NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – Police across the Pioneer Valley are warning drivers and cyclists to be mindful of each other this spring – especially since the nicer weather brings more bicyclists. The Norwottuck trail that travels from Belchertown to Florence makes it easy for cyclists to enjoy warm days, but as soon as they’re out on the roads, it’s a bit of a different story.
State law mandates that bicyclists obey the same rules as motor vehicle drivers. Cyclists often roll through a stop sign or red light, or not yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk. Bike tour operator Gary Briere used to help manage the Norwottuck rail trail, and told 22News, “It’s really important for cyclists to recognize that they should operate on the roadways in the same manner as they would in a vehicle. Not dodge in and out of traffic, and not go from the sidewalk to the roadway, and back to the sidewalk.”
Drivers need to be extra cautious before passing a bicycle. Another state law says bicyclists need to use proper hand signals to facilitate overtaking, which has worked for Jinny Elkin in Northampton. “A car will stop and let me go so I don’t have to stop all the way,” says Elkin. “I think people are generally pretty aware of cyclists in this area.”
Cyclists: make sure you’re operating your bike the same way you’d operate a car. Police can issue a $20 fine to bicyclists who don’t follow these rules.
Drivers: check your mirrors, don’t assume, and watch for a cyclists’s communication.