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Thursday, 06 May 2021 21:49

Bicyclist Rights and Responsibilities

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Before you head out for a ride, know your responsibilities as a bicyclist. 

Bicyclists have the right to use all public ways in this state except limited access or express state highways where signs specifically prohibiting bicycles have been posted. When riding on public ways, bicyclists must obey the same basic traffic laws and regulations that apply to motor vehicle operators.1

MassBike has summarized Massachusetts’ bike law regarding bicyclist responsibilities in clear language.2 Please read the complete text of the General Laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Chapter 85, Section 11B.


Your Rights as a Bicyclist:

  • You may ride your bicycle on any public road, street, or bikeway in the Commonwealth, except limited access or express state highways where signs specifically prohibiting bikes have been posted.
  • You may ride on sidewalks outside business districts unless local laws prohibit sidewalk riding.
  • You may use either hand to signal stops and turns.
  • You may pass cars on the right.
  • If you carry children or other passengers inside an enclosed trailer or [another] device that will adequately restrain them and protect their heads in a crash, they need not wear helmets.
  • You may have as many lights and reflectors on your bike as you wish.
  • You may ride on sidewalks outside business districts, unless local laws prohibit sidewalk riding.
  • You may use either hand to signal stops and turns.
  • You may pass cars on the right.
  • If you carry children or other passengers inside an enclosed trailer or [another] device that will adequately restrain them and protect their heads in a crash, they need not wear helmets.
  • You may hold a bicycle race on any public road or street in the Commonwealth, if you do so in cooperation with a recognized bicycle organization, and if you get approval from the appropriate police department before the race is held.
  • You may establish special bike regulations for races by agreement between your bicycle organization and the police.
  • You may have as many lights and reflectors on your bike as you wish.


Your Responsibilities: You MUST Do These Things

  • You must obey all traffic laws and regulations of the Commonwealth.
  • You must use hand signals to let people know you plan to stop or turn, though this is not required if taking a hand off the handlebars would endanger the bike rider.
  • You must give pedestrians the right of way.
  • You must give pedestrians an audible signal before overtaking or passing them.
  • You may ride two abreast, but must facilitate passing traffic. This means riding single file when faster traffic wants to pass, or staying in the right-most lane on a multi-lane road.
  • You must ride astride a regular, permanent seat that is attached to your bicycle.
  • You must keep one hand on your handlebars at all times.
  • If you are 16 years old or younger, you must wear a helmet that meets U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission requirements on any bike, anywhere, at all times. The helmet must fit your head and the chin strap must be fastened. (Helmets and protective gear are recommended for all cyclists.)
  • You must use a white headlight and red taillight or rear reflector if you are riding anytime from 1/2 hour after sunset until 1/2 hour before sunrise.
  • At night, you must wear ankle reflectors if there are no reflectors on your pedals.
  • You must notify the police of any accident involving personal injury or property damage over $100.

 

Your Responsibilities: You MAY NOT Do These Things

  • You may not carry a passenger anywhere on your bike except on a regular seat permanently attached to the bike, or to a trailer towed by the bike.
  • You may not carry any child between the ages of 1 to 4, or weighing 40 pounds or less, anywhere on a single-passenger bike except in a baby seat attached to the bike. The child must be able to sit upright in the seat and must be held in the seat by a harness or seat belt. Their hands and feet must be out of reach of the wheel spokes.
  • You may not carry any child under the age of 1 on your bike, even in a baby seat; this does not preclude carrying them in a trailer.
  • You may not use a siren or whistle on your bike to warn pedestrians.
  • You may not park your bike on a street, road, bikeway, or sidewalk where it will be in other people’s way.
  • You may not carry anything on your bike unless it is in a basket, rack, bag, or trailer designed for the purpose.
  • You may not modify your bike so that your hands are higher than your shoulders when gripping the handlebars.
  • You may not alter the fork of your bike to extend it.

 

Penalties

  • Violations of any of these laws can be punished by a fine of up to $20. Parents and guardians are responsible for cyclists under the age of 18. The bicycle of anyone under 18 who violates the law can be impounded by the police or town selectmen for up to 15 days.

 

May is National Bike Month

May is National Bike Month, promoted by the League of American Bicyclists and celebrated in communities from coast to coast. Established in 1956, National Bike Month is a chance to showcase the many benefits of bicycling — and encourage more folks to give biking a try.

The Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition (MassBike) is a local non-profit advocate for a bicycle-friendly environment. They encourage bicycling for fun, fitness, and transportation by focusing on the six E’s of bicycle advocacy: engineering, encouragement, enforcement, evaluation, equity, and education. Find a list of education courses and online resources for all ages and skill levels here.

 

#RideSafe

Know your rights and responsibilities and enjoy the ride!

 

Related Reading 

  • This SUV of bikes has exploded in popularity. Find out why.

  • Bike safety tips for all riders. Includes helmet fitting guidance and general rules of the road videos.

 


References and Sources:

1 Mass.gov Rules of the Road

2 MassBike.org/laws and Mass.gov - massachusetts-law-about-bicycles | General Laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Chapter 85, Section 11B.

 

 

Read 630 times Last modified on Wednesday, 12 May 2021 21:36

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