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Bicycle Riding Laws

While commuting work, one of our customers was citied for running a red light, which in Massachusetts is a bicycle moving violation. He ended up getting a lesson city bike riding, accompanied by a $20 ticket. After telling his story to the crew in the shop, we decided to find out the bike laws in Massachusetts, but more locally in Boston and Cambridge. 

  • All bicyclists must obey all traffic laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts including red lights, stop signs, and riding with traffic.
  • All bicyclists should stay to the right of the roadway, except for left hand turns, or where bike lanes direct otherwise, and must ride single file.
  • Cambridge and the City of Boston discourages the riding of bicycles on sidewalks throughout the city and has provided bicycle lanes on certain streets.
  • In a banned area, a bicycles must either: 1) Walk his/her bicycle; 2)Ride on the street; or 3) Take an alternate route
  • In all other areas in the City of Cambridge, a bicyclist, while riding on the sidewalk, MAY NOT ride at a speed “greater than a normal walk.”
  • A bicyclist shall give an audible warning before passing a pedestrian far enough in advance to allow the pedestrian time to react.
  • A bicyclist, wile operating on a sidewalk, must operate in a manner that does not endanger any property or person.
  • Pedestrians have the right of way on all sidewalks and a bicyclist must yield to all pedestrians in all traffic situations.

  • When involved in an accident resulting in bodily injury or property damage in excess of $100, a bicyclist must report the incident to the police.
  • Between dawn and dusk a bicyclist is required to have a red light or reflector on the rear of the bike and white headlight on the front as well as side reflectors.
  • A bicyclist shall not carry another passenger on his/her bicycle except on a tandem bike; or a child between one and four on a child safety seat attached to the bike that is equipped with a harness and protection from the feet hitting in the spokes of the wheel of the bicycle. A bicyclist shall not transport any person under the age of one year on a bicycle.
  • Helmets are required for anyone over the age of 16. It is strongly recommended that everyone wear a helmet while riding. The thick plastic foam inside the hard outer shell of the helmet provides padding so the helmet absorbs the force of a blow instead of your head.  We have plenty in the shop to choose from.


Position on the Road

  • Be predictable. Do not weave in and out of traffic or parked cars.
  • Ride at least three feet away from parked cars and be alert for motorist or passengers opening car doors.
  • Never pas a bus on the right. You could collide with a pedestrian or get squeezed against the curb.

Turning and Stopping

  • Signal your intentions. Use hand signals to indicate turns and stops.
  • Be especially alert when going straight through an intersection. Look for motorists in all directions and merge behind a right turning motorist when possible.
  • Left turns: There are two possibilities (1) Signal, move  into the left lane, and turn left (2) Ride straight to the far side of the intersection, then stop, turn left, and ride across.
  • If you use a crosswalk, walk your bicycle across.
  • A mirror is helpful, enabling you to be aware of traffic approaching from behind.

City of Boston Reference:

City of Cambridge Reference:



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