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Clues sought in hit-and-run that killed Wellesley bicyclist

WELLESLEY — A cyclist was killed early Friday afternoon in a hit-and-run crash at a busy intersection that left mangled remnants of the bike by the roadside.

The victim, a man in his 40s who lived in Wellesley, sustained significant injuries, said Wellesley police Officer Marie Cleary. The rider was wearing a helmet.

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Police said the vehicle did not stop after the crash and was last seen heading north on Weston Road around 2 p.m. They urged anyone with information to contact authorities.

“There’s probably some sort of damage to the vehicle,” Cleary said.

Neighbors said the victim lived near the crash site, at the corner of Weston Road and Linden Street near Wellesley Square, and was probably on his way home.

Authorities did not release a description of the vehicle, and said the investigation was in its early stages. They would not say whether anyone had witnessed the crash or its ­immediate aftermath and did not estimate how fast the vehicle was traveling.

The intersection, at the bottom of a short but steep hill, is dangerous, residents said. Cars heading north often go through the light quickly, making it difficult for vehicles to merge safely.

Cyclists often travel along Weston Road, neighbors said.

Authorities did not release the name of the cyclist pending notification of his family.

When paramedics arrived he was unresponsive, and he was pronounced dead at Newton-­Wellesley Hospital, ­police said.

An accident reconstruction team was at the scene Friday, taking measurements and photo­graphs, while traffic was detoured around the area.

In 2010, 618 cyclists were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes nationally, and 52,000 were injured, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s latest figures.

Six of the fatalities were in Massachusetts.

David Watson, who directs the advocacy group MassBike, said the man’s death was a tragedy, but said he hoped it could help prevent other serious accidents by placing a greater focus on bike safety.

“These tragedies are always something we can learn from,” he said. “It always is an opportunity for people to think about how to improve roadway safety not necessarily just for bicyclists, but for everyone.”

While bike safety is chiefly considered an urban problem, Watson said there is perhaps a greater need for safety measures in suburban towns, where drivers are generally less experienced with sharing the road with cyclists.

“The farther you get from the city, drivers tend to see fewer cyclists and aren’t thinking about them as much,” he said.

The hit-and-run crash under­lined the reality that bicyclists are far more vulnerable than motorists, he said.

“While bicyclists should do as much as they can to protect themselves on the road, motorists need to take a greater level of responsibility for the safety of vulnerable users who are sharing the road with them,” he said.

Peter Schworm can be reached at schworm@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @globepete.

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