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Bicycle Laws in Massachusetts

Outdoor activities are popular among the people of Massachusetts. With panoramic views of rural lands to urban jungles full of remarkable architecture. The people of Massachusetts, also known as Bay Staters, are surrounded by exciting sceneries.

A common choice for transport to zip through town are bicycles! Bicyclers can pass safely through various public roadways.

Where You Can Ride Your Bicycle in Massachusetts?

Massachusetts allows bicycles almost anywhere around the Commonwealth; except limited access or express state highways, where signs specifically prohibiting bicycles and all bicycle-operated vehicles are posted.

While these highways are structured to facilitate passing traffic of any motor vehicle, local laws regarding highway safety state that bicycles are not allowed access to these roadways mainly due to the potential threats awaiting cyclists in a multi-lane-road system.

Avoiding Accidents in Massachusetts

Except for roadways with visible signages against bicycles like express and limited access state highways, cyclists are granted vast amounts of freedom. Therefore, it is imperative cyclists familiarize themselves with the Massachusetts bike laws chapter, which covers equipment, such as the required bicycle safety gear.

Ride safely through any road street or bikeway to avoid causing either personal injury or property damage by observing the appropriate traffic laws and regulations.

Cyclist’s Risk of Personal Injury

Injuries one might sustain include brain injuries and spine injuries. Those who suffer from these types of injuries might develop permanent disabilities. Avoiding debilitating injuries such as these is why safety standards require bicyclists riding must wear helmets anytime.

Top 10 Massachusetts Bicycle Laws

The relevant regulations for bicycles are found under Massachusetts General Laws > Chapter 85 Section 11B. Here you will find everything that covers Massachusetts bike law.

Below, all cyclists should know ten laws before riding anytime on Massachusetts roadways.

Top Ten Bike Laws Cyclists in Massachusetts Should Know

  1. The primary bike law in Massachusetts is that a maximum of two bicycle riders can ride abreast from one another. However, in roadways with more than one lane going in the same direction, passing bicyclists must not split lanes by riding next to each other. This means riding single file on any multi-lane road.
  2. Sidewalk riding is legal in various areas to promote bike safety, but it is prohibited in busier areas with increased pedestrian traffic, such as sidewalks outside business districts. The law expressly includes yielding the right-of-way to pedestrians when it comes to sidewalk riding. To avoid a bicycle accident involving personal injury, it is the responsibility of the person operating the bicycle to yield to passengers, keep a safe distance between pedestrians and themselves, and all oncoming bicyclists must warn pedestrians within proximity of their trajectory.
  3. Bikes need a baby seat attached to their body to accommodate a child weighing less than 40 pounds and between 1 to 4 years old. An adult cannot legally transport a child seated inside a basket or any other makeshift seat attached. Adults are also prohibited from transporting a child aged younger than 12 months.
  4. Bike operators and riders aged 16 years old and younger are legally required to wear helmets. Here are the relevant regulations concerning anyone over 16 years of age: the bicycle operator must always ride astride on a permanent seat or regular seat attached to their bike with one hand on the handlebar at all times. The law still encourages all ages to wear necessary protective gear in case of a bicycle accident.
  5. Bicycles must be parked in areas a safe distance away from other traffic. The local ordinance regulates public parking areas for bikes where they cannot block or jam traffic.
  6. Transporting packages require the appropriate attachments in handling equipment. A bicycle must be equipped with a basket, an insulated bag, a rack, a trailer, and other instruments that help riders transport goods safely. While a trailer towed by a bicycle with a firm attachment is legal, it is conversely illegal for the other vehicle to tow the bicycle.
  7. Bicycles must have an adequate braking system. Any bike rode across hard, dry, and clean level surface roadways must have a braking system that allows riders going at the speed of 15mph to stop steadily, smoothly, and effectively within thirty feet.
  8. Those riding a bicycle must adhere to the same road regulations as other traffic. All local laws that apply to other motorists also apply to those on a bicycle, with minor exceptions such as the side in which a vehicle can overtake another. A bicycle can pass cars on their right-hand side as opposed to the regulated overtaking lane on the left-hand side.
  9. Cyclists must use hand signals to indicate the direction they are turning. It can easily be done by riders going at slower speeds who sit upright. Those going faster who need both hands on the handlebar may opt for utilizing an audible signal instead.
  10. Bicycle riders must always report accidents resulting in personal injuries or property damages worth $100 and above to the appropriate police department. Cyclists must immediately contact the police department responsible for the area where the accident occurred.

