By Bob Katzen

This law requires anyone age 21 and older to register his or her bicycle biannually with the Registry of Motor Vehicles. The state would establish a fee and issue a license plate that the bicyclist would be required to attach to his or her bike.
Supporters say this would give drivers and pedestrians a way to identify and report a bicyclist who is breaking traffic rules. They note that it will also ensure that bicyclists, by paying fines, will help pay for the maintenance of bike lanes.


Do you know your rights and responsibilities on the road? Here is a summary of Massachusetts’ bike law that covers equipment, riding, safety standards, races, violations, and penalties.
For exact requirements, please read the complete text of the laws pertaining to bicyclists and bicycling in Massachusetts. General Laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Chapter 85, Section 11B.
Your rights
•You may ride your bicycle on any public road, street, or bikeway in the Commonwealth, except limited access or express state highways where signs specifically prohibiting bikes have been posted.
•You may ride on sidewalks outside business districts, unless local laws prohibit sidewalk riding.
•You may use either hand to signal stops and turns.
•You may pass cars on the right.
•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 need not wear helmets.
•You may hold a bicycle race on any public road or street in the Commonwealth, if you do so in cooperation with a recognized bicycle organization, and if you get approval from the appropriate police department before the race is held.
•You may establish special bike regulations for races by agreement between your bicycle organization and the police.
•You may have as many lights and reflectors on your bike as you wish.
Your responsibilities: you MUST do these things
•You must obey all traffic laws and regulations of the Commonwealth.
•You should use hand signals to let people know you plan stop or turn, however, signals do not need to be made continuously and you are not required to signal when the use of both hands is necessary for the safe operation of the bicycle.
•You must give pedestrians the right of way.
•You must give pedestrians an audible signal before overtaking or passing them.
•You may ride two abreast, but must facilitate passing traffic. This means riding single file when faster traffic wants to pass, or staying in the right-most lane on a multi-lane road.
•You must ride astride a regular, permanent seat that is attached to your bicycle.
•You must keep one hand on your handlebars at all times.
•If you are 16 years old or younger, you must wear a helmet that meets U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission requirements on any bike, anywhere, at all times. The helmet must fit your head and the chin strap must be fastened.
•You must use a white headlight and red taillight or rear reflector if you are riding anytime from 1/2 hour after sunset until 1/2 hour before sunrise.
•At night, you must wear ankle reflectors if there are no reflectors on your pedals.
•You must notify the police of any accident involving personal injury or property damage over $100.

Your responsibilities: you MAY NOT do these things
•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.
•You may not carry any child between the ages of 1 to 4, or weighing 40 pounds or less, anywhere on a single-passenger bike except 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; this does not preclude carrying them in a trailer.
•You may not use a siren or whistle on your bike to warn pedestrians.
•You may not park your bike on a street, road, bikeway or sidewalk where it will be in other people’s way.
•You may not carry anything on your bike unless it is in a basket, rack, bag, or trailer designed for the purpose.
•You may not modify your bike so that your hands are higher than your shoulders when gripping the handlebars.
•You may not alter the fork of your bike to extend it.


  1. Great Idea that was done years ago with the oval shaped plates. However as much as I fully support this my question is how are they going to enforce? there are not enough police to carry this out.

  2. I support this all the way through. I remember in the late 90’s when Cambridge began marking bicycle lanes on Mass. Ave. in Central Square; I was waiting at the cross walk, the pedestrian light lit… and I took two steps and got ran over & borderline-annihilated by a bike rider who; in kind return, just took off.

    Flashforward to today, the environmentalists wanted bike lanes in a failed attempt to get more vehicles off of the road, with the false hope that more & more people would start riding bikes in order to stop carbon-created “Global Warning”.

    Now there’s bike lanes everywhere; I, personally, have witnessed countless accidents involving bike riders colliding into vehicles… especially city buses… due to roads being made more for drivers in order to accommodate bike riders.

  3. Automobile excise taxes go into the general fund of each town and not necessarily for road repair, so why should bike fines go to bike lane repair? Start enforcing road regulations on the 1-ton metal objects that can kill someone in an instant, how about that?

