I am particularly disturbed by the accident that took the life of Anita Kurmann. Coming so soon after the accidents that took Marcia Diehl and Christopher Weigl and a long line of similar accidents beforehand, it seems that adequate measures have not been taken to curb this trend. How many more talented, promising people have to get killed before there is more meaningful action?
I lost a friend several years ago to bicycle accident involving a truck. I have have been hit three times by motor vehicles, once deliberately. I would love to use my bicycle to commute to the downtown theatres, but I have decided that riding in Boston is simply too dangerous. I know you both are cyclists and care about this issue.
In the Kurmann accident, it disturbs me that the name of the truck driver and his or her employer have not been released. There seems to be a very deep seated bias present in the police against cyclists. When I was hit in a right hand turn accident in Cambridge the officer who came to the scene refused to file an accident report because I was not hurt badly enough to be taken to the hospital.
The response to such accidents is often a call for more bicycling infrastructure, which I support wholeheartedly. But such measures don’t address the issue completely.
I believe that the following measures should also be taken to minimize the risk of accidents between bicycles and trucks:
53 foot trailers should be banned from the inner core of the Boston metro area. Our street layout was never designed to accommodate trailers so long. Daily, I see examples how these trailers make awkward and unsafe turns, often breaching the sidewalk to cut a turn. They are a hazard to motorists and pedestrians as well as cyclists. Even in Watertown, you see drivers of these trailers struggling to maneuver their vehicles in spaces where they just don’t fit. For years, 40 foot, 45 foot and 48 foot trailers were the standard.
It is time that we consider measures returning to the shorter trailers within the urban metro area. 53 foot trailers are not a problem on the open road, but in our congested urban area they create unsafe situations, foul traffic and are a daily nuisance. Our streets will never be safe for bicycles until the legal length of trailers is shortened.
The RMV should require of candidates for Commercial Driver’s Licenses (CDL) greater training and more stringent testing regarding trucks sharing the road with bicycles. The rights of cyclists to use the streets should be stressed in both the training and testing. Potential CDL drivers should be shown videos of what happens when a truck has an accident with a bike.
Blind spot cameras should be required on all vehicles that do not have an effective rear view mirror. If you have ever driven a truck, you know that you must rely on side mirrors and you cannot see directly behind you. With the technology available today, there is no excuse for large vehicles not to be equipped with such cameras. In the end, they would save money, lives and considerable trauma.
I hope that you will consider these measure and speak with your colleagues about these and other ways to improve bicycle safety–and street safety in general–in the Commonwealth.