Riding a bike is a healthy, fun and safe activity. However, it isn’t without some risk. The following information highlights some areas of Massachusetts’ law that may minimize that risk and have the potential to reduce conflicts between bikes and cars.
Safe Passing Laws
Massachusetts requires that in approaching or passing a person on a bicycle the operator of a motor vehicle shall slow down and pass at a safe distance and at a reasonable and proper speed.
If it is not possible to overtake a bicycle or other vehicle at a safe distance in the same lane, the overtaking vehicle shall use all or part of an adjacent lane if it is safe to do so or wait for a safe opportunity to overtake.
Massachusetts requires that any person under the age of 16 riding a bicycle, as an operator or passenger, must wear a protective bicycle helmet.
The failure to wear a required helmet shall not be used as evidence of contributory negligence in any civil action.
Where to Ride
In Massachusetts, bicycles are subject to the traffic laws and regulations of the commonwealth. There is no law that requires bicycles to ride as far to the right as practicable.
In Massachusetts bicycles may be ridden on sidewalks outside business districts when necessary in the interest of safety, unless otherwise directed by local ordinance. A person operating a bicycle on the sidewalk is required to yield the right of way to pedestrians and give an audible signal before overtaking and passing any pedestrian.