By Beth David, Editor
Bicycle riders in Massachusetts are required to ride with the traffic, which means on the right side of the road on two-way streets.
Some people have been questioning members of the Bikeway Committee about this rule, wondering if it is better to ride on the left side of the road, against traffic.
There are many reasons why riding with traffic is safer than riding against traffic, and most biking websites will list those reasons.
Besides that it is against the law, riding against the traffic reduces the reaction time of both the rider and the driver. It increases the speed of any crash that might occur, making them deadlier.
Riding with traffic means you are able to see the traffic signs.
If you are on a one-way street and come from the wrong direction, cars turning onto the street will not be expecting you.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website has safety information for bicyclists, including safe riding tips for children.
Some are simply common sense and show common courtesy, such as alerting pedestrians that you are passing them by saying, “Excuse me,” or, “Passing on your left.” You can also use a bell or horn.
In Mass. it is legal to use a sidewalk in areas that are not considered business districts, but be sure to yield the right of way to pedestrians and give an audible signal before passing a pedestrian.
Children under 16 years of age are required by law to wear a helmet.
According to the NHTSA website: “The safest place for bicycle riding is on the street, where bicycles are expected to follow the same rules of the road as motorists and ride in the same direction.
“Children less than 10 years old, however, are not mature enough to make the decisions necessary to safely ride in the street. Children less than 10 years old are better off riding on the sidewalk.”
Fairhaven Selectboard member and avid cyclist Bob Espindola is on the Bikeway Committee. He said committee members find that some people simply do not understand why riding in the street, with the traffic flow, is better.
“The bottom line is it is safer and it is the law that bicyclists are required to follow traffic laws as if they were an automobile,” wrote Mr. Espindola in a email.
According to the NHTSA, “Many bicycle-related crashes resulting in injury or death are associated with the bicyclist’s behavior, including such things as not wearing a bicycle helmet, riding into a street without stopping, turning left or swerving into traffic that is coming from behind, running a stop sign, and riding the wrong way in traffic. To maximize your safety, always wear a helmet AND follow the rules of the road.”
For more information, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website at: http://www. nhtsa.gov/people/injury/pedbimot/ bike/kidsandbikesafetyweb/
To read the Mass. law, visit https:// malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/ PartI/TitleXIV/Chapter85/Section11b
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