Avoiding Bicycle Accidents by Riding on Sidewalks

Riding a bicycle on a busy roadway can be dangerous and often leads to bicycle accidents and riders with serious injuries. Some roadways allow motorists to travel 40 – 50 miles per hour, have no breakdown lanes, and little room for a bike rider to ride their bike.

Under Massachusetts law, bicycle riders may ride their bikes on sidewalks outside of business districts when necessary in the interest of safety unless there is a local ordinance which provides otherwise. (G.L. ch. 85 11B)

In addition, a person riding a bike on a sidewalk must yield the right of way to pedestrians and give an audible warning before passing and overtaking a pedestrian. (G.L. ch. 85 11B)

However, where does this leave a bicyclist riding in a business district, with a busy roadway and little or no room for bicyclists and an available sidewalk? It is clear under these circumstances, that the safe choice is to allow the bike rider to use the sidewalk as long as the bicyclist obeys the law concerning pedestrians and rides their bike safely.