Saturday, January 17, 2009
Copied directly from the MassBike website (http://www.massbike.org/bikebill/index.htm):
What the New Bicycle Law Means for you: A Practical Guide
Changes for Bicyclists
1. Safer Signaling : Bicyclists were already required to use hand signals when stopping or turning, but now it is clear that you are not required to signal when you need both hands on the handlebars, such as when operating the brakes, shifters, or steering.
2. Riding Two Abreast Permitted : Bicyclists are no longer restricted to riding single file at all times. You can now ride two abreast (two bicycles, side-by-side), except that you still have to help faster vehicles to pass. So stay in single file when cars need to get by! On multi-lane roads, you can ride two abreast, but all the cyclists in your group must stay in one lane (which will usually be the right-hand lane unless you are making a left turn).
Changes for Motorists
3. Don't "Door" Bicyclists : Motorists (and their passengers) can now be ticketed and fined up to $100 for opening car or truck doors into the path of any other traffic, including bicycles and pedestrians. "Dooring" is a frequent cause of bicycle crashes and bicyclist injuries, and while motorists could already be sued in civil court or charged in criminal court under certain circumstances, they could not previously be ticketed and fined on the spot by a police officer.
4. Don't Cut Off Bicyclists After Passing : Motorists used to be required only to stay a safe distance to the left of a bicyclist (or any other vehicle) when passing; now, motorists are also prohibited from returning to the right until safety clear of the bicyclist.
5. Don't Squeeze Bicyclists in Narrow Lanes : If the lane is too narrow for a motorist to pass a bicycle (or any other vehicle) at a safe distance while staying in the lane, the motorist must use another lane to pass, or, if that is also unsafe, the motorist must wait until it is safe to pass.
6. Don't "Right-Hook" Bicyclists : A "right-hook" is when a motorist makes an abrupt right turn too close to a bicyclist, causing the cyclist to crash or make an emergency maneuver to avoid crashing. Motorists are now prohibited from making abrupt right turns at intersections and driveways after passing a cyclist.
7. Yield to All Bicycles Before Turning Left : Motorists are already required to yield to oncoming vehicles (including bicycles) before turning left. The law now expressly includes yielding to bicyclists riding to the right of other traffic (e.g., on the shoulder), where they are legally permitted but may be more difficult for motorists to see.
8. Motorists Liable for Hitting Bicyclists Riding to the Right : Bicycles, unlike other vehicles, are permitted to ride to the right of other traffic (e.g., on the shoulder), and motorists are not permitted to use this fact as a legal defense for causing a crash with a bicyclist.