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BU Police Nab Cyclists Running Red Lights

152 stopped, 10 ticketed last week alone

Leila Haery was frustrated. She had just been pulled over on her bike and issued a verbal warning by two Boston University police officers for running a red light at the intersection of Carlton Street and Comm Ave. While she acknowledged the need to obey traffic laws, Haery said the light was yellow when she went through it, and complained that officers don’t stop delivery truck drivers who block bike lanes or bus drivers who aggressively cut off cyclists—ironically, some issues she had written about in a letter to the department only the day before.

“I don’t see them trying to educate the motorists on how not to kill us,” Haery (GRS’14) said before pedaling away after the stop on Friday.

Everyone who travels Commonwealth Avenue knows the dangers it poses for drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians alike. But the Boston University Police Department has recently received multiple complaints specifically about bicyclists and last week decided to station officers at busy intersections along Comm Ave to stop those violating traffic rules, issue them a warning or a ticket, and deliver a healthy dose of education.

“Some of the cyclists are driving a little too erratically, and they’re taking too many chances, driving through red lights, driving on sidewalks, and just basically not following the rules of the road,” says Scott Paré, BUPD deputy director of public safety.

Over the three days BUPD officers were stationed along Comm Ave, they stopped a total of 152 cyclists and gave 10 of them a $20 citation. About half of the offenders were members of the BU community, and some were stopped more than once. On Wednesday morning, three of the five people given tickets had been pulled over on Monday.

The safety campaign will continue this week and any cyclist stopped for a violation will receive a citation.

Boston University Police Department BUPD cyclist citations, bicycle traffic violations, commonwealth ave

Leila Haery (GRS’14) was pulled over for running a red light Friday near the BU Bridge.

According to Massachusetts law, bicyclists are “subject to the traffic laws and regulations of the commonwealth” and can be ticketed for violations. Newcomers to Boston—whether from another state or country—may not be aware of this legislation, says Sergeant Larry Cuzzi, who supervises the 19 officers who patrol the University by bike and is coordinating the stops. But, he notes, the state, city, and University have issued plenty of information about the rules of the road. “There’s really no excuse not to know them,” he says.

Galen Mook (UNI’09), a cofounder of the student group BU Bikes, thinks cyclists on campus represent a “mixed bag” of experienced riders who know and understand the law, newbies who have a fuzzy knowledge, and others who “flat-out don’t know the laws at all.” He says BUPD’s effort to increase bike safety on campus by pulling over offending cyclists is a good move, but says that changing the cycling culture is not just about education; it’s also about improving roads like Comm Ave.

“There’s not a cycling infrastructure that is effective on that stretch of campus,” he says. “We do have bike lanes, but they’re unsafe. It would be more effective to see traffic engineering for bikers,” such as protected bike lanes and bike-specific lights. He also advises that the University review the League of American Bicyclists’ list of 5 Es (engineering, education, encouragement, enforcement, and evaluation and planning) addressing how communities can become safe for biking.

Cycling on the Charles River Campus has increased greatly in recent years, as indicated by the number of bicycle accidents reported to BUPD. In the past five years, there were 43 reported bike accidents, most of them involving vehicles, and more than 80 percent of them have occurred since 2010. That figure is believed to be only a fraction of the number of accidents on campus annually. Citywide last year, the Boston Police Department received reports of 365 bicycle accidents, including two fatalities. In just the past two months, three cyclists have died after being struck by cars in Boston and Wellesley.

Boston Bikes, a program administered by the office of Mayor Thomas Menino (Hon.’01), notes that the intersection of Comm Ave and the BU Bridge is one of the most dangerous in the city for cyclists.

“If you can prevent one accident from happening,” Cuzzi says, “it’s a win.”

Last week’s stops were about educating the community, says Paré, adding that his officers are cyclists as well. “They run into the same obstacles as everybody else,” he says. “Officers get cut off like everybody else. They know the troubles cyclists have to deal with navigating this busy place.”

But at least one BU cyclist sees the educational campaign as misguided. Wesley Savage, a College of Arts & Sciences postdoctoral fellow in biology, wrote in an open letter to the BUPD: “Please have your officers pay attention to speeding motorists who also make unsafe lane changes, drive aggressively at the risk of cyclists and pedestrians, run lights, cut off cyclists, and block the bike line (including stationary BU Police cruisers), as well as pedestrians who do not abide by road rules and traffic lights, which ends up increasing road congestion and motorist rage. Instead of targeting cyclists who actually reduce traffic congestion problems, focus on the real violators of traffic laws.”

Out at the BU Bridge intersection last week, Cuzzi said he understood cyclists’ concerns, but couldn’t justify their running a red light to arrive on time. He has seen too many accidents between cars and cyclists and knows how the story ends.

“It doesn’t matter how late you are if you’re dead,” he said.

An earlier version of this story stated that Haery ran a red light.

119 Comments
Leslie Friday, BU Today, Boston University
Leslie Friday

Leslie Friday can be reached at lfriday@bu.edu; follow her on Twitter at @lesliefriday.

119 Comments on BU Police Nab Cyclists Running Red Lights

  • Spandex Ranger on 10.01.2012 at 5:41 am

    After much cycling through the Boston metro area and reading articles such as this one, it is clear that some of you are confused about the nature of our relationship. By you we mean motorists, and by us we mean cyclists. We are sick of getting screamed at, honked at, having things thrown at us, swerved at, and it’s time you learned your place in the order of things.

    According to MA law (MGL 85 Section 11) cyclists have the right of way over motor vehicles and right of use on every non-restricted road in Massachusetts.
    Therefore, yes, as a matter of fact we do own the road. And a cyclist blowing through a stop light does not abrogate our rights and your lack thereof.
    Motor vehicles have NO rights when a bicycle is on the road. Leaning on your horn is NOT going to get us off the road – and should get you a ticket.
    Out of courtesy we allow you to pass by when WE feel it is safe. However, you have taken a courtesy and tried to turn it into an entitlement. You are wrong.
    You are required to give us at least 4 feet of clearance when we do allow you to pass.
    If there is not enough room to pass safely in lane with at least 4 feet of clearance, then you are required BY LAW to slow down or stop and wait until it is safe. 10 more seconds isn’t going to kill anyone, but barreling through certainly has killed cyclists recently. Do you really want that on your conscience?
    We are not required to ride on sidewalks; in fact, in all MA cities and towns, riding on sidewalks is illegal. SideWALKS are for pedestrians. Given the shoddy state and variance of construction and maintenance, sidewalks are actually more dangerous than road shoulders for us. If you don’t like it, cough up tax dollars and authorize your politicians to construct better bike paths.
    We can take the lane at OUR discretion, provided we signal. Why we take the lane is up to us – it might be glass, sand, rocks, branches, dirty diapers, parked cars, cracked pavement, dead squirrels, or whatever compromising the shoulder – or we’re about to make a left hand turn. But once we make that hand signal, you don’t get a vote, you just get in line and shut up.
    When we take the lane, you are required to slow down and take your place in line behind us. You are not entitled to lean on your horn, you are not entitled to scream verbal abuse, and you are not entitled to swerve into the oncoming lane to pass us and then swerve back – especially if we are in the middle of making a left. You are not entitled to barrel through on a single lane road. Would you treat a motorcycle like that? No? then what makes you think you can do that to us?
    You cannot swerve around us to make right turns. You cannot pull in front of us and jam on your brakes. See the bullet about right of way above
    There are several new and pending laws and amendments to MGL 85 that specify harsher penalties for your failure to abide by these rules. If you are still confused, check with your local police department.

    By accepting your driver’s license you agreed to operate your motor vehicle in accordance with these laws. If you have a problem with this, then drop off your license at the RMV and take the bus. Or get on your bikes and ride with us.

    Now, that being said, there are some stupid cyclists out there. Lights! Lights! Lights! Reflectors! Lights! Helmets! Seats! Stop at the damn stoplights and stop signs. Use hand turn and stop signals!

    • Majutar on 10.01.2012 at 10:04 am

      I don’t see anything that says cyclists have the right of way over motor vehicles. And bicycles *don’t* own the road. Blowing through a stop sign or a red light is not ok if you are on a bike. Cyclists are “subject to the traffic laws and regulations of the commonwealth” just as automobiles are.

