Bicycles Accidents On the Rise in Provincetown, Officials Crafting Plans

Nov 21, 2016

The number of people riding bicycles is increasing. In Massachusetts, it’s more than doubled during the past decade. But as the popularity of cycling goes up, so do the number of accidents. In Provincetown, bicycle-related accidents have increased almost 25 percent in the last 5 years.

In Provincetown, bicycle-related accidents have increased by almost 25 percent in the last 5 years.
Credit Edie Kennedy

Olga Golub is one of the people who loves to bike in Provincetown with her husband.

“Commercial Street, we walk it of course a lot, but biking, it’s so much easier than bringing a car,” said Golub.

Golub said she doesn’t bike back in Boston where she lives. She said it’s not safe there. That she feels much safer bicycling in Provincetown.

But the number of bicycle accidents has been growing here. In the last 5 years bicycle-related accidents have increased by almost 25 percent. Just between May and September this year there were more than 65 bicycle accidents reported to local police.

This seems like a lot of accidents for a small town on Cape Cod - until you talk to Rik Ahlberg, the chairman of the Bicycle Committee in Provincetown. He said the number of people bicycling here – and in the state - has been growing, which has contributed to the increasing number of accidents.

“A couple members of the bicycle committee do informal counts where they pick a location and count bicycles for an hour,” said Ahlberg. “They counted 350 bicycles an hour, and about 10 cars.”

The bikes were counted on Commercial Street. But Ahlberg said people aren’t just biking in Provincetown, they’re biking to Provincetown

“We’re the end of the Claire Saltonstall Bikeway," he said, "which is Massachusetts Bike Route 1. It’s the only signed or numbered bike route in the state, and it comes from Boston to Provincetown."

And once visitors make it to the end of Bike Route 1 and into Provincetown, there are few places set aside just for bikes.

“For the most part you’re on roads," Ahlberg said. "There’s no bike lanes or anything."

But Provincetown is trying to make bicycling safer said Ahlberg. A few years ago, the town created its first Bicycle Committee, and a few months ago, Ahlberg painted the town’s first bike lane on a road off of Route 6.

But more than a 1/3 of bicycle accidents here happen on Commercial Street – where there’s a lane for cars and a lane for parking, but no place for a bike lane. So Ahlberg said they’re going to try to make some other changes on the street.

“It has arrows that say one-way, it has signs that say do not enter, but it doesn’t mention bicycles,” he said.

The town bicycle committee plans to install more signs on Commercial Street, in an effort to cut down on the number of accidents in town. But not everyone likes the idea.

“I think people aren’t going to pay attention to the signs,” said Robb Beaton. He’s owned Arnold’s Bike Shop on Commercial Street for more than 17 years. He said there are so many people, and so many bicyclists between July and September; no one is going to pay attention to the signs.

“The bicycles are the least of the problem. You have cars, and the 18-wheelers, and the people, and the bikes, and the motorcycles,” said Beaton.

Beaton said that the town needs to do more than signs - that greater changes need to be made so that bicycling in Provincetown can be safer for everyone.