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Before you head out for a ride, know your responsibilities as a bicyclist. 

Bicyclists have the right to use all public ways in this state except limited access or express state highways where signs specifically prohibiting bicycles have been posted. When riding on public ways, bicyclists must obey the same basic traffic laws and regulations that apply to motor vehicle operators.1

MassBike has summarized Massachusetts’ bike law regarding bicyclist responsibilities in clear language.2 Please read the complete text of the General Laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Chapter 85, Section 11B.


Your Rights as a Bicyclist:

  • You may ride your bicycle on any public road, street, or bikeway in the Commonwealth, except limited access or express state highways where signs specifically prohibiting bikes have been posted.
  • You may ride on sidewalks outside business districts unless local laws prohibit sidewalk riding.
  • You may use either hand to signal stops and turns.
  • You may pass cars on the right.
  • If you carry children or other passengers inside an enclosed trailer or [another] device that will adequately restrain them and protect their heads in a crash, they need not wear helmets.
  • You may have as many lights and reflectors on your bike as you wish.
  • You may ride on sidewalks outside business districts, unless local laws prohibit sidewalk riding.
  • You may use either hand to signal stops and turns.
  • You may pass cars on the right.
  • If you carry children or other passengers inside an enclosed trailer or [another] device that will adequately restrain them and protect their heads in a crash, they need not wear helmets.
  • You may hold a bicycle race on any public road or street in the Commonwealth, if you do so in cooperation with a recognized bicycle organization, and if you get approval from the appropriate police department before the race is held.
  • You may establish special bike regulations for races by agreement between your bicycle organization and the police.
  • You may have as many lights and reflectors on your bike as you wish.

The Dutch Reach Method Prevents "Dooring" 

Dooring, or car dooring, is the act of opening a vehicle door into a bicyclist, pedestrian, or another vehicle.

Open vehicle doors pose a very serious threat to bicyclists. The Dutch Reach Project began as a way to prevent dooring accidents by using a simple technique called the Dutch Reach method which originated in the Netherlands. Also known as the Far Hand Reach method, the technique forces your body to turn, which will better allow you to see approaching bicyclists, and prevents the vehicle door from being opened too fast. This not only protects bicyclists and pedestrians but can also prevent your door from being damaged or torn off by an approaching motor vehicle.1

When opening a vehicle door, drivers and passengers should do the following:

  1. Check the rear-view mirror.
  2. Check the side-view mirror.
  3. Open the door with the hand farthest from the door (far hand reach).

Bicycling is one of the best ways to get exercise outdoors, yet bicyclists face many hazards when sharing the road with motor vehicles. National Bike Month is a great time to reacquaint yourself with bike safety before you head out for your next ride. 

Bicycling Safety Basics

  1. Check Your Equipment. Make sure your seat is set at the right height for you and locked in place; properly inflate your tires; add a working horn or bell, a rear-view mirror, and a headlight.
  2. Wear bright-colored clothing. Florescent, bright colors help others see you, especially in the shade during the day.
  3. Use lights at dusk and at night. According to Massachusetts law, you must use a white headlight and red taillight or rear reflector if you are riding anytime from 1/2 hour after sunset until 1/2 hour before sunrise. At night, you must wear ankle reflectors if there are no reflectors on your pedals.
  4. Wear a Helmet. Massachusetts law requires that persons 16 years old and younger must wear a helmet. While adults are not required to wear a bike helmet, it offers head and brain protection in the case of a fall or crash. (Watch a helmet-fitting video below.)
  5. Know the "rules of the road." Download the Mass.gov rules of the road for bicyclists and motorists driving in the presence of bicyclists. (Watch rules of the road video below.)
  6. Ride at least three feet from parked cars. Stay outside of the "door zone" and protect yourself from getting hit by opening vehicle doors.

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