Cyclist is struck by truck, killed in Cambridge
<?EM-dummyText [Drophead goes here] ?>
This story was reported by Travis Andersen and Steve Annear of the Globe Staff and correspondents Trisha Thadani, Olivia Arnold, Samantha J. Gross, and Lauren Fox. It was written by Thadani and Andersen.
CAMBRIDGE — A 27-year-old woman was killed Thursday after she was hit by a truck while riding her bicycle in Inman Square, a four-way intersection often jammed with cars, pedestrians, MBTA buses, and bikers, authorities said.
Amanda Phillips of Cambridge was struck by a landscaping truck at 12:17 p.m. at the intersection of Hampshire and Cambridge streets, said Middlesex District Attorney Marian T. Ryan and Cambridge Police Commissioner Christopher Burke in a statement Thursday night. Phillips was taken to Massachusetts General Hospital, where she was later pronounced dead, they said.
Authorities did not provide additional details on the crash or identify the driver. A spokeswoman for Ryan declined to say whether the driver stayed at the scene after the crash but said no charges had been filed as of Thursday night.
The investigation is open.
"She was a terrific person," said Phillips's uncle, Art Phillips, in a brief phone interview from his Maryland home. "She was outgoing, very friendly, smart as can be."
He said his niece's tragic death had left him "in shock."
A few hours after the crash, a Cambridge Landscape Co. truck, a red Jeep, a bicycle, and a bike helmet remained at the scene. Investigators were seen examining the rear of the landscaping truck.
Attempts to reach Cambridge Landscape for comment were unsuccessful late Thursday. The company has 100 employees and a fleet of more than 60 vehicles, according to its website.
Inman Square is one of the busiest intersections in Cambridge, said Jack Albert, a deputy police superintendent.
"There are so many dynamic turning points here," he said. "It is a very busy place."
Sara Pinho, a 28-year-old agent at Cambridge Realty Group, said the crash happened just outside her office, and that she had helped Phillips and two roommates find an apartment in the city last winter.
"She was really one of the sweetest, smartest clients that I have," Pinho said. "She was a really gentle girl."
Phillips worked full time as a barista at Diesel Cafe in Somerville, had graduated from Harvard University, and planned on pursuing a career in health care, Pinho said.
The Diesel Cafe owners lamented Phillips's death in a statement.
“We are all heartbroken,” Jennifer Park and Tucker Lewis said. “She was an amazing friend, employee, co-worker and human being. We are sure that the world is a little less without her.”
Phillips was a student at the MGH Institute of Health Professions, a graduate school in Charlestown founded by Mass. General, according to her Facebook page.
“She really loved to exercise. That was her big thing,” Pinho said, adding that Phillips also doted on her two pets, a dog and cat.
Pinho said the scene of the deadly crash is treacherous for cyclists.
"[For] the bicyclists in the area, it's like life-and-death every day," she said. "With taxis, T buses, and bikes trying to squeeze through, this is bound to happen."
On Wednesday, Cambridge's Traffic, Parking, & Transportation Department had discussed a study at a public hearing about safety and congestion issues in Inman Square, according to the city's website.
Matt Cloyd, a 27-year-old who frequently bikes through Inman Square, attended Wednesday's meeting. He said the square is extremely difficult to navigate — even for someone who is familiar with the area.
“[It] is almost like a seven- to eight-way intersection,” Cloyd said, while standing with his bicycle near the police tape Thursday.
Josh Zisson, an attorney who specializes in bike law, said the crash illustrates why city layouts must improve to protect cyclists.
"There's a solution here — it's properly designed infrastructure," he said. "If streets and bike lanes were designed with this in mind, it could be avoided."
He said Cambridge has plans to address traffic problems in the area, but “in this case I think it’s too little, too late.”
Becca Wolfson, the executive director of the Boston Cyclists Union, echoed Zisson’s sentiments and said these kinds of tragedies call for major changes.
"We're all mortal and doing this because we love it, because we have to," said Wolfson, 32. "We need streets that are designed for people. We need more protected bike lanes."