Saturday, August 15, 2015

Slow Saturday Special: Globe Reporter Bike Ride

What time would you like to risk your life

Started out so well, too.

"Cyclist’s death spotlights Mass. Ave. peril; Police find driver hours after woman hit by truck turning onto Beacon St." by Brian MacQuarrie and Matt Rocheleau Globe Staff  August 07, 2015

The intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Beacon Street is considered Boston’s most dangerous for cyclists, a treacherous Back Bay gantlet of heavy traffic, constant noise, and a rush to beat the stoplight.

The death of a cyclist Friday morning struck there by a tractor-trailer became the latest in a string of accidents at the busy intersection as bicycling becomes increasingly popular in the city’s crowded, chaotic streets.

The strange thing is as the Chinese and Cubans get off the bikes and are marketed cars, Americans are told to start peddling (the meter is running).



‘Ghost bike’ marker to honor doctor

Bicyclist killed by truck is remembered as skilled surgeon, scientist

She was doing research on transforming embryonic stem cells into functional thyroid tissue, and apparently had a promi$ing career ahead working for Planned Parenthood!

Get other clips, noters.

"Death toll mounts for bicyclists on Boston’s streets; Officials working to make city safer for bicyclists" by Nestor Ramos and Catherine Cloutier Globe Staff  August 12, 2015

Swerving around double-parked cars and dodging trucks too big to spot them, Boston’s bicyclists navigate a dangerous landscape — barely any of which was built with them in mind.

At least 13 people have been killed while bicycling on city streets in the last five years, ranging in age from 8 to 74. They have been hit by buses, struck down by cars, fallen into traffic, and — most frequently and recently — swallowed under massive trucks.

Last week, 38-year-old medical researcher Anita Kurmann was killed at a Back Bay intersection notorious for its danger to cyclists.

Kurmann was the latest casualty in a city that had more cycling fatalities per 10,000 bike commuters than Denver, Minneapolis, Portland, Seattle, and Washington, D.C., among cities of comparable size where bicycle travel is common, according to a 2014 study.

Fatalities are a small fraction of the total number of bicycle crashes reported each year.


City officials say the number of bikes on Boston’s roads has risen rapidly since 2007. In that time, the rate of injuries among the increased number of riders has dropped, advocates say — evidence that the city is slowly becoming safer for cyclists. And city officials say they are finally traveling the same path that more bike-friendly cities have, drawing on data to help identify dangerous intersections and make improvements.

That probably includes the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Beacon Street, where Kurmann was killed.

“It’s one of the many intersections that has begun to emerge,” said Vineet Gupta, the city transportation department’s director of policy and planning. A plan for short-term improvements to the intersection should be completed by the end of the month, he said.

The process of analyzing data from the rest of the city, Gupta said, is nearing completion.

Boston gets its crash information by tracking police and emergency services reports.

The datasets can overlap but rarely match....


Look, I've already been along for a ride so you can go on this one if you want:

"Bicycle commuting isn’t always an easy ride; Reporter tells of his alternately perilous and thrilling daily trip to office" by Steve Annear Globe Staff  August 14, 2015

This is my commute to work. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I get a rush.


That crash at the crossroads of Massachusetts Avenue and Beacon Street, where 38-year-old Anita Kurmann was killed Aug 7., put a glaring spotlight on safety for cyclists and the risks of Boston’s streets.

To highlight some of the dangers, as well as the more mundane run-ins faced by cyclists who commute in Boston, I strapped a GoPro to my helmet and brought an audio recorder for my 7-mile morning commute from Somerville to the Globe’s offices in Dorchester.

I’ve been lucky. My worst experience on two wheels happened last year, as I was biking home along this route, and a cabdriver making an illegal turn cut me off, causing a crash that left my bike in shambles and my nerves in tatters.

But I got back on my steed that week, and every week thereafter. The benefits of cycling outweigh the risks.

My commute on Thursday starts off mellow as ever, as sail I through Somerville and into Cambridge. Then I hit Massachusetts Avenue and suddenly I’m hyper-aware.

A crane to my right belches out an echoing roar that sounds like the screech of a Tyrannosaurus rex.

