Arlington, MA Bicycle Accident Lawyer

Bicycling is a popular form of recreation and transportation in Arlington.

The League of American Bicyclists has recognized Arlington as a silver-level bicycle-friendly community. That means that Arlington—along with almost 500 other communities in the United States—has taken steps to make their streets safe and improve bicycling conditions for everyone.

Arlington moved from bronze status to silver by installing bicycle lanes on Mystic Street and Lake Street, making safety improvements on the stretch of the Minuteman Bikeway that passes through town, and lowering the speed limit of most roads to 25 miles per hour.

Despite all that, car versus bicycle accidents can and do happen in Arlington. In May 2020, a motorist killed one bicyclist and injured another at Massachusetts Avenue and Appleton Street. About a month later, another driver injured a bicycle rider at the same intersection. The four-way forked intersection near Ottoson Middle School has been the site of numerous car and bicycle crashes.

According to data collected by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, there were 70 reported car crashes involving a bicycle in Arlington from 2015 to 2019. The majority of these crashes took place along Massachusetts Avenue, as the main artery through town from Lexington and into Cambridge.

Some Facts About Arlington

Arlington is in eastern Massachusetts in Middlesex County, about eight miles from Boston, and covers 5.5 square miles. European colonists settled Arlington in 1635 as a village within Cambridge and named it "Menotomy."

On his famous midnight ride, Paul Revere traveled through Menotomy, which is now known as Arlington. (The name honors the heroes buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.) On the American Revolution's first day of battle, more blood was shed in Menotomy than in both the battles of Lexington and Concord.

Some famous people who hail from Arlington include Nate "Tiny" Archibald, who played for the Boston Celtics; actress Olympia Dukakis; actor Timothy Hutton and writer Eileen Myles. Arlington also is known as the birthplace of Uncle Sam.

There are 100 colleges and universities within 50 miles of Arlington, including Tufts University, Bentley University, Cambridge College, Harvard University, Lesley University, Boston University, and Brandeis University. Bicycles are often the preferred mode of transportation for college students, as they are inexpensive, readily available, and easy to park.

Professional cyclist Nicole Reinhart was killed while participating in a 42-mile circuit race in Arlington in 2000. Reinhart's left pedal and foot struck a curb, causing her to be tossed from her bicycle and into a tree.

Once a center of industry and agriculture, modern-day Arlington is a suburb with a lively arts community, business districts, historic sites, and beautiful parks that make an excellent backdrop for bicycle riding.

Bicycling on the Minuteman Bikeway and the Streets of Arlington

Arlington has more than 95 miles of public streets and town ways, 24 miles of private streets open for travel, six miles of state highways and parkways, and 104 miles of permanent sidewalks, and 92 miles of curbing.

The Minuteman Bikeway passes through one end of Arlington to the other and runs through Bedford, Lexington, and Cambridge. Approximately two million people travel the 11-mile shared-use path each year for recreation and to access subway and bus lines. Newer cyclists often have a difficult time navigating the intersection where the bikeway splits at Arlington Center. No motor vehicles are allowed on the bikeway, but cyclist-on-cyclist collisions do occur.

In addition to the bikeway, Alewife Linear Park and Alewife Greenway are popular biking trails in Arlington.

Alewife Linear Park is a 1.8 mile out and back trail used by walkers, runners, and cyclists of all skill levels. The trail connects Alewife T-station in Cambridge to the Somerville Community Path.

Alewife Brook Greenway is a smaller offshoot of the bikeway (a 3.5 mile out and back trail) that connects with routes to Davis Square in Somerville and Harvard Square and Fresh Pond in Cambridge.

If you are driving around Arlington, you will undoubtedly see bicycles cruising on bicycle lanes on Route 2 and Park Avenue. In addition, you most likely will spot bicyclists on these roads:

  • Massachusetts Avenue
  • Pleasant Street
  • Harvard Avenue
  • Lowell Street

The town has plans for a protected bicycle lane and buffers on Broadway in East Arlington that would allow for safe travel for even very young and inexperienced bicyclists. Studies show that well-designed bicycle lanes make the roads safer for everyone, which encourages more people to choose to travel by bicycle.

Municipalities such as Arlington should keep bicycle lanes in good condition to facilitate safe travel. Roads with potholes, fissures, debris, or other defects are hazardous to all users, especially cyclists traveling on thin tires.

In addition, Arlington cyclists must navigate malfunctioning traffic signals, short traffic light cycles, and pedestrians walking in bicycle lanes.

Traffic Laws and Regulations for Bicycling in Arlington

The Arlington Bicycle Advisory Committee advises the town on bicycle-related matters and promotes safe bicycling on town roads and the Minuteman Bikeway.

In Massachusetts, bicyclists may use all public roadways, except limited access highways. Bicyclists can use any part of a road as needed, even when bicycle lanes are available.

Bicyclists must obey the same traffic laws as motorists. For example, they must stop at red lights and stop signs, ride on the road's right side, and yield to pedestrians in crosswalks. However, bicyclists may pass on the right side of the road and should use hand signals to indicate that they plan to turn or stop when safe to do so. From half an hour before sunset through half an hour after sunrise, Massachusetts Law requires cyclists to have a front-mounted white light and a rear-mounted red light.

In Arlington, cyclists are not allowed to ride on sidewalks by town ordinance. Cyclists may ride two abreast, but they must ride single file when a motor vehicle is trying to pass.

As for motorists, they are prohibited from opening car doors into the path of a bicyclist or a pedestrian and face a fine if they do. These "dooring" incidents can cause vulnerable cyclists to suffer serious injuries, including internal injuries.

When executing turns, motorists must yield to bicyclists and pedestrians. One of the most common types of car versus bicycle crashes is known as the "right hook." These incidents occur when a driver turns right and strikes a person on a bicycle traveling straight on their right. These crashes take place when cars are turning onto roads and into parking lots and driveways. To protect themselves, cyclists should always assume that nearby cars intend to make a right-hand turn.

Motorists must not cut off bicycles after passing and should always pass at a safe distance. Experts recommend that drivers give bicycles a buffer of at least three feet when passing.

Motorists should not unreasonably honk their horns at bicyclists or pedestrians. The sudden blast of noise could startle these vulnerable road users and result in a crash.

You can read about state and local laws affecting bicycling in Arlington here.

Ridesharing Has Made Its Way to Arlington

Arlington is now a part of Bluebikes, metro Boston's bicycle sharing system. There are six Bluebikes stations located throughout the town:

  • Magnolia/Thorndike Field at Minuteman Bikeway
  • Broadway at Grafton Street
  • Linwood Street at Minuteman Bikeway
  • Massachusetts Avenue at Grafton Street
  • Railroad Lot at Minuteman Bikeway
  • Massachusetts Avenue at Broadway

Cyclists who use Bluebikes to get around Arlington should remember to bring a bicycle helmet as the bike share does not provide them. In Massachusetts, bicycle riders 16 years of age and younger are required to wear a helmet. We always recommend that everyone use a helmet when cycling. Studies have shown that bicycle helmets reduce the risk of head and brain injuries by as much as 88%.

If you have sustained an injury in a bicycle crash in Arlington, contact the bicycle attorneys at Jeffrey Glassman Injury Lawyers today at (617) 777-7777 or fill out our electronic form.

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