A ghost bike in Lincoln, MA
Response to tragedy and moving forward through education and enforcement.
The last several weeks have been a trying time. We’ve witnessed crashes in urban areas as well as the Boston suburbs with one proving fatal in Lincoln. We’ve attended Ghost Bike Ceremonies. We’ve seen a ghost bike taken down by the town just as another was being planned. It has been difficult and at times, emotional.
After the tragic death of Amanda Phillips in Cambridge, we recognized the increasing frustration of the bicycling community. In all of these cases the crashes remain “under investigation” and no charges are brought against the motorists involved. And that’s it. We rarely hear about it again, until the next tragic crash.
It’s time for this to change.
We’ve sent letters and met with the Middlesex District Attorney to address these frustrations. We saw direct results from this meeting in the response to a recent crash in Waltham where the protocol seemed a bit different. Charges were immediately filed against the driver, a rarity in bicycle related crashes! We will continue to press on the Middlesex District Attorney’s office on the two fatalities in Lincoln. MassBike is scheduled to have meetings with other DA’s across the state including Bristol and Worcester County, as well as the State Attorney General. The goal is to meet with each District across the state to ensure that our laws are being enforced and charges are brought in all appropriate cases. We plan to present a database of crashes going back to 2014 to their attention and get an update on each case so that changes can be made to prevent future tragedies. We cannot move forward without fully understanding where we have been.
In a separate, but related, effort to improve the investigation process and the understanding of these crashes, MassBike is currently working with Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety (EOPSS) to create a program to produce contextual training for Massachusetts police officers. It would combine direct on-bike training as well as virtual reality video to foster a better understanding of the conditions bicycle riders face every day.
These two “e’s” - education and enforcement - are critical to our mission and to making roadways safer for all users. With your help MassBike can continue to press on District Attorneys across the state for answers and create positive change out of tragic circumstances.