Biking around Boston—Know the Rules!

So we’re nearing the end of April and bike season is officially back. Motivated by the improving weather-what a glorious spring day today!-and by the athletic feats of Monday’s marathoners, the city is alive with bike riders with a variety of levels, intensities, and goals. But bikers, beware! Boston and its surrounding cities plan to crack down on bike law enforcement this season, according to sources, with Somerville apparently at the forefront.

A post on Somerville’s ResiStat blog-an effort, as the site states, to connect the community via Internet discussions-announced that Somerville police will be stepping up enforcement of bicycle traffic laws in order to create better harmony among drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians with whom they share the road. The central message of this campaign seems to be that being on a bike, rather than in a car, does not give you free reign of the roads! So make sure to educate yourself on the do’s and don’ts.

Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 85 Section 11B outlines bicycle regulations. Generally stated, bikers must follow all the same traffic laws as motor vehicles. A few exceptions and the most commonly broken rules are listed below:

• bikers age 16 and under must wear helmets
• bikers should use hand signals to indicate turning or stopping, but should keep one hand on the handlebars at all times • bikes may only be ridden on sidewalks outside business districts or city squares and only when necessary and they must yield to pedestrians and give an audible signal before passing pedestrians • bicyclists may not ride more than 2 abreast; if a road has more than one way in the direct of travel, all bikers must ride within a single lane • cities and towns may impose their own restrictions, so be aware!!

So, do your due diligence and know the rules of the bicycling world. Fines for those who cooperate with police are generally $20. If you have questions about these regulations, if you believe you have been unfairly cited for a bike law infraction, or if you have been injured while biking or walking and believe your injury is the fault of another party, contact a lawyer ASAP to heighten your chances of compensation.

Police crack down for bicycle safety,, April 19, 2012
Somerville Police Announce Bicycle Safety Enforcement Campaign, ResiStat, April 11, 2012

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