Cycling For Health And Safety: Your Primer To Beginning A Cycling Program

If you’re a newbie to street cycling, Boston is one of the best places to get started.

In recent years, Massachusetts passed a number of new laws to help protect cyclists. City planners are involved in the Boston Complete Streets initiative that seeks to incorporate multimodal safety for all road users – not just those in cars. There was also the recent unveiling of Hubway, one of the first and largest public bike-share programs in the country. In 2015, the mayor of Boston announced the adoption of Vision Zero Boston, which seeks to entirely eliminate traffic fatalities. Other cities like New York, San Francisco and Chicago have also committed to the effort, which involves a coordinated strategy including renovation of some of the most dangerous thoroughfares in the city over the course of five, 10 and 15 years.

It’s important for anyone thinking of making cycling part of a regular commute or workout to take a little time to get educated on state laws and local ordinances, best local practices and ideal routes for your comfort level.

The Boston Cyclist Safety Report indicates that between 2009 and 2012, there were 1,700 bicycle accidents reported to city EMS and police. At The Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman's BikeAttorney.com, our bicycle accident lawyers in Boston want to see this figure slashed to the greatest degree possible.

Why Cycle in Boston?

Bicycles have become a key part of the urban mobility mix. They don’t use any fossil fuel, they deliver marked health benefits and is one of the most affordable ways to get to work, school and recreation. For those in it for the exercise, the initial cost of a bicycle may be substantial, but over time, it’s less expensive than the gym – especially if one is taking advantage of the city’s Hubway system.

Hubway has 140 stations throughout Boston and its suburbs and passes can be purchased annually or for as few as 24 hours. Helmets can be rented for $2, or else purchased for $25.

The cycling community here is robust, and new riders can find many supportive organizations, including:

These are good places to start.

Basics of Cycling in Traffic

Chances are, if you are considering taking up a street bicycle routine, you know how to ride a bike and you know basic traffic laws.

The first thing to understand about bicycling in traffic is that bicycles are legally considered vehicles. A person on a bicycle must follow the same rules that apply to all other vehicles, and they have a right to expect to be treated the same as other vehicles. That means you can confidently ride as if you belong on the road.

We certainly understand that it can be intimidating at first, but if you’re constantly trying to get out of the way of vehicles, it’s actually going to make you less safe.

Keep these basics in mind:

  1. Travel in the direction of traffic. Some people think they’ll be safer if they face traffic and can see it. The problem is, this puts riders on a path to colliding with other vehicles entering the street. Drivers are constantly looking for a break in traffic to pass slower vehicles, and you can’t tell when you’re facing traffic the rear traffic light indicators of these movements. At intersections, vehicles that are turning won’t see you emerging from the sidewalk until it’s too late.
  2. Stop at red lights and traffic signs. Not only is it rude to ignore these signals, it’s dangerous.
  3. Ride in a straight line, yielding when you have to deviate from that line.
  4. Use your hand signals if you do plan to turn or change lanes, unless it isn’t safe for you to do so.
  5. Ride on the right side of the travel lane, and give yourself 1 foot of space on the edge of good pavement and 2 feet of space where there is a raised curb. If there is a row of parked cars, give yourself 3 feet of space so you can avoid “dooring.”
  6. Be mindful of railroad crossings, steel plates and other road hazards that may affect your stability.
  7. Use lights at night. The law requires you to have a headlight, a rear red light and reflectors on either the pedals or your ankles. You are allowed to have as many reflectors/ lights as you want.
  8. Near buses or large trucks, ride behind or in front of them, but never beside them.

If you are involved in a bicycle accident in Boston, our personal injury lawyers are here to help.

Contact the Boston Bicycle Accident Lawyers at The Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman's BikeAttorney.com.