ALWAYS Report Your Bike Crashes And Close Calls

As we advocate for better bike infrastructure and policies with regional, state and federal decisionmakers, we rely heavily on data to make a convincing argument about the need for improvement. In order to do that, we wanted to remind everyone about the importance of reporting all incidents, even seemingly minor ones.

Motor Vehicle Incidents: If you are involved in a crash with a car or truck, we have a list of things you should do here. If you have a near-miss, or if a driver is overly aggressive, you should still file a report. There is no RMV Aggressive Driver Report Form anymore, so any non-crash incident must be filed with the police.  When filing a police report, just describe the facts of the situation as best you can. Sometimes, if there was no property damage or injury, the police will discourage you from filing a report – be insistent, it is your right. You felt endangered or threatened, and it needs to be documented to show law enforcement and other agencies that a problem exists. And if you get turned away by the police, or if they try to turn you away, be sure to let us know.

Roadway or Path Problems: If you crash due to a problem with the road or path (like a pothole or dangerous grate), contact the agency that maintains that road (look here for contact information).

Bus or Transit Incident: If you are involved in a crash or a dangerous interaction with a bus, or are hassled by a transit employee, take down as much information about the vehicle and/or employee as possible. Record the date, time of day, location, route number or name, vehicle number, direction of travel, and, if you can do so safely, photos of the vehicle and the employee. Don’t worry if you can’t get all this information, but the more you can gather the better. Report the information to the transit agency’s Customer Service department (look under “Transit” here for contact information for the MBTA and other agencies), and keep us in the loop about their response at incidents@massbike.org.

Reporting crashes and dangerous driving behavior works! Last year, the MBTA made major changes to its bus driver training in response to crashes with bicyclists. And, recently, one of our interns got cut off by an MBTA bus pulling into a stop. When he confronted the driver, the driver swore at him and then drove off. Our intern complained to the MBTA, and found out a week later that the driver had indeed been disciplined. If our intern had just let the incident go, this driver would not have learned that threats to bicyclist safety will not be tolerated.

Taking a few minutes to file reports like this will be a big help to MassBike to push for changes that will make bicycling even safer and more convenient for more people! Keep us posted at incidents@massbike.org.

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3 Responses to ALWAYS Report Your Bike Crashes And Close Calls

  1. Becky June 16, 2011 at 6:26 pm #

    When you say file a report for near misses or aggressive driving too- you mean with the RMV accident report form and to also submit it to police? (http://www.mass.gov/rmv/forms/index.htm)

  2. Chris June 16, 2011 at 7:41 pm #

    I wish they cared as much in VA. Unfortunately, many of the cyclists are part of the problem here by blatantly ignoring safety and laws!

  3. Price June 17, 2011 at 11:22 am #

    Becky, thanks for the note! I updated the article to clarify that if you have a near-miss or are harassed by a motorist, then you need to file a police report – there is no Aggressive Driver Report Form anymore (though there used to be).