Massachusetts Bicycle Law
Massachusetts is a bike-friendly state and many of the key urban areas throughout the state, including Boston, have initiatives in place designed to both encouraging biking and to educate people about safe cycling. Knowing the bicycle laws in Massachusetts is important both as a bike rider and as a driver who has to share the roads with bike riders.
Knowing the cycling laws in Massachusetts is important not just to share the road safely and prevent accidents, but also in the event that an accident does happen. When a bike law is broken and an accident results, the fact that the law is broken can be used to create a presumption of negligence (i.e. a presumption that the law-breaker breached his required duty of care and thus can be held liable for accident damages). A Boston personal injury lawyer can help to explain the bike laws in Massachusetts as well as how these laws may impact your legal rights after an accident or injury has occurred. For more than 19 years, Jeffrey Glassman Injury Lawyers have represented bike accident victims and other injured parties in personal injury cases. Contact us today at (617) 777-7777 or using our online form to learn how we can help you.Cycling Laws in Massachusetts
The cycling laws in the state of Massachusetts changed in January of 2009 when Governor Patrick signed the Bicyclist Safety Bill into law. Prior to this time, the laws were found in the General Laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in Chapter 85 section 11(a)-11(d).
Today, however, the new bicycle safety laws classify bikes as on the public roadways and provide much greater protection to bike riders. The Bicyclist Safety Bill:
- Provided instructions for motorists on how to safely pass bikes or turn in front of bikes.
- Added police training on bicycle laws and training on the dangerous behaviors that either bike riders or motorists can engage in.
- Made it a ticketable offense to open a car door into the path of a bicycle or any other oncoming vehicle. Drivers of vehicles can now be fined up $100 for "dooring."
- Permitted bike riders to ride two abreast as long as doing so does not stop cars from passing.
- Removes the requirement of hand-signaling when both hands are needed on the bike's handle bars.
- Prohibits motorists from cutting off bicycle riders by returning to the right after passing before they are safely clear of the bike rider.
- Requiring motorists to wait until it is safe to pass bike riders rather than forcing the bicyclists to move over when lanes are narrow.
- Prohibits motorists from making abrupt or sudden right turns at driveways or intersections after they have passed a bike rider
- Requires motorists to yield to oncoming bicycles before turning left and to yield to bike riders who are legally riding on the shoulder to the right of oncoming traffic
In addition to these cycling laws, the new safety laws also impose tougher safety standards for helmets and require bike rental businesses to make helmets available to riders.
All of these laws are intended to make it less dangerous for bike riders to use their bikes as vehicles or to ride on roadways where cars are present. Because they are safety laws, a violation of the laws may be considered negligence per se, which means that the defendant who violates the law can be presumed negligent rather than the injured plaintiff having to expressly prove negligence. This can make winning a bike accident lawsuit easier in the state of Massachusetts.