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On April 30, 2017 CBS Boston  reported that a cyclist was clipped by a car at 3:30 am in the Back Bay area of Boston. We now know that that cyclist was Rick Archer, a 29-year-old bike courier. Mr. Archer was riding with his friend down Commonwealth Ave. when he was struck by a car driver who fled the scene. Sadly, Mr. Archer passed away from his injuries two days after the crash. This CBS report, like many news stories, implies that the cyclists were in the wrong because they were not in the bike lane at the time of the crash. However, according to Massachusetts bicycling laws Mr. Archer and his friend had every right to be in a lane of traffic and not in the bike lane.

In Massachusetts, cyclists can ride anywhere, just like a car, with few exceptions. Mass. Gen. Law. Ch. 85 Section 11B states that cyclist have the right to use a full lane anywhere, anytime, and on any street even if there is a bike lane present. Cyclists riding on the road must follow the same rules of the road just like car drivers. Cyclists must travel in the same direction of traffic and stop at traffic lights and signs, just like cars. Cyclists may ride side-by-side according to Mass. Gen. Law. Ch. 85 Section 11B, as long as they stay in one lane and do not unnecessarily restrict other vehicles from passing them.

A recent Harvard study found an increase in the number of bike crashes in Boston in the last few years due to the increasing number of cyclists. Mayor Walsh and the City of Boston have started a campaign to improve biking safety and awareness through the “Vision Zero Boston Action Plan” which aims to eliminate all fatal crashes by changing the design of the roads and creating more designated bike areas. Unfortunately, there are still far too many bike crashes and injuries happening. To illustrate this point, one has only to look out for the many “Ghost Bikes” around the Boston area. Ghost bikes are white bikes marking crash sites where cyclists have died. A Ghost Bike ceremony was recently held in May for Rick Archer, who was the fourth cyclist to die in Massachusetts in this year alone.

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It will come as no surprise to anyone that has ever driven in Boston that Bostonians are the worst drivers in America, so says a report by Allstate Insurance in 2016. For the past three years Boston has ranked #1 for the city with the worst drivers in America. Despite their ranking as the worst drivers for three years straight, Bostonians’ driving actually improved last year! In 2016, Bostonians had a new car crash every 7.1 years, which was a vast improvement from 2015, in which they recorded a new crash every 3.9 years. Sadly, Boston drivers are still reporting car crashes more frequently than the safest drivers in parts of Texas, who report a crash every 14.6 years.

There are various reason why Bostonians are the worst drivers in America, but the main reason is that Bostonians do not follow the rules of the road. First, turn signals are rarity in Boston. Turn signals are so rare a sighting in Boston that in 2014 the Massachusetts Police started a campaign to remind drivers to “Use Yah Blinkah.” The campaign actually lead to more drivers using their ‘blinkahs”, but it seems that that alone was not enough to boost Bostonians safe driver ranking.

Maybe we can lay some blame for Bostonians’ worst driver ranking on a driving move called the “Boston Left”. The “Boston Left” describes a driver stopped at a traffic light who doesn’t have a left-turn arrow, and who suddenly makes a left turn, cutting across the oncoming traffic before their light turns green, as seen in this Youtube video.