• Art Jahnke

    Senior Contributing Editor

    Art Janke

    Art Jahnke began his career at the Real Paper, a Boston area alternative weekly. He has worked as a writer and editor at Boston Magazine, web editorial director at CXO Media, and executive editor in Marketing & Communications at Boston University, where his work was honored with many awards. Profile

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There are 57 comments on Comm Ave Road Rage Imperils Biker

  1. My thanks to Art Jahnke for bringing attention to this act of driver insanity on Commonwealth Avenue. Unfortunately it is all too common. Every day as I walk along Commonwealth Ave in the center of the BU campus, I witness acts of near-lethal carelessness by drivers, bikers, and pedestrians rushing to their classes. At times, when in my car or on my bike, I am even a participant in such incidents. In my opinion, these incidents are unavoidable under current conditions. Having Commonwealth Avenue running down the center of the campus is a major hazard, threatening the lives and limbs of all members of our community. One possible way to mitigate the danger: Post campus policemen at major crosswalks along Comm Ave. to direct traffic during critical rush hours.

    1. I witnessed this accident yesterday. Both men were taken away in handcuffs. As for Jerry’s report that “the driver of the first vehicle at the light panicked, hit the gas, and ran over a bicycle in front of him as the cyclist managed to leap to safety” — this driver did not look “panicked” as he then pulled over, took out a lead pipe from his trunk, and proceeded to smash in the windshield of the other car. That’s aggression. Nor did he ever take a moment to check on the bicyclist he nearly ran over IN THE BIKE LANE, no less.

  2. Surely we can all refrain from running over people and from smashing car windows. What ever happened to the finger, some colourful language, and a good fist shake? Come on, guys. Get over it! We’re all in the same situation when we’re sitting in traffic. Plug in your music and chill the F@#% out.

  3. It’s amazing that we have no more incidents and accidents like this than we have. On the whole, right now, there’s a lot of tolerance for the general chaos and anarchy along Comm Ave. As a daily biker, I feel we can all do one another a big favor and slow down, allow people to pass whether or not they have the right of way, and model civil and civilized behavior. Imagine you were somewhere else, on a beautiful island, or in an ancient city, with narrow alleys. You couldn’t race there either, nor would you. You’d smile and wish the next person a good day.

  4. Police from 3 departments showed up, lives were endangered, yet no arrests? Were the drivers fined or cited in any way? What awful and dangerous behavior.

    That bike is likely to have severe structural damage (bent tubes & rims, etc)- in addition to the saddle being chomped off & the front flat. I hope the driver is on the hook for the cost of repairs as well.

  5. Bikers are getting hit almost every day on Commonwealth Avenue in front of BU and down past West Campus. Pretty soon, someone is gonna get more than “not injured” on BU’s campus. BU should probably do something about this before they have a dead biker to explain. And Bikers: ALWAYS get the information of the person who hit you.

  6. Mr. Bodie’s comments are very much to the point. I have been walking, driving and biking through the BU campus for decades and over the past year the degree of carelessness seems to have reached a new peak. The Comm. Ave/BU bridge intersection is very problematic. EVERYONE needs to follow the rules of the road – bicycles are NOT pedestrians, and should heed traffic signals. The stream of students crossing at the bridge seems to think that the walk lights are only a guideline. Rush hour motorists cranky from years of construction on the bridge are also more likely to behave carelessly. And talking on cell phones is no help.

    Safety is the most important value here and everyone needs to be more thoughtful and careful.

  7. Whoa, let me get this straight: you DON’T get arrested for smashing car windows, running bikes over, and almost MURDERING people in order to get through traffic? Sweet! I’m never going to be late for class again!

  8. Here’s an idea… lower the speed limit on Commonwealth Avenue in the vicinity of the campus to a rate commiserate with a school zone (25mph); mark it as such (like they do at K-12 public and private schools nationwide)… and then enforce it! The income generated by the fines would more than pay for an increased police presence and avert injury or death to pedestrians/bicyclists/motorists…. a win-win and just plain common sense.

    1. Comm Ave’s speed limit is already 30 in this area and at specific times a complete traffic disaster. I can’t imagine that slowing an already frustrating traffic situation will make any difference and certainly wont affect road rage in a positive way (which is the topic of this article, not the speed of cars on the street).

