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Bicyclist, 74, killed in South End collision

Early-morning solar glare may have been factor

By Brian R. Ballou
Globe Staff / January 25, 2011

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A 74-year-old bicyclist was killed yesterday morning in a collision with a car near the corner of Tremont and Arlington streets in Boston, according to authorities.

Police did not release the man’s name yesterday nor the cause of the crash, which happened at 8:10 a.m in busy South End traffic.

But it occurred at a time when solar glare can cause problems for drivers turning east on Herald Street. The white sedan involved in the crash was facing that direction.

The front windshield on the driver’s side was smashed and a U-shaped lock, commonly used to lock bicycles to poles or stands, remained in the snow yesterday morning alongside a piece of the car’s front bumper. The driver was interviewed by police and was not cited yesterday.

“It is sad to get such a vivid reminder that despite the good progress our city has made on bicycle safety in recent years, crashes like this can still happen,’’ said Pete Stidman, director of the Boston Cyclists Union, which advocates for rider safety.

Including yesterday’s accident, there have been at least three fatal bicycle accidents in the city in the past two years and several cases in which cyclists were left in critical or serious condition.

Nicole Freedman, the city’s director of bicycle programs, conducted a survey in 2009 in which 1,440 bicyclists said they had been involved in a cycling mishap in Boston dating back to 2005. Of that total, 37 percent said they were involved in an accident that included a vehicle, she said.

The survey identified Massachusetts and Commonwealth Avenues as the two roads in the city with the highest number of bicycling accidents.

Last August, a 24-year-old woman was struck by a car and killed as she rode on Commonwealth Avenue in Brighton. The driver was not cited.

And last April, a 22-year-old man was killed by an MBTA bus while riding his bike on Huntington Avenue. A day later, a 37-year-old man on his bicycle was hit by a car and seriously injured at the edge of Boston Common.

In both of those fatal accidents, the bicyclists were not wearing helmets. It was unclear whether the man killed yesterday was wearing a helmet.

Last October, a 65-year-old Jamaica Plain man was struck by a van as he rode his bicycle on Jamaica Way. He was dragged under the vehicle for about 200 feet before he was dislodged. The cyclist suffered numerous broken ribs, a punctured lung, and severe road rash that left him in critical condition.

Groups that advocate for safer bicycling conditions in the city have called for lower speed limits, improved bike paths, and more programs to educate drivers on how to share the road.

Mayor Thomas M. Menino hosted two bicycle safety summits last year, and Freedman’s office is currently analyzing information from cyclists, officials, and highway and road experts who attended.

Stidman said he recently was hit by a car on Dorchester Avenue, but was unscathed. He said it is important for cyclists to report such accidents.

“I talk to cyclists all the time and remind them to report to police or the city whenever they’re involved in an accident because we need to know where the accidents are happening in order to fix the problem,’’ he said.

Brian R. Ballou can be reached at bballou@globe.com.

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