driver executed a sharp fast right turn from the far left lane and could have also killed a pedestrian or motorist. I want the Boston District Attorney to press manslaughter charges to set an example for the squadrons of dangerous drivers roaming the city streets

  82. By Justin on Dec 7, 2012 | Reply

    This is neither here nor there, but since we’re on the topic of cops’ prejudices… On Thursday, about 1 block before the accident came into view, there was a cop directing traffic. I pulled up ahead of traffic at a light (as I normally do to make myself visible), to which the cop responded “Hey, that’s a red light”. Okay, kind of obnoxious, but I brushed it off. Then, nicely, I say “excuse you, but what’s going on up there?” to which he gruffly replies “a cyclist ran a red light, and that’s putting it nicely”.

    Whether he actually had any insight on the sequence of events, I guess we can speculate. I was more taken aback by his demeanor.

  83. By Justin on Dec 7, 2012 | Reply

    correction: I nicely said “excuse me, but what’s going on up there”

  84. By sunfighter17 on Dec 7, 2012 | Reply

    Alan: nowhere have I read of any eyewitness saying the truck executed a “sharp fast right turn”. Where did you get that?

  85. By Erik on Dec 7, 2012 | Reply

    @sunfighter17: an eyewitness was quoted in the Herald: “You should have seen it … he [the cyclist] couldn’t react to it.” I assume that’s how Alan got to his description.

  86. By DKB on Dec 9, 2012 | Reply

    So, is there any definite info yet about:
    1. Did the truck driver make a sudden and fast turn into St Paul Street?
    2. Did the cyclist have a reasonable opportunity to react to the turning truck and avoid it?
    3. Was the cyclist going at the same speed as traffic or much faster?
    4. Did the bike have an effective brake?

  87. By sunfighter17 on Dec 9, 2012 | Reply

    Those are the right questions, but I have not heard the answers.

  88. By Christian on Dec 20, 2012 | Reply

    First I would like to extend my deepest sympathies to the family and friends of this young man. Any death is tragic but one so young makes it much worse.
    I am a coworker of the driver involved, and I can tell you that he is devistated, he is beside himself with grief over the death of this young man. we have tried to console him but to avail. Seeing his pain and grief makes me wonder what his family and friends must be going through. Believe me when I say that we all are very saddened over the events of that day. I can only hope and pray that his family friends find some kind of peace and closure. I believe that God has a plan for us all, are calling is just at different times. My company does not know that I am writting this. I just felt the need to let you all know how we all feel. May God look after you and comfort you in time of sorrow.

  89. By brad on Dec 25, 2012 | Reply

    About 45 years ago my drivers education instructor impressed upon me that no matter how good a driver you think you “are”, (Even if you’ve driven 500,000 miles without incident). If the last car/truck ride you make ends in taking of another persons life, what consolation is it if you were a good driver most of the time? The cost of having an absolutely spotless driving record and clear conscience is eternal vigilance.

    The educationally positive and most effective things I remember about my drivers ed class were the numerous varied examples of how thoughtful,considerate and worthy of emulation were the safe driving practices of the American truck driver’s on our highways.
    (Car drivers without drivers education or truck driver training were portrayed as less informed fools destined for multiple accidents and possible death because of their reckless uninformed behaviors,

    For instance, of the approx. 50,000 USA traffic deaths /year in the 1960’s and 70’s, 50% of those could be attributed to alcohol consumption)
    M.A.D.D. (mothers against drunk driving helped bring the stats down by 15,000,but…

    I hope that if there are concepts that today’s truck drivers need to be informed/educated about regarding safe urban driving I hope the truck driving industry as a whole takes on that responsibility to lead the way towards safer city streets.

    This past year on other blogs, I have been impressed by the knowledge and patience of several bicyclists in explaining their understanding of what it takes to drive a bicycle safely and responsibly in the city.

    Most motorist’s seem to have no clue why certain bicyclist leave the supposed safety of far right extremity of a lane to proactively prevent the “lethal right hook”.

    Uneducated motorists who may have even taken drivers ed many years ago, view cyclists who are “Claiming a lane” as scoflaws-who-need-to-be-scolded, they have no idea that it is an effective cyclist technique to reduce the ambiguity for the trailing vehicles.

    Claiming a lane,symbolically informs others (by their lane position) that the cyclist is not turning right at the intersection, but going straight thru.

