Official websites use

A website belongs to an official government organization in the City of Boston.


Secure .gov websites use HTTPS

A lock or https:// means you've safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Global Technology Outage
City of Boston services may be impacted by a global technology service outage. We encourage residents to call ahead before attempting to access services at municipal buildings. We will provide additional updates as they become available.
Last updated:

2013 Truck Side Guard Pilot

In 2013, the City of Boston installed Side Underride Guards (Side Guards) on 18 Public Works trucks as part of a pilot test to reduce the risk of 'under-ride fatalities' to cyclists in the case of a crash.

Since 2013, we've been installing Side Guards on City fleet vehicles, and starting in 2015 we required them to be installed in all City-owned and City-contracted trucks under our Side Guard Ordinance. We hope to serve as a model for other municipalities, and we encourage all truck owners and fleet managers to follow our lead.

For more information about Side Guards and to request an inspection of Side Guards installed on your large vehicle, please visit the City of Boston Inspectional Services web page. 

  • Have questions? Contact:
    doit Office of emerging technology

Why we did this

In 2012, Boston experienced five bicycle fatalities, four of which occurred with either a large truck or a bus.

The City worked with Dr. Alex Epstein and his team from the U.S. Department of Transportation Volpe Center in Cambridge. We researched best practices regarding large vehicles and the more vulnerable users of the roadways.

One solution identified was Side Guards. What are Side Guards? Side Guards are bars or flat-surfaces mounted between the front and rear wheels of large vehicles that prevent cyclists and pedestrians from being trapped in the space, and killed or severely injured. This is a design used throughout Europe and Japan, and in some US and Canadian cities.

In fact, a national law made Side Guards mandatory in the United Kingdom. One study showed deaths of cyclists who collided with trucks decreased by 61 percent.

The experiment

Our hypothesis? Adding Side Guards to some of the City’s trucks would improve the safety of cyclists and other vulnerable users on the road. It would also encourage other cities and fleet managers to make similar investments.

In 2013 Public Works retro-fitted 18 trucks with Side Guards using resources from the Streetscape Innovation Fund. The truck models years were 2005 or later and included:

  • dump trucks
  • box trucks, and
  • trash collection vehicles.

This is believed to be the largest pilot of Side Guards on municipal vehicles in the country. Based on the pilot results, the city requires Side Guards on all large vehicles in the City's fleet and on City-contracted vehicles.


a life saved

One crash with a side-guard equipped trash vehicle was reported in the summer 2014. The cyclist was injured, but the crash did not result in that person’s death.

Side guard ordinance

The pilot led to the City passing a Side Guard Ordinance in 2014 that took effect in 2015, requiring City-owned and City-contracted large vehicles to be equipped with Side Guards, convex and crossover mirrors, and safety decals. 

Since the initial pilot, over a hundred vehicles in Boston have been outfitted with Side Guards.

Getting others involved

Since the passage of the Citywide Side Guard Ordinance, many private fleet managers have attended demonstrations on Side Guards, and more than a dozen US cities, including Cambridge and Somerville, and Washington DC have adopted similar requirements.

state And National Efforts

The City supports regulations proposed in 2024 for state-wide adoption, and has also worked with USDOT and our Congressional delegation to advocate for national requirements.

  • Have questions? Contact:
    doit Office of emerging technology
Back to top