Bicycling Safety

Bicycling is an important means of transportation used by many for traveling to work or school. To provide a safe travel environment, drivers must take special care to watch out for bicycle riders and bicyclists must obey all traffic laws by riding in a responsible manner. Bicyclists are legally entitled to use the roads in Brookline, even though their slower speeds can pose problems for motorists. It’s easy to share the road when we all drive safely and are considerate of others. Here are some basic driving rules that motorists and bicyclists are encouraged to follow.

Motorist Guidelines
Always be aware of bicyclists that may be on the road. As motorists, we must all respect the rights of other road users, including bicyclists. Bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as drivers of motor vehicles.

Passing & Turning
  • After passing a bicyclist on your right, check over your shoulder to make sure you have allowed enough room before moving over.  Experienced riders often travel 25-30 mph and may be closer than you think.
  • Do not pass bicyclists if oncoming traffic is near. Wait as you would with any slow-moving vehicle. Your patience could help prevent an accident.
  • Do not pass bicyclists if you will be making a right turn immediately afterwards. Always assume a bicyclist is traveling through unless they signal.
  • Give at least 3 feet of passing room space between the right side of your vehicle and a bicyclist, just as you would with a slow-moving car.
  • Reduce your speed when passing bicyclists, especially if the road is narrow.
  • When a road is too narrow for cars and bikes to ride safely side by side, bicycles will move into the center of the travel lane.
  • When turning left at an intersection always yield to oncoming bicyclists, just as your would to an oncoming motorist.
Cautions
  • Before opening your car door, always look for bicyclists that may be approaching.
  • Children on bicyclists are unpredictable – expect the unexpected and proceed very cautiously.
  • Do not blast your horn when approaching a bicyclist – you could startle them and cause an accident.
Hazardous Conditions
  • In bad weather, give bicyclists extra trailing and passing room.
  • Recognize obstacles that may be hazardous to bicyclist – such as potholes, debris, and drain grates – and give them adequate room to maneuver around them.
  • Use extra caution during the morning and evening hours when bicyclists are traveling and traffic is heaviest.

Bicyclist Guidelines
Equipment & Gear
  • Be visible and predictable when riding your bike.
  • Maintain and regularly inspect your bike and always wear a helmet to prevent head injury.
  • Wear bright colors.
Turning & Passing
  • Make a left turn by either moving into the left travel lane (or turning lane) and turning with the traffic, or by stopping, dismounting, and walking across a crosswalk like a pedestrian.
  • Ride with traffic. Always ride on the right side and do not pass motorists on the right. If you approach an intersection with a right turn lane and want to continue straight, ride with through traffic. When a road is too narrow to ride side by side, take the travel lane.
  • Signal all turns. Look back before your make a lane change or turn, and signal well in advance of your turning movement.
Cautions
  • Avoid riding into open car doors by giving yourself 3-4 feet separation distance.
  • Bicyclists must yield to pedestrians. Be courteous when approaching others by a warning sound or signal.
  • Many sidewalks in Brookline are too narrow to accommodate 2-way pedestrian travel and bicycle travel. Please respect the safety of pedestrians by traveling on the street. State law forbids riding a bicycle on the sidewalk in commercial districts where pedestrian travel is heaviest.
  • Obey all traffic laws including stops signs, traffic lights, and other traffic controls. Bicyclists fare best when they act and are treated as drivers of vehicles.
  • Ride in single file in traffic, except when passing others.
  • Ride straight in a predicable manner and signal before changing direction.
Hazardous Conditions
  • Watch for potential hazards such as drains, potholes, train tracks, or debris. Allow time to maneuver safely around these obstacles while negotiating traffic.