• Rich Barlow

    Senior Writer

    Photo: Headshot of Rich Barlow, an older white man with dark grey hair and wearing a grey shirt and grey-blue blazer, smiles and poses in front of a dark grey backdrop.

    Rich Barlow is a senior writer at BU Today and Bostonia magazine. Perhaps the only native of Trenton, N.J., who will volunteer his birthplace without police interrogation, he graduated from Dartmouth College, spent 20 years as a small-town newspaper reporter, and is a former Boston Globe religion columnist, book reviewer, and occasional op-ed contributor. Profile

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There are 79 comments on Crackdown Nabs 100 Cyclists

  1. Excellent! Next–go after the pedestrians who ignore all the rules. It’s not just car drivers who are a problem on Boston streets, especially Comm. Ave. Thank you, BPD!

  2. Excellent! Cyclists need to follow all driving laws and stay off the sidewalks. When you have to get on the sidewalk because the road is too dangerous you need to unsaddle and walk your bike. Bikes can hurt – I have a broken elbow to prove it.

  3. As a cyclist, I see cars illegally blocking the box in intersections, doors opening in the bike lane without warning, cars cutting me off without a signal and other foolishness.

    Stop acting like it’s mainly the fault of the cyclist. Enforce safety rules on the cars too. Make bike safety part of getting a driving license in Boston.

  4. I saw a biker get smashed from behind by a car during the first week of school this year. You might be able to ride a bike, but you never know if the person coming up behind you knows how to drive their car. I’ve biked all my life and when I see all these kids bumpin their ipods and joyriding down comm ave like its a country road I start to worry.

  5. Now if the police will only start giving tickets to people who ride their bikes on the sidewalk. If a person runs a red light on a bike, he just risks hurting himself. That’s fine. Darwin awards must be awarded. But those of you who ride on the sidewalk endanger everyone else. If you’re too scared to ride in the street like you are supposed to, Don’t ride.

  6. I’m glad cyclists are being given more attention, especially for running red lights. I can’t count how many times I’ve been rightfully crossing the road and a cyclist has come barreling down, has nearly hit me (I’ve witnessed maybe three actual collisions, and countless close calls), and then fully runs a red light on top of it. Their not following the rules of the road affects pedestrians as well. Good show for the police reminding all of us that cyclists are still subject to such rules.

  7. This is ridiculous. Naturally, if a car hits a cyclist, the car driver will take less of the injury. Every biker has heard of friends getting in accidents and of the injuries that come along with this. If bicyclists want to run a red light and risk injury to themselves, it’s their own fault. Police money shouldn’t be wasted on patrolling it.

    However, if a car runs a red light and hits a cyclist, the cyclist comes off worse. It’s less risky for a car to drive dangerously over a bike line, and consequently it’s much more common to see cars dangerously crossing bike lines. Yes, as a driver, there are some annoying cyclists on the road who do not follow the rules. But from a cyclists point of view, there are just as many dangerous drivers — but each dangerous driver is risking the safety of the cyclists around him, not necessarily his own. For this, I think it’s ridiculous that the police are stopping cyclists and not the cars putting them in danger.

  8. So that explains the line of bicycles I saw on Comm Ave near the BU Bridge this morning. I didn’t think they would ever emphasize to cyclists that they should follow the rules of the road. By running red lights they take the chance of being hit by a car or they may hit a poor pedestrian who is simply trying to cross the street. I’ve seen so many near misses of a cyclist and a car when the cyclist leaves the bike path on Comm Ave and pulls into traffic. I’ve almost hit cyclists several times myself, and I really do not want to be kneeling beside an injured person as we wait for the police and the ambulance. They might have to take me to the hospital as well.

    Now if they could do something about those scooters. Are they motor vehicles or bikes? They seem to be interchangable…

  9. When I was ten years old, I was pulled over by a cop after I actually stopped my bike and waited for a red light. He thanked me for being safe and gave me a coupon for a free hot fudge sundae at McDonald’s!

  10. It’s about time! Although I am happy there is an increase in bicycle traffic, bikers must follow rules to keep everyone safe. I hope the BU police will also begin ticketing bicyclists for riding the wrong way on one-way streets.

  11. I’d like to see some effort by the city to alert car drivers to the danger of dooring. I’ve been a bike commuter for the past 15 years or so, and the only injuries I’ve sustained happened when I got doored – twice. Both times I was in the bike lane, or what would be the bike lane, on Mass Ave. A few well-placed signs might help. Also a public education campaign. So far I see no attention being paid to what is, based on my experience, the single biggest threat to cyclist safety.

  12. I think it’s a great idea to remind bikers and teach new BU students of the rules of the road, but I also think cars cause more damage and tend to break more laws than bikers… they should be ticketing cars more.

