Within a shockingly short period of time there have been a number of cyclists killed in the Boston are due to traffic incidents. Recently a gentleman was hit and killed in Wellesley. Within the past week both a young woman in her early-30s and another gentleman were struck and killed near South Boston and Dorchester, respectively. The city morns the loss of these precious lives.
Rather than sensationalizing the dangers of cycling in an urban environment in media or film – the message is simple and clear, each life is so incredibly important we must each take great care. This does not mean wearing full-body armor on your bicycle, or at least it shouldn’t. But a helmet goes a long way.
Our cities are in transition. Bicycles are here in ever increasing numbers, and they’re not going anywhere. As we adjust and evolve, drivers and cyclists have to learn to go back to basics; it really is amazing how far basic manners can go toward safety. (And not texting, tweeting, or Facebook-sharing whilst on the move; either in a car, on a bike, or even crossing the street on foot, goes a long way too. )
For those new to the many ways we move about the road many municipalities even offer instruction, MassBike offers safety classes here in Massachusetts. Reviewing the rights and responsibilities of being a cyclist on the roads means you can take swift and decisive action for your safety and those around you. Help educate the drivers in your life who may not know about bicycle traffic laws. When you are a driver be exemplary.
A colloquial review, for Massachusetts anyway:
A bicycle is a vehicle! This means stopping at stop signs and red lights. (We’re not in Idaho people, wait until it turns green. Unless you are reading from Idaho, and then please obey the law.)
Bike lanes are for bicycles only; not joggers, or pedestrians, not vespas or scooters – definitely not cars. A cyclist does not have to stay in the bike lane.
A cyclist may take the lane if they judge it is necessary.
When going straight, a cyclist has the right of way over a car turning left.
Don’t bike on the sidewalk, please just don’t.
Biking the the wrong way on a one-way street (often colloquially referred to as salmon), is not legal or safe.
It is illegal for a vehicle to squeeze a cyclist in a narrow lane.
It is illegal to cut off a cyclist after passing.
It is illegal to right hook a cyclist.
If you are riding after dark the law requires you to have a front and rear light! (White for front, red for rear.)
It is illegal to door a cyclist.
Bicycles may travel two abreast. (It is often polite and helpful to move into single file if someone needs to pass you.)
Please wear a helmet.
These are some of the things I notice on a daily basis. If you do find yourself or someone in an accident, there are legal tools, although not many. Boston based Bike Safe Boston, run by attorney Josh Zisson, makes Bicycle Accident Reports – customized for each state’s laws. These are available at local bike shops. I was able to share one of these with a young woman struck by a car on the busy street near our office a couple of weeks ago. She did not know her rights.
Bicycle safety can become the common sense of the roads, but we must each participate. We move through our cities in many ways, sometimes as pedestrians, sometimes as cyclists, sometimes as drivers and many modes in between. Think outside the box, look – really look, be considerate, pay attention to your surroundings. I imagine, not only will the unexpected beauty delight you, but your life is worth more than gaining an extra 0.2 seconds because you ran that red light.
While we are also now at InterBike where there will be new technology introduced which may help save a life – action can change the course of events today. We care a lot about safety at Montague Bikes, so just wanted to say – ride safe!