Under M.G.L. Ch. 85, Section 11B, bicycles in Boston are considered “vehicles,” afforded many of the same rights and assigned most of the same responsibilities as motor vehicle operators.
Unlike operators of motor vehicles, however, bicyclists are not required to take a course or prove their riding skills or pass a written test to become licensed. There is no licensing at all, in fact. However, undertaking a Boston bicycling safety course is a smart way to make sure all cyclists fully understand their role on the road and how to react in challenging traffic situations.
At Jeffrey Glassman Injury Lawyers and BikeAttorney.com, our bicycle accident attorneys in Boston know this type of course is especially beneficial for anyone cycling in an urban area. The traffic is heavier and drivers, unfortunately, tend to be more aggressive.
The League of American Bicyclists conducted a recent study in which it discovered bicycle fatalities were concentrated on high-speed, urban arterial roads, which are designed for motor vehicles.
The second most common site of bicycling deaths in the U.S.? Local streets in urban areas.
The vast majority of urban-area fatal crashes occurred at intersections. These are points at which motor vehicle traffic most closely interacts with bicycle traffic. Sadly, you cannot expect that drivers fully understand how to behave around cyclists. And even those drivers who do understand aren’t always paying attention.
That’s why a safe cycling class can be so beneficial for riders. By arming yourself with the proper knowledge, you increase your chances of a quick, proper reaction in potentially dangerous circumstances.Beginner Bicycle Courses
Many people picture that iconic moment of “learning to ride a bike” as when mom, dad or grandparent finally “let go” of the back of the seat and the child keeps pedaling while proudly maintaining balance with no training wheels.
However, the fact is there are many people who never learned to ride a bicycle as a child, either because they didn’t have access to a bike or they lived in a bike-unfriendly neighborhood or it simply wasn’t a priority. But today, riding a bicycle is essential for many in Boston. It’s a low-cost way to travel efficiently from Point A to Point B.
But an urban landscape is not the best place to learn on your own. There are simply too many risks.
A number of regional bicycle stores and advocacy groups offer adult and child beginner courses.
Although some adults are embarrassed by the fact that they never learned this skill, attempting to learn on your own – in a public park or parking lot – carries its own challenges. Being surrounded by a group of people in the same boat can be reassuring. And you’ll have someone watching who can non-judgmentally instruct you on how to correct what you’re doing wrong. And while you might still inevitably suffer a few scraped knees, you’ll be doing it in one of the safest environments and with the proper gear.Basic Biking Skills Courses
Once you have gotten the hang of staying upright on a bicycle, it’s important to learn how to do so safely on a trail or especially in traffic.
There are a number of groups that offer basic bicycling skills to those 14-and-older who have a modest level of bike-riding experience.
Most of these training courses take place outdoors and on the bike. Participants generally are looking to get back into bicycling, to improve the basic cycling skills they have or to participate in an upcoming ride or benefit. Beginning mountain bikers too may benefit from such a course.
Some of the skills taught:
- Proper adjustment of your bicycle and helmet
- How to properly start and stop
- How to operate your bicycle more smoothly, including shifting of gears
- How to steer out of trouble
- How to safely and legally ride your bicycle in roadway traffic (some courses are dedicated to this aspect alone)
- Participating in group-ride events
One of the major benefits of such courses is that cyclists will be able to forge connections with others in the cycling community who are just starting out or brushing up on their skills. Linking up with riders who are at the same skill level can be confidence-boosting and relationship-building.Smart Cycling Courses
These are the courses that focus solely on navigating through traffic.
The American League of Bicyclists has more than a dozen cycling instructors in the Boston area who offer this course. They are affiliated with clubs, advocacy groups, bike shops, hospitality companies and other supporting businesses.
The courses teach:
- Choosing the right bicycle
- Choosing the right helmet
- How to conduct a basic bike safety check
- What to wear (and what not to wear)
- How to share the trail
- How to navigate through urban traffic on a bicycle
When learning to navigate through traffic, some of those basic skills include:
- Lane changing
- Traffic laws
- Bike lanes
- Intersection positioning
- Bike helmets
- Riding on the sidewalk
- Knowing the best places to ride
Other courses that may be available include:
- Youth bicycling courses
- Safe routes to school courses
- Group ride courses
- Race training courses
Whatever your goals or skill levels, there are many benefits to taking on a bicycling safety course.
Contact the Boston Bicycle Accident Lawyers at Jeffrey Glassman Injury Lawyers and BikeAttorney.com at 617-777-7777.