  13. Not to say that bikers should be outraged at getting ticketed for running red lights, but I find it rather discouraging that none of the ones interviewed for this piece seemed to conceptualize the real risk their violations are presenting to both themselves and pedestrians. I have a hard time coping with the general lack of common sense of people these days. I am sick and tired of crossing the street (as a pedestrian) when the lights tell me it’s safe to cross and narrowly missing being nailed by a motorist or biker whose knowledge (or respect for, or both) of the laws governing them are completely lacking. It shouldn’t take death to get people to realize that what they are doing is wrong. It’s sad that society has gotten to this point. Something’s gotta give!

    1. Well your first mistake is listening to the lights for judging when to cross the road. As long as people learn to look both ways before crossing an intersection or going through a light, there really shouldn’t be any problems.

  14. That is so ridiculous, it’s almost beyond words…but here you go, nonetheless! There are SO many infractions of traffic rules by cars around Boston that for the Boston Police to be wasting–not spending, wasting–their time with this is an outrage. Bikes are, indeed, vehicles, but they’re not motor vehicles. I’d be fine with bikers who are truly driving dangerously getting tickets: running a red light is a different matter than stopping, looking and deciding that it’s clear and you can go. One is ticketable, the other shouldn’t be. Let me insert here that I’ve been biking in Boston for at least 25 years. I use judgement at lights, I do not wear a helmet, I don’t ride too fast for the situation I’m in. I also NEVER take my mind off what I’m doing, who’s around me and the fact that on a bike, no matter what the situation, I am vulnerable and I am also responsible for my own safety. Just last night I caught up with a girl who had whizzed past me, very close, w/o saying she was coming by or on which side. When we were stopped (yes, really!) at the light, I very gently said, “You know, I hate to tell people what to do, but just a suggestion: when you go by someone, it’s a good idea to announce it.” She looked at me blankly, said, “Really?” and sped off. Right after that, it happened again w/ some guy in scrubs who was also going way too fast for the area he was riding in. Now THOSE are the people who should get tickets. We don’t need RULES so much as we need CONSCIOUS ridersand drivers, and COURTEOUS riders and drivers. That’s the kind of education we should be concentrating on. Rules of the road and helmets aren’t the issue. Rude, bad bike riders and drivers (and add in the more than occasional clueless to their surroundings pedestrian) are the issue. You should really be concentrating on that. Here’s to another 25 years of accident-free biking (knock on wood.(!

  15. As a biker I can say that its great to see enforcement of tickets, bikers need to realize that they are required to follow the rules of the road

    However, on a completely different side note I’d just like to say that as a pedestrian, I am seriously concerned with the street crossing skills of BU students. This is the worst I’ve seen it yet. I’ve seen students just walk right across Comm Ave and have a car STOP at the green light honking it’s horn. I’ve even seen groups of students just cross the road during a green light just because they knew the cars would stop.

    I don’t know how, but someone needs to teach BU students how to cross the street.

  16. I myself commute almost everyday from Quincy into our medical campus via Dorchester Ave and can definitely appreciate the importance of mutually sharing the road with drivers, as well as respecting the laws and other vehicles. Thank you for your story and for highlighting an issue that should be addressed before another life is needlessly maimed… or sadly lost.

    Given the relatively high volume of traffic on our main campus along Comm Ave and the behaviour of riders & drivers en route, it is just a matter of time before another fatal accident will occur. This is a pro-active move that, I believe, is money and time well-spent and I support it whole-heartedly! A sincere “Thank YOU!” to all the parties involved in this action… especially the officers who had to carry out this “seemingly unpopular but utterly necessary” task. I congratulate those few students who had expressed their appreciation for this infraction, despite having been fined. You have done your parents, friends and BU …proud! Well done! Now… if we can only get everyone to wear a helmet and stop wearing earphones while cycling!! :-)

    – BU SPH, ’11

  17. The number of cars I have seen running red lets on comm ave is staggering, yet I don’t see anyone getting pulled over.
    And pedestrians crossing near warren towers? Its a nightmare, they jump out in front of cars in groups and cross en masse against traffic. I’ve experienced more near accidents with pedestrians than cars.

    If cyclists are going to start getting tickets, give us bike lanes past the BU bridge and in allston.

  18. Okay, but what about the cyclists who ride their bikes on the sidewalks? Thats illegal too. And extremely irritating. Especially when you’re almost taken out by a cyclist. If you are too scared to ride in the bike lane, then you shouldn’t be riding your bike in the city.

  19. This is definitely a great idea. As someone who commutes on a bike, I get really frustrated when I see cyclists disregarding vehicle law. If we want motorists to respect us on the road, then we need to show them that we are willing to play by the same rules. On a side note, the individuals crossing Comm Ave by Warren Towers need to chill out and not try and cross the street against the light. I have had too many experiences when I had to either slam on my brakes or swerve to avoid pedestrians ignoring my right of way at a green light.