    2. The main problem isn’t speeding cars; it’s congestion, where no one is moving at all, and maintaining your rank in line becomes intensely competitive. As someone points out, the lights around the bridge are timed all wrong and allow something approaching gridlock. I can attest that coming across Comm Ave from the direction of the pike, you can’t always tell whether the light will have turned yellow and then red before you get across. You wind up with 3 lanes of traffic competing to merge into one line to cross the bridge–and that’s *before* anyone starts acting like a homicidal moron.

      1. The disregard for how that intersection is supposed to work drives me insane :( I feel as if there is someone screaming this in his/her car every time I am near the intersection: “I AM A RAGING LUNATIC I WILL GO WHERE I PLEASE AND IF YOU VALUE YOUR CAR YOU WILL NOT HIT ME WHILE I’M CUTTING YOU OFF WAHHHGHFHFFHHAHHG!”

        That right lane is supposed to go down to Storrow =\

        1. That isn’t clear to me. In fact, I can think of three intersections like that, where one right turn is quickly followed by another, more popular one, and there’s a right-turn-only sign before the first right. I conclude that either right turn qualifies. In Inman Square there’s an intersection like that, headed west on Cambridge Street. Both the road markings and everyone’s behavior support the interpretation that the sign apples to either turn.

          My point isn’t actually to argue the point; it’s that the situation is ambiguous, or at least confusing to generally alert and law-abiding people.

          I make a habit of deferring to other drivers as well as pedestrians and cyclists in many situations, but the bridge at rush hour forces competitive behavior; be polite and you’ll sit still while people cut in front of you until rush hour is over.

  9. I have concern of safety of the student at BU campus and on Commenwealth Ave. Road rage with baseball bet and iron bar and there is no arrests, WHY? I think police should take some action and set example to others.

  10. I wonder why the drivers had a bat and an iron bar in the cars in the first place! For situations like these? Scary. Take a deep breath, Boston drivers. You’ll get there when you get there.

  11. The Boston Police need to explain why there were no arrests. These are pure acts of rage and violence and it endangered the Boston community. That is plenty of reason for arrest. People need to understand the consequences.

  12. If you don’t know why a car would have an iron bar in it, you obviously don’t know the slightest thing about cars.

    I blame the police for creating the conditions that led to the altercation. What passes for “traffic management” at the Comm Ave/Essex St/BU Bridge/Mountfort St intersection is pathetic. The main problem is that the intersection is configured all wrong, and the traffic from Mountfort St heading to the BU Bridge blocks the intersection in every direction as people “block the box” after the light turns red. Even the trolleys can’t get by. There’s a regular BPD traffic detail there…but instead of preventing the traffic from blocking the intersection, the officers basically just stand around watching the mayhem without lifting a finger to prevent it. $50 an hour for each of them…and the traffic is EXACTLY THE SAME as if they weren’t there at all.

    This doesn’t excuse the behavior of the drivers. But if the police weren’t so lazy and would DO THEIR JOBS, it never would have happened.

      1. Sorry? Em, if you agree that there’s a regular traffic detail at that intersection and you don’t think it’s the responsibility of the police AT ALL, then what ARE they being payed for?

        1. Whether or not police are standing right there, it’s easy to point the blame at them… but aren’t they there because of the traffic issues caused by the BU Bridge construction? That entire intersection has been a mess since construction started – which was made worse by reducing it to 2 (and sometimes one) lanes.

          The point is, blaming police doesn’t justify people using weapons on each other because of traffic. That’s just inexcusable.

        2. That is absurd, they aren’t baby sitters. They are there to prevent accidents not acts of aggression among fellow drivers. No where in a cops job description is “eliminate all that would aggravate a mad man as they may act out”

  13. I agree with DB–the number of times the cops just stand around ignoring the increasingly crazy chaos around them is staggering. STAGGERING. I’ve even seen them leave their area to go chat IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STREET with the other detail officers, oblivious to everything around them. Such a waste of tax dollars.

  14. Agreed with the comments above. I also want to express concern for people who throw their car doors open without looking to see if a biker is coming. I’ve seen people “doored” many times, and the BU community would do well to consider outreach regarding that.