  4. I’ve said this should happen all along. I’m tired of bicyclists riding around like they own the streets. Very dangerous.
    Running lights and carrying precious cargo in an unsafe way. We have to pay registration fees and excise tax. They should have to pay also.

    1. The way a person rides a bike should be the responsibility of the rider, we all shouldn’t have to pay a price to ride a bike that is not a motor vehicle. This is just another platform to screw the general public out of money. I think we’ve had enough of taxation in taxachusetts !!

  5. What law? Has it been proposed? passed? talked about as a joke? What is it called? does it have a bill number? Is it a city ordinance? This sounds like B.S.


    1. What responsibility? Cyclists hardly take up any room and idiots like you kill them all the time. Don’t be a douchecanoe. Get off your ass and ride a bike, try a new perspective.

  7. So if my bike is stolen are cops really guna look for it….I bet not so I refuse to pay

    1. They will look for it just as hard as they look for a stolen car. They might ask if anyone saw anything or if someone’s video doorbell recorded something and beyond that there really isn’t much they can do. Then they put it in a database and wait for the car/bike to turn up. If the bike is registered you have a chance of getting it back.

  8. Some questions:
    What if I am an undocumented immigrant can I document my bicycle?

    If bicycles require registration like cars, won’t bike owners be required to carry insurance also if this is to be equitable?

    If minors are allowed to ride on the streets without being documented doesn’t that create an entire group of high risk riders with no accountability? Why should minors be allowed to ride on the streets at all if their actions cannot be accounted for?

    How many more city employees will be hired to enforce these laws? Isn’t this really just about growing government and its overreach?

    Have you people lost your minds?

  9. I am not surprised at this coming from a Sanctuary City run by Nanny State “progressives” who think there is NO such thing too much GUBMINT! If you tolerate this you deserve ZERO FREEDOM!

  10. Hahaha. What a joke of a rule. If drivers can’t be bothered to pay attention to pedestrians and cyclists, then they can get their licenses taken away. Don’t make excuses for them.

    I will never register my bicycle. They are too easy to steal, and you know full well no police will ever help you look for it, regardless. They’re too busy handing out tickets to everyone as it is.

  11. full disclosure, I’m never going to register a bicycle.

    Everyone pays for the roads already, and bikes do very little to zero wear and tear comparatively. Creating an infrastructure that gets people out of cars onto bikes is better for everyone, financially and just for health reasons. We have a couple of issues here, and none of them can be fixed with registration.

  12. Does this mean that when my $4500 bike, when stolen will be investigated as a theft of a vehicle, rather than dismissed by some coffeee swilling cop who thinks I was wrong to spend that much on a kids toy? Because my bike serves the same function (and more) that my car serves, but if my rusted out 1998 junker gets stolen, the police might actually find it. My bike? Not a chance. And…(where I live), my Car registration is $140 annually, or about 5 cents per pound (for the damage it might do to the roads). At that, my bike should cost just over 80 cents to register. And I already carry insurance…

    1. Coffee swilling cop? You mean like every other person in the world, especially those who have to work the overnight hours while apathetic jerks like you cast aspersions?

  13. Does this means that motorists will be asked to pay their fair share? Road wear and tear is a function weight and speed: $$$/kg^4/100km. If the motorists had to pay their fair share, I’m sure the cyclists would have no problem with it.

    1. you’re joking, right? this is part and parcel of what you pay when you’re paying the taxes while buying gas.

