LETTER: Accident vs. crash

To the editor: 

I am writing in reference to the article titled “Bicycle accident with car sends juvenile to hospital” in last week’s paper. While I am sure the article was well-intentioned, and without knowing what “really happened,” I would like to offer some constructive feedback for future articles.— The word “accident.” There have been increasing calls for journalists to stop using the word accident when describing car crashes, as it implies that it was just bad luck. You don’t hear plane crashes called accidents. Instead there is a search for root causes and a focus on prevention.— The emphasis on wearing helmets. This factor may be relevant when describing the extent of a cyclist’s injuries, but it is certainly not relevant when determining a cause of a crash. An article describing a shooting does not mention whether the victim was wearing a bulletproof vest. What was the driver of the car wearing? Did they have sunglasses to deal with the morning sun? Was their phone on or in use? These factors might be more relevant.— The driver and cyclist were not cited. The driver either made a left turn into oncoming traffic, failing to yield the right of way, or a right turn after passing the cyclist. There is a new law protecting vulnerable road users requiring drivers to give them four feet of space. Massachusetts law requires any person 16 years old or younger riding a bicycle to wear a helmet. Either the “juvenile” (defined under 18) was 17 years old, or was breaking the law. Why were there no citations if there were infractions?— The focus of the police in the article is about enforcement for speeding and flashing beacons. However, the incident did not happen on a crosswalk, where flashing beacons could be relevant, and Chief Dennis King stated that speed was not a factor. I applaud Chief King for advocating for more flashing beacons in Marblehead and the Police Department and the Board of Health for hosting a bike safety rodeo. Massachusetts State law requires municipal police departments to develop programs for the training of law enforcement offices in bicycle safety enforcement and develop guidelines for traffic enforcement for bicyclist safety. Beyond investment in safety training for local cyclists, how does our police department plan to train local drivers and enforce traffic laws that protect cyclists? What will be done to prevent this near-tragedy (or worse) from happening again? Sincerely,Pat Milner, on behalf of Friends of Green Street WoodsCloutmans Lane

Letter to the editor
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