Bay State Bike Week is a good time to remember safety for Massachusetts bicyclists, motorists and all who travel the roads.
Motorists can commit to being vigilant in looking out for bicyclists this summer and slowing down. Bicyclists can ask whether they have taken all possible safety precautions.
These safety precautions must include bicycle helmets. Bicycle helmets are 85- to 88-percent effective in mitigating head and brain injuries in bike crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Individual states govern whether bicyclists must wear helmets. California was the first state to pass a bicycle helmet law in 1986. Twenty five years later, 21 other states have adopted laws aimed at cyclists under age 16. Fourteen states have no helmet laws, though the NHTSA recommends states adopt legislation.
Massachusetts requires helmets be worn by those 16 and younger while operating a bicycle or traveling on one as a passenger. Helmets must be approved by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Adults in Massachusetts and other states should not wait for the law to require them to wear helmets. In 2006, 773 bicyclists were killed and another 44,000 were injured in traffic crashes across the country. Children 14 and younger accounted for 98 of those fatalities, making this one of the most frequent causes of injury related death for young children. But the other 675 bicyclists were older and many of them could have also benefited from the protection of a bicycle helmet.
Cycling is one of the most efficient, healthy, and environmentally-friendly modes of transportation in Massachusetts. Every day, Massachusetts cyclists take to the streets for their work, commute, recreation, and exercise.
This growing population of cyclists has not gone unnoticed, and local authorities have increased bike lanes and parking throughout the Commonwealth.
New laws have also been passed to protect cyclists by expanding their rights and responsibilities on Massachusetts roads.
With the tragic death of another Boston cyclist, the bicycle lawyers at Breakstone, White, and Gluck want to take a moment to review the current state of Massachusetts Bike Law (G.L. c. 85, § 11B).
Cyclists often have questions about changing laws in Massachusetts and how these changes affect their rights and obligations. Here are some of the most common questions Massachusetts cyclists have, linked to a brief summary of the answers:
What roads can I ride my bicycle on in Massachusetts?
Can I ride my bicycle on the sidewalks in Massachusetts?
Do bicyclists have to stop at red lights?
Do bicycle riders have to use hand signals?
Can cyclists ride next to each other?
Where can I park my bicycle?
Do I need lights on my bike?
Do I need reflectors on my bike?
What should I do if I am injured while riding my bike in Massachusetts?