Motorist Myths

Myth: “Share The Road” signs mean bikes have to move over

Get out of my way!

Reality: “Share The Road” signs mean motorists are to give space to bicyclists.

  1. “Share The Road” signs are often used when there is not enough room for a bike lane on a road, but there is heavy bike traffic. If you see one while driving be extra alert for cyclists
  2. Bicyclists have a legal right to use the entire lane, which means that if they want they can ride right in the middle of the lane, especially for safety reasons.
  3. Slower-moving traffic (like bicycles) is supposed to facilitate the passing of faster-moving traffic. Bicyclists might not always be able to do so right away, but give them a little time and they will move over. Remember: honking horns can scare cyclists and cause them to crash.
  4. Most motorists will only lose a couple seconds of their time to safely move over and give a cyclist space on the road. Is it worth hurting or killing someone to gain a few seconds?
  5. It’s the law that cyclists belong on the road. If you don’t share, you are breaking the law and putting people in danger.

Myth: If there is a bike lane, bikes have to ride in it

It’s a bike lane, get in it!

You are not allowed to be in the lane!

Reality: Bike lanes are to keep cars out, not to keep bikes in

  1. Bike lanes are designed to provide space for cyclists to use the road.
  2. Bike lanes often attract new riders to use them, as such they are often occupied by riders who are not as skilled.
  3. Bike lanes are designated areas that cars are not allowed to enter. Due to the size and weight difference it is important to keep cars, trucks, and buses away from cyclists – a bike lane does this.
  4. Often cyclists will need to leave the bike lane for safety reasons.
  5. It is against the law to drive or park in a bike lane. It is also illegal to harass cyclists who choose to leave the bike lane.

Myth: Bikes have to be on the sidewalk

Get on the sidewalk!

Reality: Bikes belong in the street

  1. Bicycles are legally vehicles and as such drive on the road.
  2. It is much more dangerous for cyclists to be on the sidewalk.
  3. Pedestrians, people in wheelchairs, people with strollers, small children, pets on leashes, people getting into or out of cars, people going into or out of buildings may be endangered by cyclists riding on the sidewalk.
  4. Roads were originally paved for cyclists. It was only later that cars came along, so if you like paved roads thank a cyclist (don’t believe us, see here, and here), and remember they were there first!
  5. It is against the law in most cities in Massachusetts for adults to ride a bicycle on the sidewalk, so screaming at a cyclist to get on the sidewalk is encouraging them to break the law.

Myth: Cars have the right-of-way

That biker rode right at me while I was making a left hand turn!

Reality: Cars and bikes follow the same rules

  1. Bicycles are legally vehicles; as such they get the same right-of-way as cars.
  2. When a cyclist is proceeding straight through a green light, motorists must yield before making left turns.
  3. When a cyclist is making a left turn they must be in the left lane; motorists must wait for them to turn left, and not crowd them while turning.
  4. When a cyclist is stopped at a red light in a lane that allows right hand turns on red, but is going straight, right turning vehicles must wait until the light turns green before turning right (just like they would if a car was in front of them that was not turning).
  5. Cyclists and Motorists follow the same set of laws. Aside from some restrictions on where bicycles can ride (they cannot ride on limited access highways) and how a cyclist may drive (they are allowed to pass vehicles on the right), they basically use the same roads and follow the same laws.