  20. Pedestrians jay walk all the time — walk without following street lights…. they should be fined too! i biked so many times when my light was green, barely missing a bunch of pedestrians crossing the street when it’s not their time to go.

  21. I am so glad to see this happening. As a big proponent of BU’s sustainability efforts, I love to see so many cyclists around campus. However, when I was mowed down in a crosswalk last semester by a cyclist (wearing earbuds and no helmet) who was running a red light — who stopped (ostensibly) to see if I was ok but then proceeded to berate me for not “watching where I was going” — it definitely altered my attitude toward cyclists. My apologies to those who practice safe cycling habits, but it seems like many decide to just adopt whichever right-of-way rules (motorist or pedestrian) suit them at the time… or simply make up their own rules as they go.

  22. BU could recoup its lost endowment if the police started TICKETING JAYWALKERS for the same amount as they’re ticketing cyclists. I’m not saying don’t ticket cyclists, but please, so many students are also killed by cars because they pay no attention to traffic signals.

  23. I am so happy that Boston is actually enforcing the bike laws. I drive up and down comm ave. every morning. It’s completely ridiculous the fact that bike riders break every law of the road. People here are complaining that no one is ticketing the drivers…..that is completely not true. Cars get pulled over far more than cyclists. Most of the cyclists I run into on Comm ave weave in and out of traffic, and cut through intersections. You can’t do that in a car. Its dangerous. Everyone in general needs to open their eyes a bit (car drivers included) but cyclists need to realize that the rules of the road apply to them as well.

  24. Now if they would just start giving tickets to the students who don’t stop crossing the street when cars have a green light……..
    And they wonder why they get hit >.<

  25. I guess like every other infraction of the law, the police can ticket bikers. But I agree with the other people who have posted when they say that no matter who the police ticket, the bikers still get the short end of the stick in the event of a collision. And though many drivers dont run red lights or turn right-on-red when theyre not supposed to, there are plenty of other things they do that are almost more dangerous to bikers. Dooring people when they decide to just hop out of the car, but also people that decide to park it in the bike lane- even if they dont leave their car, or if they do (like the pizza guy) THEY ARE STILL IN THE WAY, and I have to go around them– thus increasing my risk of being hit by oncoming traffic. And dont even get me started on the MBTA buses. I cant tell you how many times I have been behind the 57 bus, and literally rode behind them (in that nice cloud of black exhaust) for the entirety of CommAve, just because they would stop in the bike lane and there would be bumper to bumper traffic on the outside, blocking any kind of passing manuvers. In my opinion, the buses that pull over in the bike lane are more dangerous than looking both ways before running a red light. I have been run into the curb by BU Buses who are pulling over to let people off, and dont see me/choose to ignore me in the bike lane. Im surprised no one else has mentioned this hazard before, or cooked up any ideas to solve the problem.

  26. I walk between the Orange Line stop and the Med Center daily. Yesterday I saw a guy in a police uniform riding a bike on the sidewalk. Discouraging, isn’t it? I routinely see bicyclists run red lights but even more so, see CARS running red lights. Boston could operate in the red if it ever decided to actaually enforce traffic laws. They could pay for new buildings if they ever enforced littering laws. Do they even have littering laws in Boston? Mass Ave. is such a garbage pit.

  27. “What we don’t want is when they only go after bikers.”

    What? When has *that* EVER happened? This is the first time in my entire life I’ve ever heard of any bicyclist being stopped and ticketed for a single violation. And it’s about time! Also note that in the same crackdown, the cops “nabbed some motorists who had illegally encroached on the bicycle lane along Commonwealth Avenue.” So this was win-win (for safety — lose-lose for scofflaws).

    Also, I don’t understand cyclists who think, “Well, if I’m running a red light, I’m only endangering myself; but if a car runs a red light, yadda yadda…” If you’re riding a bike at 30 miles an hour and you decide to “risk your own safety” and run the red light, you’re also endangering the pedestrians who are trying to legally cross the street! Do you never tear your butt off your seat and walk yourself? Clearly not, based on the bikers we see every day tearing down the sidewalk and crossing at the crosswalk with pedestrians when it suits them. That’s the next violation we need to see ticketed. Cyclists want to be considered valid vehicle drivers who belong on the road. What the hell would happen to a motorist who left the road and drove down the sidewalk on Comm Ave? He’d lose his license! That’s what we need to start seeing for cyclists, too. Tests, licenses, license plates, headlights, helmets — a sense of responsibility. You’re not 12 years old anymore. If you want to bike for fun, go mountain biking on the weekends.

    (And yes, to be fair, pedestrians really should be ticketed for jaywalking when cars or bikes are approaching. However, I believe the traffic light system is flawed and encourages jaywalking, but that’s another story.)

    1. Five years later and i still doubt you have a clue about what bikers do. Go mountain biking on the weekend? Have you heard of road biking?
      And 30mph? Do you know how much effort it takes to go 30mph on a flat road? Helmets and licenses aren’t the problems, it’s rude bikers AND drivers who don’t respect each other (and pedestrians).

