More Massachusetts Bike Laws

A number of laws regulate bicycle riding and use in Massachusetts. Your public library is a good place to research them; many libraries now have CD-ROM databases that make the searching fast, easy and fun.

For example: One section of these laws allows the presiding judge, when instructing the jury a personal injury case, to question whether a warning was given too late, "to use the illustration of a "scorcher" bicycle rider who said to a man just as he ran over him, ‘Look out!!’ Whereupon the man said, ‘For heaven’s sake, are you coming back again?’" (Picquett v Wellington-Wild Coal Co., 1909).

Here are the citations for various laws you may find of interest:

Annotated Laws of Massachusetts:

C. 21A Sec. 11A The Bicycle Advisory Board, Department of Environmental Management.
Summary: The 11- member Board consists of representatives from the departments of environmental management, highways, metropolitan district commission, public safety, motor vehicles, and metropolitan area planning council; and five members appointed by the governor. Of the five appointees, one must be a representative of the bicycle industry and three must be experienced in bike safety and transportation. Appointees serve without pay for two years, and may be re-appointed. The Board advises the departments on bike transportation and bikeway programs, makes recommendations for using tax incentives and zoning to promote cycling, and can propose legislation in support of cycling.

C. 82 Sec. 36 Penalties for the misuse of bicycle paths. For example, you can be fined $20 for driving cars (or animals) on bike paths, unless the alderman say it’s OK.

C. 85 Sec. 11A Bike registration. In Massachusetts, whether or not you must register your bike is left up to the individual towns. If registration is required, the process is similar in scope to auto registration. Check with your police department to see if you need to register your bike.

C. 85 Sec. 11C Bicycle law violations. Summary: You may be issued a non-criminal ticket for violations of any of the laws (Sec. 11A and 11B) concerning registration, equipment or operation of bicycles. The parents or guardian of cyclists under 16 may be notified. If you refuse to give your correct name and address to the officer issuing the ticket, you will be fined between $20 and $50; you can also be arrested. You may receive a summons to appear in district court to pay a fine within 21 days of being ticketed. Fines may also be paid by mail. Failure to appear or pay will result in a criminal complaint against you, and you can be arrested. Fines collected for cycling violations will be used to fund bike programs.

C. 90 Sec. 1B Motorized bicycles and operating regulations for them.

C. 90E Bikeways. Summary: The commissioner of highways works with the bicycle advisory board on the bikeways program, including topics related to safety, research, education, commuting, rail trails, amenities, parking, bike lanes on streets, etc.

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