It’s been months, and the Boston Police Department still refuses to disclose which of its on-duty officers struck and injured a bicyclist downtown during the early morning commute back on July 9. The department also won’t answer questions about its investigation into the accident, which has some bike advocates wondering about the mixed messaging.
The police, who enforce traffic laws in the city, are shielding the information about the accident even as Mayor Thomas M. Menino’s outgoing administration goes to extraordinary lengths to promote commuter bike safety. In September, the mayor rolled out an ambitious plan to install cycle track safety barriers to protect biker commuters from cars. Earlier this year, cops cracked down on safety scofflaws by issuing helmets and $20 tickets to bikers who violate traffic rules. In all, there were 1,009 reported collisions between bikes and cars in 2012, according to data compiled by the city.
The collision occurred at 8:36 a.m. near 24 New Chardon Street, by the Edward Brooke Courthouse, according to a police incident report obtained under the state public records law.
The cyclist was in the right-hand lane, while the driver was in the left, according to the report. The report also noted the cruiser had damage to the front license plate, the passenger-side windshield, and the passenger-side mirror. The bicycle’s frame and right-side fork and rear tire were damaged. The officer writing the report found the cyclist seated on a curb next to a parked car and his bike “20 to 25 feet” up New Chardon Street.
Published reports at the time revealed little about the collision, and said that the 63-year-old cyclist was “treated for non-life threatening injuries.” That may be technically true, but the crash left the bicyclist with a fractured lower right leg, a laceration above his left eye, and “road rash type abrasions,” according to the official police report.
A prominent bike safety group that works closely with the Boston Police Department on mapping where collisions occur is calling for the department to release the information about the incident. In a statement, Boston Cyclists Union executive director Pete Stidman said:
“The streets in that area were designed primarily for speed after the (Boston Redevelopment Authority) tragically knocked down the West End, so there’s an infrastructure problem there that needs fixing. But as with any mistake, if it was a mistake, the best of us own it, work to correct it and move on. Particularly when an officer of the law is involved in hitting a vulnerable user such as a pedestrian or cyclist, I think they should share the facts of the case and take responsibility for their actions. Boston’s finest work to protect us, but also to set an example by their own actions.”
The Boston Police Department says it is allowed to withhold the officer’s name from public view because he or she sought medical treatment for an unspecified injury. (The department’s original response did not provide the report’s first page and edited out more than 40 names public officials on the scene.) The department has not answered email inquiries about whether there was an investigation into the cause of the collision, which party was at fault, and whether anyone was citied or punished.
A Boston Police spokeswoman contacted for this story did not respond to a request for comment.
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