The new bicycle checkbox at BPD—and an enforcement update

The "Bicycle" check box

The new Bicycle check box on the data entry page that each BPD officer fills out after an incident. The form is also known as a 1-1 form.

The BCU is happy to report that the first step in a long road toward superior bike crash reporting in the city of Boston has been taken. It may seem a small task, but just adding the “bicycle” check box pictured here to the Boston Police Department’s database “Key Situations” search categories has taken a great deal of advocacy.

The next step for the department, according to Superintendent of Field Services Daniel Linskey, will be training over 2,700 officers to use it when they type in their 1-1 Incident Report forms.

Also, in about 18 months, an entirely new system will allow officers to enter their reports from the field rather than from a desk at their district. The new system will automatically populate the state form—which the BPD currently eschews because of its time-consuming complexity. When this happens, the state as well as the city can analyze the results.

This week the BPD bureau chiefs had their first meeting to discuss how to implement the new check box and other new bicycle-related training, including adding a hospital visit follow-up to all bike accident reports (a response in part to a suggestion from BCU member Paola Ferrer) and another topic a decidedly less popular with many cyclists—enforcing the state’s bicycle laws.

BPD's search function

Once incoming reports are designated as bicycle related using the new checkbox, officers can conduct a search for all such incidents. The search would likely also gather data on bike thefts and other incidents involving bicycles.

Last week the department gave out almost 50 warnings to cyclists on and around the Commonwealth Avenue bike lane, and at least one ticket. The majority of these warnings were issued to cyclists running red lights or riding the wrong way in a bike lane.

One cyclist reportedly gave officers “the bird” after running a red light and buzzing by pedestrians in the crosswalk—please spread the word among fellow riders that this kind of behavior is very detrimental to our cause and particularly so at this time when the BPD is considering increased enforcement. According to the BPD, this particular cyclist was later apprehended downtown and given a stiff fine.

The BCU urges all cyclists to be on their best behavior and to avoid taking unnecessary risks. A good practice is to say: “excuse me” when passing closely to pedestrians, this reassures them that they are not in danger.

So far it appears the department has not taken to heart BCU suggestions to judge whether or not cyclists are endangering or creating a safer situation for themselves by running red lights, and are simply ticketing all cyclists who do so. Be aware!

Meanwhile, a snag has temporarily tied up BPD enforcement of the Mayor’s new $100 fine for parking in a bike lane. BTD (meter maid) enforcement reportedly is on track for these fines, but BPD’s parking ticket system has the amount “$15” printed next to the “other” category. So the legal department is currently investigating whether or not courts will accept a ticket where an officer simply strikes out the “$15” and writes in “$100” for the new fine, or if new tickets will have to be printed.

The BCU is engaging the department on all these fronts and will keep you posted. Stay tuned.

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