BCU response to the death of Eric Hunt

A ghost bike placed near the site on Huntington Avenue where 22-year-old Eric Hunt was hit by an MBTA bus. The accident is under investigation by the Boston Police Department and the MBTA.

The death of 22-year-old cyclist Eric Hunt on Huntington Avenue on April 7, quickly followed by news of a second tragic accident involving a 37-year-old man on Beacon Street on April 8, was an emotionally jarring way for the Boston cycling community to begin the spring season.

We encourage all of our fellow cyclists to take care after blowing a winter’s worth of dust off their rides. Be extra cautious.

We encourage those who drive to take it a little slower this spring and summer. Cycling is on the rise.

And we encourage those new to riding on city streets to seek information and instruction on safe riding from the city’s Boston Bikes program, MassBike, or take a group ride with any of these BCU allies: JP Bikes, DotBike, or Rozzie Bike, and learn safe riding techniques from your neighbors.

A number of us in Boston’s bicycle advocacy community began our work in response to other tragic cycling deaths. Some names that we all remember are Kirsten Malone in 2004, Kelly Wallace in 2007, Gordon Riker in 2007. And there have been many others over the years.

These events sadden us, they make us question our daily choice to favor 30 pound steel frames over one-ton steel automobiles, but through the tears and questioning these events also bring resolve.

Our mission at the Boston Cyclists Union is, put simply, to make everyday cycling safer for everybody. We take this charge very seriously. And when an event like this occurs, we begin working overtime.

In the first few days after the news of Hunt’s death, we have been reaching out in every direction we can to prevent more tragedies like this one. Every city or state official we have called has been of the same mind.

Our first positive result:

  • A step toward better crash reporting— Our number one priority has been to improve Boston’s crash data reporting system. Currently, we do not know which Boston intersections are the most dangerous for cyclists, because there is no “bicycle-related” check box on the Boston Police Department’s incident report form. This omission and a corresponding one on the BPD database makes it impossibly labor intensive to compile and analyze the data that is collected by officers in the field. The city also does not encourage its officers to fill out a second state form, which does have a bicycle-related check box. But on April 12, after a flurry of phone calls on our part and the generous help of Nicole Freedman, Boston’s Bike Coordinator and other members of the Menino Administration, we were informed that Deputy Superintendent Nora Baston will attend future meetings of the advisory group. This is an excellent first step in working on this problem and we thank the BPD for their attention to cyclist safety!

New conversations beginning:

  • Make significant changes to Huntington and S. Huntington, S. Huntington and Heath St., and S. Huntington— The intersection of Huntington and S. Huntington is an extremely dangerous crossing for cyclists and pedestrians. Boston EMS ambulance run data shows that between 2002 and 2007, 11 pedestrians and cyclists were picked up at that intersection after being struck by cars. We would like to see improvements in traffic calming at the spot, as well as innovative solutions such as bike boxes, bike-priority signals, and trolley-track hazard signs (see example at right). We trust the city’s consultants to come up with a variety of solutions. We’d also like to see improvements to the intersection at S. Huntington and Heath Streets, including a stop sign for motorists coming off of Heath Street. And finally, we would like to see a bike lane on S. Huntington from Canary Square (Centre Street) to Heath Street. These suggestions make use of local knowledge, and the power of this local knowledge is the reason why volunteers in every neighborhood are key to the Boston Cyclists’ Union approach. The more information we have from local cyclists, the more helpful we can be to the city and state in crafting solutions that will make it safer for all road users.
  • New MBTA training video? Sometimes everyone thinks of the same idea at the same time, because it is so appropriate. After opening up a conversation with Susan Lebbossiere, the MBTA’s Superintendent of Bus Operations Training, we received an email from Nicole Freedman and a passel of advocacy groups discussing ways to improve MBTA training around cyclists. Ken Field of the Cambridge Bike Committee suggested an excellent safety video from Chicago, but the BCU is hoping to collaborate with several of these groups and the MBTA to produce a training video locally, using local conditions, local cyclists and local bus drivers. We are also exploring a number of other ideas.
  • Redesign of the intersection of Beacon and Charles streets—A redesign of this scale takes time, but the BCU is advocating that the process begin. Charles Street connects the Esplanade, the Longfellow Bridge and the Boston Common with a busy shopping thoroughfare. And many people cross Beacon Street at all points to access the Boston Common. Currently, the left hand turn from Charles northbound to Beacon westbound has a very wide turning radius which allows cars to fly off Charles onto beacon at high rates of speed. In such a busy pedestrian area, it should not be possible to go fast enough to kill. The Boston Transportation Department and the city’s Boston Bikes program have expressed that they are open to discussing solutions for the crossing. There may also be shorter-term solutions for traffic calming.

We encourage the wider cycling community to send us ideas for safety improvements to these and other intersections, streets and other situations around the city. Only by hearing from you and getting your volunteer or financial support can the BCU begin to address every neighborhood’s cycling needs. Please enter your ideas below.


  1. dwight lancaster on January 25, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    Hi, I saw Boston Cyclists Union for the first time yesterday involving the bicycle death on Arlington yesterday so I wanted to relate my recent accident. I am 51 yrs old, a dedicated athelete and have been commuting on a bicycle for the last 9 years. I have commuted from Somerville to Back Bay for the last 6 years. I would be labeled as a commuter geek – helmet, goggles, gloves, lights, reflectors and so on. It is a tough commute going down Rutherford Ave through Charlestown, over the Gilmore Bridge by the Museum of Science and up the Charles River to the Esplinade and over to the Hancock Tower. When I got doored by a car waiting at a red light(clarendon and boylston) in mid-November, I asked the person to pull over so we could exchange information. The light turned green and the guy rolled his window up and took off. I was nice when I asked him to pull over but now I was ripping. I chased him for 4 blocks and caught him at a red light. Stood there in front of his car and called the Boston Police. When the Officer showed up he indicated we were both at fault. I asked him about the car taking off after I asked him to pull over – “Isn’t that a hit and run?” and the Officer replied -“the driver said he was scared.” There is no real point here but I can tell you I emailed Mass Bike a few months back and said this new law- “Same Road, Same Rules” is so unfair. I try to be a logical person and if I knew nothing about the whole rules of the road and cars vs. bike what would you say to – a 4,000 lb vehicle and a 30 lb bike have the same rules. You would think I am crazy. I have been riding dirt bikes since I was 12, have taken multiple motorcycle trips to Florida and across the USA. Also spent 10 years in my 30’s mountain biking around the Southwest- Arizona and New Mexico. I appoligize if it seems like I am angry because I am not. I mostly feel that pedestrians, bicyclist and cars are all selfish. Unfortunately, it is the only way to ride since a car will just have a fender bender and I will have a broken leg and may not be able to commute on a bicycle any more. I hope to see a better way and agree if cars were not traveling at 40-50 mph down Comm Ave it would be a safer place. I could give you multiple examples of things that are wrong from road conditions to how not to get hit despite the rules but I am a bit beaten down after years of writing Mass Bike and Nicole to no answers, just angry stories from other bicyclists. Best of luck. Thank you, Dwight

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