UPDATE: Reporting Crashes And Harassment In Boston

Bicyclists have been following our advice and reporting crashes, harassment, and other incidents with motorists to the Boston Police Department. Unfortunately, some bicyclists have reported receiving a less-than-helpful reception from BPD, ranging from disinterest to disdain to outright hostility. MassBike took these concerns directly to the City of Boston and BPD, and learned (or confirmed) some things that everyone should know:

  1. You have a right to file a police report. Don’t let an officer talk you out of it.
  2. You can get a copy of the police report from BPD headquarters at the intersection of Tremont Street and Ruggles Street near the Ruggles MBTA Station.
  3. You can request corrections to the report, but you have to visit the station where the report was filed.
  4. You should expect to be treated with respect by BPD officers, and if you are not you can and should let the station Captain know.
  5. You should request that your case be assigned to the auto investigator. Each of the 11 BPD stations has a designated auto investigator who is experienced investigating bicycle/motor vehicle incidents.
  6. You can call the investigator for updates on the progress of your case, or to provide additional information.

We hope this information helps you get justice and hold motorists accountable for their actions. Please continue to keep us posted at incidents@massbike.org.

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4 Responses to UPDATE: Reporting Crashes And Harassment In Boston

  1. Matt C October 7, 2011 at 1:17 pm #

    I’ve started wearing my helmet camera again. I got lazy over the summer and stopped wearing it. It’s very useful at capturing car characteristics, it usually captures the license plate number and depending on the type of motorist interaction, it will get a goos shot of the driver’s face too.

    One cautionary note. The video camera of course captures audio/voice too. About a year ago a man driving a pickup – after nearly running me over – threatened me on camera that if he saw me again he would indeed run me over. When I brought the incident to the BPD, the police threatened me with felony wiretapping for recording the assailant’s voice without his permission.

    The BPD were of course incorrect in their understanding of wiretapping law. They’d been trained to use wire tapping law against people video taping police on the job (). Not only were they wrong at the time, but their misuse of wiretapping law has been struck down by federal court (). So the landscape has changed for the better in the last year.

    My point however is I let the BPD bully me out of filing a report. Forewarned is fore armed; I hope that by sharing this story other cyclists will be stronger than me and not back down when filing a police report.

  2. Matt C October 7, 2011 at 1:20 pm #

    Sorry I messed up hyperlinks in the above post. They are:
    Background on police use of wiretapping law to prevent being filmed:
    http://gizmodo.com/5553765/are-cameras-the-new-guns

    Court affirms legality of filming:
    http://radioboston.wbur.org/2011/08/30/legality-recording-police

  3. Mark October 11, 2011 at 11:38 am #

    Thanks for the info on recording!

    Note that the law (MGL Ch 85, Sec 11B) requires cyclists to not leave the scene of an car, pedestrian, whatever accident with personal injury or over $100 property damage. If caught, the fine is $20.

  4. simone December 30, 2011 at 12:01 am #

    Motorists should also be able to video bikers who behave badly on the roadways. It’s not always the fault of the motorists.