November 2011 Archives

IIHS Recommends Antilock Brakes to Reduce Risks of Motorcycle Accidents in Massachusetts, Nation

Riding a motorcycle can be dangerous. Riders face more risks for being killed in a motorcycle accident in Boston than do the occupants of passenger-vehicles.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) says there is one thing that a motorcyclist can do to help reduce these risks -- antilock brakes. To help spread the word, the IIHS has released a new pamphlet, "Motorcycle ABS: Why you want to ride with it," explaining exactly why you're safer with this braking system.
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This brochure explains exactly what antilock brakes do, how they work and what their benefits are for riders. It has been created to be handed out at motorcycle showcasing events, rider training programs and other motorcycling venues. The bottom line is that the IIHS is encouraging riders to embrace the new technology and to choose bike models with the safe braking system.

Our Massachusetts motorcycle accident attorneys understand that motorcycles have two separate braking systems, one for the front tire and one for the back. Braking on a motorcycle is much more difficult that braking in a passenger vehicle. When braking on a motorcycle, either wheel can lock up and a driver could potentially lose control or balance and suffer a deadly fall.

When making a sudden brake in a car, the vehicle may skid. No harm done. With the antilock brakes, motorcyclists can brake without the fear of locking up.

"Research shows that motorcycle antilocks dramatically cut the risk of a deadly crash," says Institute president Adrian Lund.

The antilock braking system knows when to reduce the pressure applied on your brakes right before you're about to experience a lockup. The system knows when to reapply pressure once you've regained traction, too. Riders don't typically notice any changes in non-emergency braking with the new system since the technology is only used when the motorcycle's wheels are about to stop spinning.

The braking system comes standard on some bikes and can come as an add-on feature to many bikes. Riders are encouraged to opt for the safe-braking system.

Bikes that have the antlock braking system have been proven to have a near 40 percent lower rate of deadly accidents than the same models without the system, according to the IISH. Highway Loss Data Institute statistics report that there more than a 20 percent reduction in the number of collision insurance claims that are filed for motorcycles with antilocks than for bikes without it.

The braking system has been proven to be safe for motorcyclists of all capabilities. Even the most trained motorcyclists are, at times, forced to brake hard. Road surfaces can play a large role in the outcome of a harsh braking scenario. Unexpectedly sandy or slippery roads can cause a rider to crash. The Austrian Road Safety Board recently conducted a study that concluded that beginner, moderate and expert riders can stop quicker and more safely with the new braking system.

In 2009, more than 4,000 people were killed in motorcycle accidents. If antilock braking systems had been presence on all bikes, experts believe this number could have been much, much lower.

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Somerville Pedestrian Accidents Unlikely; Ranked 10th Safest in U.S.

Recently, Somerville was named the 10th-most walkable city in the United States, according to Walk Boston. The announcement comes on the heels of the programs the city executed to make the walkways safer to help reduce the risks of pedestrian accidents in Somerville.
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Joseph Curtatone, the Mayor of Somerville, has conducted a number of extensive projects to make the area safer for pedestrians over the last few years. These projects were used to make the city safer, to improve the health or residents and to help to boost the local economy.

Our Massachusetts pedestrian accident lawyers understand that pedestrian traffic is an important part of the state. Residents and visitors commute to areas across the state on a daily basis. Safe-walking initiatives should be an important part of all local government. The pedestrian population is an important part of our community and needs to be protected and embraced.

"The city has been working to improve walkability for eight years," Somerville's Director of Parks and OpenSpace Arn Franzen. "When the Mayor came in, it was one of his main agendas."

The City of Somerville was name as the 10th-most walkable city in the United States by the Walkscore.com website. This site ranks city's walkways based on how well residents and visitors are able to safely travel throughout the area without the use of a motor vehicle. The city was ranked in at 10th place out of all cities with a population of more than 10,000 and was ranked in 5th place for cities with a population of more than 70,000.

The rankings are determined by residents' ability to walk throughout the area. The rankings are scored from 0 to 100. One-hundred meaning that there is no need for a vehicle and zero meaning that a traveler is required to be car-dependent.

