Fatality in Brighton

Regarding the recent fatal crash in Brighton: I understand that the cyclist was traveling down a rather steep hill on an arterial, Commonwealth Avenue, at speed, ran a red light and collided with a vehicle that was crossing on the green. Last I heard, it was unknown whether the cyclist ran the light intentionally, or failed to notice it, or there was brake failure.

Here’s a Google Maps overhead view of the intersection.

The cyclist was coming from the lower middle of the image (may vary according to your screen size) in the service road, which is the rightmost road.

The cyclist’s view (more or less) approaching the intersection is shown in Google Street View.

There was a Boston Globe news story about the crash.

The Globe article makes a lot of the cyclist’s not wearing a helmet. That might indeed have prevented the fatality, but as we all know, a helmet is only a last resort. A very serious issue when traveling on the service road is conflict with vehicles turning right from the main roadway — this is right-hook central and not only for bicyclists. Note in the street view that a car is proceeding straight across in the service road, but there is a green light for the main roadway as well. You can move forward and back along the service road and main roadway too in the street view and verify that they have the same signal phase. There also doesn’t appear to be a prohibition against turning right on red, even from the main roadway. However, the location of the bicycle and bicyclist following the crash suggest that she collided with a vehicle traveling from right to left, where there would be sight-line issues due to the building on the corner. The article includes a quote from Pete Stidman, and I agree with what he said. One thing he suggested was special signals; a longer yellow might help, but only a separate signal phase for traffic turning right from the main roadway would eliminate the conflict.

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5 Responses to Fatality in Brighton

  1. jsallen says:

    An eyewitness report has confirmed that the vehicle was coming from right to left.

    But also note in the overhead view that, while there is a relatively wide median between the main roadway and the service road, there are no yield markings and no stop line.

  2. Tea says:

    Yeah, that’s a savage junction around there. I hit 42 mph cycling down there before and had to slap on the brakes way hard. There are a lot of blind spots for both drivers and cyclists all along that area. My respects to the lady and her family. RIP.

  3. jsallen says:

    Tea, I would recommend more caution! Staying within the speed limit is not usually a problem for bicyclists, but if you do crash, it’s best to be within the law when dealing with insurance carriers. Crashing isn’t fun either…

    Also, I’m noticing in the street view that parking is allowed on the left of the service road, blocking the view for motorists turning right from the main roadway. A black station wagon is parked immediately behind the stop line at the intersection. Parking close to an intersection is generally illegal (though I couldn’t find the provision in the Massachusetts statutes…). The absence of marked parking stalls or signage here gave more license to an ignorant or opportunistic driver.

  4. Tea says:

    jsallen: Yes, I’ve slowed down since my crazier times.

    On the Google street view, if you move about and just look down at the road surface from different angles, it’s terrible. There’s a big indent just before the intersection, about 20 feet before. I rarely use Comm. Ave. inbound up to Packard’s Corner anymore — it’s smarter to use Beacon with the lanes. Just looking at that junction is crazy. Double parking. Tram lines. Traffic flows from every and any direction, with multiple roadways, from behind, left, right and ahead.

    I also believed it was unlawful to park so near the corner or a junction. Then again the street opposite my front deck is dangerous with people parking right up to the corner, totally blinding anyone from seeing approaching traffic on the main street, which unbelievably is right at a dip in the road!! I sit and watch the show from my deck just shaking my head. But hey, if those seemingly fit non-disabled drivers get 20ft closer to their house with no thought to what danger they have created, who am I to complain. Bone-idle laziness rather than park 10 spaces down where there’s tons of room. Same thing I see at the supermarket. People fighting to park as near the doors as possible. Speeding up to get that spot before another, Why? Is a 50 yard walk really that painful?

    I’m pretty pro-active when it comes to my safety on a bicycle, meaning I do what I do to keep me safe and not leaving my safety in the hands of motor-vehicle drivers.

  5. Pingback: John S. Allen's Bicycle Blog » Managing frontage-road conflicts

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