Tuesday, August 11, 2015

One too many

As you may have heard already, last Friday morning a 38 year old Anita Kurmann was killed while riding her bicycle through a busy Boston's intersection: Massachusetts Ave and Beacon St. She was ran over by a long flatbed semi truck executing a right turn, while she stopped waiting for the light. The truck driver failed to stop after the crash and simply drove away.
 The truck that struck Kurmann, caught on CCTV camera.

It certainly wasn't the first of this type of fatal collision and unfortunately, likely not the last one in our city. Bicycle crashes are on the rise, as reported by Boston Globe recently. But who's to blame for Kurmann's death?

First of all, the truck driver is clearly in fault. Not only he killed a bicyclist but also simply drove away, which makes this incident look like a hit-and-run. But on the other hand, I wouldn't be surprised if he actually failed to notice he hit anything. I can imagine that when driving a truck of this size, loaded with steel bars, hitting a bicyclist with the truck's trailer may feel like... just a larger bump in the road. This certainly doesn't excuse the driver for not paying attention to the situation on the road but it may mean this collision was more accidental that we would like to believe.

Second, I have to blame the victim here, even though this is the last thing I should probably do considering she's in a better place right now. But if you have ever seen a semi truck turning, you probably know what I have on mind. These things execute very wide turns and the long trailer follows a very different path than the tractor. Had she stopped in the middle of the lane, well ahead of the truck, she would likely be alive right now. The picture below shows exactly the corner where she died and I was lucky to catch a lone cyclist on Google Maps who is waiting for the light in a place where Kurmann should've been waited as well. This way she would've had a much better chance to avoid truck's blind spots and would likely be better seen by the driver.
Beacon St and Mass Ave corner where Kurmann died. Notice the cyclist who is waiting in the middle of the lane, ahead of all cars. This way she can be better seen by the drivers.

Finally, we need to blame the city for lack of any protected intersections in Boston, especially in busy places such as Beacon St/Mass Ave. If we want to avoid situations like this one in the future we desperately need more vision in Boston's Dept. of Transportation. Time to build more protected bicycle lanes and complete them with protected intersections. Davis, California was first. Can we follow this example soon?

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