Massachusetts bicycle laws place specific duties on people operating bicycles on public roadways. The drivers of automobiles, however, also have duties towards Massachusetts bicyclists and face both criminal and civil penalties should they violate those duties.
Massachusetts Bicycle Laws for Sharing the Road
Massachusetts bicycle laws specifically dictate how a rider is to operate a bicycle upon public roadways in order to safely share the road with motor vehicles. The bicycle operator’s duties include:
o Operators must ride single file, except when passing
o Operators may ride two abreast where there is more than one lane in the direction of travel, but they must remain in one lane
o Operators must keep at least one hand on the handlebars at all times
o Operators must signal by hand any intention to turn or stop AND
o Operators must give audible (no whistles or sirens) warnings whenever necessary to ensure safe operation of the bicycle.
In an effort to minimize bicycle accidents, Massachusetts bicycle laws provide that every bicycle must contain specific pieces of equipment such as:
o A permanent and regular seat attached to the bicycle
o A braking system enabling the operator to bring a bicycle traveling at 15 miles an hour to a safe stop within 30 feet on a dry and level surface
o Handlebars situated so that the operator’s hands are below his or her shoulders while gripping them AND
o Front lamps and rear reflectors and reflective material either on the front and rear of each pedal, or wrapped around the operator’s ankles if operating a bicycle within the time period of 30 minutes after sunset to 30 minutes before sunrise.
Massachusetts bicycle laws further provide that:
o Bicycles are allowed on sidewalks outside business districts where necessary and on all streets except certain highways and where it is posted off limits and subject to certain exceptions
o Operators must obey all traffic laws, including yielding to pedestrians AND
o Operators must report to local law enforcement, any accident involving either personal injury or property damage in excess of $100
Massachusetts Bicycle Accident Liability
Although Massachusetts traffic laws require bicyclists and motor vehicles to share the road safely, Massachusetts bicycle accidents are usually the fault of a motor vehicle disregarding a bicyclist’s right to share the road. In the case of a serious bicycle accident, a negligent driver may be held liable for the bicyclist’s injuries, medical bills, and other accident related expenses.
The Massachusetts bicycle laws were written for the protection of the bicycle operator. Following them closely will not only protect the operator from liability in the case of a bicycle accident, they may also save the operator’s life.
If you are considering filing a Massachusetts personal injury lawsuit, it’s important to contact an experienced Massachusetts personal injury lawyer who has successfully handled cases similar to yours.