Orange traffic barriers set up like buoys to guard the work zone force me to squeeze my right elbow against my ribs as I pass through a makeshift lane that files vehicles into a single stream of traffic. Dwarfed by the cars and trucks and that Cretaceous predator of a crane, I start to plan my next maneuver, when the lane reopens and the bike lane reappears.

I accidentally drop my voice recorder as I cross some train tracks just past the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Albany Street in Cambridge, and its batteries scatter into the road. It underscores the folly of distracted biking. I should really be more careful going over tracks; I have a leaky back tire that could blow.

I try not to think about that as I scooch between the tour bus and the moving trucks as I pass MIT. The heat coming from the vehicles envelops me. More sweat.

I biked 5 miles to and from work throughout the last half of the 1990s and into early 2000, in all types of weather (slipped on ice while turning a number of times; snow allowed for more traction, believe it or not), and feel I have a surplus in my carbon account.

The tension washes away as I approach Harvard Bridge. The marshy smell of the Charles River reminds me of summer camp.

Don't fall in.

The breeze that criss-crosses the span slows me down but allows me to savor the view of the towers in the Back Bay, which jut into the pale blue sky above neat rows of apartments.

But then reality again intrudes on the zen-like moment.

Loose rocks kicked up by cars litter the bike lane like tiny land mines. Shards of glass sparkle sinisterly. My elbow stays pinched against my left side.

The view is eclipsed by a familiar rectangular shape. It’s that moving truck again, rumbling by.

Suddenly I’m in Boston, at the intersection of Beacon and Massachusetts Avenue, where Kurmann died.

The spot is unsettling, and is a precursor to the cacophony of whirring vehicles and honking horns; bike-lanes- that-become-sharrows-that-become-bike-lanes again; and daring cyclists who sometimes run through red lights.

As the light turns green, I shift from the traffic lane and into a bike lane. I’m met by an uneven surface and gravelly pits of chewed road. Any other morning, a row of cyclists would crowd the lane, but on this day the cycling traffic is light — maybe I left the house at a good time.

In some ways, I prefer the solitude. The lane is mine and I can determine my pace.

But it also brings back that feeling of frailty. Cycling advocates say that traveling in numbers keeps bike riders more visible and drivers attuned to their presence. I need comrades.

From Beacon, a series of green lights let me pass through the Commonwealth Avenue intersection and up toward Newbury Street, before the Boylston Street line. A driver with Florida plates crowds the bike lane, and I grip my brake.

After maneuvering around delivery trucks, I make it to Tremont Street and prepare myself for the last leg of my commute, passing beneath Boston Medical Center, where the bike lanes vanish and the roads become choppy.

As I approach Dorchester, I encounter moments, again, where I’m squished between trucks and drivers to my left.

On Columbia, a cyclist coming the wrong way down the street, right into me, gives me a death glare. I let it pass.

I emerge at Kosciuszko Circle , the rotary notorious for its congested traffic, where I get a clear shot. I pump my legs so I can soar through an opening in traffic.

A driver in a delivery truck lets me go ahead of him, and make the right-hand turn that takes me down toward Star Market, just before the Globe’s offices on Morrissey Boulevard.

He shouts from his truck.

“We’re not that bad,” he says, alluding to the tension often felt between drivers and cyclists.

I hope he thinks the same of cyclists.

At a red light up ahead, I thank him, and tell him I’m a reporter. He looks at the camera strapped to my helmet and laughs.

We bump fists and away we go. The chaos is behind me — until I bike home.

I hope the chain doesn't fall off.


I hope this guy stays state, I really do. No one should die riding a bike, let me make that clear.


Program encourages commuters to drive, then bike, to work

Bicycle deaths on rise among men

Not a good sign; must be why Stidman stopped peddling.

I don't know if you trailed along or not, but my advise is to put the bike in the rack and find another way to get around Bo$ton.

I have some bike rides of my own to make this morning so I will not be returning from them until this afternoon.

UPDATES: Farrell has been felled by cancer. Was thinking of watching the Sox this afternoon as a show of respect.

Also see:

‘Ghost bike’ tribute for surgeon set for Back Bay crash site

Bicyclist, 80, dies in crash with parked truck during race

Summer program teaches third-graders bicycle safety

Take aggressive steps to improve bicyclists’ safety

Globe has the right of way.

Suspect in Memorial Drive sex assault was riding bike, police said