Gone are the days when drivers only had to watch for cyclists during the warm weather in Massachusetts. Cyclists have become a fixture on our roads year-round in Boston, including in January and February.
Between the pandemic and winter, there are fewer cars on the road, fewer overall traffic accidents reported in Massachusetts. Yet drivers have picked up their speeds and it doesn’t appear they are slowing down for winter. This is a troubling development for cyclists.
As a driver, you have responsibilities when traveling near cyclists in your home town, where you shop and where you work. We urge you to slow down. Give cyclists extra room so they can respond to a traffic situation without wiping out or injuring themselves in a bicycle accident. Cyclists are around and if you fail to use reasonable care, you could cause an injury or worse, cause a life-threatening injury and be held financial liable by the victim. This blog discusses how to travel safely near cyclists and avoid a serious accident.
Massachusetts Bicycle Laws. In Massachusetts, cyclists have rights and responsibilities. One of the first rights concerns where cyclists can ride. Under M.G.L. c. 85, § 11B, cyclists are allowed to ride in a bike lane, on the side of the road or in the main traffic lane. Up to two cyclists can ride abreast in the main traffic lane.
When you see a cyclist, remember they can switch lanes or turn at any time. They may not always be able to safely use hand signals. Likewise, if you find yourself behind a bicycle and they are blocking traffic, you should practice patience or take another route.
Common Bicycle Injuries. Cyclists are vulnerable on the roads, traveling between motorized cars, trucks and other vehicles. A cyclist can be injured at intersections or when they change lanes.
When a truck turns at an intersection, they have a responsibility to check for a cyclist before turning right. Truck drivers who neglect this step are likely to cause a fatal crash injuring a cyclist. This is called a “right hook” crash.
Another type of accident is called a “left hook” accidents. This type of collision happens when a vehicle travels straight or turns left at an intersection, cutting off or colliding with an intersection.
Both of these bicycle collisions can cause severe injury and death. What’s important to remember is that truck drivers and other motorists have the best view of the intersection and approaching cyclists and cars. The key is to look and look well before it is time to step on the gas.
Darkness and Storms. The majority of fatal bike crashes in 2018 occurred between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. Darkness falls earlier during the winter so there is an even greater potential for crashes when cyclists are out. As for storms, cyclists often try to avoid these conditions and have options in Boston, with the T subway and bus. But Mother Nature can still change the forecast mid-ride. Keep this in mind and try to be patient.
Take care to drive on roads with adequate street light in the morning and after work. Recognize that daylight is even darker or more even during the winter.
Cyclists are required to use bike lights when riding from thirty minutes after sunset until thirty minutes before. Bike reflectors are also required. Cyclists must have reflectors wrapped around both pedals or around their ankles.
As a driver, if you see a flicker of color ahead, this is likely a cyclist or pedestrian. The bike lights should be visible from distances of 500 to 600 feet.
Side of the Road. Always look ahead and scan the side of the roads. Cyclists should be traveling on the same side of the road as you in the same direction, although this may not be the case.
About Breakstone, White & Gluck
Free Legal Consultation – Boston Bicycle Accident Lawyers
Breakstone, White & Gluck has extensive experience representing cyclists who have been injured in bicycle accidents by negligent drivers in Boston, Cambridge and across Massachusetts. Our attorneys are skilled at investigation and negotiation with insurance companies to help our clients obtain the compensation they need for their recovery.
If you have been injured, learn your legal rights. Call Breakstone, White & Gluck at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 for a free legal consultation. You can also use our online contact form.