Boston Bike Week 2013: Mayor Menino Releases Findings of Cyclist Safety Report
Four years of data shows dramatic increase in ridership, stable level of crash incidents
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For Immediate Release
May 15, 2013
Released By:
Mayor's Office
For More Information Contact:
Mayor's Press Office
Press.Office@cityofboston.gov

Mayor Thomas M. Menino today released findings of the first City of Boston Cyclist Safety Report, which examined four years of bicycle crash incident data supplied by Boston Police and Boston EMS that will now inform City officials in their continued efforts to make Boston’s roadways safer for vulnerable users. A direct result from this report, Mayor Menino today pledged to decrease the cyclist crash injury rate by 50 percent by 2020, as the City realizes its vision of creating a safe, welcoming city for cyclists of all levels.

The full report, highlights of which will be presented during Boston Bikes’ Annual “State of the Bike” Update on May 21, is available here.

“Since we launched our bike program in 2007, Boston has gone from being called one of the worst cycling cities in the country to one of the best,” Mayor Menino said. “Our city was devastated by the five cyclist fatalities in 2012, and we want to do everything in our power to prevent future tragedies. We’ll continue to work tirelessly to improve the safety of our streets for all, and this report will guide us as we continue to grow Boston’s vibrant biking community.”

Earlier this week, Walk Score ranked Boston fifth on its list of Top 10 Most Bikeable Large U.S. Cities.

REPORT KEY FINDINGS

Key findings from the report include:

  • Although the number of cyclist fatalities spiked in 2012, data shows a minimal increase in total incidents between 2010 and 2012. There was a substantial increase in ridership during this period.
  • Injured cyclists are less likely to be wearing a helmet than the average cyclists. 
  • A majority of incidents that resulted in injury involved motor vehicles.
  • Cyclist accident incidents involving and/or injuring pedestrians are minimal. Pedestrians comprised only 2-3% of incidents and injuries in all cyclist incidents.
  • Key behavioral factors associated with accidents included cyclists not stopping at red lights or stop signs, cyclists riding into oncoming traffic, drivers not seeing cyclists and drivers/passengers opening doors.
  • Young adults, particularly men between 19 and 31 comprise more than half of all injured cyclists.

Between 2010 and 2012 BPD showed a 2% increase in crash incidents. EMS data reveals a 9% increase. Between 2010 and 2012, the Boston Police Department recorded a total of 1,446 incidents and nine fatalities. Boston EMS recorded 1,432 incidents and eight fatalities. The difference in incident records is a result of Boston Police capturing data through follow-up investigation. Both data sets underestimate the total number of crashes; under-reporting of crashes is common, such as in cases with injury to persons or property damage.

REPORT RECOMMENDATIONS

A series of recommendations stem from this report. Recommendations tend to fall into one of three categories: Short term recommendations that can be implemented within the next two years; Long term recommendations that can be implemented over the next five years, and data recommendations that provide suggestions for enhancing information gathering to further refine knowledge of cyclist accidents and injuries.

Some key recommendations resulting from this report include:

  • HELMETS
    • The City currently makes low cost helmets available at more than 32 retail locations, at farmers markets throughout the summer and online for Hubway members. The City should expand its distribution of low cost and free helmets. Online sales should allow the general public to order helmets to be mailed to their house. Retail locations beyond the Hubway zone should sell low-cost helmets. One-day distribution opportunities should be expanded and sought, particularly in neighborhoods with lower levels of helmet use.
    • To address access and cost, the City should implement helmet vending machines with as many New Balance Hubway stations as possible. Plans are underway to install helmet vending machines in 2013. The City has recognized HelmetHub as the preferred vendor for Boston and is working to finalize a contract for helmet vending machines.

  • TARGETED EFFORTS
    • With a high percentage of crashes involving university-aged cyclists, the City should continue to encourage and facilitate bike safety efforts at all universities. The City will bring together representatives from universities to share best practices and potentially support a coordinated, comprehensive safety effort.
    • Fleet vehicles and drivers can be addressed through education and physical interventions. The City is actively addressing fleet issues:
  1. Currently 1,825 taxis are being outfitted in Boston with window stickers warning passengers to not open their door into passing cyclists.
  2. The City is adding side guards on 19 large Public Works vehicles this June in the largest pilot to date in the United States. The collaborative effort between the City’s Public Works Department, Central Fleet Management and Boston Bikes program was supported by research from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Volpe Center in Cambridge.  The City hopes to inspire other truck owners to consider side guards for their fleets. 
  • EDUCATION
    • Encourage third party groups to increase opportunities for on the bike training to provide cyclists safe riding skills.  Boston Bikes currently provides on bike training for nearly 4,000 youth per year. Programs can be expanded to reach adults.
    • Implement a large-scale outreach effort to educate cyclists on key safety issues shown in this report to be connected with injury.  These include wearing helmets, avoiding car doors, not running red lights/ riding into oncoming traffic and staying visible (using lights, wearing bright clothes, staying out of blind spots).
  • HOT-SPOTS
    • Develop specialized enforcement strategies for hotspot areas with heightened police enforcement. Currently BPD and Boston Bikes conduct enforcement in areas that see the highest rates of crashes, particularly Commonwealth Avenue and Massachusetts Avenue.
    • Prioritize installation of bike facilities on roads and at intersections with high numbers of crashes. The City currently does this and will continue to do so. The City added bike facilities on Commonwealth Avenue and Massachusetts Avenue and will be adding facilities on Huntington Avenue in 2013. These three roads see some of the highest numbers of cyclist crashes in the City.
  • ENFORCEMENT
    • Enhance police enforcement of cyclists and drivers by increasing days of targeted cycling enforcement. Currently BPD conducts weekly and/or bi-weekly seasonal enforcement of cyclists. Warnings, not fines, are distributed. BTD is increasing the number of officers on bicycles.
    • Transition to issuing fines, as opposed to warnings, to cyclists for not following rules of the road. BPD intends to issue fines in 2013.

Read Full Report

Boston Bikes Bike Week Events Continue

Ride of Silence: TONIGHT, 7 p.m. 


The Ride of Silence, which is being organized by area volunteers, will honor cyclists who've been killed in collisions with motor vehicles. Riders must be 16+ and wear a helmet, and are encouraged to wear a white t-shirt or arm band. The route will be completed in silence and go at a slow pace on a 4 mile route through downtown Boston, leaving from City Hall Plaza at 7 p.m.

Bike Week Festival: May 17, 7-9 a.m.

Boston’s Bike Week Festival closes out a great week of bike commuting in conjunction with the statewide Bay State bike week (May 11th-19th). It also serves as the first Bike Friday event of the season! Just like Bike Fridays, it starts with 9 group rides from different surrounding areas all the way to Boston City Hall. We’ll have vendors and a small expo area, as well as free breakfast and morning refreshments! Local shops will be on hand to examine your bike and lots of other commuters will be around to share their energy. The festival starts with a bike commuting convoy from a neighborhood near you. See the routes and times to decide if you’d like to join a convoy and REGISTER to attend.

Boston Bikes' Annual Bike Update, May 21, 6-8:30p

Our 5th annual bike update, hosted by the LivableStreets Alliance, will be a presentation on our achievements, challenges, and future goals as we strive to create a "world class bicycling city". Come hear the latest details about the New Balance Hubway bike share, the Bicycle Network Plan, parking facilities, community programming, and more. 

 

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