In spite of some recent (and surprising!) political resistance to bike lanes, Cambridge, Massachusetts has made enormous strides improving bike commuting infrastructure over the last few years. Bike lanes are terrific, but they’re an incomplete solution to the problem of preventable cyclist deaths.

One simple thing we can change for free is language.

Two cyclists died in a two-week span already this summer. This type of tragedy is reported in the media the same way every time:

“…A box truck struck a cyclist.”

“A box truck… made a turn… the two fatally collided.”

“A 55-year-old Florida woman… was struck and killed by a box truck making a right turn.”

This is an odd pattern because it’s 2024 and self-driving trucks barely exist outside the lab. The trucks in question were being piloted by human beings who failed to do their jobs and killed innocent people in the process. Writers can’t shirk the issue of social responsibility when writing about other kinds of deaths. (Does a gun shoot someone? Does a knife stab someone?) Let’s say it like it is:

“Truck driver kills cyclist.”