This Sunday, think about ways to reduce traffic fatalities

Omnibus legislation tackles many of the dangers we face

ON SUNDAY, November 21, we recognize World Day of Remembrance — an international day of remembrance for those tragically killed or seriously injured on our roads. To mark the event, on Sunday evening, Boston City Hall, Government Center Station, and the Longfellow and Zakim bridges in Boston will all be lit in yellow. World Day of Remembrance is meant to encourage everyone across the Commonwealth to pause and reflect on those lives lost, and consider the human toll traffic crashes take on our communities.

The two of us writing this piece, one a state representative for Allston and Brighton and the other an advocate who lives in the district, have both found ourselves together at many community events over the years. However, not every event is happy; some are heart-wrenching. One of the hardest parts of our jobs is attending a ghost bike dedication at the site of a recent crash where someone was killed, and bearing witness to the collective sadness. A ghost bike is a memorial, usually it is a bike painted white and chained to a pole near the place where a person took their last breath. These memorials serve as a reminder for everyone to be mindful of the dangers of traffic, and we have far too many of them in our neighborhood.

We both would never like to attend a ghost bike dedication in the future — and we further believe there are real steps we can take to improve traffic safety and protect our neighbors. H.3549, An Act to reduce traffic fatalities, submitted with Transportation Committee chairman Bill Straus with input from transit advocates, aims to save lives and eliminate tragic and preventable deaths on our roads.

The bill requires certain large vehicles and trucks to have side-guards, convex mirrors, and backup cameras to prevent truck drivers from rolling over people. It also requires the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security to standardize the collection of bicyclist and pedestrian crash data and maintain a publicly accessible database to better influence policies and infrastructure that improve road safety.

The bill will also create safer streets for all road users by allowing municipalities to set a default speed limit on state-owned roads to 25 mph, and designates “vulnerable users” on our roads as people who deserve special protections. The bill requires at least a 3-foot passing distance of vulnerable road users for drivers traveling 30 MPH or above, something the current statute of ambiguous “safe passing” does not define. Notably, this bill is not just for people on foot or on bike, but also for construction workers at job sites, tow-truck drivers, and officers writing roadside tickets who are all at risk from being killed by speeding and inattentive drivers.

Taken together, this omnibus bill tackles some of the real dangers we face on our roads of speeding traffic, close passing, unsafe large vehicles, and the lack of data on which improvements should be made. These measures will make a real difference for everyone and we know will prevent crashes and save lives throughout the state.

Meet the Author

Michael Moran

State representative, Boston
Meet the Author

Galen Mook

Member, Allston Neighborhood I-90 Task Force
This Sunday, when you see a landmark illuminated in yellow, please remember all of the victims and their families and friends. Consider the grief that comes with having an empty chair around the dinner table this holiday season. We need to keep working towards a vision zero — where there is not a single traffic fatality in our Commonwealth. This legislation will be a part of that solution.

Michael Moran is a state representative representing Allston and Brighton. Galen Mook is executive director of the Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition.