Posts Tagged ‘ Government ’

Take Back Your Lane!

Friday, February 22nd, 2013

2013-02-19 16.33.00It has come to my attention, after extensive communications with the powers that be and their lackeys, that our cities have no intention of clearing the snow out of our bike lanes. They also have no intention of moving or ticketing the cars parked in the bike lanes. All this is in spite of the fact that the winter months are the harshest and most dangerous to cyclists, who are the most vulnerable of commuters year round.

However, rather than bemoan our fates, I say we do what the city should be doing and get out there ourselves and shovel out the bike lanes! If the powers that be think it’s too much hassle or just don’t care, then it’s up to us to preserve our own safety with a little DIY action.

My plan  is this, and I hope you follow along:

We should be seeing the end of the coming precipitation by this Sunday eve. At that point I will venture forth, shovel in hand, and station myself at the nearest unplowed bike lane. I will then proceed to remove the snow from it! If I am able to complete one bike lane before my back is broken, I will move on to another and clear THAT bike lane. Where will I put the snow? Wherever! It’s not my fucking problem as long as it’s not in the bike lane, right?

I urge you to take up your icepicks and shovels and buckets of sand and join  me at the front line of the battle! If you have a specific commuter route you need cleared, start there! Call your friends! Bring a boombox and make a party out of it!

If you aren’t a cyclist but just want to help, email me at kamikazelove at gmail and I’ll point you toward a lane in need!






Speak Up

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

I emailed the Bicycle Transportation contact for Boston, Cambridge and Somerville about our choked bike lanes. Somerville got back to me, but only to tell me to send a request to 311. So I have, about a few streets. It seems that Cambridge only has a ‘request a sidewalk shoveled’ page here.  Please sign in and add your street or your entire route.

I have yet to find a form for the Boston environs, but you can always email, who represents the interests of the cycling community.


Keep fighting the good fight, kids.


The Value of Life

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

Traffic Tickets in Massachusetts

Speeding:  $100 base, $50 surcharge, $200 for every violation of 20 mph. over the posted limit.

Passing a School Bus in Dropoff Mode: $250

Parking Adjacent to Fire Hydrant: $100

Parking in a Taxi Stand: $50

Parking on Sidewalk: $40

Double Parking: $20

Running a Stop Light/Sign: $100

Causing the Death of a Cyclist: $0

Parking Over 1′ From Curb: $20

Blocking Handicap Ramp: $100


If I am traveling in the bicycle lane going North, and a tractor trailer is traveling the same road going South, and the tractor trailer takes a left across my lane sharply enough that I do not have time to swerve out of the way, or stop, and I die…  who is at fault? This is not a trick question.

Sympathy for the Douchebags

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

I’m so sick of holier-than-thou cyclists applauding the recent attention we have been getting from the po-po. Oh, really? This means we have arrived? You don’t say? So what you’re saying is that if I call the police today and tell them I’ve been hit by an MBTA bus, and that I’m on a bicycle and not harmed physically, they won’t respond with, “What do you want us to do about it?”. And if I am knocked over by a car making an unannounced right turn and I phone the Allston police, I  won’t hear, “Sorry, there is nothing we can do unless you’re injured.”

That would be great! Unfortunately for all of us, it’s a pile of shiny crap. If I am in a motor vehicle of any kind, and I am hit by another motor vehicle, or hell, even a cyclist, the cops will respond within minutes. I’ve tested this and so have you, as do hundreds of drivers every month here in good ole’ Beantown. Try it if you’re on a bike, however, and the tune changes completely. Unless the cops are called by a startled bystander who just watched your head go through the windshield of an SUV, or as they watch your crumpled, broken body bleed out onto the pavement in the wake of an MBTA bus that made a quick and unannounced stop right through  you, you are going to be left high and dry by the same establishment that wants you to believe that you are ‘recognized and accepted’.

