Walkers Go First: No question about it “ if you run into a pedestrian while riding your bike, someone is going to get hurt (probably both of you). Massachusetts law says that bicycles are vehicles and pedestrians, well, aren’t. So it should be no surprise that bicycles, just like other vehicles, must yield to pedestrians crossing the street in a crosswalk. Look for walkers whenever you see a crosswalk, especially if you see other vehicles waiting. You must also yield to pedestrians when riding on the sidewalk (which is legal only outside of business districts, unless local ordinances further restrict sidewalk bicycling). And you need to let the walkers know you are there before passing “ so ring your bell, toot your old-school horn, or just say passing on your left.
What about jaywalkers, people crossing the street illegally against the signals or in the middle of the block? They are breaking the law, but it will hurt just as much if you hit them, so you are better off just letting them go too. Don’t be shy about letting them know you are there, but consider a simple Careful! or Hey, green light!.
When traffic control signals are not in place or not in operation the driver of a vehicle shall yield the right of way, slowing down or stopping if need be so to yield, to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a crosswalk marked in accordance with standards established by the department of highways if the pedestrian is on that half of the traveled part of the way on which the vehicle is traveling or if the pedestrian approaches from the opposite half of the traveled part of the way to within 10 feet of that half of the traveled part of the way on which said vehicle is traveling. MGL chapter 89, section 11 http://www.mass.gov/legis/laws/mgl/89-11.htm
No driver of a vehicle shall pass any other vehicle which has stopped at a marked crosswalk to permit a pedestrian to cross, nor shall any such operator enter a marked crosswalk while a pedestrian is crossing or until there is a sufficient space beyond the crosswalk to accommodate the vehicle he is operating, notwithstanding that a traffic control signal may indicate that vehicles may proceed. MGL chapter 89, section 11 http://www.mass.gov/legis/laws/mgl/89-11.htm
A person operating a bicycle on the sidewalk shall yield the right of way to pedestrians and give an audible signal before overtaking and passing any pedestrian. MGL chapter 85, section 11B http://www.mass.gov/legis/laws/mgl/85-11b.htm