A rider on a bicycle rented from the city’s bike-sharing program is expected to survive after a garbage truck making a turn Tuesday at a busy South End intersection dragged the bicyclist underneath, trapping his leg.
The collision — the latest of many involving bicyclists in Boston, including a fatal accident this spring — happened at Massachusetts and Columbus avenues just after 10 a.m. Police did not release the names of the truck’s driver or the cyclist, citing the ongoing investigation.
Boston firefighters freed the 33-year-old cyclist in less than 30 minutes, according to officials and witnesses.
“It was quick,” said Adil Garnaoui, a clerk at a Shell gas station across the street.
Garnaoui said he witnessed the accident and rescue, which unfolded about 50 feet away from the convenience store’s front window. He said he saw the bike go under the truck as the vehicle turned right.
Many cyclists use the strip of Massachusetts Avenue for their daily commute, especially to go to Cambridge, said Pete Stidman, executive director of the Boston Cyclists Union.
A map created by the Boston Area Research Initiative, housed at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard, based on police reports shows that Massachusetts Avenue between Tremont Street and Commonwealth Avenue sees a relatively high number of collisions.
At least six accidents occurred at the intersection of Columbus and Massachusetts avenues between 2009 and 2012, according to the map.
In Charlestown in April, 34-year-old Owen McGrory died after being run over by a garbage truck. His death, along with that of a Wellesley man in 2012, increased calls from cycling groups for greater public recognition of bicyclists’ rights.
This month, a bicyclist was trapped under the rear wheel of a truck after it turned right onto Mass. Ave. from Westland Avenue, just blocks from Tuesday’s accident. The rider was taken to the hospital with a leg injury.
The bicyclist involved in Tuesday’s collision was taken to Boston Medical Center with injuries that did not appear life-threatening, said Officer Rachel McGuire, a Boston police spokeswoman. The driver of the garbage truck is cooperating with police and no charges had been filed, she said.
Sunrise Scavenger, the waste management company that owns the truck, could not be reached for comment.
The bike the man was riding had been rented through Hubway, the city’s bike-sharing program, said Gabrielle Farrell, a spokeswoman for Mayor Martin J. Walsh. Tueday’s is the latest of 19 serious accidents involving Hubway bikes recorded by the city, out of about 2 million trips since the program launched in 2011, she said.
Matt Olivero, a postal carrier delivering mail nearby, said he saw the rider talking with paramedics as they carried him on a stretcher to an ambulance. The man’s leg had been caught under a tire, but didn’t appear to be bleeding, Olivero said.
The Fire Department’s technical rescue team used several tools, to free the cyclist.
Collisions in which drivers make abrupt right turns after passing cyclists are known as “right hooks,” though it is unclear whether this was the case in Tuesday’s accident. Under Massachusetts law, drivers are required to let bicyclists pass first before turning right.
Such collisions account for a significant percentage of cyclist-involved accidents, said Stidman, the Boston Cyclists Union official.
“We always advocate for protected lanes,” he said. “This would have been prevented, but thankfully he’s alive.”
One measure that might reduce such accidents are blind-spot mirrors, which most vehicles do not have, Stidman said. His group also advocates the use of side guards on trucks, which close the gap between wheels and lower the risk of people falling underneath and being run over.
The garbage truck in Tuesday’s collision did have side guards, which are required in many European and Asian countries but not in the United States.
Irene Soares, who has lived down the block from the accident site for more than 30 years, said she has witnessed several accidents and many close calls involving bikes and vehicles there.
“There’s always something,” she said. “Sometimes, I feel like the bicyclists don’t look enough.”
Source: Boston Globe