    • Aaron L'Heureux on 10.01.2012 at 10:19 am

      You should probably spend some more time reading the legislation you referenced.

      http://www.malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartI/TitleXIV/Chapter85/Section11B
      http://www.malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartI/TitleXIV/Chapter85/Section11E

    • Leila Haery on 10.01.2012 at 10:31 am

      Good point. I don’t think many motorists realize that by LAW, we are allowed to exercise OUR DISCRETION when making decisions on how to cycle. If we don’t FEEL safe in the bike lane, we are entitled to the entire lane on Commonwealth Ave. and we are even allowed to ride two abreast. Sometimes all it takes is a huge bus, a honking row of stopped cars, or a driver TALKING or TEXTING on their cell phone for me to feel completely unsafe in the bike lane. In all of those situations, YES, we are entitled to the full lane and motorists are not allowed to pass us in that lane!

      And in the greater scheme it makes no sense for bikes to be treated as cars. We are not cars- we are much more vulnerable. The same way drivers have to yield to pedestrians in the cross walk, they should yield to bikers because we stand no chance against your giant steel cage of a car. I’d like to remind drivers that when it comes to collisions between bikes and cars, BIKERS are the ones who always get hurt. We’re the ones at risk so please excuse us for not tolerating your daily assaults.

    • LO on 10.01.2012 at 10:37 am

      Hey Spandex Ranger,
      Read the actual law:
      http://www.malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartI/TitleXIV/Chapter85/Section11B
      You *must* follow the same rules of the road as automobiles, with a few clearly defined exceptions. You absolutley do NOT have the right of way over any other vehicle, (or pedestrians).

      I am a pedestrian, bike rider, and car driver. In all 3 cases I see way too many pedestrians, bike riders, and cars violating the laws, but in most cases, not using common sense! I see far more pedestrians and bicylists making stupid moves than cars every single day. I’m not downplaying reckless drivers, but I applaud the effort of the BU Police to educate and warn reckless cyclists. They should do the same for pedestrians. Unfortunately the BU Police are not allowed stop automobiles (long story)

      Pedestrians: Get off the phone, look both ways before crossing ANY street, no matter how small.
      Cyclists: Obey the same laws as cars and watch out for those phone/ipod zombies
      Drivers: Have eyes on all sides of you head and assume that pedestrians and cyclist are going to obliviously cross right in front of you even when you have the green light.

      • econometric on 10.01.2012 at 4:35 pm

        I agree with your points here. Everyone has responsibility in using the roadways as a shared resource. I do feel that drivers have a little more responsibility however. Drivers kill cyclists, and the sense of urgency I get from cars that will do ANYTHING to get around a cyclist is just plain terrifying sometimes. It often feels as though a few minutes of delay in a motorist’s life is worth taking a cyclists’.

    • Juan on 10.01.2012 at 11:02 am

      Pretty sure the law everywhere is if you’re on the road, you obey the laws of the road. My hometown used to pull over bikers for speeding in school zones.

    • JJC on 10.01.2012 at 1:13 pm

      cyclists, if you want to exercise the same traffic rights as motorists, please obey the same rules and laws as motorists!!! Cyclists never! stop at traffic lights!!

      • Li on 10.03.2012 at 1:10 pm

        I’m a cyclist and I ALWAYS stop for red lights. Careful, your bias is showing.

    • Tim Pierce on 10.01.2012 at 2:28 pm

      You’re right on most of the details but wrong about the generalization: cyclists do not have the right of way over motor vehicles, and it is not true that motorists “have NO rights when a bicycle is on the road.” What is true is that neither cyclists nor motorists have special rights over each other on the public roads. A bicyclist has the same rights and responsibilities as a motorist and vice versa.

      Also, while riding on a sidewalk is pretty dangerous for both cyclists and pedestrians, it is only forbidden in central business districts and by selected local ordinance (e.g. the Bourne Bridge).

      The other points that you make, about the cyclist’s right to take the lane, motorists not entitled to harass cyclists by honking, yelling or swerving, are very important and everyone should be aware of them.

  • M on 10.01.2012 at 7:04 am

    According to Massachusetts law, bicyclists are “subject to the traffic laws and regulations of the commonwealth yet get warnings for riding thru red lights.
    How many warnings are givin to cars that drive thru red lights?
    It’s not easy driving down comm ave when you have to watch out for bikes & vespas that weave in and out of traffic to get to the front of the traffic line because they believe traffic laws are for cars only.
    While watching out for these law breakers you also have to keep an eye out for the cell phone \ ipod zombies who carelessly walk right into traffic not realizing that it’s not a safe time to cross the street.
    I think university Rd is by far the worst street for people crossing and I am surprised that someone does not get hit crossing that road everyday.

    • N on 10.01.2012 at 9:52 am

      “that weave in and out of traffic to get to the front of the traffic line because they believe traffic laws are for cars only”
      First reason I get to the front of the traffic line is because car really stinks when you are right behind them on bike and I don’t want to breathe your dirty exhaust gases. We don’t have any air filter on our bikes.

    • econometric on 10.01.2012 at 4:40 pm

      You are right, nobody has a right to break the law. A warning for a cyclist is fitting because 1. these rules haven’t been enforced in the past, so they need to ease into it. As you read in the article, soon these will be fines. 2. While a cyclist can cause a ripple effect and on rare occasions severely injure or kill sometime, they are mostly just annoying. I am a lot more worried about a 3,500lb car traveling ~40 mph through a red light than some hipster going 15mph on a bicycle.

    • AshleyB on 10.02.2012 at 1:09 pm

      “that weave in and out of traffic to get to the front of the traffic line because they believe traffic laws are for cars only.”

      Actually, cyclists have the right to pass on the right—in their lane, the bike lane. If a car is blocking that lane, we are allowed to take the lane to pass, or “weave,” as you refer to it. Get on a bike and you’ll be allowed to “jump the line,” too—also, your sense of entitlement might shift a little, too.

  • Joan on 10.01.2012 at 7:21 am

    I’m glad the BUPD is enforcing traffic laws but they should enforce them for all of the vehicles on the road. Just this morning a BU Parking Services pickup truck pulled out of a parking spot, into the bike lane, without looking. I had to stop as fast as I could and was almost squeezed between his truck and the traffic on Comm Ave. If they are issuing violations, it should be to all vehicles, not just bikes.

    And cyclists don’t often run red lights because they are late. It is usually, what they think, is for their own safety. I have often been waiting at a red light and a car will turn right across the bike lane without a turn signal. I can’t tell you how many times I have been tempted to run a red light just to avoid that situation. I also have issue with the signal timings. I turn left at a busy intersection every morning and I end up sitting in the middle of the intersection with four lanes of traffic flying by me. Bikes should be given a head start to move through an intersection. Pedestrians are finally getting walk signals (buttons that actually work!). How about bikes get some bike signals so we can move through intersections safely ahead of vehicles?

    • AshleyB on 10.02.2012 at 1:11 pm

      I have never felt the need to run a light for “safety” reasons. To avoid the situation you describe, you should avoid riding in the blind spot of a car next to you, and then pull ahead of traffic at the light. If you can’t safely pass a car to get to the light, or you’re afraid it’s about to change green and they’ll turn in front of you, slow down and don’t pass them.

      It’s as simple as slowing down, and there is no justification for breaking the law, and especially no justification that involves “safety.”

  • Leila Haery on 10.01.2012 at 7:48 am

    For the record, I did NOT run a red light on Friday before being pulled over. The light turned yellow after I crossed the line, and it took me longer to get through the intersection because I am NOT a car. Another example of how the rules are not accommodating to the reality of being a cyclist.

    • Sigh on 10.01.2012 at 12:18 pm

      I’m betting that’s why you got a warning and not a ticket. Perhaps the article should be updated to more accurately reflect the situation.

      • Walter Sange on 10.01.2012 at 12:54 pm

        Perhaps Sigh should try to explain why was a warning given if there wasn’t an offense. No need to warn someone who is obeying the traffic laws. Why not stop a biker who was completely in their legal right, and then issue them a warning. Yup, sounds about right.

