Bicycle safety had been on the minds of City Councilors at-Large Felix G. Arroyo and Ayanna Pressley, but they were struck with the gravity of the issue the morning of Dec. 6, when a Boston University graduate student tragically became the fifth person to lose his life in a cycling accident in the city.
Arroyo and Pressley had previously scheduled a hearing for later that day to discuss how that city could make improvements to prevent cycling accidents.
“My thoughts and prayers have been with the family and friends of this young man,” Arroyo said. “This tragedy re-emphasizes the importance of making our streets safe for cyclists.”
That morning, Arroyo, in conjunction with the Boston Cyclists Union, biked from his home in Jamaica Plain to City Hall to help raise awareness for bicycle safety. During the ride, the cyclists discussed areas of concerns to Arroyo and pointed out areas that could be improved.
Pete Stidman, director of the Boston Cyclists Union, said, “We are in the beginning stages of redesigning the city in a way that is respectful to cyclists and promotes cycling in our city. We are advocating for improvements like cycle tracks, which have been proven to reduce the risk of injury and increase the number of cyclists that feel comfortable biking.”
During the hearing, city officials discussed plans of creating cycle tracks in a couple locations. City officials also committed to analyzing three years of police reports to determine the cause of the accidents.
“Knowing the cause will be helpful to us, but we would still like to connect the cause with the severity of injury, which is contained in the emergency room data,” added Stidman.
Arroyo, who attended the 2011 Velo-City Bike Conference, learned many ways to facilitate bike usage and agrees that infrastructure improvements like cycle tracks can be a key to improving safety.
“We have many cyclists in our city and it is our responsibility to ensure that we make our city as safe as possible for cycling,” Arroyo said.