Do you bike to work every day? Do you hop on your bike when you need to get a good workout in? Do you bike around your neighborhood when you need to relax and unwind? If you answered yes to any (or all) of these questions, you need to familiarize yourself with Massachusetts’s bike laws.
Knowing your rights on the road helps you avoid accidents and hazards. Furthermore, this knowledge comes in handy if and when you do get in an accident. By knowing you obeyed all traffic laws, you can make a strong case and receive the compensation you need to cover any damages and injuries you suffer.
To protect yourself before and after a cycling accident, familiarize yourself with the following guidelines.
4 Things Cyclists Can Do
The first step in protecting yourself on the road is knowing what state laws permit you to do. Under Massachusetts law, bicyclists can do the following.
- Ride on all public roads and streets unless otherwise marked. Roads prohibiting bikes, such as federal and state highways, will have posted signs.
- Ride on sidewalks outside business districts and in residential areas. Some cities have local laws prohibiting this, so take the time to read up on your local laws.
- Install as many reflectors and lights as they see fit. If more lights make you feel more comfortable, feel free to install them on your bike.
- Pass cars on the right.
4 Things Cyclists Cannot Do
Just like motorists, there are several laws that prohibit cyclists from taking certain actions. According to state statutes, bicyclists cannot do any of the following.
- Carry a passenger anywhere on the bike, unless there is a seat permanently attached to the bike. You can tow passengers in trailers attached to the bike.
- Carry a child between the ages of 1 and 4, unless there is a baby seat on the bike. If you want to carry your baby with you, you must install a seat to the bike that allows the baby to sit upright and that secures the baby with a seat belt.
- Carry a child younger than 1 year of age, in any circumstance.
- Carry items on your bike unless they are in a specially designed rack, basket, or trailer. For example, you can’t hang grocery bags from your handlebars and you shouldn’t try to carry rakes and brooms while you ride.
5 Things Cyclists Have to Do
In addition to the guidelines above, state lawmakers have set forth a few more laws regulating actions bicyclists must take on the road. In Massachusetts, bicyclists have to do the following.
- Obey all federal, state, and local traffic laws and regulations. You have to stop at stop signs and red lights, you have to yield when appropriate, and you have to share the road. Just like motorists can demonstrate negligence, you can too by ignoring traffic laws.
- Use hand signals to let other drivers know when they plan to turn or stop. You can use either hand to make these signals-the important thing is that you remember to make them. A judge might not award you compensation for an accident that resulted from you disobeying this law.
- Keep at least one hand on the handlebars at all times. Doing so helps keep you alert and focused on the road ahead.
- Give pedestrians the right of way. You must also give pedestrians an audible warning when you are about to pass or overtake them.
- Install a red tail light and a white tail light if you plan to ride before sunrise or after sunset. You also need to install pedal reflectors or wear ankle reflectors.
For a complete list of laws pertaining to cyclists, click here.
Protect yourself and your bike by keeping these guidelines in mind anytime you go for a ride. If you do get in an accident, don’t hesitate to contact a personal injury lawyer. They can review your situation and help you determine what kind of compensation you deserve.