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Mayor Walsh Criticized For Saying Pedestrians, Cyclists Share Responsibility On Roads

BOSTON (CBS) - It's not always easy sharing the road in a dense city like Boston from pedestrians to cyclists to cars.

In the last five months alone 66 pedestrians have been hurt trying to cross the streets. Now Boston Mayor Marty Walsh is getting some criticism for recent comments he made on WGBH radio about sharing responsibility on the roads.

"Pedestrians need to put their head up when they're walking down the street, take the headphones off, cross in the crosswalks," Walsh said.

Activists say the mayor is blaming the most vulnerable on the streets and moving the conversation backward. Today they held a moment of silence on Boston City Hall Plaza for accident victims.

Cyclist Boston
Cyclist on Boston street (WBZ-TV)

"He was minimizing the importance of infrastructure change and the responsibility of the city to change the culture of our streets," said Becca Wolfson of the Boston Cyclists Union.

Now it's the Mayor firing back insisting everyone has a responsibility on the roads. He says the city has already invested millions in crosswalk improvements and bike lanes and reduced the speed limit on city streets to 25 mph through its Vision Zero plan aimed at reducing fatalities.

"If people get upset because I'm telling them to slow down, don't zig zag in traffic, cross in the crosswalk then they're going to be mad at me. Let's work together better to move forward," said Walsh.

Cyclist Boston
Cyclist on Boston street (WBZ-TV)

Activists say most people who are injured on the roads are actually older adults and children and don't fit the stereotype of people wearing earbuds and headphones.

"That says to me the demographic doesn't match up with the idea that pedestrians are so wrapped up and not paying attention," said Wendy Landman of WalkBoston.

But attention is what this issue is now getting. "I don't believe his intent was to be insensitive so I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt. He's championing the cause of everyone who lives in the city," said Maureen Bosman who was renting a bicycle on Commonwealth Avenue.

Today they're on different sides of the street but the call to work together is coming from both sides.

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