    Road rage has always been endemic to this city. I’m glad that this story brings to light the danger it entails.

  15. They didn’t say no arrests — they just said no arrests have been reported. I certainly *hope* there were arrests. BU Today, could you please follow up and update this article with the results?

    As the victim of a road-raged driver jumping out of his car and assaulting me on his bicycle just this Monday night, I sympathize with Stephen Lee and am glad he got out of the way in time! Stephen, if you haven’t already done so, make sure you get that driver (or that driver’s insurance!) to pay for your bike! Take the bike to any bike shop and have them write you a repair estimate that you can give to the police and they to the driver. I wouldn’t be surprised if your bike is “totalled”.

  16. I refer everyone to the recently published study conducted by Park & Peterson of the psychology department at the University of Michigan. They ranked the fifty largest cities in the US on the basis of empathy, civility, generosity, &c. of their inhabitants. Boston came fiftieth out of fifty. In other words it has the most uncivil, selfish and belligerent population in the country. I bet the guides didn’t mention that when you toured the campus with your folks. Welcome to Boston kids, A**hole Capital of North America!

    1. Actually I am quite nice, generally speaking. And a native of this fine city, which you can leave at any time, sweetheart.

      Note that the two homeboys arrested were, in fact, from Providence R.I.

  17. I’m glad the bicyclist is okay, but will say that when I first read the headline, I thought that a bicyclist had CAUSED an incident of road rage. I walk everywhere around B.U., and on the B.U. Bridge too. Bad bicyclists speed on sidewalks, cut close to pedestrians, don’t give pedestrians the right of way, run red lights, pull U turns in traffic, ride in bike lanes going the wrong way, ride diagonally across streets, and even ride while cell phoning and texting. I’ve had some near misses with these self absorbed fools, and have had mental images at least of “road rage” that involve me doing not nice things to certain bicyclists.

    Until bicyclists, pedestrians, and motorists use common sense and exhibit courteous behavior to each other, road rage will persist and probably get worse in the years to come. Our streets and sidewalks have become one, big free for all, and the “wrong people” will be the ones who pay the price.

    1. Wow, Nicholas, you’re taking this as an opportunity to berate cyclists? Shame on you. The cyclist in this article did NOTHING wrong, and was 100% the victim. There are plenty of responsible cyclists in this city, we outnumber the irresponsible ones, and I dare say the same is true for responsible drivers and responsible pedestrians! You just don’t NOTICE the responsible people — you only notice the irresponsible ones!

      To quote David Watson of MassBike, “There is no measure by which cyclists cause more than a small fraction of the problems on Boston roads; we are disproportionately the victims.” For you to take this as an opportunity to berate cyclists is irresponsible trolling, plain and simple.

      1. Yes, the cyclist did something wrong. He didn’t move aside when getting beeped at. Often iPod ear buds impede, but nonetheless, moving aside is a good idea. Too often people don’t run red lights to make way for police, ambulance, and fire at clogged intersections. They just freeze.

        Comm Ave needs to restore some of its 30 and 40 foot sidewalks to travel lanes. It used to be many of them were used for extra parking on the south side by businesses. The travel lanes could even be bike lanes.

        The BU bridge will be a mess even when complete, having permanent loss of a travel lane to make bike lanes over to lovely Cambridgeport.

  18. While I won’t say we don’t have any road rage here in Houston, many drivers just assume the other guy/gal has a firearm in their vehicle, as many actually do. Best to avoid an incident when the other driver is packing more than a baseball bat or tire iron. Want to cut in front of me…be my guest.

  19. The drivers were both arrestted and they knew eachother as well.

    Rocky Jace, 39, of Providence, RI was charged with Assault and Battery by means of a Dangerous Weapon, Driving to Endanger, Malicious Destruction of Property and various motor vehicle violations.

    Nick Miller, 42, of Providence, RI was charged with Assault and Battery (injuries), Malicious Destruction of Property

  20. Why don’t we just do up a bike lane like MIT?

    BU student pedestrians might have a learning curve regarding right of way, but thats preferable by far. Bike/Pedestrian accidents are likely far less lethal than car/bike or related car/bike/ped conflicts.

  21. Hi thank you for taking the time to write this article. It was really informative and I am glad I came across it by sheer coincidence. Keep on writing!

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