  28. If car drivers want bikers to stay in the bike lane, then get your cars away from the bike lanes. Yesterday I almost bang into a car because it cut in front of me while in the bike lane. How insane!

  29. I am so glad that we have the cops at the BU bridge intersection, without them who would tell us that the light is red- STOP, the light is green- GO, I think we would be so lost! Thank you COPS for the hard work you’re doing.

  30. There is a simple way to “run” a red light on a bike legally. If the bicyclist rides from the bike lane up onto the sidewalk, rides through the crosswalk, then rides back into the bike lane on the other side of the road, he or she did not blow the light. However this can be potentially dangerous as traffic is coming at the bicyclists side.

    Also, I disagree with the statement that helmets prevent injury and accidents. Studies show that motorists are more likely to pass closer to bicyclists who have a helmet on, and bicyclists are more likely to ride faster and less carefully than riders without helmets.

    I agree that for the most part cyclists should stay off sidewalks, except when they feel in danger of being hit by cars at tricky intersections, like Comm Ave and Storrow Drive.

    As for the comment about students crossing the street at the crosswalk when cars have a green light, it makes little sense. Pedestrians always have the right of way vs. a car, especially when they are crossing at a crosswalk. Motorists need to learn to try to stay off Comm Ave the last 10 min of every hour, when thousands of students switch classes.

  31. This is one step to protecting not only the pedestrains, but as well as the bicylists and drivers of automobiles. I know that I have come close to hitting a bicylists because he failed to observe and obey the traffic lights. No one person in there right mind wants to injure other human being however when the rules of the road are not observed by all then accidents will happen. Unruly pedestrains and bicylist cause hazards not only to themselves but to car drivers as well. As I was missing to not hit the bicylists I was almost rear-ended as well.

    Now if we could stop the blocking of intersections and ticket car drivers for running red lights too-Life would be great!

  32. I would agree, if the bike paths would be in good conditions and safe. And they are not. They are full of holes and in some places they just disappear.
    Not nice to see the law enforced (with fines) where the law itself does not provide services…

  33. Thanks to the BU police, I rode my bike SMACK DAB in the middle of the lane today.

    Cars honked and swerved around me, it was total chaos.

    But hey, a bike’s a motor vehicle, so I am only obeying the law.

    I cannot lawfully ride on the right side of a solid white line.

    I cannot wait to hit the road at rush hour tonight and ride 3 miles down Beacon street. Boy oh boy is that going to cause a backup.

    Oh well!

  34. I recently moved to the area and never, even when I drove in NYC did I get so many dirty looks from pedestrians who thought just b/c the law says they have the right of way means that a car has to stop for them when they’ve been waiting their turn for the light to turn green or expecting the cars to stop on a dime so that they can cross the street when it’s been raining out and therefore even more difficult for a car to stop for them. It’s just ridiculous how far some people try to push the law “but the law says…” How bout using some common sense? Or if you’re not going to take the precautions necessary to keep yourself from getting hit by a car be prepared to suffer the consequences… either getting hit by a car that couldn’t stop in time or preferably a fine and hopefully wake-up call, from the Boston PD.

  35. I regularly commute to BU by car or bike and when on campus walk everywhere. I get all sides of the story and the BOTTOM LINE is that ALL of us wearing these different hats need to follow the rules to ensure safety at this intersection. The intersection is horrible so we should all do our part. Police crackdown as an educational campaign is a great way to get all bikers, pedestrians and drivers to get their act together.

  36. i agree with all those who think it’s absurd to focus on bike commuters as the primary danger in that area and elsewhere. boston driving/traffic enforcement is worse than farcical.

    this vet had it right: “Bikes are, indeed, vehicles, but they’re not motor vehicles. I’d be fine with bikers who are truly driving dangerously getting tickets: running a red light is a different matter than stopping, looking and deciding that it’s clear and you can go. One is ticketable, the other shouldn’t be.”

    all you bike haters need to watch the generalizations and watch your own box-blocking, light-running, lane-drifting ways. for real.

  37. Hey drivers! Take note: most cyclists (including this one) posting *favor* more traffic enforcement for everyone, and we’re on your side on this. But I’d say we universally want stringent enforcement on drivers: The percentage of drivers that blatantly break traffic laws may be lower, but those vehicles are a much more dangerous threat than cyclists.

