Bicycles Are Vehicles Too

bikesarevehiclesBicycles Are Vehicles Too: Bicycles are legally vehicles (really!) and are supposed to be on the road.  Bicycles do not have to stay all the way to the right they can take the full lane to avoid car doors, debris, bad pavement, or other hazards.  They can even ride side-by-side when it doesn’t interfere with safe passing, especially when cars can safely move into another lane to pass.  It’s against the law to honk at or harass bicyclists riding in the lane, move into another lane or wait until it’s safe to pass.  And, yes, bicycles are supposed to follow the rules (just like cars).

  • Bicycles are vehicles and have the same rights as cars
  • Bicycles can use the full lane
  • Bicycles may but do not have to stay to the right
  • Bicyclists have to follow the rules

“Every person operating a bicycle upon a way, as defined in section one of chapter ninety, shall have the right to use all public ways in the commonwealth except limited access or express state highways where signs specifically prohibiting bicycles have been posted, and shall be subject to the traffic laws and regulations of the commonwealth and the special regulations contained in this section, except that: (1) the bicycle operator may keep to the right when passing a motor vehicle which is moving in the travel lane of the way, (2) the bicycle operator shall signal by either hand his intention to stop or turn; provided, however, that signals need not be made continuously and shall not be made when the use of both hands is necessary for the safe operation of the bicycle, and (3) bicycles may be ridden on sidewalks outside business districts when necessary in the interest of safety, unless otherwise directed by local ordinance.” MGL chapter 85, section 11B http://www.mass.gov/legis/laws/mgl/85-11b.htm

  • Bicycles can ride side-by-side

“Bicyclists riding together shall not ride more than 2 abreast but, on a roadway with more than 1 lane in the direction of travel, bicyclists shall ride within a single lane. Nothing in this clause shall relieve a bicyclist of the duty to facilitate overtaking as required by section 2 of chapter 89.” MGL chapter 85, section 11B http://www.mass.gov/legis/laws/mgl/85-11b.htm

  • Honking at bicyclists legally riding in the road is unreasonable and therefore illegal

“No person operating a motor vehicle shall sound a bell, horn or other device, nor in any manner operate such motor vehicle so as to make a harsh, objectionable or unreasonable noise” MGL chapter 90, section 16 http://www.mass.gov/legis/laws/mgl/90-16.htm

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7 Responses to Bicycles Are Vehicles Too

  1. george s April 4, 2011 at 12:05 pm #

    You folks did an excellent job with this portion of the site – thanks! The bike/car content is equally funny and reasonable… I hope people spend as much time reading as you did writing.

  2. Jim G February 13, 2012 at 3:51 pm #

    What is the speed limit min/max deal? I’ve been stuck behind bicycles doing 15-20 mph less than the posted speed limit. Is it not unreasonable to get stuck behind this? What is the policy here?

    • DanD April 6, 2012 at 4:19 pm #

      It is not unreasonable for the cyclist to expect you to wait behind them for a short period while traffic clears to allow you to pass (which is what the law in chapter 89 section 2 mentioned above requires). Note that most roads do not have a minimum posted speed limit.

      If the cyclist is truly holding up traffic to an excessive amount, it is not unreasonable to expect them to find some way to get out of the way, however this is courtesy, not law to the best of my knowledge.

  3. Victor Agius April 15, 2012 at 3:45 pm #

    I am horrified and appalled at the the abuse of public highways by cyclists; grandparents who set the example of cycling on the sidewalks, cycling down one way streets in the wrong direction and riding a bicycle across a crosswalk and running stop signs and red lights to name a few. In Europe you would be arrested for those offenses. But these offenses continue unabated; meantime we expect our candidates for public office to be squeaky clean it just does not add up.

  4. Jamie F September 28, 2012 at 12:39 pm #

    I love this site and this article, and have a related question posed to me by an upset driver. He was mad that a cyclist was in the left lane (to take a left turn) and honked at him and was yelling and right behind him. Unfortunately the cyclist took a left on a red light, but I was upset that the driver was endangering my fellow cyclist, so I mentioned to him through his window that bicycles are vehicles on the road and, as such, allowed a full lane. He asked me, “Where, then, is your license plate?”

    I initially shook my head at the ignorance, but it got me thinking: drivers of cars on the road must take written and practical tests before being allowed to engage the world of traffic. Frankly, the way I see a majority of cyclists in and around the city ride, I wish this was a requirement!

    I commute by bike every day into (and out of) the city, and during rush hour on a nice day when I am stopped at a quiet intersection’s red light, I am consistently passed by several other cyclists and remain the only bike sitting at the light when it turns green. This is doubly frustrating as it then poses a risk for me when I catch up to them and want to pass, and leap-frog ensues at the next red light.

    I often don’t blame drivers for getting upset at cyclists; I get upset too, quietly. Respect must be earned, and I simply don’t see it happening. Unfortunately, any nitwit can get on a bike and carom around the streets, endangering everyone while engendering disrespect. It seems that cyclists need just as much education and awareness as motorists.

    Oh. I see that turned into a bit of a rant. Well, I have gratitude for this site and the education it is trying to promote; and I am likewise grateful for the updated laws and new bike lanes I see popping up. Ride safe.

  5. Tom December 1, 2012 at 12:18 pm #

    Nice

  6. Tom December 1, 2012 at 12:33 pm #

    Unfortunately all the laws that exist will never protect cyclists. Protection requires enforcement, and this requires the willingness by LEO’s to do their job. Enforcing violations against cyclists is surely of the lowest priority.
    The truck driver that hit and ran after killing Alex Motsenigos STILL has not been charged. The death of a cylist carries little more attention than that of a dog or cat lying dead in the gutter, in fact probably less.
    Bottom line for me, accept the risk of death or injury, do your best to bike.