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. 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 !!

  2. 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?

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

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