  14. This will unfortunately pit bicyclist against motorists even further in the Boston metro area.will people in possession of more than one bike have to have multiple registrations in this case?how do we differentiate between someone who resides in Sommerville and the thousand plus cyclist who ride through that town evey day to get back and forth to Boston or Cambridge. And Why are they proposing it to be done twice a year. it seems like that’s a good way to get college kid money coming in because they come and go twice a year. police have always been in the power to be able to pull over someone riding a bicycle and give them a ticket. Most people carry identification. And if they do make a license plate you better make it safe. cuz I was a bike messenger for many years and I remember many different license plates and most of them would slice my leg up

      1. bi·an·nu·alDictionary result for biannual
        Learn to pronounce
        occurring twice a year.
        “the biannual meeting of the planning committee”

  15. Next they’re going to tax breathing to help pay for the new clean air improvement infrastructure “trees”. If we let them keep going they will. Hello people wake up!!!! Register a bike is insane and anyone agreeing with that needs water wings to eat soup.

    1. It’s about damn time! Environmentalists and bikers pushed for this. They wanted to have their own lanes and ride safely on the street (causing more traffic and saftey concerns) so they absolutely so respect the same rules and be taxed penalized and fined just the same as a car or motorcycle

      1. Just like how we make pedestrians pay a fee and attach a license place to themselves because they demand the sidewalk to themselves?

    2. What are you talking about? Finally bike riders will be held accountable for not following the laws of the road. The amount of damages i have seen bike riders cause and just keep on going is insane

          1. That’s a fact since I had a cyclist who was improperly riding on the sidewalk, in my downtown business district, run into my front fender as I was pulling into a parking lot entrance. The cyclist was launched over the hood of my car and fortunately had only a few bumps and bruises. The cyclist was found to be at fault.

            1. I was the cyclist and yes I was going the wrong way but you weren’t paying attention and pulled in without looking, maybe add that detail next time. You would have hit someone walking too. Oh and it wasn’t a few bruises, I split my entire upper lip open and had to get it sewed back together.

  16. Most cyclists are pretty good at following the rules. This is just another way for Mass to tax everything. Next cyclists will have to pay an excise tax to own a bike. Where does it stop? Being the state where the Boston Tea Party took place you would think they would know better. People like myself have moved away because of the ridiculously high tax rates.

  17. This is good and all(I’m a bike courier) but when I keep hearing all these people complaining about bicyclist on the road blocking “their lane” how about you as well stay out of our lane to Double Park forcing us to drive into the main road where you don’t want us to ride. Along with how about you watch the road before you open up your door causing us to hit your door(getting doored) because the amount of times that people have done that to me is ridiculous. Oh can we report drivers for not using their directional before turning and going RIGHT in front of us causing us to either hitting their car or almost? A lot of people whom drive cars have no idea the dangers bicyclists also go through EVEN if we obey all the rules(despite whatever couple of bicyclists you see or encounter). My biggest aggravation is the double parking in our bike lane, you should be able to be reported for doing that….wanna tax bicyclists to help our bike lanes? Then y’all should be ticketed the same way as if you were riding in the breakdown lane unlawfully.

  18. Another Taxachusetts Liberal taking away people’s freedoms. It’s 100% unenforceable too… Anyone stopped on a bike without plates can simply say they rode down from New Hampshire (where there’s no silly law like this), or “this is my son’s bike. He’s 19…” (since registration, per the proposal, starts at age 21).

    This must have been written by an RMV employee just looking for more bureaucracy!

  19. You want to get shot because that’s how you get shot. Taxatwoshits at it again. Finding another way to control AMD syphon money from you and from the looks of the thread you guys are stupid enough to accept it.

  20. How about laws for scooters and mopeds? They are actually traveling in traffic with cars and are causing accidents!!???

    1. How about banning all motor vehicles except service vehicles (Ubers and Lyfts banned too)? They pose significant injury to every other user of the roads and cause way more road damage.

    2. You do realize Scooters and Mopeds are motorized vehicles that are supposed to travel in traffic with cars. Other then the vehicle itself it’s no different then someone driving a car. Where did you think these motorized vehicles should be riding? The sidewalk? A bicycle lane? They have headlights tail lights and blinkers they follow the same laws as a car in traffic.

    3. wake up there are. in fact mass is one of the few states with limited use vehicles. chances are you have just never read them.

  21. Best idea! Just wondering why it took so long. Next up, mandated accident insurance for bike riders!

    Honestly though, the idea we can hold bike riders accountable to the same laws as those who drive cars is genious! You want to share the road you can share in the cost. It’s a priveledge, not a right!

    1. Yeah I can’t believe it took so long. I saw a bunch of road improvements just for bike riders. And when they’re in the wrong like running the lights

      1. Ridiculous! Another way to fine citizens for supposedly legal activity- bike-riding!

        1. Yeah I agree we pay enough fees already. next thing they will want is Excise tax on anything that has wheel’s on it.

    2. Exactly. Many have been saying this for years but no one wants to listen to common sense. And I have been riding bikes longer than most have been here.

    3. Most people out riding bikes own cars, have drivers licenses and probably pay more taxes than you do.

      All my cycling friends use to be super into auto racing and own piles of cars, pay butt loads of insurance and excise tax. You are super ignorant to think most cyclists are not “sharing” a cost that you think they should.

      Cyclists being dicks in traffic, running lights and stop signs is a different issue entirely and the police should enforce traffic laws on cyclists who can’t ride their bikes right.

      I ride around 8,000 miles a year and I see about equal inability to correctly navigate their own movements in drivers, cyclists and pedestrians. Everyone needs to pay more attention.

  22. Who plows the bike lanes. Looks like the city plows the snow off the streeet onto the bike lanes…so bikers just end up using the in the winter anyways. Bike lanes are useless in the winter

  23. Idiota is street lingo,slang, used mostly by Caucasians, in the inner city like Somerville and Boston. Obviously you won’t find it in the dictionary, but it’s a word I’ve heard many times growing up in Somerville. If you remember Vanella Ice in his rap song used the word dupid, that word was used quite a bit, inferring you past stupid and your now dupid. Any street kid from Somerville knows that.

  24. I think it is a wonderful ida and thay should have to get inspected 1 a year just like a car and have insurance so if thay damaged a car

  25. Another way to generate revenue! Disgusted with this state. A lot of people are moving to New Hampshire. Why not???

  26. It was a huge mistake as soon as they decided to mix bycycles with the motor vehicles. They don’t have a motor and gave far lower mass so serious injury or death is inevitable in a collision. That risk is exponentially increased when bicyclists are hot dogs who ride too fast or without proper respect for the laws and other vehicles and the presumption when a collision occurs is always that it is the car drivers fault even though this is often not the case.
    Although injuries occurred to pedestrians when cyclists were limited to the sidewalks, the frequency and severity of the injuries was far less. This is partially because the much smLler mass of a bicycle typically causes far less damage or injury than a much geavuer, faster and more powerful car.

  27. As a driver,I am obligated to follow the rules of the road. Bikers must do the same. My rule for the road is don’t try to fight with anyone bigger than me. Yet I see bikes trying to beat busses,large trucks, bikes with no lights at night. Riding down the center line of a street.
    Next should be pedestrians with hand held devices crossing streets.

  28. Finally, some common sense. In that case it will never pass. Too good to be true anyway.

  29. they should start licence and register all the scooters out on the roads just like motorcycles if you going to do that to bicycles

    1. Scooters already need to be registered and you have to have a driver’s license to drive it

  30. Stupid bicyclist, just stay off the damn road. Not like any of then follow the fucking traffic laws anyway. They should get tickets too like drivers do, insurance and everything!

    1. “Stupid bicyclist”: singular noun. “They”: -plural pronoun. “Then”: adverb, neither plural nor singular. We’re you so triggered that you forgot that grammar exists?

      1. OK professor asswipe, as if you’re always grammatically correct you fucking yuppie. These want the privileges of using the roads, then yes, they should be the ones paying for it, not motorists.

    1. How absolutely tragic for you, darling. Just for laughs, take note of how many more motor vehicles than bicycles are on any street or road and then sit down in a quiet room and reflect upon your statement.

    1. Perfect! You idiots wanted to be treated like vehicles, well here you go! Maybe now you entitled fucking idiota would obey the red lights and stop signs too. But it gets pretty funny to see you damn bicycle riders get hit after eating a red light almost daily.

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