Every single resident in Somerville got a score of at least 70, meaning that errands within the city could all be done on foot.

According to Nicole Rioles, the Regional Active Transit Director, the city's new programs were used to effectively accommodate more walkers, including pedestrians with disabilities, to help to make sure that all pedestrians are safe. The new designs focused on road and intersection designs and their ability to protect pedestrians. The city created safer sidewalks that are now more visible to both pedestrians and motor vehicles.

City officials understand the impact of pedestrian-friendly roadways. According to Justin Hollander, the Assistant Professor of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning, the "walkability" of a city directly correlates with the amount of air-pollution. The safer pedestrians feel, the more they'll walk and less green house emissions we see.

Although our roadways are getting safer and more pedestrians are hitting the city's sidewalk, residents are urged to be cautious and alert while walking through in the area. Aside from safe walkways, safe traveling habits may be your best defense against an accident.

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Recent String of Massachusetts Pedestrian Accidents Highlights Risks through Holidays

A recent pedestrian accident in Worcester took the life of a 60-year-old man. It happened on Lincoln Street around 10 a.m. when a 30-year-old driver who was heading northwest and allegedly struck the pedestrian as he crossed that street at an intersection.

The Worcester Police Department was called to the accident and when paramedics arrived, the man was pronounced dead at the scene. The exact cause of death has yet to be determined, and medical professionals are awaiting the results of the autopsy. The speed limit on that four-lane roadway is 30 miles per hour, according to My Fox Boston. Officials have not determined if the driver was speeding.
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Our Boston pedestrian accident lawyers understand that traffic will be picking up on our roadways throughout the remainder of the year. The holiday season brings out travelers from across the country. While motorists will be facing increased risks for an accident, pedestrians and bicyclists will be at heightened risks as well. All travelers are urged to be safe, cautious and considerate during travel throughout the remainder of the year.

An earlier pedestrian accident left an elderly pedestrian with severe head injuries. The accident happened just outside of an elderly living neighborhood in Wollaston.

According to Quincy Police Capt. John Dougan, the pedestrian was transported to a hospital in Boston with "severe head injuries" after the accident that happened at Cheriton Road and Hancock Street around 12:00 p.m. Officers are investigating the accident and a reconstruction team is looking into the accident, according to The Patriot Ledger.

A third pedestrian accident seriously injured a 55-year-old woman from Somerville. The accident happened when she was hit by a Department of Public Works dump truck shortly after 8:00 a.m. The incident took place in Union Square at the Webster Avenue and Washington Street intersection.

The woman was transported to Massachusetts General Hospital and was last listed in critical condition, according to Deputy Police Chief Paul Upton. The driver was also transported to a local hospital. Both the Somerville police and state police are looking into the accident.

According to Massachusetts' Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, more than 20 percent of all Massachusetts motor-vehicle fatalities in 2008 involved pedestrians. There were roughly 365 traffic-related fatalities during that year. There were nearly 250 pedestrians injured during the same time.

With Christmas and New Year's approaching, we can expect more visitors to the area and more vacation days away from work. During this time, the number of motor vehicle and pedestrian accidents is expected to skyrocket. Travelers are urged to be conscious of one another and navigate safely to help avoid any holiday traffic accidents. With a conscious effort to exercise safe travel habits, we can all do out part to keep our roadways safe throughout the remainder of 2011.

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'Stop the Texts. Stop the Wrecks.' to Help Reduce Distracted Driving Car Accidents in Massachusetts, Nation

There's a new public service announcement (PSA) being used to help educate drivers about the risks, dangers and consequences of texting while driving. This campaign is aimed at teen drivers to help reduce the risks of distracted driving-related car accidents in Massachusetts and elsewhere, according to Consumer Reports.
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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Ad Council have teamed up with safe driving advocates around the country to create three PSAs as part of their "Stop the Texts. Stop the Wrecks." campaign. Distracted driving-related car accidents can come with serious and fatal consequences. In the first PSA, a teen driver is reaching for a phone as she pulls up to a stop sign. Unfortunately, since she's reaching for her phone she fails to see the stop sign, blows through it and gets into an accident.

