City Officials to Back Bills Requiring More Protections for Cyclists From Trucks

The safety bills would mandate side-guards and blind-spot mirrors.

City of Boston officials will testify Wednesday in favor of safety bills that would mandate equipment on all trucks of a certain size registered in Massachusetts, aimed at making roadways safer for cyclists and pedestrians.

The bills, sponsored by State Rep. Dan Hunt of Dorchester and Sen. William Brownsberger of Belmont, would require side-guards and blind-spot mirrors, reports State House News Service. Boston’s Active Transportation director Stefanie Seskin and Office of New Urban Mechanics co-chair Kris Carter are expected to testify, along with Dustin Weigl, whose brother Christopher was killed by a truck while riding his bike in 2012.

“Since 2010, 11 cyclists in Boston have died as a result of crashes with motor vehicles, and seven of those fatal accidents occurred between a cyclist and either a truck or a bus,” Hunt wrote in a letter to House Transportation Committee chairman Rep. William Straus. Hunt cited a British study that found that requiring “sideguards on large trucks reduced deaths by 61 percent and serious injuries by 13 percent for cyclists.”

A Boston ordinance went into effect last spring requiring sideguards, which prevent cyclists from falling between the front and back wheels of a truck when colliding with its side, and blind-spot mirrors on large trucks contracted by the city. Volpe, the Cambridge-based National Transportation Systems Center, tells the SHNS that sideguards can also improve fuel economy by 4 to 7 percent when retrofitted on trucks.

Ambulances, firetrucks, and tractors would be exempt from the bills’ requirements.