WGBH News and Media Relations


May 3, 2013

WGBH News Poll Reveals Division Over Who Has ‘Right of Way’

Poll taken as part of special news series exploring car and bicycle safety

BOSTON, Mass. (May 3, 2013)A WGBH News poll released today shows that only one out of three Massachusetts residents feel drivers and bicyclists on the region’s roads interact safely. Nearly half (45 percent) of those polled responded that adding bike lanes and providing riders with a right of way is the most effective measure to prevent bike accidents, compared with only 32 percent who support efforts to improve enforcement of existing laws (22 percent) or pass stricter laws (10 percent).
WGBH News commissioned the survey in advance of a wide-ranging, week-long, multi-platform series focused on the interaction between drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians. The ‘Right of Way’ FOCUS series kicks off on Monday with a number of reports during 89.7 WGBH’s Morning Edition and special coverage on WGBH-TV’s Greater Boston.
“Greater Boston is well-known for its highly-educated population, passionate sports fans and frustrating traffic. As more commuters and hobbyists are leaving cars in the garage, drivers, bikers and pedestrians are forced to share more of our local roads. Public opinion is clearly divided over who has the right of way and whether our roads truly are safe for cars and bikes,” said Linda Polach, executive producer of WGBH’s Greater Boston news program. “Next week, WGBH News and Wicked Local will explore all sides of the debate, examine the alleged causes of friction between drivers and bikers and discuss the proposed policies aimed to prevent accidents.”
The ‘Right of Way’ FOCUS series, a partnership with Wicked Local papers, will include daily stories and reports on 89.7 WGBH, discussions and debates on Boston Public Radio and in-depth segments on WGBH-TV’s Greater Boston. Additional digital coverage also is available on WGBHnews.org. The series launches on Monday, May 5 with analysis on WGBH’s Morning Edition of the WGBH News poll from Steve Koczela, President of MassINC Polling Group, which conducted the survey for WGBH News. Coverage will continue on Boston Public Radio and the Greater Boston program on WGBH 2. The poll surveyed 501 residents from across Massachusetts between April 23 to April 27 and has a margin of error of +/- 4.4 percent.
The WGBH News poll found public opinion is evenly split over who is most responsible for accidents involving cars and bicycles. One out of five (21 percent) blame drivers and one out of five (21 percent) blame bicyclists. More than half blame both.
The poll showed a partisan divide over who is most responsible for accidents and the most effective measures to prevent accidents on shared roadways. More than half (51 percent) of Democrats support additional bike lanes and a plurality of Republicans (42 percent) support improved enforcement of existing traffic laws. Fewer than three out of 10 Republicans endorse additional bike lanes as the best option, and only one out of five (22 percent) Democrats believe additional enforcement is the best path to prevent accidents.
Among Democrats, 26 percent believe drivers are most responsible for accidents and 18 percent cite riders. Fifty-four percent of Democrats say both drivers and riders are equally responsible. Among Republicans, only 9 percent say drivers are most responsible for accidents, 21 percent say riders are most responsible for accidents. Nearly 7 out of ten Republicans say both are equally responsible.
The complete survey results are attached. A full broadcast schedule of coverage follows (subject to change):
Monday, May 6
WGBH Radio: Morning Edition with Bob Seay (6am-10am) and All Things Considered with Jordan Weinstein (4pm-5pm; 6:30pm-7pm)
·       MassINC’s Steve Koczela provides analysis of WGBH News’s recent poll of Massachusetts residents on road safety.
·       Callie Crossley shares a commentary on bike safety.
·       Anne Mostue reports on the need for additional bicycle education.
WGBH Radio: Boston Public Radio (noon-2pm)
·       Jim Braude and Margery Eagan discuss the effectiveness of adding more bike lanes to the Hub’s roads.
WGBH 2: Greater Boston with Emily Rooney (7pm-7:30pm)
·       Emily Rooney drives the streets of Boston chronicling the natural tensions between bicyclists and drivers.
·       Transportation expert Kris Carter profiles bicyclists.
Tuesday, May 7
WGBH Radio: Boston Public Radio (noon-2pm)
·       Jim Braude and Margery Eagan debate Chicago’s law banning distracted biking.
WGBH 2: Greater Boston with Emily Rooney (7pm-7:30pm)
·       Jared Bowen examines the region’s infrastructure, including measures already taken to retrofit a number of Boston’s roads to accommodate bicycles, automobiles and pedestrians and the next steps that are sure to be controversial.
Wednesday, May 8
WGBH Radio: Morning Edition with Bob Seay (6am-10am) and All Things Considered with Jordan Weinstein (4pm-5pm; 6:30pm-7pm)
·       Jared Bowen explores the infrastructure challenges that complicate coexistence among drivers and bicyclists and the potentially controversial efforts to improve road safety.
WGBH Radio: Boston Public Radio (noon-2pm)
·       Jim Braude and Margery Eagan explore how bike memorials came to be.
WGBH 2: Greater Boston with Emily Rooney (7pm-7:30pm)
·       A report from Wellesley, Mass., a town with no bike lanes or co-existing accommodations, where a bicyclist was recently killed by a driver who was ultimately not charged in connection with the accident.
Thursday, May 8
WGBH Radio: Morning Edition with Bob Seay (6am-10am) and All Things Considered with Jordan Weinstein (4pm-5pm; 6:30pm-7pm)
·       Phillip Martin reports on the evolving coexistence of bicyclists and drivers with a story from a rider’s perspective.
WGBH Radio: Boston Public Radio (noon-2pm)
·       Jim Braude and Margery Eagan ask listeners if they know the fundamental rules and traffic laws that apply to bicycles and cars.
WGBH 2: Greater Boston with Emily Rooney (7pm-7:30pm)
·       Adam Riley moderates a discussion with local residents who talk candidly about the challenge to change drivers’ and riders’ attitudes and perspectives.
WGBH Radio: Innovation Hub (9pm-10pm)
·       Host Kara Miller looks at the technological advances in the manufacturing of bicycles and innovation measures to improve safety features.
Friday, May 10
WGBH Radio: Boston Public Radio (noon-2pm)
·       A special Friday News Quiz focused on the debate over who has the ‘Right of Way.’
About WGBH
WGBH Boston is America’s preeminent public broadcaster and the largest producer of PBS content for TV and the Web, including Masterpiece, Antiques Roadshow, Frontline, Nova, American Experience, Arthur, Curious George, and more than a dozen other prime-time, lifestyle, and children’s series. WGBH’s television channels include WGBH 2, WGBH 44, and the digital channels World and Create. WGBH TV productions focusing on the region’s diverse community include Greater BostonBasic Black, High School Quiz Show, and Neighborhood Kitchens. WGBH Radio serves listeners across New England with 89.7 WGBH, Boston Public Radio; Classical New England; and WCAI, the Cape and Islands NPR® Station. WGBH also is a major source of programs for public radio (among them, PRI’s The World®), a leader in educational multimedia (including PBS LearningMedia™, providing the nation’s educators with free, curriculum-based digital content), and a pioneer in technologies and services that make media accessible to deaf, hard of hearing, blind, and visually impaired audiences. WGBH has been recognized with hundreds of honors: Emmys, Peabodys, duPont-Columbia Awards and Oscars. Find more information at wgbh.org.


WGBH Media Relations

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Catherine Burke