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    Cambridge rally seeks action on bike safety

    Several dozen bicycling activists created a “people barrier” for bicyclists through Porter Square in Cambridge during Thursday evening’s commute.
    Keith Bedford/Globe Staff
    Several dozen bicycling activists created a “people barrier” for bicyclists through Porter Square in Cambridge during Thursday evening’s commute.

    CAMBRIDGE — Upset about the decision by the Middlesex district attorney’s office not to bring charges after a fatal bicycle crash in 2016, dozens of bicycling activists formed a human barrier in Porter Square Thursday night to highlight the need for improvements in high-traffic areas.

    Participants, some dressed in green or yellow reflective vests, cheered and exchanged high-fives with bicyclists who rode safely through the so-called “people protected bike lane” along Somerville and Massachusetts avenues.

    The demonstration, which drew about 70 people, was held less than a month after the office of Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan announced that charges would not be filed against the driver of a tractor-trailer involved in the crash that killed Bernard “Joe” Lavins, 60, of Lexington, who was bicycling to work through Porter Square.

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    “We feel the decision was completely contrary to the facts, and it’s creating a false narrative,” said Michael Davidson, 32, a volunteer with Cambridge Bicycle Safety, an organization that advocates for improved road designs.

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    “Porter Square has not been fixed,” Davidson said, “and the way that the city is considering redesigning it is not going to address the fundamental issues that caused Joe Lavins’ death, and could result in further injuries and fatalities.”

    A spokeswoman for Ryan’s office could not be reached for comment Thursday night.

    On April 2, Ryan’s office announced that the results of an investigation into the crash that killed Lavins on Oct. 5, 2016.

    Investigators “ . . . concluded that the cause of the crash was the blind spot in front of the tractor-trailer and that it was very likely that the driver of the truck could not perceive the cyclist as the cyclist entered the lane of the travel without signaling,” prosecutors said in a statement.

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    Participants also recalled two other people who died in crashes in 2016: pedestrian Marcie Mitler, 63, in Porter Square, and bicyclist Amanda Phillips, 27, in Inman Square.

    And while Cambridge tested a protected bike lane later that year, the activists called for Cambridge to have a network of protected bike lanes across the city within five years. “They still haven’t made enough changes that would improve the intersection for the thousands of people that walk and bike here,” said Nate Fillmore, another bicycle safety volunteer.

    People take part in a bike rally to draw attention to cyclist safely issues in Cambridge.
    Keith Bedford/Globe Staff
    People take part in a bike rally to draw attention to cyclist safely issues in Cambridge.

    Ruthann Rudel, a member of the Cambridge Bicycle Committee, which was established by the City Council, said improved safety could encourage more people to cycle.

    “I think there’s huge potential to shift a lot of people over to biking in Cambridge, if you didn’t have to worry about being smooshed,” she said.

    Rudel said that as a parent of teens who bicycle around Cambridge, she has to “call out her bike angel every morning.”

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    “As a bike commuter, I know the risks, and as a mom, I know I have to keep them safe,” she said.

    Alana Levene can be reached at alana.levene@globe.com.