Each of us in the bicycling community has been affected by the two collisions of the past two days. We are sad, angry, and scared. Many of us are wondering what we can do.
We, at MassBike, have been working on a new piece a legislation that will help to raise driver awareness of bicyclists and make sure that those motorists that harm us are held accountable. These tragic recent events have only strengthened our conviction that heightened awareness and increased safety are needed.
Currently, Massachusetts law does not adequately deal with motorists who kill or injure vulnerable road users, such as bicyclists and pedestrians. Motorists should have a greater responsibility to protect vulnerable road users than they do to protect other motorists, because vulnerable road users are not protected by two tons of steel, seat belts, crumple zones, and airbags.
Sadly, Bicyclists represent 3% of deaths and 2% of serious injuries, but only 1% of trips. Pedestrians represent 16% of deaths and 5% of serious injuries, but only 4% of trips. This disproportionately high number of deaths and serious injuries for vulnerable road users tells us that greater protections need to be put in place.
A motorist who injures a vulnerable road user faces no punishment unless the victim dies, or is seriously injured, or the motorist is under the influence. There is currently no incentive for motorists to exercise greater caution around vulnerable users than they do around other motorists.
For these reasons, MassBike is working on a new Vulnerable Road Users Bill, aimed at addressing the concerns and needs of those who use the road. We’ve drafted a bill and our legislative supporters and legal friends are currently reviewing the document. We’ll post a copy of the full bill as soon as it is available. Our aim is to increase penalties when the victim is a vulnerable road user, including increased suspension or loss of the motorist’s license and community service based around traffic education. We believe that by moving forward with the Vulnerable Road Users Bill we can increase drivers’ awareness of bicyclists on the roads, and ultimately, our safety.
There are many ways that you can become involved to help make this bill become a law. We are petitioning bicyclists and pedestrians to let their legislators know that they should co-sponsor the bill when it is introduced into the legislature. The more legislators signed on, the faster the bill will move through the law-making process. We need your help to come out and petition with us on the street. Our upcoming dates are as follows:
Monday, 4/12, 5-6:30pm, SW Corridor Park, near Stony Brook T Stop, Jamaica Plain
Monday, 4/26, 5-6:30pm, Massachusetts Ave. & Memorial Dr. (Mass. Ave. Bridge), Cambridge
Tuesday, 5/3, 5-6:30pm, Broadway & Galileo Galilei Way, Cambridge
Finally, if you aren’t already, you can become a member of MassBike. We are grass-roots organization, funded mostly by bicyclists like you, concerned about the issues that matter to those of us on the road. We need your help to continue working hard for bicyclists across the state. People in government listen to us because we have the voice of so many cyclists, they will listen more if we can come to them with an even broader coalition of cyclists. Join today to support this and all of our efforts to make cycling safer.