Officers Hand Out Free Bike Helmets, Warnings On Commonwealth Avenue

As part of a safety initiative, police stopped cyclists without helmets on the Boston University bridge.

Photo via Steve Annear.

Photo by Steve Annear

As part of an ongoing safety initiative, officers from the Boston, Brookline, and Boston University Police departments gave away bike helmets to cyclists who weren’t wearing one on Monday.

Officers stationed at the intersection of Commonwealth Avenue and the Boston University bridge said they stopped roughly 73 cyclists traveling toward the Back Bay, and only two refused to take the free helmets before continuing on. “I stopped one girl that actually said she was on her way to buy a new helmet,” said BU Police Officer John Struble.

Police sat idly on the bridge, moving into cyclists’ paths to stop them, and gave out helmets—in addition to advice and warnings. “We give out warnings, especially when people run red lights,” said BU Police Officer Larry Cuzzi. “That’s definitely the biggest infraction. A lot of people come here from other cities, and from out of state, and they don’t know the rules and regulations. So we stop them and try and let them know.”

In Massachusetts, bikers are subject to the same rules of the road as drivers, including stopping at red lights. A violation of the law can lead to a $20 citation. “Cyclists need to remember that they need to comply,” said Cuzzi.

In October 2012 during a separate crackdown on safety, Cuzzi and members of the department stopped 152 cyclists at the same intersection and doled out 10 citations. “It’s one of the busier areas,” he said.

For the helmet campaign, officers have been trying to hand out free headgear and information about biking twice a year. They said when students return to the city in the fall and when the weather gets nicer in the spring are the ideal times to target riders. This year, because of increased resources, officers conducted four separate “free helmet stings.”

Officers were also handing out reflectors for riders to place on their bikes. Struble said they would be back on Commonwealth Avenue during the evening commute to hand out even more protection and safety information.

The effort coincides with the statewide “Bike Week” initiative, an event sponsored by Governor Deval Patrick, which encourages more people in Massachusetts to take their bike to work and school instead of driving. May also happens to be “National Bike Month.”

Below is an infographic created by Josh Zisson, a Boston lawyer specializing in bike law, from his website, which explains the “rights” of cyclists on the road: