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I-Team: Bicycle Citations Up, Accidents Down In Brookline

BOSTON (CBS) - The death of a cyclist in Sudbury last month points to a troubling trend: more people are getting hurt, and even killed, while riding their bikes. Saadin Solah, 53, collided with a pick-up truck on Hudson Road while participating in a triathlon.

After checking federal records, the I-Team found the number of cyclists killed on American roads is up 19% from 2010-2013. In Massachusetts, the number of fatalities peaked at 16 in 2012 before falling back to six in 2013.

Brookline Patrol Officer Patrick Elwood has seen the results of many crashes. "Bruises, broken bones, lacerations, any of it could occur," he said.

Brookline Police are now sending officers out to cite bicyclists who break all kinds of common traffic regulations.

Brookline Police
A Brookline Police officer issues a citation to a cyclist. (WBZ-TV)

Elwood said many cyclists are surprised when they are pulled over for going through red lights, making inappropriate turns, or heading the wrong way down a one way street. "What catches cyclists by surprise is they are kind of held to the same standard of obeying those traffic laws as if they were driving a car."

This program is yielding positive results, according to the police. Last year the number of citations increased by 19% and the number of bike related accidents fell by about a third.

One bicyclist who was pulled over admitted he ran a red light. Another said he doesn't believe that most cyclists give traffic regulations much thought.

Many cyclists are careful, and hope drivers are too. "Drivers can help out by slowing down," said one participant in the Sudbury triathlon in which Solahd died. "Just giving at least three feet of space; I think that's the safe estimate for cyclists, to make them feel safe."

The I-Team checked with other communities and found the city of Boston issued 350 citations last year. Similar to Brookline, these were warnings which didn't carry any financial penalty.

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