Riding at Night

The laws related to riding your bicycle are all applicable even at night.

Additionally, a bicycle must have a front attachment that emits white light, visible to all other motorists and pedestrians from up to 500 feet away.

A bicycle ridden at night must also possess reflective material on either pedal on the left and right-hand side. Alternatively, a cyclist can wear ankle reflectors.

Bicycles should also have at least one rear reflector that may be seen by motorists coming up behind them. A bicycle must also have a red rear-end light or taillight visible up to 600 feet behind.

It is much riskier for bicyclists to ride their bikes at night. Laws related to night riding are in place to protect cyclists and other motorists from any harm or accidents that may result in damages.

The Importance of Traffic Laws

Bike laws are implemented for each rider’s safety and others within proximity. There have been reports of untoward accidents occurring due to a cyclist’s negligence.

Safety standards must never be overlooked by anyone sharing a roadway. There are scenarios where the bicycle itself caused property damage, but extenuating factors provoked the bike’s course of action.

Cyclists being blinded by a car’s headlights and spiraling into oncoming traffic or bumping into car or truck doors causing damage is not unheard of. A cyclist also suddenly swerving into the opposing lane due to a pedestrian stepping off a sidewalk or safety island is common. When this occurrence leads to injuries and damages, a cyclist can refer to the pedestrian’s negligence as the root cause instead of taking sole responsibility.

All vehicles, as well as pedestrians, should familiarize themselves with the Contributory Negligence Law.

Massachusetts Law

Under the Contributory Negligence Law in Massachusetts, anyone in breach of their civic duty also shares responsibility in the matter regardless of personal injuries and damages they suffer due to the accident.

Relating this law to Massachusetts bike laws, a bicycle rider involved in an accident in which they partially caused may still be compensated by insurance and others for any damages incurred by the accident.

Contributory Negligence Law

Unless the cyclist holds more than 50% of the responsibility in causing the accident, they are entitled to seek compensation for damages. The cyclist’s entitlement is directly related to their culpability, where the percentage of their responsibility directly affects their legal consideration for due compensation.

You can consult with a lawyer in the event you sustain injuries in accidents involving others who share the guilt, especially when the bike rider holds the right-of-way.

Punishable by Law

All bicyclists riding their bikes on Massachusetts roadways must adhere to the laws stated above and more under the Massachusetts bike laws.

Failing to comply with these regulations will result in the careless riding of bike riders punishable by law. The blatant disregard of Massachusetts bike laws that result in a bicycle accident involving injuries and damages will bear penalties to the cyclist.

A fine of up to $20 can be put upon the cyclist or guardians of those riding bikes aged below 18 years old. A bicycle may also be impounded for a maximum of 15 days by local authorities.

What You Can Do?

Suppose you were involved in bicycle accidents involving pedestrians, cars, or other properties, resulting in personal injuries. In that case, you could reach out to the Kiley Law Group today to find out what you should do next.

Suppose you are suffering bodily injuries caused by another party and think you have been wrongfully cited or fined by local authorities preventing you from launching claims. In that case, we can help you explore your legal options. You can book a free consultation with the firm by visiting the website today.

The Kiley Law Group is a well-established firm with an extensive background that can help you assess the situation you’re currently in. The firm offers its clients free consultations that include a complete case evaluation.

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