COVID, rising gas prices, and other factors have led to an explosion of interest in cycling in Massachusetts. Recent data suggests that cycling is particularly gaining popularity in the suburbs and smaller towns in Massachusetts. There has been an increase in recreational biking, longer bike rides, and taking advantage of bike-share systems such as Bluebikes. An increase in casual cyclists also means an increase in less experienced cyclists.
This blog is full of tips on how we can work together to keep everyone safe. Even as a motorist, you may be driving today, but tomorrow or in the near future, you may be riding a bicycle.
Bike Sales Through The Roof In Massachusetts
With a perfect storm of COVID, people looking for more ways to be outdoors, exercise, alternatives to public transportation, and increased gas prices, bike sales are through the roof. As I write this blog, average gas prices in Massachusetts are at $4.39 per gallon. Near our offices, gas prices are at $4.25 in Peabody, $4.37 to $4.97 in Chelsea, and about $4.11 in Worcester. Meanwhile, in Boston, prices are currently above $4.40,
We haven't seen bike sales this robust since the 2008 recession, according to Western Mass News. Local bike shops in Massachusetts have noticed a dramatic increase in demand for bikes since early February.
The surge in bike sales also includes an increased demand for electric bikes, also known as e-bikes. In February, one bike shop owner said he usually sells 30 e-bikes over a calendar year, but sold 30 e-bikes by March this year.
BlueBike Bike-Share Stations Largest Increase In Riders Was Outside of Downtown Boston
According to data collected in 2019 and 2020, Bluebike stations observed the most significant increase in ridership at bike stations outside Boston’s downtown center.
As the father of a Boston University Sophomore, some of the most concerning increases in Bluebike rentals are the increased use around BU. The Commonwealth Avenue station in Allston at Griggs St. and the 700 Commonwealth Ave. station on BU’s campus saw a tremendous increase in riders. The station in Allston, where many students live off-campus, saw a 2,329% increase in ridership in one year. The central BU campus stop at 700 Commonwealth Ave. also saw a rise of more than 350%.
I know that my 20-year-old daughter rides Bluebikes around campus. As a cyclist myself and a personal injury attorney who represents people injured in bike accidents, this is something I lose sleep over.
I am always encouraged when more people pick up biking. But increased use of bike-sharing and Bluebikes also means an increase in more novice riders and riders who are not wearing helmets. Many Boston University students will rent Bluebikes from Allston and ride them without helmets into the central campus bike share station. Students will do this to get to class or even to get home late at night, which is especially dangerous if you don’t have the proper gear or clothes to help cars see you at night.
What Can Drivers And Motorists Do To Make Cyclists Safer On The Roads?
New cyclists require increased awareness for drivers and cyclists. One of the most important things that drivers and motorists can do to help keep cyclists safe is to LOOK for them, not just “notice” them.
As drivers, we can’t just see cyclists. We need to be actively LOOKING for cyclists. Lack of visibility is one of the most common causes of bike accidents in Massachusetts. Cyclists can help reduce the risk by wearing neon colors and ensuring they have all the proper lights on the front and back of their bikes. Drivers can help reduce the risk of a tragedy by truly looking for and anticipating cyclists.
The increase of less experienced bicyclists on the roads means that drivers need to be even more careful. With the growth of cycling in suburban and small-town areas, drivers who aren’t typically used to sharing the roads with cyclists will need to learn to be more accommodating.
Many bike and car collisions happen at intersections, making intersections one of the most critical places for drivers to look for cyclists actively. Drivers turning right can help by making an extra effort to look left before turning and approaching the intersection very slowly to ensure they can see beyond any street parked cars on the left. Drivers turning left across an intersection also often only focus on ensuring the traffic lanes are free from cars and forget to ensure there are no oncoming cyclists in the far left lane who are also about to enter the intersection.
Other simple ways drivers can help keep cyclists safe include always using appropriate traffic signals so bikers are aware of their next move. Taking special care when turning right across a bike lane and crossing a bike lane to parallel park is very important. After street parking, always be careful to check before opening any driver-side doors, so you don’t open your door right in front of a cyclist and cause a crash.
If You Do Hit A Cyclist With Your Car, Here Is What You Need To Do
While we hope the tips here help you avoid becoming a defendant in a personal injury case involving a cyclist, we also want you to know what to do if you’re ever involved in a collision with a cyclist as a driver.
Here is what you need to do immediately if you are involved in a crash with a cyclist:
- Check on the Cyclist: Pull over safely and check on the cyclist. Call 9-1-1 immediately if injuries appear serious.
- Call the Police: Even if the cyclist seems to be uninjured, you should still call the police so they can come out and file a police report on the incident and check on the cyclist themselves.
- Mandatory Accident Reporting: Massachusetts law requires you to submit an accident report for any motor vehicle accident that results in an injury or property damage exceeding $100 within five days of the accident. The easiest way to comply with this requirement is to call the police to the accident scene for them to make a report.
- Exchange information: Cyclists aren’t required to have insurance in Massachusetts, but some may. Exchanging information is more so that the cyclist has your information. If they’re injured, they will likely file a claim against your car insurance company to cover their medical bills, bike repairs or replacement, etc.
- Gather Evidence: Take photos of any damage to your car and the bike. Take notes of what happened, the date, time, the street you are on, and any weather conditions or other factors contributing to the incident. If anyone around saw the accident and stayed on the scene, you can also ask for their contact information and what they saw.
Injured On A Bike In Massachusetts? Our Chelsea And Peabody Bike Accident Attorneys Offer FREE Consultations
If you were injured in a bicycle or e-bike accident, Spada Law Group’s injury attorneys can work to protect your legal rights. We have three offices but proudly serve the entire state with the ability to meet with you remotely from the comfort of your own home. Contact us for a free consultation so we can learn more about your bike or e-bike injury case and see how we can help you get the recovery you deserve after your accident.