What Are My Rights as a Cyclist in Massachusetts? - Mazow | McCullough, PC
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What Are My Rights as a Cyclist in Massachusetts?

Massachusetts is a beautiful place to ride your bicycle, especially in the spring and summer when the weather is mild and trees are green. As a cyclist, you have certain rights under state law, but you also have responsibilities and both are designed to keep you safe.

Even more importantly, drivers of motor vehicles owe a duty of care to bicycle riders to prevent accidents. Here’s what to know and how to get experienced legal help from a qualified bicycle accident attorney near you if you were injured while riding.

Understanding Massachusetts Bicycle Riders’ Rights

If you enjoy riding your bicycle or use it to commute to and from school or work, it’s crucial that you have a good understanding of state laws that apply to you and what rights you have when riding in or around traffic.

  • You have the right to use all public roads in the Commonwealth with the exception of interstate and state highways and areas that do not allow bicycles.
  • If there are no city bylaws that state you cannot ride your bike on sidewalks, you are allowed to do so.
  • You have the right to take up an entire car lane’s space when riding your bicycle on the road, even in places where a bike lane is present. You’re not required to use bike lanes.
  • You’re allowed to pass on the right side of a vehicle instead of the left.
  • You have the right to ride to the front of an intersection when you are at a stoplight with other vehicles.
  • Drivers must give you at least three feet of space on all sides when traveling alongside traffic.
  • You are allowed to ride side-by-side with another cyclist in a single lane, however, you must not ride in such a way that prevents other vehicles from passing either of you.

Factoring in a Cyclist’s Responsibilities

In addition to the things you are allowed to do when riding your bicycle on public roads, there are some things you must do as well:

  • Follow all normal traffic laws. Like motor vehicle drivers, you are required to stop at stop signs, yield to traffic, and obey all other rules of the road.
  • Use hand signals to indicate where you’re going. Since bicycles don’t have turn signals or brake lights, it’s important to learn and use hand signals to indicate to other drivers if you plan to go right, left, or if you are slowing down or pulling off to the side of the road.
  • Go with the flow of traffic. While it might be tempting to ride against traffic so you can see what’s coming in front of you, this is actually quite dangerous and illegal to do. Ride in the same direction as traffic and make sure you can be easily seen from behind.
  • Give the right of way to pedestrians. While bicyclists typically have the right of way when riding near motor vehicles, the same is not true around pedestrians. If you’re riding on a sidewalk, you should give some kind of audible signal to people walking ahead of you if you plan to pass them.

What Motorists Are Required to Do

Car and truck drivers rarely, if ever, are given the right of way when traveling alongside a bicyclist. There are several responsibilities that drivers have in this situation, including:

  • Giving bicyclists plenty of room, especially when passing them on the left
  • Checking that they’re not cutting someone off when making a right turn
  • Allowing cyclists to maneuver around their vehicle in tight traffic
  • Looking before opening car doors to make sure no one will be hit

Hurt in a Bicycle Accident? Call a Top Bicycle Injury Lawyer Near You

Being struck by a car while riding your bicycle is a devastating experience. For families that lose loved ones this way, the consequences can be even more earth-shattering.

Our experienced New Hampshire and Massachusetts bicycle accident attorneys can help you pursue the full and fair compensation you deserve so you can cover expenses like medical bills, time out of work, and therapy.

Call our Salem, MA law office today by dialing (978) 744-8000 or contact us toll-free at (855) 693-9084. We’ll start by scheduling your free initial consultation so you can meet with our team to discuss your next steps.

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