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Boston's Proposed Safety Ordinance Geared Towards Cyclist Safety

Posted by David P. McCormack

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Earlier this week, the Boston City Council was expected to take up a first-of-its-kind ordinance geared towards bicyclist and pedestrian safety. On Tuesday, September 9, 2014, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh presented the City Council with an Ordinance to Protect Vulnerable Road Users. If passed, the ordinance would require the implementation of safety apparatuses on all city-owned and city-contractor vehicles weighing over 10,000 pounds. Furthermore, only snowplows and emergency vehicles would be exempt from complying with the proposed ordinance.

These safety apparatuses include protective side guards, cross-over mirrors, convex mirrors, and blind-spot awareness decals. In the event that a cyclist or pedestrian is struck, the side guards reduce the risk of the person falling under the vehicle and subsequently being caught under the wheels. Conversely, the mirrors and decals look to prevent an accident from occurring by reducing drivers' blind spots, while drawing cyclists' and pedestrians' attention to the presence of the blind spots. The Boston Cyclists Union recently released a fact sheet, "Sideguards Save Lives," that illustrates the benefits of these safety apparatuses. The fact sheet states that although trucks account for only 4% of vehicles nationwide, they are responsible for 11% of all bicyclist fatalities and 7% of all pedestrian fatalities.

According to the 2013 Boston Cyclist Safety Report, between 2010 and 2012, motor vehicle-cyclist accidents accounted for 91 percent of the total 1,446 cyclist accidents in the City of Boston, resulting in nine deaths. Given the increasing number of reported incidents, city officials were called upon to combat this public health issue, and the proposed ordinance is their answer. Now, we have to wait and see whether the Boston City Council agrees with the proposal or whether different safety measures will be taken.

SUGARMAN has extensive experience litigating motor vehicle accidents involving cyclists and pedestrians on behalf of those who have been injured. If you have been hurt in an accident and wish to speak to one of our attorneys regarding liability, please fill out a Contact Form, call us at 617-542-1000 or e-mail