Posted On: December 7, 2012 by William D. Kickham

Brookline Bike-Truck Crash Is Fifth Boston Bike Fatality This Year

It was yet another devastating bicycle accident in Boston, which has, once again, brought up all kinds of issues regarding whether motorists are too aggressive, bicyclists are too cavalier, and whether pedestrians also need to take greater care when traveling.

These questions all stem from the death this past Thursday of Christopher Weigl, a Boston University graduate student majoring in photojournalism. Weigl, 23 years old, was hit and killed on Thursday when his bicycle crashed with a tractor-trailer that was turning onto St. Paul Street in Brookline. The collision wound up shutting down the entire 900-block of Commonwealth Avenue on the border with Brookline, just adjacent to the BU campus. Weigl’s death marks the fifth bicycle-motor vehicle fatality in Boston so far this year.

According to Boston Police, Weigl was apparently doing all the right things – he was wearing a helmet and he was riding in a visibly marked bicycle lane. One of his roommates stated how Weigl possessed a great deal of common sense when riding his bike, that he had “a calm hand on the wheel,” and that he was never reckless.

Within hours after the devastating crash, more than 60 bicycling advocates apparently gathered for what ironically was a scheduled bike-safety meeting in Boston City Hall. The meeting was sponsored by At Large City Councilors Aryanna Pressley and Felix Arroyo. They acknowledged that, in recent years, bicycle safety has improved, as more than 50 bike lanes have been added in Boston since 2007. Yet, they conceded that they still need to take a close look at bicycle safety on Boston roads. For example, from 2011 to 2012, the city of Boston has witnessed a 31% increase in bicyclists taking to the streets. Statistics also show that from the beginning of this year to November 13, there have been – are you ready for this? -- approximately 579 bicycle-related incidents in Boston, which have required Emergency Medical Services. During the same period in 2011, that figure was less – there were 548 bike-related incidents requiring EMS. That is a shockingly high number, and it indicates that something must be done to improve bicycle safety in our streets. Some of the discussion at the City Councilor meeting pointed to logistics in Montreal. For example, that Canadian city has special lanes for bicycles that are protected from traffic by way of plastic posts and medians, but which require more money and more road space than do typical bicycle lanes.

When a bicyclist is injured or killed in a motor vehicle-bike accident like this, legalities come into play. Depending on the individual facts of each accident, injured cyclists are entitled to recover payments for a variety of medical expenses, physical therapy and rehabilitation, lost income and wages, as well as pain and suffering and lost future earning capacity, if relevant to the facts. As a Brookline Massachusetts car-bike accident lawyer, I know these accidents can often be extremely serious, and cause injuries that can last a lifetime. Whether a motor vehicle-bike accident causes injuries or a horrible fatality case like yesterday's tragedy, a veteran attorney who is extremely experienced at these cases is what's needed. Do not ever hire an attorney or law firm to represent you or a loved one in a case like this, who does not have years of successful experience in this specific area of litigation.

There’s an ironic twist to yesterday's tragedy. Young Mr. Weigl had even written his own obituary in recent months. As a first-day-of-school assignment, BU professor Mitchell Zuckoff had instructed his students to write their own obituary. Weigl complied, showing his personality – and sense of humor. He wrote: “Lifelong Massachusetts resident and Boston University graduate Christopher Weigl, 22, passed away September 5 after protracted complications stemming from obituary writing.”

We are sure he will be missed by all who knew him, and our sympathies go to his family and friends.