I’ve been around Massachusetts awhile. I was born and raised in Brookline, and educated in the Boston area. I’ve never really lived anywhere else but this area, and I’ve watched it change a lot over the past 20-25 years. While a good amount of construction and development has changed the face of Boston and its suburbs, one of the biggest changes has nothing to do with the skyline. It has to do with the streets – specifically, what’s on them now, that wasn’t on them to any near degree that it was 20-25 years ago. What is that? Bicyclists. There are more bicyclists on the roads in Boston and the suburbs in the Route 128 Belt, than were ever seen as recently as the early 1990’s.
Increasingly, cities and towns are marking traditional driving lanes on streets and roads, as being “reserved” for bicyclists only, not cars or trucks. You can see these separate lane symbols painted on the pavement. What is driving this increase and why is it so important? The increase, I believe, is largely generated by two things – one much larger than the other. The biggest driver, is population increase: There are simply far more people living in the greater Boston area and its suburbs than there were even 20 years ago. The next is cost: Getting parking that comes with an apartment is increasingly hard to find in this rental market. If you are lucky enough (read: Rich enough) to buy a condo in the Boston area, it likely won’t come with a driveway or parking space. Care to know what the current market price is for a deeded parking space is in the Boston area? Easily in excess of $100,000 – for 7 linear feet of real estate. The only other option is to try and get a Resident parking sticker from the City of Boston – and this doesn’t “guarantee” you a space.
The predictable result is that many people have resorted to bicycling to get to work and elsewhere. Because of their sheer numbers, bicyclists no longer use sidewalks, but travel in the streets and roads, traditionally (but no longer) reserved for motor vehicles. Faced with a crush of bike riders, municipal officials have resorted to “designating” lanes on streets for bicyclists only. This foolhardy decision is as ridiculous and unwise as the Massachusetts Department of Transportation’s decision several years ago, to open Breakdown Lanes on Route 128 to traffic, because the number of cars on that road have also exploded. Both decisions are prescriptions for disaster, but transportation officials will say they have few other options.
The other predictable result: A rapidly escalating number of Massachusetts motor vehicle-bicyclist accidents. These accidents usually result in very serious injuries, for obvious reasons: A thousand pounds of steel and glass hitting an unprotected bicyclist. As a Massachusetts bike accident lawyer, I have seen a rapidly increasing number of these cases – and they aren’t pretty. The legal cases that result are very complex. Recently, The Boston Globe published a piece written by a bicyclist and freelance writer, called “I Don’t Want To Die, and You Don’t Want To Kill Me.” I’d suggest that both all Massachusetts motorists, as well as bicyclists, read it and take it to heart.
As I said, I handle a lot of Massachusetts bike accident cases, and they aren’t pretty. The legal cases that result are very complex, and they demand a very experienced Massachusetts bike accident attorney, who can produce a track record of demonstrated success with these cases. If you or someone you care about has been injured in a Massachusetts car-bike accident, seek out the best attorney that you can. Don’t hire a general practitioner. On a legal and financial level, the result could be almost as dangerous as the accident itself.