Go With The Flow

flowGo With The Flow: Bicyclists are supposed to ride in the same direction as other traffic, not against it. While getting hit by a car from behind is one of cyclists’ greatest fears, it actually happens in only about 10% of crashes. See bicycle crash data from the Federal Highway Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Forget what you might have been told as a kid “ riding against traffic is dangerous. Motorists do not expect bicyclists, or anything else, to be coming the wrong way, so they may not see you, especially when they are looking the other way when making a turn or opening their car door. And you cannot see traffic signals or signs when you ride the wrong way “ they are all facing the other direction. Sure, you can see the cars coming at you, but you’ve got less time to react in a wrong-way, head-on collision, because the closing speed between you and the other vehicle is much higher than if you were traveling in the same direction.

The law requires you to ride in the same direction as other traffic and in the right lane except when passing or turning left, but not as far to the right as you can at any given moment. You might see bicyclists weaving in and out of parked cars trying to stay as close to the curb as possible, or suddenly darting from the right lane to make a left turn, but this is not the law, and it is dangerous because motorists may not see you as you dodge in and out of the parked cars, and your movements are unpredictable and can confuse drivers. Similarly, you should not veer to the right into crosswalks at intersections to take advantage of the Walk signal to cross the street, then swing back to the left to continue straight “ crosswalks are for pedestrians. When you ride your bicycle in the road, you are a vehicle, not a pedestrian, and you cannot have it both ways. If you want to use a crosswalk to cross the street, dismount and cross as a pedestrian.

  • Bicycles are vehicles
  • Bicycles may but do not have to stay to the right

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, 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

  • Vehicles (including bicycles) should travel on the right side of the road and in the right lane except when passing or turning left
  • Vehicles cannot travel on the left side of the road (i.e., the wrong way)

Upon all ways the driver of a vehicle shall drive in the lane nearest the right side of the way when such lane is available for travel, except when overtaking another vehicle or when preparing for a left turn. When the right lane has been constructed or designated for purposes other than ordinary travel, a driver shall drive his vehicle in the lane adjacent to the right lane except when overtaking another vehicle or when preparing for a left or right turn; provided, however, that a driver may drive his vehicle in such right lane if signs have been erected by the department of highways permitting the use of such lane. MGL chapter 85, section 4B http://www.mass.gov/legis/laws/mgl/89-4b.htm


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One Response to Go With The Flow

  1. Ray January 29, 2010 at 3:39 pm #

    I find no contact link for this SRSR site, so I comment here.

    On the Myths versus Reality page it is written:

    Don’t worry about getting honked at, that is simply the drivers friendly way of saying “I see you, and approve of your legal right to use the entire lane!”

    This sort of fantasy of what drivers are really saying and often do, when the horn isn’t enough of a statement, discredits the great work you do. Nobody in their right mind believes the approval part.

    They see you. That is true enough. But that is not the reason they honk and you really should not pretend otherwise.

    It is Pollyannish and misleading.

    Otehrwise I am delighted to see a Same Roads Same Rules approach being promoted, and I thank you!