Another person has been killed on a bike in Boston. That makes 5 this year. That’s 5 too many. I don’t know much about their lives; like anyone else, they had people they loved and who loved them and who mourn their early deaths. It’s important that they all be remembered, even by people who don’t know them but feel a connection. I spend a lot of time on roads on my bike. That’s my connection.
Here’s the list. Who they were, age, location and date of fatality, and the vehicle involved:
- Kelsey Rennebohm, 20’s, Huntington Ave. at Forsythe, June 2, 10:30pm, MBTA Bus
- Doan Bui, 63, Morrissey Blvd in Dorchester, September 14, 12:30am, drunk driver
- Tanya Connolly, 30’s, Broadway, South Boston, September 17, 3:50pm, tractor-trailer
- Chung Wei Yang, 21, Brighton Ave & Harvard Ave., November 11, 6:30pm, MBTA bus
- Chris Weigl, 23, Commonwealth Ave & St. Paul, December 6, 8:30am, tractor-trailer.
I’m sad for their families and friends. Their lives were all taken much too soon. I’d like to honor their deaths by imploring us all to do what we can to make sure other cyclists don’t have to experience the same risks.
There isn’t a lot in common in these accidents: different times of day and night, people from all walks of life (young, old, male, female, new to Boston, long-time natives…), and there’s the problem that generalizing from a few fatal accidents might not tell us much. But there are two common threads:
1. Major thoroughfares
All four accidents were on major arteries with four or more lanes. Vehicle speeds on these roads are far higher than is justified in urban areas with many pedestrians and a growing number of cyclists. At 40 mph vehicle speed, the fatality rate in contacts with pedestrians and bicyclists is 90%. At 20mph, the fatality rate is 5%. Remember those numbers while you’re driving: 40 mph = 90% fatality rate, 20 mph = 5% fatality rate. Slow down.
We also need these bills passed into law. Contact your state legislator:
- Vulnerable Road Users Bill (H.3079), which would increase the penalties for motorists who strike and kill or injure bicyclists, pedestrians, and other vulnerable users of the road.
- Senior Safety Zones Bill (H.1968), which establishes speed zones similar to school zones around areas with high concentrations of senior citizens.
- Lowering Speed Limits on Local Roads (H.1808), which would drop the prevailing speed limit on local roads from 30 mph to 25 mph.
2. Large vehicles
Four out of five of these fatalities involved large vehicles: two MBTA buses and two tractor-trailers. Clearly, drivers of these vehicles are not being taught adequately to be aware of bicyclists and bicyclist behavior. Let’s put pressure on the MBTA to include bike safety in its driver training programs.
We can also report bad behavior by MBTA drivers:
617-222-3200, follow phone menu to complaints & concern. Note and report:
- Route number,
- vehicle number,
- time and date and
- driving offense
Let’s not let those five bikers have died in vain. Keep them in mind as you go about your day, and if you imagine their voices, imagine them pleading with you to make it safer for the living.