I hear a lot of bullshit every day, but rarely does such a whiffy grade of dook affect me so intimately.  Let me reminisce…

Do you remember not so long ago when I was hit by MBTA buses making sharp turns into their stops, while I was in the bike lane  not one or two but THREE times in two months? If you ride, you know exactly what I mean: you’re tooling along happily in your lane, and suddenly you hear a roar from  your left as a bus passes you at about 25mph. Just as it gets exactly half it’s length past you, it brakes and pulls sharply to the right, knocking you over, pinching you to the curb or sometimes knocking you fully over the curb. Each time this happened, I called the police and was told, “that’s not our jurisdiction”. Interesting. I called the MBTA police and was forced to leave a message. I never got a response. I left complaint after complaint on the MBTA website.  I never got a response.  After that I started chasing these buses myself trying to retrieve the identity of the  driver. “Give me your name, you just HIT ME!”, I hollered through the closed door. “I DON’T HAVE TO!” the portly bus driver lady hollered back. She had hit me intentionally, after a threat that she’d do so. I’m sorry, but if you are in your car and another car rams you intentionally, I daresay that is ASSAULT WITH A DANGEROUS WEAPON.

Or how about the call after call after call, and television spot, and email complaints, etc that I’ve sent to everyone from the Allston police to the Mayor, regarding the intersection of Cambridge St. and Harvard St.  At every single round of lights, all day and night, all year long, vehicles run this red at a rate of between 3-10 vehicles each time. This includes police vehicles, fire engines, schoolbuses full of children, MBTA buses, you name it. What has been done about this known issue that endangers the lives of hundreds of people, including myself, every day? DICK. SQUAT.

And then there was the time when, during a rainy, dank monday, a BMW driver taking a sharp right onto Waterhouse ST. from Mass Ave hit my wheel, stopped, and rolled down the window to shriek, “I oughta run you off the fucking road!!” and peeled away as I picked up my bike, retorting weakly, “…you just did.”  I called the police and they told me I could ride over to the station, with my taco’d wheel, if I wanted to give a statement, but that in all likelihood they wouldn’t be able to do anything about it.

I feel so accepted! XD

(FYI, every single time I have been hit, I was following the law to the letter. Go figure.)

As far as I can see, cyclists are really a type of untouchable caste, undeserved of the same protection and attention as their ‘betters’ in cars or on foot. If I’m going to be untouchable, I’m taking all the perks, thank you very much.  As an invisible two-wheeled peasant, I am happy to look after myself, as long as I don’t have to kowtow to the same institutional bullshit as the vehicular vaisyas and the bureaucratic brahmins.

The cops’ methods of enforcement are similarly insulting. They will wait at particular ‘trouble intersections’ (read: wherever it’s easiest to park and reasonably close to a cafe) and hide behind a vehicle, watching for cyclist that run lights, who the cops will then grab bodily as the cyclist rides by.  I’ve only ever seen them at intersections through which it is completely safe for bikes to proceed through a red – great visibility, long pedestrian lights. I also only see them on bright, sunny days. It must be really swell to be able to avoid the streets during days like today, with the constant downpour and the foot-deep road lakes. Color me envious.

How about putting a patrol in Harvard Square Southbound, where I can flag you down and indicate the taxis parked in the bike lane, or the bus that just ran me off the road during the curve in front of the COOP? Oh right, it ‘s because you’d end up giving more tickets to motorists than cyclists. Man, life is hard for the long arm of the law.

The situation is like a heavy-handed after-school special on Lifetime. The protagonist is a delinquent teenager (la cyclistas, obvs), disobedient and destructive. We want them to shape up and we wonder why they act out so ferociously.  And then we’re treated to a snapshot of their home life. GovernMom is preoccupied and removed, preferring to buy the child’s love with gifts and privilege, while the Police Dadpartment is abusive, dismissive and hypocritical. Who will steer this kid through the confusing and traumatic journey through adolescence? Will Cindy the Cyclist give up her coke habit, dump her bad news boyfriend and finally apply to her college of choice?

I wouldn’t keep your fingers crossed.

I’m on the committee.

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

I’m not really on any committee. I don’t go to meetings, for a few reasons, including inability to remember when/where they are, and crippling social anxiety. I’m not part of any official bike club or movement. I’m mostly a loner (Dotty), a rebel. But when I’m on the phone with people, I do make a lot of lofty claims about the level of contact I have in the community – I have a squeaky girl voice, so to be taken seriously on the phone is a bit of a challenge.