        The BU PD are out on their annual bike roundup. They do this every fall when there is a new crop of students and each time they state they have “received complaints about cyclists”. Oh really? Only the cyclists? Because they hit cars and cause fatal accidents? Someone is really bad at paying attention to what’s really going on out there. Cars rule the road and everyone knows it. Europeans have it figured out, but no, not in car country.

        http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/30/sunday-review/to-encourage-biking-cities-forget-about-helmets.html?pagewanted=all

        • Sigh on 10.01.2012 at 1:22 pm

          Maybe Leila’s account of events differs from what they observed and when confronted with a situation where it could have gone either way they decided to talk to Leila about it instead of issuing a ticket. Maybe they made a mistake? I’m not saying they’re infallible.

          I don’t see sufficient evidence here from either source (PD or Leila) that would justify what you say here: “Why not stop a biker who was completely in their legal right.” Were you a witness to the event?

          • Walter Sange on 10.01.2012 at 3:06 pm

            So you are a law enforcement apologist–they never make mistakes, they know everything, they’re so clever and smart… they are above reproach and aren’t PRONE to judgment errors. The only people needing education about the rules of the road are the bikers? Sigh, you make me sigh. They stopped her because they could; or maybe they stopped her because she is attractive. They are cops–not far removed from being at a frat party a year or a few in the past.

            Dismissing a statement by demanding credentials (was I there? what if was? does it change my argument–absolutely not–but I may as well have been because it’s an old story) simultaneously invalidates any argument you make IN FAVOR of law enforcement in this case. Clearly, you are a law enforcement apologist. I know the type; they are usually in law enforcement. And clearly law enforcement is there to target cyclists, and therefore they see what they want to see. Have you ever interacted with the police before? It doesn’t sound like you have because they TELL you what you “did”. They are the judge and jury on the scene, and with a predefined objective (“educate cyclists about road rules”) they are biased in their endeavor. Period. They are LOOKING FOR EVERY CYCLIST. In my field we call that a search image, and it means you miss A LOT of what actually goes on around your bubble.

          • Sigh on 10.01.2012 at 3:19 pm

            lol what? You are raging dude.

            Sigh: “Maybe they made a mistake? I’m not saying they’re infallible.”

            Walter Sange: “So you are a law enforcement apologist–they never make mistakes, they know everything, they’re so clever and smart… they are above reproach and aren’t PRONE to judgment errors.”

          • Walter Sange on 10.01.2012 at 3:30 pm

            Never mind. You are absolutely in the right and it was my mistake in reading your text.

          • Walter Sange on 10.01.2012 at 4:10 pm

            Actually, you know why I’m “raging”, dude? Because it’s apparent that a lot of people are just too brain dead to understand that we are the midst of change in the way the urban environment works. People not unlike yourself, or how I have perceived you based on your comments, are defenders of the status quo. The same status quo that must be changed to allow for new ideas, new ways, new routes. Don’t pretend that a bicycle is a car. I don’t care that Mass law states about it because it is often a matter of life and death when it comes between car and bike. Don’t trivialize this, or pretend that I am raging about nothing of consequence. Get on a bike and ride for yourself. In fact, ride with me. I’m happy to take you and any law enforcement personnel NOT IN UNIFORM. We’ll see the real road and who rules. Drivers complain about everyone: bikers, pedestrians, and OTHER DRIVERS. That last point should completely dismiss any credibility drivers have at complaining. If it doesn’t, never mind. Again.

          • Sigh on 10.01.2012 at 5:02 pm

            You’re making assumptions again.

            If I am not 100% with you on all your opinions, I just must drive a car and not commute by bike, right?

            Also, I don’t think I’ve complained about any of the three populations you just mentioned, but that seems to have been folded into whatever opinion of me you have. From personal experience, all three complain about all three. No one is beyond reproach.

    • Driver on 10.01.2012 at 1:18 pm

      If a driver is in the middle of an intersection when the light turns red, they can get a ticket. For some reason as a bicyclist you think you don’t deserve one too? Ridiculous.

      • Walter Sange on 10.01.2012 at 3:10 pm

        This comment is so stupid it begs the question of why getting a drivers license is so easy.

      • Leila Haery on 10.01.2012 at 5:08 pm

        Yes! It is ridiculous that we’re expected to abide by laws that were designed for MOTOR VEHICLES. Yes, sometimes it takes a biker longer to get through the intersection because we’re actually pedaling with our own energy instead of guzzling down gasoline. Thank you for pointing how absurd it is to think these rules actually make any sense when applied blindly to all cyclists in all scenarios. This isn’t the Tour de France, so excuse me for not racing through the intersection and instead riding at a safe speed.

      • Rebecca on 10.07.2012 at 11:57 pm

        As a Boston driver and a bicyclist for 40 years,I can say that ALL car drivers in Boston run yellow lights and even continue to enter the intersection after the light has turned red. That is an especially dangerous maneuver for bicycles. Car drivers are just jealous of bicyclists because it is not as easy for the car driver to jump a red light. I have never in my 40 years of driving here, seen or heard of a driver getting a ticket for running a yellow light. Why do lots of bicyclists stop and then proceed through red lights? Because they are scared of the cars and want to get away from them. The rule should have been “same roads same rights”, NOT “same roads,same rules”. Until bicyclists have a safe place to ride, protected from 2,000 plus pounds of steel, you are going to have cyclists doing their best to stay safe from cars. All of this enforcement comes from trying to appease drivers who stole the streets from other road users 90 years ago!

    • Aaron on 10.30.2012 at 1:29 pm

      For the record Ms. Haery you clearly do not know the law. When you approach a intersection and you see that the light is turning yellow. YOU ARE SUPPOSE TO STOP, Because a yellow light means, PREPARE TO STOP!!! It does mean “oh I can just keep going because lil ole me is on a bikey bike and the laws dont apply to me”, or to speed up to beat the light. You did violate the law, you were either not paying attention, going to fast, don’t care or are ignorant to the law, or all of the above. Either way you are wrong, take responsibility and admit when your wrong and educate yourself. Reminds me of my days a Campus Police Officer, most of you kids have sence of entitlement that you can do just whatever you want and no one can tell otherwise when your caught doing something wrong!

  • Michael Baum on 10.01.2012 at 7:54 am

    Painting lines along Comm. Ave. and calling them ‘bike lanes’ is a joke. Until funding is found to build real, dedicated bike lanes that exclude other traffic, riding a bike along Comm. Ave. during rush hour will remain very dangerous. Boston city officials in charge of bike safety should take a field trip to The Netherlands to see how investment in bike lane infrastructure saves lives and entices the public to use bikes instead of cars for daily commuting to and from work.

    • Tim Pierce on 10.01.2012 at 2:32 pm

      Dedicated bike lanes would not be as helpful, IMHO, as setting the speed limit at 25mph and enforcing it, either through ticketing or implementing traffic-calming measures. Comm Ave is two lanes in each direction. There is no reason why a bicyclist should not take the full right lane.

  • Dev Luthra on 10.01.2012 at 8:10 am

    I cycle regularly to commute to work and I applaud the efforts of the BU police to ticket cyclists running red lights. I have to deal with cyclists going the wrong way on bike lanes and one way streets. The only accident I have been involved in cycling involved a cyclist on a bike path not observing the rules of the road.

  • Barbara on 10.01.2012 at 8:28 am

    Cyclists do not just run red lights “to be on time.” A variety of other factors come into account. Why the officers stop cyclists and cite them with violations, what form of ID do the cyclists need to provide if any? Cyclists are not as clearly defined as motorists and pedestrians in regards to the “rules of the road.” Comm Ave is very unsafe, the bike lanes are not observed and respected by motorists. Pedestrians jaywalk. Will citations be issued for jaywalking as well? There are many more factors to consider in the issue of cyclists and traffic violations, mainly the implemenation of infrastructure to make cycling a part of the road rather than as a form of transportation trying to squeeze in and pass by.

    • Barbara on 10.01.2012 at 10:51 pm

      Cycletracks would suit Comm Ave quite well. The parked cars would be where the current bike lanes are, thus acting as a barrier between the motorists and the cyclists. The Cycletracks would be where the cars are currently parked. The likelihood of getting doored would decrease and provide cyclists with an additional layer of protection on the road. Making righthand turns still is problematic. However, with the implementation of bike specific traffic signals plus Cycletracks, the problems facing Comm Ave for both motorists and cyclists could be alleviated.

