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Cyclists racing

Spring has finally sprung in the Bay State, and with it comes all the outdoor fun that warm temperatures have to offer. Among the many opportunities to enjoy spring weather, bicycling is one of the most popular activities among Massachusetts residents. Further, with the opportunity to save thousands of dollars a year by choosing alternative transportation over cars, more and more people are turning to bicycles as their primary means of getting around. For example, bike commuting in Boston alone has grown 98% since 2000, according to the League of American Bicyclists. That’s why it’s important to stay safe on streets and back roads alike with these bike safety tips for National Bike Month:

Always wear a helmet.

School-aged children between 5-18 years old account for more than 50% of all nonfatal bicycle injuries in Massachusetts. Often, these incidents can be prevented simply by wearing a bike helmet. All children under 16 years old are required by law to wear a helmet.

Be visible.

In Massachusetts, 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, as required by law. Additionally, wear bright clothing at night to maintain visibility.

Check your equipment.

Make sure handlebars, tires, seats, and brakes are all functioning properly and meet equipment requirements. Take your bicycle in for yearly maintenance checkups at your local cycling shop.

Obey the rules of the road.

Know your responsibilities as a bicyclist in Massachusetts. Follow bike and traffic laws including passing cars on the right and yielding to pedestrians. Remember, the law applies to all cyclists – even you!

Use hand signals.

Know proper hand signals for alerting drivers and pedestrians of actions. With so many vying for street space, hand signals are a helpful way of letting others know where you are headed.

Stay alert.

Use your eyes and ears while out riding. Watch out for potholes, railroad tracks, storm grates, or anything else that could make you lose control of your bike. Always check traffic signals and street signs, and take breaks when you need to.

Know the sidewalk laws.

State law indicates cyclists may ride on sidewalks outside business districts, unless local laws prohibit sidewalk riding. Check with your city to learn about its bike laws pertaining to sidewalk riding.

Whether you are biking to work or exploring the many bike paths and trails Massachusetts has to offer, be sure to stay safe while cycling. Enjoy the warm temperatures while getting exercise and appreciating the outdoors!

What are you doing to celebrate National Bike Month? Share your ideas in the comments below or by tweeting us, @MassGov.

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