Today I spoke to a nice gentleman at the MASSDot about the state of the Mass Pike pedestrian bridge in Allston. He informed me that it is the Mass Pike Authority’s responsibility to maintain it, and not the city’s. He also admitted that he did not have the direct number to the Mass Pike authority. No wonder nothing really gets done around here.

I don’t want to jump the gun and get hopes up, but I have ordered a small, battery powered spy cam. I’m hoping to mount it on my helmet in such a way that all the idiocy I witness during my daily commute is captured and useful as evidence in the event that I am struck (again) or otherwise menaced. Not sure about the quality of the cam yet (it was cheap) or the method of mounting, so this plan is tentative, but I’m pretty excited. I have the feeling that attitudes will be completely different if people know they are being filmed. Better, or worse… we’ll just have to wait and see.

More Correspondence

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

Dear [Grimlocke],

On behalf of Governor Deval L. Patrick, thank you for your recent correspondence regarding the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. We have forwarded your letter to Massachusetts Department of Transportation  for further review. If necessary, please be assured you will receive a response as quickly as possible. We are committed to addressing your concerns promptly.

Again, thank you for contacting Governor Patrick’s office and please feel free to contact our office in the future with any questions or concerns you may have regarding other matters.


Governor Patrick’s Constituent Services Office


I’m happy that I’m getting word of some action, if not seeing first hand. I also haven’t seen any dangerous behavior for.. wow about a week. I’m not on the streets as much as I am in the warmer months, but I still cover at least 14-20 miles of the worst roads in the area, every day. Today I have the pleasure of taking Cambridge up to the River Street bridge, up River and along Prospect – possibly one of the crappiest rides in the city. We’ll see what I spy along this route, aside from debris – strewn and potholed shoulder, gridlocked cars and jaywalking peds.

The Saga Continues…

Monday, February 8th, 2010

On Friday of last week, I sent this email to Cara Seiderman (, Nicole Freedman ( and the nameless entity at It has yet to be acknowledged at all, but I do have hope, since I have had contact with Cara and Nicole in the past.

The email:

Hello Nicole, Cara,
and whom it concerns in the Somerville traffic department,

Nicole and Cara, we’ve spoken in the past, and I thank you for following up with me about the development of the Harvard Ave. bike lane and the problems with taxi parking in Harvard Square. I thank my lucky stars for every inch of bike lane I have the privilege to use on my commute to and from work every day. I have cc’d you both, as well as the Somerville traffic department, on the following issues because the more I explore the problem, the more accounts of abuse I hear reported in all parts of the greater Boston area. I started out concerned with one particular intersection, but the problem may be much much larger than that.

The issue I have for you today is a difficult one, because it involves the MBTA, who I’m told are not in any way influenced by either the Boston administration or the jurisdiction of the local police. I’ve been told this on the phone by government officials and police officers. Regardless of these statements, I’m really hoping you can help me with this, because it doesn’t seem like I’m getting anywhere in terms of rectifying the situation in my talks with the MBTA, the police, or the people of these cities.

On January 29th, 2010 I had an incident involving an MBTA Route 66 Bus headed West on Cambridge Street at Harvard Ave. in Allston. I had come to a stop at a red light on Franklin, facing the northern entrance of Harvard Ave., and was waiting to proceed. As I was waiting, Route 66 Bus #0721 stopped to my left to let passengers off at the Cambridge/Franklin stop. I watched the Cambridge Street light turn yellow, then red, and then stood on my pedals to prepare for my own signal. As my signal changed and my foot came down on my front pedal, the bus, which I had been ignoring since it was stopped completely at a red light, cycled up and roared through the intersection causing me to slam on my brakes and dodge. It had gone from a complete stop to proceeding through a red light.

I contacted the MBTA about this. I left a complaint on the line and received a form email in response. I’m sure you’re familiar with these.