  38. As a foreigner from a biking country with strictly enforced traffic rules I can summarize Boston traffic as such:

    – car drivers are mostly not aware of traffic. Not infrequently due to being on the phone, reading stuff, drinking coffee or stuffing face with take out. It is very common that people slam their brakes because they just don’t anticipate traffic (to the lady that rear ended, because she was reading stuff). This makes you for one, a self absorbed prick, second a danger on the road and it makes bikers annoying. BECAUSE, well they don’t drive in your lane but next to it. So if you are not aware of traffic they seem to come out of nowhere. And they might seem a little friendlier than you would think. FOR ONE, MAKE EYE CONTACT!!!! this goes for pedestrians as well. Ah finally, the fact that a biker does not wear a helmet doesn’t mean you can aim for him/her. It might make it easier with getting away with it insurance wise, but you remain an antisocial bastard (For the guy who tried to run me of the road once).

    – bikers are in general more dangerous than they should be. In part due to this cult about driving a bike, and it should be dangerous. My message is: get a life… Don’t buy the hip fixie if you don’t know how to ride one. A bike and your biking behaviour is not a status symbol, just like owning a particular car shouldn’t be.

    – pedestrians in general think anyone and anything will stop for them. Red light or not. In Paris you would get run over… the same for Brussels (and you will get the middle finger)… a red light is a STOP light. Make eye contact, be aware of traffic around you (to all the pedestrian lemmings that just cross the road without looking left and right – what do they teach you in schools these days?)

    Just for your information, running a red light will cost you 175 dollars in Belgium. It’s enforced for bikers,pedestrians,cars. Since it is a major offense it is always enforced. You run a red light as a pedestrian crossing a street. If a cop sees it, that’s 175 dollars. You run a red light in the middle of the night with your bike (empty roads or not), you get the ticket. Same for cars… Just to say that this was a stupid action.

    This problem goes way beyond bikers running red lights. Rewrite the road code to be fair, and enforce it consistently… and give people a proper traffic education.

  39. ooh, I love the idea, when you see a cyclist doing the right thing, give them a small coffee/doughnut from DD (Dunkin) that would be such a Bah ston thing to do, I would be looking for my morning wake up

  40. People don’t follow the rules if 1) They were never told about them. 2) No one enforces it. Ticketing folks for breaking the law? Go for it. Will the offenders do it again? Perhaps/Perhaps not. However, they will think the next time they try.

  41. It’s about time somebody noticed all the cyclists going through red lights. Next we need to educate pedestrians – hit one a couple weeks ago(on my bike) when I had a green light, turning right to go across the BU Bridge.

  42. Yet another way cops are finding a way to make money behind the disguise of “public safety.” Maybe they’re going to issue tickets for speeding cyclists as well!

  43. Can we please do something about the people that feel it’s alright to stall their cars in the middle of the bike lane while they run errands or pick someone up? I don’t see how it’s fair to chastise bikers for swerving in and out of cars (which is, of course, dangerous) and then not fine cars for constantly treating the bike lane like an extension of the parking spaces. Furthermore, speaking as a biker and a driver in Boston, the utter lack of any regard for motor laws in Boston is frightening. I cannot count the number of times I’ve been unjustly cut off, seen someone plainly disregard a red light (one time right across comm ave, ignoring oncoming traffic in both directions), or just do something unexpected and dangerous. I think we should focus a bit more on the giant metal machines going 40 mph with no regard for anyone else, before only focusing on bikers who should be smart enough to not go out in the middle of oncoming traffic.

  44. I bike to work every day, passing through that very intersection twice a day. Yes, I routinely go through the red lights, but only for my safety, and ONLY after being sure that each direction is clear. I have never seen less competent drivers than the ones coming from Mountfort St. towards the BU bridge. It’s a log jam of traffic and they are just trying to beat each other to the bridge or take the right turn onto University Rd, where you risk getting clipped if you’re on a bike. They also completely block the bike lane, especially when the light is green and they are “mid-race”. If I got a ticket yesterday I would have been angry, but also would have understood… but giving some tickets out doesn’t fix how messed up that intersection is in general – mainly due to an obscene amount of people driving. How about this: All you lazy, irritable people who drive to work in Boston should get on a bike or use the T. Maybe then you wouldn’t have diabetes at the age of 35 and road rage so serious that you yell at your kids when you get home.

  45. I’m a cyclist. I get it. We are supposed to follow the rules of the road, and for the most part I do. I’ll admit I’m guilty of weaving and riding on the sidewalk and so on. But, this is honestly a waste of time and money. What purpose does this serve other than to cause people to momentarily follow the rules of the road? All this is doing is causing people to be on the look out for more cops at intersections, but once they stop “cracking down” things will go back to normal and cyclists will run red lights and violate traffic laws. The police act as though they have better nothing to do and I find that borderline offensive.

  46. As a serious biker, I think this is great. Renegade bicyclists give us all a bad name, anger drivers and put those of us safe bikers at risk. Ticket everyone, bikers and drivers alike, especially those who think the far right lane and the bike lanes are ok to park in. Bike lanes are useless when there’s cars stopped in them.