  • Alex on 10.01.2012 at 9:15 am

    “Cycling on the Charles River Campus has increased greatly in recent years, as indicated by the number of bicycle accidents reported to BUPD.”

    Unsupported argument. From a statistics perspective, we cannot make the assertion that just because the number of bicycle accidents increased, then also cycling has increased. The number of accidents could have increased due to any number of things: cyclists becoming more reckless, automobile drivers becoming more reckless, roads becoming less bike-friendly (a broad category), etc.

    Perhaps a more well-founded argument would be: “Cycling on the Charles River Campus has become increasingly perilous in recent years, as …”

  • Driver on 10.01.2012 at 9:20 am

    As a Boston driver, I am so glad to here that BUPD is finally taking a stand against bicyclists that are clearly violating the law! Bicyclists have made the streets around BU significantly more dangerous for themselves, drivers and pedestrians. As a cautious driver, I am continually checking my blind spots to make sure that I am staying far enough away from bicyclists. Yet constantly I find bikes extremely close to my car, that come out of nowhere, completely disregarding the fact that they are in a vulnerable position. I have seen bicyclists hit pedestrians on the street because they decided it was okay to run a red light.
    I am probably more concerned for the environment than most bikers, yet I cannot justify nearly killing myself every day to avoid taking the T or walking. Bikes create more congestion on the roads as drivers have to be more careful to avoid them and still get the short end of the stick when bikers continually violate the law.
    And don’t even get me started on the percentage of bikers I see every day without a helmet on. Its a clear disregard for their own safety… smart.

    • upwithlife on 10.01.2012 at 4:03 pm

      ah – so motorists are angry at cyclists because they force them to be more cautious with their dangerous weapons. you do realize the only reason we have traffic laws are because of cars, right?

      besides roads were originally built for horses and people – not cars. it’s time we end this auto-hegemony! take back the streets!

  • SR on 10.01.2012 at 9:20 am

    Well, it’s good that cyclists are made more aware, I suppose. It’s ultimately for their safety.

    But I think that focusing on them exclusively is misguided:

    1. The pedestrians on campus have absolutely no regard whatsoever for traffic signals. It’s actually laughable watching a student on his/her cellphone walking right in front of a car doing 20 through a green light, and then acting like it’s the car’s problem. And that’s just one student. Usually it’s throngs of students walking through green lights, forcing cars to unexpectedly stop, then when the car does other students take it as an invitation to walk through the green, causing the driver to miss the light, completely unnecessarily.

    2. Most of the drivers in this city are way too aggressive. They lay on the horn in the split of a hair and take chances constantly.

    3. The traffic/pedestrian light system here is either absent, dysfunctional, impossible to interpret, or just in some other way inadequate. Too often pedestrian walk signs don’t turn on despite having the right of way; too often there is no light system at all–like how long does it have to take before someone at Comm. Ave and Boston University Road, just east of the bridge there, gets killed before a proper light system is used? Why are there no pedestrian signals there at all, despite thousands of students using it per day?

  • Hilar on 10.01.2012 at 9:24 am

    “It doesn’t matter how late you are if you’re dead,” he said.

    Or…

    “Running a red light is a good way to turn A late Mr. Cyclist into THE late Mr. Cyclist.” Boom!

  • PK on 10.01.2012 at 9:40 am

    Thank you, BUPD. Let’s keep this up all year. (And cite crazy motorists and jaywalkers as well.) I know some of my cyclist friends may disagree with me, but it isn’t practical to consider the bike lane sacred at all times. MBTA buses do need to briefly cross into bike lane territory in order to pick up riders. (The times when they stop in the street, cyclists nearly run down and sometimes even hit riders getting on and off.) And unfortunately, delivery trucks sometimes park where they shouldn’t (including crosswalks) — usually because they have no other realistic option. This is a nuissance, but there is a simple way of dealing with it. SLOW DOWN and even temporarily come to a STOP if need be. Drivers have to do this for various reasons *all the time*. It’s annoying, but nowhere is it written that as a cyclist you are exempt from all obstacles everywhere. Commuting by bike (like walking or riding the T) is a great choice for the environment, but we’re all human, and clearly cyclists are not immune to the same impatience as motorists, the sense that only one’s own errand or commute matters, that there can be no valid explanation for anyone to stop in front of you, ever. We’d all do well to take it a little easier out there.

    • Ethan Fleming on 10.01.2012 at 3:41 pm

      Thank you BUPD. Lets also ticket the drivers who park in or idol in the bike lane.

      • AshleyB on 10.02.2012 at 1:20 pm

        This. They have to ticket everyone or no one. I have never seen a car get a ticket for blocking the bike lane, but I call the police EVERY time I witness this. I also take a snapshot of the license plate with my camera and post it online.

      • AshleyB on 10.02.2012 at 1:22 pm

        This. They need to ticket everyone. I call the police every time a car is blocking the bike lane, and take a picture of their license plate to post online, but I’ve never once seen them get a ticket. If all you get is a warning from a police officer, or a request to move, you’re never going to learn to stop the behavior, you’re just going to learn not to do it in front of a cop.

        • Ethan Fleming on 10.03.2012 at 11:51 am

          You and i are on the same boat here. I have tried calling the BUPD about people parked in the bike lane and they never do a thing because they care more about the convenience of the student than they do about the safety of the cyclists because the students are paying the bills that supply their paycheck. If this was not true the BUPD would be handing out non-stop ticket after ticket to people for parking in the bike lane. I also am going around the area taking pics of BU students parking and idoling ing the bike lane.

          Every time a driver parks in the bike lane, they are sending a message through their actions saying that they care more about their personal self convenience than they do about the safety of others.

  • N on 10.01.2012 at 10:02 am

    Why are cars allowed on Comm. Ave in the first place? That’s just messy, noisy and dangerous in a university campus. Just allow university vehicles and make parkings entrance from the back streets.
    Or just dig a tunnel for the cars and the T while you are it, then you can put grass and trees and a small real bike lane on top.

    • Big Digtastrophy on 10.01.2012 at 10:55 am

      “Just dig a tunnel” will never be a viable solution in Boston again…if we’re lucky.

    • LO on 10.01.2012 at 11:08 am

      Comm. Ave existed long before BU moved here. BU does not own Comm Ave, or even the sidewalks in front of all the BU buildings. BU does spend a great deal of money keping thses areas clean, and has made things much safer than they were before.

      • anon on 10.01.2012 at 4:47 pm

        Bu owns all of those things more surely than you or I will ever own anything.

    • Sigh on 10.01.2012 at 12:16 pm

      6/10, would read again.

  • b on 10.01.2012 at 10:10 am

    Time to do this. Most bicyclists do believe they own the road, as some of these letters show. Running down and scaring pedestrians is the fun part, I guess.

    I hope that BUPD remains vigilant so that those of us who walk can do so in safety.

    • AshleyB on 10.02.2012 at 1:24 pm

      The real fun part is almost getting hit by every tractor trailer and SUV in the city. Oh, also getting honked at even when a car has two lanes and can pass safely at any time, but chooses to be a dick about it instead. HAPPY FUN TIMES.

  • Aaron L'Heureux on 10.01.2012 at 10:25 am

    I’m mostly amazed that the defense in articles like this is always “well those people broke the law too, why can’t I?”

    I think what everyone would objectively find is that tickets and citations for breaking laws governing the roadways are intermittent. There is no way for everyone breaking every rule to receive a citation. For a few days, bicyclists at this intersection were flagged down. On almost every other day in the past year they weren’t. In other places, drivers in cars will not abide by specific laws for quite some time, and then one day enforcement will occur at that location and one or more people will receive citations.

    As both a bike and car commuter to BU, I can say that there are plenty of people both in cars and on bikes that don’t follow the rules every single day. No one group is more innocent than the other and anyone taking the standpoint that their sole mode of travel is being wronged should try the other for some perspective.

