Bike riding is not only a great mode of transportation, but also an excellent form of recreation and exercise. Unfortunately, every day many bicyclists are struck by automobiles resulting in serious personal injury. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than a half a million bicyclists in the United States are treated at emergency rooms for bike related injuries each year. More than 700 people die each year as a result of injuries sustained in bicycle accidents. Children are even more at risk for bicycle related injuries, especially if they are not wearing a required helmet.
Bicycle accidents are often caused by the negligence of a motorist. The motorist may be distracted by the use of a cell phone, texting, eating, or drinking coffee, reading a newspaper, adjusting the radio, distracted by a pet or an infant child in the back seat.
As a bicyclist in Massachusetts you have certain rights and responsibilities and there are rules of the road that must be followed. According to Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 85 Section 11B; Chapter 89 Section 2; and Chapter 90 Section 14; bicyclists have the following rights and responsibilities:
- You may ride your bicycle on any public road, street, or bike way 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, however, you are not required to use a hand signal when you need both hands on the handle bars, such as when operating the brakes, shifters, or steering.
- You may pass cars on the right.
- If you carry children or other passengers inside an enclosed trailer or other device that will adequately restrain them and protect their heads in a crash, they need not wear helmets.
- When a motorist is approaching or passing a person on a bicycle, the operator of the motor vehicle must slow down and pass at a safe distance and at a reasonable and proper speed.
- No person operating a vehicle that overtakes and passes a bicyclist proceeding in the same direction shall make a right turn at an intersection or driveway, unless the turn can be made at a safe distance from the bicyclist at a speed that is reasonable and proper.
- When turning to the left within an intersection or into an alley, private road, or driveway, a motorist shall yield the right of way to any vehicle approaching from the opposite direction, including a bicycle on the right of the other approaching vehicles which is within the intersection or so close thereto, as to constitute an immediate hazard.
- It shall no longer be a defense for a motorist causing an accident with a bicycle that the bicyclist was to the right of vehicular traffic.
- No motorist shall open a door on a motor vehicle unless it is reasonably safe to do so without interfering with the movement of other traffic, including bicyclists and pedestrians.
- Bicyclists are no longer restricted to riding single file at all times. You can now ride two abreast, except you still have to help faster vehicles to pass.
- Motorists are required to yield to all bicycles before turning left. The law now expressly includes yielding to bicyclists riding to the right of other traffic where they are legally permitted, but may be more difficult for motorists to see.
- Bicycle rental businesses are now required to make helmets available to renters.
As a bicyclist you have many responsibilities. You must do the following:
- You must obey all traffic laws and regulations of the Commonwealth.
- You must use hand signals when able, to let people know you plan to stop or turn.
- You must give pedestrians the right of way.
- You must give pedestrians an audible signal before overtaking or passing them.
- You must ride on a regular permanent seat that is attached to your bicycle.
- You must keep one hand on your handlebars at all times.
- If you are sixteen years old or younger, you must wear a helmet that meets ANSI requirements on any bike, anywhere, at all times. The helmet must fit your head and the chin strap must be fastened.
- Your bike must be properly equipped with reflectors and brakes in proper working condition.
If you have been injured in a bike accident, you should consult the bike accident attorneys at the Law Offices of Sousa & Sousa, P.C. We know the rules of the road and your rights. All too often, the negligent motorist and his insurance company try to blame the bicyclist. You need an aggressive, experienced and knowledgeable bike accident attorney to represent you and to make sure you are compensated for your injuries, pain and suffering, lost wages, medical bills and property damage.
Unfortunately, a bike accident often leads to serious, catastrophic and permanent injuries, resulting in astronomical medical expenses and lost wages and death. If you or a loved one has been a victim of a bicycle accident, contact the Brockton bike accident attorneys at the Law Offices of Sousa & Sousa, P.C. for a free consultation.
The bicycle accident attorneys at the Law Offices of Sousa & Sousa, P.C. have been representing personal injury victims as a result of bike accidents for over fifty years and we have the experience and knowledge to deal with insurance companies and recover compensation for your injuries, pain and suffering, medical bills, lost wages, and damage to your bicycle. Bicycle accident cases are handled on a contingent fee basis, which means you do not pay a fee to us unless we are successful in recovering compensation. If there is no recovery, there is no fee. For a free consultation call our Brockton/Easton office at 508-230-5300 or contact us online. We are available for home or hospital visits if you are unable to schedule an office appointment.