Bike Union releases new “Sideguards Save Lives” factsheet
“We believe this is the first ordinance of it’s kind in the country,” wrote Mayor Walsh’s press secretary Kate Norton. “The ordinance requires side guards, convex mirrors, cross-over mirrors, and blind-spot awareness decals on all vehicles over 10,000 pounds awarded a city contract. There is a fine for those not in compliance — escalating from $100 for the first offense, to potential termination of the contract.”
The Bike Union began pushing for the ordinance through Councillor Ayanna Pressley’s office in the wake of Eoin McGrory’s tragic death in Charlestown in early April. (Please contribute to a charity fund in his memory.) At the same time, the city’s office of Urban Mechanics was talking to the city’s new mayor about the success of a pilot program that required sideguards first on the city’s public works truck fleet, and subsequently on all trash hauling trucks that contracted with the city. The results of the pilot were positive and all parties agreed that a move toward design requirements for all trucks contracting with the city was the best next step.Today the Bike Union is also releasing a new “Sideguards Save Lives” fact sheet that illustrates the benefits side guards and blind spot mirrors. The fact sheet is that will give residents in other municipalities, the state, and the country a tool to push forward similar ordinances and legislation.
“The Bike Union knows who’s who and they set up a face to face meeting with Councillor Ayanna Pressley’s staff,” said Alex Epstein, one of the nation’s expert on truck safety design who works at USDOT at the Volpe Center in Cambridge, and also helped advise the Mayor’s staff. “I don’t think it would have been possible without that insider connection.”
McGrory, a 34-year-old recently married native of Londonderry, Ireland, was hit by a trash hauling truck’s rear wheels as it turned off of Cambridge Street onto Spice Street in Charlestown. His death is one of a string of similar incidents in recent years including the collisions that took the lives of Tanya Connolly and Christopher Weigl in 2012. These deaths appear to have been preventable by sideguards and mirrors that allow drivers to see more of what’s happening around their vehicle.
“I think overall it’s a good bill, it goes beyond side guards to provide cross-over mirrors,” said Epstein. “Those mirrors will help drivers to see pedestrians and cyclists within three and five feet of the front of the truck. The main thing is the side guard requirement for trucks over 10,000 pounds. Overall I think it’s a great day for safe streets in Boston.”
With this ordinance the city of Boston will lead a small group of cities and one state in the nation that are moving toward action on an April recommendation from the National Traffic Safety Board as the federal authorities continue to drag their feet. It’s the hope of the Union’s Organizing Group——of which Epstein is an active member——that the state legislature takes note of Boston’s initiative and follows suit for all trucks of a certain size registered in the state. And ultimately that the federal government takes notice of the upswell of city and state actions and implements side guards and blind spot mirrors for all trucks nationwide.
There are some notable exceptions to the Boston ordinance, including snow plows and emergency vehicles, and any provision for an evaluation of the new sideguard specifications——a study which would admittedly be a costly endeavour for Boston. A study of the kind might be easier for a larger city like New York to carry out, or a well-heeled local university like the Harvard School of Public Health or MIT.
In Council session on Wednesday Sept. 10, the body will take up the issue and likely assign it to one of three committees, Neighborhood Services, chaired by Councillor Tim McCarthy; Government Operations, chaired by Councillor Michael Flaherty; or Healthy Women, Families and Communities, chaired by Councillor Ayanna Pressley. From there, a public hearing may be called before a vote to approve the ordinance takes place. Stay tuned to the Bike Union’s e-mail newsletter and social media channels for more information.