    • Leila Haery on 10.01.2012 at 11:21 am

      The argument was not “well those people broke the law too, why can’t I?” It’s about how minimal the red light issue is the great culture of biking on this campus. If the goal is to increase safety, ticketing cyclists is simply not the way to do it. You’re exactly right when you say “there are plenty of people both in cars and on bikes that don’t follow the rules every single day.” It’s obvious that there is a a problem with the rules! As quoted in the article, “there’s not a cycling infrastructure that is effective on that stretch of campus,” and that’s the bottom line! The point is that bikers are sick of taking the blame! It’s not about pointing fingers, it’s about the fact that there is no safe way to bike down Comm. Ave. and nabbing cyclists at red lights simply isn’t going to change that.

      • Aaron L'Heureux on 10.01.2012 at 12:11 pm

        Regardless of the goal, it is totally acceptable to ticket people in cars or on bicycles that are not following the rules of the road. If you think that having fewer bicycles in the middle of an intersection when they do not have the right of way does not increase the safety of everyone involved, I’m certainly confused. I don’t have to think back too many days to recall a circumstance where I’ve almost collided with a biker when he or she is crossing an intersection without the right of way. This requires sudden braking, 100% awareness from the person behind me, and a little bit of luck on everyone’s part to not hurt someone or damage something. And similarly, there are numerous occasions where I’ve had to cycle defensively to avoid cars also breaking the rules – locking my brakes to stop a collision, actually hopping off to a sidewalk, etc.

        Desire to not pay a fine can outweigh the desire to break a law, that’s kind of the entire concept. Also, despite anyone’s opinion on the individual institution state by state, there is an entire mandated course drivers must take before being allowed to operate a motor vehicle. There is a structure in place for removing that privilege and (particularly in MA) steep penalties in the form of insurance premiums for repeat offenders (it becomes prohibitively expensive to insure a car with a few points on your license). Hyperbole like “I don’t see them trying to educate the motorists on how not to kill us” doesn’t hold much weight when viewing the disparity between what it takes to be able to drive compared to what it takes to be able to bike. And despite this, both populations break the rules, often. Education is only one part of the puzzle and can only influence a person’s decisions so much.

        The fact that an article like this is even written is indicative of how little attention the issue is given and how little finger pointing there is. If the concept of ticketing cyclists wasn’t so foreign, no one would be writing about it. I don’t see articles about enforcing road rules for cars because it’s a given (anecdotal ‘experience’ to the contrary from either population notwithstanding). As a member of both groups, I am not sick of any blame because blame is pointed at both populations and is quite justified in many situations. The fact is that people in cars and bikes are breaking the law.

        And “it’s about the fact that there is no safe way to bike down Comm. Ave.” is not the best statement to make when suggesting that discouraging cyclists from biking into intersections without the right of way is not going to help. To me it looks like a direct contradiction.

        • Leila Haery on 10.01.2012 at 1:17 pm

          The article was not written merely to report that concept of ticketing cyclists exists- it’s 2012, we already knew that. It was written to draw attention to the bigger issue of safe commuting on campus and to voice the concerns that all commuters have, and by and large the message is unanimous: it’s not safe!

          Sure, I agree that anyone who breaks a rule should get a ticket. But don’t tell me that motorists are above education just because they took a drivers license exam, likely many years ago. That’s not even possible considering that a lot of bike legislation is NEW and EVOLVING- so no, drivers don’t know the rules.

          Maybe you want to just accept the current disfunctional system and continue slapping everyone with a ticket in order to save lives. Well, that’s just not good enough. Take a cue from the many more evolved European cities and see how safe biking culture is actually accomplished. Boston streets simply are not safe enough and that’s a fact. The fact that you think this article was written merely to report ticketing proves that you just don’t get it. You stand by your ticketing method, but please, let the rest of us try to advocate for something that might actually work.

          • Aaron L'Heureux on 10.01.2012 at 1:41 pm

            You’re arguing against a point that I never made.

            Nowhere have I suggested that there are not other improvements that should be made. The two scenarios are certainly not mutually exclusive. There are absolutely traffic situations on Commonwealth Avenue that are unsafe for all three populations present, drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians alike. That fact does not diminish the value of discussing these more ‘instantaneous’ situations. Re-architecting a state highway is not exactly an overnight thing.

          • Walter Sange on 10.01.2012 at 2:25 pm

            Yeah that’s right! We’re talking about re-architecting a highway here. [scratches head] Take a cue from your French heritage Mr. L’H, and get with the evolving city mindset. It has to change.

          • Aaron L'Heureux on 10.01.2012 at 3:11 pm

            I…what?

            I just said that there are changes in need yet I need to get with an evolving city mindset?

  • Liam on 10.01.2012 at 10:40 am

    I cannot imagine a more misguided misuse of resources than the police department cracking down on cyclists. Perhaps having too much time and too much power has gone to their heads? Instead of bullying cyclists, they should be cracking down on the only group of people who are actually endangering anyone: the aggressive motorists. Their sense of entitlement, their haste, and their carelessness makes navigating BU’s campus dangerous for Cyclists, Pedestrians, and other motorists. Why haven’t I ever seen an effort to reduce reckless driving on campus?

    • Caroline on 10.01.2012 at 10:26 pm

      Considering the robberies at gunpoint we’ve had recently, I would argue against your statement that the only group of people actually endangering anyone is the aggressive motorists. I completely agree that this is a completely misguided use of resources. I don’t feel safe on campus and it’s not because of cyclists.

  • Bain on 10.01.2012 at 11:35 am

    I’m a frequent biker, and yes I agree that there are many bikers who do not obey the laws, and they should stop at traffic lights. However following the discussion of bike lanes, the issue with the BU bridge is that the bike lanes SUCK. they are hardly visible, and I’ve actually been honked before on the bike lane. (the driver probably didn’t even know I was on the bike lane)

  • MLM on 10.01.2012 at 11:58 am

    Now, if we could just start ticketing those pesky jaywalkers.

    • AshleyB on 10.02.2012 at 1:26 pm

      This was a very effective method of saving lives and keeping the traffic flow where I grew up. EVERYONE gets a ticket when they get caught, not just one subset of people the police decide to focus on in any given month.

  • Law Abiding Driver on 10.01.2012 at 12:12 pm

    Simple test: drive down Beacon Street at 8am during warmer months. Watch the number of bikers who blow through red lights, often causing on-coming cars to have to jam on their brakes to avoid hitting them. While it isn’t every biker, it is certainly a majority. Most will “jaybike,” riding through red lights, putting themselves and the automobiles attempting not to hit them in peril.

    It isn’t a case of only a few bikers disobeying the laws meant to protect them. It’s the majority doing so.

    You think the roads and bike lanes suck for cyclists? Use a car or the T. This is very much a white, rich, yuppie city phenomenon where this sort of complaining by cyclists is even listened to. Most cities (not encumbered by thongs of over-privileged college kids and trust fund hipsters) realize cars = important to daily life and not the tool of the devil to be demonized by kids getting a BA in liberal arts on daddy’s dime.

    • Dan on 10.01.2012 at 1:37 pm

      Law Abiding Driver, your clear stereotype of cyclists as rich white kids and cars as important tools for daily life is incredibly misguided and incorrect. There are many cyclists out there who use our bikes as a daily tool to commute back and forth to our paying jobs because we find them more efficient and much healthier for my body than cars or the T, and I ride SAFELY. I own a car too, and choose not to use it.

      I am certain your “test” that indicated to you that “while it isn’t every biker, it is certainly a majority [who blow red lights]” has no scientific accuracy whatsoever. Here’s one that does: The Guardian recently debunked a study in the UK that claimed that 57% of cyclists jump red lights. In fact, only 1.9% did this “regularly”, and by the same metric, 32% of automobile drivers jump reds! Now, I strongly advocate that all road users, cyclists, drivers, pedestrians, horse and buggy alike, follow the rules of the road, but seriously, which group actually kills people by running reds? The cars do. (I suppose the horses and buggies could, too.) Also, 80% of drivers drive over the speed limit regularly! Do you always drive at or below the speed limit? How about coming to a full stop at reds?

      Get off your high horse and try riding a bike, and ride SAFELY. It’ll be good for you and the environment, and may help to erase some of those stereotypes.

      • Dan on 10.01.2012 at 1:39 pm

        err, that should say “How about coming to a full stop at stop signs?”

