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At BostInno, we have covered the battle between cyclist and motorist extensively, delving into the rules of the road and keeping those on tw0-wheels up-to-date on new plans and developments the city has on track to make the Hub a “world class bike city.”

On the road, cyclists often forget that they need to adhere to certain rules, the same rules that cars do, and drivers’ memories seem to get foggy when behind the wheel as they cut off cyclists and squeeze them into narrow lanes, which can lead to crashes.

But now, Boston Police have taken the conversation about sharing the road one step further with a definitive list of city laws that both cyclists and drivers should be abiding by. The distribution of the list, which was posted to the Boston Police Department blog, comes just days after Boston City Councilors Felix Arroyo and Ayanna Pressley pushed a motion through to arrange a hearing to discuss the number of bike accidents and related-fatalities in the city.

“With residents increasingly going green and choosing two wheels for transportation, [we put together] some information on how both cyclists and motorists ought to operate on city streets,” police wrote.

Recently, officials from Mayor Thomas Menino’s “Bike Boston” program said the Hub was in the midst of working on a “Bike Master Plan,” which could include upgrades in infrastructure to make riding even more popular.

While the list of laws for cyclists is a bit longer, with more reminders of what you need to do when traveling around, police also outline common mistakes made by unruly road hogs riding in automobiles.

For additional information about Bike Safety in Boston, and bike laws in general, visit


Your Rights

  • You may ride your bicycle on any public road, street, or bikeway in the City of Boston.
  • You may use either hand to signal stops and turns.
  • You may pass cars on the right.
  • Although you may ride two abreast (two cyclists side-by-side), you must allow faster vehicles to pass; stay in single file when cars need to get by.
  • You may hold a bicycle race on any public road or street in the city as long as you do so in cooperation with a recognized bicycle organization, and obtain approval from the appropriate police department beforehand.

Your Responsibilities

  • Always adhere to the traffic laws and regulations for the City of Boston.
  • Use hand signals to let people know that you plan stop or turn, unless two hands are necessary to steer or break.
  • Like motorists, you must give pedestrians the right of way.
  • Before overtaking or passing pedestrians, an audible signal is required.
  • You must ride astride a regular, permanent seat that is attached to your bicycle.
  • You must keep at least one hand on your handlebars at all times.
  • If you are 16 years old or younger, the law requires you to wear a helmet that meets ANSI standards at all times. The helmet must fit your head and the chin strap must be fastened.
  • You must wear reflectors on both ankles if your pedals do not have reflectors.
  • Wear brightly clothing and use bike lights when riding in early morning or evening. Not only do they help motorists see you, they also help you to navigate around potholes and debris in the roadway.
  • If you carry children or other passengers inside an enclosed trailer or other device that will adequately restrain them and protect their heads in a crash, they do not need to wear helmets.
  • You may not carry a passenger anywhere on your bike except on a regular seat permanently attached to the bike or to a trailer towed by the bike.
  • Any child between the ages of 1 and 4, or weighing 40 pounds or less, must be in a baby seat attached to the bike. The child must be able to sit upright in the seat and must be held in the seat by a harness or seat belt. Their hands and feet must be out of reach of the wheel spokes.
  • You may not carry any child under the age of 1 on your bike, even in a baby seat.


  • 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.
  • 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 either use another lane to pass, or, if that is also unsafe, wait until it is safe to pass.
  • 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.
  • Yield to all bicyclists 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.