In the wake of two cyclist deaths this month, the city’s bike enthusiasts came out in full force this weekend for the annual TD Bank Mayor’s Cup Men’s and Women’s Races and Hub on Wheels ride.
Despite the recent deaths, and Boston EMS statistics that show 451 bicycle-related incidents to date this year, cyclists said they are not afraid to hit the pavement.
“Very rarely do I feel threatened,” said Jonathan Sampson, a Boston cyclist. “Part of it is that I’m aggressive right back to (motorists). I’ll take the lane. I don’t care. They’ll be mad at me, but it’s the law to do it. I’ll take the entire traffic lane if I need to to feel safe.”
About 5,000 people turned out Sunday for the annual Hub on Wheels city-wide ride and bike-friendly block party at City Hall Plaza.
Like most of the cyclists Metro spoke to, Kate Janisch said she feels perfectly at home on her bike. They key, she said, is using good judgement.
“I think that I’m a smart cyclist. I think that I’m very aware of my surroundings, and I usually go along the same routes, so I’m familiar with them. I think the people who are not paying attention – it’s like they’re riding a beach cruiser down in Florida – they just don’t get it,” Janisch said.
Following the deaths of a 63-year-old man was killed by an allegedly drunk driver while riding his bike in Dorchester earlier this month, and last week a woman was struck, reportedly dragged, and killed by a tractor-trailer in South Boston.
In response, Mayor Thomas M. Menino’s Boston Bikes operation released a statement calling the deaths “tragic” and warning cyclists to “ride safe,” but it is hard not to ask the question, “Is the city doing enough to keep cyclists safe?”
According to Kristopher Carter, interim director of Boston Bikes, it is.
“In the past four years we have added over 50 miles of bicycle facilities to Boston’s streets and we have another 15 miles on the way this year,” Carter said. “We will continue to grow our Bicycle Network as the number of riders continues to increase. The city is moving towards a more complete street framework to support all users of the roadway.”
Charlestown cyclist Heather Taylor said there is always room for improvement.
“There is one stretch right after the JFK library that they need to pave. Just pave that one little spot, because people literally have to get off their bikes,” she said. “I’ve tried to bike to work, but the bike lanes are still somewhat dangerous.”