, Salem, MA

May 14, 2010

Our view: Motorists, cyclists must know rules of the road

The good news is that more people are using their fuel-and-emission-free bicycles to get from one place to another these days. The bad news is that with more of them on the road, "bike rage" incidents like the one that occurred in downtown Salem this week are likely to become more frequent.

In the Salem incident, a man is accused of throwing his bike at a motorist when their vehicles became entangled near the corner of Essex Street and Hawthorne Boulevard during the morning commute Tuesday. We'll leave it to the courts to decide who was at fault, but will note that it certainly helps make the case for the new "Same Roads, Same Rules" campaign launched by the state Department of Transportation and MassBike this week.

"Biking is practical, fun and healthy, as long as riders and drivers alike share the responsibility of road safety," according to state Public Safety Secretary Mary Beth Heffernan.

Next Monday marks the start of Bay State Bike Week, and cycling advocates plan a number of events to publicize the "Same Roads, Same Rules" campaign. Locally, there are "Bike-to-Work" breakfasts scheduled in Danvers (Tuesday, 7 to 9 a.m., OSRAM Sylvania, 54 Cherry Hill Drive; and Thursday, 7 to 9 a.m., OSRAM Sylvania, 100 Endicott St.) and Salem (Wednesday, 7 to 9 a.m., Middle Oak City, One Holyoke Square). More information is available at

A website maintained by DOT and MassBike ( offers some common-sense guidelines of motorists and cyclists. Some examples:

For motorists, "Abrupt turns can cause crashes, so always look for bicyclists and use your turn signals.

For bicyclists, "You've got a legal right to the road, so use it — take the full lane when needed, stay away from car doors, and don't squeeze between lanes."

For motorists, "There's no nice way to honk. Honking can startle a bicyclist and cause a crash, so only honk when absolutely necessary."

For bicyclists, "Go with the flow. Ride in the same direction as other traffic, and ride as straight as you can, don't weave between parked cars or into crosswalks."

With more and more people viewing biking both as a means of getting some exercise and helping the environment, their numbers will continue to grow. It's important they and the motoring public learn to safely share the road.