Massachusetts Bicyclists Deserve a Safer Ride

Despite the campaign by public officials who laud bicycle riding as a cheap and environmentally-friendly way to commute, cycling on many metrowest roadways during the workweek can be unnerving and at times, dangerous. Most local cities and towns were largely built to accommodate cars. Little thought was given to safety for bicycle riders. Despite the fact that bicycles have as much right on most roadways as motor vehicles, too many motorists treat the cyclists as intruders. In 2007, for example 11 cyclists were killed and 800 injured in motor vehicle/bicycle accidents in Massachusetts.

Cyclists who ride aggressively or who do not understand the rules of the road that they must follow, make it less safe for all cyclists because they cause drivers to expect the worst from cyclists and to behave accordingly. Since it will be a long time, if ever, before most metrowest communities can redesign some roads with bicycle safety in mind, the best that can be done are minor tweaks in the roadways, and bicycle safety education for both drivers and cyclists. To that end, the Town has Dedham has received a small ($5,000) grant to improve safety in town for cyclists. The grant is to be used for overtime for targeted enforcement of problem bike-car areas. The goal, according to Dedham Police Lieutenant Michael d’Entremont, is to enforcement and education leading to voluntary compliance. The Dedham grant, while positive, illustrates how modest are current efforts to make bicycling safer.

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