Our Boston car personal injury attorneys understand this scene is all too familiar. Teens are seemingly connected to their cell phones, whether they're making calls, sending texts or surfing the web. Unfortunately, this is also true while they're driving. Teen drivers make up the group of drivers that is most likely to be involved in a distracted driving car accident. The "Stop the Texts. Stop the Wrecks." PSAs are looking to educate these young drivers and ultimately influence them to halt the dangerous driving behavior.

The last two PSAs start off relatively humorous, at the beginning at least. Texting pedestrians face some of the same dangers near our roadways as well. Both drivers and pedestrians need to be fully aware of their surroundings when traveling on our roadways. These last two videos end with texting drivers getting into some sticky situations, all because of texting at the wheel. The videos are used to illustrate situations that happen on our roadways every day because of distracted drivers.

All three of the PSAs end by asking viewers, "How will you stop texting and driving?" The end of the video also provides a link to Stoptextsstopwrecks.org to get more information.

When drivers take their eyes off the road, they're distracted for at least five seconds. If you're traveling at 55 mph, you could travel the length of a football field without even knowing it. Texting drivers are nearly 25 times more likely to get into a car accident.

Teen drivers are already four times more likely than any other age group to be involved in a motor vehicle crash. If you factor in texting, which increases the crash rate by up to 23 times, it's a recipe for disaster.

Distracted driving is causing more and more accidents. In 2009, roughly 20 percent of all injury accidents reported distracted driving as a contributor.

According to the Governors Highway Safety Administration, all drivers in the state of Massachusetts are prohibited from texting while driving. Unfortunately, this law doesn't always stop young drivers. For this reason, the "Stop the Texts. Stop the Wrecks." aims to educate drivers about the dangers of this habit in an attempt to get them to willingly stop the dangerous activity.

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Nighttime Driving Reduces Visibility and Increases Risks for Car Accidents in Massachusetts

Our Boston car accident attorneys recently discussed the dangers that come along with Daylight Saving Time and with the sun setting sooner in the day. We would now like to discuss a recent episode of HEALTHY VISION with Dr. Val Jones. She recently spoke with optometrist Dr. Cristina Schnider and John Ulczycki of the National Safety Council to talk about the dangers we face on our roadways during evening driving.
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The reduction in visibility with nighttime driving brings about increased risks of a car accident in Boston mainly because of how our eyes work. When our pupils enlarge because of low-light situations, the focusing mechanism needs to work harder. When there's not much to focus on, as is typically the situation at night, our eyes rapidly move around looking for something to focus on. This can cause drivers to overlook important details on the roadway.

Sometimes the eye will focus on the windshield for instance, ot the glare or bugs on the windshield. This is not a good thing. Schnider recommends that drivers continuously look left and right scanning the roadway to allow your eyes to focus in on the important factors.

This may sound odd, but Schnider also reminds drivers to remember to blink. Drivers tend to keep their eyes open for a longer period of time while driving during the night in an attempt to better focus on things. The lack of blinking can cause eyes to dry out. Air conditioning and open windows can also cause your eyes to dry out, which can negatively affect your vision. You're also recommended to take frequent breaks when driving at night, and for long road trips if possible have another licensed driver with you to share the driving duties if needed. Drivers can strain and dry their eyes while driving for long periods of time in the evening hours.

Your risk for being in a car accident during the evening is three times higher than your risks of getting into an accident when it's light out, according to Ulczycki. He says peripheral vision is greatly reduced when we drive at night because our eyes are so busy focusing on what's directly in front of us. He notes that about 25 percent of travel happens during evening hours and nearly 50 percent of fatal accidents happen during the nighttime.

He says that drivers oftentimes have a misconception of risk at night. He says because drivers are unable to see risks as well during the night as they are during the day, they believe that the risks aren't there. The truth is that the risks are still there and drivers need to adjust their driving to compensate for this reduction in visibility. Keep your eyes moving, keep looking around and keep it cautious to avoid a risk nighttime driving situation.