  47. Did these 100 cyclists not see the police officers? I’ll pass a red light through a vacant intersection from time to time, but never when a police officer is right there. That just goes to demonstrate how oblivious some commuters can be. I ride up and down Comm Ave once or twice a day. That road is the only dangerous one in my commute. Generally, car and truck drivers are conscientious to cyclists, but there are a few major problems:

    Cars cannot be stopping in the middle of the bike lane to parallel park or turn without the use of a signal.

    Pedestrians have to wait for a green light, or at the very least be aware of oncoming traffic. I’ve almost plowed into dozens of morons crossing against the light with their heads down, texting, or otherwise distracted. You might as well close your eyes, bumble across the street, and hope everything works out. Life if too precious to be risked on something as boring as an intersection.

    Unlike car drivers, who generally proceed at the same speed, cyclists go at very distinct speeds. The gentleman above who suggests that some cyclists go too fast for safety isn’t being entirely fair. It is equally dangerous to be stuck behind a very slow biker in the super-skinny bike lane. Some people go 5 mph down Comm Ave while others are doing 20 mph. I don’t like hopping into the car lanes to pass a cyclist who might as well be walking their bike. I’m not really sure how to rectify this. Widen the bike lanes? Suggest a minimum speed?

  48. Too bad it took deaths to get the police to do this. Living people have been complaining about idiots on bikes for YEARS. I’m speaking of fools who treat pedestrians like obstacles; who RUN RED LIGHTS; who speed on sidewalks and weave in and out of people walking. Signs on the B.U. Bridge say that you can use the full lane with traffic, and you STILL ride on sidewalks! Sure, you’re concerned about YOUR safety!

    The other day on the B.U. Bridge, I had one guy on a bike coming at me on the sidewalk, and as I tried to move out of the jerks way, ANOTHER bicyclist passed me from behind, nearly hitting me. I swear to God that at least half of the bicyclists that I encounter lack common sense and a brain, even if they are in college. Older idiots do these things too, but it’s mostly college age kids who are the biggest offenders.

    Yeah, I know that motorists and pedestrians can be jerky too, but that’s NO EXCUSE for the kind of crappy behavior that you display to people who have the RIGHT OF WAY on that thing called a side WALK. Hope you bad bicyclists get ticketed to death!

  49. Within the State of Massachusetts, a cyclist’s rights allow:
    Riding on any public road, street, or bikeway in the Commonwealth, except limited access or express state highways where signs specifically prohibiting bikes have been posted.
    Riding on sidewalks outside business districts, unless local laws prohibit sidewalk riding.
    Using either hand to signal stops and turns.
    Passing cars on the right.
    Children or other passengers inside an enclosed trailer or other device that will adequately restrain them and protect their heads in a crash need not wear helmets.
    A bicycle race may be held on any public road or street in the Commonwealth, if done in cooperation with a recognized bicycle organization and with approval from the appropriate police department before the race is held.
    Special bike regulations may be established for races by agreement between your bicycle organization and the police.
    As many lights and reflectors are allowed on your bike as you wish.

  50. Typical BPD waste of time.

    As the statistics in the article point out cyclists are not the problem, drivers are. If they want cyclists to obey the law then they should make sure drivers obey the laws with respect to cyclists.

  51. The Boston Police should be stopping cars, bikes, and pedestrians who pose a risk to public safety and concentrating their efforts on areas where all three groups converge. No need to haul people off to jail or issue outrageous fines, small but meaningful $20 tickets are perfect and the point is to change behaviors, not punish people. It’s people like the poster who commented “running a red light is a different matter than stopping, looking and deciding that it’s clear and you can go” scare the hell out of me. Laws are not meant to be conditional, and when we start deciding when and if we should obey them we fall down the slippery slope awful fast. How would you like it if a driver commented “I look for cyclists and if I don’t see any then I’m ok with driving my car in the bike lane”?

  52. a friend of mine chose not to pull over after the cops motioned him to after blowing the light. he was chased down by a cop on a motorcycle. the cop got in front of him and knocked him off his bike. now the ticketing itself is questionable, as is the use of police time to control it. but knocking someone off a bike after the victim didn’t cause any harm to anyone else? thats terrible

  53. Need to get the cyclists off the sidewalks. They are mostly a menace, with 9 out of 10 going way too fast through crowds of walking or milling pedestrians, brushing by them often literally within inches. The cyclists cannot be heard and leave no margin of error for themselves or those who are on foot. It’s only September, and I’ve seen one person hit and hurt, two near misses, and several times I’ve felt the breeze of someone riding by way too fast as I walk on the sidewalk. Cyclists use the street!

  54. As someone who has biked this route 5 times a week for the past 4 years- This “bike friendly” nonsense is a joke. I get cut off, run off, and blocked out by cars in this bike lane every day. NEVER ONCE have I seen a motorist get stopped for this. There was a big warning to bus drivers after that kid got hit, but I still get squeezed out and cut off by the 57 at least twice a week.

