Chief Thomas Pasquarello has announced that beginning April 11, the Somerville Police Department will increase enforcement of bicycle traffic regulations under Massachusetts General Law Chapter 85 which was recently revised and updated.
“With more bicycles on the road, with a growing number of dedicated bike lanes and sharrows across Somerville, and more bicycle related accidents, we want to take action to protect bicyclists, pedestrians, and motorists by using all of the enforcement powers we’ve been given under state law,” Pasquarello said.
Section 11B states that “Every person operating a bicycle upon a way . . . shall be subject to the traffic laws and regulations of the Commonwealth.” “This law requires that cyclists obey all the rules that govern other drivers on the public way,” Chief Pasquarello said. Since bicyclists are not licensed, however, and bicycles need not be registered, the revised law provides special provisions for enforcement: Section 11E states that “a police officer who observes a traffic law violation committed by a bicyclist, may request the offender to state his true name and address”. If the offender refuses, provides false information, or information not ordinarily used, he or she is subject to arrest and a criminal fine of not more than $50.00. Civil infractions are subject to a $20 fine.
Chief Pasquarello urged bicyclists to familiarize themselves with the Traffic Compliance Law. “Bicyclists have a right to share the road and they should command respect from other drivers,” he said. “At the same time, they need to show respect for the rights of pedestrians and vehicle drivers. We’re all in this together, which is why we expect full cooperation from everyone on our roads and sidewalks as we work to reduce accidents and improve safety.”