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FDA Scrutinizes Popular Food Company for Mold and Potential Food Poisoning in Massachusetts, Nation

Your child's baby formula could contain a number of dangerous molds, federal health regulators are saying. According to MSNBC, says this dangerous food has also been given to schools around the country, potentially causing food poisoning in Massachusetts and elsewhere.
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Officials from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently sent a warning letter to Snokist Growers of Yakima, Wash., claiming that the food providers were unable to make sure that their fruit puree and applesauce was reconditioned for consumption. This letter came after the Administration made the discovery of several moldy products.

Our Boston personal injury attorneys understand that earlier this year, there were several Snokist products recalled after school-aged children got sick because of eating the company's applesauce. Now, the FDA is accusing Snokist of failing to properly address these problems. In the earlier recall, officials discovered that some of the company's bagged fruit were not sealed and sterilized. Instead, the fruit bags were broken open and contained a number of dangerous molds.

"Your firm reprocesses moldy applesauce product ... using a method that is not effective against all toxic metabolites," state that latter from the FDA letter. "Several foodborne molds may be hazardous to human health."

The most recent letter was sent to Snokist's president, Jimmie L. Davis, late in October.

The letter also cited eight separate events in which the company had used the moldy food and distributed it to consumers in 2010. According to the initial inspections, officials discovered 13 times where the moldy food had been packaged for consumers from January of 2008 to May of 2011.

The company admitted to "reworking" some of the moldy food into other products for future use, but it only accounted for a fraction of the company's products. They admit to heat-treating the reprocessed food to kill toxins. The FDA does not allow contaminated food to be combined with quality food just to meet safety standards.

A company spokesperson says that the head-treating process is beyond adequate to get the product to a commercially sterile state. The company is not also testing Patilin, which is a toxin that is commonly produced by the mold found in rotting fruit.

The FDA isn't happy with the testing though, saying it's not enough. The company has also been asked to prove that it's testing for all dangerous microbes.

It is okay for companies to recondition food for consumption, but the products have to be tested and proven to be completely free of contamination, according the FDA.

Molds found in the Snokist products:

-Two kinds of Pennicillium.

-Fusarium.

-Alternaria

Repackaged food was in:

-15-ounce cans.

-300-gallon bags.

106-ounce-cans.

-4.2-ounce, single-serve cups.

When the inspection was conducted and the moldy food was discovered, the FDA provided the company with six steps to correct the problem. The company admitted to only implementing two.

More than 2 million cases of this fruit were sold in 2010. With the 50,000 tons of processed fruit, the company made more than $50 million.

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Properly Maintained Vehicles Can Help Avoid Risk of Car Accidents in Boston

With New England's hard-core winter weather just week away, there's still time to have your vehicles inspected by a professional to make sure everything is working properly.
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Unfortunately, it won't be long before car accidents in Massachusetts begin to happen more frequently because of nasty weather. But our Boston car accident attorneys know some of them can be prevented when vehicle owners take the time to be prepared. Also, a vehicle breakdown on the road could leave you at risk of being hit by oncoming traffic.

Some of the statistics regarding vehicle breakdowns and other road-related issues are staggering. Take for instance the December holiday period in 2009-2010 alone. AAA Auto Club South had 96,000 service calls in the two-week period that began Dec. 23, 2009. More than 21 percent of those calls turned out to be battery related issues. That was a big jump from 2008's calls for battery problems, according to the motor club, which serves members in three states and Puerto Rico.

If you're like many drivers, you know that sinking feeling you get when your vehicle won't start, especially when it's cold, icy and at night. And if you're out alone and have no roadside assistance plan, it's even worse. You can try to avoid that frustration by having your car or truck battery tested now. It's simple, quick and most professionals won't charge a lot for the service.

In fact, many auto repair facilities offer a multi-point safety inspection for your vehicles. They'll test the electrical system, tires tread, fluids, and other areas that could affect your safety and leave you literally out in the cold.

Here are a few things your auto mechanic can check to help ensure your vehicle is fit for wintertime road duty in Boston and the surrounding areas, compliments of AAA Auto South:

Hoses, belts, cooling systems and water pumps. Mechanical failures of these critical parts can leave you stranded roadside anytime of day or night without prior notice.

