Reporting Karen Anderson
BOSTON (CBS) – A team of officers from the Boston Police, Mass. State Police, Brookline Police, BU Police and Transit Police converged on one of the most dangerous intersections for bicycles in Boston this morning to educate and enforce the laws.
During the morning commute on Commonwealth Ave by the BU Bridge, they issued 40 citations to bicyclists for red light violations, illegal right turns and no signals.
They also gave out 40 free bike helmets donated by Boston University, as well as 40 rear blinking bicycle lights.
Captain Jack Danilecki of the Boston Police Department says are stepping up enforcement. He says there was some confusion after the 2009 law was passed about the ticketing and appeals process, and police in Boston did not give out tickets. But now the RMV has created a new ticket with a clear designation for bicycles. Danilecki says, “The registry and court have worked it out that we can give tickets now and the public has a right to appeal.” With that development, Danilecki says, “Police officers can now give tickets to cyclists. They have to adhere to the rules of the road.”
He says some of the rules of the road are: “You can’t ride a bicycle on a sidewalk in a business district, you must stop at red lights, you can’t go the wrong way.”
After five bike fatalities in the Boston in 2012, the City of Boston and Harvard launched a study to analyze three years of accidents to try to determine what was happening.
Related: Boston Cyclist Safety Report
Police say they found the majority of the fatal crashes were a result of bicyclist error.
Tom Stark, a bicyclist from Brighton, stopped to speak with officers today. “I think it’s awesome,” he says of the effort. “There are bicyclists in this town who are a huge danger to themselves because of running red lights.”
The officers were also looking out for car and truck violations. Officer Jim Scopa explained, “If you cut off a bicyclist, it’s a clear violation of the law.”
Helmets are required by law for anyone under the age of 16.
At night, bicycles must have a reflective light on the wheels and a white light on the front of the bike.
Danilecki says there are some positive signs as well. He says, “We have seen a huge increase in ridership, but we’re not seeing the level of accidents go up, which is good news. We have to share the road and the bicyclists are here stay.”
David Watson of MassBike says, “Law enforcement is an important partner in educating everyone on the roads about safety, by talking with people on bikes, on foot and in their cars.”
Watson says this is particularly important to speak with people in a congested area like the BU Bridge.