Midnight Marathon Ride

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The 5th annual Midnight Marathon Ride is coming up, and I’m super excited about it.  This will be my first time participating in the ride, and it looks like there’s gonna be a record turnout.  Tickets for the special “bikes only” commuter rail train to the start of the ride sold out in less than 8 hours!

In preparing for this epic event, I wanted to remind everyone about a crucial bit of safety info that may come in handy.

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Win this light, please!

UPDATE: We have a winner.

The fine folks at Light & Motion recently sent me some of their lights to review. As an added bonus, they threw in this one for me to give away to one of my loyal readers.  I’ve decided to hold a twitter contest to figure out who gets it.

To enter, you need only post a tweet that includes the following hashtag: #DearDrivers.

The idea is that you’re writing a letter to drivers, along the lines of #DearDrivers, please don’t forget about me when you’re making that right turn. Love, bikers.  

Simple, right?

Politeness and humor are encouraged, and the best tweet gets the lights.

Good luck!

Yours,

Josh

PS: No purchase necessary, void where prohibited.

I’ve seen you say many times, “In Mass, in the event of an accident, a cyclist is automatically at fault if she is not obeying traffic laws.” Does it then follow that a cyclist who has been struck by a car at night would automatically be at fault if she did not have the required front light + rear reflector?

Asked by
roosto

Well, here’s the thing: negligence per se isn’t actually automatic in Massachusetts…

In many other states it works that way, but here in MA, violation of a regulation or law is only evidence of negligence.  It can be quite strong evidence, and very convincing, but at the end of the day, it’s not a done deal.

I didn’t mention this in my explanations of negligence per se for a few reasons:

  1. Most of my readers don’t live in Massachusetts.
  2. It’s easier to understand if I don’t get too deep into the particular jurisdiction-specific mechanics of the doctrine.
  3. The end result is largely the same whether it’s automatic or not.

So, to answer your question: yes, the fact that a cyclist did not have a rear reflector at night (as required by law) would be evidence that they were partially at fault for a crash.  In MA, their liability would not be automatically proven, but in other states it would.

Boy, it feels good to get that off my chest.

Yours,

Josh

Do I still need lights if I have reflectors?

Asked by
huybm

It depends on the state, but in MA you do.  When riding at night, MA General Law Chapter 85 § 11B requires a white light on the front, and a red light or reflector on the back.  It also requires either reflectors on your pedals, or around your ankles.

Even though a rear light isn’t required, I’d definitely advise using one.

Your bicycle bill of rights graphic will make an awesome statement the back of a bike jersey. It wouldn't need to be obnoxious, but I think it would grab enough attention of other road (those that are willing to be ducated that is) to perhaps check out a website to find out more.i'd buy one if they were available. How about writing about lights? I can't believe how many folks ride without them; all for the sake of a $10-15 expense. Great job

Asked by
Anonymous

Shirts are on the way (they’re currently being made), more about them soon. They just may be something like this.

As for writing about lights, I did! It was my first real post. I do, however, want to review and give away a pair of the fantastic lights I picked up after the pothole incident last week. They’re from Portland Design Works, and in my opinion, they’re the best small lights you can get. If PDW wants to donate a couple for me to give away, that would be swell. If not, I’ll pick up some more from my pal Emily at Hub Bicycle in Cambridge (pro tip: she sells them for less than PDW’s website).

Thanks for the question!

Yours,
Josh

See and Be Seen

I want to kick it off with something simple, and it doesn’t really get much simpler than this:

If you’re ever biking after dark, you need bike lights.

Might seem like common sense that being seen on the road is integral to safe riding, but I’ve seen loads of un-lit cyclists lately. Some are straight-up sans lights and others are just lit inadequately by feeble flashers (which can be obscured by even small shifts in posture) clipped to their backpacks.

At night, lights are even more important than helmets. I’m serious! Without lights, you’re effectively invisible!

And in the event of an accident, being invisible could cost you — big time. If a driver hits you at night and you didn’t have lights on, a jury’s likely to find you partially at fault. You could get nothing. Protecting your rights means being seen by other vehicles.

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