    I’ve emailed, called, and spoke in person to MBTA officials and Boston Police about the buses on numerous occasions, and they’ve never followed through…not once.

    It’s a convenient political platform, but that’s about it.

    Tell me, what’s more dangerous, an alert cyclist wearing headphones or a cyclist who NEVER looks over their shoulder and has no awareness about their surroundings? Another hypothetical question- Should deaf people be allowed to ride bicycles? Hmm…

    Tell me, why are MOTORCYCLISTS in some states allowed to ride without a helmet? Hmm…if you answered because “those states are stupid,” try doing some research.

    Look out for the car door, although I’m sure your cute helmet will protect your empty brain…right.

    Again, this is about the city looking good and covering it’s ass while nitpicking things that don’t matter and ignoring the bigger issues.

  55. One time in the fall of 2002, I was riding down Comm. Ave from Allston to campus. It was raining. The brakes of my old street bike reacted much slower in wet conditions. I knew how much time I needed in order to brake safely. The jaywalker didn’t. “I can’t brake!!” He jumped back just in time, and hopefully never jaywalked again.

  56. The bigger problem here is how dangerous the cities streets are laid out given their current demands. Few other cities have intersections where 5 or 6 streets, streetcars (greenline), pedestrians and bike lanes meet to cross paths. Throw on top of that fading lane markings, aging utilities and the construction to sustain them and broken traffic lights.

    The city needs a second, dare I say it Big Dig to rethink it’s transportation system. On the topic of bikes and cars, the painting of a line does little to nothing to make the coexistance of these vehicles safer, if anything it only encourages more of these vehicles to cross paths.

    The city needs to look at closing some streets to vehicular traffic (emergency and maintenance vehicles aside), creating more dedicated paths for the greenline, and dedicated paths for bicycles and pedestrians. And beyond that, innovative ideas such as the Google sponsored Sweeb overhead bicycle monorail, would certain find a lot of fans in linking the Boston / Cambridge area and the bicycle heavy campus of Harvard, BU and MIT (among others). Getting back to utilities, the city should invest in manhole accessible tunnels such that repairs and upgrades can be carried out without tearing up the streets each time.

  57. I’m really glad that all that good tax money is going toward paying police officers to ticket bikers, because it would really make too much sense to acutally try and lower the crime rate by doing something useful.

  58. Cars, bicycles, and pedestrians all break laws and ignore common courtesy. The difference on a bike is that you are literally sharing the road with Boston drivers, without the safety of a vehicle’s walls and airbags. Good luck to those poor, naive individuals.

  59. How about ticketing motorists who throw their doors open into bike lanes and door cyclists? Or motorists who do not give cyclists the required 3 feet of space when passing? Or at the very least, how about not ticketing people who are commuting in a healthy way that is also good for the environment?

    And if nothing else, I beg of you Boston, how about using this ridiculous ticket money to put in more bike lanes?

  60. I love how people are all up in arms over this and complaining about bad drivers. The whole point of this is that running red lights on a bike or in a car is dangerous so don’t do it. Being on a bike does not give you a reason to run red lights.

    we all know Boston drivers are crazy so let’s not increase the risk by running red lights.

  61. 1) Biking on the sidewalk is not illegal in Boston. However, we should all be aware of our surroundings. Let people know where you are on a bike, and turn down your headphones so you can hear the bikers.

    2) It’s time now to ticket Jaywalkers! Pedestrians are supposed to follow the rules too.

    I walk, bike and drive on campus and it is amazing how no one follows the rules of the road or the rules of common courtesy. What has this city come too?

  62. I agree with the comments on the need for more bike lanes and I believe that drivers who double-park or stop in bike lanes should be ticketed because it is not only an inconsiderate practice but a dangerous one as well.

    But there is another side to the frustration ….

    I routinely drive down Beacon Street where there are no bike lanes. There are invariably bicyclists riding in the middle of the right lane causing all of the vehicular traffic to be backed up since slower drivers are forced to move to the passing lane. I wish Boston would give more consideration to this issue as well because many slower drivers or older drivers may be less confortable driving in the left lane.

    So here is my frustration… At each intersection with a traffic light, bicyclists typically ignore the red light (many don’t even bother to hesitate at the light). If they stopped at lights, there might be an opportunity for some cars to pass the cyclists when starting up from the traffic lights. This is obviously what some cyclists don’t seem to want. They treat it as a race. If I have passed a cyclist and then moved into the right lane after passing, I have had cyclists later pass me (when I am stopped for the light) and punch or hit my car when going by. It appears to me that many cyclists have determined that if there is no bike lane, then they own one of the traffic lanes and seem to resent cars being in that lane at all.

