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9 Facts About Sharing the Road With Bicyclists

As the weather gets nicer and gas prices rise, more residents are heading out on two wheels. Massachusetts law states that individuals may ride bicycles on any public road, street or bikeway in the Commonwealth, except where access is limited or on state highways where signs expressly prohibiting bikes have been posted.

To share the road, remember:

Bicyclists must …
> Obey all traffic laws and regulations, including stopping at stop signs and red lights and riding in the same direction as traffic.
> Use hand signals to let others know you plan stop or turn, unless taking a hand off the handlebars would endanger the bike rider.
> Give pedestrians the right of way and an audible signal before overtaking or passing them.
> 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.
> Notify the police of any accident involving personal injury or property damage over $100.

Motorists must …
> Check for passing bicyclists before opening their doors. Drivers and their passengers can be ticketed and fined up to $100 for opening car or truck doors into the path of any other traffic, including bicycles and pedestrians.
> Stay a safe distance, about three feet, away from a bicyclist when passing. Motorists are also prohibited from returning to the right until safely clear of the bicyclist.
> Not make abrupt right turns (“right hooks”) at intersections and driveways after passing a cyclist.
> Yield to oncoming bicyclists when making left turns. The law expressly includes yielding to bicyclists riding to the right of other traffic .

Parents can mark their calendars for the annual Bike Rodeo to help kids learn about safety. By registering in advance, you’ll get reminders.

Lorna is a 25-year resident of Tewksbury who has written for organizations ranging from the DIA to InformationWeek to a free weekly in New London that sent her to interview the pastry chef at Foxwoods.

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