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Bicyclists in Danger From Careless Drivers

Bicycle activists are outraged that a grand jury failed to return an indictment against a truck driver who killed a bicyclist on Weston Road in Wellesley. The grand jury was presented with more than 50 pieces of evidence including video footage, witnesses testifying in support of the bicyclist’s riding, and a defendant who not only fled the scene, but also had an extensive history of driving infractions.

Bike accidents rarely lead to criminal actions. (Civil suits serve as the way to seek restitution.) It is plain to see that most drivers don’t understand the rules that say cars and trucks must yield to bike riders under the law. Those that don’t are seldom brought to justice by law enforcement. Note that cars and trucks yield to bicycles and bicycles, meanwhile, must yield to pedestrians.

Here are motorist responsibilities towards bike riders according to MassBike:

  • Motorists and passengers must check for passing bicyclists before opening a door.
  • Motorists must stay a safe distance to the left of a bicyclist when passing. Motorists are prohibited from returning to the right until safety clear of the bicyclist.
  • Motorists must pass at a safe distance. If the lane is too narrow to pass safely, the motorist must use another lane to pass, or, if that is also unsafe, the motorist must wait until it is safe to pass.
  • Motorists are prohibited from making abrupt right turns at intersections and driveways cutting in front of a cyclist.
  • Motorists must yield to oncoming bicyclists when making left turns. The law expressly includes yielding to bicyclists riding to the right of other traffic (e.g., on the shoulder), where they are legally permitted but may be more difficult for motorists to see.
  • Motorists may not use the fact that a bicyclist was riding to the right of traffic as a legal defense for causing a crash with a bicyclist.

Increasingly, I am seeing more bicycle and motor vehicle accident cases. This is unfortunate as the injuries are often very severe. Yes, that is what I do, but I would rather the accident not happen at all,

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