    I am very surprised that more bicyclists are not injured or killed driving in Boston. The selfish attitude of both the cyclists and the drivers seems to lead many to take dangerous changes. I am glad to see the ticketing because I hope that it will save lives. The failure of the vast majority of bicyclists to follow the law and stop for red lights (AND wait for the green light before proceeding) (not to mention the few who ride side by side or weave in and out of traffic), gives angry and indignant drivers who are being forced to drive at the same speed as a bicyle justification for their anger. It leads people to act out and do stupid things. The only problem is that when those driving the cars act out, someone may be killed or seriously injured.

    We need to understand the frustration on both sides of the problem. There used to be a time when slower vehicles (e.g., large trucks) would pull to the side for a moment to let faster vehicles pass. If cyclists would do the same thing rather than plowing ahead through the intersection to get through traffic (when cars have to follow the law), I think that it would solve a lot of problems. I would be happy to drive slowly behind a cyclist giving them the right of way if I knew that at the next intersection, I would probably be able to pass safely and get out of their way. As it is, drivers are forced to either take dangerous chances by weaving in and out of the cyclists or spend miles poking along behind the numerous bicycles.

  63. For those who aren’t aware, the fine for jaywalking in Boston is $1.00. This is because many traffic signals are off-timed and the “walk” sign doesn’t correspond to red lights, and for the lack of crosswalks and drivers who respect them.

    Actually driving on the road and running a red light, even if you’re only on a bike, is insane, especially in Boston. The tickets were about safety.

  64. “Everyone around here just pushes the boundaries—pedestrians, bicyclists, cars,” he says. “It’s a morass of ridiculousness.”

    Truer words have never been spoken.

  65. THANK YOU to the cops doing this. I am always fascinated (and horrified) as I watch other cyclists speed through the red lights at this intersection while the traffic cops just sit and watch. I wish they’d at least yell at the kids doing it.
    If you’re a cyclist (as I am) there is NO excuse for running a red light. Period. Ever. It is just as illegal as it would be if you did it in a car.
    I really wish the police would make a similar effort to curb the practice that both cyclists and motorists here have of turning suddenly without signaling. A little common sense and courtesy would prevent many costly and painful accidents!

  66. I bicycle commute everywhere in the city and I have a car too, been here awhile, and the main point is that people hate each other in Boston, add to this the special “Boston exceptionalism” where everyone on the road is the center of the universe mix in the wonderful New England impatience and presto, you’ve got the streets of Boston, a wonder to the world, its pretty much unfixable, no matter how “bike friendly” the place may theoretically get, I’ve been all over european cities biking, and frankly biking in Boston is more like biking in Manila or Taipei. Every day on the road I need to employ everything I can to not get hit, squashed, yelled out (frankly, mostly unavoidable) And the only reason Boston is low on fatalities related to biking is that there is an emergency room on every corner, the actual accident rate is ridiculously high, its the same for car accidents. Don’t delude yourself, Boston is nice enough to visit, really a crappy place for people to live, unless you’re a “towny.”

    1. I agree that this is one of the worst, most dangerous cities for cyclists. I lived and cycled in Oxford, UK for several years, a city where it seems like half the population commutes by bicycle. I did not once see an accident there, nor know anyone who had been in an accident. Within a few months of moving to Boston, I saw four people get “doored”. I saw a bicyclist “doored” by a woman getting out of her double-parked car (on Commonwealth, of course). The guy was catapulted off of his bike, and obviously shaken. And what did the woman do? She started yelling at him for possibly denting her door! I was shocked. I have never felt so unsafe bicycling as I do here. Driving is not much better–Boston boasts the angriest, most impatient and most selfish drivers of any city I have lived in. I wish the police would start giving citations to drivers for traffic violations, but where would you begin?

  67. “a friend of mine chose not to pull over after the cops motioned him to after blowing the light”

    Wow- and you defend him. You think it’s your right to just not obey the police. Stunning.

  68. Pulling over cyclists for running a red light? This would be appropriate, except that in 4 years of driving and cycling in Boston I have not ONCE seen a car pulled over for a similar violation. Add to that the fact that I have seen more cars run red lights in this town than I saw in my previous 10 years of driving, including time in Italy and Greece. And how ironic that this is all happening at the BU Bridge/Commonwealth Ave intersection, which for several hours of the day is almost impenetrable for West-bound traffic thanks to all the cars that decide to push their luck with a yellow light and end up blocking the intersection for an entire light cycle (for which they are not ticketed). This is a disgraceful singling-out of a commuter population that needs greater protection and encouragement from the establishment. The Boston Police should be ashamed.

  69. I have biked in many major cities in the US and abroad as a means of transportation to get to school/work. I have never experienced so many angry aggressive car drivers. Yes, bikes need to obey the laws of the road, but the car drivers need to be more aware of their surroundings and take extra care when driving on big streets with lots of bikes. It’s easy to yell at a girl on a bike when you’re in your big SUV, but if you had put on your TURN SIGNAL maybe I wouldn’t have almost been hit by you. Angry drivers fill the streets of Boston!

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