Mass. Bicyclists' bill of rights signed into law

Posted January 18, 2009 12:35 AM –

There’s some good news for all those bicyclists who come to Wells Avenue in Needham each week, or whom you see riding around the streets of Needham and throughout the state: they now have a Bill of Rights.

The bill, which Governor Deval Patrick signed into law last week, includes several protections for cyclists, clarifying their right to drive in the street and requiring new police officers to get special training on the correct interactions between motorists and cyclists. The law also fines drivers up to $100 for an offense called “dooring.”

According to Mass Bike, which offers a lengthy explanation here, “Among the many changes the new law makes, it adds police training on bicycle law and dangerous behavior by bicyclists and motorists; explains how a motorist should safely pass a bicycle; explains how a motorist should safely make a turn in front of a bicycle; makes “dooring” (opening a car door into the path of a bicycle or other vehicle) subject to ticket and fine; permits bicyclists to ride two abreast when it does not impede cars from passing; and adds legal protections for bicyclists who choose to ride to the right of other traffic.”

As the Globe’s Noah Bierman reports, the state’s active bicycle community has been trying to get a bike safety law passed for more than eight years, a struggle outlasting the legislative careers of two sponsors.

Westwood blogger Dave Atkins pointed out this weekend that Patrick had signed the bill, brightening the day for bicyclists even in the cold weather.

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