A Hubway Cyclist Was Struck by a Trash Truck in the South End

It’s the second crash along that strip of Massachusetts Avenue this month.

Photo by Steve Annear

Photo by Steve Annear

A cyclist was taken to Boston Medical Center with non-life threatening injuries on Tuesday after being extracted from underneath a trash truck at the corner of Massachusetts Avenue and Columbus Avenue.

The accident, the second of its kind in recent weeks on that particular stretch of Mass. Ave., involved a Sunrise Scavenger “rubbish” vehicle and a male on a Hubway bicycle.

Details about how the crash occurred were not immediately available, but the truck was positioned in such a way that it appeared as though it was making a right hand turn onto Columbus from Mass. Ave. The hubway bicycle was just behind the vehicle’s right front tire; it’s wheel bent, and the seat completely snapped off from the frame.

Police on scene, who did not give their names, said they thought the cyclist was “OK” when asked if the accident resulted in a fatality.

A worker at New York Pizza, which is on the corner of the intersection where the accident happened, said the cyclist was “awake” when emergency responders came to the scene to transport him to a nearby hospital.

Columbus Avenue was completely blocked off to traffic, and Mass. Ave. was blocked off from St. Botolph Street to the corner where the crash took place. Only light pedestrian foot traffic was passing through the cordoned off section of the South End, as investigators worked the scene to figure out the sequence of events leading up to the collision.

Officials from the Boston Fire Department, who were on scene hours after the accident, said that they had to use special equipment including wood blocks and cribbing to extricate the cyclist from underneath the large truck.

The truck is run by Sunrise Scavengers, a new collection hauling and disposal company that entered into a contract with the city effective July 1. The company only collects trash and recyclables in specific parts of Boston. According to the schedule on the city’s website, the truck was in the South End neighborhood to collect both trash and recyclables today.

Tuesday’s accident was the second time this month that a cyclist was taken to the hospital after being hit by a truck on Mass. Ave near the South End.

A female cyclist suffered a serious leg wound after witnesses said she was pulled under a truck carrying lumber in front of Symphony Hall on July 8.

bike crash

  • Anton Tutter

    Thoughts go out to the cyclist for a speedy recovery. I hope a thorough investigation is done into the cause of the accident.

  • Brian Browne

    The cyclist was very lucky. The right turn, particularly by larger vehicles, is probably the most deadly accident situation because of the increased ability to be thrown under the wheels. A simple side barrier on trucks and vehicles alike could save lives.

    • Eric Herot

      Actually I think this particular vehicle was equipped with just such a barrier (the large yellow thing in the picture). I suspect it might have saved the person’s life.

  • Greg B.

    I’m glad to hear that this cyclist will be ok. I hope that he was wearing a helmet. If he wasn’t, it should be a wake up call to Hubway that they need to address the problem of their customers riding without them.

    Also, the white line separating the bike lane from the right vehicle lane is broken (dashed) at this location which means that vehicles turning right can cross into the lane to make the turn. Bicycles traveling in the bike lane, behind a turning vehicle must pull back and allow the vehicle to make the turn. I take this right turn (in a car) 3 or 4 times per week. At least once every couple of weeks a bicyclist will attempt pass me on the right (sometimes actually increasing his speed) to continue straight through the intersection, ignoring my turn signal, the fact that I’m turning from a shared (bike/car) lane, and the fact that I’m ahead of him. I don’t know who is responsible in this accident, I’m simply stating the all-too-common improper cycling behavior that I observe at this location on a regular basis.

    • RT

      Just an FYI, in the scenario you described (presuming that at some point in time you first passed the cyclist), the cyclist has the right of way. It is illegal to take a right turn in front of a cyclist traveling on the right-hand side of traffic. “No person operating a vehicle that overtakes and passes a bicyclist proceeding in the same direction shall make a right turn at an intersection or driveway unless the turn can be made at a safe distance and at a reasonable and proper speed.”

      • Greg B.

        Again, the line is broken for a reason. As with two car lanes that merge, the car behind would yield to the car ahead. And keep in mind that a “safe and reasonable distance” one second can shrink quickly when a bicyclist with a chip on his shoulder is peddling full speed to try to squeeze to the right of a car that he can clearly is trying to turn. The self-righteous attitude coming through in your post is a big part of the problem.

        • Matthew

          RT’s reading of the law there seems correct. The fact that the line is broken allows for you to turn into that space, but only if there is a safe distance and a reasonable and proper speed.

          • Greg B.

            It’s a skewed reading of the law that not only defies common sense but it takes any responsibility for maintaining a safe distance and proper speed off of the bicyclist.

          • beenwiser

            Personally, I’d hold back, catch your eye in the rear-view mirror and wave you on if you were hovering in front of me waiting with your blinker on. Another cyclist might be less friendly and more risky than me, they might just charge through. Its not safe or friendly exactly, but technically they have the right of way there and your supposed to wait patiently for a safe gap in bicycle traffic before you take your turn. Legalities aside, I think drivers have a moral obligation not to take risks with other people’s safety. Even if those other people might not be super friendly, even if those other people are risking their own safety, even if they might be breaking the law.

        • RT

          I apologize for any perceived self-righteous tone! It is obviously not intelligent for a cyclist to pass a turning vehicle. I was merely pointing out that the statement “bicycles traveling in the bike lane, behind a turning vehicle must pull back and allow the vehicle to make the turn” is not true; the cyclist does indeed have the right of way. Regardless, I always let them pass, even if another driver behind me is impatient, because a person’s life is at stake.

  • Tracy Hu

    I passed by this intersection around 10:05 just after the accident happened and before the paramedics got there. The garbage truck was stopped in the middle of its right turn and a man was underneath its right front wheel. A girl on a cruiser bike had stopped to help, as did some pedestrians on the sidewalk.
    I bike from Medford to BMC every day via Mass Ave, and have seen countless near accidents. Not only do I wear a helmet, I also wear glasses and a mask to protect me from the cigarette butts, spittle, and whatever else people toss out their cars. As a cyclist, I NEVER EVER think I can overtake a car nor do I have any desire to crash into a car. I always yield to drivers in front of me that are making right turns. The worst is when drivers approach me from behind and abruptly turn into the bike lane as I’m going straight, commonly known as the right turn hook. Large trucks are the worst when they hug the curb and speed into the turn. Even if I were able to come to a complete stop, I’m still in danger of being pulled underneath the truck as it completes the turn. This is what I suspect may have happened to the poor cyclist caught underneath the garbage truck.