I then sent an email to the Superintendent of Cabot Garage.
I received an email back on February 2nd:

Gabrielle Collins,

Thank you for your e-mail concerning the route 66.  I apologize for reckless driving exhibited by one of our employees. MBTA Bus operators must complete a comprehensive Defensive Drivers Course prior to being certified to operate an MBTA vehicle in passenger service. This operator has been identified and will be re-instructed on her duties and responsibilities as a professional driver. Any further violations of the MBTA’s Rules and Policies will subject her to more severe progressive discipline up to and including recommendation for discharge. Additionally, I have forwarded your correspondence to the Instruction Department in order for them to include the intersection of Cambridge Street and Harvard Avenue in the Safety Related Compliance Program. This intersection will be monitored by Safety and Instruction personnel to ensure all traffic rules are strictly followed. Again, I apologize for your unpleasant experience with the MBTA.


John J. Houghton


Cabot Garage

I found this to be at least somewhat reassuring. Unfortunately, not three hours later on my ride home I had an even more ominous experience. I’ll let my email to John Houghton sum it up.

John Houghton,

February 3rd, 2010

Yesterday, not three hours after I’d received my response from you regarding the bus that nearly hit me on Monday, I was again waiting at a red light on Harvard Avenue to cross Cambridge Street. As the light for Cambridge Street became yellow I put my foot on my pedal, and made ready to move. As  I watched the light turn red, my body exhibiting the intent to scoot out into the intersection at a moment’s notice, I became aware of a growing roar from my left, west on Cambridge Street. And then a sharp honk. Route 66 Bus #2294 (or 2293, it was going over 30 MPH so it was difficult to catch the number) not only roared through the intersection against a red light, but gave me warning that it had ABSOLUTELY NO INTENTION OF SLOWING OR STOPPING.

I realized after this that the drivers of Route 66 deserve not just our disdain and our everlasting disappointment, but also our FEAR. The drivers of these buses are blatantly neglecting the safety of the citizens of the Boston area, and breaking the trust that we put in them to hold our lives in their hands every day, whether we are their passengers or merely sharing the roads with them.  I am disgusted by this neglectful behavior, having witnessed it daily for over a year on my route to work; having been hit by an MBTA bus while on my bicycle and then told by the driver that she was in no way required to provide me her information; having watched the them proceed through intersections against the traffic signals; having watched buses stop in the middle of the lane the entire length of their route to meet passengers, even though it is policy that they pull into each stop completely so traffic can get by. The list of their transgressions goes on and on. I have written to the local newspapers and the Governer about this latest infraction, and I expect some type of response from yourself and the MBTA at large, in terms of punishment for this action and prevention – form letter will not be good enough this time. I call for the bus driver who ran that red light yesterday at 5:10PM on Route 66, number 2294 or 2293, to be removed from service completely. To run a red light at speeds of 30 MPH and give warning shows premeditated disregard for traffic law, and a comfort with such acts that cannot be tolerated.

I have so far received no response.

My blog about these events was picked up by the local Blog and broadcast to many Bostonians. You can read their horrifying responses at UniversalHub, like this gem:

Don’t blame the drivers for doing their jobs and getting us home. Blame the state for not giving them technology found in most cities, a simple transponder that holds the green a couple of extra seconds so the bus doesn’t have to run the red.

So not only is it common knowledge in Massachusetts that MBTA vehicles are not subject to traffic laws, and run red lights and commit other various traffic violations without repercussion, but apparently there is the pervasive sentiment of apathy, sometimes even approval! As one who was almost killed not two weeks ago in the very same spot where Kelly Wallace died in 2007 under similar circumstances, I DO care, very much. As I said in my second email to John Houghton, I have also been hit by an MBTA bus, and then the driver refused to open the door, let alone stop the bus and exchange information. If I had ended up underneath the wheels of that bus, would anyone have known how neglectful the driver had been? Would I just be another ghost bike, locked to the pole by the Cambridge/Franklin stop until it became so rusted as to be a disgrace to my memory, and then subsequently removed?

Ultimately my question is this: Can you help us do something about this?
Thank you for your time and concern,


If you are as concerned as I am about this issue, please take the time to reiterate this call to action. Thanks for your support, everyone!