Tires and tire pressure.
Have a mechanic measure the tire tread depth of each tire so you can determine whether you need new tires now if it can wait a few months. Also, when temperatures go down, so does the pressure in your tires so check tire pressure monthly.

Charging-system checkup. Another part of your vehicle that is negatively affected when the temperature drops is the battery. In winter, vehicle engines require more starting power.

You can find AAA Approved Auto Repair Facilities that offer free checkups at www.AAA.com/Repair

Another smart thing to do now is assemble the winter "tools" that come in handy when the snow flies. Keep these nearby when driving:

-Snowbrush

-Ice scraper

-Shovel and bag of sand that you can use if you need help with traction

-Windshield wiper fluid

-Jumper cables

-Spare tire(s)

-Gloves, blankets, hats, some nonperishable foods, and when you can, bring some water for those longer trips in case something does happen.

-Mobile phone with car charger

It takes just a little time and some planning ahead to help ensure you have worry free, and hopefully accident-free, winter driving experiences.

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IIHS New Booster Seat Ratings Help Save Children in Massachusetts Car Accidents

Finding the right car seat for your child may now be easier than ever. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recently released new ratings of these seats for parents to be better equipped when choosing a seat. After the last wave of ratings, more than 30 seats made it on the "Best Bets" list. These seats were found to be able to seat a child so that the adult seat belt will properly fit a little one's body.
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These seats can run anywhere from $15 to several hundred dollars. But parents shouldn't correlate price with a seat's ability to protect their child in the event of a car accident in Massachusetts. Some of the more affordable seats work just as well as the more expensive ones.

Our Boston child injury attorneys understand that children between the ages of 4 and 8 should be seated in a booster seat to help ensure that an adult seat belt fits them properly. Sometimes, parents are confused by the plethora of seats on the market and which ones would be most likely to best serve their child. The new ratings from the IIHS are here to clear that up.

In addition to the "Best Bets" child seats, there were five placed on the "Good Bets" list. Seats on this list will fit most vehicles properly. The IIHS also rated six seats as a "no go," meaning they don't provide a proper seat belt fit for anyone. Check the IIHS website for the complete child seat rating list.

Booster seats should be used to properly seat children who have outgrown front-facing car seats. Booster seats allow a child to be positioned so that an adult seat belt will fit their little body properly. This seat allows the lap portion of the strap to lie across their upper thigh and the shoulder portion to lie across their chest.

"A Best Bet means any of these top-rated boosters should work well in the family SUV or the babysitter's sedan," says Anne McCartt, the Institute's senior vice president for research.

There were more than 60 booster seat models examined in this year's rating program. This is more than 10 more than the previous year.

The test doesn't measure how well the seat will perform in the event of an accident, but rather how well it fits a seat belt on a child's body.

Booster seats have gotten much more reliable in recent years as well. There were only 10 booster seats on the Best Bets list in 2008, then 9 in 2009, but there were more than 20 for the 2010 ratings.

Parents are urged to check out these ratings before looking into purchasing a booster seat. You're also urged to check the seats' limitations to ensure that your child is the proper size for the seat that you ultimately purchase. These child-restraint systems are some of the most effective protections for your child in the event of an accident.

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October Snow Storm Brings Inconveniences and Injuries to New England

Our state is getting serious snow super early this year. Last weekend, Boston got an inch of snow while Cambridge saw 1-2 inches. This snowfall was extremely rare for October.

Some parts of western Massachusetts saw more than a foot of snow, paralyzing parts of the Northeast. The storm left more than 620,000 residents without power. It started out with heavy rains and ended with a wicked snowstorm. Many towns in western Massachusetts broke their record for snowfall in for the entire month of October.

Boston's record for October snowfall still sits at 1.1 inches, which was set back in 2005. Worcester broke the record with the largest margin at 14.6 inches of snow.
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As of November 1st, Western Massachusetts Electric Co. reported that more than 90,000 of its 210,000 plus customers still didn't have electricity. Power outages aren't the only inconvenience residents in the area are facing. With the wicked weather we have wicked driving conditions. Roadways throughout the state were icy and covered in snow. These conditions, no matter how careful the driver, can produce serious risks of car accidents in Massachusetts. Two people in Massachusetts have died from car accidents in the snowy weather already.