      • Law Abiding Driver on 10.01.2012 at 2:59 pm

        Hey Dan,

        Here’s an Aussie study (since we’re tossing out studies probably not germane to the US cycling environment).

        http://phys.org/news/2012-07-cyclists-red.html

        40% admit to infringing on red light laws as cyclists.

        • AshleyB on 10.02.2012 at 1:27 pm

          How many “law abiding drivers” admit to infringing on red light laws as drivers? I think 40% in Boston would be a highly optimistic figure, even if we’re just talking about the people who AREN’T lying.

          • Well on 10.03.2012 at 7:14 pm

            The stats would be different. When a cyclist says he/she rides through red lights that basically means he/she rides through most all of them because the cyclist can get to the front of the line and then just go. When a car does it is frequently toward the tail end of a light cycle and certainly isn’t every single light.

            That said, cars that drive through red lights frustrate me when I’m in a car. Their time is no more important than anyone else’s, particularly when safety is involved.

    • Barbara on 10.01.2012 at 1:38 pm

      Cyclists’ advocacy and safety concerns is not a class issue. By making cycling more accessible, approachable and safer in major metropolitan cities, people of all income levels will have access to sustainable transportation, freeing them from the constraints of cars and sub-par public transit options. Proof of this is in the Hubway system as well.

      The era of the post-automobile is upon us, global warming is real and reliance on cars is an absurd position to take. While yes, there are hybrid and electric car options, wouldn’t you say that those options are class-specific as well?

    • econometric on 10.01.2012 at 4:47 pm

      Hey Law Abiding Driver, which costs more, car or bike? Which requires expensive gas and insurance? Which costs more to repair on average? The bike sounds much more egalitarian to me.

    • Leila Haery on 10.01.2012 at 5:26 pm

      This is precisely NOT a “white, rich, yuppie city phenomenon,” and you have a very outdated mindset. Wake up to the fact that more cities are encouraging biking as it is a superior method of transportation on many levels. The Hubway system in an example of this phenomenon right here in Boston, as Barbara points out below. You don’t own the road. Learn to share! And if you can’t bear the idea that transportation is evolving and that you’re going to have to share your precious pavement, then maybe you better move somewhere where you don’t have to tolerate other humans. But if you want to stay, maybe think about thanking bikers for reducing YOUR healthcare costs, the exhaust fumes that YOU breath in, and the amount of traffic that YOU have to sit in. You’re welcome!

  • dulles on 10.01.2012 at 1:51 pm

    So, let me get this straight… a pickup driver with an atrocious driving record strikes and kills an elderly cyclist on Morrisey Blvd in Dorchester… a tractor-trailer truck turns left in front of a cyclist at the corner of A Street and West Broadway in South Boston, striking and killing her… meanwhile out in metro west a truck driver in Weston pinches a cyclist to the curb and pulls him under the wheels…

    so clearly…

    Lack of helmet use and kids running red lights are the problem! Enforcement is enforcement, and sure, there is a legitimate safety angle here. But it’s a farce to connect this police traffic enforcement action to the recent deaths of cyclists. Apparently, none of them ran red lights. And helmets either didn’t make, or wouldn’t have made a difference.

  • M on 10.01.2012 at 3:21 pm

    I believe we should tackle the cars first before stopping cyclists. Cars are the real danger on the road, not the cyclists. Last Saturday, I witness a bunch of cars continuing to go despite having the red light. It was ridiculous since cars with the green lights couldn’t go and am furious with what was going on. What a major traffic jam indeed!

    I also like the idea of having separate lights for cyclist since we obviously don’t go faster than cars. I was biking down Comm. Ave in the bike lane and suddenly this car cut in front of me to get to a parking spot and I smash against the right side of it. Putting cyclist between cars and parking spots is insanity. It’s time to improve bike infrastructure so that we don’t get hurt. Another time, I was going straight and the car on the left of me suddenly decide to make a right turn at the corner and again, I slam into its right side. This is simply intolerable and I have endure enough. BU Police: please do something about the awful speedy cars going up and down campus and leave the cyclists alone. We don’t create air nor noise pollution, or take up a lot of space either.

    Finally, I suggest more bike racks are needed outside Mugur Library/GSU because there are always so many bikes there and almost no room for my bike when I get there. Another location where extra bike racks are needed is outside building L/R on the med campus. So many bikes are cram there; come on, let’s improve biking on campus and increase its numbers even more.

    Someday, I hope to see all the lanes on the roads reserve for bikes. Now wouldn’t that be awesome and then all our transportation issues are solve.

    • Aaron L'Heureux on 10.01.2012 at 3:34 pm

      This is somewhat related to the first part of your comment: http://www.cityofboston.gov/news/default.aspx?id=5757 and you might enjoy seeing at least an attempt at some progress in motor vehicle enforcement about gridlock and symptoms of it which can certainly occur during improper travel through an intersection when the light has turned red and traffic is heavy.

      As a driver and biker, I was pretty happy to see this :)

    • Ethan Fleming on 10.01.2012 at 4:14 pm

      I agree with most of what you said. As for the seperate light for cyclist Im not sure it is a good idea. They already have it in New York and the Cyclists ignore it just like they do regulare traffic lights.

  • Ethan Fleming on 10.01.2012 at 3:28 pm

    I feel it is great that the BUPD is ticketting cyclist for running red lights. But while they are at it they should go after the annoying BU students who are parking and idoling in the bike lane because they care more about their own convenience than they do about the safety of other.

    • AshleyB on 10.02.2012 at 1:31 pm

      This is truly what it boils down to. Whenever a driver gets all pissy about cyclists, their main complaint is about running red lights, “jumping” ahead in line, or taking the lane. None of this is about anything except the two minutes they’d have to wait to safely pass (right on up to the next red light, where the cyclist will inevitably catch up). It’s also about feeling entitled to park somewhere they shouldn’t because their lives are more important than anyone else’s.

      • Ethan Fleming on 10.03.2012 at 11:55 am

        Ashley
        You and I should get together and talk about this sometime because we have almost perfectly matching opinions. Contact me sometime

        efleming@webweaverdesigns.org

  • Walter Sange on 10.01.2012 at 3:33 pm

    There really is no winning here. Some people are just as likely to understand the biker’s dilemma as they are to understand evolution by decent with modification or climate change.

  • M on 10.01.2012 at 3:38 pm

    Check out this article on how reckless this driver and passenger are in Newton:
    http://www.boston.com/yourtown/news/newton/2012/09/newton_cyclists_doored_inciden.html?camp=obnetwork

    How dare they try to “doored” a cyclist on purpose!

    Also, maybe we don’t need helmets if we improve bike infrastructure. Helments could potentially scare off potential cyclist if they think riding a bike is risky. Check out:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/30/sunday-review/to-encourage-biking-cities-forget-about-helmets.html?pagewanted=1&_r=0&partner=rss&emc=rss

    • AshleyB on 10.02.2012 at 1:33 pm

      I will always wear my helmet, but I was so stunned to go to Zagreb earlier in the year and see a city with WONDERFUL traffic infrastructure. NONE of the cyclists wore helmets, and their safety statistics make ours look embarrassing as a civilized country.

  • Nick on 10.01.2012 at 3:50 pm

    As a driver I am happy for their efforts, but also as a cyclist I find it annoying

  • Eric W on 10.01.2012 at 3:50 pm

    So…how many bicyclists do you think just made it thru the police checkpoint without a citation by cycling legally?

    This is only a bit more than 100 citations in a day. There are thousands of cyclists per day, right? And more thousands of badly driven cars acting the same way in this area who got by without a ticket.

    My solution: ban the cars. OK, just limt their speed to a survivable amount like 25 mph. And keep them over to the left side of the road, away from the bicycle lane.

    In real terms: putting a buffer (a second paint line one foot over, and/or short pylons) along the left side of a bike lane. Ticket any vehicle parked in the bike lane to clear the lane. And added some bike boxes (go on, google this if you don’t know what it is) at the intersections. Cost – some paint. No big deal, probably less that three day of a police checkpint. Benefits – cyclists will have a clearly defined route, and be a lot less likely to behave badly by running red lights. Somebody will avoid a life changing collision.

    Eric the ex-patriot, not cycling in civilized Santa Monnica.

    • anon on 10.01.2012 at 4:44 pm

      The buffer should be on the *right* side of the bike lane.

