Cyclist Struck And Killed At Beacon and Charlesgate

Written by Boston Biker on May 19

(via)

Apparently she was struck by a dump truck.

This afternoon, MIT visiting scientist Dr. Kanako Miura, 36, died in a bicycle accident in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood. Miura was a native of Japan and had been at MIT since the fall of 2012. Within MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), Miura worked in the laboratory of Russ Tedrake, an associate professor of computer science and engineering. (via)

At about 3:34pm, on Sunday, May 19, 2013, officers from District D-4 (South End) responded to an accident involving a motor vehicle and a female bicyclist. On arrival, officers located a female victim suffering from what appeared to be life threatening injuries. As a result of injuries suffered in the accident, the bicyclist, a female in her early twenties, was pronounced deceased at the scene.
Detectives – assigned to the Boston Police Department’s Accident Reconstruction Team – are currently investigating the facts and circumstances surrounding this accident. At present, the cause of the accident is still under investigation and no violations have been issued at this time. (via)

On Sunday afternoon at about 3:30, a 20-year-old woman was either riding her bicycle or walking beside it when she was struck by a truck, police said. The woman was pronounced dead at the scene. There was a mangled bike found about a mile from the crash scene on Bay State Road. “It’s really a bad intersection, ” one resident said, describing the corner of Beacon Street and Charlesgate West, where the crash occurred. There is a bike lane on Beacon Street, but police said the woman was hit by a truck that did not stop. Investigators are trying to identify the driver of the truck involved in the incident. “People just don’t care anymore,” another resident said. “They are in such a hurry; they don’t care who they hit at all.” Police pulled over two trucks after the crash but they would not confirm whether either vehicle was involved in the incident. “It’s very scary; I live right next-door. I hope they honor the victim by making the road safer,” a resident said. As of Sunday night, police had not made any arrest or issued any violations.(via)

our hearts go out to her family and friends, more information when I get it. Of all the cyclist fatalities in the last two years, nearly all of them have been caused by large trucks. Perhaps its time the city does something about this.


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21 Responses to “Cyclist Struck And Killed At Beacon and Charlesgate”

  1. By DKB on May 20, 2013 | Reply

    I gather there was only one accident and that the victim was only IDed after she was already reported to have been younger than she actually was. Lots of questions come to mind; What were the circumstances? How did the bike get carried so far?

  2. By KillMoto on May 20, 2013 | Reply

    “At present, the cause of the accident is still under investigation…”
    This sentence makes no sense.

    Not to detract from the senseless killing of a human being killed in broad daylight for no reason, but… if the cause of an incident/wreck/crash/killing/rollover, etc. is being investigated, then ipso facto the cause has not been determined yet. “Accident” is a determination of cause.

    It probably seems infantile to rant about one simple word – but this particular word lets us all pretend that roadway killings “just happen” and there’s nothing the poor driver could have done to prevent it.

    Please refrain from using that word unless a thorough investigation has determined there were no driver or victim mistakes, deferred maintenance, or adverse pavement conditions as a cause – in other words, unless this was truly an accident.

  3. By DKB on May 20, 2013 | Reply

    Those things you mention all contribute to ACCIDENTS. Calling an event an “accident” does not mean that no one screwed up, only that it didn’t happen on purpose. It seems likely that someone here was negligent, maybe even criminally negligent, but that doesn’t mean that someone caused this crash deliberately.

  4. By gneiss on May 20, 2013 | Reply

    DKB – you are completely wrong. Accidents are considered acts of god – unavoidable consequences of a tragic world. A tree branch falling on a person is an accident. This incident was a crash – human beings, from the engineer of the roadway to the driver of the truck miscalculated and now someone is dead as a result. Just because someone didn’t set out that morning to kill someone doesn’t mean their actions are an ‘accident’.

  5. By DKB on May 20, 2013 | Reply

    gneiss: You’re entitled to define and use words any way you like, but communication is promoted when you use the same definitions as everyone else. Check a dictionary or talk to your friends. When the cops fill out an “accident report” they don’t put “God” in the at-fault field.

  6. By gneiss on May 20, 2013 | Reply

    That’s why police are changing the name of their reports from ‘accident’ to ‘collision’. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/11/nyregion/collision-replacing-accident-for-nyc-police-traffic-crash-squad.html?_r=0.

  7. By KillMoto on May 20, 2013 | Reply

    Indeed. Pending the outcome of a thorough inquiry, it is actually more correct to call this event a “homicide” than it is to call it an “accident”, according to the dictionary definition.

