Boston is doubling down on biking, but are suburban commuters safe? Flickr/Fiona Wong

Bike accidents are on the rise in suburban Boston, according to The Boston Globe.

Nearly a decade ago, former Boston mayor Thomas Menino launched the Boston Bikes initiative, an effort to revamp the city's second-rate cycling infrastructure. At the time, only 60 yards of bike lanes were accessible within the city. And Menino's ambitious plan created much-needed improvements.

Boston's bike lanes have since grown from less than one mile in 2007 to more than 60 miles today. Over 22,000 people bike to work each morning. Yet, in Boston's surrounding suburban communities—those with many city commuters—town officials may need to rethink their own cycling infrastructure: Cyclists traveling the outskirts of Boston are being struck by vehicles at alarming rates.

Commuting by bicycle is most popular in towns adjacent to Boston, such as Brookline, Somerville, and Cambridge. Darker areas represent more cycling commuters. (U.S. Census Bureau)

In greater Boston, collisions involving bicycles increased by 9 percent between 2010 and 2012, The Boston Globe reported over the weekend. (Massachusetts as a whole saw a dramatic increase in incidences of vehicles striking bicyclists.) The Globe, which relied on figures from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, reported that 66 percent of the accidents involved a passenger car and that 70 percent resulted in injuries.

The region's recent boom in cycling itself may partly explain the uptick in bicycle-involved collisions. Citing U.S. Census Bureau figures, The Globe reports that the number of Boston commuters traveling by bike increased by 75 percent between 2000 and 2012. But an influx of bicyclists doesn't inherently translate to more collisions. CityLab's Sarah Goodyear wrote recently that bicycle accidents in New York City fell between 2008 and 2011 despite the volume of cyclists increasing. In the case of NYC, a "compelling explanation ... is that improvements in bike infrastructure have led to streets that are safer for all users," Goodyear writes.

Rapidly urbanizing areas of greater Boston—such as Somerville, where 100 cyclists were struck over just a two-year period—have benefited from the larger city's biking initiatives. Boston's expanded bike lanes offer its residents the ability to traverse the city in a healthy, eco-friendly way. Ensuring safe bike travel beyond the city limits and into the suburban corridor needs to be the next priority.

Top image courtesy of Flickr user Fiona Wong.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Life

    The Cities Americans Want to Flee, and Where They Want to Go

    An Apartment List report reveals the cities apartment-hunters are targeting for their next move—and shows that tales of a California exodus may be overstated.

  2. photo: a pair of homes in Pittsburgh
    Equity

    The House Flippers of Pittsburgh Try a New Tactic

    As the city’s real estate market heats up, neighborhood groups say that cash investors use building code violations to encourage homeowners to sell.  

  3. Equity

    A Visual History of the U.S. Census

    Vulnerable communities are bracing for an undercount in 2020. It’s a familiar story that traces back to the Articles of Confederation.

  4. Equity

    What ‘Livability’ Looks Like for Black Women

    Livability indexes can obscure the experiences of non-white people. CityLab analyzed the outcomes just for black women, for a different kind of ranking.

  5. Transportation

    In Paris, a Very Progressive Agenda Is Going Mainstream

    Boosted by big sustainability wins, Mayor Anne Hidalgo is pitching bold plans to make the city center “100 percent bicycle” and turn office space into housing.

×