      The danger in using bike lanes is being doored, or T-boned by a car coming out of a driveway, not being hit from behind.

    • M on 10.01.2012 at 5:14 pm

      I second you. Definitely ban the cars on campus, but keep the T. We could be the first public transportation and bikes only campus in America. Now wouldn’t that make headlines.

  • Scott on 10.01.2012 at 3:51 pm

    “Boston Bikes, a program administered by the office of Mayor Thomas Menino (Hon.’01), notes that the intersection of Comm Ave and the BU Bridge is one of the most dangerous in the city for cyclists.”

    When heading Westbound on Comm Ave then yes I would agree with this statement but the BU PD were not stationed at that intersection rather Eastbound after the light located at Commonwealth and Mountfort St. Being one of the people who was given a verbal warning there are a few things worth saying about this “bike trap.”

    1. The intersection is not dangerous, it’s a one way street that crosses Comm Ave and no other traffic can cross when Eastbound traffic, the red light in question here, has a red light.

    2. While it’s technically running a red light it’s more like a stop sign, all bikers come up to the intersection and stop completely while waiting for cars to stop coming. Once cars have stopped, and you can see them coming very clearly, all bikers procede through the intersection. No one is flying down Comm Ave and through this red light.

    There is very little danger involved in cross the intersection which is more than likely linked to why so many people do it even if they aren’t comfortable riding a bike in the city. How do I know that’s the case? Take a look at a few of them and tell me I’m wrong. It’s an easy place to target in order to get a high return (number count) for the time wasted by three police officers.

    I have not stopped passing through intersections, once deemed safe, with a red light while riding a bike as I view it no differently than crossing a street on foot with a “do not walk” sign.

    • John on 10.01.2012 at 4:59 pm

      That is precisely why you need a ticket. You do not get to decide for yourself not to obey our laws regardless of how you judge the safety conditions of the time. Motorists are required to stop at red lights until they turn green. Cyclists are required to stop at red lights until they turn green. Pedestrians are required to use crosswalks if within a certain distance and obey the walk indications if signals are present. The only exception is unless directed otherwise by a police officer. Period. Law enforcement can not target all violators all the time. Today cyclists are being targeted on Comm Ave, yesterday it was motorists on Route 24. Eventually all classes get put under scrutiny.

      • Brad on 10.01.2012 at 5:53 pm

        Yes, we should all obey all the laws all the time. In a non-perfect world, however, that’s just not gonna happen. I agree whole-heartedly with Scott…when I’m biking and come up to a red light I slow down and/or stop to check the traffic, and if it’s perfectly clear and I will go through. This causes absolutely no problem/inconvenience/danger to ANYONE, so therefore why should it be illegal?

        • Doug C on 10.02.2012 at 9:06 am

          Brad and Scott – If you want the rights of vehicle on the road, you need to respect the rules of the road. Vehicles stop at the red lights and go at green lights. That does not mean slow down at a red light – that’s a yield sign- or wait until traffic looks clear – that’s a stop sign.

          Disobeying the traffic laws only gives ammunition to the crazy drivers who say cyclists have no right to be on the road.

  • NM on 10.01.2012 at 4:38 pm

    Get over yourselves, Bostonians! Everyone, motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians have a responsibility to share the road, obey traffic laws, exercise reasonable caution, wear a seat belt or a helmet, hang up the phone, look both ways, and at the end of the day accept that navigating Comm Ave carries some inherent risk that we all have to accept.

  • econometric on 10.01.2012 at 4:49 pm

    Comments between motorists and cyclists regarding events like this often feel rather heated. What is interesting to me is that, as a cyclists (who also drives on weekends), I feel so passionate because motorists take the life of the cyclist in their hands when they get behind the wheel. Why are motorists so passionate, because cyclists are annoying? I am curious.

  • anon on 10.01.2012 at 4:50 pm

    When is the university going to put pressure on the Boston Transportation Department to fix some of the incredibly stupid traffic lights on that stretch of Comm Ave? Like the ones that don’t give a walk light when there’s no possible turning traffic.

    And I don’t know *what* is going on with the light at the BU Bridge. That one seems to give protected greens to the side street even though left turns aren’t allowed.

  • Brad on 10.01.2012 at 5:48 pm

    Have they changed the law so that there is ANY penalty for not paying a ticket you get while biking? In case the BU students don’t know, the law is written so that a ticket written for a bicycle citation cannot in any way effect your right to drive a car, so the DMV can’t attach the citation to your registration or license. You are also not required to show ID if stopped on a bike (no license required), so you can also just give the cop a fake name/address. These laws are toothless, so bikers please carry on as before.

    • Greg B. on 10.01.2012 at 10:17 pm

      Yes, carry on as before. Of course, you’ll probably reconsider your smug attitude as you’re sailing through the air into oncoming traffic seconds after deciding that that pesky red light didn’t apply to you.

    • anon on 10.02.2012 at 2:18 am

      No, they can’t suspend your driver’s license for bicycle tickets. Nor for most other non-automobile-related fines (except for MBTA fare evasion tickets). Which I think is a very good thing.

  • richard senic on 10.01.2012 at 7:00 pm

    cyclists as a group run the gamet from people who just want to get place to place cheaply to the hard core cycling advocates who believe us fat people shouldnt drive cars, they are like the “dog” people who think their dogs are humans and are not content to leave well enough alone but want you to join them in their views. here are some facts:

    1) automobiles were developed before bicycles
    2) cyclist are required to obey all laws of the road but strangely enough they are not required to have operator licenses, this needs to be changed.
    3) driving a bicycle drunk or drugged is not a crime, perhaps it should be

    • JD on 10.02.2012 at 1:33 pm

      1) No. Bicycles were invented in the early 1800s. Not that it matters which were invented first, anyway.

  • Tom on 10.01.2012 at 11:03 pm

    Just wondering where BUPD (a private police department) thinks that they have the statutory authority under Massachusetts General Law to issue fines and citations to bicyclists (especially where the City of Boston Police Department doesn’t believe that they have it). Truth is: BUPD has NO authority under Massachusetts law to stop bicyclists, motorists, or anyone else for violating the rules of the road on Commonwealth Ave. or anywhere else.

    Good effort to snag the scofflaw bike nazis (I detest them as much as anyone), but the BUPD is overstepping their authority here.

  • M on 10.02.2012 at 8:29 am

    Therefore, yes, as a matter of fact we do own the road. And a cyclist blowing through a stop light does not abrogate our rights and your lack thereof.

    Last time I check gas tax pays for roads so actually bikers should be gracious that us car drivers allow you bikers to ride on the road that we pay for.

    Bikes need to stay on the sidewalk with all the other children’s toys.

    • AshleyB on 10.02.2012 at 1:41 pm

      http://www.transalt.org/files/newsroom/magazine/032Spring/02provocateur.html

      Not helping yourself by posting your paragraphs out of order, but for anyone who is too lazy to check the link (M, I mean you), the summary is that gas tax only pays for about a third of the roads. My non-vehicular taxes (and P.S. I own a car, so we pay gas and vehicular taxes, too) cover 40% of the roads.

      Furthermore, most cyclists also own cars, I am not a special butterfly in that regard. So we ARE paying for the roads, and by your asinine projections, are entitled to at least 40% of it without a car, and 100% of it if our car is our “second bike,” smart guy.

    • Leila Haery on 10.02.2012 at 2:25 pm

      It’s absurd to think that you own the road because you pay fuel tax. The budget for street maintenance comes from many sources including real estate excise tax, the city’s general fund, and the state’s arterial street fund in addition to a portion of the fuel tax. So in fact we all pay for the streets and you absolutely do not own them.

      Not to mention the fact that the maintenance required on city streets is largely a function of automobiles: bikes don’t need wide multi-lane roads that are prone to pot holes, we don’t need huge signs all over the place, bike paths also don’t require long repair and maintenance processes that require an expensive police detail. So actually, you can thank your own car for the costs you incur.

      Additionally, due to cars with increased fuel efficiency, the fuel tax is no longer generating enough revenue to meet budget requirements. I hope you’ll be “gracious” enough to pay for what you own when it comes time to cough up more cash.