    But you’ve made my point most eloquently DKB. The author of the original article was not alone in misusing the word – but rather, near everybody does it. We get so used to calling unattributed roadway mayhem “accidents”. This in turn inexorably leads to this: http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/2013/02/15/cyclists-react-with-anger-after-grand-jury-returns-indictment-wellesley-bike-crash-case/NbaHbWRHk7fpez15fKGZhI/story.html. I’ll bet more than one grand jury member thought to themselves “Making that poor truck driver stand trial is useless. It was only an accident.”

    Don’t feel bad, you’re in good company. Even Merriam-Webster gets it wrong (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/accident) with their example “The accident happened when her car slid on a patch of ice.” A driver sliding their car, presumably leading to a wreck, is not an accident. It is the result of unsafe operation of a vehicle. Drivers are responsible for operating their vehicles in the context of roadway and weather conditions – slowing when it’s dark or foggy, and driving more carefully if there’s a chance of ice.

  8. By Paul Schimek on May 21, 2013 | Reply

    The police said a driver of a vehicle that large would have a difficult time seeing the cyclist. What they mean, apparently, is that the driver couldn’t easily see a bicyclist who moved BESIDE a large truck, not that he could not see when overtaking a bicyclist IN FRONT of him. Now, we don’t know all the facts of this case — no witnesses have been mentioned in any of the press coverage. However, it seems highly likely that this is a case of a right-turning truck hitting a straight-through bicyclist.

    When motorists act with criminal negligence — and get away with it, as in the case of the truck driver in Wellesley, we should be outraged. But this case does not look at all like that one. Here the simplest explanation given the facts is that the driver never saw the bicyclist because she was never in front of him.

    Even if that turns out not to be the case — perhaps if he was overtaking and then immediately turning and decided to run away and then changed his mind and decided to cooperate — the truck right-hook scenario happens often enough in cities, and is so dangerous, that it is our responsibility as bicycling advocates to warn bicyclists to keep away from the side of trucks and buses. “Stay behind, or pass on the left, but never ride alongside a truck or bus.” London and some other places have produced excellent promotional materials about this hazard.

    When a high-profile event such as this happens, with attendant media coverage, and the bicycling community fails to get the message out about passing on the right of trucks, even in a bike lane, then we are acting irresponsibly to our own constituency. To read the front page article in the Boston Globe of May 21, one would have not even the faintest idea that turning heavy vehicles are a known hazard to urban bicycling, and one which is easily preventable by the bicyclist — if only he or she is warned in advance. We failed to warn Kanako Miura. We failed to warn Tanya Connolly, who apparently got too close to the side of a left-turning tractor trailer. We failed to warn Chris Weigl (although in his case, given the truck was starting the turn from the wrong lane, he might not have noticed even if he were aware of the potential danger).

    Providing these warnings is NOT ‘blaming the victim’. We can emphasize that, whatever the details of a particular crash, all parties have responsibilities. Rather than say ‘we need to share the road’, we should offer specific messages:
    - motorists, merge behind a bicyclist, into the bike lane if there is one, BEFORE turning right
    - motorists, yield when turning left or pulling out of a parking space
    - motorists, leave plenty of room when passing, and wait to pass if that’s not possible
    - bicyclists, don’t pass on the right of a vehicle that could turn right, and especially avoid being beside trucks or buses
    - bicyclists, don’t ride the wrong way
    - bicyclists, use lights at night

    Really, those are the most important items. Can we try to get these messages out to prevent more completely avoidable deaths and injuries?

  9. By SJE on May 21, 2013 | Reply

    Paul:
    If a vehicle is designed so that I cannot see bikes, children, pedestrians, etc, then that vehicle should not be operating in a crowded city. There are simple and lo-tech solutions, like trucks that have larger windshields, side barriers to prevent people going under. There is also driver training. The fact that it was a hit and run shows either that the driver had no idea what happened, or he chose to fled. Either situation is horrific.

    As for training people to be more safe: I agree. But that onus should be on the operators of large dangerous vehicles. In a place like Cambridge the reality is that you will have a lot of people coming from all over the world: and these are the people that make Cambridge what it is. It is easier and preferable to train the locals.

  10. By Paul Schimek on May 21, 2013 | Reply

    SJE: bicyclists can be seen by truck drivers, but not if they are in unexpected places. The problem is made worse by ‘bike facility’ designs that discourage bicyclists and motorists from following the rules of the road.

    There is a duty to keep a look out for what is ahead of you, and to say ‘I didn’t see them because I wasn’t looking at the time” is not a valid excuse.

    However, there is no general duty to keep a look out for what is behind you or what is beside you. There is only the duty to move into the proper position before turning, and to yield before changing lanes.

