City Releases Crash Statistics: Mayor Proposes Mandatory Helmet Law

Written by Boston Biker on May 16

As a follow-up to City Councilor Ayanna Pressley’s hearing in December 2012, the City of Boston’s Crash Data Report has finally come out. You can find the report at the following URL:

highlights include this lovely opening from the Mayor.

Dear Fellow Bostonians,

During the summer and fall of 2012, our city experienced five fatal bicycle incidents that led to this report. Through detailed analysis of four years of police report data, City officials will have concrete information with which to make the roadways safer for vulnerable users. This document will help us smartly apply our resources to continue improving our streets using the “six E’s of bicycle planning”: Engineering, Education, Enforcement, Encouragement, Evaluation, and Equity.

Since the City of Boston bicycle program launched in 2007, we have gone from being called one of the worst cities for cycling in the country to one of the best. The addition of nearly 60 miles of on-street bicycle facilities, hundreds of new bike racks, and the overwhelmingly successful New Balance Hubway bike share program has brought cycling into the mainstream here in Boston. Boston is well on its way to becoming a world-class cycling city. The bicycle has become a critical part of our transportation system.

Boston streets are full of people commuting to work and school, families enjoying a weekend ride together, and every type of rider in-between. This spirited resurgence of the bicycle has placed our city streets in a time of transit ion, from one dependent upon cars, to one embracing more active transportation options. Transitions can be difficult.

The close-knit community among cyclists continues to impress me. When one member of the community suffers from a terrible incident, the degree of separation to all cyclists is not far. We must work tirelessly and collaboratively to continue improving the safety of our streets. This report will help guide the process of continuing to grow Boston’s vibrant bicycle community.

Thomas M. Menino
Mayor, City of Boston

But what really seems to have some in a tizzy is the notion of a mandatory helmet law being proposed by the mayors office.

Helmets are very useful in reducing injury to your head AFTER the accident occurs. Having a helmet on will reduce your chances of getting brain damage once the car has run into you, but wont keep it from hitting you in the first place. Or from the street being full of pot holes, or from poorly designed intersections, or red light runners etc.

One can only assume at the behest of the Boston Public Health Commission. The BPH seems to be obsessed with helmets, something I (and many others) have disagreed with in the past.

The whole thing is full of statistics here is just a taste:

74% of people are already wearing helmets

21 is the age most likely to be in a crash

Most crashes happen at 5pm

The report is well worth a read, read it all here.  Leave your thoughts, findings, statistical analysis in the comments.

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Posted in advocacy, infrastructure, news | 3 Comments »

3 Responses to “City Releases Crash Statistics: Mayor Proposes Mandatory Helmet Law”

  1. By Erik on May 17, 2013 | Reply

    I was surprised to see bicycles “speeding” listed as a factor in about 5% of all crashes.

    I think there could be some creative solutions to the problem of people being doored by people exiting cabs. You just have to prevent or at least delay egress on the non-curb side, for example, by locking the doors on the traffic side. The challenge is to implement something like this that’s (a) cost-effective and (b) doesn’t impact the safety of taxi passengers.

    All-in-all, I think it’s very telling that the BPD is still in the “we don’t understand how bike accidents happen” phase.

  2. By john on May 17, 2013 | Reply

    If Boston wants to prevent more crashes, it should ban cell phone use while driving a vehicle, not just texting, but talking too. It should also remove right hand slingshot lanes like the one on Comm Ave at the BU bridge and the mess at Charles/MGH area leading to the Longfellow Bridge. Both of these would be a huge improvement for pedestrians as well. Finally, bike lanes shouldn’t disappear to create turning lanes like they do along Mass Ave, where cars and trucks all of a sudden are swerving into more lanes (and speeding up with the available extra lane) while bicyclists are left in the middle of the mess.

    If Menino just wants to pretend to care about bicyclists while still maintaing his car-first agenda, then responding to 5 cyclists being killed by drivers by implying blame on cyclists with the helmet law makes sense.

  3. By KillMoto on May 18, 2013 | Reply

    More people get head injuries walking, driving/riding in cars, and in the bath tub than biking. I would support mandatory helmet laws for all cyclists only after implemented for the aforementioned other three activities.

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