In an effort to increase biker safety on campus, Boston University has pledged its support of Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and American Olympic cyclist Nicole Freedman’s Urban Cycling Guide.
The Urban Cycling Guide, which was released to the public Oct. 2, outlines four key messages to reduce cycling accidents, Freedman, who is the director of Boston Bikes, said.
She said these messages include avoiding open doors, yielding to pedestrians, avoiding blind spots and wearing helmet reflectors while cycling.
“Last year, we had six fatalities, including [two] BU students,” said Freedman. “We realized that there are a number of simple messages that, if we could get to cyclists, could save a lot of lives and prevent a lot of crashes.”
In November, 21-year-old College of Arts and Sciences student Victor Yang died in a traffic collision at the corner of Harvard and Brighton Avenues while riding his bicycle. College of Communication first-year graduate student Chris Weigl was then killed in December when his bicycle collided with a truck at the corner of Commonwealth Avenue and St. Paul Street.
Freedman said the guide serves as a companion to the recent changes Boston has undergone in order to become a more cycling-friendly city. She said it also provides the safety rules to fulfill the Mayor’s pledge to reduce Boston’s crash injury rate 50 percent by 2020.
“What we’re doing now is phase one — it’s educating cyclists,” Freedman said. “There’s a whole other phase, which is to educate the drivers — how to look behind them before opening the car door, how to look before making a right turn, understanding what all the markings on the road mean. It’s the first of a two-part series.”
Freedman said 30 partners have signed in support of the guide, and their goal is to reach at least 100,000 cyclists around the city. She said BU, who is among the 30 partners, is taking its own steps to increase bike safety on campus.
Ben Goodman, a member of BU Bikes, said Freedman asked members of the group to encourage BU’s adoption of the Urban Cycling Guide. He said BU Bikes complied with Freedman because any bicycle initiative in the city that supports the spread of information and helps people understand their responsibilities on the road is important.
“It’s pretty well done,” Goodman, a College of Arts and Sciences senior, said. “…It helps people get a boost in looking more into the biking community and understanding what that means. It gives people a start, and if they’re still interested in learning more, then it could provide resources towards more in-depth understandings of cycling.”
Goodman said biker education on campus is crucial, since most accidents could be prevented if cyclists better understood the rules of the road. He said the city of Boston and BU officials have recently repainted and added reflectors to bike lanes as well as installed extra street signs.
However, some cyclists still feel there is much that needs to be done to increase biker safety on campus, Goodman said. He said many of the bike lanes are not quite wide enough for cyclists, and the door zone takes up too much space in the bike lane.
Boston University Police Department Lieutenant Robert Casey said the strides which the BU community has made to increase cycling safety awareness on campus have had a positive effect thus far.
“My personal observation out on the streets is people wearing more bike helmets,” Casey said. “I’m also seeing a lot of people using the bike lanes the way they should be used. The motor vehicles, we’re clearing them out of the bike lanes more and more. We’re keeping those bike lanes safe for the bicycles.”
Casey said BUPD officials have also made efforts to teach drivers how to obey the rules of the road.
“Any time that you try to educate the public on safeguards in prevention will help,” Casey said. “These guides are just that — guides. If you take responsibility with bike safety, your chances of injury will be decreased.”