    At this intersection (Beacon Street and Charlesgate West in Boston, not Cambridge), a bicyclist proceeding into the green-painted bike lane on a new green light could easily be crushed by the rear wheels of a truck starting a right turn into Bay State Road.

    This is a deadly trap. On the one hand the bicyclist thinks she has the right of way, and is safe, in the bike lane. On the other hand, the truck driver believes he is making his turn from the right-most lane and does not think he is changing lanes just because there is a green stripe on the roadway. A bicyclist beside him may be completely in a blind spot, even if he attempts to look in the right mirror before starting.

    This is certainly a case where the ‘innovative’ bike facility (with green paint) did nothing to protect the bicyclist, and may well have contributed to the collision (by changing, or at least reinforcing, the bicyclist’s and trucker’s expectations of what they should do in order to go straight and to go right).

    A safer road design would make the right-most lane on Beacon St a right-turn only lane (onto Bay State Road, not Charlesgate), and mark the bike lane to its left.

  11. By gneiss on May 21, 2013 | Reply

    Paul – Creating and maintaining an environment where contributory negligence by a victim of a traffic collision to their death is by it’s very nature a harsh and unwelcoming place. Why have like that in the first place? And forcing cyclings to cross left in front (or beside) moving car and truck traffic at an intersection is one of the reasons why people who are risk averse do not bicycle on city streets.

    A safer road design would have been to separate the two facilities and have different light phases for cars and bicycles at the intersection to give each a chance to move independent of the other.

    In addition, why have trucks which are designed with extensive blind spots traveling on city streets in the first place? In a busy environment, people who drive multi-ton vehicles that can kill have a much higher burden of care to prevent fatal accidents then the people around them, particularly vulnerable road uses like those walking and bicycling on city streets. After all, have you ever heard of the pedestrians running into a truck and killing the driver?

    If we can’t design truck for the drivers to be able to see to the sides with mirrors and more open cab design, then they shouldn’t be in places where people might be near them in the first place.

  12. By MITGear on May 22, 2013 | Reply

    Paul, at this intersection Beacon St continues to the left at the fork, hence the green painted bike lane. Bay State Rd. is a right turn off of that road. The laws are pretty clear, you have the right of way staying left on Beacon St if you are a cyclists. You DO NOT have the right to turn off of Beacon St. onto Bay State Rd through a cyclists continuing travel on Beacon St. If this is in fact the situation, which I haven’t seen confirmed….

    I agree riding beside a large truck or overtaking one on the right is a bad idea (we don’t know this happened in this case. However, if this truck pulled off Beacon St. while the cyclists was continuing on Beacon St. the culpability for the accident is pretty clear. Let’s not spin it another way.

    More awareness by drivers is needed, more vigilance by cyclists should be used. These types of intersections are all over the city. I’ve come to use hand signals even if I’m continuing on the main road, just to make my intentions clear.

  13. By Paul Schimek on May 23, 2013 | Reply

    Interesting how everyone (including City of Boston and Boston Globe editorial board) is jumping to the conclusion that this easily preventable tragedy means we need “cycle tracks.” Would that solve the problem? This is from a 2008 report:
    “The Netherlands has been struggling with the blind spot issue for many years now: serious crashes involving lorries turning right and cyclists going straight ahead.”
    “A code of conduct for cyclists must be drawn up. . . . Cyclists coming from the rear must remain behind a lorry and do
    not position themselves beside the vehicle.”
    http://www.fietsberaad.nl/library/repository/bestanden/R-2008-11A.pdf (summary in English at the end).

    The Dutch apparently do not understand that their system has designed in these conflicts, and although they hope for technological solutions such as better truck designs, front view mirror or camera, and a radar warning system to detect cyclists (!), they have not found satisfactory ones yet, and still see about 15 deaths a year from right-turning trucks.

  14. By Paul Schimek on May 23, 2013 | Reply

    Right-turning vehicles apparently are a problem for cycle track users in Germany, too:
    http://www.berlin.de/polizei/verkehr/liste/archiv/74659/index.html

  15. By Paul Schimek on May 23, 2013 | Reply

    And this is from a Danish newspaper, article dated 13th March 2013:

    Cyclists call for action after three fatal accidents

    Within the past month, three cyclists were killed by trucks turning to the right, and the Cyclists’ Union is demanding action.

    We think that the truck industry should become more involved in the problem, says the association’s communications director, Frits Bredal.

    Most recently, a 23-year-old woman was killed Tuesday in a major intersection in Risskov Aarhus.

    The situation was classic: She was going straight ahead, while the truck was turning right.

    Such was the case last week in Odense. An 86-year-old woman was killed when she came out of an intersection.

    In the middle of February the alarm was sounded in Nørrebro in Copenhagen. Here the victim was a woman of 23 years.

