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  1. Wolfe, Elizabeth Suzanne CAGS, ATC
  2. Arabian, Sandra Strack BS, CSTR, CAISS
  3. Breeze, Janis L. MPH
  4. Salzler, Matthew J. MD


Commuting via bicycle is a very popular mode of transportation in the Northeastern United States. Boston, MA, has seen a rapid increase in bicycle ridership over the past decade, which has raised concerns and awareness about bicycle safety. An emerging topic in this field is distracted bicycle riding. This study was conducted to provide descriptive data on the prevalence and type of distracted bicycling in Boston at different times of day. This was a cross-sectional study in which observers tallied bicyclists at 4 high traffic intersections in Boston during various peak commuting hours for 2 types of distractions: auditory (earbuds/phones in or on ears), and visual/tactile (electronic device or other object in hand). Nineteen hundred seventy-four bicyclists were observed and 615 (31.2%), 95% CI [29, 33%], were distracted. Of those observed, auditory distractions were the most common (N = 349; 17.7%), 95% CI [16, 19], p = .0003, followed by visual/tactile distractions (N = 266; 13.5%), 95% CI [12, 15]. The highest proportion (40.7%), 95% CI [35, 46], of distracted bicyclists was observed during the midday commute (between 13:30 and 15:00). Distracted bicycling is a prevalent safety concern in the city of Boston, as almost a third of all bicyclists exhibited distracted behavior. Education and public awareness campaigns should be designed to decrease distracted bicycling behaviors and promote bicycle safety in Boston. An awareness of the prevalence of distracted biking can be utilized to promote bicycle safety campaigns dedicated to decreasing distracted bicycling and to provide a baseline against which improvements can be measured.