    It sucks that most motorists with 10 or more years of driving experience don’t understand the principle of lane positioning as used by effective cyclist’s when they claim a lane.

    One last thought before I close, (remember I am speaking as an experienced motorist,with drivers ed training that focused on idealizing truck driver’s and how hard their job is)…With my experience and training I started off believing I would have easily recognized what that truck was doing that day. Unlike the other motorists who started off with their insensitive (or uneducated) comments, I made a point of bicycling that downhill section of comm ave 2 days ago and realize that besides worrying about passing cars, the cyclist needs to be equally attentive to the possibility of being “doored” on the right and knocked into car traffic. So maybe I wouldn’t have had the excess faculties to even notice a truck in the left lane let alone have the time to look for a directional blinker to reduce the slight ambiguity of a truck in the left lane taking a sudden right…

    be well
    drive safe

  90. By brad on Dec 25, 2012 | Reply

    the url below will bring you to very good photo’s and superimposed graphics to explain why a photojournalists work is needed on that stretch of comm ave.
    I hope the deceased photojournalist Christopher Weigl would approve of the work that is being done and will continue to be needed in order to focus needed improvements to cycling’s infrastructure.

    In my mind I can see how the average motorist who has never ridden A BIKE in a bike lane (and felt the danger) would think cyclists are crazy to ride outside of the supposed safety zone. In fact when a cyclist legitimately leaves a bike lane for safety , many motorist will use that rational behavior to defend a belief that cyclists are not capable of being part of the urban traffic mix.

  91. By brad on Dec 25, 2012 | Reply

    Early this morning I found the url below which has very good photo’s and superimposed graphics to explain how dangerous bike lanes can be. I hope the deceased photojournalist Christopher Weigl would approve ….

    I also hope that future driver’s ed programs will be educated and informed by the work of photojournalists in memory of Christopher

    In my mind I can see how the average motorist who has never ridden in a door zone bikelane and felt the danger would think cyclists are crazy to ride outside of a this supposed safety zone. In fact when a cyclist leaves a bike lane for safety , many motorist will use that rational behavior to defend a belief that cyclists are not capable of being part of the urban traffic mix.

  92. By terry on Dec 27, 2012 | Reply

    Whether or not both truck driver and cyclist were “doing what they were supposed to”, is what I tried to fathom on Dec 23 when I chose to ride the down hill section of Comm. Ave.

    The common practice’s by both truck drivers and cyclists at that particular intersection absolutely needs to be re-examined and re-mediated.

    Most educated and experienced motorists/cyclists know that just before a truck takes a right turn , not to squeeze by on the right. I think experienced motorists and cyclists will agree that the situation that day on Comm Ave invites ambiguity and demands extreme levels of awareness and caution.

    What the truck driver appears to have done is get into the furthest left lane, long before the intersection. For all Chris new , that truck driver was getting situated for a left turn. The truck drivers choice, way before the intersection, is ambiguous at best. I would guess that nine out of 10 car drivers in right lane would have been surprised by that lane position of the truck driver.

    Please read this post from a cyclist last year, titled

    # Rear-ended on 15 Nov 2011 at 7:30 pm

    i was ran over by a woman while riding my bike yesterday. i was in my lane and moved over just a smidge to make a banking right hand turn. she thought i was going left and soon as i moved over went to pass me. she following way to close and i actually turned into her not realizing she was right there as she should have waited till i was more than finished with my turn to speed up. her trailblazer sucked my bike under the front wheel and she ran over my foot. think again when you think about passing too closely to a bicyclist. im about to go after her for my extensive hopsital bills..

  93. By Rebecca on Dec 27, 2012 | Reply

    Too bad that you can’t “like” comments at this site. I really liked what brad had to say, especially this – “besides worrying about passing cars, the cyclist needs to be equally attentive to the possibility of being “doored” on the right and knocked into car traffic. So maybe I wouldn’t have had the excess faculties to even notice a truck in the left lane let alone have the time to look for a directional blinker to reduce the slight ambiguity of a truck in the left lane taking a sudden right…”

    Cars have no clue as to why I may not be riding in the bike lane. There should be some awareness education for car drivers.