    Wednesday morning there was another case that was nearly gone wrong. In an intersection in Gentofte, it was probably a snowstorm that made a driver not see a female cyclist before he turned. Probably let the woman escape with minor knocks.

    Her clothes stuck in the bed of the truck, and thus she avoided getting caught under the wheels, says head of security at North Zealand Police, Jan Hedager.

    Previously there have been several campaigns to counter accidents and raise awareness about the dangers for both drivers and cyclists.

    For example, it was thought at one time that foreign truck drivers were not sufficiently aware of the many cyclists in Denmark. Therefore, leaflets have been distributed at the border.

    But in these three cases, the drivers were Danish, says Frits Bredal from the Cyclists’ Union.

    Cyclists have proposed the installation of cameras in the truck, so the driver can see pictures of the angle, which otherwise is blind.

    The Danish Transport and Logistics Association, which organizes a large number of haulage firms, has not been dismissive of the idea. But it is not unproblematic, said the organization last year in Ritzau.

  16. By mtalinm on May 23, 2013 | Reply

    Paul, thanks for your insights. We of course cannot know exactly what happened on Sunday, but certainly from my own experience I’ll say that all of my close calls have been right hooks (fortunately not with a large vehicle).

    I read through the German article (very effective picture in there btw), and it seems that their separated bike lanes have not taken care of the problem fully. I’ve ridden in Munich, where the lanes are on the sidewalk (as on Vassar St), and it certainly felt safer than the painted-on lanes we have here. But if, as you point out, a vehicle turns right as a bicycle continues straight, and one or the other is not extra careful, the bike can get hit regardless of what infrastructure one has in place.

    I too have little faith in driver education. the stickers on cab windows reminding passengers not to “door” are good, but I don’t know what to doabout trucks. The MBTA has taken a huge step forward training bus drivers, but there are plenty of untrained private vehicles.

    I am not sure about the right-turn lane with a bike lane to the left. how exactly does that solve the right-hook problem at a green light?

  17. By Paul Schimek on May 24, 2013 | Reply

    mtalinm, thanks for your considered thoughts. Yes, we don’t know exactly what happened, and perhaps will never know, but “bicyclist using marked bike lane to pass on the right side of a truck” is the only *probable* scenario.

    With a right-only lane, and a bike lane to its left, there is a much greater chance that the bicyclist would enter the intersection to the LEFT of the truck, not to the RIGHT, and that they would never cross paths, and the driver turning right would not need to worry about traffic approaching on his right where he does not expect overtaking traffic nor can he see it even if he tries to look (due to blind spots).

    All bicyclists should know how to prevent right-hook collisions by:
    - using the correct lane per lane use markings (ignoring bike lane markings)
    - merging to the middle of a lane that permits right turns if you are going straight
    - making a quick turn to the right if someone tries to pass and turn right at the same time despite your best efforts to discourage this behavior through lane positioning
    For more info, see http://www.bikexprt.com/streetsmarts/usa/

  18. By SJE on May 24, 2013 | Reply

    Paul: My point is that trucks CAN be designed to be safer. In Europe and Japan, most trucks in the cities have better driver visibilty and are smaller.

  19. By SJE on May 24, 2013 | Reply

    Here is what I mean: trash truck in Japan (1) versus trash truck in Boston (2)

    The Japanese truck is smaller, has greater visibility. The Mack truck in Boston is much larger, and has a huge ground clearance so cyclists can fall under and be crushed.

    http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.joystickdivision.com/sony-garbarge-truck-psp.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.joystickdivision.com/2009/10/sony_garbage_truck_advertsing_psp.php&h=480&w=640&sz=105&tbnid=aDW3Cmljd6LA_M:&tbnh=91&tbnw=121&zoom=1&usg=__rRPDSiGnu18CZuG9k8vrjXZC7oM=&docid=9SfQIzzrqy6zwM&sa=X&ei=YrqfUZ39K6PkyQGtmIHICg&ved=0CDgQ9QEwAQ&dur=4297

    (2) http://www.flickr.com/photos/southerncalifornian/sets/72157600575239518/detail/?page=5

  20. By mm on May 27, 2013 | Reply

    thanks Paul. I did see one such intersection in Cambridge (third street, I think) and agree that is a safer alternative.

  21. By JasonT on May 27, 2013 | Reply

    We don’t know if Paul is right on the cause of this accident, but in general he’s correct. Whether it caused this fatal crash or not, it is consistently the most dangerous behavior I see on the road. Let’s make passing on the right the number one focus of bicycle safety education. I would never trust a driver to see me passing on the right regardless of his legal obligation to look for me.

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