Our Boston car accident attorneys understand that businesses have been closed, school has been canceled and Halloween has been postponed in some areas. Officials report that it could be days before some residents see the power restored to their homes and businesses. Governor Deval L. Patrick urges all residents who are without power to remain patient.

"This is a house-by-house, branch-by-branch kind of response," said Patrick.

About 700 guardsmen are posted throughout the state. In addition to the two motorists who were killed on our roadways, another man has died because of a downed power line.

Worcester, Massachusetts' officials have asked parents to hold Halloween celebrations on Thursday. This is when the weather is expected to improve. By Thursday, emergency responders should have all of the downed power lines and trees removed from the streets as well.

Among the area that was affected by this storm, nearly 2 million people lost power, more than 20 people died in traffic-related accidents and electrocutions.

A train from Chicago to Boston also got stuck in the mess. It was stopped in central Massachusetts with nearly 50 people on-board, according to Amtrak officials. The truck was stuck in Palmer, Massachusetts. The snowstorm caused a rockslide that blocked off the tracks. Passengers have been rescued and were taken to their destinations by bus.

The snowstorm has caused Amtrak to delay a number of other routes in the area.

Commuters are urged to check out "T Alerts" to see if any rail services have been delayed.

The rest of the week's forecast is expected to be back to normal, with weather in the mid-50s. For a complete review of the upcoming forecast, visit the Boston Globe's website.

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"Same Roads. Same Rules." Debunks Myths to Help Prevent Bicycle Accidents in Massachusetts

A number of prominent state agencies have reaffirmed their continued commitment to help bicyclists and motorists share the road safely with one another. One of those organizations is MassBike, the Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition, offering information and guidelines that may surprise you.

MassBike urges travelers throughout the state to visit the"Same Roads. Same Rules." website for helpful resources about bicycling-related information. The website is also used to help raise awareness about the dangers that bicyclists face. Please consider taking a few minutes to get better educated about how to make traveling safer and help reduce the risks of bicycling accidents in Massachusetts.
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Our Boston bike accident attorneys understand that the solution to all of our problems ultimately lies within us. With safe, cautious and considerate driving habits (both on bikes, on foot and in vehicles) we can all help make our roadways safe and fair for everyone. In addition to rules and regulations, a little common sense can go a long way as well.

Common motorist myths:

"Share The Road" signs mean that bicycles have to move over:

False. These signs are used most commonly when there isn't enough space for bikers to have their own lane. This sign means that motorists should be extra cautious of bicycles. The law allows bicyclists to use up an entire lane, meaning that they can ride in the middle of your driving lane if they choose to do so. Bikers will usually accommodate the faster-moving traffic (you) and will get out of the way. They may not be able to do so right away though, so give them a little time and refrain from honking, which can startle a bicyclist.

If there's a bike lane, a biker has to use it:

False. New, unskilled bikers typically occupy this lane. Therefore, more experienced bikers tend to ride along the roadway. Motorists should remember though, while a biker can come into roadway lanes, it is illegal to drive or park in the bike lane if you're in a motorized vehicle.

If there's a sidewalk nearby, a biker has to ride on it:

False. Bicycles belong in the street, as they are legally considered vehicles. Bicycles on sidewalks are much more dangerous than bicycles on roadways. In fact, roads were paved for bicyclists, and state law says it's illegal for an adult bicyclist to ride on a sidewalk.

Vehicles have the right-of-way:

Since both bikes and cars and considered vehicles, they have to all follow the same rules. When riding in the road, bikers are urged to abide by all road signs and signals just as a vehicle would. This goes for right-of-way rules as well. The only variation in the rules each party much follow is where these vehicles can ride. Bicycles aren't allowed to ride on limited access highways, etc.

We urge you to visit the "Same Road. Same Rules." website. There are some rules and information that may surprise you. It's important to remember that everyone is required to follow the same road rules and should do so considerately and compassionately.

The other agencies partnering with MassBike on the Same Roads. Same Rules. website are: the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT); the Department of Conservation and Recreation; Department of Public Health; and the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security

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