  • Leebo on 10.02.2012 at 10:26 am

    So, richard senic, you don’t have your facts straight. Bikes were around before cars. The first roads were for bikes, not cars.
    The issue is, what is more dangerous, bad car driving or bad biking? Yes, we all need to take personal responsibility. A reckless biker is likely to only hurt themselves, while a bad car driver is a danger to all road users. Share the road. There is plenty of room for all users.

  • JD on 10.02.2012 at 1:24 pm

    I’ve been hit by a bicyclist as I was legally crossing the street. The bicyclist sped through the red light. Yes, bicyclists who run red lights are dangerous. And yes, cars parked in the bike lane create an unnecessary hazard, but they are stationary objects that cannot hit people. Also, pedestrians who jaywalk should be ticketed heavily. The police should be ticketing ANYONE who breaks a traffic law, including bicyclists.

  • JT on 10.02.2012 at 1:55 pm

    It’s important to remember that this is only one article, and it has a pretty clear slant. I’ve seen BUPD officers ticket vehicles idoling or parked in the bike lane on multiple occassions, as well as ticket cars violating traffic laws. Don’t believe everything you read here as gospel. Every story is trying to play an angle, and it doesn’t seem like we’re getting the whole truth here.
    No one group is to blame for the hectic nature of Comm Ave, there are bad bikers, pedestrians, AND drivers. I wholeheartedly agree with Leebo in saying that we all need to take responsibility and follow the rules. If you already do, great! Spread the word and tell your friends to do the same. If you don’t, correct your own actions before accusing others.

    • Leila Haery on 10.02.2012 at 2:29 pm

      Actually BU police aren’t allowed to stop cars on the street and ticket them, so I have a hard time believe that you ever witnessed such a thing.

  • David on 10.02.2012 at 2:11 pm

    Well, if a rider is oblivious and confident enough to blow through a red light with a cop standing there, how can they seriously claim they were paying enough attention? Sure, drivers run red lights all the time (just like cyclists) but they don’t often respond to a ticket the way many of those mentioned in the article did.

  • Leslie on 10.02.2012 at 4:35 pm

    I spoke to BUPD Captain Robert Molloy this afternoon and he confirmed that officers do issue tickets to vehicles parked in bike lanes when they spot such violations. They do NOT have the authority to issue tickets for motor vehicle violations, like running a red light or speeding, “unless it is egregious or placing the public in imminent danger.” However, like all other state police officers, they do have the authority to make arrests, issue search warrants, and patrol the campus.

    • Yep on 10.02.2012 at 10:52 pm

      Leila is like most in this thread, willing to bury a few facts to further a point out of bias.

  • LP on 10.02.2012 at 4:46 pm

    It’s a shame that it’s come to this.

    I am a professional biker, meaning when I’m not a full-time student, I’m out on the busy streets of Boston all day. It is not just the BU community that’s inconsiderate, it’s the Boston culture. There’s a “me-first” attitude that gets us all into trouble, motorist, cyclist and pedestrian alike.

    I’m not going to say that I bike like a car, because that defeats the purpose of biking. But, everyone is just looking for a bit of courtesy and common sense. However, I bike how I need to to stay alive. Sometimes that means blocking cars, sometimes cutting a corner, but the well-being of myself and others is always my main concern.

    You can’t ticket this attitude out of people, it has to stem from a serious consideration for each-other in this tiny city of ours.

  • SR on 10.02.2012 at 9:17 pm

    Long overdue… As a longtime Boston cyclist, I am tired of watching fellow cyclists do all sorts of outrageous things: blowing red lights and stop signs, riding wrong way down a one-way street, riding on the sidewalks, failing to stop for pedestrians. It goes on and on. Think it’s no big deal? I had a friend permanently maimed into disability by being struck by a bicycle messenger while in a cross walk.
    So grow up, cyclists, and start behaving responsibly. Act as though the law applies to everyone, even us.

  • Orange Julius on 10.03.2012 at 6:52 pm

    Guys, come on! We should be dancing, not fighting!

    YEA~!

  • BC1 on 10.04.2012 at 1:12 am

    I second what “LP” says above – the “me-first” perspective is rampant as is the sense of entitlement where people seem to think, ” I want to so I will.” This goes for all concerned. Normally nice people get in their cars or on their bikes in this town and the passive-aggressive thing happens.

    No, you cannot legislate or ticket this into oblivion although I applaud the effort to make all concerned more aware of the traffic laws and their responsibilities. it only takes one bad move, one or two seconds, for a terrible accident to happen.

    Bottom line: For those who feel their perspective trumps someone else s (e.g., cyclist over driver or vice-versa) grow up!! As I tell my children all the time it is NOT all about you – the golden rule may not always work but it’s better than attending a funeral.

  • Amy on 10.04.2012 at 9:27 am

    More and more people are biking, cities and towns ENCOURAGE people to bike, and have install bike lanes and bike rental stations with that in mind. Some bicyclists ride responsibly but many DON’T. They run red lights and to hell with pedestrians in the cross walk or motorists; they ride on sidewalks instead of using the bike lane that’s right beside it; the ride without horns, bells or lights; they ride in bike paths going the wrong way; they treat pedestrians like obstacles, coming up from behind them quickly and closely.

    Bicyclists are obligated BY LAW to follow the same rules as motorists. They often don’t. Anyone can climb onto a bicycle and pedal onto busy streets with no training, and little repercussion if they break the law. Many act entitled, like it’s their God given right to run red lights, etc. I’ve had it with these self centered morons. They give good bicyclists a bad name and threaten the well being of others. Some will say that bad bicycling is due to a lack of “education”. Baloney. Even a 1st grader knows that a red light means STOP. Handing out safety tip brochures to people who are disposed to ignore the rules does nothing. Taking a stack of brochures and hitting them over the head with it would do more.

  • mtcboston on 10.29.2012 at 9:36 pm

    CLEARLY – as this article demonstrates over and over and over… the BU Students, while apparently very intelligent – have zero clue in the scope and realm of campus police jurisdiction.

    Note to Leila Haery and Wesley Savage and the rest of the entitled ilk:

    BUPD does not go after motor vehicles because they are not certified by the state to do so !! (besides – they’re not charged with the safey of the vehicle drivers!)

    Why not find out the FACTS before you go spewing off of things you know nothing about !

    However, as a motorist I can honestly say to you – You all are not nearly as bad as MIT students on their bikes !!

    Now I’m sorry to tell you – you’re just a little person in a big world, and no, contrary to what your parent’s told you, it does NOT revolve around you!

    Oh – another note for your safety – if you’re riding a “carbon fibre” frame bike – GET IT INSPECTED !!
    My family lost a wonderful member because his Cervelo cycle’s carbon fibre frame shattered and despite wearing all protective equipment – was killed on impact.

    Stay safe kids – but do some research BEFORE you go whining about things you know nothing about !
    (Leila – blowing through red lights then complaining about someone else is SO 2nd grade… you’re in college now… grow up!)

  • Aaron on 10.30.2012 at 1:20 pm

    A lot of people who ride bikes are arrogant jerks who think they can jut do whatevr they want for the silly reasons Haery stated. It really is annoying to see you bikers act like your some special segment of society. When I go to the B.U area all I see is irresponsible morons running lights, nearly hitting pedestrians WHO ARE WAY MORE VULNERABLE ON FOOT THAN A BIKE Ms. Haery!!!!!

  • carl on 12.18.2012 at 6:42 pm

    Please, totally ridiculous ranting back and forth. No wonder we are where we are and streets keep getting more and more dangerous for everyone. We all share the road, one way or another, and we all need to obey the laws and be respectful of others. In the end, save a life, that’s what matters.

  • Jennifer C on 01.31.2013 at 12:12 pm

    Read the Driver’s Manual, ignorant cyclists. It states that ALL vehicles on the road are subject to THE SAME set of rules. Bicycles are obliged to stop for stop signs, obey traffic lights, yield to pedestrians on turns, change lanes ONLY when it’s safe to and after signaling so.

    Riding a 10speed does not equal being part of the Hell’s Angels. You do not own the road, you do not have insurance, and you do not take precedence over any other vehicle on the road. There is only 1 set of rules for the MA public roads, for cars, bikes, roller skates, vespas, every one. Either follow the rules or face the consequences; you are responsible.

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