5:48 pm
Mon May 20, 2013

Fatal Kenmore Square Biking Accident Underscores Risks

The intersection at Charlesgate West and Beacon Street.
Credit Adam Reilly / WGBH

Under Mayor Tom Menino’s watch, the city of Boston has been striving to make itself a safer place for cyclists. But now a bike fatality at a busy intersection right outside Kenmore Square is offering a tragic reminder that despite the city’s efforts, cycling in Boston can be risky.

It was business as usual at Beacon Street and Charlesgate West this morning which means it was busy. Multiple lanes of traffic flowed in, from Beacon Street and Storrow Drive, and then out in three separate directions. It’s here that Kanako Miura – a 36-year-old MIT researcher from Japan – was struck and killed while biking yesterday afternoon. Jen Gutkowski, who lives nearby, says it’s the first accident she can recall.

"It’s kind of surprising this happened," Gutkowski said. "I’ve lived here since September, and it’s the first actual incident. You hear honking all the time, but nothing ever comes of it."

But according to Dan Teeter - who crosses here on foot several times daily – the intersection is known for reckless driving.

"There are a few intersections around here that are pretty bad, but this is usually the worst," Teeter said. "In particular, people run this red light here all the time as they’re coming in off the Esplanade, traffic from Storrow Drive. The biggest thing is, you have to wait about five seconds after the lights stop around here before you step out in this intersection."

Adding to the confusion: two prominent signs on display at the intersection of Beacon Street and Charlesgate West. They announce the end of Beacon Street’s bike lane and ask cyclists to take a detour. In fact, that bike lane continues, prominently marked in green, all the way down into Kenmore Square – and the bikes traveling that way keep using it. But whether that makes cylists safer is debatable.

"Between the bike lane and the curb, there’s another lane that could contain a car," said Con Hurley, who works at Boston University. "But it’s kind of no man’s land. And every once in a while a car will shoot down that lane. That could be disastrous."

The circumstances of Miura’s death are unclear – and the Boston Police aren’t saying much. Reportedly, the driver is cooperating with investigators.