Cambridge death resulted from car-centric policy

Yesterday, a 27 year-old Amanda Phillips was riding a bicycle around noon in Cambridge’s Inman Square when she was hit by a driver near the intersection of Cambridge and Hampshire Streets. She was taken to Massachusets General Hospital, where she was declared dead, according to Universal Hub.

Cambridge Police haven’t finished their investigation, but it appears that she was doored by someone coming out of a parked car and into the path of an oncoming truck, which had no chance to stop in time.

At about 1:00 pm, the scene under the clear June sky was fairly quiet. Police had blocked off Cambridge Street in both directions. A red Jeep Grand Cherokee was parked on the side of the road with an MBTA bus behind it in the street and yellow police Caution tap flapped in the wind. A bent bicycle lay on the ground surrounded by blue-gloved police officers and a small black helmet was propped upside down against the curb.

Naturally, being hit by a driver opening their door without looking is the cyclist’s fault. That is, according to The Boston Globe’s pet carbertarian — a person who is skeptical or opposes government interventions except when it comes to driving — Jeff Jacoby, who not only Tweeted “Bicycles don’t belong in busy urban traffic. If we stop promoting such riskty behavior, fewer tragedies will occur.”

Just to emphasize his status as a human sack of shit, Jacoby also reposted a column from last year he wrote called “Urban roads aren’t meant for bicycles”.

Why does Jacoby believe this? Because the presence of cyclists on streets is “frustrating to the vast majority of drivers.” In other words, it’s inconvenient. Never mind that having our roads clogged with single occupancy vehicles, destroying houses for highways and tearing down whole neighborhoods for parking is inefficient, costly to taxpayers and has negative economic benefits, policy should apparently be based on what is convenient instead of what makes sense or even what is good.

Unfortunately, that perspective is illustrative of how transportation planning is being done in Massachusetts. According to Jonathan Fertig, there are streets in Boston being called “Complete Streets” by the City because they have faded sharrows painted on them and prior to a recent meeting on pedestrian and cycling improvements on Massachusetts Avenue, he tweeted a picture of a flyer opposing the improvements because it might cost a few parking spaces. Never mind that protected bike lanes and intersections could have prevented a number of deaths, including Phillips’.

In Allston, residents have been fighting with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation for years for streets in Lower Allston near the Massachusetts Turnpike that won’t be eight-lane stroads, which MassDot wants for the drivers. They also had to fight to get protected bike lanes as part of the Commonwealth Avenue reconstruction project and have yet to see any progress on Cambridge Street. The reason transit signal priority, or other transit improvements are so hard to implement is because they would result in drivers waiting slightly longer.

Is a human life worth, say, 20 extra minutes of driving action?

The convenience of one segment of the population should not be the arbiter of policy for everyone — especially when that segment is already heavily subsidized to drive.

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