  94. By terry on Dec 28, 2012 | Reply


    I agree that Brad’s analysis is spot on for how difficult the task is for a cyclist riding in a DZBL (door zone bike lane). John Allen (author of “Street Smart’s”)estimates that a bicyclist can not travel safely in a DZBL if they exceed 5mph.

    In 2009 the a critique of Door Zone Bike Lanes in Cambridge was published.

    There is a picture within it that I couldn’t cut and paste but if you look at page 8, notice the recommendation to paint 5 foot long crosses in the door zone.(I agree with the 5 foot distance but would prefer a graphic to be more bold )

    As Brad implied above, we all could use:
    ” photo’s and superimposed graphics to explain how dangerous bike lanes can be. I hope the deceased photojournalist Christopher Weigl would approve ….
    I also hope that future driver’s ed programs will be educated and informed by the work of photojournalists in memory of Christopher”

    … motorists have not been well educated about opening their doors into traffic, a more
    serious foible is that many bicyclists are ignorant of the hazards of riding in the Door Zone. But a far more egregious failing is that professional bicycle planners are not held accountable for the hazard of Door Zone Bike Lanes that they knowingly create.

  95. By terry on Dec 28, 2012 | Reply

    I wish I could cut and paste to share a photo of what is called the best example of a
    bike lane outside of the door zone. The url is for those interested in seeing the picture: or just read the rational below for learning another way to drive

    The blue bike lane shown in Fig. 2 represents the best of a bad practice. The lane seems to be far enough from the curb, thus it avoids the door zone of parked cars. By running left of the right turn lane in the distance, it puts straight-through (but not turning) cyclists in the correct location. Finally, it has adequate room.
    Fig. 2 — Bike lane [1]

    However, even a “best” bike lane encourages mistakes. The bike lane stripe encourages cyclists to stay to the right and motorists to stay left, even when the rules of the road require otherwise. If a fast cyclist (perhaps descending a hill) catches up to a slow car, there is a tempting clear channel for passing in the motorist’s blind spot. This can lead to a collision if the motorist turns into a driveway or parking spot while the bicycle is passing.

    Separate facilities attract beginners. (This is one of the reasons that “bicycle advocates” push for the facilities.) Beginners often turn left directly from a bike lane without first merging to the left turn lane and without yielding to overtaking traffic (the “shooting gallery” approach). We have also heard of beginners making right turns from this type of bike lane by swerving across right-turning traffic,

    Even knowledgeable cyclists, who know enough to merge to the proper place on the road to make a turn or to avoid hazards, experience trouble from separate bicycle facilities because they encourage motorist resentment. Some motorists become vigilantes, harassing any cyclist not in “his place”. The existence of a designated “bike route” on one road makes it very difficult to convince city officials to make improvements or repairs on a parallel route. Separate facilities make educating cyclists much more difficult.

  96. By Antoine on Jan 12, 2013 | Reply

    Some of you noticed that the driver was over in the left lane, this is a nessesary evil for a truck to make a
    right turn on city streets without running over the sidewalk As a trucker i have always said that they
    need to ban all 53 and 48 foot trailers from operating within city limits while allowing only shorter (pup) trailers to navigate
    city streets.

  97. By Paul Schimek on Jan 14, 2013 | Reply

    Antoine: It’s one thing to swing a bit wide, it’s another to start the turn 40 feet to the left of the curb.

    If it’s necessary to break the law by starting in the left lane, then you need to have someone go out and make sure traffic is stopped, just like they do when a truck needs to back up into a tight space in the city.

  98. By brad on Feb 6, 2013 | Reply

    Term “Necessary Evil” in this instance reveals collateral damage on our streets (by some drivers) as acceptable.

    I drove a truck 30 something years ago when I was the age of Christopher Weigl and did not know how to stand up to my boss (for a summer job) and say “NO,that is not safe”.
    The truck I drove far too many miles that summer , should have been in the shop to remedy the 180 degrees of play in the steering wheel. I am fortunate that I never lost control of the vehicle and hit a person , animal or another truck.

    The truck I drove never should have been issued an inspection sticker. As I got older I came to realize the political necessities to reign the freedom of the most dangerous vehicles on the road. Counting on drivers like me, to make the best of a bad situation is not acceptable.

    I hope BTD (Boston Transportation Dept.) will develop a truck route for safer access to loading docks on all city streets. There are several routes much safer than St Paul Street.

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